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Subject: Europe and Free Speech rss

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Paul W
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Eugene
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Although the US is far from perfect in this regard, one of the things I appreciate most about our country is its strong free speech protections. In this, it is notably different from European democracies. For a latest example, witness France:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/frances-war-on-anti-abortion-spe...

For those not clicking on the article, the French government has banned to airing of an ad which encourages mothers carrying children with Down Syndrome to keep their babies. 96% of Down Syndrome pregnancies in France end in abortion. Here's the ad in question:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ju-q4OnBtNU

This kind of censorship is outrageous, and is why I support free speech protections for lots of speech I find offensive: you never know what a government official is going to consider offensive somewhere down the line.
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BJ
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I had not supposed or expected your arrogant spirit to seek such a ridiculous and childish reason for lying; you should have better reasons.
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Despicable.
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Sven Weiler
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fizzmore wrote:
For those not clicking on the article, the French government has banned to airing of an ad which encourages mothers carrying children with Down Syndrome to keep their babies.


Not that I necessarily agree with the ruling at hand but I feel it's appropriate to correct some basic facts:

The French supreme administrative court (not government) upheld a decision by the media council regarding the airing of the ad.

The media council considered the ad positively but decided that it's positioning in an add block had been inappropriate given the topic at hand.

The media council - even if it wanted to - can't ban anything from being aired. Similar to their German equivalent they can only "control" after the program has already been broadcasted.

Source:
http://www.conseil-etat.fr/Actualites/Communiques/Diffusion-...
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Paul W
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I'm reading it through google translate, to be sure, but it sure seems to read that the court ruled that the ad could not be shown during commercial breaks. "Banning" seems an appropriate description of that ruling.
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Aric Ashgrove
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Censorship in ANY form is one of the strongest tools to stifle dissent or prod people into the approved ideologies of the time. This is why it is protected against in our 1st Amendment. History is replete with so many examples it I can only shake my head in awe when I hear people promoting it (censorship).

There is even a post/rallying cry here in BGG suggesting that we omit certain sources (rather than the material denounced by representational counter argument) from debate. Why do that? Because it is much easier than addressing points directly? Imagine if I limited my sources to just one book. My scope of vision and morality would be confined to my chosen limited exposure. One small example of censorship, and how it leads to linear and mob mentality.

"To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize." - Voltaire
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Sven Weiler
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fizzmore wrote:
I'm reading it through google translate, to be sure, but it sure seems to read that the court ruled that the ad could not be shown during commercial breaks. "Banning" seems an appropriate description of that ruling.


The court ruled that the media council didn't make any mistakes in it's decision to consider the placement of the ad "inappropriate". That's it.

The court didn't ban anything. It merely declared that the media council didn't violate any laws when it - after the broadcast - decided to declare that the "short film" was inappropriate in an ad block.

Now, I'm no expert on the French system but the French media council seems to be very similar to it's German equivalent. They both can't ban anything. They can only declare after the fact that something wasn't appropriate... and if the French media council acts in any way like it's German counterpart they are a quite toothless tiger.
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Aric Ashgrove
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Sincerely, I am ignorant of a court's rulings of something being donned simply "inappropriate" since it is very foreign of the USA's methods. So what does that mean? Why are the (assumed) elected officials ruling on what is appropriate or not in or out of given the context? What purpose does it serve?
 
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rico mcflico
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Ashgrove wrote:
Sincerely, I am ignorant of a court's rulings of something being donned simply "inappropriate" since it is very foreign of the USA's methods.
Except when it comes to profanity and nudity of course.
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Aric Ashgrove
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And at those points they are restricted from view. But in Germany and perhaps France they are not? That is where my confusion lay.
 
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Aric Ashgrove
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Another way to ask this is:

Why is a court ruling something as inappropriate if that means nothing or has no effect?
 
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Moshe Callen
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bjlillo wrote:
Despicable.

I'm pro-choice but basically agree. This effectively says that people with downs Syndrome have no right to live. That's a disgusting attitude.
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Sven Weiler
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Ashgrove wrote:
Sincerely, I am ignorant of a court's rulings of something being donned simply "inappropriate" since it is very foreign of the USA's methods. So what does that mean? Why are the (assumed) elected officials ruling on what is appropriate or not in or out of given the context? What purpose does it serve?


The court didn't rule it to be "inappropriate", it declared that the media council did comply with the law when they declared it inappropriate to broadcast this "film" in a commercial break.

Basically the reason given is the following:

Non-advertisement content is generally not allowed during commercial breaks (The "short film" is not considered an ad for a product/service). An exception can only be made under strict limitations for messages of general interest.

Said restrictions are not fulfilled due to the "ambiguous" nature of the piece and the resulting negative effect it might have on people that chose legal abortion. Hence the broadcast was considered inappropriate during a commercial break.

Obviously what is appropriate and what isn't is highly subjective. You and I may consider the "film" to be perfectly fine. On the other hand regarding violence, smoking, drugs and nudity we may very well hold opposing opinions. In Germany one can see full frontal nudity in regular television, in China historically accurate Tang dynasty costumes are deemed too exposing for broadcast.

Ashgrove wrote:
Why is a court ruling something as inappropriate if that means nothing or has no effect?


So basically: What are the consequences? If the "film" is broadcasted again during a commercial break they could theoretically end up fining the broadcasting station after several warnings (At least in Germany they rarely go through with such measures).

One could make the argument that this could, while legally not banned, lead to an indirect ban since TV stations would be discouraged to broadcast it. Since the council specifically stated that the "film" itself, if not embedded into a commercial break, is perfectly fine the solution would probably be to broadcast it during a "theme evening" or thematically fitting show.

It's just not possible to do so during a commercial break.
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J J
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whac3 wrote:
bjlillo wrote:
Despicable.

I'm pro-choice but basically agree. This effectively says that people with downs Syndrome have no right to live. That's a disgusting attitude.


It really, really does not. How on earth did you come to that conclusion?
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Julius Waller
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I am both fluent in French and I have a law degree as well as working 14 years in publishing. There is no censorship at stake here at all. To understand the decision you should be aware of this:

- in France and many other European countries, commercial messages must be clearly identifiable as such. Advertorials in print for example have to have a different font than regular editorials and in the case of audio-visual works commercials are limited to (quite generous) advertising blocks in between other audio-visual works;
- this separation is in place to prevent a situation where the reader or viewer is confronted with something that is presented as a form of free expression when it is in fact a commercial;
- the advertising blocks must therefore only contain commercials UNLESS the message serves the general interest. So for example a short film promoting healthy eating or offering methods to stop smoking would be deemed of general interest and may also be shown during commercial breaks;
- both the media council and the appellate authority the Council of State agreed that promoting the view that people with down syndrome can lead meaningful and happy lives is a message that serves the general interest;
HOWEVER
- the film also promoted the view - rather more explicitly than people above give it credit for apparently - that women who had made use of their legal right to abort a foetus diagnosed (before birth) with down syndrome had done something wrong (at least morally);
- the audiovisual council and the Council of State concurred that this message would cause anguish for women who have taken this legally permitted choice and therefore that message of the film did not serve the general interest.

Because of this the conclusion in both cases was the same, the film is not a film exclusively in the general interest and furthermore it is not a commercial either. Therefore showing the film during commercial breaks is not permitted under the French legislation. Both instances concurred that the film was entirely legitimate and could be shown outside of commercial breaks or on any other media such as Youtube and what not. No censorship at all here.
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Jasper
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Americans can view it as similar to the PG ratings for US television and movies. If that is not cencorship, then the above case in France certainly is'nt either.
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JasonJ0 wrote:
whac3 wrote:
bjlillo wrote:
Despicable.

I'm pro-choice but basically agree. This effectively says that people with downs Syndrome have no right to live. That's a disgusting attitude.


It really, really does not. How on earth did you come to that conclusion?

BS

Because it makes a child having Downs Syndrome an acceptable reason to abort them. Now, I don't have Downs Syndrome as it happens, but I have an eye condition which is often mistaken for it and has been all my life. That sort of thing still happens today in the streets. So I've personally experienced the vile bigotry people with Downs Syndrome face, and indeed I've felt it nearly every day of my life on which I go out among other people. So I take it pretty damned personally, and yes that is absolutely the attitude. People with Downs Syndrome are treated as subhuman. The idea that one can or should abort a baby just because it has Downs Syndrome is absolutely a value judgment that a life with Downs Syndrome is not one worth living, that somehow it's a mercy to kill them before they are born. So I stick by my original statement.
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Чебурашка, ты настоящий друг!
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Venga2 wrote:
Americans can view it as similar to the PG ratings for US television and movies. If that is not cencorship, then the above case in France certainly is'nt either.


Why do you hate America, Jasper?

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Чебурашка, ты настоящий друг!
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While I get the argument that this isn't censorship, I disagree with the ruling: stating the value of all human life seems to be entirely in the general interest.
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Andy Leighton
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Salo sila wrote:
While I get the argument that this isn't censorship, I disagree with the ruling: stating the value of all human life seems to be entirely in the general interest.

As TrustyJules said it was rather more the aspect of shaming those women who did have abortions that the standards agency didn't like.
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andyl wrote:
Salo sila wrote:
While I get the argument that this isn't censorship, I disagree with the ruling: stating the value of all human life seems to be entirely in the general interest.

As TrustyJules said it was rather more the aspect of shaming those women who did have abortions that the standards agency didn't like.


I didn't see any shaming in the advert; abortion wasn't mentioned once.
 
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Чебурашка, ты настоящий друг!
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TrustyJules wrote:
- the film also promoted the view - rather more explicitly than people above give it credit for apparently - that women who had made use of their legal right to abort a foetus diagnosed (before birth) with down syndrome had done something wrong (at least morally);


Is the film in the OP the same film under discussion? I simply don't get how that film "explicitly" condemns women who had an abortion. Abortion isn't mentioned once. Rather the film merely states, I admit in an extremely sacharine manner, that children with Down syndrome can lead happy and fulfilling lives.

The organisation that created the video simply states its aim as "improving quality of life for people with Down syndrome worldwide and promoting their inherent right to be accepted and included as valued and equal members of their communities". The topic of abortion is so much part of their concern that the word doesn't appear once on its website.
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Sven Weiler
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Salo sila wrote:
Is the film in the OP the same film under discussion? I simply don't get how that film "explicitly" condemns women who had an abortion. Abortion isn't mentioned once. Rather the film merely states, I admit in an extremely sacharine manner, that children with Downs Syndrome can lead happy and fulfilling lives.


Yeah, it doesn't explicitly condemn them, which is exactly what the ruling in question concluded as well.

However there is a certain ambiguity and subtext to it. The question asked here by "future mom" comes down to: I'm scared, what will happen in the future? Which implies the follow up decision of either terminating the pregnancy or giving birth.

Since giving birth is portrayed as the moral choice one can come to the conclusion that watching it would agonize people that decided to legally terminate their pregnancy.

Personally I don't see it that way but I can understand their point of view.
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Xenos141 wrote:
Salo sila wrote:
Is the film in the OP the same film under discussion? I simply don't get how that film "explicitly" condemns women who had an abortion. Abortion isn't mentioned once. Rather the film merely states, I admit in an extremely sacharine manner, that children with Downs Syndrome can lead happy and fulfilling lives.


Yeah, it doesn't explicitly condemn them, which is exactly what the ruling in question concluded as well.

However there is a certain ambiguity and subtext to it. The question asked here by "future mom" comes down to: I'm scared, what will happen in the future? Which implies the follow up decision of either terminating the pregnancy or giving birth.

Since giving birth is portrayed as the moral choice one can come to the conclusion that watching it would agonize people that decided to legally terminate their pregnancy.

Personally I don't see it that way but I can understand their point of view.


Or maybe she has already made her choice and the film is just trying to reassure her that it will work out? I feel the subtext is only there if you actively look for it.

If one rules that any statement that people with Down syndrom can lead a happy and fulfilling life is implicitly a condemnation of those who abort foetuses that could develop it, then it is very difficult to see how one can advocate for the rights of people with Down syndrom. That strikes me as more disturbing than non-issue of censorship.
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Sven Weiler
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Salo sila wrote:
I feel the subtext is only there if you actively look for it.


Personally I totally agree but I can see how one might feel otherwise.

Salo sila wrote:
If one rules that any statement that people with Down syndrom can lead a happy and fulfilling life is implicitly a condemnation of those who abort foetuses that could develop it, then it is very difficult to see how one can advocate for the rights of people with Down syndrom. That strikes me as more disturbing than non-issue of censorship.


Let's not forget that this isn't a ban. At it's worst it merely restricts the "film" to be broadcasted on TV outside of commercial breaks.

I think the ruling would have been different if the "film" had been less "sacharine", as you put it. If there had been a representation of both legally valid options it certainly wouldn't be considered "inappropriate" as a message of general interest.
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casey r lowe
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whac3 wrote:
BS

Because it makes a child having Downs Syndrome an acceptable reason to abort them. Now, I don't have Downs Syndrome as it happens, but I have an eye condition which is often mistaken for it and has been all my life. That sort of thing still happens today in the streets. So I've personally experienced the vile bigotry people with Downs Syndrome face, and indeed I've felt it nearly every day of my life on which I go out among other people. So I take it pretty damned personally, and yes that is absolutely the attitude. People with Downs Syndrome are treated as subhuman. The idea that one can or should abort a baby just because it has Downs Syndrome is absolutely a value judgment that a life with Downs Syndrome is not one worth living, that somehow it's a mercy to kill them before they are born. So I stick by my original statement.

i dont think most people terminate a pregnancy after a diagnosis of down syndrome because of hatred - rather raising children with down syndrome takes much more effort and the majority require lifelong care (which underprivileged families often cannot provide)
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