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11th January

 Commented: I don't believe in censorship BUT...

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Guardian publishes a long 'BUT' calling for the censorship of Milo Yiannopoulos' Dangerous
Link Here
Dangerous Sam Sedgman, a pro-censorship writer commented n the Guardian:

Self-proclaimed super-villain Yiannopoulos has made a living from saying and doing hateful things, and has successfully embroiled himself in numerous headline-grabbing controversies. Whether it's saying that gay rights have made us dumber , calling transgender people mentally ill , calling rape culture a fantasy , or being banned by Twitter for allegedly encouraging trolls to attack Ghostbusters actor Leslie Jones with a tirade of racist and sexist abuse, you can usually find him saying something pathologically awful.

So when a major publishing house pays $250,000 to print the work of an alt-right figurehead like him, it gives credence to these ideas, and makes them part of the mainstream. It endorses them. It empowers everyone who agrees with them to act on their worst impulses, and spread hate speech.

Offsite Comment: English PEN backs Milo Yiannopoulos' 'right to offend'

11th January 2017 See  article from thebookseller.com

However English PEN is a campaign group that believes in free speech without the buts. The group writes:

English PEN has said Milo Yiannopoulos' right to freedom of expression must be respected, amid the furore surrounding the far-right editor's lucrative book deal with Simon & Schuster US.

Offensive ideas should be debunked and discredited, not censored, said Robert Sharp, head of campaigns and communications for the free speech organisation. He added that demands for S&S US to cancel the deal were tantamount to censorship .

The right of Mr Yiannopoulos to write and to offend is integral to the principle of freedom of expression, said Sharp. Likewise, Simon & Schuster US has the right to make an editorial judgment over whether to publish his book. Demanding that the publisher cancels the book deal amounts to a call for censorship, and should be resisted.

...Read the full article from thebookseller.com

 

5th January

 Petition: Economic Terrorism...

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Law proposed in the US would charge peaceful protesters with terrorism
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economic terrorism This is a disaster. In late December, State Senator Doug Ericksen proposed a new law that would give authorities the ability to charge protesters with economic terrorism, and slap them with serious felony charges that could lead to jail time, just for making their voices heard.

The outrageous bill, which has now had been formally introduced for consideration during the 2017 legislative session, would make any form of protest that causes an economic disruption a class C felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. It wouldn't just apply to people who engage in illegal acts or vandalism, it could be used to prosecute any person or group who organizes a protest that authorities deem as disruptive. Broadly interpreted, this law could apply to time honored traditions of nonviolent dissent like boycotts and civil disobedience.

We've already hit our initial goal of 50,000 signatures on the petition. But now that the bill has been introduced, we need to get even more people speaking out. If everyone reading this shares the video, we can easily get 100,000 signatures before we deliver it to the Washington State lawmakers.

Charging protesters with terrorism clearly violates the First Amendment and is an attempt to silence legitimate dissent. Please sign the petition telling lawmakers to reject this dangerous legislation.

Here's the text of the petition:

Organizing and participating in protests is a basic Constitutional right guaranteed by the First Amendment. I urge all lawmakers to reject any legislation that criminalizes protesters or labels protests as a form of economic terrorism.

Sign the petition from actionnetwork.org

 

2nd January

  Could we have a bill allowing us to sue lawmakers for crap legislation...

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Utah anti-porn senator working on a bill to let people sue pornographers for supposed harm
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todd weilerUtah's most prominent anti-porn lawmaker wants to give people the ability to sue pornographers in the hope that someone, somewhere will be able to prove that watching their product causes emotional and psychological damage.

State Senator Todd Weiler received national attention for penning a 2016 resolution declaring a public health crisis caused by pornography. He not only wants to limit access to sexually explicit material to children and teens, but he believes pornographers should be held liable for the impacts their products have on adults. He said:

Right now porn is available without any warnings and labeling, without any protections online. This would just open the valve for a cause of action. Let these attorneys go after these cases.

If the Legislature passes his proposal, he said, he expects courts to initially reject claims that pornography causes real harm: But I think, eventually, the tide will turn.

Weiler is pinning his hopes on some sort of ludicrous analogy with tobacco use, where court challenges broke through big business defence of their deadly trade. But of course there simply aren't millions of porn users dropping dead, and even anti porn campaigners haven't really come up with many harms beyond instilling bad attitudes to women.

 

26th December

 Updated: Free speech upheld even on the backpage...

CEO of Backpage.com website cleared of prostitution offences over adult service adverts posted by website users
Link Here  full story: Adult Services Ads in the US...US politicians target small ads for sex workers

backpage com logoLast month, a California judge tentatively ruled that he would dismiss charges lodged by California's attorney general against Backpage.com's chief executive and two of its former owners. After an interim scare, the judge has now issued a final judgement confirming the previous ruling and the charges have been dismissed.

The CEO, Carl Ferrer was charged with pimping a minor, pimping, and conspiracy to commit pimping in connection to online advertisements posted on the online ads portal. California's attorney general  Kamala Harris claimed that advertisements amounted to solicitation of prostitution.

However Judge Michael Bowman agreed with the defendants, including former owners Michael Lacey and James Larkin, that they were protected, among other things, by the Communications Decency Act, and hence they were not liable for third-party ads posted by others. The ruling said:

By enacting the CDA, Congress struck a balance in favor of free speech by providing for both a foreclosure from prosecution and an affirmative defense at trial for those who are deemed an internet service provider.

Update: Double Jeopardy

26th December. See  article from theguardian.com

kamala harrisCalifornia attorney general Kamala Harris is pursuing new charges against Backpage.com website

The fresh charges, which attorney general Kamala Harris claims are based on new evidence, come after an earlier case against the website was thrown out of court.

The website advertises escort services and seems t have wound up Harris who claimed that the site operated a hotbed of illicit and exploitative activity .

Harris said she had charged Backpage executives Carl Ferrer, Michael Lacey and James Larkin with 13 counts of pimping and conspiracy to commit pimping. They also are charged with 26 counts of money laundering. In the latest case, filed in Sacramento County superior court, Harris claims Backpage illegally funnelled money through multiple companies and created various websites to get around banks that refused to process transactions. (This does not seem a particularly surprising, or necessarily bad thing to do).

She also alleged that the company used photos of women from Backpage on other sites without their permission in order to increase revenue and knowingly profited from the proceeds of prostitution. And from what Harris said in a statement it seems that hers is a morality campaign against sex work. Harris said:

By creating an online brothel -- a hotbed of illicit and exploitative activity -- Carl Ferrer, Michael Lacey, and James Larkin preyed on vulnerable victims, including children, and profited from their exploitation.