Eleanor Roosevelt and the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)—Article 19 states that "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
Article 19 of the UDHR states that "everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference" and "everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice". The version of Article 19 in the
ICCPR later amends this by stating that the exercise of these rights carries "special duties and responsibilities" and may "therefore be subject to certain restrictions" when necessary "[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others" or "[f]or the protection of
national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or
morals". (Full article...)
The Obscene Publications Act 1959 (c. 66) is an
Act of Parliament of the
United Kingdom Parliament that significantly reformed the law related to obscenity. Prior to the passage of the Act, the law on publishing obscene materials was governed by the common law case of R v Hicklin, which had no exceptions for artistic merit or the public good. During the 1950s, the
Society of Authors formed a committee to recommend reform of the existing law, submitting a draft bill to the
Home Office in February 1955. After several failed attempts to push a bill through Parliament, a committee finally succeeded in creating a viable bill, which was introduced to Parliament by
Roy Jenkins and given the
Royal Assent on 29 July 1959, coming into force on 29 August 1959 as the Obscene Publications Act 1959. With the committee consisting of both censors and reformers, the actual reform of the law was limited, with several extensions to police powers included in the final version. The Act created a new offence for publishing obscene material, repealing the common law offence of
obscene libel which was previously used, and also allows
Justices of the Peace to issue warrants allowing the police to seize such materials. At the same time it creates two defences; firstly, the defence of innocent dissemination, and secondly the defence of public good. The Act has been used in several high-profile cases, such as the trials of
Penguin Books for publishing Lady Chatterley's Lover and
Oz for the Schoolkids OZ issue.
Image 3George Orwell statue at the headquarters of the
BBC. A defence of free speech in an open society, the wall behind the statue is inscribed with the words "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear", words from
George Orwell's proposed preface to Animal Farm (1945). (from Freedom of speech)
Image 20Eleanor Roosevelt and the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)—Article 19 states that "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." (from Freedom of speech)
Image 21Protesters exercise freedom of speech to hold a vigil in front of the Zimbabwean Embassy in London, 2005. (from Freedom of speech by country)
As a conservative who believes in limited government, I believe the only check on government power in real time is a free and independent press. A free press ensures the flow of information to the public, and let me say, during a time when the role of government in our lives and in our enterprises seems to grow every day--both at home and abroad--ensuring the vitality of a free and independent press is more important than ever.