Good

A leading concert pianist has won the right to publish a harrowing account of extreme sexual abuse at his prep school as Britain’s highest court decisively rejected the idea that fear of causing distress or offence to others should be allowed to limit free speech.

That has really a rather large knock on effect over those offended by microaggressions and on Twitter etc, doesn’t it? Even on the critiquing of certain religions….

They added: “It is difficult to envisage any circumstances in which speech which is not deceptive, threatening or possibly abusive, could give rise to liability in tort for wilful infringement of another’s right to personal safety.”

Hurrah….libel, incitement to violence and that’s yer lot on limiting free speech.

22 comments on “Good

  1. Better hold fire, because the universities are currently losing the battle against ‘triggering’ in texts and publication of grades…

  2. It took more than seven months to overturn this ruling. Justice delayed is justice denied.

  3. Tort is a matter of Civil Law. Hate Speech is a matter of Criminal Law. Don’t get your hopes up that Hate Speech is any more (criminally) lawful than it was last week.

  4. No, that’s the one. They’re using the same headline Heat magazine would. The really important thing is that he’s a friend of a sleb. Considering the details of the story, that’s demeaning, both to Rhodes’ experiences and to the readers’ intelligence.

  5. Yeah, what has Cumberbatch got to do with this?

    The mystery to me was why the boy’s mother didn’t consider just not letting him read the book to be a solution.

  6. > The mystery to me was why the boy’s mother didn’t consider just not letting him read the book to be a solution.

    I think the clue here lies in the fact that Rhodes’s childhood abuse led to the break-up of his marriage. That doesn’t imply that his ex-wife is very nice.

    I strongly suspect that she was using their son because that’s where the available relevant law was, but her real reason for wanting publication stopped was all about her.

  7. Indeed, it seems likely that the ex-wife just wanted revenge. The more traditional action is to sue for half the income from the book, as per the ex-wife of Ecotricity owner Dale Vince.

  8. Well, she clearly didn’t want the income. Difficult to know what’s going on in her head, but one thing that would explain her behaviour would be that she looks down on her husband for having been abused and doesn’t want people to know that she was married to a victim. In which case, I’m glad that her court action has given the book so much extra publicity.

    If my wife were to reveal that she’d been a victim of such horrific abuse as a child, I wouldn’t respond with “I want a divorce.” What sort of a person does?

  9. In the USA, ‘prior restraint’ of speech is just about absolutely prohibited. The wife never would have got an injunction.

  10. Squander Two – “If my wife were to reveal that she’d been a victim of such horrific abuse as a child, I wouldn’t respond with “I want a divorce.” What sort of a person does?”

    Good question and while I do not think highly of modern divorcees, it is possible she thinks it is not true. If she thought that he was making it all up, she might well not want him publishing this book. She may also eventually have had enough and so sued for divorce.

    People with borderline personality disorders are difficult. Not that I am suggesting any of this applies here. But none of these allegations were tested in court. It is just his word against that of a dead man.

  11. “A leading concert pianist has won the right to publish”

    No. If it has to be won, it is not a right.

  12. Tim, interesting case this one. Would be very interested in reading the relevant report. I don’t think it’s run its course.

  13. > It is just his word against that of a dead man.

    No it isn’t. Who raped him is just his word against that of a dead man. Whether he was raped seems pretty clear, unless we’re going to suggest that a six-year-old faked his own brutal rape so effectively that he required spinal surgery for the injuries.

  14. Squander Two – “No it isn’t. Who raped him is just his word against that of a dead man. Whether he was raped seems pretty clear, unless we’re going to suggest that a six-year-old faked his own brutal rape so effectively that he required spinal surgery for the injuries.”

    Yes it is. The rapes went on for years. How does no one notice rape that causes injuries requiring spinal surgery? Did they continue after the surgery? We don’t know. All we can say is that he alleges rape. And that at some point during his childhood, he had spinal surgery.

    Lots of things might cause a need for such surgery. We only have his word that it was the rapes. Which went on for years.

  15. He had injuries some of which required spinal surgery. Some, not all.

    > Lots of things might cause a need for such surgery. We only have his word that it was the rapes.

    No, lots of things might cause a need for spinal surgery, if the only description we’re giving of the surgery is “spinal”. Presumably, you’ve spoken to Rhodes’s doctors and got all the details of their assessment of his particular injuries. Oh, no, of course you haven’t.

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