George Monbiot is certainly right to condemn oppressive and unfair libel
laws [Free Speech Comes Dear, 8.10.98] which constitute a form of mass
censorship, protecting the rich and powerful from criticism. The question
is, what should the public DO about this?
We can fight back. For example, McDonald's efforts in the McLibel case to silence their critics were spectacularly defeated by the determination of grass roots campaigners. Leaflets, which were handed out in thousands in 1990 when we were sued, are now distributed in millions, including versions in at least 26 languages worldwide. In order to further defend public rights, our Appeal in January will seek to overturn the basis of current UK defamation law.
History shows that oppressive laws can be made unworkable by co-ordinated opposition and mass defiance - e.g. resistance to anti-union laws, defence of the right to demonstrate, and mass non-payment of the Poll Tax. The public have no alternative but to express their concerns and outrage over what those in power are doing to our lives and our planet - so the writing is surely on the wall for libel.
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