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In the UK, a Victory For Free Speech 130

Forget4it was one of several readers to note that British science writer Simon Singh, whose prosecution for libel we have discussed on several occasions, has won an interim victory in a UK appeals court. "The landmark ruling will allow the writer, whose battle has become a catalyst for demands for libel law reform, to rely on a 'fair comment' defense of his statements about chiropractors. It will also strengthen the position of others — from science writers and medical professionals to bloggers — who face libel suits, as the judges made clear the court was not the place to settle scientific controversies."
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In the UK, a Victory For Free Speech

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  • by SimonTheSoundMan ( 1012395 ) on Friday April 02, 2010 @09:49AM (#31705858) Homepage

    Well, he can soon publish his papers, meaning you can make your own informed opinion.

    Before, it was suppressed, not allowing anyone to make their opinion.

  • by u38cg ( 607297 ) <> on Friday April 02, 2010 @09:54AM (#31705894) Homepage
    And that, in a nutshell, is why you are not a scientist. The efficacy of any treatment needs to be judged by reliable trials, not by what some guy on slashdot said. What did Singh say? The libellous words were "there is not a jot of evidence that chiropractic works", or something to that effect. That's a pretty reasonable summary of the scientific evidence. I'll leave it to you to explain why it's better to respond to such a statement with a lawsuit than a study of your own.
  • Re:Global warming? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fabs64 ( 657132 ) <beaufabry+slashdot,org&gmail,com> on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:06AM (#31705964)

    Yeah, because the skeptics are being suppressed by lawsuits for libel.

    Oh, wait, they're not! Score 1 for free speech.

    Just because we have to let you talk doesn't mean we have to listen.

  • by buchner.johannes ( 1139593 ) on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:07AM (#31705968) Homepage Journal

    Hello BadAnalogyGuy,

    I'm not a scientist. But I do know that going to my drug dealer leads to feeling great.

    There you have your 'bad' analogy

  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:10AM (#31705986)
    Chiropractic is not totally quackery. It all depends on which school of thought the chiropracter is in: If the chiropracter believes in subluxation, he or she is a quack. If they don't, they can be of some help in those few areas that spinal manipulation can help (primarily back and neck pain). However, a chiropracter generally does no more good than a good massuese.
  • Re:Global warming? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by daveime ( 1253762 ) on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:16AM (#31706038)

    They don't need to be suppressed by lawsuits.

    They are already suppressed by the AGW proponents' built-in safety clause that "anyone with a non-peer reviewed opinion can safely be labelled as crank".

  • by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:21AM (#31706070)
    Hate speech, by definition is destroying freedom of speech. Also, note that hate speech is different than threats. No one person is targeted if someone said "I hate Mexicans" but if someone said "I'm going to kill Jose because hes a mexican" that is a threat, and Jose should be allowed to sue if the comment was not said in jest and the person had the means to kill him.

    Why should we care what opinions people have? And why waste tax dollars on them? Same thing with "hate" crimes. If someone killed someone, thats bad and you charge them for murder, unless it was on accident. Why does it matter that the person killed them because they were of a different race? They are still just as dead. No one is more dead because someone didn't like their race. Are the Jews in the holocaust more dead than someone who died of old age? I think you will find both are equally dead. Similarly, someone has an equally broken arm if someone broke it in dislike of their race, or if they got into a fight.
  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:25AM (#31706110) Homepage Journal

    Hate speech. Where did they dream that phrase up, anyway? What's wrong with having an opinion, anyway? Should a person go to jail if he says he doesn't like teachers? Lawyers? Police? I don't think so. Why should chiropractors enjoy protection? I think chiropractors are overly expensive, much like doctors. There, have I pissed off almost everyone yet?

    Oh, of course not. If I want to piss people off around here, I'll have to point out that nerds and geeks are wierd, IT people are pains in the ass, developers are mostly eccentric twits, and most support personnel (the kind you call on the phone) are totally clueless.

    Hate speech. What a sissy concept.

  • He still lost. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bmo ( 77928 ) on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:25AM (#31706114)

    "It is extraordinary that this action has cost £200,000 to establish the meaning of a few words."

    Right. If you offend some person or group, you can be bankrupted.


  • by causality ( 777677 ) on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:59AM (#31706438)

    I don't intend to convince you of the rightness of their opinions, just explain to you where they're coming from, since you seem to be coming from the "dead is dead, what does it matter the reason" school of thought.

    I generally agree with the GP. When you read his post, I believe there is an implicit meaning that you have missed.

    It's not "dead is dead, what does the reason matter". It's "intentionally dead is intentionally dead, except for legitimate self-defense, what does the reason matter". If someone intentionally murders another human being who was no physical threat to them, the purpose of arresting and incarcerating (or executing) that individual is to remove them from society, thereby protecting society from a known murderer and potentially deterring others who would murder.

    I don't understand the concern and fascination with what a murderer was thinking. To punish one more severely than another, which would mean one might get out of jail sooner than another, makes no sense to me. To choose whether I want a guy who would murder for money back on the streets, or whether I want a guy who would murder over someone's skin tone back on the streets is like choosing from which bucket of puke to drink. Both are equally unappealing. I don't really want either person to ever walk the streets again.

    I'll clarify. You are saying that the motive for the crime matters to "Democrats". So to them, a guy who comes home to find his wife screwing another man and murders his wife is "more understandable" or "less punishable" than a guy who murders a member of a racial minority because he was a member of that minority. But guess what? Other people get cheated on by someone who claimed to love them, and they don't kill over it. Other people have totally inappropriate racism and sexism and other "isms" and manage not to murder anyone. Other people see a rich man walk down the street and envy his wealth and manage not to kill that man.

    To worry about the murderer's excuses and justifications is madness. I don't care what the reason is. The point is, other people also have reasons not to like someone, valid and invalid, and they manage to deal with them peacefully. If someone cannot do that, there's something seriously wrong with them and society needs to be protected from them.

    Like far too many laws, these "hate crime" concepts were written, voted upon, and made law without first addressing the above. That's a weak form of "might makes right" reasoning. The message is, we have the votes, we have the means, we have the political clout, so we're going to make this law whether we can justify it or not, whether we can answer the objections to it or not. Anytime you're asked to have faith in a concept by a person who cannot address your objections to it, because it sounds good to them but they can't give you a truly good reason for it, what you are dealing with is religion. Even if it doesn't call itself that. To give a hypothetical, let's say that, heaven forbid, a guy is driving down the road, visibility is very low, conditions are bad, and he hits a pedestrian that he honestly did not see. This person had no intention of hitting anyone, and is quite horrified that this happened. That's an honest accident. I would not call this person a murderer.

  • by uglyduckling ( 103926 ) on Friday April 02, 2010 @11:18AM (#31706628) Homepage

    There is currently no evidence to support Chiropractic's "subluxation" theories.

    You are right, of course, but it would be more complete and accurate to say 'there is currently an abundance of evidence that Chiropractic's "subluxation" theories are false and misleading'. Lack of evidence is not evidence of lack; but in this case there is plenty of evidence of lack.

  • by wjousts ( 1529427 ) on Friday April 02, 2010 @11:33AM (#31706778)

    Some of them are just bad apples in order to lie to people.

    But in this case, it's not a few bad apples, it's an entire professional organization that claims to represent chiropractors in Britain.

  • "Had this recent ruling gone the other way, Singh would have needed to prove that they *knew* it was all lies which would have been nearly impossible."

    Not in the slightest, he simply amasses an army of QUALIFIED doctors who can simply say "No way in hell can they cure a viral infection by adjusting your bones, PERIOD. Even they should know that from the basics of medical school" and that's the end of that bullshit.

    I know chiropractors that claim they can cure illnesses by adjusting your back, I saw several after my accident.

    Chiropractors are primarily quack doctors that only make money by giving never-lasting relief. The FEW chiropractors that do realize they only provide temporary relief and are honest about it are almost universally fucked by the moron quacks that make their spurious claims.

  • by growse ( 928427 ) on Friday April 02, 2010 @02:18PM (#31708556) Homepage

    1- It's even better if it's placebo. The only thing better that medecine that works, is non-medicine that works.

    How is non-medicine that works 'better' than medicine that works? Surely in the first case, we hvae no idea what happened and don't have much of a chance of successfully repeating it in the future. Surely if it worked, we'd call it just 'medicine'? If we have a situation where the only conclusion we can come to is 'non-medicine worked', we're basically saying 'we don't know what the fuck happened'.

    I got fixed for less money, side effects, suffering and hassle than by my 2 trys at regular medicine.

    You may have gotten fixed for less money than 'regular medicine'. However, I'm sure you know, this doesn't mean that chiropractice 'works'. And by 'works', I mean we can go and get measurable reproducable results across all sorts of situations, and then actually use those results to help people.

    I'm 100% sure there IS some psychological part to any illness and cure, indeed. Your point is ? Placebo cures are bad, and non-placebo -non-cures are good ?

    My point about placebos isn't that there's inherently bad or good, but that we should know it when we see it. Doctors use placebos all the time to treat people, and they don't try to dress it up as something different. Chiropractice (and a lot of 'alternative medicine', whatever the hell that means) does exactly that sort of dressing up. If they came right out and said "It works by placebo", most people wouldn't have a problem with that.

    2- I've heard reports of people seriously injured by regular medicine. Plenty of them actually. My take is that medicine is not a perfect science ?

    Sure, people get hurt by medicine all the time. The key difference is that medicine also makes a demonstrable statistically significant positive difference to millions of people daily. Sure, there's a risk with everything that we try and do to make our lives better, that sometimes it'll go wrong. Usually, that risk is worth taking if the upside is big enough. I'm just saying that for me, the risk of being injured by a guy with no medical qualifications practising something that's never been properly demonstrated to be anything other than the placebo affect is not a risk I'm willing to take. I am willing to go to the hospital if I'm sick though.

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard