As Western leaders like Angela Merkel cave into the authoritarian demands of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in crushing free speech, journalists and cartoonists are fighting back. After a Dutch journalist was arrested in Turkey this weekend for allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the most-read newspaper in the Netherlands threw down the gauntlet and published a front-page editorial cartoon that shows Erdogan as an ape crushing Europe’s free speech. Since Erdogan demands the prosecution of journalists even outside of Turkey who insult him, the publication could force another confrontation with the aspiring dictator. In the meantime, the West (including the United States) continue to prop up Erdogan as he destroys secular government in Turkey, arrests journalists, and denies the most basic forms of free speech.
Late Monday, the Brown family filed their appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Brown v. Buhman, No. 14-4117. The Sisters Wives case raises core issues of free speech and free exercise — constitutional violations found by the trial court in striking down the Utah cohabitation law. This “en banc” petition is to the entire Tenth Circuit in seeking review of the recent panel decision vacating the earlier decision on standing grounds.
Our close ally in Turkey this week is continuing his comprehensive attack on free speech and free exercise. A Dutch journalist, Ebru Umar, a well-known atheist and feminist journalist, is the latest victim of the crackdown by Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Erdoğan was recently given a boost to his scorched earth campaign by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to first apologize to him for a comedian making fun of him in Germany but also approved a prosecution of the comedian . As Merkel abandoned any semblance of free speech in Germany to appease Erdoğan, the authoritarian leader set out to punish Western journalists in his own country who dared to criticize him. Umar recently wrote a piece critical of Erdoğan for the Dutch daily Metro, extracts of which she then tweeted. Her last tweet chillingly said “Police at the door. No joke.”
The Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights is a respected organization established by intellectuals who seek to protect human rights in the Kingdom and the creation of both democratic and legal institutions that guarantee such rights. Not surprising, the Saudi government has treated such ideas as terroristic threats and has jailed many of its members. The latest is one of the founders Issa al-Hamid who was convicted of inciting people to breach public order, insulting the judiciary, defaming the kingdom’s senior religious clerics and establishing an unlicensed organization. Our close ally in the Middle East has once again shown how it stands in direct opposition to the most basic rights of free speech and free exercise. Rather than actually move its laws and government out of the Middle Ages, the Kingdom has hired a variety of top firms, including leading establishment figures like Tony Podesta, to improve its reputation with the American public (particularly with the expected release of the long withheld 9-11 reports pages that reportedly implicate Saudi officials in the attack.
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
German Chancellor Angela Merkel keeps digging herself deeper with her latest statement regarding her government’s prosecution of satirist Jan Böhmermann at the behest of Turkish President. Now, the chancellor expresses her regrets for offering support to President Erdoğan at the expense of her countryman, claiming it was a “mistake”.
There is a rather bizarre case out of Texas where Whole Foods was sued by Pastor Jordan Brown of Austin’s Church of Open Doors. Brown said he ordered a cake from Whole Foods meant to read “Love Wins” — a slogan associated with the movement to legalize same-sex marriage — but the store instead wrote “Love Wins. Fag.” The very notion of Whole Foods, an iconic brand for liberals, producing an anti-gay cake is news in itself. Indeed, Whole Food was initially apologetic and shocked by the news. That soon turned to a more confrontational and angry reaction after the store reviewed the security tape. The store has countersued and suggested that Brown added the offensive language.
We have been discussing the increasing monitoring and punishment of public employees for statements made during their personal time, including speech normally protected as free speech. The latest example of this trend is Dr. Eric Walsh, a public health expert who also serves as a lay minister. Walsh was fired for sermons on issues ranging from homosexuality to evolution. He has now filled a lawsuit and could prove important in exploring the protection for public employees with regard to political and religious speech outside of work. There remains an uncertain line as to the right of public employees to engage in free speech outside of work that may be offensive or insulting to particular groups or faiths. As a general rule, free speech demands bright-line rules to avoid the chilling effects that come with such uncertainty.