Ireland Drops Blasphemy Prosecution Of Actor Because Not Enough People Were Outraged

As we discussed yesterday, the Irish people have remained committed to holding the ignoble status of a Western country prosecuting people for blasphemy with its sister jurisdictions in Iran, Saudi Arabia and other repressive governments.  Even when the Irish government seeks to avoid the obvious denial of free speech under its blasphemy law, it only makes the entire country look even more ridiculous. That is the case with the decision to drop the criminal investigation of famous actor Stephen Fry.  In a television interview, Fry merely asked why he should  “respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world…. full of injustice.”  He was asked about his view of religion and he answered.  A citizen then said that, while he was not insulted, the comment still constituted blasphemy and should be investigated. Now the police have said that they decided to drop the investigation after concluding an insufficient number of people expressed outrage. So the Irish have the perfect free speech nightmare law: whether you will be prosecuted will depend how many people want you incarcerated.  Sounds like criminal law by plebiscite.

Continue reading

Calling Out Foul Fans: It Is Time For An Unsportsmanlike Conduct Rule For Fans

The Red Sox management is moving aggressively in the wake of the allegation by Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones of racist taunts at Fenway Park , including the banning for life of a fan who made a racist comment to another fan during a recent game.  Boston police are also looking into any possible criminal conduct, including the throwing of peanuts at Jones and others.  Below is my column in The Hill Newspaper on the proposal for a new federal crime for prosecuting racist fans.  Putting aside the serious constitutional issues, it is entirely unnecessary. The problem with both rowdy and racist fans is the inaction of ballparks, not the insufficiency of criminal laws.

Continue reading

B for Blasphemy: Stephen Fry Under Investigation For Sharing His Views Of Religion

When he played Gordon Deitrich in V For Vendetta, the television personality who challenged an authoritarian state, Stephen Fry exposed the terror of living in a state that reserved to itself the right to determine what speech was considered criminal.  He now faces a criminal prosecution over a statement in Ireland that would be entirely protected in the United States as an exercise of free speech.  Irish police are investigating him under the country’s  infamous blasphemy law for asking why he should  “respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world…. full of injustice.” Ireland allies itself with Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other nations in prosecuting free speech deemed insulting or offensive to any religion.  The law is a disgrace to all freedom-loving people and the Irish demean themselves in keeping blasphemy in the criminal code.  The only thing missing is some menacing Irish Chancellor saying “Ireland Prevails.” Continue reading

Four California Students Sue After Being Suspended For “Liking” Postings on Instragram

225px-Instagram_logoThere is an important lawsuit that has been filed in California after four high school students were suspended for simply “liking” Instagram posts deemed racist.  The lawsuit could force reconsideration of the erosion of free speech rights for students, including the widening scope of discipline for student speech outside of schools.  School officials now believe that they have full license to punish students if their personal views outside of school do not conform with accepted values. This case did have troubling aspects that raised legitimate concerns (though these students were not the author of the posting).  The question is one of authority to regulate speech outside of schools if they do not involve criminal threats.

Continue reading


donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedBelow is my column this week on the confirmation from both Trump’s Chief of Staff and the White House Spokesperson that the Administration is working on possible changes in our libel laws — changes that by definition would require altering the First Amendment.  The decision in New York Times v. Sullivan is decades old and celebrated as one of the Court’s greatest decisions.  It has never been challenged by a president . . . until now.  The case clearly states that the libel standard is a constitutional rule and thus the Court would have to overturned the decision or the President would have to amend the First Amendment.  Whatever must be shown under the “actual malice” standard of New York Times v. Sullivan, it pales in comparison to the actual malice shown by this Administration toward the free press.  Here is the column:

Continue reading

En Passant: Girl Barred From Malaysian Chess Competition Due To “Seductive” Knee High Dress

We recently discussed the scandal in Iran where a young girl was barred from an international competition for failing to adhere to Islamic rules requiring the covering of a girl’s hair.  We now have another outrageous decision barring a girl under medieval Islamic principles.  The head judge (and director) of the competition in Putrajaya, Malaysia forced a female competitor to withdraw after declaring her knee length skirt be “seductive.”  Pretty sensitive for a sport with such term as
“exposed King”, “loose position,” and “flash the Queen.”

Continue reading