We have been discussing the arrest of people in other countries for participating in protests to boycott Israel and other measures. These actions raise serious free speech issues. Some states have created laws barring contracts with companies that join the boycott of Israel. Now, a controversial measure has passed the New York Senate that bars the funding of any student groups that encourage boycotts of Israel and other allies as well as those groups involved in “hate speech” and “intolerance.” However, the bill introduced by New York state Senator Jack M. Martins (R-Nassau County) is so ambiguously worded as to defy definition of the underlying violations — a critical flaw under first amendment analysis. However, over the objections of various groups, the bill has garnered growing support among politicians.
London’s new mayor, Sadiq Khan, has signaled early in his term that he will continue the state regulation of speech and images that have ravaged free speech in England. He announced an end to the appearance of what he calls “body shaming” advertisements in London’s public transport, advertisements featuring skinny bodies viewed as unrealistic for most women. While some publications have suggested the that move reflects Khan’s Muslim background (he is the first Muslim mayor of London), in my view it reflects a long and disturbing trend in Europe (and particularly England) to regulate and criminalize speech. What some people may view as unrealistic or even demeaning for women, others view as artistic expression in advertising. While this may be the only way I could end up a Benetton model, I have long opposed such rules, which puts the government in the position of policing images to determine what is not demeaning for women.
There were two decisions last week that show the current legal tensions over transgender rights. In Oregon, Jamie Shupe, 52, who identifies as neither a male or female was allowed to change from a “female” to a non-binary classification. This is believed to be the first such order in the country. Across the country, Rowan Feldhaus, 24, (who was born a female but identifies as a male) was denied a name change by a judge. These cases follow a decision last month Haque said her organization increasingly hears from non-binary people. Last month, the Gresham-Barlow School District in Oregon paid an elementary school teacher $60,000 after the non-binary teacher complained of no gender neutral bathrooms and colleagues continuing to refer to “he” or “she” rather than using “they” in reference to the teacher.
We have been discussing the rapid decline of civil liberties in Venezuela after the socialist takeover by Hugo Chavez and his successor, Nicolas Maduro. The denial of free speech and free press protections only increased as Chavez/Maduro destroyed one of the most productive economies in Latin America and turned it into an economic basket case. Now, the “red revolution” can take credit for reducing the judicial system to a virtual caricature of itself. The Venezuela’s Supreme Court ruled this week that the media cannot publish videos of lynchings because such true images would produce “anxiety and uncertainty” among citizens. The Maduro government has been trying to prevent citizens from seeing such images as it denies the social and economic meltdown in the country.
Below is my column in USA Today on the striking similarities between Richard Nixon and Hillary Clinton, particularly with regard to the staffers surrounding them. Both tended to blame others about being, to paraphrase Nixon, “kicked around.” However, there are deeper and rather disturbing patterns emerging that are shared by the two leaders in my view.
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor.
There was an interesting case last month before the Washington Supreme Court where the court was asked to determine the admissibility of evidence obtained during the defendants’ booking process related to criminal street gang affiliation.
Defendants in the case, Ricardo Juarez Deleon, Anthony Deleon, and Octavio Robledo moved to suppress evidence gathered by the state obtained through questions relating to the alleged involvement in gang activity while in the furtherance of a crime, a sentencing enhancement and a status in of itself that can be in violation of law or subject a defendant to revocation of probation and other court imposed restrictions.
A legitimate state purpose exists in asking arrestees if they are gang-affiliated or have hostility toward other inmates for the purpose of order and the safety of staff and the inmate population. It is well known that members of rival gangs housed together lead to a probability of fighting and disruption. A question remains if an arrestee should a choice between answering that they are gang-affiliated to secure a protection through separate housing and remaining silent and face retaliation from other inmates. The petitioners argue this constitutes duress where they are unlawfully required to make incriminating statements to protect their safety.
We have previously discussed the erosion of free speech on college and university campuses as students and faculty are punished for expressing views deemed offensive to any group. In the meantime, we have also seen protests by Black Lives Matter and other groups that silence other students with little response from university administrators. The videotape below captures this problem vividly. Conservative Milo Yiannopolous is often a lightning rod for such protests. However, it is not enough to protest outside. Students increasingly struck down events to prevent opposing views from being heard. In the case, two students shutdown the event as university security (paid by the event organizers) stand by and do nothing. It is a shocking scene for a university as student prevent a speaker from being heard because they disagree with what he has to say.