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This Week in Freedom of Expression 2018–10–21


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/10/21

“Western University has released a draft freedom of expression policy, in advance of the province’s Jan 1. deadline for all publicly funded universities and colleges to implement and comply with such a policy.

If schools don’t comply with a minimum free speech requirement, they risk losing their funding. Individually, students who violate free speech policy will be subject to campus discipline measures.

So far, Western’s own draft policy is more or less a summary of the school’s existing policies that touch on free speech, according to Michael Milde, chair of the provost’s ad hoc committee on freedom of expression.”


“It’s been an eventful week for what we used to call truth. The Saudi government has finally admitted that Jamal Khashoggi has been killed, although its account of how this happened is as implausible as the various denials it supplants. That we rely on Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the world’s most enthusiastic jailer of journalists, to help establish the facts is one of the ironies of a post-truth world.

Talk about the demise of truth is always liable to sound histrionic and naive. After all, we have long been told that the prince must be “a great feigner and dissembler” (this is Machiavelli, not the House of Saud), and “realists” ever since have stressed the usefulness of illusions and the necessity of lies. Indeed, recent research by Ezra Zuckerman Sivan indicates that a large constituency of voters expect their political heroes to lie on their behalf.

Politics, for the hard nosed, is about power and it may be unrealistic to think that it can be made subordinate to other ends, such as truth. It is also easy to ignore how the pursuit of truth can breed a fundamentalism of its own, a point made by Edmund Burke during the French Revolution. The “philosophical fanatics” of France, he maintained, prioritised abstract truths about justice over civility and mutual convenience, with disastrous consequences for everyone.”


“A note from Karen Attiah, Washington Post Global Opinions editor:

I received this column from Jamal Khashoggi’s translator and assistant the day after Jamal was reported missing in Istanbul. The Post held off publishing it because we hoped Jamal would come back to us so that he and I could edit it together. Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen. This is the last piece of his I will edit for The Post. This column perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world. A freedom he apparently gave his life for. I will be forever grateful he chose The Post as his final journalistic home one year ago and gave us the chance to work together.

I was recently online looking at the 2018 “Freedom in the World” report published by Freedom House and came to a grave realization. There is only one country in the Arab world that has been classified as “free.” That nation is Tunisia. Jordan, Morocco and Kuwait come second, with a classification of “partly free.” The rest of the countries in the Arab world are classified as “not free.””


“YANGON — Freedom of expression under the National League for Democracy-led government is worsening despite initial hopes of improvement, youth activist group Athan said Thursday, in a mid-term report that documents a litany of charges filed in the past two-and-a-half years under laws that violate freedom of speech.

Initial signs when the government took office in April 2016 were promising, the report says: students who were arrested and prosecuted the previous year for marching from Mandalay to Yangon in protest against the National Education Law were freed and pardons were granted to imprisoned activists, workers and farmers.

But euphoria surrounding the amnesty soon dwindled and the government and parliament began to “intentionally and recklessly” restrict freedom of expression using an array of oppressive laws, according to Athan. Some of these laws date from the colonial era but a majority have been enacted or used for the first time to restrict freedom of expression only in recent years.”


“Mai Khoi, a dissident musician dubbed Vietnam’s Lady Gaga, has appealed to Facebook’s directors to safeguard freedom of expression as the government looks to bolster its control of the web.

With 53 million users, Facebook is extremely popular in Vietnam — where the internet has become a battleground for activists like Khoi.

A controversial cybersecurity bill, due to come into effect in January, will require internet companies to remove “toxic” content and hand over user data if asked by the communist government to do so.”



In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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