15thC Star Chamber. Despite that symbol of the misuse and abuse of power by the English monarchy and courts being abolished in 1641, the laws for seditious libel lingered on. It was this law which saw Thomas Paine flee England in 1792 when he was outlawed for treason following the the publication of The Rights of Man
The abolition was hailed as a victory for free speech by many supporters who hoped the action would lead by example and sweep across Europe and the world. Fat chance! Talk about delusions of influence.
I blogged about THIS at the time though I've been unable to find an update on what happened to the man and whether he was convicted or not. French laws passed in 2003 make it an offence to insult the national flag or anthem, with a penalty of a maximum £6,000 fine or up to 6 months imprisonment. There are also laws against "offending against the dignity of the Republic" include insulting anyone who serves the public.
Germany goes even further:
"Whoever removes, destroys, damages, renders unusable or unrecognizable, or commits insulting mischief upon a publicly displayed flag of the Federal Republic of Germany or one of its Lands or a national emblem installed by a public authority of the Federal Republic of Germany or one of its Lands shall be similarly punished. An attempt shall be punishable."(As an aside, this means that under the European Arrest Warrant if you insult/burn the flag of France or Germany on a London street you could theoretically be extradited to face charges. )
The Lisbon Treaty famously removed reference to an EU flag, national anthem and slogan (that's the "Unity Through Diversity" twaddle) in order to distance itself from the Constitutional Treaty. Anyone blogging through those times will remember that the removal lasted for an hour or four while the EC went out for a slap-up, taxpayer-funded lunch. The clauses were very quickly and silently re-instated.
Cynic that I am I can only think that the Labour government caved in because it knew the EU had already made provision for seditious libel in the Lisbon Treaty. I've said it before & no doubt I'll keep repeating myself - under the Lisbon Treaty it's an offence to 'insult' the flag, 'insult' one of its employees, 'insult' the anthem, 'insult' the institution itself, employees have immunity from prosecution for anything done or said during office (recently extended to employees of the European Central Bank and the European Monetary Institute), if they step out of line they lose their pensions. There's even provision for the introduction of the death penalty 'in time of war' or during 'events leading up to' war, 'riots' or 'upheaval'. The Treaty is an arduous read but it's enlightening if you have the time and the determination.
The Lisbon Treaty
One from my archives: A 1649 Digger Pamphlet "We say, while we are made to hinder no man of his Priviledges given him in his Creation, equal to one, as to another; what Law then can you make, to take hold upon us, but Laws of Oppression and Tyranny, that shall enslave or spill the blood of the Innocent? And so your Selves, your Judges, Lawyers, and Justices, shall be found to be the greatest Transgressors, in, and over Mankinde."
"If there must be trouble, let it be in my day,
that my child may have peace."
that my child may have peace."