Archive for the ‘Free Speech’ Category

BEARDS-web-master180Supreme CourtA unanimous Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a Muslim prison inmate in Arkansas, Gregory H. Holt (also known as Abdul Maalik Muhammad), can grow a short beard for religious reasons. The case is The case is Holt v. Hobbs, 13-6827. It represents a trifecta loss. The federal magistrate (Joe J. Volpe), the district court judge (Brian S. Miller), and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (Judges Bye, Arnold, and Shepherd) all ruled against Holt only to see a unanimous Supreme Court reject their reasoning. Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor both wrote concurring opinions.

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Wedding_cake_with_pillar_supports,_2009We have previously discussed (here and here) the growing conflicts over businesses that decline to accommodate same-sex weddings and events in a clash between anti-discrimination and free speech (and free exercise) values. Despite my support for gay rights and same-sex marriage, I have previously written that anti-discrimination laws are threatening the free exercise of religion. Some of these cases involve bakeries that insist that making wedding cakes for same-sex couples violates their religious principles. Now we have a twist on this trending litigation. The Azucar Bakey has been found to have broken discrimination laws by refusing to make an anti-same-sex cake. The bakery was asked to make a Bible-shaped cake with an anti-gay slur and owner Marjorie Silva refused. The customer brought a complaint to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and won.

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1421711309674The intense animosity between Israel and its Arab neighbors was put into sharp relief last week when a simple selfie at a beauty pageant triggered a full fledged criminal investigation. Miss Israel Doron Matalon (first from left) snapped a selfie at the pageant and posted it. Someone noticed that the smiling contestant next to her was Saly Griege, this year’s Miss Lebanon (second from left). The reaction was seismic and sad. It appears that fraternization, like beauty, remains in the eye of the beholder.

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Tamir_Rice_family_photo

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

It is always tragic when anyone is killed.  It doesn’t matter if it is accidental or intentional.  The tragedy of someone dying is universal.  However, when the person killed by a Cleveland Police Officer is a 12-year-old, tragic just doesn’t seem to describe it correctly.  You will probably recall the recent case out of Cleveland, Ohio where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by Officer Timothy Loehmann.

Tamir Rice was shot while playing in a Cleveland park.  A citizen called 911 and suggested that a juvenile was pointing a gun, which was probably a toy, at people in the park.  When Officer Loehmann and his partner answered the call they saw Tamir playing on a swing with the “weapon” in the waistband of his pants.  Released videos suggested that Officer Loehmann fired at Tamir within 1-2 seconds of arriving at the park. That same video evidence also shows police throwing Tamir’s 14-year-old sister to the ground and handcuffing her.

When I first heard about the November 22nd, 2014 incident, I was shocked that a 12 year could be gun downed by a police officer.  Even the recent stories about the police killing suspects in New Mexico, Missouri, New York City, to name a few, did not prepare me for this killing.  Tamir was a 12-year-old child.

When the videos came out and when the truth about Officer Loehmann surfaced, I realized that Officer Loehmann was unfit for duty as a police officer anywhere and the Cleveland Police Department was negligent in hiring an unstable young man to patrol its streets.  The decision to hire Officer Loehmann initiated the sad outcome in November. (more…)

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120px-Pope_Francis_in_March_2013_(cropped)707192-une-charlie-png.jpgAs many on this blog know, I am a great fan of Pope Francis who has brought an inspiring leadership to the Church that has drawn millions back to the faith. Given that admiration, I was disheartened to read the Pope’s comment on free speech today. I ran a column last weekend on how world leaders are failing over themselves to “Stand With Charlie” after the massacre of editors and staff at Charlie Hebdo magazine. However, the West has been rolling back on free speech rights, including some of these very leaders. Pope Francis added his view this week to those insisting that free speech must have limits when it comes to insulting people about their religion. It is a disappointing observation, particularly when coupled with a rather poor analogy.

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220px-Recep_Tayyip_Erdogan707192-une-charlie-png.jpgRemember Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s outrage over the appearance of Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu at the Paris march for free speech? It seems a rather bizarre scene for a man who had led to one of the greatest rollbacks on free speech and press freedom in Turkey’s history as part of his insertion of Islamic fundamentalism into the once secular state. The irony only grew today after a Turkish court banned websites from show this cover of Charlie Hebdo’s magazine following the massacre of its editors and staff by Muslim extremists.
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300px-Eugène_Delacroix_-_La_liberté_guidant_le_peupleThis weekend I wrote a column for the Washington Post on the crackdown of free speech in France. The column suggested that, if the French really wanted to honor the dead at Charlie Hebdo, they would rescind the laws used to hound them and threaten them with criminal prosecution for years. (Indeed, at least one surviving journalist expressed contempt for those who now support free speech but remained silent in the face of past efforts to shut down the magazine). Now, however, news reports indicate that the French government is doubling down on criminalizing speech in the name of free speech after the massacre. France has reportedly made dozens of arrests of people who glorify terrorism and engage in hateful or antiSemitic speech.

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