There is an interesting protest growing on the campus of Brigham Young University where students are opposing a rule imposed by the school. The subject of the protests is rather unique. No it is not a war protest or some other usual campus cause. It is facial hair. The university has banned beards, a curious rule to be sure for a school named after Brigham Young who would have been banned from campus due to his facial hair.
Archive for the ‘Free Speech’ Category
By Mike Appleton, Weekend Contributor
“All governments are theocracies. We now live in a secular humanist theocracy. I want to change that to a government with God at its head.”
-Gary DeMar (quoted in John Sugg, “A Nation Under God,” Mother Jones (December, 2005)
When I started first grade in 1951, each school day began with the Pledge of Allegiance. We recited “one nation, indivisible,” because people understood that fidelity to one’s country is not a religious virtue. The National Prayer Breakfast was not on anyone’s calendar because it didn’t exist. Politicians felt no compulsion to invoke God’s blessings on the United States at the conclusion of every speech. Protestants opposed every effort to secure public funding of Catholic parochial schools in order to preserve the “wall of separation” between church and state. The corner grocer didn’t care whether a customer was gay or had been born again. Textbooks were not reviewed by religious committees for conformity with the King James Version. No serious person had yet suggested that insentient, artificial commercial entities could magically channel the religious beliefs of their shareholders. And no one complained that a war was being waged against religion.
But following some of the events at this year’s Values Voter Summit, I have become nostalgic for 1951.
Submitted By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
The LGBT community and Facebook are in the midst of a great controversy for Facebook requiring anonymous or aliased members of the Drag Queen community to provide their legal names for their user accounts. The community is concerned that the forced use of their “real” names could lead to discrimination, harassment and hate crimes and that their Drag names are an essential component of their personal identity. Facebook counters that its policy has been in place since the beginning and these policies are necessary to protect the integrity of its service and to bring accountability to its users by requiring actual names within the users’ profiles.
The controversy raised important questions about the role of privacy, anonymity, and free speech in an increasingly public world along with balancing the needs of different segments of our society, and individual choices.
Below is my column on the resignation of Eric Holder as United States Attorney General. For civil libertarians, Holder’s tenure as Attorney General under President Obama has been one of the most damaging periods in our history with a comprehensive attack on various constitutional rights and principles from free speech to the free press to international law. In recent polling by NBC and the Wall Street Journal, Holder was the second most unpopular government official after the positively radioactive Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
As someone who previously called for Holder’s firing after the investigation of various journalists under national security powers, I am hardly one who can offer congratulatory sentiments for such a record. However, much like President Obama, one has to wonder what could have been if Holder had chosen a more principled and less political approach to his office. Holder is resigning the same week that a federal judge ordered the release of “Fast and Furious” documents after the Justice Department was accused of a pattern of delay and obstruction. Holder was previously held in contempt by Congress for his withholding documents and conflicting accounts to an oversight committee looking into the scandal. Indeed, Holder was looking at an even more aggressive period with the possible loss of the Senate and increased GOP seats in the House.
Ironically, Holder came into office trying to distinguish himself from such disastrous predecessors as Alberto Gonzales but proved no less political or blindly loyal to his own president. Indeed, both men fought aggressively to expand the powers of the presidency and national security laws over countervailing individual rights and separation of powers principles. It will be civil liberties and not civil rights that will be the lasting, and troubling, legacy of Eric Holder. The column is below:
Samira Salih al-Nuaimi died last week as she lived: a brave symbol of human rights in a region of religious extremist and oppression. Al-Nuaimi, a mother of three and lawyer, was taken from her home in Mosul by Islamic State fighters and taken to a Sharia court for trial for apostasy in her abandoning of true Islamic teachings. This true Islamic path for ISIS then included days of torture and the executive of Al-Nuaimi.
Christian Pastor Zafar Bhatti has reportedly been shot and killed by a Pakistani policeman, who also wounded another prisoner, 70-year-old Briton Muhammad Asghar. Both are in jail for blasphemy. Bhatti was a human rights activist fighting for the rights of Christians in the country. His death (and the convenient shooting of another alleged “blasphemer”) is viewed as highly suspicious given the past threats against his life from other prisoners and guards.
One month ago, United States District Court Judge Clarke Waddoups handed down his final ruling in favor of my clients in the Sister Wives case. Utah Attorney General, Sean Reyes has now filed his notice of appeal in the case — a move that will take this historic case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver and potentially to the Supreme Court.