In December, I worked with English PEN on their responses to two important Law Commission Consultations: Hate Crime, and Reform of the Communications Offences. The two documents we submitted are on the English PEN website, along with an explanatory blog post.
Today I joined another vigil for freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia, along with friends from English PEN, Reporters Sans Frontiers, the Peter Tatchell Foundation and the Society of Authors. I recorded a short video, documenting the growing number of faces on our campaign placards.
You can watch and share via the embedded player above, on YouTube or Facebook.
Continue reading “A Macabre Game of Happy Families – Another vigil at the Embassy of Saudi Arabia”
What’s in a name? Quite a lot, actually. The labels we put on various phenomena, old and new, profoundly affect the way with think about them.
Writing on GenderIt.org, Sophie Maddocks points out that the term ‘revenge porn’ is a wholly misleading name for the non-consensual sharing of intimate images. Its not ‘revenge,’ its not ‘porn,’ its not entertainment, its not a new phenomenon, and it covers a very wide range of behaviour.
I’ve written about ‘revenge porn’ before and may have to do so again, but I will be mindful to use the term ‘Non-Consensual Dissemination of Intimate Images’ (NCII) in the future.
Both readers of this blog will be sufficiently aware of my position on free speech to be able to work out what I think about the news that six people are to be prosecuted for staging a racist ‘Grenfell’ Bonfire Night.
The group made a model of Grenfell Tower and set it alight, then posted pictures on social media.
My take is simple: it’s disgusting, racist and worthy of our opprobrium, but should not be a matter for the police. The ‘message’ of this particular stunt does not appear to have any merit, but its far too close to other kinds of political expression—in particular, satire—that we value, and which must be protected. Continue reading “Guy Fawkes Night is All About Hate, So Why Are We Outraged When Some Idiots Engage In Hate Speech?”
Oh dear. The Home Office have had to point out to the City of York council that anti-fracking groups are not ‘extremists’ and should not be funnelled into the PREVENT programme.
This is an excellent example of the ‘slippery slope’ or ‘boiling the frog’ problem that is so eloquently expressed in Pastor Martin Neimöller’s famous poem which begins ‘First they came for the socialists…’
Laws enacted for a narrow purpose are often deployed more widely in ways that are illiberal and a threat to our civil liberties. For example, the UK law that criminalises ‘grossly offensive’ messages sent online were enacted in 2003 (before the rise of social media) and intended to stop people sending hate mail via email or fax. But now it is being used to criminalise offensive comedians and harass outspoken student activists. Continue reading “The Neimöllerisation of PREVENT”