005_Global13_InBox

Global 13

Inbox point of view The shifting sands of freedom This year will be one in which governments and religious establishments around the world will bring in sweeping changes to laws on regulation of the press, tobacco and drugs, personal data tracking, women bishops and gay marriage. But, asks Trevor Grundy, are they for the good of the people or do they threaten our personal freedoms? “B cist Bernard Crick in his clas- David Cameron to match proposals from The British government wants to forcegive police and security services sweepingpowers to access communications data-mas. Meanwhile, the Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA) has called on Prime Minister-establishedwithoredomtruths,” wrote British polemi sic 1962 book,In Defence of Politics, “is a the Scottish government to introduce a 50p communications providers to keep data- great enemy of free men.” Change the word minimum unit price (MUP) for alcohol in bases of emails, phone calls and other data ‘truths’ into long-accepted commercial and England and Wales because teenage binge for 12 months. Says Guy Herbert of The moral shibboleths, and we’re crossing into drinking is clearly out of control. Guardian: “In the 18th century, recording terra incognita. Welcome to 2013. someone’s thoughts or speech or regulat- For, after a decade of stunning change in Some of the world’s poorest countries are ing their private behaviour without entering the commercial and moral marketplaces, calling on the USA and Britain to legalise their property or seizing physical objects this is likely to be a year when all of us will use of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine – was impossible and unimaginable.” He be running to stay in the same place as the and even heroin adds: “Political liberty has only arisen be- sands of long-cherished freedoms and tra- A bill to downgrade the possession of one cause people are able to combine together ditional restraint swirl around us. ounce or less of marijuana was signed into to discuss new ideas and to promote them law by the Governor of California, Arnold – in private.” In Britain, statutory control of the press/ Schwarzenegger. The bill, SB 1449, intro- media is being hotly debated by politicians duced by Senator Mark Leno, will spare And on the ‘sexual/moral’ front, the 77-mil- and the public petty offenders the necessity of a court ap- lion-strong worldwide Anglican Commun- There is consensus that the current system pearance and criminal arrest while saving ion is divided by two burning issues: full of press regulation is broken and needs the state millions of dollars in court and Christian rights for same sex couples and fixing. The question is, how? Lord Justice prosecution expenses. The bill treats petty the introduction of women as bishops in Leveson’s report on press standards is the possession like a traffic offence – punish- the Church of England and Church in Wales seventh of its kind. William Rees-Mogg, able by a simple $100 fine and no arrest On 6 April 1895, the playwright Oscar a former editor ofThe Times (1966–1981) record. Wilde was arrested and later found guilty writes: “Each successive report entertained In November, voters in Colorado and of homosexual acts. By early 2013 – 118 the hope of solving the problem of regulat- Washington State approved the recreational years after Wilde’s disgrace and impris- ing the competitive instincts of the news use of marijuana. That sent a round-robin onment – it‘s likely that the British par- trade with the reality of the working media: message across Latin America, a region liament will have approved legislation none has been successful.” But statutory that faced decades of bloodshed from the that allows most churches, all mosques, control of the media? For the last 300 years US-led war on drugs. Experts said that the temples and synagogues to marry same it has been unthinkable. Now, no longer. moves were likely to give momentum to sex couples. Consecration of women as countries like Uruguay that are marching bishops in the established Church of Eng- In many of the richest Commonwealth towards legalisation to undercut Mexican land is just around the corner. But gay countries, the once well-accepted ‘pleas- criminal gangs and to embolden those who newly-weds hoping for West African sea ure’ of buying colourfully adorned packets demand greater debate about how to com- and sunshine should check hotel regula- of cigarettes is not only frowned upon but bat illegal substances. tions before setting off on their honey- banned “The trend is towards legalisation,” said moon. The Australian government’s decision to Jorge G Castañeda, a former Mexican ban all forms of branding on cigarette pack- foreign minister who is an advocate for Where do we go from here? ets has been upheld by the country’s highest decriminalisation. Several former Latin As people in the once impoverished East court. The move has been hailed by cancer America presidents have signed statements End of London would say over their pint charities and health organisations around criticising US counter-drug policy, includ- in the pub, before parts of Hackney and the globe. The Australian High Court ing Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, Shoreditch became the stomping grounds reached its landmark decision in spite of César Gaviria of Colombia and Ernesto Ze- for oligarchs and Turner Prize winners: protest from tobacco companies, including dillo of Mexico, all of whom have called “You pays your money and you takes your British American Tobacco, Philip Morris for the legalisation of marijuana. choice.” International and Imperial Tobacco. In Scotland, cigarette vending machines The once-sacred right of individual and displays in shops will be banned as freedom is being challenged (some say un- Trevor Grundy is a British journalist, author from spring 2013 after Imperial Tobacco dermined) by the possibility of parliaments and researcher who lived and worked in lost a legal challenge shortly before Christ- introducing a ‘snoopers charter’ that could Africa from 1966-1996 global first quarter 2013 www.global-briefing.org l5


Global 13
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