Some Rights Reserved

January 15th, 2011 § 0 comments


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I happened to be reading a column that roughly followed the now-standard “I support free speech, except…” model. Their particular justification was based on the EU Convention on Human Rights, specifically article 10:

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

Read that again, see if you notice the particularly gaping hole – apparently the right to free speech can be overridden “for the protection of health or morals“. I’m well aware that, politically speaking, absolutes are difficult; the majority of the other caveats up there could at least have a spirited argument made for their tangible purpose, whether or not one personally agrees with them. Morality, though? They really didn’t foresee any problems with including that one!? In writing a supposedly universal declaration of human rights, the EU have decided that those rights only apply if whoever is in power happens to agree that they are ‘moral’, whatever one may claim that to mean. Well done, guys.

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