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History of Freedom of Speech in the UK

John Simkin

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There has been a lot of discussion about freedom of expression since the killing of the eight journalists at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical weekly newspaper, that had published a number of controversial Muhammad cartoons. It has been suggested that there is a long tradition of freedom of speech in the UK and that we need to defend this ancient right in response to this terrorist outrage. Although journalists have been keen to point this out it seems their editors are unwilling to publish any of the offending cartoons. It has also emerged that official guidelines previously published online said that the Prophet revered by Muslims “must not be represented in any shape or form” in BBC output.

Freedom of expression is something that has taken a long time to establish in this country. Dominant religious, political and cultural institutions have always used their power to protect themselves from criticism. An interesting case in our history concerns Anne Askew who was burnt at the stake on 16th July 1546. Anne had taken on every powerful institution that existed in Tudor England.

Anne was the daughter of Sir William Askew (1489–1541) a large landowner and the former MP for Grimsby. When she was fifteen her family forced her to marry Thomas Kyme. Anne rebelled against her husband by refusing to adopt his surname. The couple also argued about religion. Anne was a supporter of Martin Luther, while her husband was a Roman Catholic. From her reading of the Bible she believed that she had the right to divorce her husband. For example, she quoted St Paul: "If a faithful woman have an unbelieving husband, which will not tarry with her she may leave him"?

In 1544 Askew decided to travel to London and request a divorce from Henry VIII. This was rejected and in March 1546 she was arrested on suspicion of heresy. She was questioned about a book she was carrying that had been written by John Frith, a Protestant priest who had been burnt for heresy in 1533, for claiming that neither purgatory nor transubstantiation could be proven by Holy Scriptures. She was interviewed by Edmund Bonner, the Bishop of London who had obtained the nickname of "Bloody Bonner" because of his ruthless persecution of heretics.

After a great deal of debate Anne Askew was persuaded to sign a confession which amounted to an only slightly qualified statement of orthodox belief. With the help of her friend, Edward Hall, the Under-Sheriff of London, she was released after twelve days in prison. She was sent back to her husband. However, when she arrived back to Lincolnshire she went to live with her brother, Sir Francis Askew.

In February 1546 conservatives in the Church of England, led by Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, began plotting to destroy the radical Protestants. He gained the support of Henry VIII. As Alison Weir has pointed out: "Henry himself had never approved of Lutheranism. In spite of all he had done to reform the church of England, he was still Catholic in his ways and determined for the present to keep England that way. Protestant heresies would not be tolerated, and he would make that very clear to his subjects." In May 1546 Henry gave permission for twenty-three people suspected of heresy to be arrested. This included Anne Askew.

Gardiner selected Askew because he believed she was associated with Henry's sixth wife, Catherine Parr. Catherine also criticised legislation that had been passed in May 1543 that had declared that the "lower sort" did not benefit from studying the Bible in English. The Act for the Advancement of the True Religion stated that "no women nor artificers, journeymen, serving men of the degree of yeomen or under husbandmen nor labourers" could in future read the Bible "privately or openly". Later, a clause was added that did allow any noble or gentlewoman to read the Bible, this activity must take place "to themselves alone and not to others". Catherine ignored this "by holding study among her ladies for the scriptures and listening to sermons of an evangelical nature".

Gardiner believed the Queen was deliberately undermining the stability of the state. Gardiner tried his charm on Askew, begging her to believe he was her friend, concerned only with her soul's health, she retorted that that was just the attitude adopted by Judas "when he unfriendly betrayed Christ". On 28th June she flatly rejected the existence of any priestly miracle in the eucharist. "As for that ye call your God, it is a piece of bread. For a more proof thereof... let it but lie in the box three months and it will be mouldy."

Gardiner instructed Sir Anthony Kingston, the Constable of the Tower of London, to torture Askew in an attempt to force her to name Catherine Parr and other leading Protestants as heretics. Kingston complained about having to torture a woman (it was in fact illegal to torture a woman at the time) and the Lord Chancellor Thomas Wriothesley and his assistant, Richard Rich took over operating the rack. Despite suffering a long period on the rack, Askew refused to name those who shared her religious views. According to Askew: "Then they did put me on the rack, because I confessed no ladies or gentlemen, to be of my opinion... the Lord Chancellor and Master Rich took pains to rack me with their own hands, till I was nearly dead. I fainted... and then they recovered me again. After that I sat two long hours arguing with the Lord Chancellor, upon the bare floor... With many flattering words, he tried to persuade me to leave my opinion... I said that I would rather die than break my faith."

Askew was removed to a private house to recover and once more offered the opportunity to recant. When she refused she was taken to Newgate Prison to await her execution. On 16th July 1546, Agnew "still horribly crippled by her tortures" was carried to execution in Smithfield in a chair as she could not walk and every movement caused her severe pain. It was reported that she was taken to the stake which had a small seat attached to it, on which she sat astride. Chains were used to bind her body firmly to the stake at the ankles, knees, waist, chest and neck. Askew's executioner helped her die quickly by hanging a bag of gunpowder around her neck.

Bishop Stephen Gardiner had a meeting with Henry VIII after the execution of Anne Askew and raised concerns about his wife's religious beliefs. Henry, who was in great pain with his ulcerated leg and at first he was not interested in Gardiner's complaints. However, eventually Gardiner got Henry's agreement to arrest Catherine Parr and her three leading ladies-in-waiting, "Herbert, Lane and Tyrwhit" who had been involved in reading and discussing the Bible.

Henry then went to see Catherine to discuss the subject of religion. Probably, aware what was happening, she replied that "in this, and all other cases, to your Majesty's wisdom, as my only anchor, Supreme Head and Governor here in earth, next under God". He reminded her that in the past she had discussed these matters. "Catherine had an answer for that too. She had disputed with Henry in religion, she said, principally to divert his mind from the pain of his leg but also to profit from her husband's own excellent learning as displayed in his replies." Henry replied: "Is it even so, sweetheart? And tended your arguments to no worse end? Then perfect friends we are now again, as ever at any time heretofore." Gilbert Burnett has argued that Henry put up with Catherine's radical views on religion because of the good care she took of him as his nurse. The next day Chancellor Thomas Wriothesley arrived with a detachment of soldiers to arrest Catherine. Henry told him he had changed his mind and sent the men away.

During his reign Henry VIII (1509-1547) executed 81 heretics. The Protestant government of Edward VI (1547-1553) took a moderate approach to the subject and only two heretics were burnt at the stake. His sister, Mary (1553-1558) was a much more passionate hunter of heretics and an estimated 280 people were put to death during her five-year reign.

Elizabeth (1558-1603) had a fairly good record of only ordering two heretics to be burnt at the stake. However, she could be very cruel if anyone dared to express views that were critical of her. In 1579 Elizabeth's officials were involved in negotiations about the possible marriage to the Duke of Alençon. Lord Chancellor Christopher Hatton was against the match "but joined with the rest of the council in a sullen acquiescence, offering to support the match if it pleased her." However, there was a great deal of opposition to the proposed marriage. As Elizabeth Jenkins has pointed out: "The English dislike of foreign rule, which had shown itself strongly on the marriage of Mary Tudor, was now indissolubly connected with a fear of Catholic persecution. The idea of a French Catholic husband for the Queen roused the abhorrence which, in the Puritans, reached almost to frenzy."

John Stubbs was totally opposed to the marriage and wrote a pamphlet, The Discovery of a Gaping Gulf, criticizing the proposed marriage. It accused certain evil "flatters" and "politics" of espousing the interests of the French court "where Machiavelli is their new testament and atheism their religion". He described the proposed union as a "contrary coupling" and an "immoral union" like that of a cleanly ox with an uncleanly ass". Stubbs accused the Alençon family of suffering from sexually transmitted diseases and that Elizabeth should consult her doctors who would tell her she was exposing herself to a frightful death. Stubbs also argued that, at forty-six, Elizabeth may not have children or may be endangered in childbirth.

On 27th September 1579 a royal proclamation was issued prohibiting the circulation of the book. On 13th October Stubbs, Hugh Singleton (the printer), and William Page (who had been involved in the distribution of the pamphlet) were arrested. Elizabeth wanted to be immediately executed by royal prerogative but eventually agreed to their trial for felony. The jury refused to convict, and they were then charged with conspiring to excite sedition. The use of this statute was criticized by Judge Robert Monson. He was imprisoned and removed from the bench when he refused to retract.

Stubbs, Singleton and Page were all found guilty of sedition and were sentenced to have their right hands cut off and to be imprisoned, though it appears that Singleton was pardoned because of his age: he was about eighty. The sentence was carried out at the market place in Westminster on 3rd November 1579, with surgeons present to prevent them bleeding to death. Stubbs made a speech on the scaffold where he asserted his loyalty and asked the crowd to pray that God would give him strength to endure the punishment.

William Camden points out in The History of Queen Elizabeth (1617): "Stubbs and Page had their right hands cut off with a cleaver, driven through the wrist by the force of a mallet, upon a scaffold in the market-place at Westminster... I remember that Stubbs, after his right hand was cut off, took off his hat with his left, and said with a loud voice, 'God Save the Queen'; the crowd standing about was deeply silent: either out of horror at this new punishment; or else out of sadness."

An eyewitness claims it took three blows before his hand was chopped off. The bleeding was stopped by searing the stump with a hot iron. Stubbs fainted but William Page walked off unaided, and found the strength to shout: "I have left there a true Englishman's hand!" Stubbs and Page were then taken back to the Tower of London. Parliament was due to meet in October, 1579, to discuss her proposed marriage. Elizabeth did not allow this to happen. Instead she called a meeting of her council. After several days of debate the council remained deeply divided, with seven of them against the marriage and five for it. "Elizabeth burst into tears. She had wanted them to arrive at a definite decision in favour of the marriage, but now she was once more lost in uncertainty."

Elizabeth was shocked to discover that the punishment of Stubbs had a negative impact on her popularity. As Anka Muhlstein pointed out: "Thanks to her unerring political instinct, Elizabeth realized at once that she had taken the wrong tack. Her people's respect and affection, which she had never lacked hitherto, were essential to her. The easy-going relationship she enjoyed with her subjects warmed her heart." In January, 1580, Queen Elizabeth admitted to Alençon that public opinion made their marriage impossible.

On 11th April 1612, Edward Wightman Became the last heretic to be burnt at the stake when he was put to death in Lichfield. However, people were still in danger of serving long-terms of imprisonment if they made comments that were considered dangerous by religious and political leaders. There was also a strict form of censorship that attempted to stop people from questioning the status quo.

An interesting case concerns the political career of Tom Paine. In 1791 Paine published his most influential work, The Rights of Man. In the book Paine attacked hereditary government and argued for equal political rights. Paine suggested that all men over twenty-one in Britain should be given the vote and this would result in a House of Commons willing to pass laws favourable to the majority. The book also recommended progressive taxation, family allowances, old age pensions, maternity grants and the abolition of the House of Lords.

The British government was outraged by Paine's book and it was immediately banned. Paine was charged with seditious libel but he escaped to France before he could be arrested. Paine announced that he did not wish to make a profit from The Rights of Man and anyone had the right to reprint his book. It was printed in cheap editions so that it could achieve a working class readership. Although the book was banned, during the next two years over 200,000 people in Britain managed to buy a copy.

To escape imprisonment Paine fled to Paris and in 1792 he became a French citizen and was elected to the National Convention. The following year he discovered that even revolutionary governments were not in favour of freedom of speech and when he opposed the execution of Louis XVI he was arrested and kept in prison under the threat of execution from 28th December 1793 and 4th November 1794.

Paine's book did help to stir up debate on the idea of freedom of speech. Thomas Spence, a schoolmaster from Newcastle, moved to London and attempted to make a living my selling Paine's Rights of Man on street corners. He was arrested but soon after he was released from prison he opened a shop in Chancery Lane where he sold radical books and pamphlets. In 1793 he started a periodical, Pigs' Meat. He said in the first edition: "Awake! Arise! Arm yourselves with truth, justice, reason. Lay siege to corruption. Claim as your inalienable right, universal suffrage and annual parliaments. And whenever you have the gratification to choose a representative, let him be from among the lower orders of men, and he will know how to sympathize with you."

In May 1794 Spence was arrested and imprisoned and because Habeas Corpus had been suspended, the authorities were able to hold him without trial until December 1794. He was eventually released but it was not long before he was back behind bars for selling what the government described as "seditious publications".

One way the government attempted to silence radical newspapers was by taxation. These taxes were first imposed on British newspapers in 1712. The tax was gradually increased until in 1815 it had reached 4d. a copy. As few people could afford to pay 6d. or 7d. for a newspaper, the tax restricted the circulation of most of these journals to people with fairly high incomes.

Richard Carlile was another one who tried to make a living from selling the writings of Tom Paine on street corners. In 1817 Carlile decided to rent a shop in Fleet Street and become a publisher. This included the radical newspaper called The Republican. On 16th August 1819, Carlile was one on the main speakers at a meeting on parliamentary reform at St. Peter's Fields in Manchester. The local magistrates ordered the yeomanry (part-time cavalry) to break up the meeting. Just as Hunt was about to speak, the yeomanry charged the crowd and in the process killed eleven people. Afterwards, this event became known as the Peterloo Massacre.

In the next edition of his newspaper he wrote a first-hand account of the massacre. Carlile not only described how the military had charged the crowd but also criticised the government for its role in the incident. Under the seditious libel laws, it was offence to publish material that might encourage people to hate the government. In October 1819, Carlile was found guilty of blasphemy and seditious libel and was sentenced to three years in Dorchester Gaol. Carlile was also fined £1,500 and when he refused to pay, his Fleet Street offices were raided and his stock was confiscated.

When Richard Carlile was released from prison in November 1825 he returned to publishing newspapers. Carlile was now a strong supporter of women's rights. He argued that "equality between the sexes" should be the objective of all reformers. Carlile wrote articles in his newspapers suggesting that women should have the right to vote and be elected to Parliament. In 1826 he also published Every Woman's Book, a book that advocated birth control and the sexual emancipation of women.

In 1831 Henry Hetherington began publishing The Poor Man's Guardian. Hetherington's refused to pay the 4d. stamp duty on each paper sold. On the front page, where the red spot of the stamp duty should have been, Hetherington printed the slogan "Knowledge is Power". Underneath were the words, "Published in Defiance of the Law, to try the Power of Right against Might".

By 1833 circulation had reached 22,000, with two-thirds of the copies being sold in the provinces. In a three year period, twenty-five of these forty agents went to prison for selling an unstamped newspaper. One of those was arrested was George Julian Harney, who was imprisoned three times for selling the Poor Man's Guardian. Later Harney was to become the editor of the very successful Chartist newspaper, The Northern Star.

The campaign for an untaxed press obtained a boast in June 1834 when it was ruled that the Poor Man's Guardian was not an illegal publication. The newspaper reported: "After all the badgerings of the last three years - after all the fines and incarcerations - after all the spying and blood-money, the Poor Man's Guardian was pronounced, on Tuesday by the Court of Exchequer (and by a Special Jury too) to be a perfectly legal publication." As a result of this court ruling, Henry Hetherington invested in a new printing press, the Napier double-cylinder, a machine capable of printing 2,500 copies an hour.

The authorities responded by ordering an increase in the prosecution of newspaper sellers. Joseph Swann was another reformer who tried to make a living from selling the The Poor Man's Guardian. In 1835 he was sentenced to four and a half years for selling the newspaper. During the trial he explained his actions. "I have been unemployed for some time, neither can I obtain work, my family are starving. And for another reason, the most important of all, I sell them for the good of my countrymen."

In 1835 the two leading unstamped radical newspapers, The Poor Man's Guardian, and The Police Gazette, were selling more copies in a day than The Times sold all week. It was estimated at the time that the circulation of leading six unstamped newspapers had now reached 200,000.

The government decided to bring an end to the reformist press. Ignoring the court decision, in 1835 the offices of the newspaper were raided. Hetherington's stock and equipment, including his new Napier printing machine, was seized and destroyed. For a while Henry Hetherington printed the Poor Man's Guardian on borrowed equipment but in December, 1835, he was forced to cease publication.

Although the authorities had stopped burning heretics people did not have complete freedom of speech in religious matters. In August 1842, George Holyoake, the editor of Oracle of Reason, was charged with "condemning Christianity" in a speech he made at Cheltenham. He was found guilty and sentenced to six months in prison. This did not stop Holyoake in his campaign for freedom of speech and established The Reasoner. Over the next fifteen years the journal became one of the most important working class journals of the 19th century.

Despite the extension of the vote, the Church was still able to prevent the publication of books and pamphlets. For example, the Church was totally opposed to the use of contraception to control family size. In 1877 Annie Besant and Charles Bradlaugh decided to publish The Fruits of Philosophy, written by Charles Knowlton, a book that advocated birth control. Besant and Bradlaugh were charged with publishing material that was "likely to deprave or corrupt those whose minds are open to immoral influences". In court they argued that "we think it more moral to prevent conception of children than, after they are born, to murder them by want of food, air and clothing." Besant and Bradlaugh were both found guilty of publishing an "obscene libel" and sentenced to six months in prison. At the Court of Appeal the sentence was quashed.

Even in the 20th century the Church continued to use its influence to try to stop people discussing this issue. Guy Aldred was someone who spent his life campaigning against censorship. In 1909 he was sentenced to twelve months hard labour for printing the August issue of The Indian Sociologist, an Indian nationalist newspaper edited by Shyamji Krishnavarma.

In 1921 Aldred established the Anti-Parliamentary Communist Federation (APCF), a breakaway group from the Communist Party of Great Britain. He edited the organisation's newspaper, The Communist. The authorities began to investigate this group and Aldred, Jenny Patrick, Douglas McLeish and Andrew Fleming were eventually arrested and charged with sedition. After being held in custody for nearly four months they appeared at Glasgow High Court on 21st June 1921. They were all found guilty. The Socialist reported: "Lord Skerrington then passed sentences: Guy Aldred, one year: Douglas McLeish three months: Jane Patrick, three months, Andrew Fleming (the printer), three months and a fine of £50, or another three months."

Patrick Dollan, wrote in The Daily Herald: "Guy Aldred, in prison for exercising the traditional right of free speech, was imprisoned four months before his trial, then sentenced for a year and not allowed to count the four months he had already served as part of this imprisonment. The brutality of this sentence is a disgrace to the country, and nothing can remove that,disgrace except the organised power of Labour."

After his release from prison Guy Aldred and his partner, Rose Witcop, joined the campaign for birth-control information that had began by Marie Stopes publishing a concise guide to contraception called Wise Parenthood. Aldred and Witcop published several pamphlets on birth-control and on 22nd December, 1922 he was prosecuted for publishing Family Limitation, a pamphlet written by Margaret Sanger. Aldred conducted his own defence. Among the witnesses he called was Sir Arbuthnot Lane, a leading surgeon at Guy's Hospital. He argued that the pamphlet should be read by every young person about to be married. Despite this, the magistrate ordered the books to be destroyed "in the interests of the morals of society."

As one can see, the freedom to express opinions that are not shared by people in authority, has been a long-drawn struggle. For most of the time, those in authority, use the most extreme form of punishment they can get away with. Henry VIII and Mary believed in setting fire to people. Elizabeth, who considered herself a humane ruler, preferred the idea of removing the offender's right hand. However, as she discovered, extreme forms of punishment can lose you the support of your people. In January, 1580, Elizabeth admitted to the Duke of Alençon that public opinion made their marriage impossible.

In the 20th century dictators such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin had few qualms about executing those who advocated free speech. (Stalin discovered the best way of keeping people quiet is to threaten the lives of their children. Something that has been repeated recently by people using social media.) Freedom of speech is denied in all dictatorships.

Over the last few years, people who have been unable to gain the right to freely express their views in their own society, have decided to use methods employed by religious and political dictatorships, to silence people living in democracies. In many ways it has worked because people have employed self-censorship. As Miloš Forman, who worked as a film director in the communist regime of Czechoslovakia, once pointed out: "The worst evil is - and that's the product of censorship - is the self-censorship, because that twists spines, that destroys my character because I have to think something else and say something else, I have to always control myself."

The journalists at Charlie Hebdo were unwilling to impose self-censorship and they have paid the ultimate price. Their lives will not have been wasted if newspaper and television companies follow the example of Wikipedia and refuse to be intimidated into silence.

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One thing which is indeed sociologically and historically interesting is the central importance of freedom of speech in French culture and European culture generally. Arguably since the French revolution core Enlightenment ideas have been central values in European society. Freedom of speech is but one of these. The anti clericalism which marked much of 19th century France has clearly also morphed into a continuing tradition of mordant criticism of religious fundamentalism and closed totalitarian ideologies. Nothing is indeed sacred and there is a strong argument to suggest that this in itself is a good thing.

Whilst there is much hypocrisy and semi understanding in the current debate on free speech and liberal freedoms in Western Europe we under estimate their importance at our peril.

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“Je Suis Hypocrite”: Enemies of ‘Freedom of Expression” Hijack “Charlie” in Paris
Global Research, January 13, 2015

Sunday’s impressive “Anti-Terror Rally”, lauded by the global media as an ‘unprecedented show of solidarity’ wasn’t meant to look awkward, but it did.

The million-strong crowds were impressive, as were the variety of people who made it out to the event. Unfortunately, our televisions, newspapers and websites were more interested in plastering the eerily contrived image of our 50 ‘world leaders’, with arms locked “in an act solidarity”, in support of “the fallen” at French political cartoon magazine Charlie Hebdo.

What was designed as a globally-syndicated #kumbaya moment, instead gave off the distinct odeur of shameless political opportunism, in what can only be described as the world’s biggest-ever photo-junket for what can only be described as some of the world’s most unpopularleaders decked-out in $5,000 suits, camel hair overcoats and hipster glasses.

The only real consolation was that Tony Blair didn’t invite himself to this one…

neofascists, dictators, along with various and sundry CIA-backed henchman (listed below). One glance at Daniel Wickham’s Twitter feed over the last 24 hours is like a who’s who of the international enemies of free speech, and equally as guilty are their western accomplices: members of NATO’s nuclear cartel and shakedown gang led by the US, Germany, France, Netherlands and Britain – all who share guilt on this issue.

The fact that neither the US President or Secretary of State was present for Sunday’s parade is strangely fitting, considering how the US is certainly one of the worst offenders, especially in high-profile cases. Aside from the obvious case of NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden (journalist Glenn Greenwald’s comments here are certainly worth reading) who has been forced into exile under threat imprisonment (or worse), and Bradley-Chelsea Manning (currently wasting away in a US federal prison for acting in the wider public interest), the federal government is unashamedly hell-bent on stamping out any reports that expose its run-away corruption. There are a number of other good examples which show just how hypocritical the whole Parisian political orgy really is. President Obama’s war on whistleblowing has seen him use theEspionage Act 1917 more any other leader in US history.

CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou described the situation as a complete meltdown of long-held freedoms in the US. He explains, “Shame on this president for persecuting whistleblowers with a legal relic, while administration officials leak with impunity”.

“It was my punishment for blowing the whistle on the CIA’s torture program and for confirming to the press, despite government protestations to the contrary, that the US government was, indeed, in the business of torture.”

Even bigger is the case of General James Cartwright, who blew the whistle on the Pentagon’s illegal deployment of the STUXNET virus – an incredibly risky, covert operation designed to destabilize civilian nuclear power facilities in Iran, and, targeting facilities in Russia, too. Theoretically, this reckless hack placed millions of innocent lives at risk, but that aspect of this scandal was simply avoided by an overwhelmingly pro-Washington media. It so happens to have been a joint-venture of sorts between the United States and Israel. Cartwright’s crime: he leaked additional details of the story to New York Times after it was already out in public domain, and was then indicted for espionage. Ironically, this government racketeering operation was organized by the Department of Justice and Obama’s legal pit-bull, Attorney General Eric Holder, who was actually in Paris this weekend, but thankfully didn’t show up for the ‘Unity March’.

Not satisfied with intimidating and ruining the career of one the countries most decorated servicemen, secrecy-obsessed Washington (we’re also told that, ‘if you’ve done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to worry about’, right?) went after the other journalists, placing a ‘chilling effect’ on America’s free press. In addition to this, Holder, who seized on events in Paris as an opportunity to win cheap political points, saw fit to raid offices of the Associated Press (AP) news agency, in search of the names and contact details of sources that AP was using in its investigation of an Islamic suicide terror squad out of Yemen which, it turns out, was being led by a CIA ‘double agent’ – and managed covertly by CIA boss John Brennan. In the end, as a result of Holder’s brazen assault on the press, longtime sources have since ‘stopped talking to the AP’, said head Gary Pruitt at the National Press Club.

It doesn’t end there. There’s also James Risen, the journalist who wrote the book, “State of War.” Only last week, the New York Times reporter has been subpoenaed to testify in the trial of a former CIA officer who is accused of leaking classified information. Again, it’s a case of the government attempting to crack down on reporters’ right to keep confidential sources, but it’s really a case of the government abusing its power to conceal its own crimes.

It seemed like only yesterday when France denied access to the Bolivian Presidential Jet over French airspace, all because of the child-like rumor that Snowden was smuggled on board. So if Evo Morales did dot comply with French orders, what would they have done – shoot down a head of state? When Washington called, Francois Hollande danced to Yankee Doodle Dandy.N’est-ce pas?

In Britain, David Cameron has his own basement of horrors which Westminster is working full-time to sweep under the rug. In addition to the shadowy deeds of its GCHQ spy agency which works in concert with the NSA digital dragnet in America, successive British governments, police and members of the judiciary appear to have all colluded to suppress a vile institutional VIP paedophile epidemic.

By all indications, countries like the US and Britain are tightening their vice, not loosening it.Western security states are currently engaged in a war on whistleblowing, and its ultimate goal is the prevent the press from being able to expose high level crimes carried out by those in positions of power. So it’s incumbant on morally-inclined citizens to also stand up in the face ofstate tyranny, and to support the efforts of whistleblowers, and what is left of the free press.

Freedom of the press in the west? Oh, la vache! The Fourth Estate has already been transformed into a Fifth Column. The last time we saw millions people on the streets in London, Paris, New York and dozens of other cities, was on the eve of the Iraq War in 2003, and media moguls like the BCC were nowhere to be found – and even went to erroneous lengths toobscure the true number of protesters. Why? Because what was happening on the streets did not fit the crass narrative of their drive to war – a war which media majors like CNN and the BBCactively promoted. But for some reason, yesterday in Paris, they spared no expense, throwing their entire staff out to cover the event (in exhausting detail). It’s a tale of two marches, and it speaks volumes as to who our corporate media really work for.

‘Sh*t, North Korea did it!’) on the Sony Hack Hoax weren’t enough. Hollywood’s promising political hopeful (yes, you read that right), George Clooney, didn’t miss the opportunity to use the zeitgeist de jour, ‘Je Suis Charlie’, to reinsert himself into international affairs last night at the Golden Globe Award. While receiving the Cecile B. DeLux award for lifetime achievement, Clooney gave a short sermon at the alter of power politics andsycophanty, stating, “They were leaders of countries all over the world and they didn’t march in protest,” he said. “They marched in support of the idea that we will not walk in fear. We won’t do it. So, ‘Je Suis Charlie.’ Thank you.” With the amount of despotic regimes represented at the Paris photo-op, and the fact that his wife Amal is considered by some as a leading human rights barrister, makes Clooney’s comments all the more shallow and uninformed (sadly, perfect for politics).

The problem here is that you’ll never hear Clooney, or any other Hollywood political contender, dare to challenge the state power apparatus. Why is that? Answer: sucking up to money and power. George Clooney has a lifetime membership to Bilderberg’s working group in New York City, the CFR (Council on Foreign Relations), where he proudly rubs elbows and takes selfies with various CEO’s, banksters, as well as torture advocates and war-hawks like Dick Cheney, Zbigiew Brzezinski, Hillary Clinton and many others.

George reinforces the establishment because he doesn’t want to lose the special access he enjoys to the White House, where he and his new wife are currently the darlings of the establishment, and for fear of breaking Hollywood’s sacred covenant with the US Military-Industrial Complex. From a PR perspective, I can see how George is trying to position himself here, and to add value to his ‘brand’, but smart audiences can see through the cheap, shallow approach to politics when they see it (‘smart’ being the operative word). When will Clooney give the speech about how CIA’s own joint production with Sony, Zero Dark Thirty, distorts history, and glorifies and sells torture to Americans? We’re still waiting.

So suffice to say, when it comes to ‘freedom of the press’ in the US, quislings in Washington, London and elsewhere in Europe, do not have a leg to stand on. In some countries, the only difference between assorted governments stasi units, and the paramilitary GLADIO-stylegunman who stormed into Charlie Hebdon, would be that one group wears badges, while the others don’t. Had the latter had the proper credentials, then would’ve simply invited themselves in, and closed down the office. If you think that statement is an exaggeration, you might consider some of the gross indiscretions on liberty of a few of these ‘world leaders’ festooning down theChamps-Élysées on Sunday. Hey, we’ve all got room for improvement, but some have more than others.

Here are a few interesting examples of what one might consider to be ‘hypocritical’ politicians strong-arming the press worldwide and who have hijacked this event, compiled by writer Simone Wilson from the Jewish Journal

last Wednesday, in which 12 were murdered by Islamic extremists, was one of the ugliest and symbolic assaults on free press in modern history.

However, it’s far from the worst terrorist attack. In fact, as many in 2,000 people — including women and children — were massacred in Nigeria by the terrorist group Boko Haram on the very same day. And in terms of free press, authoritarian and oppressive regimes around the world have done far more to censor the world’s journalists, overall, than religious extremists.

But that’s not stopping some of the very perpetrators of this state censorship from joining the millions-strong unity march in support of Charlie Hebdo in Paris today.

More than 50 world leaders showed up for the march, linking elbows for a flagrantly exploitative PR charade that scoffs at the paper’s true allies. Here is a compilation of 12 of the worst.

Jordanian King Abdullah II and Queen Rania

Insecure about waves of the Arab Spring and ISIS fandom reaching Jordan, its king has tightened his grip on journalists. There’s now a law in Jordan allowing the government to shut down any website it wants — and it’s been put to use on hundreds of sites, including many news outlets.

This summer, Jordanian security raided the Al-Abasiya TV station in Amman and arrested more than a dozen staffers. The year before, journalists covering Jordanian elections reportedly“faced many difficulties to report because of interference by security forces” and a Palestinian-Jordanian reporter for the Jerusalem Post was sentenced to 15 years of jail with hard labor. (Luckily, he sought asylum first.)

Jordan is now ranked 153rd out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index, below Libya and Chad.

(Quick anecdote: When I traveled to Jordan to cover the Syrian refugee crisis for the Jewish Journal, the country’s press officials said I couldn’t enter the Zaatari refugee camp because my newspaper was Jewish. After I essentially threw a tantrum in the lobby, they finally let me into Zaatari. However, Jordanian police followed me everywhere, called me “Mossad,” curbed my questioning and interrupted whenever a Syrian said something that might make them look bad.)

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

Five journalists and two media workers died in Ukraine this year. That wasn’t entirely President Poroshenko’s fault; warring Ukrainian factions and an invading foreign army made for violent chaos in which journalist attacks and kidnappings could thrive. (Aka, blame Putin.) But the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports that since Ukraine’s former president was ousted in May, Poroshenko has done little to improve the situation. Although the new administration was “elected after pledging allegiance to democratic ideals,” says the CPJ, they’ve offered no new protection for journalists and have imposed new “military escort” rules for battle zones. They’ve also detained and expelled some journalists themselves, when coverage wasn’t going their way. “We urge the authorities to support journalists,” says CPJ. “They could start with bringing to justice those who ordered and executed assaults against the press corps in Ukraine a year ago.” Instead, they’re supporting Charlie Hebdo.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Press freedoms inside Israel proper are generally alive and well, save a phone tap or two. But poke one toe outside the green line with Palestine (or, um, live there), and your rights instantly evaporate. Journalists covering protests in the West Bank are constantly injured or detained, and seven Palestinian reporters were killed in the recent war on Gaza while wearing press vests.

From this year’s World Press Freedom Index blurb on Israel: “Security needs continue to be used as an excuse to limit freedom of information. The Israeli media are able to be outspoken but media located in ‘Israeli territory’ must comply with prior military censorship and gag orders.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

Abbas once threw a Palestinian journalist in prison for comparing his face to that of a French detective on a Syrian TV show (No joke). But more than a hypocrite, Abbas is a man with his own increasingly dire humanitarian crisis to worry about.

Babies in Gaza are literally freezing to death right now. And seeing as Israel and Hamas aren’t doing anything about it, the de facto leader of the Palestinian people needs to step in. Abbas’ cameo at the Charlie Hebdo march sends a message to the world that Palestinian leadership opposes these Islamist terror tactics and wants to be seen as more moderate. But in the eyes of his people, Abbas is just hopping on one more plane. Thus reenforcing the now very public opinion that Abbas loves the UN podium more than historic Palestine.

United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan

A long list of foreign and local journalists in the United Arab Emirates have been jailed throughout the Arab Spring for supposedly slanting their coverage in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood — or even just Tweeting the trials of alleged Brotherhood members. One of these journalists, Egyptian national Anas Fouda, was held “incommunicado” for a month without trial. During this time, he told the CPJ he was blindfolded, chained, interrogated and held in solitary confinement.
Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa

Tunisian government officials are known for puppeteering state media — appointing the heads of all broadcast media while making sure the independents are rubbed out. “Authoritarian methods continue to short-circuit reform attempts and block state media independence,” reads last year’s World Press Freedom Index.

As we speak — and as Tunisian Prime Minister Jomaa marches in Paris — Tunisian blogger Yassine Ayari is behind bars for “defaming the army” in a series of Facebook posts. “Tunisia’s new parliament, elected two months ago, should make it a priority to repeal laws that make defaming state officials and institutions a criminal offense,” says Amnesty International in a statement.

Saudi Arabian Ambassador to France Mohammed Ismail Al-Sheikh

That a Saudi Arabian official would even show his face outside the embassy today is offensive. As we all know, women aren’t allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and journalists are constantly tracked and jailed for writing about this law. So you can imagine the kind of punishment a writer gets for insulting Islam.

On the same day Saudi Arabian officials condemned the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, they dragged Saudi blogger Raif Badawi from his jail cell, where he is serving a seven-year sentence, and flogged him in the public square. It was the first of 12 floggings he will receive for criticizing the country’s harsh Muslim laws. In one of his last blog posts, Badawi wrote: “Whether we like it or not, we, being a part of humanity, have the same duties that others have as well as the same rights. … Let us all live under the roof of the human civilization.”

Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba
Although he’s not famous for violence against journalists, Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba keeps his country’s media in check by swiftly suspending any outlets who aren’t nice to him. Over the past few years, at least five different newspapers have been suspended for criticism of his regime. One of them, Le Gri-Gri de la Griffe, is — get this — a satirical newspaper accused of “indulging in indecency and vulgarity in most of its publications.” The irony is deafening.
Bahraini Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa
Bahrain is the second largest jailer of journalists, per capita, in the world. (One freelance Bahraini journalist who documented police brutality is now serving a 10-year prison sentence.) There are also widespread reports of torture during jailtime. Among some of Bahrain’s crimes,according to the CPJ:

“Journalists covering opposition protests were harassed, detained, and deported, while some were attacked by opposition protesters who considered them biased. The government arrested at least three bloggers and photographers in the lead-up to a major opposition protest on [August 14, 2013]. A court upheld the acquittal of a policewoman accused of torturing a journalist in 2011. Authorities continued to clamp down on online expression by blocking websites, infiltrating social media accounts, prosecuting citizens who insulted officials, and considering restrictions on Internet-based telecommunications services. Bahraini blogger Ali Abdel Imam, convicted on anti-state charges, was forced to flee into exile after hiding for two years from Bahraini authorities.”

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu

This has got to be a sick joke. In 2012 and 2013, Turkey imprisoned more journalists than any other country. And although China took that title in 2014, Turkish officials are quickly catching up with what seems like another TV, radio or newspaper raid and mass arrest every few months.

It’s all very public, too. The Turkish prime minister’s predecessor, now-President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has waged one of the most egomaniacal, borderline psychotic wars on free speech in the democratic world. He once sued a journalist for insulting him on Twitter. Another time, he shut down Twitter entirely. He also shut down YouTube when scandalous videos of him leaked online.

And perhaps most of absurdly of all, given Prime Minister Davutoglu’s spot in the Charlie Hebdo march today: Turkish cartoonist Mehmet Düzenli served three months in prison this year for crticizing Muslim leader Adnan Oktar. He reportedly called Oktar’s preachings “overzealous.”

See the full article and see the full list of violators at the Jewish Journal


Free Speech” and Privacy Foregone in the UK: Reading Your Text Messages. David Cameron's Move Against ...
Center for Research on Globalization - 2 days ago
Global Research, January 14, 2015 ... The free speech imperative is aligned with
the notions of privacy – these are the Siamese ... Ironically, it will not only make it
easier for British security services to access unencrypted communications – it will
make it ... The security dimension in a world free of encryption will create an ...
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GCHQ - MI5 - Investigate Journalists are 'a potential threat to security' (CLICK LINK)

The revelation, buried in intelligence documents leaked by the fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden


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Government Agency Classifies Journalists with Terrorists (LINK)


New revelations from documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden indicate the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) classifies investigative journalists as a threat, similar to terrorists and hackers.

The Guardian reported on the program which monitored emails to and from journalists working for media organizations in the U.S. and the UK. In one single day, in less than 10 minutes, the GCHQ collected 70,000 emails, including emails of journalists with the BBC, Reuters, the Guardian, the New York Times, the Sun, NBC, and the Washington Post. The emails were collected through the GCHQ accessing the fiber-optic cables known as “the backbone of the internet.” The communications were then shared with staff on the agencies intranet...

UK to launch enhanced “anti-terror measures” and domestic use of troops (LINK)

The former head of Britain’s intelligence agency MI5, Lord Evans, has added his voice to demands for a clampdown on the Internet and e-communications in the wake of the terror assaults on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris and a Jewish supermarket, in which 17 people were killed.

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( A day at the 1984 Smith family. +Mommy !! The TV said talk louder !! + OH...your so silly daughter,now go play with your brother Winston.,GAAL)

Samsung Responds to Privacy Concerns Over TVs Recording “Personal” Conversations


Samsung has responded to privacy concerns over its warning that voice recognition software used in the company’s line of smart TVs is being used to record “personal” conversations and send them to third parties.

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January 29, 2015 Free Speech
Censuring debate and free speech at Oxford University

By Philippa Taylor

Tim Stanley and Brendan O’Neill were scheduled to debate the proposition, “This House Believes Britain’s Culture Hurts Us All” before Oxford University caved in to pro-abortion pressure.

Not for the first time, a college at a top UK university has completely shut down an attempt to organise a balanced debate on abortion.

Are the students running scared of possible credible opposition to their ‘abortion is the answer to everything’ mindset, by closing down all conversation with those who disagree, rather than engaging with it?

Or are they simply unaware (despite being – apparently – amongst the brightest students in the UK) that by shutting down any views other than their own they are being both intolerant and utterly illiberal? And they could now be open to a legal challenge.

Christ Church Oxford have refused permission to debate the motion: ‘This House believes Britain’s Abortion Culture Hurts Us All‘, featuring historian Tim Stanley proposing the motion and Spiked Editor and Big Issue Columnist Brendan O’Neill opposing.

It was in 2013 that the Cambridge University Student Union Women’s Campaign also tried to shut down a debate on abortion: ‘Genetics and disability should not be used as grounds for abortion’. This was despite the fact that they had speaking on their side Anne Furedi, CEO of the UK’s largest abortion provider, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) and a well-known and confident protagonist on abortion issues.

It certainly seems like pro-abortion students at both Universities are fearful of any debate. Instead of engaging with opponents of their views, and presenting and arguing for their own views, they run scared and cry foul, and stop all debate completely (which then neatly brings it to wider public attention!).

The irony of this, and indeed the absolute stupidity of it, did not pass by Furedi, when she wrote a stinging article in Spiked last year, extolling the value and necessity of debate.

For a start, she pointed out, how can we possibly win an argument if we don’t even join in the debate?! If people only hear one side of the argument they will be more likely to be convinced by it.

Second, Furedi says, if we take our ideas seriously, debate is essential to test and develop our ideas and to persuade others.

Third, pitting our own arguments against an opponent is one of the best ways to learn to be more clear, concise and precise, especially if the opponents are able and informed and there is a moderator to keep order.

Fourth (and most telling in this situation), she points out that when we try to silence someone, we simply tell the world we fear what they might say.

Furedi says: ‘Whether they [their opponents] succeed or not depends on how we engage with those arguments – which we won’t do well unless we listen, answer and debate…’

She concludes: ‘You don’t have to be a Cambridge intellectual to understand why debate and discussion should be encouraged.’ (Although in this case it seems that being a Cambridge or Oxford intellectual means you may not understand the need for debate).

It seems particularly ironic, though, that it is at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities of all places, centers for thinking, learning and debating, that an opportunity for engagement and discussion on a controversial, but legal procedure, has been shut down and debate has been gagged.

At one level, a lesson to take from this is that we must all engage with our opponents (whatever ‘side’ we are on) and we cannot simply close down the conversation when we disagree. But at another level, this is a bigger issue because freedom of speech is precious and without freedom of speech, and the freedom to articulate beliefs without fear, no other freedoms are safe.

Philippa Taylor is Head of Public Policy at Christian Medical Federation (CMF). She has an MA in Bioethics from St Mary’s University College and a background in policy work on bioethics and family issues.

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British Army May Use Internet 'Trolls' to Conduct Psychological War

16:55 31.01.2015 (updated 17:06 31.01.2015)


The UK is reportedly forming a new army unit for Internet 'trolling', which will include at least 2,000 people.

Google Chairman Predicts the End of Internet

MOSCOW, January 31 (Sputnik) — The British Army may create a special Internet 'trolling' brigade, which will be skilled in waging psychological warfare suited for the "modern information era" and operate through a spate of online forums, such as Facebook and Twitter, according to the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti.

The Independent reports that members of the Internet 'trolling' unit will deal with non-lethal forms of psychological warfare using social media.
The Chief of the British Army, General Sir Nick Carter said that the new plan is to adapt to the "asymmetric" battlefields of the 21st century, where "tactics and strategies differ significantly between enemies, such as with the Islamic State group."
Carter added that "77 Brigade is being created to draw together a host of existing and developing capabilities essential to meet the challenges of modern conflict and warfare."
He was echoed by the British Ministry of Defense, which stated that the new unit "has been formed to respond to the ever changing character of modern conflict and to be able to compete with agile and complex adversaries."
Recruitment for the brigade is due to start in April 2015, with its members most likely coming from the Royal Navy and RAF as well as from the Army.
Set to be stationed in Berkshire county, the brigade will be additionally tasked with implementing a host of projects to provide humanitarian assistance and bolster civil society and local security forces.

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/europe/20150131/1017593135.html#ixzz3QPQtM0iJ

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By: Blacklistednews

Just days after shooting himself in the foot over the ongoing televised 2015 election leaders' debates disagreement, David Cameron seems to be on a roll, this time announcing that, in the event his party wins the election in May, highly popular mobile apps such as Snapchat and WhatsApp will be blocked by the security services. The announcement comes in the wake of the chilling Paris attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine, among other terrorist targets; Cameron seemingly capitalising on the violence in an effort to pass through his governments faltering new surveillance plans- the so-called "snooper's charter".


FUK.gifFree Speech Rankings find restrictions at 80 per cent of universities Times Higher Education 23:05 Sun, 01 Feb 2015 sub.gif {$$$}
FUK.gifFree speech? Not at four in five UK universities The Guardian 23:04 Sun, 01 Feb 2015
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Terrorized Into Irrationality: UK Police Demand Names of Charlie Hebdo *Supporters* from the confused?

-you-will-be dept

It's been sad to watch the Charlie Hebdo story turn from a massive outpouring of solidarity with the victims to an opportunistic exploitation of the strong feelings it produced to attack the very freedoms that solidarity was celebrating. Just how bad things have become can be gauged from this story in the Guardian:

A British police force has apologised after an officer told a newsagent to hand over details of customers who purchased copies of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

Wiltshire police confirmed that one of their officers visited a newsagent in Corsham, Wiltshire, to ask for the names of four customers who ordered the commemorative "survivors' issue" of the magazine.

Demanding the names of people who bought that commemorative issue clearly makes no sense: they were trying to support Charlie Hebdo, not attack it in any way. And yet the continued terrorization of the public -- by the authorities, that is, not by the so-called "terrorists" -- has induced a kind of irrationality that has apparently now spread to the police. Here's the official "explanation" of what happened:

A police officer visited a local shop and post office in Corsham to make an assessment of community tensions and, if appropriate, encourage the newsagent's owner to be vigilant. During this conversation the officer requested information about subscribers to the Charlie Hebdo magazine.

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British politicians mull censorship of anti-Israel comments (link)

Following the Charlie Hebdo attack and related killings, we saw continental European law enforcement agencies confirming that “freedom of speech” is a white liberal privilege, not a universal right.

With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brazenly claiming all Jewish victims as his own and cashing in on the attacks for blatant propaganda purposes, the French political elite signalled that the tragic events may be used as an excuse to crack down on criticism of Israel.

Now, it seems, British parliamentarians could go down the same road by considering bans on critical discourse while basing their criteria on extremely shaky definitions.

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