Category: Free Speech

The Spanish Inquisition: Actor Becomes Latest Blasphemy Target In The West

913px-Santo_Domingo_en_oraciónI have previously written about the continued use of blasphemy laws in the West, including Spain and Ireland.  The continued enforcement of medieval concepts of blasphemy as evidenced by the detention of Willy Toledo, who was accused of ridiculing God and the Virgin Mary in court. Toledo is being targeted due to comments made on social media in support of three women who are being prosecuted for blasphemy.   It is chilling to think that an actual judge would hold such a hearing in modern times.  The nation that gave us the Spanish Inquisition still claims the right to imprison people for insulting God.

We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws as well as blasphemy laws. Continue reading “The Spanish Inquisition: Actor Becomes Latest Blasphemy Target In The West”

Defense Counsel Calls Out DOJ For Falsely Accusing His Client Of Trading Sex For Access . . . Court Imposes Gag Order On Counsel

09dc-butina-jumboYesterday, we discussed the prosecution of accused Russian agent Maria Butina and how prosecutors put out clearly false allegations that she traded sex for favors.  Butina’s defense counsel Robert Driscoll called out the government for the clearly baseless allegations spread throughout the media.  U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has now responded by gagging counsel, an order that has become all too common in federal cases. Continue reading “Defense Counsel Calls Out DOJ For Falsely Accusing His Client Of Trading Sex For Access . . . Court Imposes Gag Order On Counsel”

British Police Department Calls On Citizens To Report Non-Criminal Offensive or Insulting Comments

download-1We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech. Now the South Yorkshire police department is making it clear that it does not just want citizens to report crimes but “incidents” involving offensive or insulting comments. This follows an effort to make wolf whistles a crime in England.

Continue reading “British Police Department Calls On Citizens To Report Non-Criminal Offensive or Insulting Comments”

Just Don’t Do It: Burgerville Takes Opposite Approach To NFL On Protests

download-5300px-National_Football_League_logo.svgWe discussed yesterday the decision of the NFL to shelve its policy on anthem protests.  In the meantime, the Burgerville chain has faced the same question and reached a very different conclusion.  Its employees were wearing protest buttons reading “Abolish ICE” and “No One Is Illegal.”  Unlike the NFL which did have guidelines barring such protests, Burgerville had nothing in its rules. However, the chain then formally adopted a non-retroactive rule against such protests or advocacy during work hours for its employees.  It is not clear if any Burgerville employee will now be considered for the next Nike “Just Do It” campaign. Continue reading “Just Don’t Do It: Burgerville Takes Opposite Approach To NFL On Protests”

Brown Under Fire After Censoring Article On Research Because It “Might Invalidate The Perspectives Of The Transgender Community”

Brown University is under fire this week for an act of censorship that undermines its status as a leading academic institution.  The university removed an article discussing a peer-reviewed article that ran in  PLOS One by Lisa Littman, an assistant professor in behavioral sciences at Brown.  The article discusses “rapid-onset gender dysphoria” and how this transition toward transgender status is influenced by social media and online videos.  That nexus was immediately flagged by activists as not fitting the narrative that such gender decisions are predetermined and pressure was put on Brown University to act.  Bess Marcus, dean of Brown’s School of Public Health, explained that the article was removed because ” the study could be used to discredit efforts to support transgender youth and invalidate the perspectives of members of the transgender community.”  Instead, Marcus and the university discredited its entire academic institution by engaging in censorship and attacking academic freedom principles.  Rather than simply allowing an opposing academic viewpoint to be heard, the university removed a story on research by popular demand.   Continue reading “Brown Under Fire After Censoring Article On Research Because It “Might Invalidate The Perspectives Of The Transgender Community””

The False Friend Dilemma: Why Trump Has Few Options In Dealing With Omarosa

Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the continuing controversy surrounding the release of the tell-all book by Omarosa Manigault Newman.  Manigault Newman has continued her release of secret tapes featuring the President and his staff.  Her latest tape captures a private conservation with Lara Trump who offers Manigault Newman a $15,000 a month job with the Trump campaign on the promise that she will “stay positive.”  Trump refers to the rumor that Manigault Newman has dirt of Trump as she offered a job with few apparent duties or expectations other than “staying positive.”  Of course, many of us are still wondering what Manigault Newman did in the White House.  Nevertheless, the taping shows the utter lack of loyalty or honestly by Manigault Newman in dealing with friends and coworkers. 

The Trump campaign has now filed a civil action, which is discussed as a possibility in the column below.  The potential for criminal liability however is limited in this case.

Here is the column: Continue reading “The False Friend Dilemma: Why Trump Has Few Options In Dealing With Omarosa”

Trump Revokes Clearance Of John Brennan and Orders Review Of Other Former Officials

donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedIn a highly controversial move, President Donald Trump has revoked the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan and ordered the review of other officials who all share one obvious distinguishing characteristic: they are all fierce critics of Trump.  The move has been widely condemned as Nixonian and amounting to a black or enemies list.  While I have been highly critical of everyone on the list (and called for some to be fired and, in a couple cases, prosecuted), I find the move very troubling from a free speech perspective.  Indeed, I am still uncertain about the rationale for the actions and why the list would be composed entirely of Trump critics if based on a consistent, apolitical basis. Continue reading “Trump Revokes Clearance Of John Brennan and Orders Review Of Other Former Officials”

North Carolina Judge Fines Klansman For Littering In Troubling Free Speech Case

There is an interesting case out of North Carolina where Justin Adams was fined $1,000 for littering.  Adams is a KKK member who was distributing Klan literature on car windshield wipers.  Complaints followed and police were called.  Chief District Judge Mark Galloway imposed the fine, but there are serious questions raised about content-based discrimination of speech. Adams’ views are vile but it seems unlikely that others distributing literature would be subject to arrest. Indeed, Roxboro Police Chief David Hess seemed to confirm as much in his later comments.

Continue reading “North Carolina Judge Fines Klansman For Littering In Troubling Free Speech Case”

Criminal Tweets: Trump Critics Should Not Respond To Acts Of “Fake News” With Fake Law

Below is my column in the Hill Newspaper on the latest “smoking gun” of obstruction in the form of Trump tweets.  There continues to be a categorical refusal of many to acknowledge the implications of the interpretation being advanced to implicate Trump.  There is also a failure to acknowledge that the Clinton campaign received more information was Russian sources, including Russian intelligence figures. The difference is the Clinton people were smart enough to use a cut out in the form of a former British spy.

While advocates continue to maintain that agreeing to go to a meeting to review promised evidence of crimes is a federal election violation, no case like this has ever resulted in a conviction that I know of.  Indeed, I do not know of any case remotely similar to this case as being brought.  The First Amendment implications should bar any such prosecution.

Here is the column: Continue reading “Criminal Tweets: Trump Critics Should Not Respond To Acts Of “Fake News” With Fake Law”

Connecticut Official Stirs Controversy By Taking A Knee During Every Pledge Of Allegiance In Council Meetings

Screen Shot 2018-07-31 at 7.58.32 AM.pngA controversy is building in the little town of Haddam, Conn. where Selectwoman Melissa Schlag continues to take a knee NFL-Style during the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of meetings.   Her protest however is not the treatment of African Americans but to protest President Donald Trump.  I have previously stated my personal dislike for such protests during the national anthem and I frankly view this as a bit silly as a forum.  However, while I have argued that owners have every right to bar such protests by NFL players as a contractual matter, I believe Schlag has a clear first amendment right to continue her protest as these meetings. Continue reading “Connecticut Official Stirs Controversy By Taking A Knee During Every Pledge Of Allegiance In Council Meetings”

Tackling Free Speech: Roger Goodell and NFL Order Jerry Jones To Stop Talking About The Anthem

Freedom_of_SpeechIt appears that all of the concern over the free speech rights of players over the national anthem protests does not extend to owners.  Last week, Dallas Cowboys coach Jerry Jones was reportedly told to stop talking about the national anthem controversy.  Jones had said that his team would be standing at attention during the playing of the national anthem this season.  Then he went silent.  I previously wrote how the NFL is an organization curiously based on socialist principles and a heavy-hand of censorship.  The NFL is already buckling on its compromise to allow players to stay in the locker room as protests during the anthem as the player association and some teams demand the right to continue the protests.

Continue reading “Tackling Free Speech: Roger Goodell and NFL Order Jerry Jones To Stop Talking About The Anthem”

Fresno State Professor Calls For All White Editors Everywhere To Resign After “Ableist” Poem Published By Nation Magazine

unknownRanda Jarrar, a professor of English at California State University at Fresno, became an infamous character when she previously celebrated the death of former first lady Barbara Bush.  The horrific tweets by Jarrar led to calls for her termination, which I previously opposed on free speech grounds.  Now, Jarrar is back after calling for the resignation of all white editors everywhere because The Nation published a poem that some viewed as “ableist.” In the meantime, the editors of the liberal magazine have been on a public campaign of self-flagellation over the publishing of the short poem.

Continue reading “Fresno State Professor Calls For All White Editors Everywhere To Resign After “Ableist” Poem Published By Nation Magazine”

No, Mr. President, The Media Is Not The “Real Enemy of the People”

440px-Official_Portrait_of_President_Donald_TrumpIn another attack on journalists, President Donald Trump called the “fake news media” the “real enemy of the people” yesterday. The tweet is in response to uniformly negative coverage, including on Fox News, of Trump’s handling of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Since the vast majority of reporters described the summit as a debacle, it put most reporters in this category.  The tweet caused even Fox reporter John Roberts to remark that he must also now be an “enemy of the people.”  The White House is still reeling from Trump’s disastrous news conference with Putin and various Republican leaders (and Trump’s own intelligence figures) have made varying levels of corrections or outright contradictions of his words.  I have repeatedly criticized the media for unfair coverage of the Trump investigations and related subjects. However, these attacks on the media are as unfounded as they are dangerous for American society.  The President often has a point on slanted coverage but his use of such inflammatory and unjustified language should be rejected by all citizens.

 

Continue reading “No, Mr. President, The Media Is Not The “Real Enemy of the People””

Federal Judge Orders L.A. Times To Remove Information Of A Plea Agreement From Published Articles [UPDATED]

screen-shot-2018-07-17-at-7-22-46-am-e1531826624860.pngIn one of the most troubling orders issued by a court in years, U.S. District Judge John F. Walter issued an order on Saturday to the Los Angeles Times to remove information from an article describing a plea agreement between prosecutors and a Glendale police detective.  The detective is alleged to have been in the pocket of the blood-soaked Mexican Mafia.  The newspaper discovered the details in a posted order on PACER the online court database, which was supposed to be left under seal.  I have been in cases when such mistakes have occurred but the court’s actions in this case drive to the heart of press freedom in this country. In my view (which will hardly surprise our regular readers), the order is a direct and dangerous violation of the First Amendment. [UPDATE: After a national outcry, the judge has rescinded his order and says that he was not sure that the LA Times had obtained the material legally.]

Continue reading “Federal Judge Orders L.A. Times To Remove Information Of A Plea Agreement From Published Articles [UPDATED]”

Res ipsa loquitur – The thing itself speaks