Archive for the ‘Free Speech’ Category

10409231_707381359356504_6530552318647936744_n-640x853There is another controversy raising the increasing assertion of authority of school officials over pictures and statements made by students outside of school. In Massachusetts, Jamie Pereira was suspended from school after a photo of her and her boyfriend, Tito Velez, both 16, holding Airsoft rifles was posted on Facebook. A caption beneath the photograph read: “Homecoming 2014.” The picture looks like a new American Gothic for some and a threat to others. However, the controversy again raises the limits and discretion of school officials in monitoring speech outside of school for students and teachers alike. There was good reason to be concerned but the punishment was due to the disruption caused rather than an actual threat from the picture.

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200px-Coat_of_arms_of_Saudi_Arabia.svgThe Saudi morality police are back in the news with another attack on free speech and the free exercise of religion. The Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia) police arrested a man who believed that he could see Muhammad and believed that he was walking among us. It is an expression of faith but in Saudi Arabia you must believe what the government believes or face arrest or even death.

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220px-Garry_Moore_Tony_the_Tiger_1955Bus driver Andrew Holland said last year has been a nightmare. He has spent six months on bail, hired an attorney, and stood accused of a heinous crime. People ridiculed him and shunned him for allegedly possessing a film that showed a woman having sex with a tiger. The police charged him with possession of an extreme pornographic image. No one however appeared to actually watch or analyze the film. The film turned out to be a man in a tiger costume who kept saying ‘That’s grrrrrreat’ – the catchphrase of Frosted Flakes cereal mascot Tony the Tiger. All charges have now been dropped, but one has to wonder how the police or prosecutor could have missed this small detail. Putting aside the fact that a man in a tiger outfit hardly looks like the real thing, a talking tiger might have been a clue.

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Twitter Logo200px-Coat_of_arms_of_Saudi_Arabia.svgDespite claims from the government (outside of Saudi Arabia) that it is seeking to modernize its legal system, the Sharia-based Saudi system continues to churn out abuses that shock the conscience. The latest victims are three lawyers who have been jailed for Tweets denouncing the Saudi court system — widely ridiculed by lawyers around the world as a medieval anachronism.

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350px-Washington_Redskins_logo.svgHaving watched the Redskins-Cowboys game last night, this story caught my eye. I previously wrote a Washington Post column on the controversy over the Redskins name. In the column, I mentioned that a large number of both Native Americans and non-Native Americans do not view the team name to be offensive and explored the issue of of who should decided such questions. A story in the Washington Post discusses a vocal opposition to changing the name “Redskins” in Red Mesa, Arizona. It is the other “Redskins” team from Red Mesa High School — a school composed of largely of Navajos.

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

scales_of_justiceThe Washington Supreme Court heard an appeal brought by attorneys representing the internet website backpage.com resulting from a lower court ruling allowing the trial to proceed against the site for allegations that it assisted child sex traffickers to lure children toward sexual exploitation in the state. The argument primarily rests on whether backpage.com can claim immunity under the Communications Decency Act, Title 47 USC 230. The respondents, three unnamed child victims, argued that backpage.com created an environment and construed posting rules that guided alleged sex traffickers and those offering adult services to evade law enforcement and other sanctions, thereby assuming the role of a developer of content which would exempt backpage.com from immunity under the CDA.

The case is being monitored for its potential implications on the freedom of websites to host content from subscribers without being subject to undue liability in the strict sense and the limits to which websites can be responsible. Amicus briefs were filed by interests such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children

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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Blogger

Fascinating book out by NPR media reporter, David Folkenflik, entitled Murdoch’s World: The Last of the Old Media Empires that explores the strange world of publisher Rupert Murdoch. Gobbler of such English-speaking newspapers as The News of The World, The Sun, The Wall Street Journal, and The Times, Murdoch is mostly known for his media collaboration with Roger Ailes in the development and promotion of Fox News, the Right’s mouthpiece of choice. Until his inglorious dismount from credibility in the London Phone Hacking scandal where a Murdoch newspaper employee was convicted of hacking the telephone voice mails of murdered British teenager, Milly Dowler, Murdoch had personified all that is unseemly about tabloid journalism. The personification of Charles Foster Kane, Murdoch fed the Right the red meat of dissention blending news with opinion and relying on practices that were criticized by honest journalists (even conservative ones) around the world calling it right-leaning tabloidism (here).

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