Archive for the ‘Censorship’ Category

what is this i don’t even

AndromedasWake
AndromedasWake
Mon May 10, 2010 5:11 pm by AndromedasWake

Paul Chambers, a 26 year-old man from Doncaster has been found guilty of posting an “indecent, obscene or menacing” tweet. Yes, a tweet, on Twitter. In his own words, the tweet was “innocuous hyperbole”. In other words, not harmful, offensive or meant to be taken seriously. Reading the tweet, I can certainly see that. Judge for yourselves:

Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You’ve got a week… otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!

Note that this was posted in the context of the airport being closed before he was due to fly. It was not actually directed at the airport, but when found by an employee was reported to the police, who arrested him. He has been fined£1,000 and now has a criminal record. Ever the gentleman, Stephen Fry has offered to shout the fine, but the man’s life will almost certainly take an unnecessary dent* from this fiasco and I can’t help but wonder how the average British tax-payer feels, knowing how the justice budget is being spent.

I found the Judge’s words to be the most staggering part of the story:

A district judge ruled the Tweet was “of a menacing nature in the context of the times in which we live”.

Tell me, what isn’t menacing in the context of the times in which we live? Have we really made so little progress in our efforts to combat terrorism over the last decade? What good is an expensive ‘War on Terror’ abroad if we still live in terror at our computers?

More painful though, is the ironic reference to context. Since, in the context of the times in which we live, isn’t this OBVIOUSLY a joke?

Apparently not.

Click here to follow this news on Twitter.

*Update: It seems Paul was half-way through his accountancy qualification. The conviction will officially prevent him from graduating. That makes me a sad panda.

If Men Look At My Wife The Universe Will Fold In On Itself

Th1sWasATriumph
Th1sWasATriumph
Sat May 08, 2010 2:28 pm by Th1sWasATriumph

Seen this? A few days late with it, but I’m blithely unconcerned.

A Muslim woman has been fined for wearing a burka in a post office in Novara, Italy, after the mayor passed a law forbidding face-covering garb inside public buildings. Mayor Massimo Giordano could maybe be described as an Islamophobe, but as far as I’m concerned that’s like calling someone a murderophobe or a rapistophobe. It’s entirely rational to dislike or fear Islam, which makes it not a phobia but a very sensible intellectual stance.

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Singh-ing In The Rain

Th1sWasATriumph
Th1sWasATriumph
Thu Apr 15, 2010 8:39 pm by Th1sWasATriumph

I can’t really apologise enough for that title.

As I anticipated would happen, Rabbitpirate beat me to laying the first League blogstone on the subject of Simon Singh and his sudden victory. Since I’m not a petty man/as good as Rabbitpirate, I’d love to see him do a longer musing on the subject without the dilution that my opinions would create. However I just wanted to highlight one thing.

Quoting from the BCA’s press release, “The BCA has considered seeking leave to take this matter to the Supreme Court and has been advised there are strong grounds for appeal against the Court of Appeal judgment. However, while it was right to bring this claim at the outset, the BCA now feels that the time is right for the matter to draw to a close. ”

Isn’t that beautiful? The legal equivalent of saying “I could smash your face in, I could . . . any time I wanted . . . only I’m not going to. Any time. But now I’m going home.” For “been advised there are strong grounds for appeal” read “quick, save face ANY WAY WE GODDAMN CAN.” And what’s the best way to save face? Lie. If there were truly strong grounds for appeal the BCA, an organisation that has happily made a decent, genuine, intelligent and (I’m fortunate to know this from personal experience) really lovely man suffer tremendously for years, would without hesitation appeal to continue. Of course they would. Singh said mean*, hurtful** and unfortunately absolutely true things about them so they responded with petty legality. If there was the slightest chance the case could be pursued, don’t you think the BCA would go for it? Just to hurt Simon?

I love seeing people forced to back down after attempting to use laws to censor dissenting voices. We’ve all had our run-ins with DMCAs on Youtube, but Singh has become the poster boy for hope and reason against the odds. And as the BCA sidles grumbling into the shadows, we can only hope that libel laws everywhere face a swift dissolution.

Rabbitpirate? Over to you, sir.

* “You are all frauds”

** “Your mothers are ladies of questionable moral integrity”

This time victory really is ours

rabbitpirate
rabbitpirate
Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:13 pm by rabbitpirate

A really quick post as I don’t have any more details than this right now but it seems the BCA have dropped their case against Simon Singh. No doubt this will be on every skeptic and atheist blog for the rest of the week so we will all be inundated with details in no time. For right now I am sure you will all join me in offering our congratulations to Simon and our thanks for having the courage to stand up for rational thinking and good science like he did. We love ya man.

Supporting the Free Speech of “Them” (Guest Blog)

AndroidAR
AndroidAR
Wed Apr 07, 2010 8:44 am by AndroidAR

I’m sure most Leaguers (especially those who frequent chat) have heard of my creationist archive project FundieVideoHell or FVH for short. As the name might suppose, FVH is a treasure trove (or virtual hell, depending on the user) of creationist and fundamentalist seminars, presentations and other assorted videos.

While I had anticipated support and thanks from my fellow rationalists, I was surprised to see support from creationists too. It seems that FVH is a common ground for both sides: rationalists can use it as a resource for material to debunk (though, sadly, I have yet to see it used this way), and creationists have a source of entertainment.

So why do I spend my time and hard drive space on the opponents to rationality, freethinking, and science? The answer is simple: as long as FundieVideoHell exists, they cannot (or rather, shouldn’t) claim they are being censored by us. Well, at least they cannot claim all atheists are censoring them.

Now, I have, so far, done this entirely on my own resources. I enjoy finding out what is new and happening from the other side. But when I came across the brochure for the “2010 Creation Supercamp,” which is only a few hours drive away, I realized something. Something that deeply frightened me: I wanted to go to this conference. I want to film creationist conferences. But I also don’t want to be an e-begger like VenomFangX.

So I was wondering, should I start a PayPal so that I can take donations from those who are willing to support FundieVideoHell? And would you (the lucky readers) be able to spread the word about FVH? I think there may be creationists out there who would help support the spread of their message, both by word-of-mouth and monetarily.

Victory is ours…well kind of

rabbitpirate
rabbitpirate
Thu Apr 01, 2010 1:24 pm by rabbitpirate

So no doubt you have all heard by now that Uber skeptic Simon Singh has won his libel appeal over the issue of whether his statements against the British Chiropractic Association should be treated as “fair comment” or not. Now this doesn’t mean that the case is over, Simon still has to win the libel case against him. However it does mean that he will be able to use the defence of “fair comment” rather than having to justify his statements as facts.

 

This is not only great news for Simon but for those seeking to reform the draconian British libel laws in general. Because of the importance of the judges involved in this decision, the Lord Chief Justice, the Master of Rolls and Sir Stephen Sedley, this ruling carries a lot of weight with it that could be used to help reform the current libel system, especially with regards to science and public health issues. But we still have a long way to go.

 

If you haven’t already get yourself over to the Libel Reform website and sign the petition to show your support. Even if you don’t live in the UK the British Libel laws still affect you as currently if anything you says can be accessed in the UK, which given the internet is pretty much a guarantee, then you can be sued under British libel laws. Scientists, and those of us who blog on science and public health issues, need to be able to present information that is in the public interest without fear of being sued by those who would rather the truth didn’t get out there. Right now the law is very much skewed in favour of those who would silence good science, but working together we can, and I have no doubt will, see this change in the very near future.

 

I’ll end with this great 1994 quote from Judge Easterbrook, chief judge of the US seventh circuit court of appeals, which is still spot on today. Easterbrook stated that those claiming they had been libelled:

 

“cannot, by simply filing suit and crying ‘character assassination!’, silence those who hold divergent views, no matter how adverse those views may be to plaintiffs’ interests.

 

“Scientific controversies must be settled by the methods of science rather than by the methods of litigation. More papers, more discussion, better data, and more satisfactory models – not larger awards of damages – mark the path towards superior understanding of the world around us.”

 

I couldn’t agree more.

When the Truth won’t set you free

rabbitpirate
rabbitpirate
Wed Feb 10, 2010 7:14 pm by rabbitpirate

I generally don’t follow politics, it just depresses me, and I definitely don’t follow the politics of non-English speaking countries. As such I was completely unaware of this legal case in Holland involving Dutch MP Geert Wilders who appears to be on trial to the truly heinous crimes of offending people and telling the truth. But then I can be forgiven for not noticing what some people are already calling “the most important trial of the century” as it seems that, for the most part, the UK media has completely ignored this case. So what exactly is this all about and why should we care about something happening in Holland?

 

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UK Government target cover up to no avail

rabbitpirate
rabbitpirate
Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:38 pm by rabbitpirate

A French parliamentary committee has recently recommended that a partial ban be put in place regarding women wearing Islamic face veils in public places. Over at the BBC website they have raised the question as to whether a similar ban should be implemented in the UK. I have to say that I am of two minds on this one. As such I thought I would lay out my current thinking on the issue and leave it up to you lot to sway me one way or the other.

 

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