Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: How much speech does it take?

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  • Paul Williams,

    And still no-one has addressed my question, whichever way I put it.

    I think there's been a few, good faith, attempts (and perhaps you needn't insist that yours is the only question).

    Interestingly, from the "scandal" relating to Henson's photos of naked adolescents, there was a great deal of discussion about the specific content of the various laws, free speech, pornography etc, here in NSW. FYI, this article canvasses the issues broadly and I recall how poor and predictable our politicians were.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2191 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    I also think your question has been answered half a dozen times but if that’s now how it feels to you I’m not sure where to go from here.

    Well, I've totally missed that. The question seems to me to have been systematically dodged.

    And, yes, I have read the relevant legislation. To be perfectly frank, I used to work on the stuff. But that's not relevant to this discussion.

    And, yes, I too see no point in commenting on a blog purportedly about limits on free speech if no-one is willing to discuss the subject. I no longer have any idea what you (the general not specific) think you're doing here.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi, in reply to Russell Brown,

    the actual potential for harm to a group is another.

    No-one has in any way tried to specify how to determine that. That's all I'm asking.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    No-one has in any way tried to specify how to determine that. That's all I'm asking.

    You think there should be a simple and universal answer rather than broad principles and common law? I'd worry that the bar would be set very low.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2191 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    And, yes, I have read the relevant legislation. To be perfectly frank, I used to work on the stuff. But that’s not relevant to this discussion.

    FWIW, I collaborated with Steven Price on a report for the Broadcasting Standards Authority on regulating internet content. My conclusion was that regulation of internet speech was impractical and probably unwise. Steven saw it a bit differently and, from memory, thought measures like regulating a right of reply might have merit.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi, in reply to Paul Williams,

    You think there should be a simple and universal answer rather than broad principles and common law? I’d worry that the bar would be set very low.

    No, I think we should specify those broad principles as much as possible.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    thought it would be in the interest of artists that their freedom of expression not be subject to there not being any form of censorship whatsoever. And I stand by that.

    Mmmm.
    Which does rather bring up the rather loaded query – who is an artist?
    Not just askin’ – I am sure we all know of people who trade on the -urm? prestige?- I am no longer sure of that- of being ’an artist'
    - who have never put in the hard yards of practise/practice and production, whether it be in paint or print or photograph. Or whatever-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    My conclusion was that regulation of internet speech was impractical and probably unwise.

    But other media might still be? Yet another challenge for any definitive or universal test for the "potential for harm".

    No, I think we should specify those broad principles as much as possible.

    Ditto, I can't however... I have only a vague memory of defamation law (and possibly even an Act since amended). Perhaps your earlier insistence reflects a respect for the diversity of knowledge often resident here but I was not focusing not on the details... it is Friday afterall!

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2191 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi, in reply to Islander,

    thought it would be in the interest of artists that their freedom of expression not be subject to there not being any form of censorship whatsoever. And I stand by that.

    Mmmm.
    Which does rather bring up the rather loaded query – who is an artist?
    Not just askin’ – I am sure we all know of people who trade on the -urm? prestige?- I am no longer sure of that- of being ’an artist- who have never put in the hard yards of practise/practice and production, whether it be in paint or print or photograph. Or whatever-

    Let me be clear. I don't think the question of 'who is an artist' is relevant. The principles underpinning artistic freedom apply more generally to free speech – that is, to all thought (and therefore action). The best society is the one in which information is exchanged freely, openly, and transparently.

    And, personally speaking, I also think that I have a clear moral right to use whatever I need to make my work. I will fight tooth and nail against any infringement of that right.

    I accept that I live in a society, which as presently structured does infringe on those rights. Therefore, what I want to know is what are the legitimate limits of those constraints? (To put it, as someone pointed out, the right way round!)

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Paul Williams,

    But other media might still be? Yet another challenge for any definitive or universal test for the “potential for harm”.

    As broadcast steadily loses its Reithian universal reach and the audience fragments, I suspect we will have to reconsider statutory regulation. We have to some extent anyway, in regulating pay TV differently to free-to-air TV.

    OTOH, in the print world, the self-regulation practiced by the newspaper industry has waved through some hideous behaviour. There are quite a few MPs at Westminster who want statutory regulation of newspapers now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    There are quite a few MPs at Westminster who want statutory regulation of newspapers now.

    Gillard here has mooted regulation also.

    There's a good podcast debate from the LSE on this very issue, I got it on iTunes so can't easily link to it but if you search the podcasts lists, it's easy to find and is only last week (I think).

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2191 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins. -- Oliver Wendell Holmes

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 633 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    I like this but it surely doesn't apply to speech? Your right to not be offended by me can be respected by choosing to not listen; it doesn't require my silence.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2191 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    And, personally speaking, I also think that I have a clear moral right to use whatever I need to make my work. I will fight tooth and nail against any infringement of that right.

    Just where does that leave plaigerism - and copyright?

    I disagree with you strongly about open slather on sources - and open slather on the (legally defined) harms that may be considered to happen: examples - under the regime of the old IPT, books for self-help cannabis growers and bombmakers and anarchist literature were adjudged equivalent.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    And, personally speaking, I also think that I have a clear moral right to use whatever I need to make my work. I will fight tooth and nail against any infringement of that right.

    And that right has been stoutly defended in this country. The philosophical battle over the contents of galleries was mostly played out in the 50s and 60s here. There's a "taxpayer's money" set piece, but we acknowledge the freedom of artists. Or, rather, we don't make a fuss about it.

    But what we defend as art is not the same thing that we will regard as acceptable in another context. Virgin in a Condom as a work of art was exhibited by a state agency in the face of violent protest -- but a prime-time reality show in which contestants compete to fit the condom over the statue of the Virgin Mary the most times would probably fall afoul of the state regulator, the BSA.

    So there really is not a single, simple answer to your questions.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi, in reply to Islander,

    And, personally speaking, I also think that I have a clear moral right to use whatever I need to make my work. I will fight tooth and nail against any infringement of that right.

    Just where does that leave plaigerism – and copyright?

    In a whole other discussion. One that is also very worthwhile having.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Islander,

    Which does rather bring up the rather loaded query – who is an artist?

    If the National Front wants to organise a march against Muslims and call it performance art, I think the state will have the right to differ, and to test that claim in a court of law. I also think it is not very difficult to place the Robinson picture in the correct discursive context, and protect it from attempts to censor it. The lines that DCBCauchi refers to are drawn all the time, but they are notoriously hard to define in universal terms. I happen to think that it's a good thing, that we don't have a test that forecloses any kind of argument a priori. If that makes me a question dodger, so be it, but that's my answer: we have criteria in law; they are tested by the courts; they are continuously updated as society and the media evolve.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7320 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But I wouldn’t be surprised to see a voluntary bloggers’ code of conduct introduced in the coming year, one which looks a bit like the Press Council code.

    Orly?

    haven't we being talking about that for years now?

    is this an aspirational goal, like catching up australia? <serious now>

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2024 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    ut that’s my answer: we have criteria in law; they are tested by the courts; they are continuously updated as society and the media evolve.

    And I dont have any difficulty with that answer whatsoever (not least because the criteria evolve as society changes.)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi, in reply to Paul Williams,

    I like this but it surely doesn’t apply to speech? Your right to not be offended by me can be respected by choosing to not listen; it doesn’t require my silence.

    It seems to me that one reason this whole area is so murky is because the lines between thought and action – and between speech and action – are so murky.

    It's why precision is necessary.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    The lines that DCBCauchi refers to are drawn all the time, but they are notoriously hard to define in universal terms. I happen to think that it’s a good thing, that we don’t have a test that forecloses any kind of argument a priori. If that makes me a question dodger, so be it, but that’s my answer: we have criteria in law; they are tested by the courts; they are continuously updated as society and the media evolve.

    That's much clearer. Thanks. My only response is that something being notoriously hard to do is no reason not to attempt it.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Che Tibby,

    Orly?

    haven’t we being talking about that for years now?

    is this an aspirational goal, like catching up australia? <serious now>

    The impetus has come from the Law Commission murmuring in a confused fashion about regulation -- and then Simon Power bidding all that up x 10 with all that "wild west" stuff.

    I was part of one discussion about a voluntary code earlier this year. The appeal is that it's better than having the gummint do it for you, but also that it's useful for the audience to know who has made a commitment to basic standards.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    If anything, with regards to the linked Peter Robinson works, in the interests of positive cultural development, it wouldn't hurt to draw a line against the effacive stylistic and conceptual looting of Macahon's legacy.

    And, personally speaking, I also think that I have a clear moral right to use whatever I need to make my work. I will fight tooth and nail against any infringement of that right.

    Artist or litigator, that's the question.

    your taxed dollar • Since Mar 2008 • 1295 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    My only response is that something being notoriously hard to do is no reason not to attempt it.

    It's hard to disagree with that. So I'm not even going to try.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7320 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to Russell Brown,

    holy crap... that makes me a little nervous.

    but, NVM. never too late i suppose.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2024 posts Report Reply

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