A couple of weeks ago I gave an interview to journalism student Elizabeth Perlman about the work of English PEN and my approach to free speech. Elizabeth has uploaded an excerpt from the interview to the Hack Freedom website. Continue reading Gushing about PEN and free speech to Hack Freedom
To be 95% certain of getting the last character you need from the Crossy Road vending machine, you’ll need 19,100 coins. (Jump to the full table.)
Let me explain.
For extra fun, the game offers additional characters to replace the chicken. At the time of writing there are 72 characters: farm-yard animals, jungle frogs, ghosts, zombies, robots, aliens and fauna from the Australian outback. You can even play as humans in the form of the game’s three creators. Continue reading How many coins do I need to get all the characters in Crossy Road?
Even the briefest Internet search shows the reality of life under IS = mass murder, torture, enslavement, rape. Remember their real victims
— Sarah Wollaston MP (@sarahwollaston) February 22, 2015
Three schoolgirls from East London have left the UK to join ISIS, and everyone has an opinion. Some people say they are no better than Jihadi John, and that joining the fighters for Islamic state is tantamount to participating in the beheading of aid workers. they should be considered enemy combatants and we should not care one joy for their safety.
Other people say that these girls are victims: of brainwashing, of a culture that doesn’t value them, or of a society that offers the youth no aspirations. They’re essentially kidnap victims and we should mobilise to secure their safe return.
Here’s an idea: perhaps they’re both? Fully culpable genocide-enablers; and victims.
Continue reading These jihadi brides are fully culpable victims
The year 2015 has begun with a great deal of debate about free speech. The fanatics who murdered the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists saw to that—their sympathisers in Copenhagen have kept the fire burning.
The discussion has largely been about what one can say about your ideological opponents. Is it Okay to blaspheme? What are the limits to giving offence? When does criticism of one group or another slide into hate speech and incitement. In these examples we usually debate whether the law can interfere with our speech.
It’s worth noting that other kinds of free speech dilemmas exist. An important example of this is on show in Peter Oborne’s seething explanation for why he resigned from the Daily Telegraph.
Continue reading Free speech is the courage to burn bridges
First published in the International Business Times.
Last week, the Community Security Trust, a charity that records attacks and harassment against Jews living in the UK, recorded 1,168 anti-Semitic incidents in 2014 — double the figure reported in the previous year.
On Monday, a group of British MPs published a report noting that whenever there is heightened conflict in the Middle-East, the rate of crime against Jews in the UK increases. The All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism (APPGAA) also noted that the problem “continues to emanate from Islamist extremists, far-left and far-right groups” and made a number of recommendations to government, the police and the media to combat the issue.
The APPGAA report singles out social media as “a breeding ground for serious discriminatory and racist content” and recommends that the Crown Prosecution Service explores the use of prevention orders in cases where someone has been prosecuted for cyber-hate. Offenders would have their devices confiscated and be banned from using social media. The newspapers have labelled this idea ‘Twitter ASBOs’. Continue reading Twitter Asbos would squeeze freedom of expression without curbing anti-Semitic hatred
The Scottish Law Commission has said it will include a review of the defamation law in its ninth programme of reform. That’s fantastic news for those of us in the Libel Reform Campaign who want to ensure that the space for free speech is just as wide in every corner of the United Kingdom.
David Leask at the Daily Herald reported the story and his article puts the review in context. Yrstrly is actually quoted briefly in the piece, but I prefer this quote from my colleagues at Scottish PEN:
We’re not just campaigning on this to plug a loophole – we’re trying to put in place a structure that supports a healthier media landscape in Scotland.
In honour of the publication of The Good Shabti last month, I was invited onto the Tor.com podcast Midnight In Karachi, hosted by Mahvesh Murad. The show is a one-on-one interview format, and the previous guests are all incredibly accomplished SF writers such as Audrey Niffenegger, Patrick Ness,
Oh! This puts me in such a bad mood.
— James Vincent (@jjvincent) January 27, 2015
Lord King is author of amendments tabled last week to the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill. They would have granted the government surveillance powers without proper checks and balances. Arguing in favour of the changes, Lord King admitted he did not use social media and did not understand apps like WhatsApp or SnapChat. Continue reading Dear Lord King: Ludditry is not cool, it’s dangerous
Shabti everywhere! Shabtum? Shabtii?!
— Jared (@pornokitsch) January 29, 2015
My novella The Good Shabti was launched last night. I did a short reading and spoke to the many people who bought copies. Incredibly, this included people to whom I am in no way related. Continue reading The Good Shabti – Order your copy now
Here’s a fantastic feature article by Gillian Orr in today’s Independent, detailing the brilliant Draw The Line Here project. Yrstrly is quoted endorsing the book:
“It’s fantastic that these cartoonists are using their own right to free speech, to defend and advance the free speech of others,” says English PEN’s Robert Sharp.
Its a crowdfunded project. Head over to the Crowdshed website to support English PEN ands the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre.