First Amendment Friday: Nov 14 2014

November 14, 2014 First Amendment Fridays Comments (2) 8282

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but if Europe can land a robot on a comet then by God I can read my Google alerts and present my little Constitutional digest. As we end a week in which TIME magazine suggests banning the word “feminist” and a celebrated emerging sci-fi author is revealed as one of the Internet’s most nefarious trolls, it seems appropriate to take a look at what’s happening worldwide with the rights to speech, assembly, and expression:

  • Writing at CNN, Rupert Abbott of Amnesty International raised an alarm about troubling restrictions on free speech he says are sweeping southeast Asia.
  • Following the swift response to his racist and misogynist Twitter screed, comedian Artie Lange has found few defenders. Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon and Katie McDonough at Slate wrote particularly strong takedowns of those who would defend Lange.
  • National Religious Broadcasters, whose name pretty much describes what they do, issued a statement calling President Obama’s proposed Net Neutrality rules a “power grab” that threatens free speech. The Writers Guild West disagrees, and strongly supports Net Neutrality.
  • A coalition of experts have spoken out against Northern Ireland’s “archaic” libel laws, alleging they stifle free speech. Interesting reminder that Americans still enjoy more freedom of speech even than those in most western nations.
  • In my home state of Pennsylvania, Mumia Abu-Jamal and supporters filed to challenge a new state law that prevents people convicted of a crime from almost any conduct the victims feel “perpetuates the continuing effect of the crime.”
  • A Georgia state senator will introduce a bill in the state’s next legislative session that he says protects “religious freedom,” while LGBT groups say it legalizes anti-gay discrimination.
  • Texas, meanwhile, is debating a similar proposal–although theirs is an amendment to the Texas state constitution, and would therefore require a popular vote to pass.
  • …and another one in Michigan, where the Republican state House Speaker introduced such a bill just as the state considers a law barring anti-LGBT discrimination.
  • The Dallas City Council will consider repealing anti-protest restrictions passed in response to 2013 protests at the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
  • Finally, and also from my hometown: Writing for the Norristown, PA Times Herald, columnist Katie Bambi Kohler raises hew and cry about the First Amendment abuses… of Yelp.



2 Responses to :
First Amendment Friday: Nov 14 2014

  1. Gene Pozniak says:

    Great posts, Chris. I will only comment about the one that I’m the most upset about.
    In fact, I think I’m going to call my own new blog “Why oh why didn’t I take the blue pill?”
    Let me get this straight.
    * Obama appointsTom Wheeler, a former lobbyist for the Cable & telecommunications industry, the industry that hates Net Neutrality, to be head of the FCC.
    * Now, Obama is asking Wheeler, oh so politely, to maintain Net Neutrality.
    * Mr. Wheeler’s response, at a meeting with the people he used to lobby for, was

    “What you want is what everyone wants: an open Internet that doesn’t affect your business,” “What I’ve got to figure out is how to split the baby.”

    So, can someone please explain to me why Obama should get ANY credit for supporting Net Neutrality when the fox he has hired to guard the henhouse believes it is his job to figure out how to correctly slaughter the chickens?

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