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Free speech and its limitations

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Jenny
1380247.  Mon Apr 26, 2021 10:34 am Reply with quote

This topic sparked off by the following report on Snopes:

https://www.snopes.com/ap/2021/04/26/students-snapchat-profanity-leads-to-supreme-court-speech-case/?fbclid=IwAR0YrCcLigmBEBdpKf4zzalLLezC2S0sdzql58JODD-mInrgR_fxGzDMSGA

 
crissdee
1380255.  Mon Apr 26, 2021 11:44 am Reply with quote

Just to get the ball rolling, I think that in many cases, schools/colleges etc, have a grossly overblown idea of their power and jurisdiction over what their students do, full stop, let alone in their free time away from the establishment, and this is clearly one of those cases. This should never have been raised at any level whatsoever, certainly not at any level of legal jurisdiction, and absolutely not to the Supreme Court.

 
Jenny
1380317.  Tue Apr 27, 2021 11:23 am Reply with quote

I'm going to be very interested in what the SCOTUS says about it. There's been a lot of discussion recently about 'cancel culture', which to me says just that actions and speech have consequences, and while you are at liberty to say what you like and the government can't get you for it as long as you aren't actually inciting treason, nothing prevents other people from thinking you're an asshole and reacting accordingly, or prevents an organisation which sees you as representing them from wishing to disassociate from you.

 
cnb
1380363.  Wed Apr 28, 2021 3:33 am Reply with quote

It's not really clear from that article precisely what the case is about.

She posted "Fuck cheer" and was suspended from the cheerleading squad - an extracurricular activity of which she had publicly expressed her negative opinion.

She posted "Fuck school" but as far as I can see continued to attend school as normal. If she'd been suspended from classes, I'd understand why there was a case, but she wasn't.

 
Alexander Howard
1380385.  Wed Apr 28, 2021 7:48 am Reply with quote

I was always told 'when you are in school uniform, you are representing the school', and local people would complain to the Head if one of his pupils was seen misbehaving out of school. That was before antisocial media appeared.

There is a big difference between an expletive-ridden rant against your school and just disagreeing with someone else's social or political opinions. Free expression suggests reason, even if it is defective reason.

Why has this got to a court though? And the highest court in the land?

 
PDR
1380386.  Wed Apr 28, 2021 8:12 am Reply with quote

Alexander Howard wrote:

Why has this got to a court though? And the highest court in the land?


Colonial in-breeding

PDR

 
Jenny
1380398.  Wed Apr 28, 2021 10:22 am Reply with quote

No school uniforms over here in most schools Alexander, so that doesn't apply.

Wide sharing on social media is more likely to be the reason.

Trivial as this example is, though, given the loading of the SCOTUS with conservative judges by the Republicans and the current tendency of companies who (amazingly) don't want to lose customers over their representatives airing ultra-right-wing views to get rid of those representatives, there is a reason right there why the case has got as far as it has.

It's a more important case than you might think in terms of the First Amendment. This amendment has hitherto, because of the fairly precise nature of its wording, been held to apply only to government intervention in your freedom of speech. Libel and slander laws are quite different over here, for example, if you are a public figure of any kind. Generally it has been held that private companies, organisations or individuals are entitled to refuse you access to their services, for example, if they are offended or upset by your statements. This, for example, has been an issue that has been raised around the refusal of services for gay weddings by "Christian" bakers. That is in itself not a free speech issue, but the two things are related.

 
rizarefaldi
1383577.  Sun Jun 20, 2021 4:14 pm Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
This topic sparked off by the following report on Snopes ukuran kertas a4 dalam cm

https://www.snopes.com/ap/2021/04/26/students-snapchat-profanity-leads-to-supreme-court-speech-case/?fbclid=IwAR0YrCcLigmBEBdpKf4zzalLLezC2S0sdzql58JODD-mInrgR_fxGzDMSGA


It's not really clear from that article precisely what the case is about.

 
Jenny
1383614.  Mon Jun 21, 2021 9:36 am Reply with quote

Hi rizarefaldi and welcome to the forums. I think the sub-heading of the Snopes article sums it up - At issue is whether public schools can discipline students over something they say off-campus.

I don't know where you are based, but I am in the USA along with a couple of others, while other members of this forum are largely in the UK, with members in Ireland, Australia and the Netherlands and an occasional South African when he drops in. Freedom of speech and its limitations is a much bigger issue on my side of the Atlantic because of its protection under the First Amendment, but there is a great deal of misunderstanding about it.

Our First Amendment right is not to have our speech interfered with by the government. Many people think that means you can say anything at any time, but there is plenty of legal precedent that private entities, such as for example Facebook and Twitter, are entitled to block speech that goes against its policies. I think the nub of this particular case is the role of government in public schools (that is, state schools) and how that impacts interference with activities and speech that take place off campus.

 
suze
1385128.  Tue Jul 13, 2021 5:07 pm Reply with quote

For the second time today, I'm going to shoehorn a topic of the day into a thread where it more or less fits.


Readers will be aware of Bloody Sunday, an incident which occurred in Northern ireland in 1972. A former member of the British Army, always referred to as Soldier F, had been charged with two counts of murder and five of attempted murder in connexion with the events of that day.

The murder charges have now been dropped, but a separate hearing ruled that Soldier F should retain the anonymity which he was first granted in 1972 for life.

In the House of Commons today, Colum Eastwood MP (SDLP, Foyle) considered it appropriate to state Soldier F's real name. Mr Eastwood states that the real name is already well known in Derry/Londonderry - on which point I have little doubt that he is right - and that no purpose is served by allowing Soldier F permanent legal anonymity.

Mr Eastwood can do that under Parliamentary privilege, since nothing said in Parliament can ever carry civil or criminal liability. At the same time, some may feel - and both the DUP and the government do feel - that his action was irresponsible.

The BBC's coverage of this matter states that "The BBC is not naming Soldier F for legal reasons". What legal reasons would those be?

Except in wartime when special rules apply, the media are always permitted to report the proceedings of Parliament. It is open to Mr Speaker to rule that Hansard should be censored, but it has never happened except in wartime and it has not happened today. I shall exercise some discretion and not link, but the real name of Soldier F is visible on the Hansard website as of the time of this post.

Whether tomorrow's newspapers will print the name we'll find out in the coming hours, but I cannot see that they would commit any offence if they did. What thinks this house?


Just in case, please can we not use the real name here.

 
barbados
1385140.  Wed Jul 14, 2021 1:17 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:


The BBC's coverage of this matter states that "The BBC is not naming Soldier F for legal reasons". What legal reasons would those be?

Except in wartime when special rules apply, the media are always permitted to report the proceedings of Parliament. It is open to Mr Speaker to rule that Hansard should be censored, but it has never happened except in wartime and it has not happened today. I shall exercise some discretion and not link, but the real name of Soldier F is visible on the Hansard website as of the time of this post.

Whether tomorrow's newspapers will print the name we'll find out in the coming hours, but I cannot see that they would commit any offence if they did. What thinks this house?

The press can report the proceedings, they are however bound by the court order - so should they disclose the name, they would be in contempt of court - as would Colum Eastwood should he disclose the name outside of parliament.

 
dr.bob
1385159.  Wed Jul 14, 2021 5:39 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Mr Eastwood states that the real name is already well known in Derry/Londonderry - on which point I have little doubt that he is right - and that no purpose is served by allowing Soldier F permanent legal anonymity.


If you and Mr Eastwood are correct in stating that the name is well known in an area such as Derry/Londonderry, then I must agree that little purpose is served by granting anonymity. I find it hard to classify his actions as "irresponsible".

Is the anonymity there to protect Soldier F from revenge attacks by Nationalists, or from press intrusion into his life? If the former, then it has clearly failed since I suspect any Nationalists bent on revenge would probably have friends in Derry/Londonderry who could furnish them with the name. If the latter then I would probably agree to keep it in place, given how appallingly the press behave towards people without the wherewithal to counter-sue them, but I wouldn't call Mr Eastwood "irresponsible".

 
PDR
1385161.  Wed Jul 14, 2021 5:58 am Reply with quote

Whilst I don't disagree with the pragmatic view, I think I would still want to keep the legal principle. Otherwise we could be in a situation where any legal anonymity (or other reporting restriction) could be circumvented by someone outside UK jurisdiction disclosing the information.

So for example if we allowed the information leak to automatically cancel these restrictions then someone outside the UK posting the name and sexual history of a rape victim on a Venezuelan* website would allow the british press complete freedom to pursue the victim, her family, her dog [etc] and publish hundreds of column inches of hurtful and salacious gossip.

What about a similar situation where someone publishes this data AHEAD of a trial when it should all be sub-judice? That could provide prima facie argument for declaring a fair trial to be impossible due to the difficulty of assembling an unprejudiced jury.

What about the case of Mary Bell orders [etc] where identities are required to be protected for life? Do they go by the board because someone disclosed the information outside the English Court's jurisdiction?

In this particular instance where Parliamentary Privilege is [ab]used, there is supposed to be a Parliamentary disciplinary process led by the Speaker. The Privilege exists for a valid reason, but while it places MPs beyond the reach of Courts it is still supposed to be policed by the MPs themselves. It will be interesting to see if anything of this nature occurs.

PDR

* country chosen at random

 
barbados
1385162.  Wed Jul 14, 2021 6:26 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:


Is the anonymity there to protect Soldier F from revenge attacks by Nationalists, or from press intrusion into his life? If the former, then it has clearly failed since I suspect any Nationalists bent on revenge would probably have friends in Derry/Londonderry who could furnish them with the name. If the latter then I would probably agree to keep it in place, given how appallingly the press behave towards people without the wherewithal to counter-sue them, but I wouldn't call Mr Eastwood "irresponsible".

Are you suggesting that if it is the former you donít agree it should be kept in place?

 
Alexander Howard
1385167.  Wed Jul 14, 2021 8:46 am Reply with quote

The law which allows Colum Eastwood MP to say what he did without fear of legal consequences is a clause of the Bill of Rights 1688, a prize of the Glorious Revolution. The conclusion of that revolution was celebrated by Protestants all over Northern Ireland on Monday. Maybe Mr Eastwood should have joined in this year.

The papers and the television stations are more likely to stay stumm on this one than on other occasions. Where there have been super-injunctions to protect the blushes of the super-rich they will honour the letter but not the spirit: if it is a juicy scandal of 'celeb gay threesome text shame' or whatever then every social media outlet will furnish a name leaked by journalists, but here there is something more serious at stake. I remember the Troubles and many of the men behind it are still out there, It is not something to play with lightly.

 

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