It?s hard days for freedom of expression in the European Union. First, countries were told that they could not restrict food imports, only to be deluged by Mad Cow Disease and Foot-and-Mouth. Now they are told that criticism of the institutions and leaders of the EU can be lawfully suppressed, sweeping aside English Common Law and 50 years of European precedents on civil liberties.

The EU?s top court found that the EU could legally fire Bernard Connolly, a British economist who was dismissed in 1995 for writing a book, entitled ?The Rotten Heart of Europe,? that criticized the new currency known as the Euro.

The ruling stated that dissent could be restricted in order to ?protect the rights of others? and punish individuals who ?damaged the institution?s image and reputation.? The court called Connolly?s book ?aggressive, derogatory and insulting.?

Mr. Connolly, who has been ordered to pay the legal costs of the trial, said the proceedings did not amount to a fair hearing. He plans to take his case to the non-EU Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Comment by Anne Strieber: After talking to Janet Thomas, author of ?The Battle in Seattle,? on Dreamland March 18, we realize we have to be vigilant lest WTO demands curtail freedom of speech here in the U.S. The World Trade Organization is empowered to make rules that override US laws from the Constitution to the local level.

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