The media is still trying to learn details about the latest arrest of a Westerner in the Middle East for the exercise of free speech. The 25-year-old woman was reportedly arrested in Abu Dhabi for insulting the United Arab Emirates. This allegedly occurred while waiting for a taxi at the Abu Dhabi International Airport.
This afternoon, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit issued its decision in Brown v. Buhman, No. 14-4117, reversing the decision striking down the cohabitation provision of the Utah polygamy law. The opinion of the panel is attached below. The panel ruled entirely on standing grounds and did not address the merits of the constitutional violations committed in the case. As lead counsel in the case, I have been going over the opinion with our team including our local counsel, Adam Alba, as well as the Brown family. We respectfully disagree with the panel on its interpretation of the governing law and we will appeal the decision.
The Indiana State Police has fired a controversial trooper who had been sued twice in the past 18 months for allegedly preaching to citizens after traffic stops. Senior Trooper Brian Hamilton, 40, was a 14-year veteran of the agency.
We have been discussing the surge of Islamic extremism in Bangladesh, particularly targeting secular writers. This week we have another tragic victim: law student and secular writer Nazimuddin Samad, 26. For simply espousing secular viewpoints, Samad was hacked to death by three or four men on his way back home from classes. Samad and other victims have appeared on a list of 84 “atheist bloggers” published by Islamic extremists.
There is another story of an employee fired over her exercise of free speech in her private life. The speech itself is vile and upsetting. Erica Walker is a radical activist associated with the the New Black Panthers Party and extremist Eric Sheppard Jr. Sheppard is on the run after organizing a protest at Valdosta State University Campus in Georgia where he stomped on an American flag. A gun was found in his backpack and he is wanted by the police. Walker has staged her own protests in walking on the flag. However, after she was identified, her employer, 1380 WAOK The Voice of the Community, reportedly fired her. As we have previously discussed, there is a trend where private and public employees are being disciplined or terminated for their exercise of private speech. There is no indication that Walker associated her disgraceful action with 1380 WAOK The Voice of the Community.
I have been a long critic of the criminalization of speech in Europe and particularly in France. An ever-expanding range of speech is being subject to charges in France as racially or culturally or religiously insensitive. The latest such example is the $34,000 fine imposed on former far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen for calling the Nazi gas chambers a “detail” of World War Two. I can certainly understand the anger over the comment and it may indeed reflect a questioning of the holocaust. However, it is also free speech that should be protected in France and other countries.
Saudi Arabia has produced almost weekly stories of grotesque and medieval sentencing out of its Sharia court system. The Sharia courts apply Islamic law that can be both brutal and primitive in flogging and beheading people for crimes against the faith. The latest is the sentencing of a man to death for renouncing Islam and allegedly posting a video ripping up a Koran and hitting it with his shoe. Saudi Arabia still enforces death sentences for apostasy for those denying their Islamic faith. It is crime that places the Kingdom well outside of the most basic guarantees of human rights and civil liberties.