Tuesday, 11 November 2008

'Normal' Behaviour and Press Freedom

Paul Dacre (pictured right) delivered a keynote address to the Society of Editors on Sunday evening. The Daily Mail editor's remarks were reported on most of the morning media and The Guardian included a summary of his comments yesterday. Dacre criticised the Human Rights Act and attempts to introduce a right to privacy by the back door, particularly in relation to the recent Max Mosley case. Today the story continues with a series of lawyers responding to the comments and making some very sensible points.

I was struck by one section in Dacre's original speech. At one point he said (speaking of the Mosley case): '[Justice Eady] found for Max Mosley because he had not engaged in a "sick Nazi orgy" as the News of the World claimed, though for the life of me that seems an almost surreally pedantic logic as some of the participants were dressed in military-style uniform'.

Hang on Mr Dacre, would you suggest that all of those old soldiers at the Remembrance ceremonies on Sunday looked like Nazis? They were wearing military or military-style uniforms after all. To make a distinction is apparently 'pedantic' for Mr Dacre. Not satisfied with making himself sound rather silly he continues:

'Now most people would consider such activities to be perverted, depraved, the very abrogation of civilised behaviour of which the law is supposed to be the safeguard. Not Eady. To him such behaviour was merely "unconventional". The legal enforcement of sexual morality as Dacre argues is, for me, backwards and inappropriate but it sadly has foundation in law. The Brown or 'Spanner' case and the more recent HIV case law echoes the remarks of Lord Templeman who talked of the 'civilised' society in much the same way as Dacre, arguing that certain acts were not appropriate. The recent moves of government to criminalise certain forms of pornography and imagery in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act is a further sign of this legal paternalism that is attacking our so called free society.
However much I might find the views of Dacre offensive I do find he raises a valid point about what the public would consider 'perverted' and 'depraved' and those acts that might be considered 'unconventional' and what acts the law should regulate.

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Sean Hennelly said...

Personally I just find the idea of one man summarising the state's 'Sexual Morality' (whatever that is) rather ridiculous. Still, times do appear to be changing for the better and these old bigots won't be around forever!.... I hope

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