Friday, April 2, 2010

Sticks & Stones

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law "respecting an establishment of religion", impeding the free exercise of religion, infringing on the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.

Man.. I love the first amendment. That statement above is why I love my country.

Freedom of speech is the concept of the inherent human right to voice one's opinion publicly without fear of censorship or punishment.

"Speech" is not limited to public speaking and is generally taken to include other forms of expression. The right is preserved in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is granted formal recognition by the laws of most nations. Nonetheless the degree to which the right is upheld in practice varies greatly from one nation to another. In many nations, particularly those with relatively authoritarian forms of government, "overt" government censorship is enforced. Censorship has also been claimed to occur in other forms and there are different approaches to issues such as hate speech, obscenity, and defamation laws even in countries seen as liberal democracies.

I decided to research which countries have a "freedom of speech" right - and to what degree. First watch the videos.. then read on.
Here is what I found:

The majority of African constitutions provide legal protection for freedom of speech. However, these rights are exercised inconsistently in practice. South Africa is probably the most liberal in granting freedom of speech with the exception of the advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.

One of the poorest and smallest nations in Africa, Eritrea is now the largest prison for journalists; since 2001, fourteen journalists have been imprisoned in unknown places without a trial. Sudan, Libya, and Equatorial Guinea also have repressive laws and practices. In addition, many state radio stations (which are the primary source of news for illiterate people) are under tight control and programs, especially talk shows providing a forum to complain about the government, are often censored. Also countries like Somalia and Egypt provide legal protection for freedom of speech but it is not used publicly.

Australia does not have a bill or declaration of rights; however, in 1992 the High Court of Australia judged in the case of Australian Capital Television Pty Ltd v Commonwealth that the Australian Constitution, by providing for a system of representative and responsible government, implied the protection of political communication as an essential element of that system. This freedom of political communication is not a broad freedom of speech as in other countries, but rather a freedom whose purpose is only to protect political free speech. This freedom of political free speech is a "shield" against the government - and the government only - it is not a shield against private interests.

Several Asian countries provide formal legal guarantees of freedom of speech to their citizens. These are not, however, implemented in practice in most places. Countries such as Vietnam, Myanmar, Singapore, North Korea and Central Asian Republics like Turkmenistan brutally repress freedom of speech.

Articles 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan guarantees freedom of speech and expression, and freedom of the press with certain restrictions.

Article 35 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China claims that:

Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.

Nonetheless strict censorship is widespread in mainland China. There is heavy government involvement in the media, with many of the largest media organizations being run by the Communist government. References to democracy, the free Tibet movement, Taiwan as an independent country, certain religious organizations and anything questioning the legitimacy of the Communist Party of China are banned from use in publications and blocked on the Internet. Web portals including Microsoft's MSN have come under criticism for aiding in these practices, including banning the word "democracy" from its chat-rooms in China.

Due to close geographical proximity to Hong Kong, parts of southern China are able to receive broadcast signals from television channels in Hong Kong, where China's censorship does not apply. However, comments that the Communist Party feel uncomfortable with are cut out and replaced with TV commercials before they can reach consumers TVs in mainland China. Very few Western films are given permission to play in Chinese theatres, although widespread unlicensed copying of these films makes them widely available.

The Indian constitution guarantees freedom of speech to every citizen and there have been landmark cases in the Indian Supreme Court that have affirmed the nation's policy of allowing free press and freedom of expression to every citizen. In India, citizens are free to criticize politics, politicians, bureaucracy and policies. The freedoms are comparable to those in the United States and Western European democracies.

However, Indian citizens cannot criticize supreme court judgments (although they are given the right to challenge the court's decision under legal process) and such criticism is punishable by three month imprisonment in jail. Novelist, Arundhati Roy, was arrested and charged 2000 Rupees for criticizing court's judgment in the Sardar Sarover case. She was released after she paid the fine.

In Malaysia, "God" and "Prophet Muhammad" are used by politicians to answer to the peoples and the media. On May 2008, the Prime Minister of Malaysia Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi put forward a headline "Media should practice voluntary self-censorship", saying there is no such thing as unlimited freedom and the media should not be abashed of "voluntary self-censorship" to respect cultural norms, different societies hold different values and while it might be acceptable in secular countries to depict a caricature of Prophet Muhammad, it was clearly not the case here. "It is not a moral or media sin to respect prophets." He said the Government also wanted the media not to undermine racial and religious harmony to the extent that it could threaten national security and public order. "I do not see these laws as curbs on freedom. Rather, they are essential for a healthy society."

The South Korean constitution guarantees freedom of speech, press, petition and assembly. However, behaviors or speeches in favor of North Korean Regime or communism can be punished by the National Security Act (South Korea), which has become very rare recently.

There is a strict election law that takes effect a few months before elections that prohibit most speech that support, criticizes a particular candidate or party. One can get prosecuted for political parodies and even wearing a particular color (usually of a party) can be prosecuted.

Article 26 of the Constitution of Turkey guarantees the right to "Freedom of Expression and Dissemination of Thought". Moreover, the Republic of Turkey is a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights and submits to the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. The constitutional freedom of expression may be limited by provisions in other laws, of which Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, which outlaws insulting Turkishness, indicating that "Expressions of thought intended to criticize shall not constitute a crime".

The European Convention on Human Rights, signed on 4 November 1950, guarantees a broad range of human rights to inhabitants of member countries of the Council of Europe, which includes almost all European nations. These rights include Article 10, which entitles all citizens to free expression.

Currently, all members of the European Union are signatories of the European Convention on Human Rights as well as having varying constitutional and legal protections for freedom of expression at the national level. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union guarantees freedom of expression but currently merely has the status of a "solemn proclamation" and is not binding in law.

Freedom of speech in Denmark is granted by Grundloven:
Any person shall be at liberty to publish his ideas in print, in writing, and in speech, subject to his being held responsible in a court of law. Censorship and other preventive measures shall never again be introduced.

Traditionally the left-wing parties support freedom of speech but not when such speech is anti-minority and or is blasphemous. Right-wing parties alternately support full freedom of speech for the citizens almost regardless of motive and subject (racism in public is illegal so it has not been included in the statement). In the wake of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy, however, there has been considerable debate over the extent of free-speech protections in Denmark, as concerns speech and imagery that could be seen as blasphemous or insulting.

Article 7 of the Dutch Grondwet in its first paragraph grants everybody the right to make public ideas and feelings by printing them without prior censorship, but not exonerating the author from his liabilities under the law. The second paragraph says that radio and television will be regulated by law but that there will be no prior censorship dealing with the content of broadcasts. The third paragraph grants a similar freedom of speech as in the first for other means of making ideas and feelings public but allowing censorship for reasons of decency when the public that has access may be younger than sixteen years of age. The fourth and last paragraph exempts commercial advertising from the freedoms granted in the first three paragraphs.

In France, The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, of constitutional value, states, in its article 11:

The free communication of thoughts and of opinions is one of the most precious rights of man: any citizen thus may speak, write, print freely, save [if it is necessary] to respond to the abuse of this liberty, in the cases determined by the law.

In addition, France adheres to the European Convention on Human Rights and accepts the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.

However, French law prohibits public speech or writings that incite to racial or religious hatred, as well as those that deny the Holocaust.

In December 2004, a controversial addition was made to the law, criminalizing the prohibition to hatred or violence against people because of their sexual orientation.

Freedom of expression is granted by Article 5 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany:

Every person shall have the right freely to express and disseminate their opinions in speech, writing, and pictures and to inform themself without hindrance from generally accessible sources. Freedom of the press and freedom of reporting by means of broadcasts and films shall be guaranteed. There shall be no censorship.

These rights shall find their limits in the provisions of general laws, in provisions for the protection of young persons, and in the right to personal honor.

Art and scholarship, research, and teaching shall be free. The freedom of teaching shall not release any person from allegiance to the constitution.

The most important and sometimes controversial regulations limiting freedom of speech and freedom of the press can be found in the Criminal code:

Insult is punishable under Section 185. Satire and similar forms of art enjoy more freedom but have to respect human dignity (Article 1 of the Basic law).

Malicious Gossip and Defamation (Section 186 and 187). Utterances about facts (opposed to personal judgement) are allowed if they are true and can be proven. Yet journalists are free to investigate without evidence because they are justified by Safeguarding Legitimate Interests (Section 193).

Hate speech may be punishable if against segments of the population and in a manner that is capable of disturbing the public peace (Section 130 [Agitation of the People]), including racist agitation and antisemitism.

Holocaust denial is punishable according to Section 130 subsection 3.

Dissemination of Means of Propaganda of Unconstitutional Organizations (Section 86).

Use of Symbols of Unconstitutional Organizations (Section 86a) as the Swastika.

Disparagement of

the Federal President (Section 90).

the State and its Symbols (Section 90a).

Insult to Organs and Representatives of Foreign States (Section 103).

Rewarding and Approving Crimes (Section 140).

Casting False Suspicion (Section 164).

Insulting of Faiths, Religious Societies and Organizations Dedicated to a Philosophy of Life if they could disturb public peace (Section 166)

Dissemination of Pornographic Writings (Section 184).

Freedom of speech is protected by Article 40.6.1 of the Irish constitution. However the article qualifies this right, providing that it may not be used to undermine "public order or morality or the authority of the State". Furthermore, the constitution explicitly requires that the publication of "blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter" be a criminal offence, leading the government to pass a new blasphemy law on 8 July, 2009.

Freedom of speech is regulated in three parts of the Constitution of Sweden.

The Swiss Constitution also guarantees Freedom of speech and Freedom of information for every citizen.

In 1998, the United Kingdom incorporated the European Convention, and the guarantee of freedom of expression it contains in Article 10, into its domestic law under the Human Rights Act. UK law imposes a number of limitations on freedom of speech not found in some other jurisdictions. For example, its laws recognise the crimes of incitement to racial hatred and incitement to religious hatred. UK laws on defamation are also considered among the strictest in the Western world, imposing a high burden of proof on the defendant.

In Cuba, Books, newspapers, radio channels, television channels, movies and music are censored. Cuba's is one of the world's worst offenders of free speech according to the Press Freedom Index 2008. RWB states that Cuba is "the second biggest prison in the world for journalists" after the People's Republic of China.

There is a constitutional provision that guarantees Freedom of expression in Canada is section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This section is double edged. First it implies that a limitation on freedom of speech prescribed in law can be permitted if it can be justified as being a reasonable limit in a free and democratic society. Conversely, it implies that a restriction can be invalidated if it cannot be shown to be a reasonable limit in a free and democratic society.

Despite these protections in practice Canada has had a string of high profile prosecutions and jailings of writers for their political opinions as expressed through their for their writings, in both magazines and web postings.

In Brazil, freedom of expression is a Constitutional right.

Finally - who has it the best? Well - America, of course. Though, after the Patriot Act, questions are slowly beginning to arise.

In the United States freedom of expression is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. There are several exceptions to this general rule, including copyright protection, the Miller test for obscenity and greater regulation of so-called commercial speech, such as advertising. The Miller test in particular rarely comes into effect.

Neither the federal nor state governments engage in preliminary censorship of movies. However, the Motion Picture Association of America has a rating system, and movies not rated by the MPAA cannot expect anything but a very limited release in theatres. Since the organization is private, no recourse to the courts is available. The rules implemented by the MPAA are more restrictive than the ones implemented by most First World countries. However, unlike comparable public or private institutions in other countries, the MPAA does not have the power to limit the retail sale of movies in tape or disc form based on their content, nor does it affect movie distribution in public (i.e., government-funded) libraries. Since 2000, it has become quite common for movie studios to release "unrated" DVD versions of films with MPAA-censored content put back in.
Historically, local communities and governments have sometimes sought to place limits upon speech that was deemed subversive or unpopular. There was a significant struggle for the right to free speech on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley in the 1960s. And, in the period from 1906 to 1916, the Industrial Workers of the World, a working class union, found it necessary to engage in free speech fights intended to secure the right of union organizers to speak freely to wage workers. These free speech campaigns were sometimes quite successful, although participants often put themselves at great risk.

Freedom of speech is also sometimes limited to Free speech zones, which can take the form of a wire fence enclosure, barricades, or an alternative venue designed to segregate speakers according to the content of their message. Civil libertarians claim that Free Speech Zones are used as a form of censorship and public relations management to conceal the existence of popular opposition from the mass public and elected officials. There is much controversy surrounding the creation of these areas — the mere existence of such zones is offensive to some people, who maintain that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution makes the entire country an unrestricted free speech zone.

The Department of Homeland Security "has even gone so far as to tell local police departments to regard critics of the War on Terrorism as potential terrorists themselves."

I leave you with this to consider: If I lived in another country, I could very well be in prison now for the things I have written and shared. Please watch this final :30 second video. God Bless!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think, that you are not right. I am assured. I can defend the position.


Interested in purchasing ad space? Your ad could be RIGHT HERE.
Email for more details.


Related Posts with Thumbnails