Thursday, June 23, 2011

Landmark Free Speech Ruling

A court in -- where else? -- Taichung handed down a landmark ruling on free speech, sentencing a local blogger to 30 days and $7,000 US in compensation to the owner for giving a restaurant a negative review.....
After visiting a Taichung beef noodle restaurant in July 2008, where she had dried noodles and side dishes, Liu wrote that the restaurant served food that was too salty, the place was unsanitary because there were cockroaches and that the owner was a “bully” because he let customers park their cars haphazardly, leading to traffic jams.

The restaurant’s owner, surnamed Yang (楊), learned about Liu’s blog post from a regular customer, and filed charges against her, accusing her of defamation.

The Taichung District Court ruled that Liu’s criticism of the restaurant exceeded reasonable bounds and sentenced her to 30 days in detention, a ruling that Liu appealed.
The High Court found that Liu’s criticism about cockroaches in the restaurant to be a narration of facts, not intentional slander.

However, the judge also ruled that Liu should not have criticized all the restaurant’s food as too salty because she only had one dish on her single visit.
This brilliant ruling will surely be cited by free speech advocates everywhere as the judges have done a wonderful job protecting free speech. This is the kind of ruling that should be trumpeted around the world, so the greatness of the Taiwan Court system is manifest for all nations to see. Truly this is a wise and humane judgement. I bow to the superior wisdom of these black-robed gods. Now that this judgment has been made, I will never again feel a chill in the air of freedom in Taiwan!

Additional foreign blogger commentary from the Writing Baron, Lao Ren Cha, Echo, and OzSoapbox. These benighted souls clearly lack the acuity to see the unabashed greatness of this key ruling, to grasp its unalloyed goodness, how it has made their lives freer and safer in every way. Go back to your Cheeto-clogged, pajama-strewn basements!

UPDATED: Longtime commenter M says she got 30 days, suspended.
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Taiwan Echo said...

Man, it's in Taichung, I am worrying about you guys ---

Matt said...

I always take a picture to prove how salty noodles are. That lawyer at the end of the article was brilliant.

M said...

She didn't get 30 days in jail, she got a 30 day sentence, suspended for two years. The English language news reports mistranslated the original Chinese.

Still, it is ridiculous that a case like this should be dealt with under criminal law. Surely it should be a matter for the civil courts.

Anonymous said...

Taiwan never fought for democracy and they never know what freedom of speech is.

Anonymous said...

Some redneck states in US have food disparagement law that might have jailed/fined Oprah Winfrey for her hamburger comment.

Taiwan Echo said...

Anon:"Taiwan never fought for democracy and they never know what freedom of speech is."

That's pretty ignorant to Taiwan's history.

Taiwan Echo said...

"Taiwan never fought for democracy and they never know what freedom of speech is."

Remarkable display of ignorance to Taiwan's history.

Anonymous said...

It shows how superficial the democracy is in Taiwan. The civil liberty in Taiwan is still in the age of Fuhrer Chang Kai Shek.

Anonymous said...

Turton, have you thought of writing some negative restaurant reviews.

Nathan said...

Michael, I am glad that you also see the light. Only now is the road paved for legal filings to shut down all these websites providing reviews of products, services, hotels, goods, - pretty much everything. Of course, this will effectively shut down nasty sites that are based on such reviews, such as Amazon, ebay, Tripadvisor, Expedia - actually, most of the commercial sites, simply.

Collateral effect: this will speed up the internet, as there will be not much traffic left.

Taiwan, again, has strongly positioned itself and its legal system within the international community.

Tim said...

Hey Guys,

I had heard about this and have a few key points that are easy to overlook.

First off, it sounds like the blogger is being punished for saying noodles were too salty.

In the above post, the judge defends her statements about cockroaches and criticizes her statements about the noodles being too salty...

But what was she really guilty of? Deflimation, right?

I seem to remember reading that she made some rude comments about the owner, calling him a bully or something like that.

Could it be possible that we're not reading the bloggers post and are making assumptions based on a vague statement of the facts? Maybe she's not being punished for her noodle comments, but for what she said about the owner on a personal level.

Can anyone who's read the official ruling and the original post comment?

Taiwan Echo said...

Hi Tim, check out my new article,

"More on the speech freedom case of a food blogger",