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Author Topic: Russel Brand V. Westboro  (Read 4553 times)

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Offline Iniquitous

Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #100 on: February 14, 2014, 11:34:19 PM »
Let me reiterate this.

I do not condone violence. I agree with the laws that are in place at this current time and I recognize that, due to prejudices that people have - even police officers, there are many cases where the law is not being upheld. But that does not mean that there needs to be more laws restricting freedom of speech. It means that those charged with upholding the laws need to be held accountable for not doing their jobs.

I do not like hate speech. I find it abhorrent. As a mother of a gay teen, it makes me grind my teeth and want to seriously beat some heads together. But I think, believe even, that each person has the right to their opinions … even the unpopular ones that target specific races/genders/sexualities. Even though I am disgusted by hate speech I am going to defend the rights of those so ignorant as to be spewing it. Not because I agree with it, but because they have that right and to take it away from them is the first step in taking away our rights to speak out against other things we disagree with.

And not to be insensitive to you Ephiral, but I think you are too close to the subject. I am sorry that you had to deal with that, I can only imagine the pain and anger it causes you. But you cannot demand that any speech you (or anyone else) deem as hate speech be outlawed.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #101 on: February 15, 2014, 12:20:28 AM »
I am sorry to hear about your experience, Ephiral.  I was never suggesting that certain speech cannot cause harm on a personal level.  For example, Iniquitous Opheliac experiences personal emotional harm from the things WBC says.  The stance many of us having been taking in this thread, is that the cost of actively censoring this type of speech (whether through new legislation, or a more broad interpretation of existing law), will ultimately be worse than the potential short-term benefits of emotional peace that may come from it.

Edit:  Earlier in this thread, when I asked 'what harm does it cause?' that was in the context of political perspectives in public discourse.  In other words, I still firmly believe that administratively, it is not ethical to censor political views based on our individual perceptions of what may yield societal harm.

So you feel restriction on freedom of speech impede the political process but accept it's lack can cause emotional harm.  What, then, is the point of the political process if not to make it's constituents happy?  What possible higher function could the government serve than, well, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".  Restrictions would give life and pursuit of happiness even if you were to argue that they would diminish liberty.  Still a net win.

See, if you are saying that the (currently entirely hypothetical) harm to the political system is more important than the harm done to individuals then it seems very much like you need some function of government, some purpose of the political system, that is more important than "make sure its people are well and unharmed" that you're sacrificing the harm freedom of speech does on the altar of.

Offline Valthazar

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Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #102 on: February 15, 2014, 12:46:11 AM »
So you feel restriction on freedom of speech impede the political process but accept it's lack can cause emotional harm.  What, then, is the point of the political process if not to make it's constituents happy?  What possible higher function could the government serve than, well, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".  Restrictions would give life and pursuit of happiness even if you were to argue that they would diminish liberty.  Still a net win.

See, if you are saying that the (currently entirely hypothetical) harm to the political system is more important than the harm done to individuals then it seems very much like you need some function of government, some purpose of the political system, that is more important than "make sure its people are well and unharmed" that you're sacrificing the harm freedom of speech does on the altar of.

Again, this is a philosophical difference, that simply represents our differing perspectives on the role of government.  To me, and many other center-right leaning individuals, the political process should aspire to create an efficient framework that permits all individuals the capacity to find individualized solutions to their individual desires and pursuits - not to appease the individual satisfactions of constituencies in a top-down sense - even if it is attempting to serve what is seemingly the overwhelming majority view.  By doing this, it detracts from the civil liberties of those holding fringe and minority views (in this case, those espousing homophobic views), even if I, personally, find such views negative.  Purely in my opinion, I interpret the words, "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" in the Declaration of Independence to represent ideals upon which an infrastructure can be created, whereby individuals of all opinions and persuasions, can have the capacity for representation and oration, with no one constituency of men or women serving as moderator determining which views are acceptable, and which are not in mainstream discourse.  This is why many of us in this thread have been adamant about not adding to the existing restrictions of the First Amendment.

The type of personal harm that all of us face in different ways - for example, racism - which I have certainly experienced, is something that I feel we must find solutions for on a cultural and social basis.  In other words, rather than attempting to curtail opposing views through legislation, the need for social campaigns, and outreach programs to transform public opinion is what is necessary (if that is what we feel is the "right" perspective).  Overcoming the views we disagree with, with our own campaigns.

I am not asking for you to agree, but realize that these types of underlying perceptual differences are likely the reason we tend to hold opposing views on a multitude of issues.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2014, 01:12:53 AM by Valthazar »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #103 on: February 15, 2014, 02:45:43 AM »
Again, this is a philosophical difference, that simply represents our differing perspectives on the role of government.  To me, and many other center-right leaning individuals, the political process should aspire to create an efficient framework that permits all individuals the capacity to find individualized solutions to their individual desires and pursuits - not to appease the individual satisfactions of constituencies in a top-down sense - even if it is attempting to serve what is seemingly the overwhelming majority view.  By doing this, it detracts from the civil liberties of those holding fringe and minority views (in this case, those espousing homophobic views), even if I, personally, find such views negative.  Purely in my opinion, I interpret the words, "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" in the Declaration of Independence to represent ideals upon which an infrastructure can be created, whereby individuals of all opinions and persuasions, can have the capacity for representation and oration, with no one constituency of men or women serving as moderator determining which views are acceptable, and which are not in mainstream discourse.  This is why many of us in this thread have been adamant about not adding to the existing restrictions of the First Amendment.

Once again, and despite the fact we agreed earlier, it seems like you're conflating "unpleasant opinions" and "hate speech".  A requirement to not engage in maliciously and deliberately baiting people and to not incite violence against your opponents no more impinges on civil liberties than does E's civility policy.

« Last Edit: February 15, 2014, 02:47:13 AM by Kythia »

Offline Valthazar

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Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #104 on: February 15, 2014, 03:15:33 AM »
Once again, and despite the fact we agreed earlier, it seems like you're conflating "unpleasant opinions" and "hate speech".  A requirement to not engage in maliciously and deliberately baiting people and to not incite violence against your opponents no more impinges on civil liberties than does E's civility policy.

Give me your thoughts on this example, which you may have missed earlier:

Lars Gedegaard - the president of the IFPS in Copenhagen, stated in an interview in December 2009 that there was a high incidence of domestic violence in areas dominated by Muslim culture (a controversial and questionable assertion we can certainly agree, but he is entitled to his interpretation of existing empirical data).  I would consider this to be an "unpleasant opinion."

However, for making this assertion, Danish police believed he was in violation of Article 266b, which states: "Whoever publicly or with the intent of public dissemination issues a pronouncement or other communication by which a group of persons are threatened, insulted or denigrated due to their race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, religion or sexual orientation is liable to a fine or incarceration for up to two years."

In May 2011, the Danish superior court found him guilty of hate speech in accordance with Article 266b because he "ought to have known" that his statements regarding family rape and domestic violence in Muslim families were intended for public dissemination.

Ultimately, Gedegaard was acquitted, because there was not proof that he knew this was for public dissemination.

However, most surprisingly, the court also made a special point of ruling that the substance of his statements, namely the public criticism of Islam, is a violation of Article 266b.

In other words, the Danish courts have definitively ruled that publicly stating a criticism of another culture is a prosecutable criminal offense.  If the prosecutors had simply managed to prove that he was aware he was making this opinion in the public, he would be spending up to two years in jail.

Free Speech Found Guilty by Europe
Denmark: Prosecution of Free Speech Advocate May Prompt Changes to Racism Laws

This is only one of many recent examples of how laws intended to curb "hate speech" may ultimately censor "unpleasant opinions" as well - voluntarily or involuntarily.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #105 on: February 15, 2014, 03:44:53 AM »
I didn't miss it, I bypassed it.  Your source was four years old (and, frankly, I find the Middle East Forum highly dubious, but that's by the by)  and didn't include how the story ended, I saw little point in responding to it.

Now that you are, though.

The specific case is a non-event.  Hedegaard was acquitted as you say.  Presumably you think that was the right result. 

As to the bolded part, your sources are inaccurate.  You can read the ruling here (depending on how good your Danish is, you might wanna Google Translate that bad boy).  There's no mention of that whatsoever.  The closest is in section 2 where it says that isn't something the supreme court can rule on.

ETA: I actually don't see that claim in either of your sources either, now I read a little more closely?  Which one was it in?
« Last Edit: February 15, 2014, 03:50:36 AM by Kythia »

Offline Valthazar

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Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #106 on: February 15, 2014, 04:10:20 AM »
The main reason I am focusing on the example of Islamophobia and Europe, is because it is a great example of how hate speech laws can be misused to censor public opinion.  Hedegaard was acquitted not because they upheld his freedom of expression, but because prosecutors were unable to show that he knew it was for the public.  In other words, had he said this in the public, he would be locked away for sure.

I Google translated the document, and found this quote:
(Try this link for the Google translation)

"There are opinions that contain generalized accusations against Muslim men rape, and these opinions are grossly insulting and degrading for this population on the basis of their faith and origin. The opinions are not made ​​as part of a balanced debate, and a conviction will not violate freedom of expression."

Thus there is a mention in the supreme court ruling that had there been a conviction in this case (if he had said it in public), the content of his statement is grounds for prosecution of hate speech, since the Danish definition of freedom of speech exempts this type of rhetoric.

As far as this being an isolated incident, it is not:

1)  In the UK, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, two American right-wing bloggers and co-founders of Stop Islamization of America, on Wednesday received letters from Theresa May, Britain’s home secretary responsible for interior affairs, telling them that their presence would "not be conducive to the public good," even though they were planning to simply deliver a speech (Source)

2)  France is considering banning performances by comedian, Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, whose shows have repeatedly insulted the memory of Holocaust victims.  They are doing this because of his straight-arm gesture, which they call a “Nazi salute in reverse” and link to a growing frequency of anti-Semitic remarks and acts in France (Source)

ETA: I actually don't see that claim in either of your sources either, now I read a little more closely?  Which one was it in?

"Although Hedegaard was acquitted, it was on a legal technicality; in its ruling, the Supreme Court stressed that the substance of the charges against Hedegaard -- public criticism of Islam, -- is still a crime punishable by imprisonment."
(Source)
« Last Edit: February 15, 2014, 04:15:12 AM by Valthazar »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #107 on: February 15, 2014, 04:26:02 AM »
The main reason I am focusing on the example of Islamophobia and Europe, is because it is a great example of how hate speech laws can be misused to censor public opinion.  Hedegaard was acquitted not because they upheld his freedom of expression, but because prosecutors were unable to show that he knew it was for the public.  In other words, had he said this in the public, he would be locked away for sure.

I Google translated the document, and found this quote:
(Try this link for the Google translation)

"There are opinions that contain generalized accusations against Muslim men rape, and these opinions are grossly insulting and degrading for this population on the basis of their faith and origin. The opinions are not made ​​as part of a balanced debate, and a conviction will not violate freedom of expression."

Thus there is a mention in the supreme court ruling that had there been a conviction in this case (if he had said it in public), the content of his statement is grounds for prosecution of hate speech, since the Danish definition of freedom of speech exempts this type of rhetoric.

Yep, that quote's there.  You're presumably aware that that's different to what you claimed?  That saying these opinions are insulting and degrading is not equivalent to saying they're illegal?  Supreme courts don't rule on hypothetical cases. 

Quote
]As far as this being an isolated incident, it is not:

1)  In the UK, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, two American right-wing bloggers and co-founders of Stop Islamization of America, on Wednesday received letters from Theresa May, Britain’s home secretary responsible for interior affairs, telling them that their presence would "not be conducive to the public good," even though they were planning to simply deliver a speech (Source)

2)  France is considering banning performances by comedian, Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, whose shows have repeatedly insulted the memory of Holocaust victims.  They are doing this because of his straight-arm gesture, which they call a “Nazi salute in reverse” and link to a growing frequency of anti-Semitic remarks and acts in France (Source)

I don't actually recall saying it was an isolated case? But no matter.  Yep, May kept those guys out, not the only ones she did either.  I actually met her once - not that that's relevant, I just thought you might care.   M'bala M'bala was actually funnily enough in the news recently over here after a French footballer playing over here made the gesture.  Do you think politics is helped by people being able to make <Nazi salutes> whenever they want?  Is there a single argument in the world that can't be put across without making offensive gestures?

In essence, Val, that rambling paragraph is because I have no idea what point you're trying to make there.  We both agree there have been prosecutions.  You claim they stifle public discourse but refuse to provide evidence.  I claim they don't and point to the lack of stifled public discourse as evidence.  I have no doubt you can provide many more examples of prosecutions and similar but so what?  Without something to actually support your position then its just an exercise in google fu.

I for the record, propose that the existence of the moon stifles public discourse.  I can link to numerous articles proving that the moon exists, if you like?

Offline Valthazar

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Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #108 on: February 15, 2014, 04:39:21 AM »
Yep, that quote's there.  You're presumably aware that that's different to what you claimed?  That saying these opinions are insulting and degrading is not equivalent to saying they're illegal?  Supreme courts don't rule on hypothetical cases.

It is not different from what I am saying.  The key part of the quote is - "and a conviction will not violate freedom of expression."  The conviction they are referring to is the one that is made on the grounds of the aforementioned opinions that are insulting and degrading.  If you read through that entire document, that is only reference to any prosecution mentioned.

I don't actually recall saying it was an isolated case? But no matter.

I thought that is what you meant by, "The specific case is a non-event."

Do you think politics is helped by people being able to make <Nazi salutes> whenever they want?  Is there a single argument in the world that can't be put across without making offensive gestures?

This discussion has nothing to do with whether I think these people are going to make a beneficial contribution or not.  If you want my personal opinion, I wish we could all just get along, and these Islamophobes could just shut up and realize how ridiculous their opinions are.  However, I can understand why they hold their perspectives, and they are as entitled to stating their opinions peacefully as I am in making this opinion.

In addition, we (the majority constituency of view) may view the Nazi salute as an offensive gesture, but in my opinion, that does not give us the right to state that another person should not be able to do that.

In essence, Val, that rambling paragraph is because I have no idea what point you're trying to make there.

My point is simply to convey why so many Americans, and many in this thread, are passionate about our First Amendment rights.  We have a difference of opinion, and that's perfectly okay.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #109 on: February 15, 2014, 04:57:31 AM »
It is not different from what I am saying.  The key part of the quote is - "and a conviction will not violate freedom of expression."  The conviction they are referring to is the one that is made on the grounds of the aforementioned opinions that are insulting and degrading.  If you read through that entire document, that is only reference to any prosecution mentioned.

Prosecution=/=conviction.  There is no conviction made on the grounds of aforementioned etc.  He was acquitted.

Quote
I thought that is what you meant by, "The specific case is a non-event."

No, sorry.  I meant that its unimportant.  "Guy who didn't make hate speech not convicted for making hate speech.  Sky also blue" was the headline.

Quote
This discussion has nothing to do with whether I think these people are going to make a beneficial contribution or not.  If you want my personal opinion, I wish we could all just get along, and these Islamophobes could just shut up and realize how ridiculous their opinions are.  However, I can understand why they hold their perspectives, and they are as entitled to stating their opinions peacefully as I am in making this opinion.

In addition, we (the majority constituency of view) may view the Nazi salute as an offensive gesture, but in my opinion, that does not give us the right to state that another person should not be able to do that.

But now you're moving away from your original position.  You were saying that people needed to be able to express themselves because otherwise censorship, bad, tyranny.  My question is, in what circumstance does an act that has no purpose but to offend people have any legitimacy?

Quote
My point is simply to convey why so many Americans, and many in this thread, are passionate about our First Amendment rights.  We have a difference of opinion, and that's perfectly okay.

Only you.  As has been pointed out by many people, myself included, IO was until very recently arguing for something entirely different.  Not of course that the number of people in a thread in favour of something has any relevance whatsoever to whether its true or not - check out this place where you'll find a lot of threads in which many people believe the world is flat. 

But yes.  We do have a difference of opinion.  And at the end of the day, yes that is OK.  Neither of us are legislators and even if we were we live in different countries.  And if that were all I would have been perfectly content to let this go a few days ago.  However, you have made claims based on your opinion - about the effects and ramifications of contrary opinions - that simply don't hold up.   That is why this has gone on for a while.

But I'm out.

Pleasure talking to you.

Offline Valthazar

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Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #110 on: February 15, 2014, 05:04:53 AM »
Prosecution=/=conviction.  There is no conviction made on the grounds of aforementioned etc.  He was acquitted.

Finally found the right quote.  The key point is not the acquittal - that was due to lack of evidence as to whether he stated the confirmed statements in public or not.  The statements themselves are a confirmed crime:

"Insulting and degrading statements such as those Hedegaard is found guilty of having made ​​and which contains the message that Muslims generally commit serious crime is punishable under § 266b paragraph. 1 if they are made ​​"publicly or with intent to disseminate to a wider audience."

Look at this quote that was made in the Net Neutrality thread:

For the record, 'network neutrality' does not affect Elliquiy in the slightest. For everything, the US has been pretty big on the freedom of speech, and this is reflected in a lot of both legal and corporate culture. I wouldn't dare host Elliquiy from anywhere in the British Commonwealth or European Union.

This is what I am referring to by restrictions on Freedom of Speech creating tyranny.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #111 on: February 15, 2014, 05:11:15 AM »
Sorry, couldn't resist that last bit.

I had been under the impression the reason Veks wouldn't host from the British Commonwealth was because the costs of hosting Elliquiy on servers located in the past were prohibitive.

Online Neysha

Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #112 on: February 15, 2014, 07:30:51 AM »
Sorry, couldn't resist that last bit.

I had been under the impression the reason Veks wouldn't host from the British Commonwealth was because the costs of hosting Elliquiy on servers located in the past were prohibitive.

Well you were right... there was a prohibitive cost of hosting the servers in the British Commonwealth.

The COST OF FREEDOM!



Sorry... I couldn't resist. :)

Offline Kythia

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Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #113 on: February 15, 2014, 08:12:52 AM »
It blows my mind that people used to fancy Mel Gibson.  I'm a bit too young for it and I just can't fathom it.

Also, I'm always confused by Scottish people liking that film.  It's a film about how stupid Scottish people are for god's sake.  If they'd just used their time machines to bring back guns from the future instead of kilts then it would have all been over much faster.

Anyway, my point was that the British Commonwealth hasn't existed for sixty odd years.  Prima facie, not knowing that indicates not a whole load of research has been done.

Online Neysha

Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #114 on: February 15, 2014, 08:44:22 AM »
Not to mention the relationship with a notoriously underage French Queen. Sure she might look older but that's no excuse.

I can't wait to see a movie about Edward I though. They can totally do a dramatization of him beating the crap out of those assassins back when he was in Outremer.

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Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #115 on: February 15, 2014, 09:04:23 AM »
Okay I think I'm in a better position to continue. Valthazar, you seem to have missed my point. I specifically and emphatically reject the idea that laws should attempt to prevent emotional distress - one does not have a right to not be offended. The Dutch example you cite, for instance? If that's how the law and decisions around it are worded, it's a terrible law. So is every other anti-blasphemy and anti-offense law, religious or otherwise.

You're still pretending that emotional distress is the only issue, however. In fact, you did this in response to an example wherein the police shielded perpetrators of assault, and further attacked a victim, as a direct result of prevailing public attitudes. This... is a little disingenuous. What I've been talking about all along is specifically speech that will clearly or is clearly intended to incite violence. I will admit, however, that I can't find an example offhand of what I'd consider a good law in that regard.

In principle, we're in not-dissimilar places - I absolutely agree that there are a lot of terrible speech-restricting laws out there, many of which have been used to enable tyranny and oppression. I see that as a reason, not to treat speech as sacrosanct (which, I'll note, you don't do in practice either), but to protect it strongly and use those examples to craft better law. I am also highly skeptical of any claim that any single nation's body of law on the matter, as a package, is the ideal. As an offhand example, current US law explicitly refuses to define obscenity, which opens the door for all sorts of potential abuse. Canadian law sets out an  explicit definition. In general, I think that, rather than simply saying "My country's laws are ideal", we should define our goals and then see how well a given law conforms to those goals. For example, if your goal is to prevent governmental abuse of power, I would argue that sedition laws as a category are problematic - they treat offenses against members of government as inherently worse than those against common citizens, granting government officials special rights above and beyond those of the rest of the population.

My position on this has evolved - I was too emotionally involved earlier, and it did blind me. While I reject your argument that any restriction on speech that differs from those in current US code and common law is in principle bad, I will agree that your goals are laudable and that passing laws that fall within them is difficult. I suspect part of our difference of opinion stems from the fact that I'm used to living with a Supreme Curt that a) has the power to rule on provincial law, and b) is traditionally very protective of individual rights when they come into conflict with government. I'm not sure, at this point, that any examination of a law is possible outside the context of the justice system which enforces it - I have little problem in practice with a system that allows "reasonable limits" that can be "demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society" specifically because my courts interpret those phrases very narrowly - I'd be a lot less sanguine about that in the US, and downright terrified of it in, say, China. At this point, my only real issue is confusion as to why all the restrictions in US law, and only those restrictions, are deemed acceptable - what underlying goals or values support this conclusion?

As to the WBC and similar examples, I absolutely think they should be allowed to say pretty much everything they have - I see no imminent danger. They're just blowing hot air, and having such hateful groups in public may serve the valuable purpose of reminding people why their values are distasteful.

Offline consortium11

Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #116 on: February 15, 2014, 09:16:23 AM »
Anyway, my point was that the British Commonwealth hasn't existed for sixty odd years.  Prima facie, not knowing that indicates not a whole load of research has been done.

Em, the British Commonwealth does exist (although it's technically called the Commonwealth of Nations). In fact, it only came into being about 60 years ago (The London Declaration of 1949). You may be thinking of the British Empire.

And the key point here is that the vast majority of Commonwealth countries use common law based on the principles of British law for their legal systems and have the Privy Council as their supreme court. Because of that, while the statute laws of the different countries may be different the interpretation and principles behind them basically follow the approach taken in the UK. And the approach taken in the UK has been pretty awkward for free speech.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #117 on: February 15, 2014, 09:38:22 AM »
Em, the British Commonwealth does exist (although it's technically called the Commonwealth of Nations). In fact, it only came into being about 60 years ago (The London Declaration of 1949). You may be thinking of the British Empire.
Actually, no. The "British Commonwealth" was first legally recognized as a thing in 1921 in the Anglo-Irish Treaty, specifically replacing the British Empire in the oaths in question. It was made egalitarian in 1926, and the London Declaration actually explicitly removed "British" from the title to reflect the fact that the UK no longer had any primacy in it.

And the key point here is that the vast majority of Commonwealth countries use common law based on the principles of British law for their legal systems and have the Privy Council as their supreme court. Because of that, while the statute laws of the different countries may be different the interpretation and principles behind them basically follow the approach taken in the UK. And the approach taken in the UK has been pretty awkward for free speech.
Commonwealth nations' law, common or otherwise, is "based on the principles of British law" in precisely the same way that US law is - that is, you can clearly see its parentage, but it is its own thing upon which British law has no more impact than other nations' laws in general. (In fact, m own country has a jurisdiction which traces its lineage back to French law.) Most Commonwealth nations (my brief check shows at least 27 of 53) have, in fact, explicitly abolished all right of appeal to the Privy Council, and British practice basically limits the Privy Council to ruling in accordance with the wishes of the nation affected by the case anyway, per the (not enforceable, but held to in principle) Balfour Declaration. Nations may look to other nations' examples when crafting law, and Commonwealth nations are more likely to look to each other, but there's absolutely no reason for a Commonwealth nation to give UK law special consideration over, say, Canada.

This is not to say that Commonwealth nations are all great on issues of human rights -  our members include India, Jamaica, Rwanda, and Pakistan - but rather that we're way more varied than either Veks' or your statement allow for.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2014, 09:48:56 AM by Ephiral »

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Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #118 on: February 15, 2014, 09:41:00 AM »
Em, the British Commonwealth does exist (although it's technically called the Commonwealth of Nations). In fact, it only came into being about 60 years ago (The London Declaration of 1949). You may be thinking of the British Empire.


EDIT:  What Ephiral said
« Last Edit: February 15, 2014, 09:43:19 AM by Kythia »

Offline consortium11

Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #119 on: February 15, 2014, 11:05:27 AM »
Actually, no. The "British Commonwealth" was first legally recognized as a thing in 1921 in the Anglo-Irish Treaty, specifically replacing the British Empire in the oaths in question. It was made egalitarian in 1926, and the London Declaration actually explicitly removed "British" from the title to reflect the fact that the UK no longer had any primacy in it.

Hence the "technically" comment I made. The Anglo-Irish treaty was merely the first official use of the term "British Commonwealth of Nations" by the British government instead of British Empire. The Commonwealth pre-1949 London Declaration was a rather different beast with the ties being explicitly linked to the Queen's position as head of state and the other states position as dominions of Britain. Despite the name it was simply a renamed British Empire, albeit one where the facts on the ground had changed.

It was the 1949 London Declaration that fundamentally changed the relationship to an actual "commonwealth" as opposed to the ashes of empire. It removed the requirement for dominionhood and set the Commonwealth on the form that it is in today as an actual intergovernmental organisation.

Regardless, the idea that the Commonwealth hasn't existed for 60 odd years is either patently false or semantic to the point to ridiculousness. Moreover, considering Veks original use of the term a clear argument can be made that he included the term "British" to differentiate it from the other commonwealth's currently in existence; CIS for example, Australia, certain individual US states, Puerto Rico or some Caribbean states.

Commonwealth nations' law, common or otherwise, is "based on the principles of British law" in precisely the same way that US law is - that is, you can clearly see its parentage, but it is its own thing upon which British law has no more impact than other nations' laws in general. (In fact, m own country has a jurisdiction which traces its lineage back to French law.) Most Commonwealth nations (my brief check shows at least 27 of 53) have, in fact, explicitly abolished all right of appeal to the Privy Council, and British practice basically limits the Privy Council to ruling in accordance with the wishes of the nation affected by the case anyway, per the (not enforceable, but held to in principle) Balfour Declaration. Nations may look to other nations' examples when crafting law, and Commonwealth nations are more likely to look to each other, but there's absolutely no reason for a Commonwealth nation to give UK law special consideration over, say, Canada.

Outside of the fact that most of them explicitly use British law precedent to some extent. To give a simple example Donoghue v Stevenson and the duty of care principle outlined within remains the leading case (although of course modified by subsequent precedent) on the subject across the Commonwealth even after their establishment of new legal framework, favoured for example over the similar US case of MacPherson v. Buick Motor Co which did much the same years previously.

Moreover, within the system of persuasive precedent far more weight is given to decisions to fellow Commonwealth countries than those outside (including common law countries), with British cases generally getting far more consideration than those from even other Commonwealth members.

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Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #120 on: February 15, 2014, 11:18:22 AM »
Hence the "technically" comment I made. The Anglo-Irish treaty was merely the first official use of the term "British Commonwealth of Nations" by the British government instead of British Empire. The Commonwealth pre-1949 London Declaration was a rather different beast with the ties being explicitly linked to the Queen's position as head of state and the other states position as dominions of Britain. Despite the name it was simply a renamed British Empire, albeit one where the facts on the ground had changed.

It was the 1949 London Declaration that fundamentally changed the relationship to an actual "commonwealth" as opposed to the ashes of empire. It removed the requirement for dominionhood and set the Commonwealth on the form that it is in today as an actual intergovernmental organisation.

Regardless, the idea that the Commonwealth hasn't existed for 60 odd years is either patently false or semantic to the point to ridiculousness. Moreover, considering Veks original use of the term a clear argument can be made that he included the term "British" to differentiate it from the other commonwealth's currently in existence; CIS for example, Australia, certain individual US states, Puerto Rico or some Caribbean states.

No.  The British Commonwealth was a thing which, objectively, hasn't existed for sixty odd years.  While your first two paragraphs are true, neither of them change the fact that the entity called the British Commonwealth hasn't existed for that long.  The precise constitutional nature of the BC, etc, isn't at issue, what is at issue is whether the British Commonwealth is a thing that exists.  It isn't

As to the final paragraph, Veks' comment could easily have used the, correct, Commonwealth of Nations to convey that.  I believe my point - that at first glance it seems hard to believe Veks conducted a thorough audit of each Commonwealth of Nations country without ever once realising none of the reference lists used the phrase "British Commonwealth" -  stands. 

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Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #121 on: February 15, 2014, 12:30:52 PM »
Hence the "technically" comment I made. The Anglo-Irish treaty was merely the first official use of the term "British Commonwealth of Nations" by the British government instead of British Empire. The Commonwealth pre-1949 London Declaration was a rather different beast with the ties being explicitly linked to the Queen's position as head of state and the other states position as dominions of Britain. Despite the name it was simply a renamed British Empire, albeit one where the facts on the ground had changed.
You, uh. Might want to look at the Balfour Declaration a bit more closely. Yes, it refers to the British Empire, but... well, from my POV, an Empire where the parent nation explicitly renounces its preeminence is... kinda dead.

Regardless, the idea that the Commonwealth hasn't existed for 60 odd years is either patently false or semantic to the point to ridiculousness. Moreover, considering Veks original use of the term a clear argument can be made that he included the term "British" to differentiate it from the other commonwealth's currently in existence; CIS for example, Australia, certain individual US states, Puerto Rico or some Caribbean states.
And it couldn't be differentiated by using its actual, unique title... why?

Outside of the fact that most of them explicitly use British law precedent to some extent. To give a simple example Donoghue v Stevenson and the duty of care principle outlined within remains the leading case (although of course modified by subsequent precedent) on the subject across the Commonwealth even after their establishment of new legal framework, favoured for example over the similar US case of MacPherson v. Buick Motor Co which did much the same years previously.
I'm genuinely curious here, because this is one hell of a legal oddity. Which nations have established their own supreme courts but still explicitly consider themselves bound by British precedent?

Moreover, within the system of persuasive precedent far more weight is given to decisions to fellow Commonwealth countries than those outside (including common law countries), with British cases generally getting far more consideration than those from even other Commonwealth members.
I'd need a citation on Britain being given greater weight. The rest... well, closely-tied nations tend to look to each other first. That's not... really news.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2014, 12:32:51 PM by Ephiral »

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Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #122 on: February 15, 2014, 01:04:29 PM »
And incidentally, this:

The Commonwealth pre-1949 London Declaration was a rather different beast with the ties being explicitly linked to the Queen's position as head of state and the other states position as dominions of Britain.

would seem to be you agreeing that the British Commonwealth and the Commonwealth of Nations are different things.

Offline consortium11

Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #123 on: February 15, 2014, 02:11:29 PM »
No.  The British Commonwealth was a thing which, objectively, hasn't existed for sixty odd years.  While your first two paragraphs are true, neither of them change the fact that the entity called the British Commonwealth hasn't existed for that long.  The precise constitutional nature of the BC, etc, isn't at issue, what is at issue is whether the British Commonwealth is a thing that exists.  It isn't.

Neither is "The UK/The United Kingdom" (the current title being the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" and the previous version being the "Kingdom of Great Britain") or the "United States" (United States of America). Likwise the company "Apple" doesn't exist (or if it does, refers to a different company to how most use the term) as the title would either be "Apple Computer, Inc" or "Apple, Inc" depending on what period you were referring to. Saying you were heading out to a popular fast food chain to get some "Kentucky Fried Chicken" would also be completely incorrect as since 1991 the official name has been "KFC" in and of itself as opposed to as an abbreviation. British Petroleum instead of BP, Samsung instead of Samsung Group or Samsung Electronics, France instead of French Republic, Germany instead of Federal Republic of Germany, Switzerland instead of Swiss Confederation, Russia instead of Russian Federation, Indonesia instead of Republic of Indonesia, Italy instead of Italian Republic, Libya instead of the State of Libya, Mexico instead of United Mexican States, Brazil instead of Federative Republic of Brazil, Kenya instead of Republic of Kenya (when referring to the state in question)... I could go on.

Are your standards always so exacting?

As to the final paragraph, Veks' comment could easily have used the, correct, Commonwealth of Nations to convey that.  I believe my point - that at first glance it seems hard to believe Veks conducted a thorough audit of each Commonwealth of Nations country without ever once realising none of the reference lists used the phrase "British Commonwealth" -  stands.

And couldn't your comment on "Mel Gibson" used his actual name Mel Colm-Cille Gerard Gibson rather than a short hand? Why couldn't your earlier comment in the thread which mentioned the "US" not have used the full name "United States of America"? Why are we talking about the "WBC" or the "Westboro Baptist Church" instead of it's actual name, "Westboro Baptist Church, Incorporated".

Does that indicate you (and the rest of us) haven't done our research? Or is it just that we use terms that allow people to quickly identify what we're talking about from the context of the conversation... just as it was readily apparent from the context of Veks comment that he was talking about the Commonwealth (sorry... the Commonwealth of Nations)?

You, uh. Might want to look at the Balfour Declaration a bit more closely. Yes, it refers to the British Empire, but... well, from my POV, an Empire where the parent nation explicitly renounces its preeminence is... kinda dead.

This discussion we're having is entirely about semantics... we can't back away from semantics now.

And it couldn't be differentiated by using its actual, unique title... why?

As above, I take it you always use the full and accurate title of each state/company/person etc when you discuss them? No mention of "the US" or "the UK"? Or even "The United Kingdom" or "The United States"? No mention of "Germany" or "France"?

I'm genuinely curious here, because this is one hell of a legal oddity. Which nations have established their own supreme courts but still explicitly consider themselves bound by British precedent?

Most of them... look at the pre-existing major British precedents that have been taken as read by the various supreme courts. I've already used Donaghue vs Stevenson as an example but you can find more. Very few indeed did anything but continuing to use the established British precedents despite having their own Supreme Courts. The only area where I can think of where there is a significant change is on the death penalty, and that's not a particular surprise considering that the death penalty was what caused many of the Caribbean states to break away in the first place.

I'd need a citation on Britain being given greater weight. The rest... well, closely-tied nations tend to look to each other first. That's not... really news.

Do you have access to Westlaw or a similar service?

Search for the most cited cases in the Commononwealth of Nations. Pretty much every single one of the top cases is British.

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Re: Russel Brand V. Westboro
« Reply #124 on: February 15, 2014, 05:17:30 PM »
Neither is "The UK/The United Kingdom" (the current title being the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" and the previous version being the "Kingdom of Great Britain") or the "United States" (United States of America). Likwise the company "Apple" doesn't exist (or if it does, refers to a different company to how most use the term) as the title would either be "Apple Computer, Inc" or "Apple, Inc" depending on what period you were referring to. Saying you were heading out to a popular fast food chain to get some "Kentucky Fried Chicken" would also be completely incorrect as since 1991 the official name has been "KFC" in and of itself as opposed to as an abbreviation. British Petroleum instead of BP, Samsung instead of Samsung Group or Samsung Electronics, France instead of French Republic, Germany instead of Federal Republic of Germany, Switzerland instead of Swiss Confederation, Russia instead of Russian Federation, Indonesia instead of Republic of Indonesia, Italy instead of Italian Republic, Libya instead of the State of Libya, Mexico instead of United Mexican States, Brazil instead of Federative Republic of Brazil, Kenya instead of Republic of Kenya (when referring to the state in question)... I could go on.

Are your standards always so exacting?

And couldn't your comment on "Mel Gibson" used his actual name Mel Colm-Cille Gerard Gibson rather than a short hand? Why couldn't your earlier comment in the thread which mentioned the "US" not have used the full name "United States of America"? Why are we talking about the "WBC" or the "Westboro Baptist Church" instead of it's actual name, "Westboro Baptist Church, Incorporated".

Does that indicate you (and the rest of us) haven't done our research? Or is it just that we use terms that allow people to quickly identify what we're talking about from the context of the conversation... just as it was readily apparent from the context of Veks comment that he was talking about the Commonwealth (sorry... the Commonwealth of Nations)?


Of course not.  But further I don't say "Mel Gibson" when I mean "Brad Pitt".  Nor do I use "Libya" when I mean "Italy", "KFC" when I mean "McDonalds" etc.  I'm not asking for "full name", I'm asking for "unambiguous name".  You yourself agree that the British Commonwealth was "a rather different beast" to the Commonwealth of Nations in one breath and then, with the next, argue that differentiating between them is either "patently false or semantic to the point to ridiculousness". 

Presumably you don't feel that differentiating between the Iroquois Confederacy and the USA is?  That not using "Rhodesia" to refer to any present day country is?  Presumably you feel that if I'm making a point about the modern day oil industry that includes the phrase "Standard Oil is one of the largest companies" then its an indication I may not know precisely what I'm talking about and should be treated initially as a somewhat dubious authority on this subject?  Not to say I can't rescue it later, but do you really feel that's such an incredibly unreasonable first impression?

Because I really don't.  Someone making a point about the commonwealth and using the wrong name for it automatically scores lower points in the "I'm likely to know what I'm on about" scale than someone using the right one.  If you feel different then, well honestly I don't understand how you can in good faith come to that conclusion, but it's not really important.  You're well aware of my reasoning for coming to the conclusion I did by this point and hopefully well aware that I consider it an entirely justified position.  I doubt, if I haven't convinced you yet, that I will convince you and I can't easily imagine an argument that would change my mind.  Is there a point to proceeding?  I'm happy to if you feel its valuable, but I'm not sure it is.