- McLibel -

Libel laws make an impossible demand

Posted by: Tommy the Terrorist ( Anarchist Revolution, New World Order ) on July 02, 1997 at 09:53:42:

In Reply to: Re: The Law Is An Ass posted by PAUL NICHOLLS on June 20, 1997 at 15:21:48:

: No Tommy, the law isn't an ass.It's true to say the Judge was criticised for not narrowing the issues and moving the pace along, but, your few paragraphs do a huge disservice to a trial that spanned over a two and half year period.

: Give the guy a break, a 45 page Judgment refuted by you in a few lines
: cannot do justice to the 180 witnesses that gave evidence with 40,000 documents to consider.

: The summing up stretched to eight weeks.

I did not claim that the judge himself was particularly incompetent in his line of work. The situation is altogether simpler than that. There should never have been 180 witnesses or 40,000 documents because THE JUDGE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN MAKING RULINGS ON MAJOR POLITICAL ISSUES. Does beef production kill rainforest? He might as well make a ruling concerning whether Labour is better than the Conservatives.

It's possible, of course, that this was the law, for him to rule on such things. But did he truly have no choice but to become involved? Does a judge have no power to say, "wait, I might have an opinion on something vaguely relevant to 20th century ecology or economics, so I'm not fit to be an unbiased arbiter..."

In the U.S., over 50 federal judges have refused to preside over cases involving mandatory minimum prison terms for drug offenses. It is a powerful and much-appreciated protest concerning the idiocy of such laws.

: Let's not pretend that you or I even understand the core issues here old son.

I understand the "core issue" here perfectly. Some people believe that "libel" is an acceptable penalty for (maybe) false speech. I say that freedom of speech is an absolute right, and the proper remedy for false speech is in the freedom of every individual to express his own opinion in every way possible, rather than permitting commercial mass media outlets to hold the "license" to the best methods of communication. The right to speak in any medium, including the radio spectrum, must not be treated like a piece of property that was taken away from you before you were born.

When truth and falsehood can be expressed at will, but by anyone, then truth will surely prevail.

Libel laws make an impossible demand: that one man can know and enforce "the truth" in superiority to all the rest of us - and that we can know who he is in advance! Deeply religious people allow for only one such instance, and however good this judge might be at his work ... he's not the one.

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