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When I said ‘Libel law is what we got when we abolished duelling,’ I was joking…

Alan Shanoff calls for the abolition of Canada’s criminal libel laws:

The offence originated in England at the time of the Court of Star Chamber with the intention of preventing duelling and, of course, penalizing criticism of state actors. However, it can now only be justified on the basis that it denounces attacks on reputation. (…)

How can a democratic society justify the prosecution and incarceration of those who have made offensive statements concerning state officials, particularly on matters of public interest?

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As a good “reputation” becomes a less and less valuable asset — see Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian — the necessity of libel laws also diminishes.


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