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Thursday, December 26, 2019

Free speech means freedom to offend

The Times carries an interesting interview with the Chair of press regulator, IPSO in which he argues that there is no right to be offended, and that any attempt to censor people for unpleasant views would be fundamentally dangerous.

Sir Alan Moses told the paper that sensitive issues such as religion should be up for discussion and emphasised the importance of a free press:

'If you're the victim of something that is deeply offensive, it is the most unpleasant, uncomfortable thing that you can imagine,' he said. 'But what we have to acknowledge is that, in striking the right balance in this country, there is no right not to be offended.'

He added that a vibrant press is essential to safeguard democracy and added that the 2017 killing of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia showed what is lost when media freedoms are violated.

Just as interestingly, and reflecting my view and that of many other people, Sir Alan said that the BBC gets itself into ridiculous situations because of its concerns about balance.

Defending the right of news providers to pick sides, he said respected presenters were being driven out by broadcasters trying to avoid bias.

Sir Alan said that Ipso's approach of 'self-regulation with a contract' is the best model available and called state regulation 'completely unacceptable'.

'The idea that the law should control what news providers should and shouldn't say, as the price of being able to publish, seems to me quite wrong . . . and fundamentally dangerous.'
I agree with Sir Alan Moses's comments. Here in the states public figures can't just willy-nilly expect 'good results' from suing, inter alia, newspapers and like publications for defamation. Good too for the sake of democracy.
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