The Public Interest

“Taking photographs of individuals in private places without their consent is not acceptable, unless justified by the public interest.” I’ve never been a huge fan of the Press Council. It was set up as the lesser of two evils, an industry-funded self-regulator, the greater evil being a state-sponsored regulator. Threats of new privacy laws, and […]

‘Outrage against religion and public morality’

The story was a straightforward piece of reporting. John McAnulty, a haulier and grain dealer with an alleged involvement in smuggling, was abducted and killed by the IRA, suspected of giving information to police. The Sunday World article outlined what was known about his life and death, including the identities of the IRA squad behind […]

News talk

Yesterday, the news cycle covered Conor Lenihan’s proposed launch of a book on creationism. The science minister began by defending the gig as a favour to a friend, then the story went away when the invitation was withdrawn. This afternoon Sean Moncrieff interviewed the author, John J May. Among the tweets in response to the […]

In the beginning was the word

There was a time when book burning mattered. Once upon a time, religions enforced dictates by burning books containing the wrong opinions. To be orthodox was, literally, to hold the right opinion. And just in case that didn’t work, heretics were burned at the stake for good measure. At the end of the medieval era, […]

Hairetikos

So I’ve got some unleavened bread here. To some people, it’s just a piece of flour, mixed with water and heated. And to some people, it’s the body of a god, sacred beyond imagining. Plain unraised bread, made without yeast or other raising agent, is ‘unleavened’. A few years ago, a Florida student called Webster […]

Failure to communicate

I attended a seminar on the chilling effects of libel this evening, hosted by the Science Gallery in TCD. Simon Singh spoke about his successful fight against the British Chiropractic Association, and Peter Wilmshurst spoke of his ongoing battle with NMT Medical, a US medical devices maker. Two lawyers also addressed the gathering. After a […]

Free Speech or Worthy Speech?

There’s a meme going round, and I’m not sure what to make of it. One recent example forms the lead in to an article in Forth, and goes as follows: “We have to defend Lars Vilks because free speech matters but he’s a fool and his alleged would-be assassins arrested in Ireland are bumbling idiots, […]