This is a feature I started in my time working for the ACLU, that seems worth continuing here. It’s a roundup of news stories about First Amendment rights, not only from the United States but other parts of the world where such rights may not be guaranteed. As with any roundup of news stories, please consider the integrity of the linked source–I try not to link articles that feel bogus, but sometimes stories slip through.
- In a new book, retired Supreme Court Justice Paul Stevens suggests six new amendments to the U.S. Constitution, including a revision to the First Amendment that would place “reasonable limits” on political campaign contributions. [NPR]
- The NCAA believes the First Amendment gives them the right to profit from using the images of the players it doesn’t pay and doesn’t educate in video games, and they want the Supreme Court to agree. [Bloomberg]
- Several Christian groups that perform same-sex weddings, including the United Church of Christ, have sued North Carolina because the state’s marriage equality ban, enacted through both state law and the state constitution, violate their religious freedom under the First Amendment. [Wall Street Journal]
- Defense attorneys for alleged gang leader Ronald Herron argue that his rap recordings, in which prosecutors claim he journaled his crimes, are in fact protected free speech, analogous to Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” and inadmissible at trial. [AP]
Call me partial, but articles like this get my blood boiling. You can read the whole thing at that link, but here’s a summary: John Featherman, writing for Philly.com, doesn’t believe the ACLU should promote themselves as defenders of gay rights, because the ACLU defended the free speech rights of Westboro Baptist Church in court.
Here’s a sample:
“[ACLU-PA Legal Director Witold] Walczak started out by telling me, “The ACLU defends everyone’s rights and strongly believes that no one is free unless everyone is free. If government has the power to squelch Phelps it has the power to censor other unpopular groups, with the LGBT community being an unfortunate and frequent target.” Walczak later added, “ Just as the ACLU’s defense of abortion protesters doesn’t undermine our commitment to a woman’s reproductive freedom and representing the KKK doesn’t compromise our dedication to racial justice, defending Phelps’ free-speech rights is consistent with our LGBT-rights work.”
I don’t know. I just don’t see it. Maybe I’m just not sophisticated or hip enough to see how you can represent the interests of opposing parties at the same time. To me, a former candidate for political office, that’s like taking money from a donor and then turning around and giving it to their worst enemy. In my world, you just don’t do that.”
So, first of all… WBC is the LGBT community’s worst enemy? Really? Not the politicians who want to prevent us from marrying the people we love, and put us in jail for having sex? Not the religious leaders who incite violence against us, and push foreign nations to legalize the execution of gays? Not the fake psychologists who claim electroshock treatments and solitary confinement can turn gay children straight?
No, those aren’t our worst enemies. People who say nasty things about us. They’re our worst enemies. Continue Reading
I had the good fortune to be in NYC visiting Elizabeth this past weekend – pretty much the best time in the past 100 years or so to be in New York. We stayed up Friday night watching the State Senate debate (and tweeting – I tend to do a lot of that when I watch parliamentary process) and waiting for the historic vote. As you all know now, we were not disappointed. I won’t go on about it, except to say that I’m delighted, awestruck, and incredibly proud of the state of my birth. I only wish my current home state could buy a clue.
Saturday morning Liz and I ran the NY Front Runners Pride Run, my first official Central Park race. As expected after the vote on Friday, the mood was upbeat and celebratory, though there were far fewer costumes than I expected – and not a single man running in a wedding dress! The fellow at the top of this post was one of the exceptions. As I ran past I got to hear his advice for anyone considering such a costume, “Lots and lots of Body Glide.”
I learned several things in this race. I learned that many runners don’t respect corrals. I also learned that speed walkers, and some regular walkers, feel similarly toward corrals. Lastly, I learned that when I am slowed down by people who started two or three corrals in front of their designated corral, I get super bitchy.
Not that I was the only one. As the race kicked off, with eight thousand runners jockeying for position, a bicyclist came riding at high speed from behind us, nearly plowed into the crowd, all while shouting “oh yeah, like there’s nobody else here!” Would that I could have conversed with the man, I would have pointed out that there were eight thousand of us and one of him, and which one of us was acting self-important? Alas, my attention was occupied with trying to get around the speed walkers and the groups of ladies who were forming human walls so they could converse while running slowly, something that wouldn’t have been problematic had they started in the right corral (have I communicated my annoyance about this whole corral thing?)
Despite feeling slow and stiff before the race, Liz set a PR, coming in 9th among all women and 4th among women in her age bracket. I finished about two and a half minutes behind my best 5-mile time, thanks in part to the hilly terrain in Central Park but mostly to the stupid corral jumpers.
Here’s some video of Liz just after her surprisingly strong race. You’ll also get a good sampling of my attitude after my own finish. I manage to slander an entire city on the basis of a few slow runners. Behold the bitchiness.
By the way, it sounds like I don’t like the popsicle, but actually I thought the popsicle was awesome.
Liz and I also marched in the NY Pride Parade on Sunday with the contingent from the New York Civil Liberties Union. More on that soon.