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G4EBT  > ACTION   10.07.06 13:46l 157 Lines 6242 Bytes #999 (0) @ WW
BID : C42279G4EBT
Subj: Ref to VK Authorities 4/6
Sent: 060710/1213Z @:GB7FCR.#16.GBR.EU #:49859 [Blackpool] FBB-7.03a $:C42279G4

Freedom of Expression - "Causing Offence?":
Freedom of expression is not without its limitations, nor should it be. 

However, on the question of "offence" it may be irksome to some to learn
that Australia takes note of judgements from the European Court of Human
Rights, from which the concept of "freedom of expression" was defined in
the case of Handyside v UK (1976) 1 EHRR 737, which stated:

"Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a
democratic society; one of the basic conditions for its progress and for
the development of every man". 

"Subject to paragraph 2 of Article 10, it is applicable not only to
'information' or 'ideas' that are favourably received or regarded as
inoffensive, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the state or
any sector of the population. Such are the demands of that pluralism,
tolerance and broadmindedness without which there is no democratic

Quite so.

Article 18 - Freedom of Thought Conscience and Religion:


1."Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. 
This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief
of his choice, either individually or in community with others, and in
public or in private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship,
observance, practice and teaching.

2. No-one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to
have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.

3. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to
such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect
public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and
freedoms of others.

No belief can stand above any other in Australia, and that includes the
majority faith of Christianity, which cannot take precedence over any
other faith or belief system, be they theistic, or atheistic. 

End quote.


a) In community with others and in public. 
(IE: Via amateur radio if the parties so wish).

Scope of 'religion and belief':

The principles relating to freedom of religion or belief are given a wide
application. Article 18 of the ICCPR and article 1.1 of the Religion
Declaration both use the expression 'freedom of thought, conscience and
religion'. The phrase 'or belief' is also used in these instruments. The 
UN Human Rights Committee has elaborated on the meaning of these terms.

The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion (which includes
the freedom to hold beliefs) in article 18.1 is far-reaching and profound;
it encompasses freedom of thought on all matters, personal conviction and
the commitment to religion or belief, whether manifested individually or
in community with others (1993).

'Religion or belief' includes minority and non-mainstream religions and
theistic, non-theistic *and atheistic* beliefs. Article 18 also protects
the *freedom not to believe*. The manifestation of religion or belief may
take many forms. Article 6 of the Religion Declaration lists protected
manifestations including, but not limited to:

* Communicating with individuals and communities on matters of religion
and   belief. 

Note: "Freedom not to believe". 

Thus, if someone said: 

"I don't believe in God and I think the bible (or quorran, or whatever), 
is just a fanciful work of fiction", whilst that might offend some
Christians/Muslims and would be tactless to say the least, nevertheless,
it's a perfectly legitimate view to hold and to express.

It is most certainly not permissible to preach hatred or violence against
people on the basis of their beliefs or non-beliefs, though generally this
only occurs between people of conflicting belief systems (IE, Muslims
against Christians or non-believers).

Religions and belief systems aren't protected - individual followers are. 

In that regard, Christians (etc) have no more right for their views to 
hold sway or to command respect than do atheists, Druids or sun
worshipers, and vice-versa.

Religion and the Australian Constitution:

The Constitution prohibits parliament from making any law establishing 
any religion, imposing any religious observance or prohibiting the free
exercise of any religion.

End quote.

The threshold used by Ofcom for "grossly offensive" much higher than most
of us on packet would wish it to be. This reflected in Ofcom judgments on
broadcasting complaints, which is a topic in its own right, about which
I'll comment separately.

I don't want to leave the impression that anyone can say just what they
want about anything they wish, in whatever way they wish. Clearly they
can't - along with rights go responsibilities. 

Those responsibilities are clearly set out ("to protect the rights of
others, for good order, public safety, health or morals", and so on).

A fine line has to be drawn in the balance between these rights and the
rights and freedoms of others, and that isn't always an easy line to draw.

However, that's not the issue here - the issue is that a small number of
Australian citizen radio amateurs have incessantly stated that we do not
have, or ought not to have, the right to exercise these rights and
freedoms through the medium of amateur radio if we so wish. 

I am very unhappy about that indeed. Just as we have rights to express our
views, others have a right to completely ignore them. It's called live and
let live.
Hopefully, those who want to continue using packet can now calm down a
bit, get on with it, leave others to do likewise, and try to have some fun
before it's too late.

Pause for thought:

"Woe to the nation whose literature is cut short by the intrusion of
force. This is not merely interference with the freedom of the press but
the sealing up of the nation's heart, and the excision of its memory".

(Alexander Solzhenitsyn - jailed for 8 years for criticising Stalin in a
letter to a "friend").

73 - David, G4EBT @ GB7FCR

QTH: Cottingham, East Yorkshire.

Message timed: 11:34 on 2006-Jul-10
Message sent using WinPack-Telnet V6.70

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