Tagged: rule of law
Law 32: Hate-speech-law countries v. free-speech countries
Hate speech laws in so-called “free-speech” countries
How free speech is contrived to allow governments
to discriminate at will in hate-speech-law countries
Two examples: Sweden and India, with discussion of recent incidents
1/ Quran burning and incitement against religion in Sweden
2/ Saffron bikini and defilement of religion in India
1/ Quran burning and incitement against religion in Sweden
“Turkish protesters have expressed outrage in Istanbul after a far-right politician burned a Quran in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.” (Al Jazeera English, YouTube, Jan 22)
As there is no freedom of speech in Europe, the request to ban and punish this kind of act/speech, Quran burning, is a legitimate demand of nondiscrimination. Swedish law criminalizes hate speech out of consideration for communitarian feelings. Therefore, the authorities’ failure to prosecute such acts is contemptuous: not attending to this community’s feelings while they claim to attend to communitarian feelings sends the message that this community is not worth attending to, according to Swedish authorities. They simply do not want this community to be protected by Sweden’s hate speech laws, and this is blatant discrimination.
My message to Swedish authorities: You are contemptible. What are your hate speech laws for? Stop discriminating against Muslims, and prosecute Quran burning as hate speech.
Anonymous A: Where is the Swedish law that bans freedom of speech out of consideration of a religion’s belief?
It is where everybody can find it. “Hets mot folkgrupp blev olagligt 1949. På den tiden var det enbart härstamning och trosbekännelse som var grunder för hets mot folkgrupp. Detta ändrades 1970 till ras, hudfärg, nationellt eller etniskt ursprung eller trosbekännelse. År 2002 tillkom sexuell läggning och år 2019 könsöverskridande identitet eller uttryck.” (Wikipedia: Hets mot folkgrupp) The important word for the asked question is “trosbekännelse,” which means religious belief. Translation: “Incitement against groups became illegal [in Sweden] in 1949. At that time, descent and creed [trosbekännelse = religious belief] were the only grounds for incitement against groups. This was changed in 1970 to race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, or creed [again]. In 2002 sexual orientation was added and in 2019 gender identity or expression.”
Anonymous B: Who are you to dictate how I dispose of my property?
You’ll have to ask this question to the Swedish legislator. – The technical answer, however, is that you can’t criminally dispose of your property. If you dispose of your property by making a hate speech of it, you will be prosecuted for hate speech by Swedish authorities.
B: So what forms of disposal are not hate speech? Presumably, burning is ruled out.
All disposal is not in the form of calling people’s attention. – If you ask me how they dispose of their old Quran copies in Muslim countries, I don’t know. All I know is that, if a person disposes of a Quran copy in Sweden and one finds it in the owner’s trash can, or if he burns it in his backyard, this is not hate speech. But what happened in front of the embassy is blatant hate speech (against a group based on its members’ creed or religious belief) and the negligence of authorities to act accordingly proves they discriminate against Muslims.
The answer from the Swedish authorities so far has been, to sum it up: “The act was very insensitive, but we are a free-speech country.” This is not true. Sweden is a hate-speech-law country: “Incitement against groups became illegal in 1949. At that time, descent and creed were the only grounds for incitement against groups. This was changed in 1970 to race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, or creed. In 2002 sexual orientation was added and in 2019 gender identity or expression.” The Swedish authorities are bound by their legislation to prosecute the wrongdoer; their obdurate negligence to do it shows that, as a principle, they refuse to comply with their hate speech legislation when the targeted group are Muslims. They thus discriminate against Muslims. On the one hand, they tell their national communities, their “groups” (folkgrupp), that Sweden protects them from hate speech by criminalizing hate speech; on the other hand, they claim they guarantee freedom of speech when one of these groups in particular is wronged by hate speech. You don’t need to be a Muslim to feel contempt for such malfeasance.
2/ Saffron bikini and defilement of religion in India
For a better understanding of the following, read “Saffron bikini v. national flag bikini” in Law 29.
Film Pathaan, with a saffron bikini dancing scene, was released this month amid protests. As the authorities disregard the outrage over saffron bikini, they should apologize to and compensate all people who have been convicted for tricolor (national flag) bikinis and other tricolor trappings, and I’m told they are not few. You’ll perhaps say in reply that India is a secular country and the authorities have a mandate to ensure respect for the tricolor symbol, not for the saffron symbol, which is religious. There exist stringent laws about incitement and respect for community feelings in India: Why the negligence? Does secularism mean that a secular, atheistic elite will be granted the privilege to offend religious feelings, while the people is gagged?
No matter how Hindutva the government is, outrage over saffron bikinis is disregarded, the problem does not exist for them. They will keep focusing on hunting tricolor bikinis and other tricolor trappings. The numerous tricolor precedents, the stringent provisions of incitement laws, constitutional protection of communities’ feelings, are of no avail to a Hindutva government against the privileged few who bought a never-ending license to outrage religious feelings.
What about sadhus who wear a single saffron loincloth?
The comparison is misguided. Although there exist laws against nudity in India, they do not apply to sadhus, because a sadhu’s nudity is not the same as a paid actress’s nudity, the aim of which is to attract or arouse prurient interest. By the same token, a sadhu wearing saffron is not the same as an actress whose body is used as an object for making money through prurient interest, adding to indecency an insult to religion through saffron symbolism.
Their apathy will remain a stain on Indian authorities. If you think a tricolor bikini is an insult, and Indian law seems to think it is (see Gehna Vashisht and other cases), then a saffron bikini is blatant hate speech (Sections 153 and 295 of the Indian penal code). Negligence to act accordingly on the part of authorities is discriminatory remiss.
Section 295: “Whoever destroys, damages or defiles any place of worship, or any object held sacred by any class of persons with the intention of thereby insulting the religion of any class of persons or with the knowledge that any class of persons is likely to consider such destruction, damage or defilement as an insult to their religion, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.” (Emphases ours.)
Let us examine what a saffron bikini is, according to the wording of the law. We are talking about defilement, as sacredness is purposefully associated with pruriency in the form of scant clothing and lascivious dancing. The object is not a bikini in itself but a bikini purposefully made saffron. We do not have to prove that the wrongdoing is purposeful, as Hindus’ reverential feelings for saffron are well-known. Rather it is the accused who must prove they did not do the wrongdoing on purpose; they must provide convincing evidence that none of them had realized that the saffron bikini could upset Hindus’ feelings. In the words of the law, they must prove that they had no “knowledge that any class of persons [was] likely to consider such defilement as an insult to their religion,” and good luck with that: were these people brought before a court, I don’t think they could provide the least convincing evidence of ingenuity – unless, perhaps, they wriggled on the ground like worms and cried –, because where in the world is saffron known for its religious symbolism if not in India? Instead of being removed behind bars for two years, these people are going scot-free, protected by a Hindutva BJP-led coalition government.
“A battle for freedom of speech”? I didn’t see journalists battle for free speech when a FIR (first information report) was filed by police against half a dozen people dancing with Aurangzeb’s poster in Maharashtra, a few days ago (see Law 31: Aurangzeb’s Ghost). Sections 95, 153, 295 etc. of the ICP are the law. Journalists do not oppose it, they only oppose its application to defilement of religion by Bollywood.
At the same time that the Indian union government refuses to listen to its grassroots militants on Pathaan, and asks them to stop the stir, it bans a BBC documentary about the 2002 Gujarat riots in which hundreds of Muslims were murdered by mobs. The ban is either legal or illegal. If it is illegal, there is no question of opportunity. If it is legal, there is no question of opportunity either, because the executive power is not allowed to pick up laws it will carry out from laws it will not carry out; the government must execute the whole legislation (hence its name: executive). Those who discuss the ban from the opportunity angle are wrong. If they disagree with the ban, they should, assuming the ban is lawful or constitutional, voice criticism against the law that allows such a ban, that is, they should ask to remove legislation that allows the authorities to ban this kind of speech. Let me know if they do. I assume they all discuss the opportunity and not the legality issue, because they are the opposition that wants to be the majority, and as the new majority they will want: 1) discretionary, not just executive power, 2) to ban criticism. They are all of a kind and form the political cartel.
I disagree with the idea that the executive should be granted even a minimal discretionary power. All decisions based on opportunity are discriminatory, by preventing expected benefits or sanctions of the law. Even though the idea is as commonplace as the practice, neither the idea nor the practice is constitutional, and they cannot be, as this would mean actual suspension of the separation of powers, and of checks and balances.
Despite their commonalities, both cases illustrate two different situations. In the Swedish case, one religious minority is discriminated against by the authorities. In the Indian case, the Hindu majority’s right to be protected by the law is disregarded by the authorities, which shield one sector of the society, namely Bollywood, from the legislation; in other words, against the religious majority, the Indian authorities discriminate in favor of this sector by elevating it above hate speech laws. Both actions are extralegal, namely, given the constitutional characterization of the executive power, illegal and unconstitutional. Through the practice, the will of the legislator is overlooked and the role of the judiciary undermined. The practice is generally defended on the ground that this overlook is needed and will occur only in situations where the generality of the law presents flaws that put the state at risk. The only possible arbitrator for this is the people, and that supposes, therefore, that the people has an effective right to insurrection, which, absent a constitutional right to bear arms, is nonexistent. Otherwise, the practice should be set guidelines in the form of constitutional measures about the state of emergency. In the two cases discussed, the authorities are abusing their discretionary power without redeeming circumstances.
“[Female ex-BJP leader] Gets Gun License Citing ‘Life Threats’ Over Prophet Remarks.” (India Today, YouTube)
How long does it take to get a license? The authorities must verify the claim and that surely takes time. She seems to have had her license in no time, but is it the case for all Indian citizens? One day, you’ll hear that a man applied for a license because he was threatened, the claim was investigated by authorities, with a lot of red tape, and meantime the man was killed. Mark my words, you’ll hear about something like that, or I don’t know bureaucracy. An unconditional right to carry guns is the only correct alternative to a ban.
About current massive layoffs in big tech companies (Google, Meta, Twitter…). The revenue of a good deal of these so-called big tech companies is from advertising. Massive layoffs in big tech tell you manufacturing companies cut down their advertising spending because they are in poor condition. Badly impacted manufacturing and other companies first respond by cutting down on advertising. Big tech companies then have no other choice than cutting down on their workforce, because advertising is their main revenue. What massive layoffs in big tech tell you is the incoming massive layoffs in all other sectors, as advertising revenue dependent big tech companies are the first to cut down on the workforce.
“10 Palestinians Killed In ‘Deadliest’ Israel Raids in Years.” (NDTV, YouTube, Jan 27)
This headline is foolish. The raid is “deadliest in years” because of 10 casualties and one month ago 8, two months ago 9, three months ago 9 again, four months ago 6, and so on; something like that. About 200 Palestinians were killed in Israeli raids in 2022 alone. (212 according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.)
“Iranian drones program’s success and what are the lessons for India.” (The Print, YouTube, Jan 27)
Given the scathing indictment regarding Indian national production (“promising the moon and failing to deliver,” etc.), one should not disregard the possibility of corruption of national authorities by foreign suppliers. If decision-makers are biased toward foreign supply through corruption money, India will never develop serious programs of her own. At this stage, you may well ask the question.
Ironically, an excuse from the Indian side is that, in Iran, things are under control of the Guardians of the Revolution: “It is easier there because everything comes under the control of the Islamic revolutionary guard corps,” says a “source in Indian defense establishment.” Well, yes, the Guardians probably better enforce the country’s own anti-corruption laws, so the excuse almost sounds like an admission, or veiled whistleblowing.
La guerre par procuration expliquée par la France
Le texte suivant complète notre essai « Casus belli : Réflexions sur la guerre en Ukraine » de mai 2022 (ici).
Un article en ligne du 5 mars 2022 du Club des juristes, « La fourniture d’armes à l’Ukraine : quel cadre en droit international ? » (ici, auteur : E. Castellarin), présente le dispositif juridique utilisé par les nations de l’OTAN pour légitimer leur action de fourniture d’armes à l’Ukraine contre la Russie. Cet article appelle plusieurs remarques.
La première est que ce cadre est purement multilatéral et que le raisonnement bilatéral que j’emploie dans mon essai semble désormais exclu du champ de la pensée ; à savoir, les accords préventifs bilatéraux de défense, dont l’idée brille par son absence dans cet article, n’entrent apparemment plus dans le raisonnement des États européens, de sorte que mon argument selon lequel les États d’Europe de l’Ouest auraient pu offrir à l’Ukraine la garantie d’une intervention armée en cas d’agression russe, doit passer pour une bizarrerie désuète aux yeux des juristes avertis. Cela les regarde. Mais quid des États-Unis ? Ces derniers n’offrent-ils pas leur bouclier militaire à plusieurs pays, dont l’Arabie Saoudite (politique « oil-for-security » depuis 1945) ? Qu’est-ce qui les empêchait alors d’offrir le même bouclier à l’Ukraine, par exemple après l’annexion de la Crimée par la Russie ? Il semblerait que ce puisse être en partie les dispositions du droit international elles-mêmes, dans la mesure où celles-ci peuvent désormais permettre à des États de conduire une « guerre par procuration » (proxy war) sans se voir pour autant qualifiés ipso facto de parties au conflit. Examinons les différents dispositifs juridiques présentés par l’article.
« Dans l’affaire relative aux activités militaires et paramilitaires au Nicaragua, la Cour internationale de justice a été confrontée à la fourniture d’armes par les États-Unis aux contras, un groupe rebelle actif au Nicaragua. Elle a exclu que la fourniture d’armes puisse être qualifiée d’agression armée, mais elle a affirmé qu’on peut y voir une menace ou un emploi de la force (§ 195). » Ça ne commence pas très bien pour l’OTAN, du côté de la CIJ. Le § 195 de la décision de la Cour, de 1986, pourrait en effet servir à la Russie de fondement juridique à l’invocation d’un casus belli : « menace ou emploi de la force ». (Le terme même de casus belli est sans doute devenu tout aussi désuet que les contrats bilatéraux de défense territoriale évoqués dans notre précédent paragraphe, vu que cette notion simple est à présent décomposée en agression armée, d’une part, et menace ou emploi de la force, d’autre part.)
Notre juriste considère cependant que la décision de la CIJ est inapplicable au cas de l’Ukraine : « En réalité, l’analyse de la CIJ n’est pas applicable au conflit armé international en cours en Ukraine. L’armée ukrainienne a le plein contrôle, ponctuel et global, de ses actions, si bien qu’on ne peut pas analyser la fourniture d’armes un emploi indirect de la force par les États occidentaux contre la Russie. » Voire ! Il faudrait tout d’abord s’assurer que la CIJ a bel et bien prétendu que « le plein contrôle, ponctuel et global, de ses actions » par une armée excluait a priori un emploi indirect de la force par ceux qui lui fournissent des armes. Certes, l’armée ukrainienne est différente d’une organisation comme celle des contras au Nicaragua, et le conflit lui-même est différent. Mais nous ne voyons pas ce que veut dire cette réserve émise par l’auteur : en quoi les contras n’avaient-ils pas eux aussi « le plein contrôle, ponctuel et global, de [leurs] actions » ? Que signifie cette formule alambiquée ? Un tel embrouillamini peut-il se trouver dans une décision de justice internationale ? Nous en doutons. Nous mènerons cette recherche et y reviendrons. Pour le moment, nous considérons que c’est là une simple pirouette, une argutie sans queue ni tête. L’armée ukrainienne ne se distingue pas des contras sous l’angle obscur ici présenté, et, à défaut de plus ample explication, nous considérons donc que la décision de la CIJ s’applique au présent conflit. Poursuivons.
« Du point de vue du droit coutumier des conflits armés, la fourniture d’armes est incompatible avec le statut de neutralité » Cela ne continue guère mieux pour l’OTAN, du point de vue du droit international coutumier. Les États fournissant des armes à l’Ukraine ne sont pas neutres. Mais sont-ils pour autant, comme un raisonnement fondé sur le principe logique du tiers exclu pourrait le laisser penser, des parties au conflit ? La réponse du droit international est, selon notre juriste, négative : « Cependant, cela signifie simplement que les États qui fournissent des armes ne peuvent pas se prévaloir des droits des États neutres, par exemple celui d’obtenir la réparation d’éventuels dommages collatéraux subis en raison d’un bombardement sur le territoire d’un État partie au conflit. En revanche, la perte du statut d’États neutres au conflit en Ukraine ne signifie pas que ces États sont devenus parties au conflit. » Notre juriste croit donc qu’il existe, relativement « au conflit en Ukraine », des États ni neutres ni parties au conflit. « Cette situation, » de partie au conflit, « qui impliquerait notamment le droit de la Russie de cibler les forces armées de ces États, ne se produirait que si celles-ci prenaient directement part aux hostilités ». Les États de l’OTAN sont donc sortis de leur neutralité mais, comme ils ne prennent pas directement part aux hostilités, ils ne sont pas non plus des parties au conflit. Cela confirme l’analyse russe de la guerre par procuration menée par ces États. En effet, si ces États ne faisaient pas la guerre, ils seraient neutres, or ils ne sont pas neutres, et s’ils prenaient directement part aux opérations, ils seraient parties au conflit, or ils ne le sont pas non plus : ils font donc la guerre par procuration (proxy war). L’analyse russe est entièrement conforme à ces éléments juridiques.
La suite de l’article tend à montrer que ce comportement est « internationalement licite ». Tout d’abord, le Traité sur le commerce des armes n’est prétendument pas violé, car les États n’ont pas connaissance, au moment de fournir ses armes, qu’elles « pourraient servir à commettre » un génocide, des crimes contre l’humanité ou des crimes de guerre. Cette clause du traité est cependant suffisamment générale pour que des livraisons d’armes lors d’un conflit en cours soient susceptibles de servir à commettre de tels actes. L’article ne dit pas en effet que les fournisseurs n’ont pas connaissance que leurs armes « serviront à commettre » des crimes, une formule qui serait moins contraignante pour les fournitures d’armes. On rétorquera peut-être que, de la façon dont je l’entends, peu de fournitures d’armes resteraient licites, mais n’est-ce pas précisément l’intention des concepteurs et signataires du traité que de lutter contre la prolifération ? En l’occurrence, exclure que des crimes de guerre puissent être commis par l’une des parties lors d’un conflit en cours est ou bien de l’angélisme ou bien un parti pris belliqueux qui ne peut être conforme à l’esprit du traité.
Cependant, l’UE a souhaité se garantir à ce sujet, en introduisant une clause suspensive en cas de violation du droit international par l’Ukraine, ce qui est interprété par notre juriste comme une preuve de respect formel du traité par l’UE. Voire ! Cette clause montre au contraire, selon nous, que l’UE se doute que ces armes « pourraient » servir à commettre des crimes de guerre etc., et qu’elle n’a donc formellement pas le droit de fournir ces armes. En prétendant prévenir les crimes de guerre etc., elle avoue être consciente que de tels crimes pourraient être commis, et c’est précisément cette prise de conscience qui devrait l’empêcher de livrer des armes.
Enfin, la résolution ES-11/1 de l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies ayant qualifié l’opération russe d’agression, l’Ukraine est « indéniablement » en légitime défense. L’auteur précise certes que la résolution onusienne est « dépourvue d’effet obligatoire et silencieuse sur la fourniture d’armes » (ce qui est un peu regrettable en termes de droit positif) mais affirme que c’est une « interprétation authentique de la Charte, objectivement valable pour tous les membres ». Ce qui est objectivement valable et en même temps dépourvu d’effet obligatoire, est surtout dépourvu d’effet obligatoire, en droit. Autrement dit, la question de l’agression et de la légitime défense reste ouverte. Le traitement des minorités nationales en Ukraine invoqué par la Russie est en débat. Or c’est la légitime défense qui est le principal élément de justification des nations de l’OTAN. En légitime défense, « [l]’emploi de la force de sa part [l’Ukraine] est licite (art. 51 de la Charte des Nations Unies) et ne peut pas engager sa responsabilité (art. 21 des articles de la Commission du droit international sur la responsabilité de l’État pour fait internationalement illicite), ni celle des États qui l’aident et l’assistent. » La légitime défense est plus qu’une légitimation, selon cette présentation, c’est un véritable blanc-seing (et la présentation est donc douteuse : certaines violations du droit naturel ne peuvent recevoir aucune justification et engagent toujours la responsabilité). Mais c’est aussi un point contestable, l’Ukraine ayant peut-être conduit sur son territoire une politique contraire au droit humanitaire envers la minorité russophone, et contraire également aux intérêts fondamentaux de son voisin, comme le prétend la Russie s’agissant des régions frontalières du Donbass et autre, dont la situation extrêmement troublée avant l’intervention russe n’a échappé à personne.
Law 12: The Lunar Breeze Effect Flag
The Lunar Breeze Effect Flag
For full understanding of the following, read section The Latest on Wikipedia’s Moon Landing Hoax Debunking in Law 10.
“Neil, it’s cool you went on the Moon but… a good artistic picture is what matters.”
“One that ties the room together.”
So you take the French Wikipedia version for granted. Yet the English Wikipedia version is different: “The flag was rippled because it had been folded during storage – the ripples could be mistaken for movement in a still photo.” Here there is no word about an intention to tie the room together, the ripples are accidental, they are folds due to storage which turn out to make the flag look as if it were fluttering in the wind.
As if the authors of the English Wikipedia page dared not confess what my interlocutor endorses wholeheartedly. As if, namely, they doubted it was judicious to fake a flag fluttering in the wind in a picture shot on the moon. As if they dared not confess it because of the issue involved in taking people for idiots.
Crack Hills Have Eyes 2
See Law 11.
Politicians make laws (lawmaker=the legislative power) and they also enforce laws as executive power (from which police take their orders). What my post denounced about Crack Hill is that politicians qua executive power do not enforce the law politicians vote qua legislative power. That is, as taking crack is a criminal offence, politicians qua executive are taking a very light view of the law when they enforce it by distributing pipes and paying hotel rooms to criminals. If this is their idea of the issue, then they must take the initiative of a legislative debate to repeal the law and decriminalize crack consumption, and stop telling people they enforce the law by ignoring it. This is a huge problem, because when executive officials do not want to enforce the law, they don’t bother to have it repealed, they just instruct the services (police etc.) to ignore it, or to do as they please. A crackhead in France may live in a free hotel room with new pipes every Thursday or behind bars, it all depends on the police’s mood. This is not the rule of law.
Government protectionism of the black market.
Yes, government and police protectionism of the black market, since without police forces the government could do nothing, so the police are always responsible (if only by abiding) whereas one may imagine cases where only police are responsible while the executive authorities know nothing of what is going on.
Now, as my interlocutor compared enforcement of Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act (Prohibition) with the contemporary war on drugs, let me add the following. The same politicians who in France are implementing the brilliant crack plan I have just been talking of, eschewing enforcement of national drug laws, are eager to point at the figures of prison inmates in the U.S. (highest rate of prison inmates per inhabitant in the world, so they say) as a reason why they ought not to follow the same path. In several other, perhaps most European countries, the same discourse can be heard.
But these fellows dare not repeal their own national drug laws, and the result of this slighting of the law is that these countries are not rule of law countries anymore. The prison population figure is the price the United States is paying for upholding the rule of law. God Bless America for that. In Europe they are leaving everything at the discretion of the bureaucracy. Whether one will be punished for consuming drugs depends not on the law (which still says they must be punished) but on how they were perceived at some point by some guy in the bureaucracy, some cop, who will have them prosecuted in spite of the unwritten rule of bureaucracy saying that those poor devils should be left alone.
The poor devil who did not please the cop will be prosecuted, a judge will hear him and, say we are in France, a country of written law, the judge, although he has heard of the bureaucratic rule, will open the legal code at the page where the article laying down the penalties for consuming drugs lies, and he will condemn the poor devil. (Compared to the functionarial nonentity that a French judge is, American judges are intellectuals.)
This is what European politicians are so proud of – the fact that no one knows what to expect. They revel in a world of arbitrariness.
Biden supports suppressing online “misinformation,” press secretary says.
Was it on his electoral platform or does he just add it now as an extra?
Justin Trudeau dismisses critics of internet censorship bill as “tin foil hats.”
The same guy explained that derogatory speech is the same as shouting fire in a crowded theater – the classic example in SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) case law that would serve to send his bill to the garbage can.
“Free speech” lawyer argues “lying” should be an impeachable offense.
The levels of nincompoopery in academia (“law professor at George Washington University”) are staggering. To think that these fellows are comfortable talking about truth and lies as they do… They really have got no clue. Let me take an example. Husband and wife want to divorce because it turns out they don’t see things the same way. One issue to settle is who will keep the kids. Why is it an issue? Because husband and wife both want to raise the kids according to his or her own views and ideas, according to how he or she sees things. Will you ask a law professor at George Washington University to tell the judge whose ideas are truths and whose are untruths, calling the latter lies, before taking a decision? Nonsense. If an amicus curiae talked like that (within an acceptable margin in the frame of the society – as expressing some ideas, like belief in witchcraft or alien abductions, would probably be detrimental in the case to the party expressing these ideas) he would be dismissed at once, as trying to impose his or her own set of preconceived ideas.
What I wrote may sound confusing, at least for two kinds of people in America. Some will remember that experts in American courts are experts of the parties, who try to sustain their party’s position, whereas I seem to be talking of experts of the courts, which exist in civil law (as opposed to common law) countries, experts who had rather remain as neutral as possible in order not to fall into disrepute.
Others will remember that in America jury trial is the rule in civil trials and I seem to omit the fact completely. In fact, divorce trials by jury are rare even in the U.S.: « Only a few states allow for any type of jury trial in a divorce case. Even then, those states limit the issues that can go before a jury. For example, Texas, which has the most liberal rules concerning jury trials in divorce cases, is the only state that allows juries to decide which parent gets custody of the children and where the children will live. » (rightlawyers.com) Unless most divorces occur in Texas, the majority of divorced American parents must abide by a decision on who is to keep the children which was not taken by a jury.
Still, if an expert smugly told the judge, like some professor of George Washington University, that the kids cannot be in custody of the father, for instance, because the father voted for Trump and Trump is a liar so you cannot rely on such a one to take care of kids, she would be laughed at or I do not know my judge. Yet she writes books like that, which tells you what a tyrant she must be in her classroom, even if people shrug shoulders at her in most other circumstances.
Now, judges are probably more of an official’s profile than the majority of people, so the fact that divorce trials are not decided by juries is also more likely to be detrimental to parents who hold certain ideas, even not so fringe as belief in alien abductions. I should think a parent known to be a Gab user, for instance, is likely to lose his kids in a divorce court when a divorce is filed. Prove me wrong.
UK government accused of promoting a “nanny state” with proposed online ban on high calorie food ads.
Is commercial speech speech or rather the polluting of speech? Commercial speech wasn’t protected in the US before the 1970s (Virginia State Pharmacy Board v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, 1976). This is the kind of view that makes authoritarian regimes comfortable with their speech suppression systems, as they can say to their people: See, we’re protecting you and your free thinking from the relentless, nauseating pushing by unthinking business whose sole aim is profit.
In any case, while the US Supreme Court has found that commercial speech is speech, it does not grant it the same level of protection as non-commercial speech, so the UK policy here described could be implemented in the states too within the law.
Bonkers About Lèse-Majesté
Prince Harry complains about online “misinformation” calls First Amendment “bonkers.”
Prince Harry: “I’ve got so much I want to say about the First Amendment; I still don’t understand it, but it is bonkers.” No surprise: “In 2013, the Ministry of Justice admitted that the Treason Felony Act 1848 had accidentally been ditched. The 165-year-old law threatens anyone calling for the abolition of the monarchy with life imprisonment.” (The Sun, Oct 20, 2016)
Information about lese-majeste legislation in UK is deceptive: As the headline from The Sun shows, they make all sorts of claims, so much so that nobody can know what the legal situation is. (Call that the rule of law?)
On Wikipedia page Lèse-majesté, for UK they write: “The Treason Felony Act of 1848 makes it an offence to advocate for the abolition of the monarchy. Such advocation is punishable by up to life imprisonment under the Act. Though still in the statute book, the law is no longer enforced.” Yet the source for that is a Dec 2013 paper by The Guardian, “Calling for abolition of monarchy is still illegal, UK justice ministry admits,” with subtitle “Department wrongly announced that section of law threatening people with life imprisonment had been repealed.”
The government spreads misinformation on the issue. That the law be no longer enforced does not mean it will not be enforced in case someone violates it; only, without proof to the contrat, that nobody dares speak freely on the issue! Except, probably, ‘accredited’ cartoonists trained in the art of sycophancy under the guise of joking, i.e., court jesters.
As Harry has in his native country a history of blundering (google “Harry the Nazi”), it is relevant to stress that his calling American First Amendment “bonkers” is not one more blunder according to British royalty’s etiquette but on the contrary full compliance with it. The extraordinary sequence of the British government claiming lese-majeste laws void and then retracting, claiming to have repealed them and then denying, is the (one may say comical) confirmation that, deep within, these people see no wrong in punishing speech with life imprisonment. The appalling statute, worse than the classic example of Thai monarchy (where offensive speech about the King is punishable with a maximum of 15 years’ imprisonment, compared to 3 years for the Sultan of Brunei) and whose status is at best uncertain, that is, of which nobody can say it is no longer part of British law because British lawmakers won’t make such a declaration without denying it at once, is among other things what shapes Prince Harry’s animus.
Now, that “Department wrongly announced” the repeal of the lese-majeste law is big lese-majeste, if you ask me, and should be punished with hanging. Because if they have not hanged people there for a while it must be due to some misunderstanding.
None of Your Business
The US will join the “Christchurch Call” to eliminate extremist content online. (May 2021)
“New Zealand man jailed for 21 months for sharing Christchurch shooting video” (BBC News, June 2019). Making it a crime to share this video amounts to claiming that the government must be the only source of truth. The only source of truth will be at the same time the agency that restricts access to evidence.
Under a constitutional regime the government can make no claim to be an exclusive authority as to what the truth is. Hence, by restricting access to evidence it overrides its constitutional function and mocks constitutional liberties.
Here is how the government proceeds. You learn what happened in Christchurch and then the government tells you that, given what happened in Christchurch, they are going to carry out a set of policies that will curtail your fundamental liberties for the sake of peace and order. Then, when a citizen says, “Let’s see what happened in Christchurch” and makes the video of the shooting available online, he’s punished with 21 months imprisonment for inciting violence (or whatever fallacy they used). Thus, what happened in Christchurch is none of your business even though based on this event you are going to lose big in terms of freedom, or more simply you are going to lose your freedom. – What happened in Christchurch is the government’s business and you have no right to ask for evidence. “The only source of truth will be at the same time the agency that restricts access to evidence.”
“Independent judges versus employees of the king. In the common law tradition, judges are fully independent. In the civil law tradition, judges are no more than employees of the king. They are strictly monitored by higher courts, which are in turn monitored in a remarkable extent by the central government.” (Gerrit De Geest, American Law: A Comparative Primer, 2020)
It should be stressed that this describes, as far as the civil law tradition is concerned, police states, because the state is entirely absorbed in the government. The axiom is therefore that civil law countries are police states.
“the French, with their centuries-long tradition of presenting case law as pure interpretations of codified law.” (De Geest, 2020, p. 64)
Granting it is true of the judicial judge, it is not so with the administrative judge, which has originated much of the administrative law in France, whole parts of which are judge-made (« droit d’origine jurisprudentielle »). – The political cartel is fond of leaving to the judge all lawmaking that crushes individuals under the boot of the police state.
De Geest is excusable, however, from a common law viewpoint, for overlooking that the administrative judge is a judge at all: “Believe it or not, the Conseil d’État, that is, the French supreme court for administrative law, belongs to the executive branch, not the judicial branch!” p. 86)
It’s not about believing and joking but about what common law countries do to bring police states to reason.
“A plea bargain in a criminal case is the equivalent of a settlement in a civil case.” (Gerrit De Geest, American Law: A Comparative Primer, 2020, p. 70)
No. Plea bargaining is a modality of prosecution, not its eschewing. It has nothing to do with the debate on compulsory prosecution vs. principle of opportunity, and by the way De Geest wrongly associates compulsory prosecution with the civil law tradition; in major civil law countries such as France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the principle of opportunity obtains.