Tag: Free Speech

High School Bars Student From Graduation Walk For Discussing Bullying And Sexual Assault At School

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

After a high school senior chose to deviate from a pre-approved speech at an event and instead discussed allegations of bullying and assault at the school, administrators provided a learning opportunity of what bullying is really about–banning the student from his graduation walk.

While the school could have simply let the matter go, it instead managed to enshrine itself in an avoidable controversy simply because it could not see beyond the administration’s collective egos and will suffer the resultant benefits of its actions: National embarrassment. 

Continue reading “High School Bars Student From Graduation Walk For Discussing Bullying And Sexual Assault At School”

Hitler Goes Ballistic Over Patreon Censorship: Patreon Part 5

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

You know you’ve reached a level of notoriety when someone creates a Hitler Goes Ballistic meme in your disfavor. Well, now it has happened for our friends at Patreon where a creator dubbed over a clip from the WWII film “Der Untergang / Downfall” and had the charity to cast Patreon CEO Jack Conte as Hitler.

The reported author surely displays courage to craft this, considering that he receives significant funding from Patreon, who’s Trust and Safety Team seems bent on wiping out what they disagree with, or what others label as being “Nazi” or such. Casting Mr. Conte as Hitler is worth a laugh in itself for the irony.

Continue reading “Hitler Goes Ballistic Over Patreon Censorship: Patreon Part 5”

Exodus: Patreon: A Threat To Free Speech Part 4

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

The damage resulting from Patreon’s ill-advised venture into censorship continues with the departure of both content creators and their patrons.

Among many others, two of Patreon’s largest subscribers not only announced their departure but that they also intend to construct a crowd-funding source that they hope will insulate content creators from the whims of Patreon’s and other exchanges’ staff’s political or personal ideals. Many regard their departure not just in terms of protests in the name of free speech, but as sound financial stewardship to protect their own livelihood from a possibly unreliable payment and revenue source.

The bleeding continues

Continue reading “Exodus: Patreon: A Threat To Free Speech Part 4”

Significance of Kurdish Writer’s Translation of Orwell’s Animal Farm Cannot Be Overstated

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Yesterday brought us in my view a greatly significant event–the Ebril, Iraq book launch of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, translated into the Kurdish Language.

The book was formerly banned under the Saddam Hussein regime; rather obviously for its negative portrayal of how a dictatorship can emerge in a nation or community. Coupled with the dark history that for decades nations such as Turkey proscribed the Kurdish language, the fact that such a work can be sold publicly shows the remarkable transformation that has taken place in the former dictatorship.

Continue reading “Significance of Kurdish Writer’s Translation of Orwell’s Animal Farm Cannot Be Overstated”

Patreon: A Threat to Free Speech Part 3: Would Patreon Censor & Ban Aristotle?

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

As part of a series of articles regarding censorship by the crowd-funding service Patreon, I now pose the question of whether Patreon, as based upon its current actions and policy, would censor and ban great historical figures such as Aristotle, Jacob Riis, and numerous other contributors to the betterment of the human condition. The men and women of those times certainly did not subscribe to the ideas of 21st century political correctness and were the products of their own times, but since Patreon through its actions seems to conflate the idea of these people as a brand, where an arbitrary set of ideas about the author dictates the value of the content of their ideas or speech. It seems most likely these figures would not have been granted a voice had Patreon been the gatekeeper to their ideas.

What contributions to history might have been lost had the mindset such as that engendered today by Patreon prevailed?

Continue reading “Patreon: A Threat to Free Speech Part 3: Would Patreon Censor & Ban Aristotle?”

Patreon: A Threat to Free Speech Pt. 2: Your Person is a Brand That Can Be Censored.

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

As part of a series of articles to be published on how I believe the crowd-funding source Patreon and its current practices represent a threat to free speech we look at insights reported by several current and former patrons and content creators. The conclusion I cannot help but arrive at is that the individual, as evidenced by Patreon’s words, represents a “brand” where choices made outside the scope of content posted to Patreon can be used against the user, resulting in their livelihood earned from income being revoked without notice. In other words, if the company does not like you as a person, they can remove your income. The restraint of this form of “depersoning” is just another example of how Americans are steadily losing their hard-won free speech rights.

Continue reading “Patreon: A Threat to Free Speech Pt. 2: Your Person is a Brand That Can Be Censored.”

Patreon: A Threat To Free Speech

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

What began as a laudable business model to fund individual content creators such as writers, bloggers, vloggers, and artists–providing many now with generous incomes aggregated from their subscribers–has devolved into heavy-handed practices antithetical to the basic tenets of Free Speech, small business, and the spirit of Self-Employment and  Self-Sufficiency. The platform exercises the worst kind of censorship, cutting off the incomes of individuals and their families for often arbitrary accusations of unacceptable speech off-platform or for association with those Patreon finds objectionable.

This censorship is not just for content hosted by Patreon, as many former subscribers to their service report that they are forced to walk a fine line in their own personal lives for fear that Patreon’s “Trust and Safety” team will take away their patrons and lifestyle for engaging in wrong-think or speech.

Continue reading “Patreon: A Threat To Free Speech”

Ireland To Hold Referendum On Removing Anti-Blasphemy Offenses From Constitution

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

This October twenty-sixth, voters in Ireland will decide at the polls if the country’s prohibition on blasphemy should be removed from the nation’s constitution. It comes for me as a welcome sign of some progress against what otherwise was a trend in Western Europe toward establishing an international blasphemy standard that many regard as censorship and a vehicle for possible criminal prosecution of speech and expression.

While the Irish government has insisted that no persons have been successfully prosecuted for blasphemy since the 1850s, the existence of any such statute serves as leverage by the state to control what its citizens may say or what behavior it considers objectionable. The time for repeal I believe has arrived.

Continue reading “Ireland To Hold Referendum On Removing Anti-Blasphemy Offenses From Constitution”

Does Lighting Fireworks Constitute Free Speech?

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

180px-San_Diego_FireworksWith the coming this week of this year’s Independence Day, I thought we would revisit an article from 2016 and pose a question to you. Does the use of fireworks constitute protected free speech?

A tradition spanning multiple generations in the United States is that a large portion of our society celebrates and shows tribute to the United States through the lighting and observance of fireworks. Yet numerous municipalities and counties impose sweeping and total bans of fireworks. Some statutes regulate the type of firework allowable, such as those having a ferocity that safety requires certified technicians. Others ban benign devices such as snakes and small fountains.

But does a complete ban on fireworks regardless of size constitute an infringement on the first amendment rights of citizens?

Continue reading “Does Lighting Fireworks Constitute Free Speech?”

Honorable Civil Disobedience

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Having seen over the years protesters engaged in voicing their grievances in fashions ranging from the peaceful to the violent, I believe it is incumbent to provide a guidelines in the hope of furthering a cause without the distractions that spill over into not only silencing important messages but preventing consequences that hurt others.

I propose the idea of Honorable Civil Disobedience.

Continue reading “Honorable Civil Disobedience”

SpongeBob SquarePants Posed Existential Threat To Turkey

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor.

A nefarious, existential threat was recently vanquished by the post-coup censorship offices of Turkish President Erdoğan. No, it was not the PKK, nor ISIS, nor Fethullah Gülen. It was SpongeBob SquarePants and Smurfette, broadcast on a Kurdish Language children’s television network.

The media crackdown in the aftermath of the failed coup in Turkey has led to closures of dozens of news services and thousands of firings among journalists. Cartoon networks can now become labeled as seditious.

Apparently, SpongeBob’s cohort Squidward Tentacles nefariously slithered into the fabric of the state’s security apparatus and cunningly attempted to dismantle it from within. His ink: it sows discord by fueling the printing presses of subversives.
Continue reading “SpongeBob SquarePants Posed Existential Threat To Turkey”

Jordanian Writer, On Trial For Insulting Islam, Murdered At Courthouse

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor.

nahed-hattarFree-speech claimed another victim in the Middle-East after Jordanian Journalist Nahed Hattar, who is accused of sharing online an “anti-Islamic” cartoon, was assassinated outside a courthouse where he was facing trial for insulting Islam.

Continue reading “Jordanian Writer, On Trial For Insulting Islam, Murdered At Courthouse”

Does Lighting Fireworks Constitute Free Speech?

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

180px-San_Diego_FireworksWe wish you a festive and joyful Independence Day and pose a question to you. Does the use of fireworks constitute protected free speech? We revisit this issue from a previous article of last year.

A tradition spanning multiple generations in the United States is that a large portion of our society celebrates and shows tribute to the United States through the lighting and observance of fireworks. Yet numerous municipalities and counties impose sweeping and total bans of fireworks. Some statutes regulate the type of firework allowable, such as those having a ferocity that safety requires certified technicians. Others ban benign devices such as snakes and small fountains.

But does a complete ban on fireworks regardless of size constitute an infringement on the first amendment rights of citizens?

Continue reading “Does Lighting Fireworks Constitute Free Speech?”

WA Supreme Court Rules Superior Court Order For Defendant To Write Apology Letter To Victim Does Not Violate First Amendment

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Washington Chief Justice Barbara Madsen
Washington Chief Justice Barbara Madsen

We have seen many incidents of lower courts ordering those convicted of crimes to endure unusual punishments: some as novel as holding signs advertising that they are criminals; requiring the cutting hair of their children; or forced attendance in Church. While these are fundamentally unusual, a case before us here fortunately never rose to these levels of miscarried justice.

An appellant argued before the Washington Supreme Court that a letter compelled by a juvenile court,  mandating an apology to the victim of a sexual assault, violated his free speech rights by imposing a government mandated speech of which he objected.

Many might see the matter as a minor requirement to apologize to a victim and not “worth the trouble” on behalf of the defendant, or, perhaps representing a rather cold hearted approach by the defendant to contest such a matter out of spite. Yet, the Court likely granted review due to the compelled speech question not having been previously addressed in Washington.

Previous case law in the state tends to much favor free speech which is interpreted to be afforded greater protection within purview of the state constitution, and in most cases provides greater rights than the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Continue reading “WA Supreme Court Rules Superior Court Order For Defendant To Write Apology Letter To Victim Does Not Violate First Amendment”

German Chancellor Merkel Continues To Lose Credibility On Free Speech Issues

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Angela MerkelGerman 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”.
Continue reading “German Chancellor Merkel Continues To Lose Credibility On Free Speech Issues”