Section 40 and the Free Press

Clearly bad actors are found in all fields of business or employment. I am even forced to concede that, on rare occasions, someone involved in my own prestigious field of blogging might misbehave. This fact is one of the underpinning justifications for the creation of boards of regulation for certain businesses and professions. In many cases, however, the regulators either don’t focus on the proper priorities or they are even created for entirely spurious reasons.

In the UK we’re seeing regulation of the field of journalism that displays gob-smacking amounts of each of these flaws. The UK has already been roundly criticized for inviting “libel tourism”,*1 but new legislation amending the Crime & Courts Act would create a strong presumption that media outlets will pay the court costs of both parties in any libel action. Because of the language that it amends, it’s fairly clear that this is supposed to undercut the presumption that when someone wrongly accuses you of libel and then loses in court, it’s unfair for the courts to order the innocent media outlet, author, or artist to pay the costs of the party that made the wrong accusation.

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Fascist Governance: Multi-state Edition

ALEC is a long-condemned organization whose mission is to share regressive and theocratic legislative ideas between states. They have long advocated heightened criminal penalties for behaviors with relatively low social cost, or, in cases of public political expression, with actual social value.

I don’t know to what extent ALEC has been working on issues of shutting down protest and public expression, but it seems to me that the “leadership” of Trump is making ALEC less and less necessary. There is a zeitgeist, and that geist is haunting the Ebenezers in our state governments. There’s no turkey dinner for the cripples at the end of this story, however. The state legislators want to control us, every one.

While there are other topics I could discuss in terms of state legislative trends, I want to particularly call out this growing need to control speech through punitive legislation, through denial of remedy, and, yes, through simply killing protestors.

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