Archive for the ‘Free Speech’ Category

Steven-PeersPolice in Manchester have decided not to press charges against Steven Peers who was arrested for impersonating an officer. The twist is that Peers was wearing a pig mask at the time and a toy bobby’s helmet. Peers is an electrical engineer who uses his comic character ‘Officer 666’ to highlight the “violence, corruption and bad behavior.”

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

meriam-yehya-ibrahim-apostasy-sharia-law-sudanAfter an international outrage and widespread condemnation following the death sentence of a pregnant, Christian Sudanese woman accused apostasy and adultery for her marriage to a Christian man, the Sudanese Government has publicly stated it would instead release Meriam Yehya Ibrahim from custody.

BBC News reports that Abdullahi Alzareg, an under-secretary at the foreign ministry, said Sudan guaranteed religious freedom and was committed to protecting the woman who was to be release in a few days.

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c3There is an interesting controversy out of Wasatch County, Utah where students were surprised when they received their yearbooks and found themselves wearing outfits that they never saw before. The Wasatch High School had altered photos of girls who had too much skin showing, though what was viewed as inappropriate by the local school officials is rather surprising.

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220px-Hall_headshot13540068012600We have previously discussed the crackdown on pornography studios over the failure to use condoms in their filmmaking. I have previously expressed concern over such mandates as curtailing free speech principles while accepting that the public health rationale could well prevail in a court challenge. Now the California Assembly has approved a state law to require condom use in pornographic films produced in the state. It is the first such state law and could be subject to a challenge under the First Amendment. This is Democratic state Rep. Isadore Hall’s third attempt to pass such legislation.

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)- Weekend Contributor

 

It has happened again.  A mass killing at the hands of a person armed with knives and three semi-automatic handguns and 400 rounds of ammunition.  This time the alleged shooter stabbed three to death and then went on a shooting spree that ended with at least three more dead and a total of 8 injured/wounded people from gunshot wounds and 5 more injured by his knives or by being hit by his car. (more…)

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220px-Leila_Hatami_Cannes_2013300px-Fomfr_whipWe have yet another example of the perversity of justice under Sharia law. The latest case comes out of Iran where university students have filed a criminal complaint against famed actress Leila Hatami, who recently starred in the Oscar-winning film, A Separation. Some Iranians were outraged when Hatami accepted a customary peck on the cheek from Gilles Jacob, the President of Cannes Festival, as she arrived at Cannes Film Festival to serve as a member of the prestigious jury. Not only is such a sign of affection a crime in the Islamic Republic but (gasp) Hatami was wearing a head scarf that did not entirely cover her hair from being seen by men. She is now subject to jail and flogging under article 638 of Islamic Criminal Justice. The Sharia law calls for 50 lashes.

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220px-Bundesarchiv_Bild_147-0510,_Berlin,_Lustgarten,_Kundgebung_der_HJ360px-Bundesgericht-VDThere is an interesting decision out of Geneva where Switzerland’s Federal Tribunal, their top court, ruled that a Nazi salute is not a criminal gesture if it meant as a personal statement. For Americans, it is a decision that may seem oddly framed since we treat such gestures as clearly protected. However, given the criminalization of Nazi symbols in Germany and France, the ruling is viewed as a more liberal approach to free speech. Even jokes have been criminalizes in England and France.

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250px-Downtown_Brighton_Michigan_Grand_River_Avenuenicubunu_open_mouthFor many years, I have questioned the constitutionality of criminalizing swearing (here and here and here and here). As many know on this blog, I do not like profanity and we delete such comments on this site. However, we are a private site. The issue changes dramatically when people are arrested for foul language and subject to penal sanctions. It is part of the criminalization of America where pet peeves of politicians are ramped up to criminal offenses to make a point. The latest such move is found in Brighton, Michigan (shown here on Main Street) where police will be charging people with disorderly conduct for swearing. They just will not say what will constitute criminally foul language.

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200px-World_Bank_Logo.svgThis afternoon, United States District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan will hold a hearing in the Chang litigation over the mass arrests during the World Bank/IMF protests. The hearing was called to specifically explore the possible sanctions to be imposed against the District of Columbia and the status of the Special Master’s investigation and litigation. Since I am co-lead counsel with my colleague Daniel Schwartz of Bryan Cave, I have been circumspect in any public comments in the case. However, to reduce calls to my office, we have been posting the relevant information and filings for hearings in the case. The hearing will be held at 11:30am in courtroom 24A on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C.

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badawiSaudi Arabia has given the world a new example of Sharia abuse. Sharia law continues to be used to target homosexuals, religious dissidents, women, and reporters. The latest sentence was handed down against Raif Badawi, who started the “Free Saudi Liberals” website. He has now been sentenced to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes.

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ariel88Procter & Gamble has issued an apology after its new campaign for Ariel laundry detergent in Germany does not suggests a powerfully whitening soap as much as a white power soap. The Ariel powder boxes featured a soccer jersey with a prominent “88.” The problem is that neo-Nazis use “88” to get around laws criminalizing the use of such phrases as Heil Hitler.” “H” is the eighth letter in the alphabet. The company has apologized for “any false connotations” and changed the exterior of the product. The number 88 for the company represented the number of loads that you can wash with one package. For others, any promise to make your “whites the whitest” had a more disturbing historical meaning.

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Submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor

I was going to write this last weekend on the actual 44th anniversary of a very sad event.  For some reason, I had a hard time focusing on what I wanted to say, in light of the many emotions that were going through my head.  I don’t want the anniversary to go by without writing about the personal significance that day in May had on my life, and I believe on the lives of many in my generation.  The Pulitzer Prize winning photograph by John Filo, included above from Wikipedia, is one that I have never forgotten.  Nor should anyone forget it. (more…)

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rashid-rehmanThe legal profession this week lost one of our best and bravest. Pretending to be potential clients in a matrimonial case, two people entered the law firm of Rashid Rehman Khan and shot him to death. Rashid Rehman, a coordinator for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), had faced death threats for years after he courageously represented a university professor accused of blasphemy. Unable to kill the accused, Islamic extremists appear to have now killed the lawyer. Rehman never flinched in his commitment to the rule of law and to this country.

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350px-Bertillon_selfportraitThere is a new and disturbing industry that has sprung up: publishing mugshots of people and then charging to have those pictures taken down. One individual in the article below, Jaclyn Lardie, paid hundreds of dollars to remove the mugshot from a college drinking arrest only to have the picture appear on other sites. States have moved in to try to legislate protections. While invented in its standard form in 1888 by Alphonse Bertillon (shown here), it took the Internet to make a rather shady business out of the millions of mugshots generated in criminal arrests great and small.
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220px-Confederate_Rebel_Flag.svgCalifornia flagThe California state assembly has passed a new law that will be prohibit the selling or displaying items with an image of the Confederate flag. We have previously discussed the disciplining of students and others over the display of this flag as protected speech. In the same way, this bill raises serious constitutional questions and could trigger a court fight.

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