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March 26, 2010 / ipodgirl

The Right to Free Speech

Much has been heard, of late, in the Canadian news about Free Speech. Coincidentally, I was reading a novel by the late Stieg Larsson and came across this passage. Mr Larsson has very clearly articulated what free speech means in the context of Swedish law.  Would that our own media and others in the public eye had such a finely tuned grasp of the concept.

Swedish democracy is based on a single premise: the Right to Free Speech (R.S.F.). This guarantees the inalienable right to say aloud, think and believe anything whatsoever. This right embraces all Swedish citizens, from the crazy neo-Nazi living in the woods to the rock-throwing anarchist – and everyone in between.

Every other basic right, such as the Formation of Government and the Right to Freedom of Organization, are simply practical extensions of the Right to Free Speech. On this law democracy stands or falls.

All democracy has its limits, and the limits to the R.F.S. are set by the Freedom of the Press regulation (F.P.). This defines four restriction on democracy. It is forbidden to publish child pornography and the depiction of certain violent sexual acts, regardless of how artistic the originator believes the depiction to be. It is forbidden to incite or exhort someone to crime. It is forbidden to defame or slander another person. It is forbidden to engage in the persecution of an ethnic group.

Press freedom has also been enshrined by parliament and is based on the socially and democratically acceptable restrictions of society, the is, the social contract that makes up the framework of a civilized society. The core of the legislation has it that no person has the right to harass or humiliate another person.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Stieg Larsson

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