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The week that was: Navigating Brexit, hate speech and the law is a game of chess | View

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The week that was: Navigating Brexit, hate speech and the law is a game of chess | View

The week that was: Navigating Brexit, hate speech and the law is a game of chess | View
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Continuing on from the first of our new weekly reviews last week, we take look at the hot topics that have had you talking this week. From the discussions around the defence of our individual freedoms to the sovereign rights of nations, we aim to give you a flavour of the opinions here on View that have driven debate across Europe and beyond over the last seven days.

While the true origins of the game are still debated, chess has always been a game of tactics, strategy and calculation. It can be an exhilarating sport, as you will know if you have been watching grandmaster Magnus Carlsen take on challenger Fabiano Caruana in London in the World Chess Championship 2018. But chess is more than just a spectator sport, as aficionado Carl Fredik Johansson points out in his op’ed this week. He argues the point that more people – particularly children – should be encouraged to take up the sport because of its ability to increase brain capacity.

Modelled as a war game, chess is as much about defeating your adversary without shedding blood as it is about following the rules. The same could easily be said on the ongoing battle with hate speech. While Germany’s new anti-hate speech laws are well-intentioned, William Echikson and David Ibsen argue the rules need to be honed to better combat the problem in their co-authored opinion piece.

Of course, to be effective at chess, you must be an excellent tactician. The best chess players know winning the game is as much about tactical retreats as it is going on the attack. Is this a lesson the ruling Law and Justice Party has taken to heart in Poland? According to law professor Wojciech Sadurski, the Polish government’s decision to backtrack on parts of its proposed overhaul of the country’s judicial system is just a ploy to blindside the EU. Sometimes attack is the best form of defence, as we see in the case of Hungarian EU minister Judit Varga defending her government’s fight against alleged EU illegality.

Having a strategy in mind is also imperative for victory. You have to try to be several moves ahead of your opponent. It makes you wonder what the president Donald Trump’s long term strategy is after he renewed his unwavering support for Saudi Arabia, despite mounting evidence implicating the country’s crown prince in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The same could be said of the DUP after it announced plans to vote against Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement from the EU, a significant sea change in their long term strategy at Westminster. The party’s Brexit spokesman, Sammy Wilson MP, was unequivocal in his disdain for the Prime Minister’s “rotten deal”, setting out why he and his colleagues will not be supporting it in a View opinion piece this week.

Taking a principled stand is noble but sometimes it can exact a price. Sacrifices are sometimes necessary, as in chess. But sacrificing your freedom is not something any individual should have to do. As the experiences of one former terror suspect in France demonstrate in a poignant piece by Amnesty International, draconian anti-terror laws that require individuals to forfeit their freedom are inhumane.

In other bittersweet tales this week, former White House photographer Amanda Lucidon reflected on her tenure as the official photographer of former First Lady Michelle Obama and what she learned from being in such close proximity to such an inspirational woman.

Other honourable mentions this week include an insightful piece about France’s ongoing struggle to rein in illegal cigarette smugglers whose links to funding terrorism threatens Europe’s very security. Also worth a read are articles about the impact millennials are having on our methods of communication and why having the queen of the fantasy genre, JK Rowling write a movie script was a move too far for some fans of the magical world of Harry Potter.

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