This Week in Freedom of Expression 2018–05–28

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

“Recently, my editors received a message from Iran’s permanent mission at the United Nations. Iranian officials were complaining about a minor detail in a story I had written. They claimed it was factually inaccurate, and they wanted a correction.

I’ll admit, it got under my skin a little.

For a year and a half that same government ran a very public and slanderous disinformation campaign against me while they kept me isolated in prison, blocking me from communication with the outside world and denying me the right to defend myself.

It was a double whammy of lies perpetuated by Iran’s state media, which spread hundreds, perhaps thousands, of false stories about me through the Internet, and regime officials who repeated the same baseless charges whenever someone asked about me.

The thing is, though, it really didn’t matter, because nobody bought it.

It was a tiny moment in the Islamic republic’s long war of attrition on expression. It’s a war that Tehran is clearly losing but refuses to give up.

In a new report, the Committee to Protect Journalists, an international watchdog group, calls out Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, for doing almost nothing to improve the Islamic republic’s abysmal record on free speech. He had pledged to do so during his campaign, but today, nearly five years into his presidency, he has failed to deliver.”


“The Attorney General has introduced legislation to protect the rights of British Columbians to freely participate in debating matters of public interest — without fear of facing unfair litigation and associated costs

The Protection of Public Participation Act will safeguard people from strategic lawsuits against public participation (often referred to as SLAPPs) that limit or prevent the expression of individuals’ or groups’ points of view on matters of public interest.

“Lawsuits that serve to silence and financially exhaust those exercising their right of expression exploit our legal system and only serve those with significantly deeper pockets,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “We’re committed to ensuring a robust, healthy democracy that defends British Columbians’ fundamental rights — in part, by helping people who want and deserve the freedom to peacefully engage in public debate without fear of unreasonable and financially ruinous legal action against them.””


“One year ago, the Court of Appeal for Ontario deftly summarized an error committed by both those who oppose and support the protection of journalists’ sources. It summarized the error by making it.

“A free and vigorous press is essential to the proper functioning of a democracy,” it said. True enough.

“The protection of society from serious criminal activity is equally important to the maintenance of a functioning democracy,” it said. Right again.

But then this: “Those fundamental societal concerns can come into conflict.”

So it said in its decision to side with a safe public over an informed public by pretending they were in conflict rather than being one and the same, as they almost always are.

The Supreme Court may say the same of the same case, in which Vice Media continues to challenge the RCMP’s attempt to take reporter Ben Makuch’s communications with a self-described Canadian ISIL terrorist without the journalist’s consent.”


“Our law firm has been representing clients in lawsuits for protection of personal rights for several years. Those lawsuits are special and interesting because they involve a clash of two constitutional rights — freedom of speech and protection of personal rights (usually honor and reputation, privacy). Neither is given priority over another without further details. Only according to the circumstances of a specific case and ascertained factual situation the courts decide which of the two constitutional rights has more weight and should be given protection to the detriment of another.

The boundary between freedom of speech and protection of personal rights is very fragile and difficult to demarcate. In practice, it is not always easy to correctly assess which of the two constitutional rights has priority.

In this article we therefore concentrate on answering the following question: when does the protection of personal rights prevail over the freedom of speech?”


“Abortion clinic buffer zones set a “dangerous precedent” for freedom of speech, campaigners have warned as they bid to overturn them.

Civil liberties groups have written to the seven councils who are currently considering public space protection orders to stop “pro-life” campaigners from standing outside abortion clinics to protest, warning that they impose “potentially unlawful restrictions on the rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of expression”.

The letter, signed by Big Brother Watch, Index on Censorship and anti-regulation group the Manifesto Club, as well as human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, argues that the move would “unfairly inhibit lawful protest and sets a dangerous precedent for freedoms in the UK”.”


“Cc: Turkish National Commission for UNESCO

Dear Prof. Dr. Numan Kurtulmuş and Minister Abdulhamit Gül,

We, the undersigned cultural and human rights organizations, call upon the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Batman to drop charges immediately against filmmakers Çayan Demirel and Ertuğrul Mavioğlu and to cease efforts to criminalize the film and its makers. We also urge the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey and the General Directorate of Cinema to support both filmmakers and to advocate for charges against them to be dropped. The upcoming court proceeding against Demirel and Mavioğlu comes at a time when artists, academics, and journalists in Turkey are being criminalized in alarming numbers for the peaceful exercise of their free speech.

On May 29, Demirel and Mavioğlu will appear in front of the Batman 2nd Assize Court. Both filmmakers stand charged with disseminating propaganda in favor of a terrorist organization under Article 7/2 of Law no. 3713 on Counter-Terrorism for their documentary film Bakur, and face up to five years of imprisonment if found guilty. The feature length documentary, shot in the summer and fall months of 2013, shows the daily life of PKK members in three different camps in southeast Turkey. The timing of both the filming and production of Bakur coincided with the peace talks between the Turkish government and the PKK to end a 40-year conflict during which a ceasefire was in place.”


(Updated September 28, 2016)

Scott Douglas Jacobsen founded In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott:, Scott.Jacobsen@TrustedClothes.Com, Scott@ConatusNews.Com,, Scott@Karmik.Ca, or SJacobsen@AlmasJiwaniFoundation.Org.

He is a Moral Courage Webmaster and Outreach Specialist (Fall, 2016) at the UCI Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality (Ethics Center), Interview Columnist for Conatus News, Writer and Executive Administrator for Trusted Clothes, Interview Columnist for Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), Chair of Social Media for the Almas Jiwani Foundation, Councillor for the Athabasca University Student Union, Member of the Learning Analytics Research Group, writer for The Voice Magazine, Your Political Party of BC, ProBC, Marijuana Party of Canada, Fresh Start Recovery Centre, Harvest House Ministries, and Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization, Editor and Proofreader for Alfred Yi Zhang Photography, Community Journalist/Blogger for Gordon Neighbourhood House, Member-at-Large, Member of the Outreach Committee, the Finance & Fundraising Committee, and the Special Projects & Political Advocacy Committee, and Writer for Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Member of the Lifespan Cognition Psychology Lab and IMAGe Psychology Lab, Board Member, and Foundation Volunteer Committee Member for the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation, and Independent Landscaper.

He was a Francisco Ayala Scholar at the UCI Ethics Center, Member of the Psychometric Society Graduate Student Committee, Special Advisor and Writer for ECOSOC at NWMUN, Writer for TransplantFirstAcademy and ProActive Path, Member of AT-CURA Psychology Lab, Contributor for a student policy review, Vice President of Outreach for the Almas Jiwani Foundation, worked with Manahel Thabet on numerous initiatives, Student Member of the Ad–Hoc Executive Compensation Review Committee for the Athabasca University Student Union, Volunteer and Writer for British Columbia Psychological Association, Community Member of the KPU Choir (even performed with them alongside the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra), Delegate at Harvard World MUN, NWMUN, UBC MUN, and Long Beach Intercollegiate MUN, and Writer and Member of the Communications Committee for The PIPE UP Network.

He published in American Enterprise Institute, Annaborgia, Conatus News, Earth Skin & Eden, Fresh Start Recovery Centre, Gordon Neighbourhood House, Huffington Post, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, Jolly Dragons, Kwantlen Polytechnic University Psychology Department, La Petite Mort, Learning Analytics Research Group, Lifespan Cognition Psychology Lab, Lost in Samara, Marijuana Party of Canada, MomMandy, Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society, Piece of Mind, Production Mode, Synapse, TeenFinancial, The Peak, The Ubyssey, The Voice Magazine, Transformative Dialogues, Treasure Box Kids, Trusted Clothes.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. Jacobsen supports science and human rights.