So here is United Massachusetts' proposed replacement for the recently repealed Freedom of Expression legislation.
Protecting Free Expression
A resolution to improve worldwide human and civil rights.
Category: Human Rights
Proposed by: United Massachusetts
Asserting that the most fundamental liberty of sapient individuals, freedom of thought, is rendered toothless without protecting also the outward ability to express said thought,
Contending, therefore, that freedom of expression, it being the manifestation of free thought, also stands among the foremost human rights, entitled unto all sapient creatures from birth,
Concerned especially for political dissidents, whose calls for justice and change have been cracked down on by certain, more sinister regimes,
Noting, however, that there do exist legitimate reasons to curtail free expression in situations where it infringes on other rights, such as the freedom from fraud or defamation, or hinders the peace and good order necessary for the preservation of civil society,
Bemoaning the dictatorial tendencies of those nations who would seek to include harsh limits on peaceful dissent under the banner of legitimate regulation,
Yearning, therefore, to strike a reasonable balance between protecting the right of free expression and permitting member nations to enact rational and well-meaning restrictions thereon,
This most august General Assembly, in the name of asserting the most natural rights of sapient individuals:
Defines, for the sake of this resolution, the following terms:
"free expression" as the ability to outwardly demonstrate, articulate, or otherwise express a political, cultural, social, moral, religious, ideological or other belief without fear of state punishment or reprisal,
"defamation" as any exercise of expression which seeks to maliciously injure the reputation of another individual, group, or organisation, on the basis of false information, excluding satire and the critique of public servants in matters pertaining to their role,
Permits member nations to enact reasonable restrictions on peaceful free expression in those cases where the expression constitutes:
defamation, as defined in section 1b,
blatant and explicit pornographic material,
an incitement to violence or widespread lawlessness,
a threat to civilian or military health or safety,
perjury or any other threat to the functioning of judicial proceedings,
the leaking of classified information, or other information obtained in confidence, except where the information constitutes evidence of serious wrongdoing and disclosure thereof is clearly in the public interest,
an infringement on private or intellectual property rights,
a violation of prior, unrepealed international legislation,
Prohibits member states from hindering the right of individuals to free expression, excepting the restrictions established in section 2, and restrictions required to fulfill the mandates of WA legislation, or restrictions permitted in future, unrepealed WA legislation,
Permits member states to enact reasonable restrictions in educational settings in order to better advance the functionality, safety, and effectiveness of the learning environment, presuming said restrictions are the least restrictive means by which to advance that goal,
Clarifies that nothing hereinabove shall be interpreted as preventing member nations from reasonably regulating campaign finance,
Permits member states to enact reasonable restrictions on the consumption of expression for minors.
I'm quite torn about this one. It's not bad and UM compromised on a number of points during the drafting. Points I'd like to draw your attention to:
- It allows states to ban pornography, a move questionable in itself and also open to Lady Chatterly's Lover kind of abuse
- In order to act against hate speech, such speech would have to be an incitement to violence or a threat to health and safety. This is a pretty high bar. The situation with holocaust denial is similar.
- The preamble is awfully waffly. Do we really need a philosophical essay to persuade us that free expression is good?
The most unusual bit, however, is "Prohibits member states from hindering the right of individuals to free expression, excepting the restrictions established in section 2, and restrictions required to fulfill the mandates of WA legislation, or restrictions permitted in future, unrepealed WA legislation" (my emphasis)
This looks like an attempt to circumvent the contradiction rule and in effect make the resolution amendable. It leaves UM able to say "don't worry about hate speech it could be added in later on." AFAIK this device is new. Would it stand up to challenge?