Friday, December 27, 2019

Sir Alan Moses: Free speech means freedom to offend, press watchdog insists

There is no right not to be offended, the outgoing chairman of Britain’s leading press regulator has told campaigners.

Sir Alan Moses, a former lord justice of appeal, defended freedom of speech, though he acknowledged that it could have “the most unpleasant” effect on victims.

He said that state licensing of newspapers would be “fundamentally dangerous” and recalled the murder of a journalist in Malta to show the importance of a free press.

Sir Alan, 74, told The Times that the media must be allowed to discuss sensitive subjects such as religion. He described offence complaints as one of the most challenging issues in press regulation, but said that the feelings of individuals could not automatically trump the right to free expression.

“If you’re the victim of something that is deeply offensive, it is the most unpleasant, uncomfortable thing that you can imagine. But what we have to acknowledge is that, in striking the right balance in this country, there is no right not to be offended.”

The former judge has led the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), which regulates most newspapers, since its foundation in 2014.

He said a vibrant press was essential for democracy, citing the 2017 killing of the Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia as a reminder of what was lost when media freedoms were violated.

In 2016 Ipso rejected a complaint against Kelvin MacKenzie over a Sun column asking whether the Channel 4 newsreader Fatima Manji should have worn a hijab when covering the Nice terrorist attacks. It ruled that his views were “undoubtedly offensive” to Manji but he was entitled to express them, as the piece did not make pejorative references to her on the grounds of religion.



Anonymous said...

There is no right not to be offended.

The Politically Correct Liberals want to claim otherwise.

ScienceABC123 said...

There are ~330 million people in the USA. Now imagine trying to come up with something to say that won't offend at least one of them... It can't be done.