Super Injunction Silences News About Vatican Official's Child Molestation Conviction, And That's Bullshit

from the blatant-censorship dept

We've written in the past about things like "super injunctions" in the UK and elsewhere that often put a huge and near absolute gag order on writing about a famous person enmeshed in some sort of scandal, and apparently Australia has such a thing as well -- and it's now scaring off tons of publications from writing about the fact that George Pell, the Vatican's CFO and often called the "3rd most powerful person in the Vatican" was convicted on all charges that he sexually molested choir boys in Australia in the 1990s. However, the press is barred from reporting on it based on one of those gag orders. The Herald Sun in Australia did post a brilliant, Streisand Effect-inducing front page display about how it was being censored from publishing an important story:

Though, if you click on the link in that tweet it now shows an error message reading Error 400 and "Content is deleted, expired or legal killed." Legal killed.

And here's the thing. Very few publications -- even those outside of Australia -- seem to be willing to pick up on the story. To their credit, the NY Post, owned by Australian Rupert Murdoch has posted about it as has Margaret Sullivan at the Washington Post, who included an impassioned plea for this kind of censorship to not be allowed to continue.

The secrecy surrounding the court case — and now the verdict — is offensive. That’s especially so because it echoes the secrecy that has always been so appalling a part of widespread sexual abuse by priests.

That has changed a great deal in recent years — in part because of the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation in 2002 that broke open a global scandal and was the subject of the Oscar-winning film “Spotlight.” (Current Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron was executive editor at the Globe at that time.)

But clearly, it hasn’t changed entirely. And the news media shouldn’t be forced to be a part of keeping these destructive secrets.

Steven Spaner, Australia coordinator from the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests told the Daily Beast he felt frustrated and left “in the dark” because of the suppression of news about Pell.

“It’s hard to know if there are any shenanigans going on — things the church did that are illegal themselves,” he said. “There is always suspicion when you don’t know what is going on.”

The story itself was actually broken by The Daily Beast (first link up top), but as that site's editor told Sullivan at the Washington Post, they were a bit worried about doing so:

Editor in chief Noah Shachtman told me that he waded carefully into the dangerous legal waters.

“We understood there could be legal, and even criminal, consequences if we ran this story,” said. “But ultimately, this was an easy call. You’ve got a top Vatican official convicted of a horrific crime. That’s major, major news. The public deserves to know about it.”

Shachtman said the Daily Beast did its best to honor the suppression order, consulting with attorneys here and in Australia, and even “geo-blocking” the article so that it would be harder to access in Australia, and keeping headlines “relatively neutral.”

If you do look around, there are a bunch of news articles, including some in Australia, all published after the verdict, talking about how the Pope has "removed" Pell from his "inner circle" and hinting at "historical sexual offences" but not saying that he's been convicted. And even the news of the removal is made to sound rather benign:

A Vatican spokesman said Francis had written to the prelates “thanking them for the work they have done over these past five years”.

Or here's an article from the Australian again published after the conviction, but not mentioning a word of it, and making it sound like Pell's removal was merely his term being up:

The Vatican said it had written to Cardinal Pell and his two colleagues in late October, telling them their roles on the C9 council had expired at the end of their five-year tenure.

[....]

“In October, the Pope had written to three of the more ­elderly cardinals — Cardinal Pell from Australia, Cardinal ­Errazuriz from Chile and Cardinal Monsengwo of Congo — thanking them for their work,” he said.

“After a five-year term, these three have passed out for the ­moment.”

And the Washington Post's Editor, Marty Baron, has now had to defend publishing Sullivan's piece:

If you can't read that, it says:

This story is a matter of major news significance involving an individual of global prominence. A fundamental principle of The Washington Post is to report the news truthfully, which we did. While we always consider guidelines given by courts and governments, we must ultimately use our judgment and exercise our right to publish such consequential news. Freedom of the press in the world will cease to exist if a judge in one country is allowed to bar publication of information anywhere in the world.

It seems heavily implied by this statement that the Washington Post has been contacted about its story.

Some may argue that there is, in fact, a good reason for the suppression orders. Specifically, the idea is to have trials of prominent figures be "impartial" and not influenced by media coverage. And you can understand the basic reasoning for that -- though, in this case, there is already a conviction, and that seems obviously newsworthy. The response to that argument is that Pell is still facing more such charges in another trial. I'm sympathetic to these arguments, but only to the point that I understand the emotional position from which those arguments are made. I cannot, however, agree that they are good reasons. Yes, media sensationalism around a trial can be an issue, but in the US we've been able to deal with that fairly successfully over the years with the way courts treat jurors and order them not to read the press coverage. Is it a perfect system? Nope. Not at all. But it does mostly function. On the flip side, the ability to do damage through these gag orders is immense.

Among other things, it hides the details of what's happening at the trial, and those details can really matter, as Sullivan's article quote above makes clear. In addition, only being able to reveal details way after the fact very much dilutes or even totally destroys the impact of such stories. It is much harder to make people care about this news much later, after it has been suppressed, than when it first comes out.

On top of that, all of this relies on the idea that those issuing these gag orders always do so with the best of intentions, and that's a huge leap of faith. The opportunity for mischief here is great, as we've seen in the UK with some of its super injunctions.

This kind of thing is one of the reasons why we're so concerned here about encroachments on free speech by governments. The ability to order platforms to censor material is a massively slippery slope. Indeed, in searching for the news coverage about this, I couldn't find any of the actual coverage of the convictions on Google News. I could only find the stories about the much more tame "removed from the inner circle." It may be that Google News algorithms picked up on that story more prominently (in part because there are many more such stories) or it could be because Australia has told Google News not to post such stories. At the very least, it's ambiguous and concerning.

Having a free and open press is a pretty key aspect of democracy. Australia is making it clear that it doesn't buy into that, and tragically, it's leading to new publications around the world choosing not to report on a huge story with immense public impact.


Reader Comments

The First Word

Okay,

Firstly the suppression order alluded to here is NOT in any way shape or form a Super Injunction.

Secondly, it is a suppression order due to sub-judice . ie: There is a PENDING Criminal Trial in front of a jury and since Victoria stupidly does not have ability to have defendant elect for judge only criminal trials like everywhere else in Australia the suppression order is vitally necessary for justice to be done to ALL parties.

Whether you think that is correct or not and whether you think trial by media is a good thing due to some weird idea about freedom of speech that the USA has that trumps the absolute right of a defendant to a fair trial, that is irrelevant.

Yes the average person can look up all this online, but the order is about mitigating the risk of not having a fair trial in the next one that is JOINED to these charged that were supposedly proven. Remember in Australia our absolute usage of the rule of law means that previous charges for matters cannot be used against someone in criminal trials other than in sentencing. The trier of facts (jury or judge) must look at the matter as a distinct moment and not be swayed by extraneous matters other than in exigent circumstances. This is why we don't use the Dumb US thing called 'motive' or have lawyers talk to the jury (they address the court NEVER the jury) and swagger around like blithering idiots..


Do your research next time Mike please - like actually contacting an Australian legal professional (practicing or not) to find out the real information not what our media is harping on about.. And you might notice the Daily beast has removed stuff too.. oh and they were not 'choir boys' either.
—G Thompson

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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 Dec 2018 @ 9:48am

    Normally I would avoid saying stuff like this because it is lame-as-hell bait, but this time, I pose it as a genuine query: I wonder what our usual brigade of “muh freeze peach” trolls—the ones who think Twitter should be forced into hosting everyone’s speech—think of this story.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Tom "Heavy" Waters, 14 Dec 2018 @ 9:59am

      Re: Twitter isn't "forced": it has AGREED to The Public's terms.

      Twitter (the corporation) first of all ASKED The Public (through our authorized representativesm, office holders) to even exist.

      It thereby agreed to The Public's "terms of use" for property that The Public owns (infrastructure including all communication channels which again are only allowed used by other permitted entities, and the markets). Corporations are sheer FICTIONS, do not have Rights. No number of people forming a group have greater rights thereby.

      For Section 230, corporations get a deal: immune from liability so long as don't control The Public's speech. Corporations are NOT publishers under Section 230. No corporation in any case has the right to control The Public's First Amendment. The "platforms" were made precisely for The Public to have Free Speech without corporate or gov't A PRIORI control (persons can still be liable).

      Now, I may yet have left a loophole for you, Steven, but that's enough answer for your challenge:

      ones who think Twitter should be forced into hosting everyone’s speech

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 Dec 2018 @ 10:05am

        …I regret my transgression and request forgiveness for it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2018 @ 10:07am

        Re: Re: Twitter isn't "forced": it has AGREED to The Public's terms.

        Oh look, you're still posting blatant lies.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Gary (profile), 14 Dec 2018 @ 11:51am

        Re: Re: Twitter isn't "forced": it has AGREED to The Public's terms.

        First off - you are basing your manifesto on what, exactly?

        Second - You are reading a different CDA 230 than the rest of us. Just stop it and show us how your version of 230 reads, eh?

        Last off - Would your "muh freeze peach" rhetoric change if this was Mike's personal blog and not belonging to the TD corp? Because it's really hilarious to say that TD shouldn't exist since it is clearly impossible for Mike to run this site without the protections that incorporation gives him under the law.

        Keep making this shit up, it's getting funnier every time dude. Next up - please explain how we don't have any right to use the internet because the Comcast corporation should be shut down since all corporations violate your imaginary laws.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2018 @ 11:52am

        Re: Re: Twitter isn't "forced": it has AGREED to The Public's te

        First, thank you for finally and publicly identifying yourself as a troll. We appreciate the acknowledgement.

        Second, the 1st Amendment does not apply to Twitter, et. al. It applies only to government suppression of speech. Section 230 only absolves platforms of liability for speech posted by others. It has nothing to do with what that platform chooses to do with that posted speech.

        Third, corporations have been granted some rights including Free Speech as proxies for those employed by the corporations. This in effect gives a small handful of people a "super voice" while failing to represent the actual will of all of the people employed by said corporation. I'll grant that this should be reversed but the fact remains.

        Last, the only fictions here are in your mind. I'm not surprised to see you commenting early on an article about child molestation though. Another telegraphing move.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Gary (profile), 14 Dec 2018 @ 12:26pm

          Re: Re: Re: Troll

          First, thank you for finally and publicly identifying yourself as a troll. We appreciate the acknowledgement.

          Instead of replying to my question, you call me a troll and back off. Congratz!

          Second, the 1st Amendment does not apply to Twitter, et. al. It applies only to government suppression of speech. Section 230 only absolves platforms of liability for speech posted by others. It has nothing to do with what that platform chooses to do with that posted speech.

          So how exactly does this jibe with the actual written text of CDA 230 that explicitly says that corporations may moderate content? It doesn't. You are misrepresenting 230 and deflecting my question by invoking the 1st amendment. Congratz!!

          Third, corporations have been granted some rights including Free Speech as proxies for those employed by the corporations. This in effect gives a small handful of people a "super voice" while failing to represent the actual will of all of the people employed by said corporation. I'll grant that this should be reversed but the fact remains.

          Once again, you have stepped up on a soapbaox but ignored my simple question - would you hold TD to the same "muh freeze peach" rant if it wasn't incorporated? And do you understand that you can't run a business in the US without some for of incorporation? Three for Three at not answering, that is a home run!!!

          Last, the only fictions here are in your mind. I'm not surprised to see you commenting early on an article about child molestation though. Another telegraphing move.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2018 @ 12:47pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Troll

            Hey, uh, Gary? Follow the thread backward... I wasn't replying to you. That was a reply to our favorite troll, today's "Mr. Waters".

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2018 @ 1:55pm

          Re: Re: Re: Liar and a thief or just a liar?

          I’m surprised to see someone here who once promised to never darken our door ever again.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    identicon
    Tom "Heavy" Waters, 14 Dec 2018 @ 9:51am

    Non-news: serfs of the UK do not have Rights.

    It's been on Drudge Report last couple days.

    But what's effectively censored in the US is what Israel is doing on daily basis. We all know that a reporter for major media even mentioning that much is omitted will end career.

    As someone said: "To learn who rules you, find out who you can't criticize."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2018 @ 10:29am

      Re: Non-news: serfs of the UK do not have Rights.

      Serfs? Serfs!

      "If everybody had an ocean Across the U. S. A. Then everybody'd be surfin' Like Californi-a You'd seem 'em wearing their baggies Huarachi sandals too A bushy bushy blonde hairdo Surfin' U. S. A. You'd catch 'em surfin' at Del Mar Ventura County line Santa Cruz and Trestle Australia's Narabine All over Manhattan And down Doheny Way Everybody's gone surfin' Surfin' U.S. A. We'll all be planning that route We're gonna take real soon We're waxing down our surfboards We can't wait for June We'll all be gone for the summer We're on surfari to stay Tell the teacher we're surfin' Surfin' U. S. A. Haggerties and Swamies Pacific Palisades San Anofree and Sunset Redondo Beach L. A. All over La Jolla At Waimia Bay Everybody's gone surfin' Surfin' U.S. A. Everybody's gone surfin' Surfin' U.S. A. Everybody's gone surfin' Surfin' U.S. A."

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    • icon
      Gary (profile), 14 Dec 2018 @ 10:36am

      Re: Non-news:Trolls do not have Rights.

      So now TD is "censoring" the news because it doesn't write enough articles about Israel?

      But you have the solution - TD must by common carrier law carry Israel news too!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2018 @ 10:17am

    the elephant in the room - yes, that elephant

    It's a shame to think that technology could have easily prevented the epidemic of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Many US government military/security agencies such as the CIA and NSA extensively questioned applicants under polygraph to specifically identify and exclude homosexuals, and operated that way for decades. Had the Catholic Church made similar use of technology (and employed it effectively) it's quite possible that virtually none of that child molestation by Cathoic priests that took place in the world over the last half-century would have ever happened.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2018 @ 10:22am

      Re: the elephant in the room - yes, that elephant

      The problem is that a polygraph is just about as effective a lie-detector as a photocopier.

      That is, it's good at scaring guilty people into thinking that they've been caught, but not so good at actually determining if a statement is true or false.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2018 @ 10:35am

      Re: the elephant in the room - yes, that elephant

      You confuse homosexuals for pedophiles. They are not the same thing. If they tried to root out pedophiles and ignored the gender preference for their(in theory celebate) preists, the entire problem would have solved itself. Instead they hid the problems and covered up the abuses and allowed them access for further abuse. The elephant in the room is your linking of homosexuals with pedophiles. The elephant is entirely of your own making.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2018 @ 11:29am

        Re: Re: the elephant in the room - yes, that elephant

        Yeah, that too.

        I read the comment generously to imply that they'd be interviewing applicants to screen out a tendency towards paedophilia (as the TLAs screened out homosexual tendencies), but, re-reading it, you're probably right in your interpretation that homosexuality and paedophilia are deliberately being linked.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 14 Dec 2018 @ 12:27pm

          The link between pedophilia and homosexuality

          I'm pretty sure the cloth is pedophilic the way prisoners are homosexual. In older times they had nunneries to sort out their Maslowian needs, enough that it was a common enough butt of humor in Shakespearian plays. Still, since fucking in the church was all underground, it created a hotbed for the abuse of children and young adults by those with authority over them.

          The celibacy thing and the virtue of rigorous chastity were bullshit and a bad idea from the beginning, and factors in sexual hang ups that pervaded western culture for centuries, let alone created a standard for the clergy that they never could sustain.

          (And curiously, that is now the Christian identity, so that suppressing gays, oppressing women, enforcing marriage licensing are given higher priority by magnitudes than alleged wars on hunger and poverty -- but I'm getting ranty.)

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2018 @ 3:40pm

          Re: Re: Re: the elephant in the room - yes, that elephant

          homosexuality and paedophilia are deliberately being linked.

          How about paedophilia and molestation? The way people talk is akin to saying that you should never leave a heterosexual alone with someone of the opposite sex because of course there'll be rape.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Dave Cortright (profile), 14 Dec 2018 @ 10:24am

    Tim Minchin's brilliant song on the topic

    If you haven't heard it before, I think it's a must listen.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtHOmforqxk

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2018 @ 10:25am

    However, media outlets outside of Australia can do that, because they are not subject to Austraila.

    Techdirt, for example, could publish such details, and would be not subject to prosecution in Australia, because none of its servers are in Australia, so Australia wold have NO jurisdiction over then

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2018 @ 10:35am

    Maybe offshore news outlets are afraid they will be forced to block access to people in Australia to such articles.

    However, if that did happen, someone in Australia who wanted to read the articles could use a VPN to bypass the the geographic restrictions.

    Doing this does not break Australian laws, or US laws (should any US newspaper be forced to to such blocking).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2018 @ 11:36am

    Apparently, down under there is no separation of church and state.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2018 @ 12:12pm

    Big question is when will Pope Francis himself be convicted for raping children?

    It's kinda obvious that he did, given that paedophiles have his full 100% unconditional support and recently in South America he threatened to excommunicate anyone that DIDN'T want priests fucking their children.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2018 @ 12:36pm

      Re:

      Nice troll attempt, but no one's biting. Popes are safe targets, but be very careful what you say about Muhammad.

      https://www.newsweek.com/calling-prophet-muhammad-pedophile-not-protected-free-speech-court -rules-1189031

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 14 Dec 2018 @ 1:02pm

        Calling Muhammad a pedophile

        If anything it's hypocritical. Child marriage was rampant throughout western civilization until it was addressed in the late 20th century. It's still a problem today in the United States (I don't have stats for European states). Pre-sexualization of kids has only been recognized as dangerous and psychologically damaging since around the 1990s (before which, in the 1970s, it was associated with Satanic Ritual Abuse, and anything Satan-related was evil by default.)

        The only reason Muhammad is a target of accusations is because of specific historical figures who had defined ages. We seem not to care about the millions of abused kids whose names go unremembered.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    nasch (profile), 14 Dec 2018 @ 3:20pm

    Loophole

    I wonder if they could just say "for additional reporting on this topic we recommend consulting news sources outside of Australia." That would clue interested people in that there is more going on that's worth reading about without actually mentioning the conviction.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2018 @ 3:43pm

      Re: Loophole

      I wonder if they could just say "for additional reporting on this topic we recommend consulting news sources outside of Australia."

      They should've had a reference to the order too. "Court order #123 prohibits us from reporting an important story that happens to be one of the top stories on these foreign sites: ..." Ideally followed by "and we're appealing it."

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2018 @ 3:59pm

        Re: Re: Loophole

        Depends on what the order demanded. Orders have been known to require that one does not speak about the order itself.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Whoever, 14 Dec 2018 @ 4:10pm

    Not a "Super Injunction"

    If it were a Super Injunction, the press would not even be allowed to tell people that an injunction exists.

    The fact that the paper can print the fact that they were censored makes this a regular injunction. Bad enough in these days when finding the details will be trivial.

    The Australian government should look back in their history, the trial relating to "Spycatcher" and ask themselves if the injunctions against publication of that book actually did anything useful.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2018 @ 9:03am

    Re: kiralık bahis sitesi

    up yours too!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2018 @ 5:26pm

    Mike, while I agree with your points, you've left out the reason why. Officially, the court verdict is suppressed because there are more pending trials for George Pell, also related to child molestation offences. The court wants to ensure this verdict does not taint future cases. This is important because it shows this isn't some kind of nefarious scheme to cover up the issue and/or protect Pell's reputation.

    I say this as an Australian. And yes, the first thing I did when I read the "Censored" story was Google it. Plenty of non-geoblocked articles.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    G Thompson (profile), 16 Dec 2018 @ 6:29pm

    Okay,

    Firstly the suppression order alluded to here is NOT in any way shape or form a Super Injunction.

    Secondly, it is a suppression order due to sub-judice . ie: There is a PENDING Criminal Trial in front of a jury and since Victoria stupidly does not have ability to have defendant elect for judge only criminal trials like everywhere else in Australia the suppression order is vitally necessary for justice to be done to ALL parties.

    Whether you think that is correct or not and whether you think trial by media is a good thing due to some weird idea about freedom of speech that the USA has that trumps the absolute right of a defendant to a fair trial, that is irrelevant.

    Yes the average person can look up all this online, but the order is about mitigating the risk of not having a fair trial in the next one that is JOINED to these charged that were supposedly proven. Remember in Australia our absolute usage of the rule of law means that previous charges for matters cannot be used against someone in criminal trials other than in sentencing. The trier of facts (jury or judge) must look at the matter as a distinct moment and not be swayed by extraneous matters other than in exigent circumstances. This is why we don't use the Dumb US thing called 'motive' or have lawyers talk to the jury (they address the court NEVER the jury) and swagger around like blithering idiots..


    Do your research next time Mike please - like actually contacting an Australian legal professional (practicing or not) to find out the real information not what our media is harping on about.. And you might notice the Daily beast has removed stuff too.. oh and they were not 'choir boys' either.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Dec 2018 @ 11:33am

      Re:

      Firstly the suppression order alluded to here is NOT in any way shape or form a Super Injunction.

      As far as I can tell, Techdirt has been using the term super injunction for a while to refer to any injunction which applies broadly and non-specifically to those un-involved in the relevant legal proceedings. Whether there is a different definition in Australia, I don't know, but Techdirt has been consistent in how they use it. Do you have an Australian definition?

      Secondly, it is a suppression order due to sub-judice

      Which he talked about starting in the fifth to last paragraph (though without the specific legal term, so thanks for including that).

      Whether you think that is correct or not and whether you think trial by media is a good thing due to some weird idea about freedom of speech that the USA has that trumps the absolute right of a defendant to a fair trial, that is irrelevant.

      ...and yet, somehow your opinions about freedom of speech in the US are relevant. How fascinating.

      Of course, in a supposedly democratic country the opinions of people about the legal system are quite relevant. Why, even the Australian Constitution acknowledges the right of the people to modify it, which would be quite difficult if nobody is allowed to have opinions about it.

      Or perhaps you have confused "ought" with "is"? He never made any claim that this action was illegal, quite the contrary actually. That this action is legal and he believes it should not be is the raison d'etre behind this article. It's not too uncommon to make this mistake when analyzing arguments about the legal system, though if you intend to make a habit of interacting with Techdirt you may wish to get used to making that distinction. That's the bread and butter of Techdirt, after all.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        G Thompson (profile), 19 Dec 2018 @ 12:23am

        Re: Re:

        > though if you intend to make a habit of interacting with Techdirt you may wish to get used to making that distinction. That's the bread and butter of Techdirt, after all.

        Lol wut?

        (might want to check my profile before you talk about how I know nothing about TD)

        As for the rest. People can have opinions about anything they want, I myself have opinions about you. Though being civilised I will not air them in a public forum where they might detract from other more important rights that are not built into only ONE countries Bill of Rights (not even your Constitution) - you know like the right of due process, procedural fairness, natural justice etc.

        Though I have a feeling you think I am having a go at Mike for some reason. Nothing of the sort my personal opinion of Mike and TD is very high..

        As for my personal opinion of the idiocy of Victoria enacting this suppression due to them not having what every other State in Australia has (election of trial by judge alone) not to mention the original charges were split into two separate trials (which has its good and bad points), you might be surprised they are more inline with Mike's views than you think - I'm just stating the facts and law as it stands which I and others have to obey.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ben (profile), 17 Dec 2018 @ 5:08am

    Different legal standards

    There are occasions, when US commentators fail to recognise that there are differing legal standards across the world. Some we might agree with, some we might not. (To insist that the US has the right standard for everything could be considered arrogance of the highest order, but that's not really why I'm commenting)

    Child abuse trials (be they of prominent individuals or not) are a very difficult thing to comment on without appearing to defend the indefensible. However, the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and so legitimately has the same rights as anyone accused of any other crime.

    The willingness of the US and UK media to shout and scream about the supposed guilt of anyone accused of abuse, or assault, or any other crime (violent ones in particular), has led to the social and personal destruction of many innocent people over the years. Is this destruction really justified as the cost of prosecuting the guilty?

    Barry George was wrongly accused of the murder of Jill Dando and suffered for it for years. People have taken their own lives after being found innocent of accusations of that or worse, simply because nobody will give them the time of day anymore.

    The phrase, "No smoke without fire!" encapsulates the way some people think about persons accused of a crime, regardless of the evidence. And the newspapers and other media outlets do little to help with this - they love to cover the crime & accusations in detail for days, but take almost no time at all to help clear someone's name if they're not found guilty at court.

    The victims (or their families) obviously need help to recover from violent crimes, but sometimes so do innocently-but-mistakenly accused. For this reason, I would actually favour a blanket ban on reporting any accusation of this nature. That would allow the court system to deliberate without re-judgement in the media.

    I've seen this problem in action in court where a number of members of a jury (of which I was a member) were quite insistent that the accused before them must be guilty of the crime of which they were accused simply because the accused was already in prison for another (entirely independent crime). The person was eventually found not guilty of the crime he was being tried for because the evidence simply did not support the accusation, but the jury deliberations took at least twice as long as they needed to because of the "He's a bad-un" attitude.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 17 Dec 2018 @ 5:44am

      Re: Different legal standards

      I'm with Ben. This is what I mean when I say "Due process is not an impediment to justice." Reporting the name of the accused before a conviction has been handed down undermines due process by trying the accused in the court of public opinion.

      Free speech maximalists will assert that the press must be free to report on any and all court cases, and let the chips fall where they may but when they advise that counter-speech is a remedy to a media-nuked reputation, they dishonestly pretend that the counter-speakers have equal access to the media — and as much airplay. They do not, and to suggest that they do is mendacious, to say the least.

      Had the paper reported that a Roman Catholic cardinal had been accused, there wouldn't be a problem. It's the specific naming that's the issue.

      Now that the cardinal has been convicted, it's fair to name him for those convictions but personally I'd hold off reporting on the other issues until the case was resolved.

      Protestant here, for the record.

      RE: the #MeToo movement, I get that it would have been hard to bring the likes of Cosby and Weinstein to justice without having named them due to their power making them almost immune to justice for decades. That's a problem that needs to be addressed: nobody ought to be above the law. We need to find a way to make sure justice is done and speech is freed up without screwing people over to get eyeballs on pages, etc. Do we really only have a choice between anonymizing freaks who abuse kids even after they've been convicted and hanging the innocent out to dry on the word of someone who might not be telling the truth?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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