Tag Archives: free speech

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 the incentive of an easing in Ireland’s harsh libel regime, led to its foundation. The… Read Article →

Rules and regulations

I’ve never had much time for the UK’s Press Complaints Commission. Like its Irish counterpart, the Press Council of Ireland, there are too many industry faces on the board, and industry voices were far too keen to set it up. Self-regulation doesn’t work anywhere else, so why should the press be any different? About the only thing I can imagine worse than an industry-sponsored press council is one sponsored by… Read Article →

Free speech

Since, as one debater observed, sometimes 140 characters aren’t enough, some thoughts arising out of a twitter debate this evening. Free speech is meant to be offensive. Free speech wears tattoos and wants to date your daughter. Free speech wants to do drugs. Free speech wants to stop immigrants taking our jobs. Free speech hates your god, your country, your most cherished beliefs. Free speech must be offensive, or speech… Read Article →

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, things got a bit trickier. Laborious copying by hand was replaced by mechanical printing, so… Read Article →


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 Cook put a piece of unleavened bread in his pocket. Churchgoers confronted Webster to get… Read Article →


Kevin Myers writes, in the Irish Independent of Friday 25 May, 2009: “Google Amnesty International and Hamas, and you will find many, many condemnations by Amnesty of Israel; but you will have to work very hard indeed to find Amnesty’s condemnations of Hamas. Yes, there are some, but they are seriously muted in comparison to Amnesty’s almost daily condemnations of Israel, though the latter has not executed any prisoners.” Challenged… Read Article →

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, says Finbar Rosato in Sweden.” Heres another quote from the article along the same lines:… Read Article →

Streisand Effect

The Guardian reports it has been gagged from reporting parliament. It cannot report that a particular question was asked of a minister, or who asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question can be found. Nor is it allowed to say why it can’t tell you those things, or who says it can’t tell you. What it can say is the Commons… Read Article →

In Context

The commentariat can be defined as those who are willing to offer an opinion on things they know nothing about, and get paid handsomely for the privilege. Sometimes, the lack of knowledge is blatant. Take the number of people who happily declare that they haven’t actually heard what Tommy Tiernan said at Electric Picnic, before going on to condemn it. There’s been a lot of talk about Tommy over the… Read Article →

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Making the Cut

When is a complaint not a complaint? When RTÉ broadcast a lighthearted complaint in March about a portrait of Brian Cowen hung in that national gallery, they received nine calls complaining the item was in poor taste. It’s not clear if the nine includes a call from Eoghan Ó Neachtain, who rang RTÉ director general Cathal Goan at home. Either way, RTÉ apologised for the item the following day. The… Read Article →