Americas Censorship News

 2009

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30th December   

Obscene Indiscretion...

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Canada Post requires sex related material to be identified on the envelope
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Canada PostOne of Canada's largest gay sex shops is questioning Canada Post's requirement that any admail with even a hint of sexuality be placed in an opaque envelope marked adult material — even if the mail is addressed and solicited.

Priape's director of marketing and planning says the postal agency's new policy requiring warning labels on already opaque envelopes is causing concern throughout the gay store's customer base.

It's hard on business, says Daniel St-Louis: We guarantee discretion and envelopes that don't contain anything but a return address.

Priape distributes four catalogues a year to customers who have asked to be placed on its mailing list. St Louis says Priape never had any problems sending the catalogues — which are addressed, solicited and placed in inconspicuous envelopes — as bulk mail through Canada Post. Until last January. That's when he noticed some catalogues that had been returned to the store had been stamped with a warning: adult material.

The warning stamp stems from a court challenge to Canada Post's Non-Mailable Matter policy in 2006. BC's Sex Party challenged the policy after the postal agency refused to deliver one of its political pamphlets containing images of potentially erotic art, including a photo of a doorknob in the shape of a penis.

Canada Post's revised policy, implemented in July 2008, now states that all admail containing images or representations of nudity that are suggestive of sexual activity, images or representations of sexual intercourse, and text that describes sexual acts in a way that is more than purely technical must be enclosed in an opaque envelope marked adult material.

We have received complaints from our costumers, St-Louis says. For certain people [the warning label] carried problems.  The policy is prejudicial to our business activities, he says.

A spokesperson for Canada Post says she suspects the warning labels are a safety precaution. If you send it to a family and the children open the parcel, now that could be a problem, she suggests.

 

30th December   

Climate of Censorship...

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Canada gets climate hoax websites closed
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Canada flagThe Canadian government has decided to censor those who take the piss out of its environmental policy.

It a move worthy of a humourless autocratic regime. The country shut down two comedy sites and took down 4500 other websites in the process.

Mike Landreville from Environment Canada in an email to the German Internet Service Provider (ISP) Serverloft claimed that the two websites, enviro-canada.ca and ec-gc.ca , are directly connected to a hoax which misleads people into believing that the Government of Canada will take certain actions in relation to environmental matters. Landreville demanded that ISPs purge any further attempts concerning other environment-related domains from their servers.

Apparently Serverloft was so spooked it turned off a whole block of IP addresses, knocking out more than 4500 websites that had nothing to do with the parody sites or the activists who created them.

The hoax was clearly a joke to get attention to the issue of Climate Change. It was run by the Climate Debt Agents of Action Aid, and The Yes Men. They used press releases and fake websites to announce that Canada would adopt science-based emission targets - reducing emissions by 40% over 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

 

27th December   

Autocratic Tendencies...

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Ecuador government closes television station for 3 days
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Ecuador flagEcuador's government has ordered a private television station shut down for three days, saying it had broadcast false information.

Teleamazonas, which has nationwide reach, has been highly critical of what its news anchor has suggested are President Rafael Correa's autocratic tendencies.

The station's vice-president of news told a local radio station that the shutdown was a mournful signal for democracy. The government doesn't tolerate liberty or disagreement, Carlos Jijon said.

The broadcast for which Teleamazonas was sanctioned was about a June report that natural gas exploration in the Gulf of Guayaquil being done jointly with Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA could force the suspension of fishing for six months.

Authorities also have criticized the station for showing bullfights during hours when such broadcasts are prohibited, and Correa has accused it of not paying taxes. No legal action has been taken involving those matters.

Dozens of people gathered outside the channel's offices in Quito and Guayaquil on Tuesday evening, chanting against government censorship.

The suspension comes as parliament, which is dominated by Correa's allies, begins debating a new telecommunications law that critics say would allow the president to restrict press freedom.

The Inter American Press Association has expressed concerns that Correa is seeking to muzzle critical media in much the same way as President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

 

9th December   

Gay Criticism within Limits of Free Speech...

Canadian judge overrules misleadingly named Alberta Human Rights Commission
Link Here

Canada Human Rights Commission logoA Canadian judge last week exonerated a former pastor who was charged of committing a hate crime for sending a letter to a local newspaper criticizing homosexuality. Related

Judge E.C. Wilson overturned a 2008 ruling by the Alberta Human Rights Commission that ordered former Alberta pastor Stephen Boissoin to stop all public criticisms of homosexuality and to pay the plaintiff $5,000 in damages, according to The Canadian Press.

Wilson ruled on Friday that the 2002 letter, which carried the headline Homosexual agenda wicked, was not a hate crime but is permissible under freedom of speech.

The decision of Justice Earl Wilson of the Court of Queen's Bench in Boissoin v. Lund will have a significant long term positive impact on religious freedom in Canada, wrote Gerald Chipeur , Boissoin's attorney, in a summary analysis of the judgment, according to LifeSiteNews.com. Chipeur commented that the definition of what qualifies as hate speech was made clearer through the ruling. He also said the judge took away the tools of censorship and protected freedom of expression.

In 2002, Boissoin sent a letter to the editor of the Red Deer Advocate newspaper criticizing the pro-gay rights curriculum in the province's education system. From kindergarten class on our children, your grandchildren are being strategically targeted, psychologically abused and brainwashed by homosexual and pro-homosexual educators, Pastor Stephen Boissoin wrote.

The letter caught the attention of a human rights activist who filed a complaint against the pastor for hate-mongering. The activist supported his case by pointing to a homosexual who was beaten up two weeks after the letter was published as evidence that such speech can incite violence.   While the decision did not strike down Alberta's 'hate speech' laws, it significantly limited the application of such laws, Chipeur said.

But plaintiff Darren Lund responded to the ruling saying, I really think this is a step backwards for our province, in an e-mail to The Canadian Press: In my view, the judge's ruling sets such strict standards for hate speech that this section is rendered all but unenforceable.

 

4th December   

Playing Easily Offended...

Brazil to ban video games that offend religions
Link Here

BrazilBrazilian Senator Valdir Raupp has authored a bill that would make it a crime to make, import or distribute offensive videogames in Brazil.

A story on the website UOL reports that the Education Commission of the Senate has approved the measure, which will now go to vote in the Committee on Constitution and Justice.

Raupp's goal is to, curb the manufacture, distribution, importation, distribution, trading and custody, storage, the video games that affect the customs, traditions of the people, their worship, creeds, religions and symbols.

The bill seeks a penalty of one to three years imprisonment for those committing an offense.

 

15th November   

Topline Fees...

Canadian companies consider adult film censorship as a discriminatory fee
Link Here

Canada flag Topline Entertainment, one of Nova Scotia's leading adult video distributors, is fighting mad after being taken to court for selling a porn tape that had not been classified by the Department of Labour and Workforce Development.

In deciding to fight the charges, which could result in a fine of $25,000, Topline is arguing that the province's rating fee is not only a backhanded way to restrict freedom of expression, but also a de facto tax that satellite companies offering the same fare are not required to pay.

While the province does not regulate adult material from satellite or pay-per-view sources, it does charge $3.47 per minute to rate adult videos destined for brick-and-mortar shelves or the big screen.

According to Topline lawyer Blair Mitchell, the uneven playing field has wreaked havoc with the business model for long enough.

If nobody cares about television signals that are coming in and are unregulated, then the makers and distributors of adult entertainment are being treated discriminatorily, said Mitchell, speaking on behalf of the company registered to Craig MacLean of Dartmouth.

On average, physical product retailers have to shell out more than $380 to have a 110-minute film classified by the province, almost 11 times more than is charged to rate non-adult films released to home video. This suggests that adult films are being targeted and the rating fee is really an indirect tax in disguise, said Mitchell.

Even worse, as the economy has worsened and the internet and other delivery channels have continued to take their toll on retail shops, many owners have stopped getting flicks classified at all. This trend led to a crackdown last year by provincial inspectors that landed 14 porn retailers in hot water, including Topline Entertainment, and resulted in license suspensions for seven of them.

 

4th November   

Political Censorship...

Grenada Weekly about to be closed over exorbitant libel damages
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Grenada Today logo The Grenada Today weekly is apparently about to disappear as a result of a drawn-out libel suit by one of Grenada's former prime ministers, Keith Mitchell.

High court judge Claire Henry ordered its liquidation this week after the owners failed to reach an agreement with Mitchell over payment of an exorbitant damages award.

Grenada Today's liquidation is bad news for media diversity and, above all, a very bad precedent for the resolution of disputes linked to press offences, Reporters Without Borders said: Regardless of the substance of the case, it highlights the disproportionate nature of damages awards that threaten the survival of the publication concerned.

Reporters Without Borders added: We call for a legislative amendment that limits the amount of damages that a plaintiff can demand. And we hope that, although there are no further possibilities of appeal, that Grenada Today can nonetheless still be saved by a last-minute deal.

One of the Caribbean island's five weekly newspapers, Grenada Today has to close after to failing to obtain a reduction of the 71,000 US dollars it had been ordered to pay Mitchell, who was prime minister from 1995 to 2008 and who sued the newspaper in 2001 for publishing a reader's letter which he regarded as defamatory.

 

31st October   

Update: Fantasy Games...

Venezuela solves gun crime by banning violent video games
Link Here  full story: Computer Games in Venezuela...Banning violent video games

Mercenaries 2 RiaNovosti reports that the Venezuelan government has now passed a law banning violent video games.

This new law extends as far as outlawing the import, production and sale of such video games, as wall as a similar ban on toy guns and strict rules regarding TV adverts with a military nature aimed at children.

Gun crime in Venezuela is believed to be one of the primary causes of death among 16 to 20-year-olds, and while censorship on this scale is seen as distasteful on an international stage, it's hard to blame the authorities for taking any measure possible to stem the flow of violence. It'll be interesting to see if a link between games and violence becomes evident in the results of the ban.

 

12th October   

Updated: Media Control...

Argentina debates media bill targeting large media companies
Link Here

Argentina flag On the eve of the Argentinean Senate's crucial vote today on the government-sponsored media reform bill, that will drastically change the industry if approved as it stands, rumours about the administration of President Cristina Fern án dez de Kirchner's plan to take over Papel Prensa, a paper mill company that supplies newsprint to about 170 papers nationwide, triggered a chorus of warnings about the Kirchnerites goal of controlling all the media.

Ruling party legislators yesterday expressed confidence they already have the necessary votes to pass the bill, while the opposition cried foul, stressing that former president Néstor Kirchner and the government are still exerting undue pressure to win back the support of lawmakers who had said they would oppose the controversial media reform.

See also article from reuters.com

The bill sets limits on the number of media outlets companies can own, forcing some to sell off their holdings within a year, during the run-up to a 2011 presidential election.

It also calls for a new government-controlled regulatory body responsible for issuing and renewing radio and TV licenses.

Nicolas Fernandez, a senator from the ruling party, defended the bill during the debate, saying: There isn't a single article that regulates content.

Update: Media Carve Up Passed

12th October 2009. Based on article from buenosairesherald.com

The ruling party late last night passed the controversial Media Bill, which would overhaul broadcasting regulations in Argentina. 44 Senators voted in favour of the bill, only 24 against it.

The controversial broadcasting bill was passed by the Lower House two weeks ago, and the government was reportedly pressing allied lawmakers to pass it without the introduction of any changes.

Thousands celebrated outside the Congress in a massive demonstration led by pro-government picket leader Luis D' Elía .

The Media Law splits airwaves' licenses into thirds, one for the government, one for private companies and a third for social organizations, which is seen as a key support to many organizations currently funded by social security plans.

The opposition had heavily resisted the bill, describing it as an attempt of the Kirchner administration to gag the press and pave the way for businessmen close to the government to get a share of the media market.

President Cristina Fern án dez de Kirchner has claimed that a new law to rule broadcasting licenses was important because it would limit the clout of media monopolies. But opposition lawmakers have accused the government of trying to control the media through the drastic reform, which would force major media groups to downsize to comply with the new regulations.

 

7th October   

Update: The Venezuelan Blame Game...

Solving crime problems by banning violent video games
Link Here  full story: Computer Games in Venezuela...Banning violent video games

Mercenaries 2 In a bid to curb rampant crime in San Augustin slums, Venezuela's National Assembly is on track to prohibit violent video games and toys. The proposed legislation, which received initial approval in September, is expected to get a final vote in the coming weeks.

Parents applaud the proposed ban. But critics argue the bill is little more than a public relations stunt by supporters of President Hugo Chavez to camouflage his government's inability to deal with Venezuela's rampant violent crime, the country's most pressing problem according to public opinion polls.

Lawmaker Jose Albornoz concedes that fighting crime requires a multifaceted approach. But he's convinced that authorities can reduce the murder rate by breaking what he says is a direct link between video games and crime, though most studies find no evidence that such games prompt violent behavior in youngsters.

Venezuela would be one of few countries to impose an all-out ban on the manufacture, importation, distribution, sales and use of violent video games and bellicose toys. The proposed law would give Venezuela's consumer protection agency the discretion to define what products should be prohibited and impose fines as high as $128,000.

The Venezuelan bill would also mandate crime prevention classes in public schools and force the media to implement permanent campaigns to warn against the dangers of violent games. Another provision requires the government to promote the production, distribution, sales and use of games that teach kids respect for an adversary.

 

30th September   

An Army of TV Censors...

Honduras troops close TV stations supporting return of deposed president
Link Here

Honduras flag Troops working for Honduras' de facto government have shut down television stations that were loyal to ousted president Manuel Zelaya.

Radio Globo and the Cholusat Sur television station – both critical of the government that came to power through a coup on 28 June – were taken off the air and their offices were cordoned off.

The crackdown came hours before Zelaya followers planned a march in the capital city of Tegucigalpa, in what the deposed leader called the final offensive.

Zelaya has been hiding in the Brazilian embassy since he returned from exile. with hundreds of soldiers and riot police surrounding the building as he urges his followers to take to the streets to demand he be restored to power.

 

28th September   

Update: Family Censor Guy...

Venezuelan minister takes offence at Family Guy TV show
Link Here  full story: Family Guy...TV programme found not so family friendly

Family Guy DVD Authorities in Venezuela say they will punish TV stations if they continue to broadcast episodes of cult US animation Family Guy .

Injustice Minister Tareck El Aissami says the show should be banned because it promotes the use of marijuana.

He took exception to a recent episode in which one character - Brian, a talking dog - started a campaign to legalise the drug.

Cable stations which refuse to dump the show would be fined, El Aissami said.

 

5th September   

Offsite: Did Director Die for his Art?...

Christian Poveda filmed the brutal gangs of El Salvador, then was found shot dead
Link Here

La Vida Loca Christian Poveda, a French documentary-maker, was gunned down in the early hours on Wednesday as he drove through Tonacatepeque, a semi-rural area 10 miles outside San Salvador. It was a senselessly violent end to a career spent exposing the senseless violence that has for years plagued El Salvador for years.

The killing was also predictable. Poveda had made himself a marked man, thanks to his film La Vida Loca (Crazy Life), which chronicled daily life among the 30,000-odd gang members whose activities have turned the tiny Central American nation of 5.5 million into one of the most dangerous places in the Western hemisphere, outside of a war zone.

Such had been the impact of the 90-minute documentary, exposing the dangerous lives and depressing backgrounds of tattooed gang members who battle for control of drug, prostitution and extortion rackets, that his murder sparked an immediate wave of political revulsion.

...Read full article  

 

4th September   

Hate Censorship...

Tribunal finds that Canadian hatred law is unconstitutional
Link Here

Canada Human Rights Tribunal A one-time member of a Canadian neo-Nazi group is declaring victory after the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal denounced the country's Internet hate speech law as an unconstitutional violation of free expression.

What this means is that I can write about controversial topics without Big Brother looking over my shoulder, said Marc Lemire, whose website was the target of a human rights complaint: It's a good day for freedom of speech in Canada.

Free speech proponents are praising yesterday's decision as the beginning of the end of the Canadian Human Rights Act's Section 13, a contentious provision targeting online hate speech that has fielded numerous complaints of censorship.

Tribunal chair Athanasios Hadjis's decision dismissed six-year-old complaints by Ottawa-based lawyer Richard Warman that postings hosted on the Lemire's website were allegedly discriminatory and would likely expose identifiable groups to hatred or contempt.

Hadjis said that Section 13 cases were supposed to be remedial, but had instead become more penal in nature. On top of being asked to cease producing the discriminatory messages, the act stipulates that an accused can be fined upward of $10,000.

Hadjis did find Lemire responsible for hate speech for one posting on his website, an article titled AIDS Secrets, that blames the HIV epidemic on the rise of the sick and sleazy pleasure houses of the `liberated' homosexuals. But because of the unconstitutional nature of the law, he refused to make any orders against Lemire.

 

28th August   

Update: Make Believe Lawmakers...

Venezuela to solve crime problems by banning violent video games
Link Here  full story: Computer Games in Venezuela...Banning violent video games

Mercenaries 2 While Venezuela has been the (unwilling) setting for at least one violent video game Mercenaries 2: World in Flames , lawmakers there are moving ahead with plans to ban violent games and toys.

The effort, reports Reuters, is aimed at reducing an unprecedented wave of crime and violence. According to Reuters, dozens of people are murdered in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas every week.

A measure detailing the proposed ban passed Venezuela's National Assembly this week. In order to become law, the game ban bill would need to be voted on a second time and then signed into law by President Hugo Chavez.

 

7th August   

Military Censorship...

Argentina reveal their banned song list from 1976-82
Link Here

Light My Fire by the Balgranos A list of more than 200 songs banned during Argentina's dark era has been unearthed from archives in Buenos Aires and declassified, revealing a mindset that was perturbed by pop and rock classics.

The seven-page list, spanning 1976-82, shows that the military junta, which killed and "disappeared" thousands of people, was unnerved by apparently cheesy and romantic songs as well as more explicit fare.

Rod Stewart's Do Ya Think I'm Sexy? got the chop, as did Eric Clapton's Cocaine and John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Kiss Kiss Kiss . Argentinian radio listeners also missed out on Queen's Freddie Mercury belting out Get Down Make Love and Tie Your Mother Down .

Pink Floyd's hymn to childhood rebellion, Another Brick in the Wall , was put on the blacklist in July 1980.

The Doors' Light My Fire , whose allusion to drugs had also upset some US broadcasters in the 1960s, was censored along with more overtly political songs by Joan Baez.

For some reason the regime took a strong dislike to the disco diva Donna Summer, who had three hits blacklisted: Could It Be Magic, Prelude to Love and A Love Trilogy .

 

4th August   

Update: Media War...

Venezuelan TV censors armed with guns and grenades
Link Here  full story: Broadcasting Censorship in Venezuela...Shut down of opposition radio and TV stations

Globonision logo Dozens of militant supporters of President Hugo Chavez stormed an opposition TV station yesterday in an escalation of Venezuela's media war.

Around 30 activists with red berets forced their way into the Caracas headquarters of Globovision, lobbed tear gas and threatened staff with handguns.

The raid came amid a government crackdown on critics of Chavez's socialist revolution, a campaign which human rights groups have condemned as an attack on free speech. In recent days the government has revoked the licences of dozens of radio stations and proposed a law which would jail people deemed guilty of media crimes for up to four years.

Footage aired on Globovision showed activists from the UPV, a radical left-wing party which backs the president and dresses in quasi-military gear, arriving on motorbikes and rushing on foot into the station.

The intruders, led by a prominent Chavista named Lina Ron, waved banners and reportedly injured a guard and a police officer while tear gas seeped through the complex.

Chavez has repeatedly assailed Globovision – the South American country's last opposition TV network – as an instrument of oligarchs and US imperialists who are waging media terrorism.

However, the government swiftly distanced itself from the raid. We condemn this attack energetically and reject this type of violent action against Globovision, said the interior minister, Tareck El Aissami: We don't accept that violence is the instrument to solve our differences.

 

3rd August   

Update: Radio Protests...

Street protests against Chavez and his censorial closure of 34 radio stations
Link Here  full story: Broadcasting Censorship in Venezuela...Shut down of opposition radio and TV stations

Venezuela flag The Government of Hugo Chavez closed down 34 radio stations across Venezuela over the weekend, prompting claims by opposition critics that he was trampling freedom of expression rights and triggering angry street protests in Caracas and other cities across the country.

President Chavez, below, has a record of trying to muzzle both radio and television broadcasters who criticise his push to turn Venezuela into a socialist state.

As protests spread, however, 200 people gathered outside the main offices of the CNB radio network which was forced to end its over-the-air transmissions on Saturday with continuing service available only on the internet. This is only the beginning of the closures of free media in Venezuela, warned the station's director, Zaira Belfort: This is a government attack. We want to keep living in democracy, and once again they've silenced us.

 

26th July   

Updated: A Monopoly on Repression...

Venezuela takes action against poplar radio stations supposedly monopolising the airwaves
Link Here  full story: Broadcasting Censorship in Venezuela...Shut down of opposition radio and TV stations

Venezuela flag Alonso Moleiro, the Vice President of the Venezuelan Journalists' Association (CNP), said that the government's alleged intention to democratize public broadcasting frequencies, is actually meant to censor nationwide radio stations.

The intention is to eliminate some radio anchors -- a group of well known people that voice opinions and political views that disturb Venezuelan authorities. No government is going to concede that it is a censor. They are disguising censorship as democratization of the media, the journalist said.

Moleiro described as fallacious the government's rationale to launch administrative procedures against several radio stations: It is not true that the radio networks are monopolies, and that they belong to one single family ... they are local radios that have united voluntarily to maximize programming.

Update: Venezuela moves to silence hundreds of broadcasters

26th July 2009. Based on article from cpj.org

Joel Simon, Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists has written to Diosdado Cabello Rondón, Venezuela's Minister of the Popular Power for Public Works and Housing:

The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned by your recent announcement that regulators may revoke the concessions of 240 radio stations for failing to update their registration papers. We believe that this decision is yet another attempt by Venezuelan authorities to expand pro-government media, control the flow of information, and suppress dissent.

On July 3, the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL), Venezuela's regulatory agency announced that 154 FM and 86 AM radio stations failed to update their data with regulators by a June 23 deadline.

On July 9, during a presentation before the National Assembly, you announced plans to further regulate cable and satellite television stations that broadcast largely Venezuelan-produced content. Your country's broadcast regulations, which contradict international standards on freedom of expression, include a measure requiring all broadcasters to carry live President Hugo Chávez Frías' cadenas--his nationwide simultaneous radio and television broadcasts. In your speech before the legislative assembly, you said both decisions are intended to democratize the airwaves.

During a July 16 interview with state-owned television station Venezolana de Televisión, you said that the government could also take over 50% of Globovisión's license because one of the two people granted the concession has died, the press reported. Globovisión, known for its antigovernment views, has been the target of a barrage of government investigations.

CPJ believes that your recent announcements and the persecution of Globovisión is part of a strategy to strengthen state media in order to control the flow of information and limit critical ideas and opinions.

The ongoing battle against the private media has fostered an atmosphere of fear and intimidation that is having a negative impact on the work of the press. While your government has the right to regulate the airwaves, it must not use this authority to violate Venezuelans' basic human right to seek and receive information, as established by the Constitution. We call on you to put an end to the persecution of critical media outlets, and to guarantee that the regulation of all broadcast concessions is unbiased and transparent.

Update: First 34

1st August 2009. See article from news.brisbanetimes.com.au

The Venezuelan government has ordered the closure of 34 radio stations, the head of national telecommunications regulator Conatel has said.

They will have to cease transmission once they have received the order from Conatel, said Diosdado Cabello, who is also minister of public works in President Hugo Chavez's government.

Cabello said: These are the first 34 decisions that we have taken, and warned that more closures may follow.

 

21st June   

Censorship in the Name of Human Rights...

Canadian Human Rights Commission objects to being sidelined over internet hate speech
Link Here

CHRC logoThe Canadian Human Rights Commission wants to stay in the business of policing online hate speech. In a report tabled in Parliament, the commission rejected a proposal to leave the task of reining in Internet hatemongers to the Criminal Code.

However, the report suggests several changes to the Canadian Human Rights Act to address shortcomings identified during public consultations. They include adding a statutory definition of hatred and contempt, repealing penalty provisions, allowing for an award of legal costs in exceptional circumstances and the early dismissal of complaints that don't meet the definition of hate speech. The report also says the act should be amended to make it clear section 13 only applies to ardent and extreme hate messages.

In a report last year, Richard Moon, a University of Windsor law professor, recommended repeal of section 13 of the human rights act, which obliges the commission to screen complaints about online hate. Moon stood by that recommendation, saying that even with the proposed changes, section 13 still would be potentially too broad.

Since passage of the human rights act in 1977, 72 complaints have been filed and accepted under section 13, of which six are still pending. Forty-nine were resolved without a hearing, and 17 went to the tribunal. Of those, the tribunal has upheld 16, most of which were filed by Ottawa lawyer and anti-hate activist Richard Warman.

The human rights tribunal also hears very few section 13 cases, Moon pointed out. In the absence of Richard Warman, there really is very little happening under section 13. You take him away, you've got nothing.

The Commons committee on justice and human rights will consider the commission's report as part of its review of section 13 this fall.

 

18th June   

Silenced Voice...

Peru radio stations banned after coverage of rioting
Link Here

Peru flagReporters Without Borders has condemned as bogus and dishonest technical and official explanations given by Peru's Ministry of Transport and Communications for banning broadcasting by the radio station La Voz de Bagua Grande in the town of the same name in Peru's north-west.

The worldwide press freedom organisation called on the government, unhappy at the media's support for recent indigenous peoples' demonstrations, to respect rules for the station's approval including time limits fixed by itself.

The radio station's licence was cancelled by ministerial decree on 8 June, but since 13 March 2007 it has had a ten-year frequency concession. This agreement allowed La Voz de Bagua Grande a 12-month period for authorisation and installation.

The ministry had cited safety reasons on 31 December 2008 to cancel the frequency authorisation before the end of the probationary period.

In fact, La Voz de Bagua Grande has been in the government's sights since the clashes that shook the Amazon region at the start of June. At the height of the rioting, on 5 June, in which around 30 people died, the interior minister, Mercedes Cabanillas, publicly threatened to close the radio along with Radio Oriente , another station based in Yurimaguas, for their alleged support for violence against the security forces.

The closure of Radio Oriente following that of La Voz de Bagua Grande appears to provide extra evidence of a serious press freedom violation on the part of the government, Reporters Without Borders concluded.

 

30th May   

Morally Harmful...

Religious morality TV to be restricted to late night slots
Link Here

Brazil Christian TV programmes that mention the Bible’s position on homosexual conduct face being banned from daytime viewing by the Brazilian government.

The government has already proposed that a notice should be broadcast before such Christian programmes, warning viewers that the shows are not recommended for people under the age of 18.

Brazil’s Justice Secretary told a newspaper there that while such programmes would be restricted to after 11pm: the ideal is that they not be shown at any time.

Nutter campaigner Julio Severo said: Catholic radio and TV shows now run the risk of being rated as ‘morally harmful,’ ‘homophobic’ and ‘unsuitable for children and teens’.

If the policy is carried out in accordance with Brazilian President Luiz Lula’s definition of homophobia , the new restrictions will effectively ban public statements on television that identify homosexual behaviour as sinful or unhealthy.

President Lula is also seeking to pass an anti-homophobia law that would ban any public criticism of homosexuals or homosexual behaviour. He recently reiterated his commitment to criminalise words or acts that are offensive to homosexuality.

 

4th May   

Pressing for Change...

Brazil repeals press law from its dictatorship era
Link Here

Brazil Brazil's Supreme Court has struck down a press censorship law enacted during an era of military dictatorship.

In a 7-4 vote, the court ruled the law unconstitutionally violated freedom of expression.

The law was enacted in 1967 by the military regime that ruled between 1961 and 1985. In the name of 'national security', the law censored news media, composers, playwrights and writers and allowed for the seizure of publications.

Although on the books for more than 40 years, the law's provisions have not been a serious matter since the return of democratic rule.

 

27th April   

Update: Daggered by Grenada...

Grenada bans Jamaican Dancehall artist Vybz Kartel
Link Here  full story: Daggering...Censorship of Caribbean music and dance

Most Wanted CD The Government of Grenada has banned the popular Jamaican Dancehall Artist Adija Palmer aka Vybz Kartel, and his band.

The red-hot entertainer, whose controversial lyrics have brought him lots of media attention both in and out of Jamaica, was scheduled to perform a rap-it-up concert in Grenville St. Andrews on Sat. May 2nd 2009, where his popular Daggering condom was to be officially launched.

Vybz Kartel, who is well known for his hard hitting ghetto lyrics and rival showdowns with popular Artist Marvado, has been leaning towards more positive messages in his songs, with emphasis on respecting Women and Mothers and hints of Rasta-fari teachings. His recent condom campaigns for saving lives have also been well received. Vybz Kartel’s recent release Mama has taken the charts by storm, and the Artist will be doing several performances in the Caribbean, to include neighboring Trinidad and Tobago on May 8th 2009.

No reason was given by the Ministry of Labour in Grenada for the ban, but the sensitive issue of censorship or freedom of expression may have been at the forefront.

 

12th April   

Radio Heads...

Antigua looking to introduce a broadcasting censor
Link Here

Antigua flag The censorship of Antiguan and Barbudan airwaves may be just around the corner, as Government recently announced that it is pursuing research on the implementation of a Broadcasting Commission.

According to the Antigua Sun, the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and Telecommunications is conducting in-depth research into regional Broadcasting Commissions with the view to preparing a white paper in the near future.

An official speaking to the Sun under condition of anonymity said that all media in the country would have to be brought under standards and sanctions to ensure that questionable material was removed from the airwaves.

If the Broadcasting Commission were to be implemented, it would likely be self-regulated by members, rather than have the Government decided on what is suitable and what is not the official added.

 

11th April   

Challenging the System...

Activists secure the right to challenge broadcasters who refuse their adverts
Link Here

Adbusters logo Adbusters are a group challenging some aspects of the media and capitalist system whilst pursuing their ecological objectives. They have issued the following press release:

Adbusters Media Foundation, the publisher of Adbusters magazine, has won an important appeal in its case against Canadian broadcasters of CBC and Global Television Network. Adbusters initiated a landmark legal action against the media companies for refusing to sell airtime to Adbusters for its social marketing television campaigns.

In a unanimous decision released on April 3, the BC Court of Appeal overturned a previous BC Supreme Court ruling. Adbusters can now take its case against the media conglomerates to the BC Supreme Court.

Since 1989 Adbusters has attempted to purchase airtime from major commercial broadcasters in order to air its socially-minded public service spots. Routinely denied by network executives in Canada and the US, Adbusters is often left with little to no explanation as to why these citizen-produced messages are being censored. The case against the CBC and Global Television Network Inc. was brought about because Adbusters believes that the Canadian Charter grants every Canadian the right to access the public airwaves; to walk into their local TV stations and purchase 30-seconds of airtime under the same rules and conditions as advertising agencies do.

This is a great day for Adbusters, says Kalle Lasn, editor and co-founder of the magazine. After 20 years of legal struggle, the courts have finally given us permission to take on the media corporations and hold them up to public scrutiny.

 

3rd April   

Playing the Protection Game...

Quebec to ban English language only games when French version is available
Link Here

Canada flag In Lara Croft's latest action adventure, part of the popular Tomb Raider video game series, the lithe heroine can demand of her evil doppelganger either, What the hell are you? or, Qu'est-ce que tu es, exactement?

And that's exactly the way Quebec wants it, from now on. French language rules on video games come into force today prohibiting the sale of new English-only video games in Quebec if a French version is available.

It's causing a lot of consternation among retailers and gamers alike, who fear the rules will lead to delays in video games arriving in the province.

Ronnie Rondeau, co-owner of the eight Game Buzz stores around Montreal, said he even fears bankruptcy. He said gamers are notorious for wanting new games the minute they come out. It's why he has had numerous midnight sales with lines stretching around the block. If there's a delay of even a few days, they'll find other options, such as buying online or across the border.

 

22nd March   

The Shut Your Mouth Bill...

Dominica justifies state censorship by the failure of self regulation in the US banking sector
Link Here

Dominica flagThe Media Workers Association of Dominica and the public have expressed grave concern about  proposed legislation which has been labelled as The shut your mouth bill.

Information Minister Loreen Bannis-Roberts claimed: This Bill is not about censorship as is being stated, neither does it seek to undermine or infringed upon any of the fundamental rights and freedoms contained in the Dominica constitution .

Local and Caribbean journalists have said that self-regulation instead is best for the media, but the Information Minister said the matter cannot be left to the preferences and biases of individual broadcasters.

A good example of the dangers inherent in the doctrine of self-regulation is the prevailing global financial crisis which originated in the United States of America. Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve System in the United States of America or the governor of that country's central bank Mr Allan Greenspan, took a gamble with self regulation in selective areas of the financial sector…in the United States which over a period of several years resulted in disaster.

 

27th February   

Censors at Daggers...

Jamaica censors ban sexy or violent music
Link Here  full story: Daggering...Censorship of Caribbean music and dance

Jamaica flagJamaican censors say they are forbidding all explicit references to sex and violence over the airwaves.

The new rules from the island's broadcast commission ban any song or music video that depicts sexual acts or glorifies gun violence, murder, rape or arson.

The Saturday announcement follows a Feb. 6 ban that specifically targeted dancehall tunes and videos depicting daggering — a dance style popular among Jamaican youth that features pelvic grinding simulating sex.

The beat-driven fusion of reggae and rap known as dancehall is hugely popular in Jamaica despite recurrent controversy over its lyrics and the dance style.

 

26th February   

Updated: Freedom to Read Week...

25th anniversary of Canada's Freedom to Read week
Link Here

Freedom to Read logo 22nd -28th February 2009

The list includes some of the most renowned works of English literature—Timothy Findley's The Wars , Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird , John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and Margaret Atwood's dystopian classic The Handmaid's Tale . It includes the most popular blockbusters of contemporary writing, from JK Rowling's Harry Potter series to the Philip Pullman trilogy His Dark Secrets . Books for children and young adults, from The Adventures of Tintin and the Goosebumps series to titles exploring more serious topics, such as Elizabeth Laird's A Little Piece of Ground and Michael Willhoite's Daddy's Roommate , have also been included in recent years. Even Vue Weekly is on it.

It's a list, now numbering well over 100 titles, of books and magazines which have been challenged by would-be censors in Canadian libraries, schools and bookstores over the past two decades.

Franklin Carter, editor and researcher with the freedom of expression committee of the Book and Periodical Council maintains the list and organizes the annual Freedom To Read Week in Canada. Sometimes very innocuous books provoke challenges. If you can think of a reason to challenge a book, somebody has probably thought of it before and tried to get that kind of book out of a school or the library.

Carter explains that unlike formal acts of censorship passed by Parliament, such as laws governing hate literature or child pornography, the censorship his organization tracks happens at the local level, most often without public scrutiny or open discussion about the merits of the work or the reasons behind the challenge. Books which are successfully challenged simply disappear off the shelves.

Carter says that descriptions or discussions of a sexual nature or books that explore homosexuality have also frequently been the target of challenges, even, ironically, books aimed at encouraging greater tolerance.

The good news, says Carter, is that most attempts at censorship are ultimately unsuccessful, and challenged books usually remain on library shelves. Unfortunately, Carter concludes, 25 years after the first Freedom to Read Week was organized in response to book challenges in Ontario high schools, the threat of censorship remains a real concern.

Update: Freedom to Read Award

26th February 2009. Based on article from business.theglobeandmail.com

The Writers' Union of Canada has named Nancy Fleming the posthumous winner of its annual Freedom to Read Award.

Fleming died Feb. 24, 2008 at age 76 after a long battle with emphysema. She spent more than 20 years as executive director of the Book and Periodical Council of Canada, during which she fought to protect writers and readers from numerous attempts to censor books in this country and around the world. She also helped to create Freedom to Read Week in 1984.

Nancy Fleming was a tireless foe of anyone who tried to limit the rights of Canadians to read or to write what they wished, said Wayne Grady, chair of the Union. Her years of fighting censorship have earned her this award. Although she has sadly passed on, her energy continues to drive Freedom to Read Week. We are honoured to be a part of it.

The award will be presented Wednesday in Toronto at a Freedom to Read Week event at the Gladstone Hotel. Previous winners Derek Finkle and Janine Fuller will be in attendance.

 

13th February   

Vulnerable to Censorship...

Ontario censors of the politically correct call for a catch-all national press council
Link Here

Ontario Human Rights ComminssionThe Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has issued a report calling for the Canadian Government to create a national press council with mandatory membership, a suggestion that critics say amounts to a call for government censorship of the press.

According to the proposal, all Canadian magazines, newspapers and media service websites would have to join the council, which would be given the power to deal with discrimination complaints. This would include internet-only news services as well as blogs. The media has the duty to address issues of hate expression says the report. The submission says the commission wants to ensure that mechanisms are in place to provide opportunity for public scrutiny and the receipt of complaints, particularly from vulnerable groups.

The OHRC observes that these measures must not cross the line into censorship and that the OHRC recognizes the media must have full freedom and control over what they publish.

However, an editorial published in the National Post, a national Canadian newspaper, questions whether or not such provisions can avoid becoming censorship, and questions the motives of the commission in pushing for such a council.

The National Post editorial board also suggests that the OHRC recommendation is related to the commission's inability to prosecute journalist Mark Steyn for Islamophobia last year, due to the fact that the Ontario Human Rights Code does not extend to published works. The human rights codes of other provinces, however, do extend to such written materials, and so while the Ontario commission was unable to pursue the complaint against Steyn, the B.C. commission held hearings on the issue, although the complaint was later dropped.

Famously, Barbara Hall, the head of the OHRC, released a press release announcing that the Ontario commission could not follow through on the complaint against Steyn, but in which she nevertheless denounced his writings as Islamophobic.

Ominously, at the time, Ms. Hall also stated that all journalists should put their writings through a 'human rights filter' before publication, observes the National Post editorial: Because she was not able to force such a filter on Maclean's, her current proposal for a national press council is almost certainly an attempt to make such a filter mandatory, in law.

As LifeSiteNews.com reported Monday, federal MP's will be looking at proceeding with curtailing or scrapping Section 13 - the hate provisions - of the Canadian Human Rights Act altogether. In the process they will consider the misuse of the Section by the Human Rights Commissions.

 

6th February   

Silence Points of View...

Long running Argentine Radio show closed down after criticism of owners
Link Here

Radio Del Plato logoThe recent cancellation of a radio show hosted by prominent Argentine broadcast journalist Nelson Castro, a harsh critic of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's administration, sparked immediate controversy.

Electroingeniería, the company that owns the Buenos Aires-based Radio Del Plata, announced that the news show Puntos de Vista (Points of View), which has been on the air for 16 years, will come to an end.

Castro said the decision is an attempt to suppress critical voices in an electoral year, according to the daily La Nación. In his weekly column, he called it a blow to freedom of expression in Argentina. His colleagues in the Argentine media reacted immediately. According to the daily Crítica de la Argentina, it is a case of masked censorship. The political opposition condemned the cancellation. Representative Elsa Quiroz, with Coalición Cívica party, described it as an act of censorship.

The owners of Electroingeniería, a construction and engineering company that purchased the station in November 2008, have close ties with high-ranking administration officials, according to local news reports. Castro, who runs a column in the Sunday edition of critical newspaper Perfil and hosts the weekly show "Juego Limpio" (Clean Game) on cable television, said the decision was motivated by his reporting on a story about alleged surcharges paid by Electroingeniería in a public works project in southern Patagonia.

 

31st January   

Update: Bussing in the Nutters...

Canadian Nutters that are all for free speech...BUT...
Link Here  full story: Atheist Buses...Atheists fund adverts about enjoying life

CFAC logoThe Toronto-based Freethought Association of Canada has now won approval from the Toronto Transit Commission to place ads on buses and inside subway cars that read: There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

Brad Ross, a spokesman for the Toronto Transit Commission, confirmed that staff have decided the ads do not violate any of the TTC's rules. But that decision could be reviewed if complaints arise: Disallowing the ad may be a violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code and potentially a violation of the Charter ... so we have to look at it from a legal basis. We don't feel that there's any grounds to disallow the ad.

Charles McVety, president of the Canada Family Action Coalition, said his group has not decided whether it will formally complain about the ads once they appear.

On the surface, I'm all for free speech. ...HOWEVER... though, these are attack ads, McVety said in an interview: These ads are not saying what the atheists believe, they are attacking what other people believe. And if you look at the dictionary definition for ... bigot, that's exactly what it is, to be intolerant of someone else's belief system.

 

24th January   

Kissed by Embarrassment...

Mexican mayor rescinds his public kissing ban
Link Here

Mexico flagA mayor has declared his Mexican city the world's kissing capital - in a bid to refute rumours he wanted to fine people for kissing in public.

Eduardo Romero, leader of Guanajuato in central Mexico, has been forced to put on hold an anti-obscenity law after protests about its supposed anti-kissing stance.

And he has now unveiled huge adverts featuring a couple locking lips on one of the city's winding, cobbled streets - with the slogan: Guanajuato, the kissing capital.

His authority has denied wanting to ban public kissing, but agreed to suspend the new legislation to review its wording.

 

13th January   

Update: Xtra Censorship...

Gay magazine faces Facebook censorship
Link Here  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor

Xtra coverCensors at Facebook social networking site have removed the cover image of the Sep 11, 2008 issue of the Canadian gay magazine, Xtra, with only a vague explanation: Facebook was trying to protect children from viewing the image.

Julia Garro is the associate editor of the Toronto gay and lesbian newspaper. She uploads each issue's cover image to the Friends of Xtra Facebook group.

But this week, she received a message from Facebook, warning her that one image had been deleted from the Friends of Xtra group:

Facebook does not allow photos that attack an individual or group, or that contain nudity, drug use, violence, or other violations of the Terms of Use. These policies are designed to ensure Facebook remains a safe, secure and trusted environment for all users, including the many children who use the site.

Facebook declined to answer Xtra.ca's repeated attempts for an interview, so we are unable to clarify how the sight of naked breasts might create an unsafe environment for youth.

The social-networking site recently came under fire for deleting pictures of women breastfeeding their children. Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt told the New York Times that the company has no plans to change their strict no-nudity policy: Certainly we can agree that there is context where nudity is not obscene, but we are reviewing thousands of complaints a day.Whether it's obscene, art or a natural act — we'd rather just leave it at nudity and draw the line there.

Worse yet, there's no transparency in Facebook's decision-making process. Facebook typically refuses to elaborate or engage in discussion after it censors an image.

 

 

10th January   

Wake up and Smell the Coffee...

Colombian coffee growers to sue US cartoonist
Link Here

Juan Valdez advertColombian coffee growers are planning to sue a US cartoonist for millions of dollars over a cartoon they say damages the reputation of Colombian coffee.

The cartoon is by Mike Peters, whose work is published in the US and abroad. In it, one character refers to crime in Colombia and then to Juan Valdez, the fictional coffee grower used for years to advertise Colombian coffee.

The cartoon strip which appeared on 2 January is part of the Mother Goose and Grimm series that Mr Peters draws. In it, Mother Goose is sighing over a cup of fresh Colombian coffee. Another character comments: Y'know, there's a big crime syndicate in Colombia. So when they say there's a little bit of Juan Valdez in every can, maybe they're not kidding. The comic strip finishes with Mother Goose drinking tea.

Colombia's National Coffee Growers' Federation, Fedecafe, said they had instructed their lawyers in the US to begin proceedings against Peters and the agency which distributes his work, for damage and harm, detriment to intellectual property and defamation.

In a statement, Fedecafe said the cartoon associated organised crime and the atrocities committed by violent groups with the hard, delicate and honest work of more than 500,000 coffee growers and their families.

Peters said: I thought this was a humorous subject and all my Mother Goose and Grimm cartoons are meant to make people laugh. I truly intended no insult."

 

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