There is an interesting case out of the Vermont Supreme Court on aesthetic nuisance, a subject that I cover in my torts course. At issue in Myrick v. Peck Elec. Co., 2017 VT 4 was a consolidated challenge to a solar power development on the basis that the solar power structures would be unsightly and reduce property value. In line with other courts, the Vermont Supreme Court roundly rejected the notion that ugliness or unattractiveness is a viable basis for a nuisance action under common law torts.
We have been discussing the largely successful efforts by students and faculty to prevent certain conservative speakers like Milo Yiannopoulos from being able to speak on campuses. The latest such example is University of California at Davis where protesters succeeded in preventing fellow students and faculty from hearing Yiannopoulos. There is one promising element to the story however. Unlike school administrators who have either supported or yielded to the “heckler’s veto,” Interim Chancellor Ralph Hexter denounced the effort to not only silence an opposing voice but to deny the right of others to hear that voice on campus. While the school professes “let there be light” on its seal, the school is now cloaked in a forced silence after the ignoble victory of protesters in curtailing the exercise of free speech.
I have long been a critic of politician interfering with curricular issues in our schools. Most of us do not look to politicians as paragons of knowledge. Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez personifies the perils of politicians dictating course choices. Gomez is pushing for a course on to teach students who to avoid fake news. It is part of a new trend around the world to rally people against the scourge of “fake news” — a trend that is already been used as a rationale for censorship and the criminalization of speech. Fake news is now the rallying cry for people who disagree with coverage and is used as a way to avoid answering questions. What one person consider fake news and other considers real news can be highly subjective. The most recent controversy reveals the difficult lines to draw. President-elect Donald Trump made headlines yesterday by denounced CNN as “fake news” and refusing to take a question from its reporter. Yet, the report was “news” that was reported by most major outlets. I agree with the Trump staff about the need for BuzzFeed to have looked more closely at specific allegations and I do find the contractions raised by the Trump staff to be very problematic. Indeed, James Clapper appears to have supported Trump in his outrage over the leaks and further distanced the U.S. intelligence community from the merits of the allegations. [Here is Clapper’s statement] Yet, the legitimacy of these stories comes down to the details published in the stories. A former MI6 agent made the allegation and those allegations were forwarded to the FBI by a U.S. Senator. That is news. The specific “dirt” alleged to be in the possession of the Russians is a far more difficult question for editors and most declined to run those details while reporting the lack of independent confirmation.
We have previously discussed the move to drop the use of the large cow bells that is part of the Swiss identity. Now local citizens in the canton of Aargau have moved to deny a passport to Nancy Holten, 42, because of her advocacy on behalf of the Swiss cows. It turns out that citizens and towns can object to the issuance of passports in Switzerland.
New York State Supreme Court Judge Barbara Jaffe has dismissed the defamation case against against President-elect Donald Trump brought by political strategist and TV pundit Cheryl Jacobus. Trump slammed Jacobus during the campaign and said that she “begged him for a job” at one time. Jaffe, however, held that such tweets are manifestly opinion and not facts for the purposes of defamation law. It is perhaps fitting that the first major ruling related to Trump would be over the character of tweets. If upheld, this could be a major new rule. As if on cue, Trump make more headlines today in the wake of the decision on Twitter with a tweet attacking the intelligence agencies saying “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to “leak” into the public. One last shot at me.Are we living in Nazi Germany?” That is clearly opinion and hyperbole but the scope of Jaffe’s decision certainly adds a layer of protection not just for Trump but other regular tweeters.
Matt Krause is a deeply religious man who feels that people too easily divorce. That is clearly understandable view and probably speaks well of his own marriage. However, Krause is also a Texas state representative and wants to make that decision more difficult for his neighbors. He has introduced bills that should more divorces more expensive and more time-consuming and thus more difficult for couples to secure. This is a point where libertarians and some conservatives part ways. As someone with strong libertarian tendencies, I recoil at the government enforcing moral codes on a couples in making it difficult for them to divorce after they have made that difficult decision within her marriage or families. He would specifically bar no-fault divorces to protect the sanctity of marriage.