This is a letter in response to this recent development:
A judge has today (11th October) suppressed the publication of some information about the man accused of raping and murdering Jill Meagher.
Whilst the image of Adrian Bayley remains on the WordswithMeaning.org front page and article (and as of posting, the image is featured on the mainstream news website “The Age” in Australia) we have been asked to remove the comments made by readers that are allegedly a form of “prejudicial material”.
Our short response to these requests is as followed:
We have addressed this issue in a public statement available here; dated 1st October 2012
As a website that constantly encourages rebellion against suppression, it is within our responsibilities to refuse all requests to edit or delete comments made by readers. We respect their opinions and remarks, and as with our terms & conditions – we do not endorse or reflect the remarks whatsoever.
Our legal volunteers (as well as hundreds of others who have so gracefully offered support) have deemed it impossible for the Australian Police to remove these comments or request a take-down as we are not only based overseas, but we are protected by the Communications and Media standards that Australia possesses.
Whilst we do have sympathy and respect for the victims’ families and the accused’s right to a fair trial, we see no obligation to stop others from having their own opinion.
The application for Mr Bayley’s image to be removed has been rejected and so likewise, we will not be editing the article for that purpose – to put it bluntly, we will not be removing ANY of our coverage.
Whilst the magistrate has claimed that the comments and vilification made by the public could “irretrievably compromise the trial” we believe that what is done is done. We would also like to remind the authorities involved that any comment that has been displayed on the information can IRREVERSIBLY compromise anything.
Although this has nothing to do with the development – we must look at the Arab Spring uprising and comprehend that silencing the opinions of the people results in community backlash and protests. We aren’t threatening that this will be the case and we certainly are not picking or starting fights; however, we will fight for freedom of speech.
We’d like to point out that silencing the non-mainstream media is a severe issue in today’s online world and that looking into the Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) will help further explain this issue.
WordswithMeaning.org will forever encourage healthy debate and concerns and we would appreciate any donations (via text message) or support to fight back and publicise this subject.