"Catholic bloggers joining the battle for libel law reform"I live on the other side of the Atlantic, and for that reason haven't studied the petition - or signed it.
The Hermeneutic of Continuity (November 12, 2010)
"Both Dolphinarium: Catholic bloggers for Libel Reform - Fight for Free Speech and James Preece: Catholics for Libel Reform have highlighted a petition for libel law reform. I agree with it and have signed it.
"It is important to have a libel law. If someone writes seriously damaging things about you that are false, you should have some redress against them. To obtain a retraction, an apology, and some reasonable financial compensation is fair enough if your reputation has been seriously damaged. Unfortunately in England at the moment, the libel law can be used to stifle debate, even to prevent scientists from publishing their research freely, and to intimidate people instead of engaging in rational discussion...."
I am, however, mildly surprised that the United Kingdom apparently hasn't sorted out the mess its libel laws were in a decade or so back. As The Hermeneutic of Continuity's author points out, libel laws can serve a reasonable function: giving people who are the victims of false statements some form of legal redress.
What the United Kingdom seems to still have is - well, not so reasonable.
Rational discussion can, in my view, be upsetting - particularly to folks who like the status quo and whose preferences cannot be justified. That, however, does not seem to be - again in my opinion - a good reason for punishing folks who don't agree with the establishment.