The Russians appear to be moving in the aftermath of Turkey shooting down one of its fighters: it has targeted Turkish history in a new and abusive criminal law. Russian lawmaker Sergei Mironov said that his Just Russia party has proposed a bill that criminalizes the denial that the 1915 killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces was a “genocide.” I previously wrote about a similar law passed in France as not just a denial of free speech but academic freedom. The law was later struck down. The Russians are moving just weeks after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Switzerland also violation freedom of speech for its criminalization of the denial of the killings of Armenians as genocide.
We have been discussing the rapid erosion of free speech on our campuses. That trend started a long time ago in our high schools where officials have steadily attacked the exercise of free speech by teenagers. Few however have reached the level of censorship and content-based punishment as Revere High School in Massachusetts. Cheerleader Caley Godino has been banned from her team because she tweeted political comments that her teachers did not like about illegal immigration.
The Obama Administration has responded critically to the decision from an Israeli court to give an Israeli border police officer just community service for his entirely unjustified attack on an American teenager. Tariq Khdeir, 15, a Palestinian-American, was beaten by the officer, whose name has been withheld by the courts to avoid any further repercussions for him or his family. The beating was filmed after the officer caught the teenager near a riot in East Jerusalem in July 2014. Despite this evidence (and no evidence of just cause) the Israeli court gave the officer just 45 days of community service and a suspended prison term of four months.
We have long discussed our close alliance with Saudi Arabia despite that country’s denial of the most fundamental human rights for women, non-Muslims, journalists, and political dissidents. While the State Department continues to vaguely reference “reforms” in the Kingdom, the Saudi Sharia courts and religious police continue to generate shocking medieval cases where people are flogged or executed for exercising free thought or associations. The latest outrage is the death sentence given Ashraf Fayadh, a Palestinian poet and leading member of Saudi Arabia’s contemporary art scene. He has been sentenced to death for renouncing Islam, being an atheist (which he denies) and insulting Saudi Arabia. Many view his real offense as being his embarrassment of the infamous religious police (mutaween) in Abha after he posted a video of their lashing a man in public. As is often the case in the pseudo, “courts” of Saudi Arabia, he was denied counsel and any real opportunity to present a defense.
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
An inmate who previously escaped from a detention facility in Chicago filed a lawsuit against the government demanding ten million dollars in damages resulting from his escape caper failed to convince the Seventh Circuit of his claim’s merit, but the court at least acknowledged his lawsuit “gets credit for chutzpah.”
The jailbreak occurred in 2012 when plaintiff Jose Banks and a cellmate rappelled down seventeen stories down a high-rise corrections center using a rope constructed of sheets and dental floss. He managed to hail a cab and evade law enforcement for several days before recapture.
Banks claimed among other things that he suffered emotional injury from the trauma of fearing for his life as he dangled from the makeshift rope used in his escape.
Harvard Law students have started a campaign to drop the historic seal of Harvard because it is tied to an 18th-century slaveholder. The students organization, Royall Must Fall, have held campus demonstrations demanding the removal of the seal. The three sheaves of wheat on the seal come from the Royall family crest (which raises the compromise possibility of just replacing that portion of the seal attributed to the Royall family). Third-year law student Alexander Clayborne insists that the effort is part of “[o]ur larger goals include decolonization of the law school in general and decolonization of the law school curriculum.”
It appears that the Obama Administrations is not alone in pursuing journalists in the search for whistleblowers and leakers. Emiliano Fittipaldi has revealed that he has been interrogated and faces charges from Holy See prosecutors. He was given a Vatican summons to appear to answer questions about his recently published book “Avarice.”