Freedom of speech
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Freedom of speech is enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is granted formal recognition by the laws of most nations. Nonetheless the degree to which the right is upheld in practice varies greatly from one nation to another. In some nations with relatively authoritarian forms of government, overt government censorship is enforced, while among liberal democracies, censorship has been claimed to occur in a different form (see propaganda model) and there are different approaches to issues such as hate speech, obscenity and defamation laws.
The first formal request for freedom of speech in recorded history was made by Sir Thomas More in front of the English Parliament and King Henry VIII on April 18, 1523.
 International law
- Everyone has the right to opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Technically the Declaration is a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly rather than a treaty and so it is not legally binding, in its entirety, on members of the UN, and, while some of its provisions are considered to form part of customary international law, there is dispute as to precisely which provisions do so. Freedom of speech is granted unambiguous protection in international law by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which is binding on around 150 nations. Article 19 provides that:
- 1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
- 2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
- 3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
- (a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
- (b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
The right is further qualified by Article 20 which prohibits war propaganda, incitement to violence and certain forms of hate speech. In adopting the Covenant the Republic of Ireland, Italy and Luxembourg insisted on reservations to Article 19 in so far as it might be held to affect their systems of regulating and licensing broadcasting <ref>See List of Declarations and Reservations to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights</ref>. A number of state parties also have official reservations to Article 20.
Australia does not have a bill or declaration of rights, however, in 1992 the High Court of Australia judged in the case of Australian Capital Television Pty Ltd v Commonwealth that the Australian Constitution, by providing for a system of representative and responsible government, implied the protection of political communication as an essential element of that system. This freedom of political communication is not a broad freedom of speech as in other countries, but rather a freedom whose purpose is only to protect political free speech. It is also less a causal mechanism in itself, rather than simply a boundary which can be adjudged to be breached.
Despite Australian Capital Television Pty Ltd v Commonwealth, not all political speech appears to be protected in Australia, and several laws criminalise forms of speech that would be protected in other democratic countries such as the United States. In 1996, Albert Langer was imprisoned for advocating that voters fill out their ballot papers in a way that was invalid. Amnesty International declared Langer to be a prisoner of conscience.
The Australian government is currently trying to pass amendments to several laws, to give counter-terrorism agencies more power. At least one of the amendments has come under a large amount of public scrutiny, the amendments to the Crimes Act 1914, and the Criminal Code 1995 to change the way the crime of sedition is handled. Many have decried this as an attack on the freedom of speech of Australians, and many claim it is entirely unnecessary. Mediawatch has been running a series on the amendments on ABC television, and more information is available on vicpeace.org
The majority of African constitutions provide legal protection for freedom of speech. However, these rights are exercised inconsistently in practice. South Africa is probably the most liberal in granting freedom of speech with the exception of the advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.  Recently, the South African Constitutional Court set an international precedent when it found that a small culture jamming company Laugh it Off's right to freedom of expression outweighs the protection of trademark of the world's second largest brewery.
The replacement of authoritarian regimes in Kenya and Ghana has substantially improved the situation in those countries. On the other hand, Eritrea allows no independent media and uses draft evasion as a pretext to crack down on any dissent, spoken or otherwise. One of the poorest and smallest nations in Africa, Eritrea is now the largest prison for journalists; since 2001, fourteen journalists have been imprisoned in unknown places without a trial.Sudan, Libya, and Equatorial Guinea also have repressive laws and practices. In addition, many state radio stations (which are the primary source of news for illiterate people) are under tight control and programs, especially talk shows providing a forum to complain about the government, are often censored.
Several Asian countries provide formal legal guarantees of freedom of speech to their citizens. These are not, however, implemented in practice in most places. Countries such as Vietnam, Myanmar, Singapore, North Korea and Central Asian Republics like Turkmenistan brutally repress freedom of speech. Freedom of speech has been greatly improved in the People's Republic of China in recent years , but the level of free expression is still far from that of western nations.
Article 35 of the constitution of the coummunist China claims that:
- Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.
Nonetheless strict censorship is widespread in mainland China. There is heavy government involvement in the media, with many of the largest media organisations being run by the Communist government. References to democracy, the free Tibet movement, Taiwan as an independent state, certain religious organisations and anything questioning the legitimacy of the Communist Party of China are banned from use in publications and blocked on the Internet. Web portals including Microsoft's MSN have come under criticism for aiding in these practices, including banning the word "democracy" from its chat-rooms in China. While the television channels in Hong Kong, where people actually enjoy freedom of speech, are accessible in mainland China through cable television services, comments that the Communist Party feel uncomfortable with are cut out, and replaced with TV commercials. Very few western films are given permission to play in Chinese theatres, although widespread unlicensed copying of these films makes them widely available.
The Indian constitution guarantees freedom of speech to every citizen and there have been landmark cases in the Indian Supreme Court that have affirmed the nation's policy of allowing free press and freedom of expression to every citizen. In India, citizens are free to criticize politics, politicians, bureaucracy and policies. The freedoms are comparable to those in the United States and Western European democracies. Article 19 of the Indian constitution states that "all citizens shall have the right ..to freedom of speech and expression".
 South Korea
The South Korean constitution guarantees freedom of speech, press, petition and rights to grievances, just as that of the United States. However, the very restriction for the censorship in movies and TV shows can be restricted. And just as US uses the incitement test, clear and present danger test and balancing test, in South Korea speech calling for overthrowing of the government is prohibited, especially when the group is related to a Communist faction, as this can lead to capital punishment if convicted.
South Korea is currently going through problems from civil rights activists and students, because of the various fanfic and stories portraying homosexual relationships, commonly known as yaoi and yuri in Japan/US. The reason for this is few Congressional members calling, that "Such depiction of the story not only corrupts the young children and students, it is also very contagious", calling homosexuality a genetic and contagious disease. This is a very common view for the most of the East Asians regarding the issue, however.
 European Convention
The European Convention on Human Rights, signed on 4 November 1950, guarantees a broad range of human rights to inhabitants of member countries of the Council of Europe, which includes almost all European nations. These rights include Article 10, which entitles all citizens to free expression. Echoing the language of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this provides that:
- 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.
It also includes some other restrictions:
- 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 the rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.
Each party to the convention must alter its laws and policies to conform with the Convention, some, such as the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, have expressly incorporated the Convention into their domestic laws. The guardian of the Covention is the European Court of Human Rights. This court has heard many cases relating to freedom of speech, including cases that have tested the professional obligations of confidentiality of journalists and lawyers, and the application of defamation law, a recent example being the so called "McLibel case".
 European Union
Currently, all members of the European Union are signatories of the European Convention on Human Rights as well as having varying constitutional and legal protections for freedom of expression at the national level. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union guarantees freedom of expression but currently merely has the status of a "solemn proclamation" and is not binding in law. Its Article 11, in part mirroring the language of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention, provides that
- 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.
- 2. The freedom and pluralism of the media shall be respected.
While neither the Convention nor the Charter of Fundamental Rights is technically legally binding, the European Court of Justice takes them into account when making its rulings. Should the Treaty Establishing a Constitution For Europe ever become law the Charter of Fundamental Rights will acquire legal force. The proposed constitution also permits the European Union to accede to the European Convention as an entity in its own right. This is important because, while currently the Convention is binding on the governments of the member states, it is not binding on the supranational institutions of the Union itself.
According to Danish national law, this paragraph below states following about unbounded freedom of speech <ref>Print of official Danish National Constitution Law as raw text</ref>.
- § 77 Anyone is entitled to in print, writing and speech to publish ones thoughts, however in responsibility of the courts of justice. Censorship and other precluding precautions cannot ever be reimposed.
Traditionally the left-wing parties support freedom of speech but with respect for minorities and avoiding blasphemy. Right-wing parties alternately support full freedom of speech for the citizens almost regardless of motive and subject (racism in public is illegal so it has not been included in the statement). Generally people in Denmark are allowed to say whatever they have in mind, and far most of the majority also thinks it is a basic human right that cannot be removed in any way. However, this has been heavily questioned in the recent infamous cartoon controversy of Muhammad posted by Danish newspaper Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten on September the 30th, 2005. This incident caused massive and violent protests in many Muslim countries all over the world. A popular example of an extreme attitude towards the case is the politics of the Danish People's Party ("Dansk Folkeparti" in native language). Their popularity grew instantly after the threatenings and burnings of Danish embassies in foreign countries. The party fully stood by the fatal posting behind the international crisis, most noticeably leading to economical losses due to boycotts of Danish milk products in Arab countries. Because of that they have been accused of violating the racism- and blasphemy-paragraphs . Pia Kjærsgaard (the party founder and current leader) furthermore accused top imams of being national traitors <ref>http://www.nycny.com/columns/schiff/02-10-06.html</ref> after their discussed travel to Arabic countries showing off the drawings and creating rage. The imams participating in the journey instead claimed it was not the reactions they had expected, but their only intention was to inform Muslims of what was happening in Denmark and to work up a peaceful solution.
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, of constitutional value, states, in its article 11:
- The free communication of thoughts and of opinions is one of the most precious rights of man: any citizen thus may speak, write, print freely, save [if it is necessary] to respond to the abuse of this liberty, in the cases determined by the law.
In addition, France adheres to the European Convention on Human Rights and accepts the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights. The right to criticize politicians and the government is cherished and taken for granted by the French population. France has a tradition of political lampooning and satirical writing. Examples of this tendency include the frequent depiction in a popular television program of president Jacques Chirac as a beer-guzzling incompetent, thief and liar.
French law prohibits public speech or writings that incite to racial or religious hatred, as well as those that deny the Jewish Holocaust. Proponents and supporters of these measures allege that they fight against the spread of neo-nazi ideas and a climate of racism; opponents contend that these laws stifle the freedom of speech in France, and make it difficult to engage in the criticism of the practices of some religions, or in the discussion of immigration. The only major party opposed to those laws are the National Front whose leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has been a target of them.
In December 2004, a controversial addition was made to the law, criminalizing the prohibition to hatred or violence against people because of their sexual orientation. A law voted on 31 December 1970 created article L. 630 (renamed L. 3421-4) of the Public Health Code, which punishes the "positive presentation of drugs" and the "incitement to their consumption" with up to five years in prison and fines up to €76,000. Newspapers such as Libération and Charlie Hebdo, book shops, associations, political parties, music bands, and various publications criticizing the current drug laws and advocating drug reform in France have been repeatedly hit with heavy fines based on this law.
France does not implement any preliminary government censorship for written publications; plaintiffs have to demonstrate the violation of law in court. However, press publications must have an identifiable director of publishing, and publications directed towards the youth have supplemental obligations. Also, the government has a commission recommending movie classifications, the decisions of which can be appealed before the courts. Finally, the government restricts the right of broadcasting to authorized radio and television channels; the authorizations are granted by an independent administrative authority; this authority has recently removed the broadcasting authorizations of some foreign channels because of their antisemitic content. The 1994 Toubon Law restricts the use of foreign language words in government official publications and commercial speech; it has often been incorrectly described in the English-speaking press as prohibiting English words from all publications and web pages in France.
Reporters without borders world-wide press freedom index 2002 ranked Germany 7th out of 139 countries (in a three way tie). Freedom of speech is guaranteed by Article 5 Paragraph 1 of the German Basic Law. There are, however, some reservations in Article 5 Paragraph 2, for restrictions to protect the youth or to protect an individual or collective's honour against personal insults or hate speech (Volksverhetzung). The latter includes the propagation of neo-Nazi ideas and the use of Nazi symbols like the swastika, except for purposes of art, research, or education. These restrictions are justified as being necessary to protect the democratic constitution of Germany. In fact Article 5 of the Basic Law does not protect Freedom of speech per se but the Freedom of expression of opinion (and what is necessary to form an opinion) which results in subtle differences concerning speech which is not meant to express or form an opinion, which therefore is only protected under the General Freedom of Action, Article 2 Paragraph 1 of the German Basic Law (notwithstanding the freedom of press and broadcasting or the freedom of art or research or education or the freedom of religious expression).
 Republic of Ireland
Freedom of speech is protected by Article 40.6.1 of the Irish constitution. However the article qualifies this right, providing that it may not be used to undermine "public order or morality or the authority of the State". Furthermore, the constitution explicitly requires that the publication of "blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter" be a criminal offence.
The scope of the protection afforded by this Article has, to a large degree as a result of the wording of the Article, which qualifies the right before articulating it, been interpreted restrictively by the judiciary. Indeed, until an authoritative pronouncement on the issue by the Supreme Court, many believed that the protection was restricted to "convictions and opinions" and, as a result, a separate right to communicate was, by necessity, implied into Article 40.3.2. This judicial conservatism is at variance with the concept of speech as a democratic imperative. This, albeit trite, justification for free speech has underpinned the liberal, progressive interpretation of the First Amendment by the United States Supreme Court.
Under the European Convention On Human Rights Act, 2003, all of the rights afforded by the European Convention form an integral part of the Republic of Ireland's laws. The act is, however, subordinate to the constitution.
"Statutes of Wiślica" introduced in 1347 by Casimir III of Poland codified freedom of speech in medieval Poland e.g. book publishers were not to be persecuted. As of 2005, people are sometimes convicted and/or detained for about one day for insults to religious feeling (of the Roman Catholic Church) or to heads of state who are not yet, but soon will be, on Polish territory. On July 18 2003, Dorota Nieznalska was sentenced to six months of community service for having published an art work showing a penis on a cross, which was considered to be an insult to religious feeling.
On 5 January 2005, Jerzy Urban was sentenced to a fine of 20,000 złoty (about 5000 euros) for having insulted Pope John Paul II, a visiting head of state. During January 26-January 27 2005, about 30 human rights activists were temporarily detained by the police, allegedly for insulting Vladimir Putin, a visiting head of state. The activists were released after about 30 hours and only one was actually charged with insulting a foreign head of state. 
Freedom of speech is protected by the constitution in "Yttrandefrihetsgrundlagen" (Yttrande=Expression, Frihet=Freedom Grundlagen=Constitution) and freedom of the press due to Anders Chydenius 1766 in the "Tryckfrihetsförordning" (Tryck=Print Frihet=Freedom Förordning=Law). At the same time, the principle that the information inside public offices are public in "Offentlighetsprincipen". This last principle contrasts with the more restricted access to this kind of information in the rest of the EU.
Article 26 of the Constitution of Turkey guarantees the right to "Freedom of Expression and Dissemination of Thought". Moreover, the Republic of Turkey is a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights and submits to the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. The constitutional freedom of expression may be limited by provisions in other laws, of which Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, which outlaws insulting "Turkishness", is the most contentious. It is also a crime to insult the legacy of Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, or to deface statues or images of Atatürk.
 United Kingdom
In 1998, the United Kingdom incorporated European Convention, and the guarantee of freedom of expression it contains in Article 10, into its domestic law under the Human Rights Act. UK law imposes a number of limitations on freedom of speech not found in some other jurisdictions. For example, its laws recognise the crimes of incitement to racial hatred and incitement to religious hatred. UK laws on defamation are also considered among the strictest in the Western world, imposing a high burden of proof on the defendant.
 North America
- 2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: ... (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication
Due to section 1 of the Charter, the so-called limitation clause, Canada's freedom of expression is not absolute and can be limited under certain situations. Section 1 of the Charter states:
- The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. (emphasis added)
This section is double edged. First it implies that a limitation on freedom of speech prescribed in law can be permitted if it can be justified as being a reasonable limit in a free and democratic society. Conversely, it implies that a restriction can be invalidated if it cannot be shown to be a reasonable limit in a free and democratic society. The former case has been used to uphold limits on legislation which are used to prevent hate speech and obscenity.
In April 29, 2004, Bill C-250 was passed which includes as hate speech propaganda against people based on their sexual orientation. It is now illegal to publicly incite hatred against people based on their colour, race, religion, ethnic origin, and sexual orientation. However, under section 319 on hate speech, a person cannot be convicted of hate speech "if the person can establish that the statements made are true."
An example of the limiting of obscenity is that case Forget v. Quebec (Attorney General) 1988, (2 S.C.R. 90) decision in which the Supreme Court invalidated the Charter of the French Language also known as Bill 101. One of the reasons it gave for invalidating it was that it was not a reasonable limitation under sec. 9 of the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms and under section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This decision was one of the first cases after the section 1 Oakes test was established. Bill 101 was subsequently put into effect though by invoking the notwithstanding clause of the Charter.
 United States
Main article: Freedom of speech in the United States
In the United States freedom of expression is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. There are several exceptions to this general rule, including copyright protection, the Miller test for obscenity and greater regulation of so-called commercial speech, such as advertising. The Miller test in particular rarely comes into effect.
The principle of freedom of speech promotes dialogues on public issues, but it is most relevant to speech which is unpopular at the time it is made. As a Pennsylvania state legislator, Rep. Mark B. Cohen of Philadelphia, once argued in a legislative debate, "Freedom of speech which is limited to freedom to say whatever a majority of the Pennsylvania legislature agrees with is not real freedom of speech".
Generally, the U.S. has a liberal policy on freedom of expression, with no formal government censorship of the news media (with the exception of decency standards for radio and television) or creative arts. When expressive content is held to lie beyond the protection of the First Amendment, the finding is usually made by a court during a prosecution after the content is published or publicly exhibited; courts view "prior restraint" of expression with great suspicion (see below). It might nonetheless be argued that the threat of post-facto punishment is sufficient to prevent certain types of speech from being uttered (or specifically, broadcast) in the first place.
Many Americans deeply cherish their right of free speech and take it for granted. However, this attitude is sometimes not universally found in polls.
Americans are usually shocked when they learn that the governments of most First World countries exercise direct censorship powers over their citizens, and some believe that completely free speech only exists in the USA. This is only partially true. The U.S. Government directly controls speech over a number of media, most notably in the case of the Federal Communications Commission regulating broadcast radio and television. Content which would be considered unexceptional in many First World countries is directly censored by the FCC, since it falls foul of the "community standards" definition of obscenity or indecency. An increasing amount of video content is now sent over cable and satellite systems (thus escaping FCC review), and there has been some debate over whether the FCC should have jurisdiction over such communications systems. 
Similar censorship applies to items sent via the United States Postal Service. Certain state and local governments (it depends on the region) regularly exercise censorship power in their licensing of theatrical performances, movies and other entertainment or artistic works. (See Roth v. United States and Miller v. California for more on the "community standards" test.)
However it is true that in terms of purely political or religious speech, and freedom of the (printed) press, the U.S. experiences significantly less censorship than most other countries. For instance, a U.S. newspaper may freely express opinions which in other places might be criminalized as "hate speech", and organizations dedicated to such speech may freely march and speak in public (after having complied with all relevant content-neutral regulations). For these reasons, the Web services of most neo-nazis organizations, Holocaust deniers, scientific racism, and other documents that fall under hate speech laws are hosted in the United States, though Dutch citizens can still be prosecuted if their foreign hosted website is in Dutch. This is a point of contention with some lobby groups in other countries, who point out that these organizations advocate policies that historically resulted in the deprivation of free speech and democratic rights, as well as the mass extermination of millions.
Also, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that the federal and state governments cannot normally tell newspapers (or others) to not publish something, just because of the potential for damaging national security (as in the Pentagon Papers case) or harming private citizens (such as the accuser of Kobe Bryant). However, the Court has said that in exceptional cases such prior restraint might be permissible. As long as the newspapers are acquiring information in good faith, the government and private citizens bear the burden of keeping information secret if they do not want such information to be published.
An area concern is the use of copyright laws to restrict free speech, more particularly with the enactment of the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The main example of this is the Church of Scientology who waged successful legal battles to restrict the diffusion of some documents, which it considers its intellectual property. Critics contend that this is merely a way to prevent criticism — critics which do not quote authoritative Scientology documents are deemed to be discussing things they do not know about, and those who show authoritative documents are prosecuted for copyright infringement. Scientology has used the DMCA to force notable Web sites (including the Google search engine) to remove all references to the Operation Clambake site, which published such documents.
Neither the federal nor state governments engage in preliminary censorship of movies. However, the Motion Picture Association of America has a rating system, and movies not rated by the MPAA cannot expect anything but a very limited release in theatres, making the system almost compulsory. Since the organization is private, no recourse to the courts is available. The rules implemented by the MPAA are more restrictive than the ones implemented by most First World countries. However, unlike comparable public or private institutions in other countries, the MPAA does not have the power to limit the retail sale of movies in tape or disc form based on their content. Since 2000, it has become quite common for movie studios to release "unrated" DVD versions of films with MPAA-censored content put back in.
Like all other constitutional freedoms, freedom of speech is more a contested terrain than an absolute principle. The repeal of the fairness doctrine limited the right to reply to television opinions, but the proliferation of new media outlets has expanded media access. The ever increasing cost of purchasing a newspaper, television station, or radio station has limited free speech, but the Internet and new forms of low power radio stations have increased it. What steps the courts of the United States will take to enforce freedom of speech depends somewhat on the identity of the judges appointed and the advocates for clients who appear before them.
Within the U.S., the freedom of speech also varies widely from one state to the next. Of all states, the state of California permits its citizens the broadest possible range of free speech under the state constitution (whose declaration of rights includes a strong affirmative right to free speech in addition to a negative right paralleling the federal prohibition on laws that abridge the freedom of speech). Thanks to the Pruneyard case, California residents are even allowed to engage in free speech on other persons' private property.
 See also
 Further reading
- Goel, Sita Ram (editor): Freedom of expression - Secular Theocracy Versus Liberal Democracy (1998) ISBN 81-85990-55-7
- Milton, John. Areopagitica: A speech of Mr John Milton for the liberty of unlicensed printing to the Parliament of England
 External links
- Law of July 29, 1881, on the Freedom of the Press (up-to-date amended version) [see Art. 24]
- French drug laws (Art. L. 3421-4)
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