Today marks the first anniversary of the Free Speech Is Not For Sale report. I'm joining hundreds of other bloggers all over the world in solidarity against England’s draconian libel laws.
Like most bloggers, I don’t get paid for my writing, so if someone decided to sue me for libel, I would be in deep trouble and would have to sell some of my internal organs (assuming anyone would want them after the heavy use they've had).
Wikipedia has a good page on the history of English libel laws here. In particular, note “McLibel” and Simon Singh vs the BCA cases, both of which really brought this issue into the public sphere. These were occasions when big institutions (McDonalds and the British Chiropractic Association) decided to sue for vast sums of money when someone dared to speak out against them. The publicity from these cases was enough that eventually the claimants backed down, but for many lower profile cases, this isn’t necessarily going to happen, and the defendants involved could be financially ruined, the costs really are astronomical.
The Libel Reform Campaign website has a list of people who have been sued for libel in England a) over the most trivial things and b) involving people with no direct links to England in the first place. If you post something online on your Blogger or WordPress site, or on Twitter, or even allow comments to be published on your blog, then there is a high chance that you are also at risk of being sued.
If you haven’t already done so, please sign the petition to reform these heinous laws. It doesn’t matter where you live or what nationality you are, anyone can sign it, and if you’d like to make a donation when you’re done, even better.
We’ve got to put an end to things like this.
As a footnote, I didn't have time to write my own blog on this today as I was busy writing about SEX so I pretty much cut and pasted Carmen's and changed a few words, so if she gets sued, so do I...