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Should blogs be regulated?

09:06 UK time, Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Spectator columnist Rod Liddle has become the first blogger to be censured by the Press Complaints Commission. What is your reaction?

On his blog on the Spectator's website, Mr Liddle wrote that the "overwhelming majority" of London's violent crime was carried out by young, African-Caribbean men.

But the PCC ruled the journalist's words breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of its code. It said the "significant ruling" showed publications' websites would be held to the same standards as print editions.

Are you a blogger? Which blogs should be regulated? What impact will this ruling have on the wider blogosphere? Does it signal that blogs are no longer an alternative to the mainstream media?

Check out the latest comments from your BBC Have Your Say Host

Comments

Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    This is an appalling example of a PC censorship.
    Freedom of speech disappears in this country the moment somebody cries racism.

  • Comment number 2.

    Should blogs be regulated?

    Yes,

    If I use the internet to deliberately spread disinformation or libel I should be held accountable for my actions just the same as if i'd published them on paper.

    Free Speech is important, but so is the right to protect yourself from personal attacks, in any medium.

  • Comment number 3.

    Another thought crime punished! No blogs should be censored by anyone!

  • Comment number 4.

    It depends entirely on the publication and what was posted. The PCC doesn't have any right, or any powers, to censure individual members of the public who write blogs. To do so would be a massive breach of the individuals human rights.

    However, regardless of where Rod Littles comments were made, The Spectator is a printed publication so the PCC does have an obligation to chase it up on its misdeeds.

    Finally if a blogger, professional or amateur, has broken a law (such as incitement of racial/religous hatred) then that is a matter for the police to deal with.

    But as an overall answer to the main question, no, in order to protect freedom of speech, expresion, belief and more, blogs should not be regulated.

  • Comment number 5.

    I think the Internet - including publication blogs - should be a forum to allow people to express their views even if these views may offend. There are many journalists with whom I disagree, including the likes of Richard Littlejohn and on occasion Mr Liddle, but these people should be allowed to express their opinions and if they are inaccurate then let others point that out and thus the inaccurate individual will lose credibility. The alternative approach is a slippery slope to thought control. The PCC is just trying to justify its own existence, it should butt out.

  • Comment number 6.

    PCC? Politically Correct Commission? If they get away with this, the next thing will be the government trying to monitor or even control communication on the web. It just goes to show how frightened these people are of giving individuals a voice. Hands off the internet! It is the single most significant blow for personal and individual freedoms, including freedom of speech, since the publication of _On Liberty_ in 1859.

  • Comment number 7.

    The truth should never be censored, wasn't it Voltare who said I don't agree with what you say but defend your right to say it.

  • Comment number 8.

    Off the cuff remarks are made sometimes by people who should be wearing short sleeves.

  • Comment number 9.

    It's funny that when Liddle was with the BBC, he slavishly followed the BBC line on immigration and multiculturalism.

    He was also regarded as a bit of a hero by the pc brigade for his opposition to Saddam being overthrown.

    Now he's changed employer, and the stuff he writes in the Sunday Times is as politically uncorrect as could be.

    Odd - I wonder, when he was with the BBC, did he believe the BBC's pc stance? And does he believe what he writes now?

    I suspect that when he was with the BBC, he knew the BBC's line on immigration and multiculturalism was wrong, but knew he couldn't say it.

  • Comment number 10.

    Can we regulate against the stupid word ‘blog’ itself? What's wrong with online diary?

  • Comment number 11.

    Like anything else that is written or said, a blog needs to comply with the law of the land - but the place in which that should be tested is in the courts. It also of course is open to someone who believes that they have been libelled or defamed to take civil action against the blogger. Neither of these infringes the right to free speech.

    Shrill cries of 'racism' any time someone disagrees with what is said do not impress. To have merit, a counter-argument needs to be presented demonstrating actual inaccuracy in what has been said - and even then, all that shows is that an error has been made in interpreting the data.

    Legal challenges are open to counter-challenge if the blogger believes that they have been made in error. Is this the case with the Press Complaint Commission? In particular, what is the method for appealing against anything that they decide?

  • Comment number 12.

    Write whatever you like. Truth, lies, misleading information, obscenities, hatred, you choose. Be prepared to accept responsibility for what you write. Be prepared to accept that others may object in the strongest possible terms, otherwise what price freedom of speech?

  • Comment number 13.

    A blog should be subject to the same rules as any other publication.

    In this case, if the claim is accurate then we should be allowed to discuss it without having the race card pushed in our face. If it's inaccurate, then it should be fought with accurate stats and reasonable proof.

    The people who really know who is committing the majority of violent crime in London are the police of course. Maybe we should ask them (race card wavers permitting of course)...

  • Comment number 14.

    This sums up all that is wrong in today's Britain, a journalist is villified for printing what he considers the truth. By these standards, most other journalists should be censured for inaccurate stories, and politicians should be treated in like fashion. It is only a matter of time before any opinion contrary to the PC Socialist view will result in arrest and imprisonment.

  • Comment number 15.

    If the figures for crime by ethnic background are never released, how can the accuracy of a claim like this be tested?

    Oh the other hand, how can the author be sure of his fact, lacking that very same information?

    Seeing as neither the accuracy nor the inaccuracy of the claim can be measured, I think that censoring it by default sets a very dangerous precedent.

  • Comment number 16.

    There will be a lot of misguided people shouting about the buzz-words political correctness but this is one step to controlling the internet. Every week the BBC run scaremongering articles and every week we get closer to being held accountable for thoughts transmitted via the web. We already get heavily scrutinised for opinion on the internet (what is this forum if it isnt just opinion polling) soon it will be possible to collect all this data and pin it down to a person

  • Comment number 17.

    . At 09:58am on 30 Mar 2010, rob2010 wrote:
    Another thought crime punished! No blogs should be censored by anyone!

    ----

    I'm sorry, but that comment is symptomatic of the epidemic of selfishness & entitlement which dominates modern UK society.

    There are far too many of us screaming for our rights whilst point blank refusing to bear any responsibility.

  • Comment number 18.

    Before this comment board gets inundated, and for the sake of accuracy and clarity, please can you ( BBC ) state the facts as currently known?

    What I would like to know is this --- What proportion of London's violent crime is committed by Afro-Caribbeans in relation to their representation as a percentage of London's total population?

    Without these figures, IMHO, the whole debate becomes pointless

  • Comment number 19.

    The phrase "overwhelming majority" is in very common use in political rhetoric and media spin. It seems pathetic to have censorship invading people's opinions within any material, let alone a blog that is probably accessed by, at most, a small selection of people.

    We have lots of rules to prevent offence and it strikes me that they favour certain "offended groups" much more than they do the overwhelming majority of people with common sense.

    The Press Complaints Commission should get out more.

  • Comment number 20.

    '...On his blog on the Spectator's website, Mr Liddle wrote that the "overwhelming majority" of London's violent crime was carried out by young, African-Caribbean men....'

    ... if this is false then maybe he should be held to account. He does, after all, represent a major(ish) publication. But if it's true then I don't see why he can't come out and say it.

  • Comment number 21.

    At 10:01am on 30 Mar 2010, khan wrote:
    I think the Internet - including publication blogs - should be a forum to allow people to express their views even if these views may offend.

    ---

    So, what you are basically saying is that you should be able to say or do anything you like on the internet with complete immunity from any consequences.

    I'm so glad the real world doesn't function in this way. It would be thoroughly unpleasant.

  • Comment number 22.

    Of course blogs should be subjected to censure. But whether this particular blog should have been censured is another matter. The ruling stated that *some* of the claims could not be substantiated by The Spectator, which would seem to suggest that some of the claims were substantiated. In which case a correction to make it clear what could not be substantiated would have been in order, but not a complete censure.

    It is of course a thorny issue we are dealing with here. There is absolutely no doubt that a disproportionate amount of crime is perpetrated by black youths when compared to the numbers in London. Most of it is directed against other black youths. It is unfortunate, but true, and pussyfooting around the problem or pretending it is not there will not deal with it.

  • Comment number 23.

    It was only a matter of time before censorship came to the Net. Free speech is already tempered by he BBC on this site, even to the prissy point of users using capital letters to stress a point being accused of shouting.
    Minorities in Britain who have a larger share of crime, extremism, ect, scream racism, or religionism serve only to bolster the credibility of the BNP because whites feel they are being gagged as Rod Liddle is being gagged.
    Even if the statistics are uncomfortable for those at the wrong end of the spectrum the facts are the facts.
    I now come across white people who were fairly liberal before the London bombings who now feel they are being bullied by ethnic minorities using these laws to gain advantages in law, employment, etc, whilst they are being pilloried en- mass as racists.

  • Comment number 24.

    Journalistic ethics and norms should be applied to bloggers. Freedoms without rules of engagement is blaspheme. Freedom of speech/writing should not cross the fine line of decency and decorum. It should not be regarded as absolute licence to run amok but beset with responsibility towards individuals and society at large.

  • Comment number 25.

    Of course they should be regulated. I think people to re-read the story, it says 'censured', not 'censored'. He's not been banned from publishing, he's been reprimanded for posting stuff in his blog that isn't actually true.

    Free speech is vital, but anyone who thinks free speech extends as far as being able to lie without being criticised and reprimanded for it is deluded.

  • Comment number 26.

    "There are many journalists with whom I disagree, including the likes of Richard Littlejohn and on occasion Mr Liddle, but these people should be allowed to express their opinions and if they are inaccurate then let others point that out and thus the inaccurate individual will lose credibility. "

    That only works if the response pointing out the inaccuracies is (a) deemed suitable for printing by the publisher, and (b) given equal column inches to the original comment - otherwise nobody will even notice it.

    And of course, with blogs, the blog writer is at liberty to go in and delete any responses that do not fit his own agenda, or which criticise his original posting!

  • Comment number 27.

    "But the PCC ruled the journalist's words breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of its code. It said the "significant ruling" showed publications' websites would be held to the same standards as print editions."

    Rob Liddle was writing as a Spectator columnist on the Spectator's blog on the Spectator's website and so he should be held to account by the PCC. Just in the same way that I would expect any BBC journalist writing on a BBC blog on the BBC website to he held to account if they published blatantly false facts as truth.

    But there is a world of difference between that and "personal" blogs. If Rob Liddle had written that on his personal blog as himself, and it had not been associated in any way with the Spectator, then the PCC would have really been overstepping the mark by censuring him.

    So lets start regulating blogs... what next? Our ISPs putting in filters so we can only connect to government approved news sites? Access to sites criticising the government's polices blocked? Search companies told to filter results......

  • Comment number 28.

    I think his opinion was biased and targeting a certain community. It's kinda same if someone says, majority White young ppl living in London, are peaceful, well behaved, smart, and respectful to elders. But still govt. has no right to censur anyone's opinion. Communities can censur these kinda comments by not reading them.
    Why we are being treated like kids? I never knew about this guy Mr Liddle or organizations like Islam4UK. Govt promotes them by baning them.

  • Comment number 29.

    It was a blog, yes, but part of a newspaper's website. This is a non-issue.

  • Comment number 30.

    It's definitely time to prevent these dangerous bloggers from telling the truth. The truth is no good for anybody.

    BEWARE THE DANGERS OF MAGICAL THINKING.

  • Comment number 31.

    I am a keen anti-climate change believer. I read the blogs that give me the upto date information about the biggest scientific scam in history.

    And yet, I've stopped reading the (mainly) american blogs as they are non-stop republican rants about President Obama. Almost all their topics are totally out-of order, the home for every gun-carrying nut-case imaginable. The things they claim about an democratically elected government would make a Daily Mail editor blush.

    So what to do, do we censor/look at every blog and censor those that are not accurate? That would be difficult if not impossible.

    Rod Liddle's comment about 'overwhelming majority' is a use of words that can be interpreted in many ways. It could be that 2 out of 3 or 200 out of 300 or 2000 out of 3000 incidents. It depends on the scale of the problem.

    We had the same mis-use of numbers at the height of the AIDS crisis, when we were told that the biggest rate of increase in infections was in hetrosexual people, when in fact the number of new infections amoungst gays still outstripped hetrosexual people by hundreds to one.

    I say the censorship of Rod Little's blog is politically biased. If he had claimed that the reason the 'overwhelming majority' commit violent crimes is because they are subjected to overwhelming institutionalised racism would he be sensored? I think not.

    Do what I do with the blogs from the USA and stop reading them.

  • Comment number 32.

    If blogs are regulated then what about the tabloid press? I hate the media in the form of red tops as there known, but i am not for any censorship just a right to reply that gives equal space and importance.
    Blogs are one of the few places we can express our own opinions openly unlike the mainstream media!!

    It's not a communist state just yet so keep Blogs free from interference unless they seek to cause harm or call people to violence.
    Stating a fact in a blog should not be seen as anything else but a fact, it might not be comfortable reading because we all know it's true.
    Keeping silent over an issue no matter how difficult it is will not make it go away no matter what officials wish.


  • Comment number 33.

    People have the right to express their opinions without being censored, and it should be the same rules for everyone e.g. The BNP have vile views and policies, but they haven't been censored.

  • Comment number 34.

    "Which blogs should be regulated?"

    What a strange question. I suppose if I answered, "Only right wing blogs should be regulated while left wing, multi-culti, bleeding heart, politically correct blogs should be allowed to say whatever they like, whether factual or not" you would nod your collective BBC head in agreement.

    It is unsurprising that a right wing blog would be the first to be censured by the PCC. The left wing stranglehold on the long-suffering British public has slowly but surely tightened over the last thirteen years.

    It's also unsurprising that when you Google to find info on this issue, the BBC is the first result to come up. That's the BBC - always pinning its lefty rosette firmly to its bosom and strutting around with it.

  • Comment number 35.

    As a publishing company representative yes, and an individual on his own private blog no!

    I could write two sentences in this post, one deemed as racist, one not but both would mean the same. In the world of the PC truth matters not, only if it offends a particular group!

  • Comment number 36.

    Winston sat back, 'thought-crime doesn't lead to death, thought-crime IS death...'

    Funny... Orwell wrote that so long ago and its becoming truer by the day.

    Police bloggers outed because they tell the truth about how BAD things are inside our Police?

    This site may very well be next...

  • Comment number 37.

    Blogging certainly is a radically different medium to the press but this point should never be used to deny the ultimate responsibility of the writer for his or her own words.
    - George Eaton at New Statesman

    What do you think? Is blogging really still different to the press? How far should a blogger be responsible for their own words?

  • Comment number 38.

    Bloggers are expected to express ideas which are holding by one either alone or collectively to give a fill to news which we often miss out to read to sharpen our mind and memory equally to act on a particular Subject most rightfully for killing a problem to stop jeopardizing our advancement into the future. Hence, none has the authority to act otherwise to complicate the matter further to divide ourselves to many more when the world is seeing breeding of suspicions on everybody’s mind to live in an atmosphere of fear by one throughout the day even though we are living together; notwithstanding the ethics or law that govern such publications.

    Therefore, any or all actions that might arise in one’s mind out of sudden outburst of feelings through a submission of a ‘Blog’ which possibly do some good to a particular community to boost oneself rather than doing so to the entire either through getting of a thought of it or through our writings; must not happen at all and be renounced at all cost as it tantamount to loss of our value than gaining it. Such incidences are not unknown to the Government concern being wholly responsible for maintaining the right order. Instead of our refining them by forcing the sufferers to get a release from such ailments, such opposite actions on our part are possibly worse than that of the beholder of such characters.

    Taking into consideration the above factors in mind; we possibly enact appropriate laws to deal with it before it is too late to stop the menace growing mammoth, once it is let loose. Blog Publication cannot be a platform to ignite our mind to raise a quarrel between each other. This is surely and certainly outright wrong for us to use such Noble Forums to spread hatred even though such publication might be correct in one way or the other.

    (Dr.M.M.HAZARIKA, PhD)



  • Comment number 39.

    37. At 10:57am on 30 Mar 2010, BBC_HaveYourSay Host wrote:
    Blogging certainly is a radically different medium to the press but this point should never be used to deny the ultimate responsibility of the writer for his or her own words.
    - George Eaton at New Statesman

    What do you think? Is blogging really still different to the press? How far should a blogger be responsible for their own words?

    Totally responsible, otherwise it seems like a cop out.

  • Comment number 40.

    Presumably Rod Liddle believes his allegation to be true and of course he should be prepared to demonstrate it. If the PPC is challenging the veracity of his allegation then they too should be prepared to demonstrate that he is wrong. Obviously one shouldn't be allowed to get away with publishing blatantly false information anywhere. Equally, political correctness should not be used as an excuse to prevent the release or discussion of facts that some may find uncomfortable. I fear the latter may be at play here, by the PC PCC(!) and this attitude is the cause of endless difficulty in modern British society.

  • Comment number 41.

    He has been censored for telling the truth

  • Comment number 42.

    There should simply be a blog free of political correctness & it will be the most popular blog. Someone cotton on to that please!

  • Comment number 43.

    A journalist writing on his paper's blog is no different to writing an opinion piece in his paper. It's puzzling to me why anyone should think it is, so I've no problem with this.

    I also wish that people would stop thinking that free speech means that "I can say what I want, no matter how obscene, and shouldn't face any consequences." This attitude that freedoms should come without any responsibility is spreading wider, and is very damaging.

  • Comment number 44.

    How extraordinary that Rod Liddle should be censored by the PCC, of all organisations, for making a statement he cannot prove is true. Considering the number of false statements published in the printed press without any censor by the PCC, this is a very bad case of double standards.

    Perhaps this is not surprising since the PCC is set up by the press and the press is very concerned at the moment about competition from the internet.

  • Comment number 45.

    What Mr Liddle wrote is true!!, That's why it's being censored, because they don't like to hear the truth.

  • Comment number 46.

    Double standards at work here. I seem to remember the PCC refused to censure Jan Moir over her highly speculative article following the death of Steven Gately. She produced not one shred of evidence to support her highly-offensive opinion that his death was 'anything but natural', despite an existing coroner's report to the contrary.
    The PCC is a pathetic and failed attempt at self-regulation. Police policing the police NEVER works. However, politicians will never impose regulation of the media - particularly just before an election .....

  • Comment number 47.

    Having contributed to various fora over the years, which are different from blogs, I can say that the best are moderated & regulated. Here on the BBC fora, one can find a multitude of opinion, so long as it falls within the rules, which are clearly laid out. One only has to take a look at a place like liveleak.com to see the alternative, where chaos reigns & far right, repugnant views seem to be the majority, and accepted.
    Just remember that freedom of speech does not give one the right to abuse it.

  • Comment number 48.

    It seems that this country is bowing down to those who disagree about anything that is British and cry "racist" at the first opportunity.
    I`m sick and tired of hearing these anti-British go on and on and on and on and on and on about how they are being persecuted by the British.
    If they hate Britishness so much why come here in the first place?
    Ron Liddle was only saying what the majority of us already think.

  • Comment number 49.

    Will the world's frightened leaders please stop trying to regulate the Internet.

    It's the only place where we have free speech.

  • Comment number 50.

    As far as I understand Spectator produced the data that proved they were allowed to say that "majority of London's violent crime was carried out by young, African-Caribbean men". The only course to support the complaint PCC found was the use of the word "overwhelming".

  • Comment number 51.

    FirstSelseyBill wrote:

    What I would like to know is this --- What proportion of London's violent crime is committed by Afro-Caribbeans in relation to their representation as a percentage of London's total population?

    Without these figures, IMHO, the whole debate becomes pointless.


    That's a very good question. It's interesting to note that HMG will release all manner of facts and figures relating to crime, but it refuses to release one's which relate to race etc.

    Since they refuse to release those figures then it's impossible for Mr Liddle's comments be proven to be accurate or not.

  • Comment number 52.

    21. At 10:25am on 30 Mar 2010, Pea Eye wrote:

    At 10:01am on 30 Mar 2010, khan wrote:
    I think the Internet - including publication blogs - should be a forum to allow people to express their views even if these views may offend.

    ---

    So, what you are basically saying is that you should be able to say or do anything you like on the internet with complete immunity from any consequences.

    I'm so glad the real world doesn't function in this way. It would be thoroughly unpleasant.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    Not sure what real world you live in, but:

    In khan's comment if you replace the word "Internet" with "Government", and "publication blogs" with "politicians" should give you your answer to why nobody takes responsibility for what they do or say. If the people that run our country dont have to be responsible for what they say or do, why should anyone else?

    Blogs shouldnt be regulated, but that doesnt mean that what you say on a blog is enshrined in some holy right of absolution from consequences.

    I know common sense doesnt really apply to the "real world" these days, but the internet and real world arent as far away from each other as people seem to think.

  • Comment number 53.

    21. Pea Eye wrote:
    "At 10:01am on 30 Mar 2010, khan wrote: I think the Internet - including publication blogs - should be a forum to allow people to express their views even if these views may offend.

    So, what you are basically saying is that you should be able to say or do anything you like on the internet with complete immunity from any consequences. I'm so glad the real world doesn't function in this way. It would be thoroughly unpleasant."

    No Pea Eye, I am not saying that at all. I am saying that the consequences should not be censorship. If someone says something stupid, false or hateful, let others respond and correct them. Does Nick Griffin have more credibility for having appeared on Question Time? I don't believe so. The problem with those like you who advocate censorship is that you treat ordinary people like children. We can think for ourselves, thank you very much, we don't need to be protected from ideas.

  • Comment number 54.

    If something is not correct on a blog, most (including the Spectator's) will allow comments that point out the inaccuracy. If not, getting your point across somewhere else on the internet is easy.

    The growth of blogs has been a blessing in allowing facts and opinion that run counter to the establishment received wisdom which permeates, for example, the BBC. Attempts to regulate them are an affront to democracy and should be resisted. We have too many control freaks living off the fat of the land as it is, which goes some way to explaining our current economic predicament.

  • Comment number 55.

    Call me old fashioned but I don't really understand the difference between a blog and what we do here on HYS.

    I have, on occasion found that my HYS comments have contrevened some rule or other and admit to feeling affronted. To me it feels as though my words have been stolen.

    What I write comes from my heart and I would never, knowlingly, cause offence to anyone. So when a moderator deems me at fault I would love to know just where I went wrong.
    I suppose what I am saying is that I don't agree with censoring unless the writer becomes personal or threatening.

  • Comment number 56.

    Messages are always understood in the context they are presented.

    If you see a billboard, you see it and at the same time understand that someone is trying to persuade you into something.

    If you read a newspaper, you expect the truth and honesty. For this is taken literally as reports of factual events.

    If you read an online blog, you expect to read someone's opinion.
    This blog should not be censored, for the same reason as complaints over a recent newspaper columist's comments on Stephen Gately's death were dismissed. It is opinion, and therefore protected by freedom of speech.

    Also, censoring things on the internet has a long history of backfiring. Censored content is copied and repeated everywhere, just for the mere fact it is censored.
    Google: 09 F9

  • Comment number 57.

    I don't have time to write out a proper post right now so i'll just say i'm with Pea Eye's posts #2, 17 and 21.

    The net has become a tool that's all too easy to spread unfounded propaganda, disinformation, slanderous personal attacks and hatred. There has to be some control.

  • Comment number 58.

    Silly man, thinks he lives in a country where he can express his opinion.

  • Comment number 59.

    We do not have a free press in this country, we have a very expensive press, owned and largely regulated by rich, white men, often registered overseas for tax purposes. The media regulators, such as they are, have a duty to protect those with less power, wealth and influence from abuse, hatred and downright lies.

  • Comment number 60.

    Just how are we, as the human race, ever going to move forward if we can't discuss things openly and honestly?

    If there is an issue with committed crime statistics showing a disproportionate involvement of young black males then the issue - by the public, politicians AND the media - must be discussed openly. However, to my knowledge, the Government has chosen not to publish differentiation by ethnicity. The question has to be .... Why?

    The PC brigade, the self interested, the self righteous lobby groups and - most of - those with something to hide stroke gain have increasingly suppressed open debate by hiding behind the issues of race and or religion, or both.

    The Roman Catholic Church and it's recent stance being a good example.

    I wonder how long that abuse was kept under wraps by the pc-ists et al? (And still is,so it would appear!)

  • Comment number 61.

    I Think that People should do their homework to get the facts right and be truthful when making a statement either online or in print, but the same should go for the liars in westminster. So .... when is the government going to be censured?

  • Comment number 62.

    37. At 10:57am on 30 Mar 2010, BBC_HaveYourSay Host wrote:

    "Sticks and stones ....." applies surely?

    Look at the mess we are in with Libel laws!

    People come here to make Lawyers rich(er)!

  • Comment number 63.

    YES !

    There is A LOT OF GARBAGE out there, rumors, flat out lies, racism, "facts".

    Somebody has to take responsibility and regulate this (unfortunately).

    A LOT of bored people out there that don't have nothing else to do but inflame GARBAGE.

  • Comment number 64.


    Accuracy?
    And where do the PCC get their statistics I wonder?
    Another team of over-paid patronising androids who
    aren`t as clever as they think - I got an interesting
    txt message the other day.. Is that really what he did?
    - Well that will never be printed in the newspaper..but
    we all know now..

    BTW Try sorting out the press first - it`s your job.


  • Comment number 65.

    I originally questioned the wisdom of laws affecting freedom of speech in terms of race and sexual discrimination, fearing that they would be counter productive: however, one only needs to look at television programmes from the 1970's to see that they have lead to a more tolerant society.

    Liddle was not expressing an opinion, he was siting a "fact". If one is to believe that such a capable journalist really thought that this fact might be true, he was in the ideal position to check its accuracy, prior to publication. Mr. Liddle's remarks would still have been of questionable value, but as they were clearly erroneous, they can be viewed as nothing but a racist slur.

    Such material would not be allowed upon the radio or television and I am sure that his editor would have declined to print it within the pages of the Spectator so, upon what grounds could one suggest that it deserves to be permitted upon the internet?

  • Comment number 66.

    It depends on what is said and how it is advertised. A journalist writing something in a blog on a newspaper's website should be subject to the PCC. Fred Bloggs writing something on their own personal blog shouldn't.

    The laws of libel, etc. should still come into effect as usual. Otherwise, no. Blogs should not be regulated.

  • Comment number 67.

    53. At 11:30am on 30 Mar 2010, khan wrote:

    The problem with those like you who advocate censorship is that you treat ordinary people like children. We can think for ourselves, thank you very much, we don't need to be protected from ideas.

    ---

    I don't advocate censorship and i certainly don't want to treat adults like children.

    The problem is that there are too many adults in this country who want to be treated as though they have the same freedom from consequences that children have.

    We live in a society where people who illegally download films and movies actually have the gall to complain bitterly that any plans to punish this behaviour is unfair.

    Similarly we have a generation of adults who've learnt to spread their lies & bile via internet but are not prepared to accept that there might be consequences for the actions they have chosen to take.

    As I said earlier, everybody in the UK seems to be whining about their rights while few seem willing to take direct responsibility for their own actions. They are the ones who need to grow up.

  • Comment number 68.

    Oops, forgot to mention on my original post (#66) that I wholeheartedly recommend:

    18. At 10:22am on 30 Mar 2010, FirstSelseyBill wrote:

    "Before this comment board gets inundated, and for the sake of accuracy and clarity, please can you ( BBC ) state the facts as currently known?

    What I would like to know is this --- What proportion of London's violent crime is committed by Afro-Caribbeans in relation to their representation as a percentage of London's total population?

    Without these figures, IMHO, the whole debate becomes pointless"

    If the PCC finds its accuracy in question, I want to see figures proving Mr Liddle right or wrong.

  • Comment number 69.

    Before the Internet, if a newspaper published a factual error in bold print on the front page it would usually be corrected in small print days or weeks later on page 3, if at all. The Internet has blown this wide open. But still there are numerous publications on the Internet which have the same old arrogant "we know best" attitude.

    The Spectator is not one of them. They have responded promptly and prominently to this issue with a comprehensive and fair account of the factors involved and have accepted that the decision by the PCC was fundamentally correct:

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/essays/all/5874173/pcc-adjudication-on-rod-liddles-blogpost-benefits-of-a-multicultural-britain.thtml

    And note this:

    "However, the magazine had not been able to demonstrate that the "overwhelming majority" of crime in all of the stated categories had been carried out by members of the African-Caribbean community. It was difficult to argue that the sentence in question represented purely the columnist’s opinion, which might be challenged. Instead, it was a statement of fact. As such, the Commission believed that the onus was on the magazine to ensure that it was corrected authoritatively online. It could not rely merely on the carrying of critical reaction to the piece. The Commission upheld the complaint under Clause 1 of the Code."

    Now that is an open and generous acknowledgement by the Spectator of the ruling by the PCC. I can think of plenty Internet publications that would, under the same circumstances, duck and dive and not admit their fault.

  • Comment number 70.

    Looks as though telling the truth is wrong unless it follows labours view on the World.

  • Comment number 71.

    ref Red rebel and rent a mob, Dont like the truth only they side, the terrorist and trouble makers world-wide !!! You can only say some people from an small ethnic group may be connected to street crime? thats How they want you to talk, Not like Palestinian Terrorist funds come from the U.K. thanks to them, our freedom has been taken {blog}

  • Comment number 72.

    One imagines it will be great advertising for his blog?

    This blog is on the BBC - so are already moderated? Fair enough.

    But this blog style HYS is still total pants!!!

  • Comment number 73.

    no.... freedom of expression .. if u find a nutter go nick um, dont start your tactics on the innocent who need the internet for different reasons.

  • Comment number 74.

    Blogs should not be regulated but children should be taught how to discriminate between bare faced lies and probable truth on the Internet. Does the information cite a source, does it have corroborating evidence, is there more than one source, is the Blog written by a raving loon? All these and other questions enable people to make decisions based on what they are reading. Otherwise we may as well just have a state news service written by civil servants and do away with the Internet altogether just like China.

  • Comment number 75.

    If ANY journalist is PAID to write a blog - then of course their 'blog' contribution should be 'regulated' as any other media incarnation of their 'contract' with their employer?

  • Comment number 76.

    No. And this HYS is over regulated.

  • Comment number 77.

    Perhaps a quick comment on basic comprehension. The article states that Rod Liddle has been censured, not censored. There is a significant difference. Rod Liddle's article is still available via the Spectator's website, therefore it has not been censored.

  • Comment number 78.

    If it were a private blog, then he can say what he likes.

    But, as it was on the Spectator's own website it should be subject to PCC rules

  • Comment number 79.


    One question to consider here, is how true ("accuracy") is the assertion Mr. Liddle made ? I do not know if they are true or not.

    But if the facts mentioned are accurate, should they still be censored in this way ? Personally I do not thing so even if they do seem to be "politicially incorrect". Truth is truth, even if we don't care for it. If Mr. Liddle didn't write the truth, then perhaps he should apologise, or at least make it clear he simply expressed an opinion which had no factual backup.

    The PCC should have properly determined the accuracy of his assertions in the first instance before they made any ruling, if they have not already done so. They should also cite any sources of information used in their rebuttal.


  • Comment number 80.

  • Comment number 81.

    Is it the truth, though? Did he have the facts and figures to back this up? If no then the PCC have got it right

  • Comment number 82.

    It seem to me this whole issue hangs on the word 'overwhelming' and its interpretation by the reader.

  • Comment number 83.

    "Similarly we have a generation of adults who've learnt to spread their lies & bile via internet but are not prepared to accept that there might be consequences for the actions they have chosen to take."

    I agree with you, there are such people, on the right, the left, and pretty much every ethnic and religous group. However in a democratic society with a free press I don't think any of them ever get a mass following, in the end they are always exposed. Conversely I believe extremism is more likely to take hold in a society when people cannot express themselves freely.

  • Comment number 84.

    80. At 12:31pm on 30 Mar 2010, BBC_HaveYourSay Host wrote:

    "There will be those, especially in the blogosphere, who argue that the decision is an attack on press freedom. Well, it's certainly an attack on the "rights" of someone to peddle such an offensive inaccuracy.
    - Roy Greenslade at The Guardian

    Should blogging give you the right to say what you like, regardless of inaccuracy?"

    Is the given statement actually inaccurate? What proof has Roy Greenslade got that the statement is false?

  • Comment number 85.

    Be brave people, and don't despair. We, the free, know what this is when we see it. We've been here before so have no fear. We've maintained and spread freedom of speech for hundreds of years, the first societies on earth to do so with any success. But we must be vigilant. We'll see more of this socialism and communism and the evil spectres they bring.
    It's all done in the name of "fairness" and "equality" and "justice". But you and I have been here before, as have our ancestors who passed freedom to us.
    Be brave people, and don't despair.

  • Comment number 86.

    "65. At 11:55am on 30 Mar 2010, RayDOhead wrote:
    I originally questioned the wisdom of laws affecting freedom of speech in terms of race and sexual discrimination, fearing that they would be counter productive: however, one only needs to look at television programmes from the 1970's to see that they have lead to a more tolerant society."

    I am not sure it is amazingly more tolerant. I think some people keep their opinions to themselves these days but still have the same thoughts / feelings.

  • Comment number 87.

    The Rod Liddle censor was correct.
    It wasn’t what he wrote; it was that he wrote it without evidence.
    The Press Complaints Commission ruled the Rod Liddle’s words breached Clause 1 (Accuracy). If Mr. Liddle believes that his blog statement is more “accurate”, than that of the PCC, he should bring legal action against the PCC.
    Best of all, he should have published his evidence (or a reference to his evidence) in his blog in the first place.

  • Comment number 88.

    "The magazine provided some evidence to substantiate the figures: a BBC report, which quoted an Inspector in the Trident Unit of the Metropolitan police as saying that ‘for three out of every four shootings…in London, the victim and the perpetrator are from the black community’; a Daily Mail article, which reported that ‘124 out of 225 under-18s legally proceeded against for knife offences in the past three months are from the black community’; and a Sunday Times report which stated that ‘71% of people accused of mobile phone theft were black…’ It said that blogging was a conversational medium in which readers were able to disagree with the writer’s opinion immediately, as had happened in this case. In that sense, the piece as a whole had been written by the columnist and those who had commented. In addition, it had published a separate blog by another author in which the accuracy of the claim was called into question."

    The whole problem seems to revolve around when a majority becomes 'overwhelming'. Because in the absence of comprehensive statistics, "three out of every four", "124 out of 225" and "71%" do represent a majority, then if you consider that the black community are probably still a minority in the London population, the clear majority might easily be considered 'overwhelming'.

    This therefore seems to be a huge PC ruling/headline, from a pedantic hair-splitting excersise with no evidence to support it from the PCC.

  • Comment number 89.

    80. BBC_HaveYourSay Host,

    Liddle's statement was not "an offensive inaccuracy." Greenslade's statement from his Guardian blog is in fact the offensive inaccuracy. Liddle's statement was essentially correct, except that this is what he should have said:

    "The proportion of street crimes, knife crimes, gun crimes, robbery and crimes of sexual violence in London carried out by young men from the African-Caribbean community is far greater than any other group once you adjust for population differences."

    In other words, a far greater percentage of this group commits these crimes than any other group.

    You ask:

    "Should blogging give you the right to say what you like, regardless of inaccuracy?"

    The answer is "no." You are still constrained by law as to what you can and can't publish. But it is unclear whether those producing the website itself should be held accountable for bloggers who break the law or the bloggers themselves.

    And what about ordinary members of the public like those responding to this HYS topic? Should they be held accountable for illegal comments on HYS? I've seen comments on some of these threads that, despite making one's hair stand on end, would probably not pass the legality test.

  • Comment number 90.

    I thought the "overwhelming majority" of crime was committed by "Prefer Not To Say".

  • Comment number 91.

    The Spectator proved its case. The only issue was the use of the subjective term "overwhelming". The Leftie PC brigade have once again proved that trying to censor facts you don't like actually brings them to a wider audience.

  • Comment number 92.

    if you have something to say, particularly if it's potentially inflammatory or contentious in whatever context or medium, I reckon it should always be preceded by a phrase such as 'in my opinion' or 'as I see it' or 'I get the impression that'

    in 'my very humble opinion' Rod Liddle has recently been throwing himself around the media (Sunday Times) rather a lot (since being ejected from the Today programme) as an 'expert' commentator on almost anything and everything, but he might just have over-stretched the mark in this instance

    sad really

  • Comment number 93.

    All published work should be subject to the same scrutiny. But there's a difference between writing an article and writing a column. The former needs a high degree of accuracy as it's supposed to report facts whereas the latter conveys opinions and can therefore express ideas that not everybody agrees with.

    I do however worry about this particular case. It may not be politically correct to express his opinion, but I'm not so sure it's factually incorrect. I guess it all boils down to your interpretation of the words 'overwhelming majority'.

  • Comment number 94.

    PCC should stand for Politically Correct Commission!

    The question of censoring those who place a comment on a website such as HYS is a difficult one. However, as long as the comment is not overtly racist, inciting others to commit violence or downright offensive then I can see no objection to what Mr. Liddle has said. The most important question is, has his comment foundation in fact? If it does not then it should be discredited, but if it does then our politicians are avoiding a crucial issue.

    Sweeping unpleasant truths under the carpet merely delays dealing with the subject, we have the MPs and expenses as a proven example.

    The problem of violent crime in London is not going to go away and should have been dealt with a long time ago. Youngsters are dying and many families have to live with the heartbreak.

    Interestingly, as something to note, watching a BBC documentary about the Home Office recently and how it functions, it would be appear that those who work within this Department feel that violent crime is increasing and nothing can be done.

    If there is a grain of truth in what Mr. Liddle has said then he should be allowed the freedom to express his opinion. Political correctness is now going beyond acceptability and the sooner this is thrown out the better.

    I do not approve of censorship and as someone once said, "I do not agree with your opinion, but will defend the right for you to express it"

    Does this type of censoring now mean that what I have said above will be moderated as unacceptable to be read on HYS. I certainly hope not and I well accept that my opinions are not to the liking of others, but that is what democracy is all about and many have died in two world wars so that I can still express them.

  • Comment number 95.

    We are all regulated all the time by the law of the country. My understanding of this case is that Mr Liddle was cesured by his proffesional body the PCC because he is a journalist and not because he is a blogger.

  • Comment number 96.

    Who is going to regulate the regulators! I have experienced the BBC's own version of regulation, and, I'm pretty disgusted at the arrogance displayed by whoever censored my perfectly ordinary comment.If the BBC regulators are acting under a set of rules given them by the religious who are still employed within the BBC then we don't need their kind of regulation - Ever...

  • Comment number 97.

    Definitely not. Free Speech means exactly that. We don't have to pay attention to what people say, but we can't deny them the right to say it. If people spread lies, they will be discovered, due to the free spread of information that allows them to lie. If we start to regulate and censure people, we make it harder for people to speak.

  • Comment number 98.

    does that mean anytime some bishop or other talks about the existence of god, he should be moderated or prosecuted? After all, it's inaccurate and it offends me.
    stand up for freedom.

  • Comment number 99.

    Looking through the clauses, the majority of blog users are in breach of clause 3(privacy) as the majority most likely dont inform the people they write about..those who post about nothing but celebs etc, unless they have becks and madonna on speed dial?

    Perhaps a new DA-Notice system for private blogs is also required(..sarcasm)

  • Comment number 100.

    The internet is going to become a mere shadow of what it could be because businesses and governments want to control it. It only flourished because of it's free nature.

    If you don't like what someone says on their blog then don't read it, or better still argue the point with them, censuring is far more dangerous than allowing people to express ideas and thoughts. Censorship over an individual's expression, good or bad and regardless of topic, is comparable to fascism and should not be allowed.

    All that will happen is that bloggers will have to use newspaper indirect language laced with 'supposedly' and 'apparently'. That's all newspapers do to get around legal loopholes and say what they want.

 

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