Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Exact Nature of Crime Withheld From Jury

So, this thing has really become quite bizarre. It's like going to court to witness the trial as a visitor, or a member of the jury, and then not knowing what the crime is because the plaintiff doesn't want to tell. It's really weird. The Reuters report that most have seen contain the following:
Paris-based Reporters without Borders said the case highlighted the lack of free expression in Singapore, which is among the 20 lowest-scoring countries in the organization's worldwide press freedom index. "Chen criticized some of A*Star's policies but there was nothing defamatory in what he wrote," Julien Pain, head of Reporters without Borders' Internet freedom desk, told Reuters.
So I emailed Pain to ask him for more insight since he seems to have seen the alleged defamation remarks. (To put a human face to the RSF, here's a video interview with Pain.) Obviously I understand that even if Pain does indeed know something that the rest of the world doesn't, he could get AcidFlask into trouble if he reveals what he knows since the newest apology does include a clause that the remarks can no longer be told to a third party. Which is precisely Pain's email reply to me, that he can't give me any more information about those comments and that it's up to AcidFlask to reveal them. Which he can't possibly do if he doesn't want to be threatened again! So this apology is quite clever, in a technical sense, because it gives the plaintiff a sort of joker/wildcard, a 'special power' to prevent anyone else to see for themselves what Exhibit A is. Even the famous defamation cases that involved rival politicians, the exact defamatory speech is clearly revealed. Could Pain have been right? That there's nothing defamatory all along? And if that's true, is there anything that can be done about this? I do understand that my analogy in the title isn't exactly analogous to the present situation since this has not gone to court yet. Still, the same strategy could be used against any blogger if things stand as they are...
Some authority looking at kid's website: Hey you, I don't like what you write. Take it down. Kid: But it's just my website about zoo animals! Authority: I don't care, take it down. Or I'd sue. And don't talk to no one about this. Our conversation never happened. Kid: Whatever you say... *shrugs*
More from SingaporeAngle, mrbrown.


redrown said...

I noticed Pain's claim too. But I reckon since this matter is declared 'closed', we should just let things lie, even as some matters remain unresolved, as this has the potential of opening a can of worms and may lead to further trouble for AF which is undesired..

akikonomu said...

I feel like I'm living in a real-world version of sid meier's alpha centauri, where one of the leaders goes around saying stuff like

"You must surely realize that Democracy is a menace to right-thinking people everywhere. Common citizens cannot be allowed to question the decisions of their rulers! I urge you to impose strict police control at once!"

jeffyen said...

Agreed, redrown. I also feel that Pain understands this point too.

Aki: I haven't played AC before, but for Civilisation, well, naturally the aim is to quickly get out of the 'despotism' and get to Democracy, or at least a Republic, ASAP! :)

akikonomu said...

Jeff, I think the makers of the far future sci-fi alpha centauri game were very realistic and pragmatic historians.

Just like how existing nations have their peculiar ideologies, AC civilisations have their "preferred political model" (Democracy? Police state? Fundamentalist Theocracy?) or even economic model (Free Market? Planned economy? Green economy?) or ideology (Wealth? Power? Knowledge?).

Makes for better playing than Civ 1-3 since there are real dangers of being of a different ideology from your stronger (and often) intolerant and more powerful neighbour.

jeffyen said...

Intriguing, I've read good stuff about AC but never really wanted to play it. Maybe I'll go look for a copy if the bargain bin still has it.

All hail Sid Meier!