In response to danitocchetto’s recent post, “Dangerous Combination: Weak Democracy and Bad Media”, here’s another case that’s been in the news recently. In Israel, journalist Anat Kam is standing trial on charges of espionage for copying secret documents she was privy to when doing her military service, and passing them on to other journalists. She has been under house arrest since December 2009, as reported by Donald Macintyre in The Independent here.
Kam passed the documents on to Uri Blau, a journalist for the left-leaning Israeli daily Haaretz. They were allegedly used in this story in November 2008. Blau left the country in December 2009 and has not returned since, for fear of being arrested. He details what happened to him here.
The case makes clear several things. Firstly, Israel can no longer claim to have a free press when those journalists who publish reports that are inconvenient to the establishment cannot enter their own country for fear of being arrested. A fascinating article, ironically by Blau himself, on the process of Israeli military censorship, can be found here.
Secondly, it makes clear that free speech is not merely conceptual: it is a pragmatic matter that must be fought for. It is something for which the boundaries are constantly redefined in a tug-of-war between different interests. The Blau/Kam case is merely one example of this (continuous) struggle.
Further, the struggle is not to establish where the boundaries of free speech are but also what happens within these boundaries. Take as an example anonymity. Even in those countries where the press is truly free, journalists protect the identity of their sources, letting them remain anonymous. They do so to protect their right to free speech – to be able to say things for which if their identity were revealed they would be prosecuted. One might have thought that free speech and responsibility go hand in hand, but this example seems to suggest otherwise. Further, to name these sources is surely another example of free speech? In this case we might say that one instance on free speech might impinge on another.
Recent Work on Free Will and Moral Responsibility
By Neil Levy and Michael McKenna, University of Melbourne Florida State University
(Vol. 3, December 2008)
Philosophy of Action and Philosophy of Religion
By Stewart Goetz , Ursinus College
(Vol. 1, September 2006)