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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 overshoot ( 39700 ) on Friday April 02, 2010 @09:55AM (#31705900)
    Yup, the Court used that phrase. The observations on the side aren't legally binding, but they do give a pretty strong indication that the Court was not happy with the insane British libel laws which lead to (as the Court observed) attempting to settle scientific disputes in a court of law.
  • Freedom of Thought (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wxjones ( 721556 ) on Friday April 02, 2010 @09:59AM (#31705920)
    Freedom of thought of absolute. Action can be regulated by government. Speech is closer to thought than action, and should be as lightly regulated as possible (e.g. forbidding threatening someone with physical harm). It is interesting that no society has explicitly recognized through law freedom of thought. I would guess this is because it seems obvious and what can government do about it anyway? With new technologies coming such as fMRI [], we should be carefully considering these assumptions. Should someone be imprisoned (or perhaps subject to mandatory treatment) for having sexual thoughts about children? Should airline passengers be subject to brain scans to see if they are terrorists? This technology could well come sooner than society and law can adapt.
  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:23AM (#31706094)
    From an earlier /. summary:

    In Britain, libel laws don't have any presumption of innocence — any statement made is assumed to be false unless you prove it's true.

    Any false and misleading statement made should then be actionable. If you want to sue Singh for questioning chiropracty's scientific validity, then if and when it is proved conclusively to have no scientific value, every single chiropractor should be civilly liable, even criminally liable, for telling the public that it is valid.

  • Re:For the record... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:25AM (#31706116)
    Chiropractic is not quackery. While I -am- skeptical of all the benefits of it, its pretty common knowledge that if your back goes out of alignment it hurts. When a chiropractor puts it back into place, it stops hurting. Correlation does not imply causation, but when it happens to most everyone, I think it is safe to say that it does help alleviate back pain.
  • But there is no evidence to support any healing properties. You can go get a massage and feel great, but as soon as the masseuse starts saying he has magical healing abilities and can cure illness then they have crossed the line.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:33AM (#31706192)

    I think it matters, because the motive for a crime matters.

    There's a difference between the following :
    Killing by accident/carelessness
    Killing in self defence
    Killing in the heat of passion
    Killing for revenge
    Killing for money
    Killing for pleasure

    Those are in increasing levels of "danger to society" and as such, should be treated slightly differently by the courts.

    When you have a case where, I dunno, say a bunch of kids kill another kid because he was gay. Where would that fall on the gradation?
    It's somewhere in the last three. Democrats *tend* to think that such a hate crime/thought crime is analogous to the last (most serious) placement. In other words, killing for virtually no reason other than they wanted to, and it made them feel better about themselves.

    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.

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