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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…
Foreign PR campaigns have been waged for decades. Films like 1930’s All Quiet on the Western Front were significantly altered to appease Germany’s Nazi Party. filmjunk.com

How foreign governments can influence American media – and tried to block my documentary

Feature films and television shows notoriously play fast-and-loose with the facts. When prologues proclaim “Based on a True Story,” they’re gracefully implying that what follows is mostly fiction. Awards…
What happened to “bless those who curse you”? Francis R Malasig/EPA

Pope Francis gives freedom of speech a cruel punch

Approaching his third year as head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis appeared to be doing so well. That is, until after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, he’s said that those who mock faith should be…
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…
French comedian Dieudonné has just been charged as an ‘apologist for terrorism’ for his Facebook posting ‘Je me sens Charlie Coulibaly’ (I feel I am Charlie Coulibaly). EPA/Didier Jouret

Speech in France is not so free as Section 18C critics would have it

Recent commentary about the so-called “French” idea of free speech is fuelling confusion and misinformation in the debate about Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 in Australia. Human Rights…
Stéphane Charbonnier (Charb) lost his life in the Paris shooting. thierry ehrmann

In praise of the cartoonist – solitary, studious and searing

They think and work differently, cartoonists. Anyone who has spent any time in an editorial office will know that cartoonists dream and draw on their own, working to the rhythm of their thoughts – if they…
Is it ever okay to depict the assassination of living person? KCNA/Reuters

The Interview, Hollywood and the politics of ridicule

Sony’s decision to cancel the Christmas Day release of its film The Interview is drawing harsh criticism from Hollywood’s elite. George Clooney is asking everyone to stand up against the cancellation…
Who’s attacking who? Freedom via alexskopje/Shutterstock

Even extremists have a right to freedom of speech on campus

There may well be an outcry from student unions and lecturers’ organisations against proposals in a new counter-terrorism bill from home secretary Theresa May for a new statutory duty on universities and…
Some images are illegal even to see, an online crime scene. mangostock/Shutterstock

When a drawing or cartoon image can land you in jail

A cartoon can land you in court, as happened to a man recently convicted of possessing non-photographic images – cartoons, drawings – of a sexual nature featuring children. Clearly child pornography, more…
George Brandis wants to protect the ‘right to be a bigot’ in the name of free speech. But the government may seek to remove such a right in relation to corporations. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

In the government’s hierarchy of values, is free speech at the top?

The federal government has indicated that it is considering repealing an exemption in the Competition and Consumer Act that provides for boycotts of companies on environmental grounds. The government is…
It is disingenuous for attorney-general George Brandis and the government to isolate Section 18C as the sole enemy to free speech. AAP/Stefan Postles

Section 18C and unravelling the government’s ‘freedom agenda’

It is remarkable that the Abbott government has singled out one law, Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, as stifling free expression, but has remained silent on other more draconian laws that…
If the web needs new rules,who makes them? Flickr / ocean.flynn

If the web wants rules, who will make them?

Web founder Sir Tim Berners-Lee wants an online “Magna Carta” to protect and ensure the independence of the internet. He’s also created a Web We Want campaign, calling on people to generate a digital bill…
Xu Zhiyong, jailed for four years. for inciting public disorder. Wikimedia Commons

China’s war on thought is being waged in Western universities

In the past decade, US and UK universities have embarked on a program of developing formal relationships, exchanges, and partnerships with their counterparts in China. No scholar interested in promoting…
You may not like them, but UK press keeps the bastards honest. Rui Vieira/PA Wire

World media think British press is less free – they might be right

One fact that can unite all sides in the post-Leveson press regulation debate is that the world now thinks British journalists are less free – and less likely to be free in the future. This perception…

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