Friday, February 08, 2008


Originally uploaded by Oldmaison

That's absolutely wrong, not having access to a computer is very much a 'right' specifically for free speech. That's why libraries were the first places to have public access to the internet.

Charles wouldn't need to be supplied with a computer because they are available at the library for free. He got one because people liked what he was doing. However, imagine if libraries DIDNT" have net access, that is a HUGE blow to the rights of free speech of the homeless.

But I don't remember Charles ever saying "I have the right to get a free ticket". What he said, basically, is that they refused his request for one, worse, ignored him, therefore he's using his right of free speech here to essentially say whatever he wants about the issue.

Access to technology is a BIG issue in the human rights arena, you can go to CIGI online and read their paper on how the lack of technology infrastructure is having a hugely detrimental effect on developing nations. This is so important that we are even seeing governments and NGO's investing money into getting computers and net access even to places that aren't even getting adequate food-thats how important it is.

It is very much a rights issue, as the above post says. You can look at any issue from water to energy-when you define rights by only 'who can pay' to get them you aren't talking about human rights, only commerce.

It can easily be argued that Charles 'has a right' to attend. THis is a public exhibition with legislation being written in order to favour the event-thats another word for 'subsidy' on top of any potential taxpayers money that may be going to it. Charles definitely has a unique position in the community, his is virtually the only place where people can access what goes on in the community-people from out of town, people with disabilities, etc.

It's pretty clear that with his camera Charles is doing a public service, the hundreds who come here can attest to that. The situation would be different if, say, there were some other person doing exactly what charles does but perhaps with a little less 'flair', shall we say.

It's about the rights of people to know what goes on in their community. If this were a cayleigh in some guys house, then the argument can be made that its nobodies damn business. However, that's not the case. Government is clearly involved, which means the public has the 'right' to be involved, and in a case like this the only opportunity is through charles (at least to have a historical record-if it were being recorded and put on youtube or something then that would be different).

Besides, all this came about simply because 'they' were too rude to answer an email. If you aren't going to answer your email, don't put the damn link there in the first place, or at least tell Charles to go take a flying leap.

This isn't to bash the ECMA, I have no idea what their reasons are and I am glad such an event exists and would never boycott it no matter what Charles says (although he did even say that others shouldn't boycott it-what a charitable fellow!)


Anonymous said...

The author of the above opinion about free speech misunderstands the issue.

He's confused it with human-rights issues regarding poverty, which are valid issues. But free speech doesn't require others to participate in the speech.

Furthermore, the ECMAs is not a public event. If it were, there would be no ticket prices. There are free venues, yes, and Charles should feel free to attend those. But no organization is required to grant access. Hell, the press room in the White House isn't open to any and all reporters. There's limited access, and yes, some news organizations (ie Fox News) get preferential treatment from the current administration.

The point is that free speech and freedom of the press isn't about unfettered access. The ECMAs denying Charles a media pass is not an infringement of freedom of the press. Now, if the ECMAs were to drag him into court to keep him from commenting on the event at all, that would be an infringement (unless at issue would be untrue and unfounded comments that amount to libel).

mikel said...

Actually, free speech DOES require others to participate. No government ANYWHERE has EVER cared what you say in your bathroom. Rights are 'public'. In Germany they couldn't care less what you said in the privacy of your home, it was only when it was 'public' that it became a problem, and that is universal.

THere's a reason why in places like China the emphasis is on the internet-they are public airwaves where people comment. China doesn't assign people to follow each person to their homes to see what they say to themselves. Freedom of speech has EVERYTHING to do with 'requiring others to participate'. If nobody else participates, its not 'freedom' of speech-its just 'speech'.

The ECMA's ARE a public event. The public is invited to attend, it is not somebody's house with only their family. Ticket prices are irrelevant-NB Power is a 'public' utility but you still pay a power bill.

Nobody said it was about 'unfettered access', it is just about 'access'. Charles has no money, Charles provides a public service, and that public service is being denied.

That has nothing to do with Charles-it has everything to do with the people of New Brunswick. This isn't Charles 'getting a favour'. This is the right of New Brunswickers to know what is going on in their community. In other words, its about whether Charles is media or not.

Legislation has been written so that clubs that feature performers can stay open later. When legislation is being written for an event, that makes it public and means people have the right to know what is going on.

In fact, by offereing FREE entertainment they are showing just how 'public' it is, which is even more justification to have media present.

This is all about the media monopoly in the province. If only one company has the right to report on events-because it is the only one that can afford it, you have a situation where 'freedom of speech' is an issue (although I didn't say anythign about freedom of speech, I said it can easily be argued charles has a right to attend-but not on the basis of freedom of speech-those were his words).

Again, think of the musicians. IF Charles were there then there would be a permanent record of their performance, even the music if charles figures out how to use his audio recorder!:) Now, those musicians will 'maybe' get a picture in teh paper and thats it, and most won't even get that.

That doesn't do anythig for Charles, he doesn't get paid for it and it doesn't make his life better. But some mother whose son is performing would forever (so long as there is internet) be able to do a search and see dozens (even hundreds-geez charles) of pictures of her son perform.

Thats why these rights are so important, because they have huge social impacts. Yes, of course you can point to policy and say 'well, its our policy that nobody is gonna see this thing'. But when it is a public event in a public place, then the public has every right to know what is going on-in fact we accept that even about many PRIVATE places-thats why there are laws.

However, like ALL rights, it is a matter of debate and discussion. Nothing in the world is absolute. IF Charles runs around like a maniac and disrupts things then that is a different scenario. IF the ECMA were recording it and putting it on youtube, or even in another case of recording it and selling the broadcast then thats different too.

Nobody (I) never said Charles 'has the right to attend', what I said was that it can easily argued that he does. He could have threatened people there, we don't know, and he's not going to say (well, knowing Charles he probably would:) Like at the legislature, discussions about rights are something that should be done publicly,not behind closed doors. And again, its a symptom of how bad it is in New Brunswick that virtually ALL talk about rights is done at some guys blog.

Again, it is too bad, I would have looked forward to seeing all the pictures, I can't be there and am a big fan of some of the bands. I especially like 'weighty ghost' by Wintersleep and would have liked to 'see' them perform. I'm not sure but I think I read that even the CBC isn't recording it, but is doing some kind of documentary (yeah, like documentaries are SO much more entertaining than bootlegs).

People seem to think that when we talk about this stuff we are talking about Charles freedom of speech or 'unfettered access', we are not, we are talking about the public's interest, which in cases like this only Charles represents.

However, in this case Charles is doing himself a disservice. By NOT going to the free shows, by being pigheaded, he is PROVING that he is NOT media, that he is NOT serving the public interest but that he is just 'some guy doing what he wants'. In this case, like in some others, 'we' can say 'man up', or 'grow up', or 'suck it up' and go to the events where he has easy access, can maybe even record some bootlegs if allowed, or at least interview some musicians.

He has the opportunity to PROVE that he is media, in his position he can't just keep pointing at what some judge says (thats not 'court appointed' by the way, its 'court recognized'-and all media recognition is transitory).

In some cases Charles is moot, I could download and listen to Rheostatics farewell concert from the CBC website virtually while it was going on. Some people may think music is too inconsequential to be lumped into discussions of rights- I suggest those people listen to Bruce Cockburn's 'Maybe the poet'.

Anonymous said...

"He's confused it with human-rights issues regarding poverty, which are valid issues. But free speech doesn't require others to participate in the speech."

Right, and you can just take anyone with an inconvenient opinion and lock them away in a fenced-in "protest area".

Our land is not our land, our press is not our press. to the victors go the spoils.

I guess...

Anonymous said...


Got a bit of flip-flopping from you on the topic.

If Irving run media were allowed free (tax-payer supported) access to the paid events.

Should Charles be excluded from "covering" whatever events are deemed appropriate? I'm not sure how well an almost homeless ADHD dude is going to do covering the concerts from the crowd...

If your point is to marginalize freedom of the press to corporate tax-payer events, then own up to your own ownedness.

Best wishes,