Freedom of expression is outlined in article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights and is arguably one of the most important rights that we are granted by the Convention. Through this right we are able to promote truth, democracy and self-fulfilment, which collectively promote the idea of teleological rights that aim to deliver good to society. One of the reasons the right is listed in the Convention is to enhance the liberty and autonomy of individuals.
The concept of truth is very important when considering liberty and autonomy as it enables us to develop a market place of ideas, which are based upon the truthful factual views that have been put forward by the individual. By collating the views of others we are able to enhance our own individual personal autonomy by considering what other people believe, thus enhancing our own choices and knowledge in order to make a decision that we feel is right.
[...] Art.10(1) ECHR. Art.10(2) ECHR. ECtHR Handyside v United Kingdom. Handyside v United Kingdom (1979 80) 1 EHRR 737, page 743. Handyside v United Kingdom (1979 80) 1 EHRR 737, page 744. Handyside v United Kingdom (1979 80) 1 EHRR 737, page 744. Handyside v United Kingdom (1979 80) 1 EHRR 737, page 745. Freedom of Expression. [...]
[...] From the article it is clear in the way that it is worded, that freedom of expression is subject to many limits. In order to understand the laws on obscenity and Indecency within the United Kingdom, it is best to look to the case law that has arisen as a result of the right stated in Article 10 ECHR. Handyside v United Kingdom (1976) ECHR This case was heard before the European Court of Human Rights existed. The case was about a publisher who was charged under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 and 1964 for having in his possession ‘obscene books entitled The Little Red Schoolbook for publication for gain.' The books were seized and later destroyed and the applicant was fined and ordered to pay costs. [...]
[...] It could be argued that the truth is very unstable, because if you take the example given above about the MMR vaccine, each person who states their opinion on the issue will believe it to be true, so it makes it difficult to gain an accurate positive answer as to the safety of the vaccine, as each individual will have a different opinion on the matter. The truth is a precious virtue and the only way to let everyone know the truth, or what you believe to be the truth is to publish views and let them be available to all who want to know about a matter. This can only be done by virtue of exercising you own freedom of expression. Freedom of speech is vital in democracy, as democracy itself requires that each individual's opinions be heard. [...]
[...] In the judgement of the case both the 1959 act and the 1964 act were read together, and the court spent time outlining exactly what was in the different parts of the legislation. Section 1 stated that an article was deemed to be obscene if it was likely to deprave or corrupt any person who reads, hears or sees the matters contained or embodied in it. Section 2 stated that any person who publishes an obscene article for gain or not, shall be liable. [...]
[...] What offends one person might not necessary offend another. Emphasis must be placed upon the wording in Article 10 ECHR. Article 10(2) places emphasis on the phrases ‘necessary in a democratic society' and prescribed by law.' These phrases significantly limit an individual's freedom of expression and the ability to rely on article 10. This reinforces the idea that it is entirely based on discretion which can lead to injustice. It is also important to consider does article 10 include a right to be offensive. [...]
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