We previously discussed the case of Mark Meechan who thought it was funny to train his pet pug Buddha to give a Nazi salute when he said “Sieg Heil.” It was a joke and clearly many could find it offensive. However, he was charged criminally and has now been convicted in yet another attack on free speech in the United Kingdom.
Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the issuance of a subpoena to the Trump organization for records pertinent to Trump business dealings in Russia. President Trump previously responded to a question of whether such inquiries into his business dealings would be a “red line” by saying that it would. Whether it is a red line or a “Rubicon,” Mueller seems to have crossed it. Of course, the Trump Organization has been asked for information previously and it is cooperating. However, this is a direct demand for business records. In the best case scenario, this could be a clean up subpoena to guarantee that all available documents have been reviewed. Then again it might be a new front in the investigation. Notably, this weekend, President Trump and his counsel ramped up their criticism of the investigation — criticism that I continue to view as unwise and inappropriate.
Here is the column:
Below is my column on various proposal for gun control reforms after the latest school massacre in Florida. As the column discusses, the constitutional burden is more demanding than suggested by many politicians. This is clearly a right that is subject to reasonable limitations but it is an individual constitutional right that affords gun owners a higher protection in the court.
Below is my column in USA Today on the nomination Deputy Director Gina Haspel to head the CIA. While Sen. Rand Paul has declared that he will oppose Haspel over torture, some Democrats (who are being criticized for previously failing to act on torture allegations) are again hedging on whether they will oppose a nominee solely due to her involvement in the torture program. However, one promising development is an effort by Sen. Dianne Feinstein to have Haspel’s record on torture declassified. There remains some debate over Haspel’s role on notable cases. Reports still indicate that Haspel oversaw the torture of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri at the “Cat’s Eye.” However, it is not clear if she was “Chief of Base” during the torture of Abu Zubaydah. ProPublica issued a correction Thursday that she was not Chief at the time of the Zubaydah torture. There is no debate that Haspel ordered the destruction of evidence of the torture program.
Here is the column (which has been edited since its original posting):
The rollback on civil liberties and press freedoms continues in Egypt where our close ally is arresting journalists for insulting the government or police. Now even pro-government media figures are being arrested. The arrest of prominent television host Khairy Ramadan is an example of how, once censorship and the criminalization of speech starts, the appetite for speech control becomes insatiable.
Hong Kong movie star Jackie Chan has long been known to harbor authoritarian and anti-free speech views. Now, the action movie star is calling for other artists to be arrested for art that is deemed insulting to China, particularly in advancing favorable images of the Japanese. Chan and his 37 other members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference called on then government to punish fellow artists who insult “national integrity and dignity.” The call follows Chinese artists who wee criticized for showing the Japanese in World War II in a positive light. This by the way was part of the propaganda issued by the U.S. government against the Japanese. The racist elements are quite evident and shocking. Hollywood was a critical part in our propaganda efforts during the war. Now, over 50 years later, Chan and other artists and authors however are seeking to criminalize speech that is viewed as sympathetic or favorable to the Japanese.
There is an interesting lawsuit in Oregon where Tyler Watson is suing Dick’s Sporting Goods for age discrimination after the store (and Walmart) declared that they would no longer sell guns to people below 21 years old. Since he is entitled to buy guns under state law, he is claiming that the store policy discriminates against him on the basis of age in refusing to sell him a .22 caliber Ruger rifle.