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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z Vol. 3, No. 5.

The Effect of the Law:

The Effect of the Law:

Eroadly speaking, the law as it at present operates has two main effects; at protects the man with moans from fair as well as unfair Comment, and it checks the publication of anything damaging to the Government in power or the existing state, of affairs in general. Unable to face the heavy cost, of a trial the man without much money who might wish in the public interest to publish some facts about a rich man, is compelled to keep silent. On the other hand, if the rich man libels the poor man, he again has the advantage; for he can afford not only the cost of the trial but also the cost of an appeal. The general position can be well summarized by two quotations from articles, the first by Professor J.B.S. Haldane, and the second by D.N.Pritt, K.C. What they say is of great importance, and it is worth studying in detail the implications of their statements.

1. (Haldane) "Enormous sums are spent in advertising medicines and health foods which are generally useless and often dangerous. A widely advertised vitamin preparation contains, besides vitamins, a substance definitely injurious to children. Under the law of the land I might have to pay thousands of pounds in damages if I mentioned the preparation in question, even if my statement were true, On the other-hand I am at liberty to say publicly that diptheria antitoxin is useless, which is a plain lie".

2. (Pritt) "All recent experience shows that freedom in discussion is, in fact, so severely limited that critical writing has become a dangerous trade. Any attempt to write a full critical account of, or comment on say, trusts, armaments, company promoters, food adulteration, conditions of labour, or slums, or any big industry, of the public school system, or of Colonial page break administration, will confront the writer who nourishes any hope or desire of having his comments published with difficulties at every step. He may think that, as Libel is in its essence an attack on the reputation of individual persons or companies, he is at liberty to criticize a class, or a system, or a whole branch of industry; but he will soon learn that if any one person or corporation is sufficiently prominent in the class, the system, or the industry to be thought to be the target of criticism, an action of libel by that person or corporation will be very likely to succeed".