Thursday, October 04, 2007

Free speech is all very well, but...

The little man who labours away in the back room of the computer shop tells me that, come Monday, he may be in a position to sew my right arm back on (metaphorically speaking). So who knows -- next week normal service on this blog might even be resumed.

In the meantime, here's something for you to think about.

We have often noted here, you and I, that the libel laws of England provide wonderful cover for those who have something to hide: R. Maxwell being a splendid (and helpfully dead) example. All you need is lots of money to pay the lawyers. And over the past few weeks we have occasionally noted that billionaire Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz has used said libel laws to force Cambridge University Press to pulp all copies of a book which said things about him that he didn't like (see, for instance, the post of 1 September).

You might have thought, were you not fully briefed on these matters, and deeply cynical, that the UK newspapers would have brought their readers fully up to speed on this issue, since it involves (doesn't it?) the principle of free speech: a principle in which you might have thought, were you not fully briefed et cetera et cetera, the UK newspapers had a deep interest.

But no. It turns out that, as usual, money doesn't just talk; it screams its bloody head off. What is more, it gets its way.

The fearless UK fortnightly Private Eye at least has the balls to tell readers what is happening. As of the time when the Eye went to press, the lawyers who protect the UK media against their own excesses have ensured that every mention of the Sheikh in question has been deleted.

The Observer, says the Eye, was all set to run a piece on Mahfouz by Nik Cohen, but the lawyers spiked it. The Spectator was going to do a piece by Brendan O'Neill, which listed all the titles that Mahfouz has succeeded in getting pulped. O'Neill' s essay concluded that Mahfouz is 'almost single-handedly determining what we Brits may read and hear about contemporary terrorism.' But, again, the story never appeared.

12 comments:

Gladys Hobson said...

Well, money talks and money gags. Doesn't money rule the world anyway? The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. So sad.

Edmond Clay said...

Yaaaa! A nice little something to tide us over. Wasn't it the Arab that said something about rich men and camels leaping through the eye of a needle more likely than they to enter heaven? I'm certain that personal integrity lasts far longer on the road to heaven than all the money in the world. Hip, hip for our self-publishing moral icon GOB!! May he live forever as a beacon in the dismal swamp of rich and richer.

Internet Ronin said...

Will you let us know if and when you yourself are served papers?

Andy O'Hara said...

I was encouraged on one of your previous links that the American Library Association had refused to jump into line with Mahfouz's demand that anything in the universe referencing his name, even on a matchbook, be pulped. I hope the UK courts come to their senses on this issue before more benches around the world see it as too good to pass up. In fact, I'm actually surprised the US hasn't picked up on it, having as many hungry lawyers and excess wealth as we do.

Dale Slamma said...

You seem surprised, surely we all know by now that justice is not related to law. It always comes down to who can buy the biggest scariest barristers.

As an aside there is no free speech in Australia, only an implied right to freedom of political speech.

savannah said...

how did i miss this? thanks again, sugar! i have to hope that if the sheik brings his case to the usa, he'll spend millions to sue and lots of time and in the end...lose his case. forget free speech..we're talking about billable hours!
hope your machine is up and running soon!

Anonymous said...

any idea of the titles he has been able to stop and how many there are...just this one seems amazing enough but it sounds like he might have had his hand in gagging many other titles

Anonymous said...

gucci bag
bean bag
bed in a bag
sleeping bag
bag golf
bag beach
floral arrangement
funeral flower
flower seed
floral arrangement
wild flower meadow
flower blossom
dried flower
pickin wild flower
flower clipart
flower delivery chicago


green card lottery
ga lottery
tennessee lottery
national lottery
lottery result
maryland lottery
ny lottery
michigan lottery
georgia lottery
pa lottery
virginia lottery
texas lottery
nj lottery
ohio lottery
illinois lottery
florida lottery
california lottery

Anonymous said...

naturalizer shoes
steve madden shoes
puma shoes
rockport shoes
sas shoes
vans shoes
merrell shoes
dansko shoes
prom shoes
moccasins

ecco shoes
new balance
zappos
aldo shoes
bakers shoes
dsw shoes
birkenstock
clarks shoes



cymbalta
augmentin
clonidine
Coreg
biaxin
clindamycin
azithromycin
zyrtec

prozac
risperdal
paxil
mobic
synthroid
lasix
prevacid
ultracet
vicodin
verapamil

valtrex
zantac
adderall
dopamine
singulair
strattera
toprol
topamax
valtrex
amoxicillin
plavix
oxycodone
inderal
nexium
neurontin
skateboarding shoes
work boot
wedge sandal
adidas shoes
rack room shoes
keen shoes

Anonymous said...

casino niagara
pechanga casino
barbary casino
casino morongo
wager casino
soaring eagle casino
wynn casino
rama casino
venetian casino
foxwoods casino

floral arrangement
flower bulb
flower seed
wild flower seed
funeral flower
flower grower
flower centerpiece
perennial flower
tulip flower
flower blossom
ftd flower

—Āitalopram
penicillin
anafranil
cephalexin
biaxin
diet fahrenheit pill
acne solution
adult acne
ayurvedic medicine
anti depressant


vitamin k
vitamin shoppe
vitamin e
vitamin b 12
vitamin b12
vitamin world
medicine cabinet
new england journal of medicine
occupational medicine
health care naming


pennsylvania lottery

Anonymous said...

levaquin
seroquel
lipitor
lisinopril
accutane
aldactone
allopurinol
benicar
bactrim
atenolol
aricept


lexapro
chantix
clindamycin
abilify
depakote
crestor
avandia
fosamax
diovan
altace

zetia
buy ambien
avelox
baclofen
effexor
elavil
fioricet
flagyl
glucophage
hydrocodone

download free tax forms said...

black mold exposureblack mold symptoms of exposurewrought iron garden gatesiron garden gates find them herefine thin hair hairstylessearch hair styles for fine thin hairnight vision binocularsbuy night vision binocularslipitor reactionslipitor allergic reactionsluxury beach resort in the philippines

afordable beach resorts in the philippineshomeopathy for eczema.baby eczema.save big with great mineral makeup bargainsmineral makeup wholesalersprodam iphone Apple prodam iphone prahacect iphone manualmanual for P 168 iphonefero 52 binocularsnight vision Fero 52 binocularsThe best night vision binoculars here

night vision binoculars bargainsfree photo albums computer programsfree software to make photo albumsfree tax formsprintable tax forms for free craftmatic air bedcraftmatic air bed adjustable info hereboyd air bedboyd night air bed lowest pricefind air beds in wisconsinbest air beds in wisconsincloud air beds

best cloud inflatable air bedssealy air beds portableportables air bedsrv luggage racksaluminum made rv luggage racksair bed raisedbest form raised air bedsaircraft support equipmentsbest support equipments for aircraftsbed air informercialsbest informercials bed airmattress sized air beds

bestair bed mattress antique doorknobsantique doorknob identification tipsdvd player troubleshootingtroubleshooting with the dvd playerflat panel television lcd vs plasmaflat panel lcd television versus plasma pic the bestThe causes of economic recessionwhat are the causes of economic recessionadjustable bed air foam The best bed air foam

hoof prints antique equestrian printsantique hoof prints equestrian printsBuy air bedadjustablebuy the best adjustable air bedsair beds canadian storesCanadian stores for air beds

migraine causemigraine treatments floridaflorida headache clinicdrying dessicantair drying dessicantdessicant air dryerpediatric asthmaasthma specialistasthma children specialistcarpet cleaning dallas txcarpet cleaners dallascarpet cleaning dallas