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Articles on Free speech

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The first attack occurred at an arts centre, during a seminar by controversial artist Lars Vilks. STR/EPA

Copenhagen shootings target democracy and pluralism

Two people are dead and five injured – including the suspected perpetrator – in what has been described as a cynical act of terror against Denmark. Though they may have resulted in fewer deaths, the twin…
Julian Disney is preparing to depart as chairman of the Australian Press Council after five years in the role. AAP/Lukas Coch

Making media accountable to the public bolsters press freedom

Julian Disney, the outgoing chair of the Australian Press Council, made a singularly powerful argument in his valedictory speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday: that freedom of the press is strengthened…
No platform policies are morphing into bans that threaten free speech. Chris Radburn/PA Archive

New ranking exposes curbs on university freedom of speech

Freedom of speech is at the heart of academic life and a university should be a place where every issue is discussed and debated. Not so, according to the findings presented in the first ever Freedom of…
In Samuel Roth’s time, there was no Constitutional protection for expression deemed subversive, obscene or indecent. Columbia News

An American Charlie Hebdo?

In 1957, publisher Samuel Roth spent his 63rd birthday in federal prison. His appeal denied by the United States Supreme Court, he would end up serving every day of his five year sentence. The crime? He…
Family First senator Bob Day’s proposed changes to Section 18C have been given fresh prominence since the Charlie Hebdo attacks. AAP/Lukas Coch

Charlie Hebdo attacks provide a false pretext for 18C debate

Early in 2014, federal Attorney-General George Brandis released a proposal to significantly amend our law against racial vilification, Sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act, on the strength…
Liberal senator Cory Bernardi has argued for Australia’s racial discrimination laws to be revisited in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France. AAP/Alan Porritt

Repealing 18C would leave Jews exposed as Muslims already are

Let’s be clear about one thing as the loony right once more revisits with slavering lips their thwarted desire to allow racial vilification to run untrammelled through Australian society. Nothing that…
This candlelit rally in Tunisia was one of the many condemnations from Muslim nations of the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo. EPA/Mohamed Messara

All of Islam isn’t intolerant, nor did the West always accept blasphemy

The tradition of freedom of expression on religious matters is not quite so venerable as many seem to imagine in the outcry at the killing of Charlie Hebdo journalists and cartoonists in Paris. While modern…
Any attack motivated by the pen upon that pen’s purveyor is an attack on free speech.

Charlie Hebdo: the pen must defy the sword, Islamic or not

The slaying of the Charlie Hebdo journalists and cartoonists because of their work is the grossest attack on the value of free speech, and of course the right to life. In the deadly attack on the magazine’s…
While African Australians can express themselves in ethnic events such as Sydney’s Africulture festival, they still have almost no presence in mainstream media debate, even when it’s about them. AAP/Newzulu/Teresa Parker

Debate on free speech alone means little for minorities

Recent debates about freedom of expression in Australia have largely neglected the ethnic minority media sector. These debates came to a head in the lead-up to the federal government’s recent decision…
Open justice sometimes best served by secrecy. Clare Molden/PA

Our right to be safe trumps press right to free speech

Tim Crook and I agree that, ideally, for justice to be done, it must be seen to be done. We also agree that the media should be free to publish within the law and that we are all better off without Levesonian…
Treasurer Joe Hockey has commenced defamation proceedings against several Fairfax newspapers over the ‘Treasurer for sale’ story. AAP/Dean Lewins

Hockey’s defamation suit shows need for wider free speech debate

Treasurer Joe Hockey’s decision to sue Fairfax Media for defamation over the now-notorious front-page story “Treasurer for sale” raises interesting questions about politicians suing to protect their reputation…
Simply knowing laws against hate speech exist makes people feel less vulnerable to the racial prejudice and hostility they encounter. Warren Hudson/Wikimedia Commons

Explainer: how do Australia’s laws on hate speech work in practice?

The Abbott government’s intention to amend national racist hate speech law has reignited a debate that has raged in Australia for decades: is there a place for laws that condemn public conduct that is…
Believers in alien abduction do not have a right to be taken seriously, and nor do those who simply reject the evidence of climate change. Photobank gallery/Shutterstock

Brandis confuses right to be heard with right to be taken seriously

In a recent interview, federal attorney-general George Brandis laments that deniers of climate science are being “excluded” from the debate. On the surface this seems a justifiable complaint, but the point…
The rise of Islamophobia in Australia has left Muslims vulnerable as anti-discrimination laws cover racial but not religious vilification. AAP/Dean Lewins

A Muslim perspective on Racial Discrimination Act amendments

The markers of identification of communities have clearly moved from just race, colour and national or ethnic origin to include religion. In the case of Muslims, their faith and culture and all that it…
According to a US court, ‘free speech’ means internet search engines can choose what they allow to show up and filter out. Brian J. Matis/Flickr

Baidu’s perfect paradox: free speech and the right to censor

China’s biggest search engine has a constitutional right to filter its search results, a US court found last month. But that’s just the start of the story. Eight New York-based pro-democracy activists…

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