May 4, 2006

Ohio Mall Silences Band for Anti-Bush T-Shirts

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 29, 2006 @ 9:37 pm
Filed under: Free Speech?

A story of intolerance from the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

A band wearing anti-President Bush T-shirts was silenced in mid-performance at Tower City Friday because the mall’s management felt the band’s attire was inappropriate.

Mifuné, an Afro-beat band, was performing as part of the Tri-C JazzFest when the sound was cut off about 20 minutes into the set on orders from Tower City management.

“They didn’t like that all the band members wore a T-shirt with a picture of George Bush with a line through it,” said band leader Jacob Fader, 28, of Cleveland Heights. “They said we either remove the shirts, turn them inside out, or get off the stage. I said that doing so would be against our core principles and free speech. We told the audience what happened from the stage after the microphones were cut. The crowd booed.”

A spokesman for Tower City confirmed the action.

“We felt the band’s attire was distracting and inappropriate,” said Lisa Kreiger, Tower City general manager. “We welcome all the musical groups from the festival. The purpose of the show was to provide musical entertainment.”

Tri-C JazzFest Managing Director Beth Rutkowski said she stood by the actions of Tower City.

Fader said that the sound was cut off during “Supercrush,” which he described as a “song about how the Bush administration separates the wealth, causing the elimination of the middle class.

Suppose that in the 1990s I had been the manager of a mall. If a band performed there wearing anti-Clinton t-shits, I wouldn’t have silenced them.

I believe in tolerance. Lisa Kreiger and Beth Rutkowsk seem to believe in zero tolerance.




House Votes to Fund Broadcasts Into Iran

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 29, 2006 @ 5:51 am
Filed under: Free Speech, Government

The US House voted on April 26, 2006 by 397 to 21 for HR 282, titled, “To hold the current regime in Iran accountable for its threatening behavior and to support a transition to democracy in Iran.”

SEC. 402. ASSISTANCE TO SUPPORT DEMOCRACY IN IRAN.

(a) Authorization-

(1) IN GENERAL- The President is authorized to provide financial and political assistance (including the award of grants) to foreign and domestic individuals, organizations, and entities that support democracy and the promotion of democracy in Iran. Such assistance may include the award of grants to eligible independent pro-democracy radio and television broadcasting organizations that broadcast into Iran.

(2) LIMITATION ON ASSISTANCE- In accordance with the rule of construction described in subsection (b) of section 401, none of the funds authorized under this section shall be used to support the use of force against Iran.

(b) Eligibility for Assistance- Financial and political assistance under this section may be provided only to an individual, organization, or entity that–

(1) officially opposes the use of violence and terrorism and has not been designated as a foreign terrorist organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1189) at any time during the preceding four years;

(2) advocates the adherence by Iran to nonproliferation regimes for nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and materiel;

(3) is dedicated to democratic values and supports the adoption of a democratic form of government in Iran;

(4) is dedicated to respect for human rights, including the fundamental equality of women;

(5) works to establish equality of opportunity for people; and

(6) supports freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom of religion.

The section doesn’t say anything about honesty and accuracy in the reporting done by broadcasters funded by the US. We may be funding propaganda full of lies under this bill.

The bill also refers to “diplomacy” but has a strange notion of what “diplomacy” means:

SEC. 301. DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS.

(a) Sense of Congress Relating to United Nations Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency- It is the sense of Congress that the President should instruct the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations to work to secure support at the United Nations Security Council for a resolution that would impose sanctions on Iran as a result of its repeated breaches of its nuclear nonproliferation obligations, to remain in effect until Iran has verifiably dismantled its weapons of mass destruction programs.

The section on “DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS” doesn’t mention negotitations with Iran, which is the common means of diplomacy.

Please tell your Senators that you don’t want a war with Iran. If the US bombs Iran, it will probably be war.




Mixed Imagery

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 28, 2006 @ 3:44 pm
Filed under: Free Speech, Government

Republican Rep. Duke Cunningham is figuratively a whore for the defense industry.

But literally he is a John who gets whores from the defense industry.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Friday’s Union Tribune and confirmed by News 8 sources, Federal prosecutors are looking into leads that Randy Duke Cunningham may have had prostitutes purchased for him by Poway defense contractor Brent Wilkes.

The UT reports that Wilkes rented suites first at the Watergate Hotel and then at the Westin Grand Hotel.

According to the paper, Mitchell Wade, who pleaded guilty in February to bribing Cunningham, “told federal prosecutors that he periodically helped arrange for a prostitute for the then-congressman. A limousine would pick up Cunningham and a prostitute and take them to the ADCS hospitality suite.”

« Free Speech »

We all have the free speech to comment on defense spending.

But if defense contractors are providing prostitutes to a Congressman, the contractors are the ones who will be listened to.




Ad Agency Tries to Silence a Critic

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 27, 2006 @ 6:13 pm
Filed under: Free Speech?

The ad agency “Warren Kremer Paino Advertising” likes taking money from Maine taxpayers.

But should a taxpayer in Maine criticize them, and write that they are “pissing away” that money, and they’ll sue.

Blogger Lance Dutson writes:

Warren Kremer Paino Advertising has filed a 3 count multi-million dollar federal lawsuit against me for the reporting I’ve done in this blog. They are claiming defamation, libel, and copyright infringement.

Getting the sheriff to deliver the suit to me, in front of my kids and neighbors, is the latest freaked-out situation this Office of Tourism has put me in. I have to say this has disrupted the Dutson household a bit, that’s what happens when someone files a crushing lawsuit that, if successful, would utterly destroy my life.

So here I am, one man against the state and its contractors, put in the position of shutting up or being pounded by their deep pockets and a wild misconception of what the court system is supposed to be used for.

Jeff Jarvis blogs about this:

The Media Bloggers Association has issued its first legal alert to let us all know about a blogger under attack in a suit. Lance Dutson, who blogs at Maine Web Report, has been slapped with a federal suit by an ad agency handling the state’s tourism business.

Here’s Dutson’s report and summary. Here is the PDF of the suit against him. Of course, I can’t vouch for any facts in the case. But one of the agency’s allegations is that “Dutson also claimed, falsely, that WKPA is ‘pissing away’ Maine tax money. ”

Well, I woud hope that we would always be protected from challenging government spending. “Pissing away” is a value judgment any taxpayer should be able to make.

The Agency is also claiming copyright infringement because Dutson put up an ad the agency made that he says mistakenly displayed the phone number for a sex line (and, indeed, the number does offer new friends, and I don’t meen moose). I would hope, too, that we woud always have the right of fair comment on anything produced with our tax dollars.




Man Arrested for Using an Expletive in Letter

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 24, 2006 @ 7:35 pm
Filed under: Free Speech?

An arrest in Illinois for writing a letter.

SILVIS — Writing a strongly opinionated letter to public officials with obscene language in it might be a crime in Silvis.

John T. McGregor, 22, 1015 2nd Ave., Silvis, was arrested Tuesday morning and charged with ordinance violations alleging disorderly conduct and breach of the peace because he used profanity in a letter he wrote to aldermen two weeks ago. He criticized the council for voting April 4 against enterprise-zone benefits for Triumph Foods’ proposed pork processing plant site in East Moline.

Mr. McGregor said Friday afternoon he’s going to court to contest the charges because he feels he has a constitutional right to express his opinion.

A Silvis police report says although the letter has no threats in it, Mr. McGregor was charged because the unsigned, typed letter “shocked, alarmed and disturbed the complainant.”

Mr. McGregor said he understands why Ald. Katherine Cutrer, 4th Ward, who filed the complaint, could have perceived the letter as offensive. He said he felt there was only one swear word in the letter.

In a copy of the letter provided to The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus, Mr. McGregor wrote, “Am I for the hog Plant- No, AM I FOR THE ENTERPRIZE (sic) ZONE (IN WHICH YOU SHOULD BE VOTING for- YES) …

“Can we do better than a pig plant — Hell yeah, but by not passing the enterprise zone, what other business will want to come in? Re-vote without the plant on your mind. That’s not the f—– issue, open your eyes and address what is at hand.”

This case isn’t a black-and-white, though.

The guy who wrote the letters, John T. McGregor, strangely used the mailing address of one of the Alderman’s while hiding his identity.

I don’t want McGregor prosecuted, but I’d be more sympathetic towards him if he had written the politicians under his own name. That is how people usually send letters.




Big Protest, Small Protest

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 22, 2006 @ 5:20 pm
Filed under: Free Speech

A cartoon by Stephanie McMillan of Miniumum Security:

Click to view comic strip.

Description: Cartoon woman notes how immigration bill caused big protests in the streets, while possibility of US nuking Iran has caused email petitions.




Six Months in Jail…

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 21, 2006 @ 3:39 pm
Filed under: Free Speech?

…for shouting “President Hu! Your days are numbered…President Bush! Stop him from killing!”?

From the Washington Post:

When [Wenyi Wang] screamed from a press riser where cameras were recording the event, it took several minutes before uniformed Secret Service officers could get through the throng of photographers to remove her.

Channing Phillips, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said she would likely be charged with attempting to intimidate, coerce, threaten or harass a foreign official in the performance of his duties, punishable by as much as six months in prison.

I think she meant his days as leader of China are numbered, not that the days of his life are numbered because she’s going to kill him.

But the intolerance of the Bush Administration is such that they’re apparently going to try to lock this woman in prison.
(more…)




Honoring China, Demonizing Iran

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 20, 2006 @ 5:41 pm
Filed under: Government, Free Speech?

US policy under the Bush Administration:

It’s OK for China to lack democracy.

It’s OK for China to have hundreds of nuclear weapons.

But Iran shouldn’t be recognized.

Iran shouldn’t be negotiated with directly.

And if Iran tries to build a nuclear bomb, then perhaps Iran should be nuked.
—————
Bush’s policies are rotten.

The US should negotiate directly with Iran, with official recogntion as an incentive on the table.

The US shouldn’t consider nuking Iran.

Please tell your Senators we should be discussing direct negotatiations with Iran, not bombing them.

« Chinese President Visits White House »

For a recent event involving a heckler, the visiting Chinese president, and free speech issues, click “more.”
(more…)




Judges Hurt Free Speech in T-Shirt Case

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 20, 2006 @ 3:57 pm
Filed under: Free Speech, Government

In 1969, The Supreme Court ruled in Tinker v. Des Moines that public high school students can wear black armbands to protest the Vietnam War.

But today, a federal appeals court seems inclined not to give the same protection to a student who wore a t-shirt with the words, “homosexuality is shameful.”
(more…)




Free Speech Victory Against Reverend Jerry Falwell

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 18, 2006 @ 3:17 pm
Filed under: Free Speech, Courts

From the New York Daily News:

A gay New Yorker won a big Supreme Court victory yesterday in his Internet battle against Moral Majority founder the Rev. Jerry Falwell.

Christopher Lamparello, 36, won the right to keep his fallwell.com site, which criticizes Falwell’s views on homosexuality - and often snares Web surfers [who make a spelling mistake] looking for the reverend’s online ministry at falwell.com.

“Rev. Falwell is completely wrong about people who are gay or lesbian,” Lamparello’s site says - under a red disclaimer that offers a link to Falwell’s site.

Falwell believes homosexuality is a sin that gays and lesbians must repent of and resist. The Supreme Court - without comment - said it would not hear his appeal of a lower-court ruling that went against him.

The appeals court ruled last year that Lamparello was not violating Falwell’s trademark because he was not running the Web site to make a profit.

Lamparello, who lives in Greenwich Village and has not spoken publicly about the case, has the free-speech right to run the “gripe site,” said his lawyer, Paul Levy.

I’m glad the website owner won. However, he should also be able to use that website for profit.

It’s legal to publish a book for profit which is an unauthorized biography of Falwelll with “Falwell” in the title. What’s the difference?




Fighting the FCC in Court

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 18, 2006 @ 3:00 pm
Filed under: FCC, Free Speech, Indecency, Courts

CBS, ABC, Fox, and NBC have all had enough of the FCC’s vague rules about indecency.

They’re taking the FCC to court.

“The F.C.C. overstepped its authority,” the networks said in a joint statement Friday, “in an attempt to regulate content protected by the First Amendment, acted arbitrary and failed to provide broadcasters with a clear and consistent standard for determining what content the government intends to penalize.”

The vagueness of FCC indecency rules is my biggest objection to them. If TV networks were told, don’t use expletives and don’t show nudity and you won’t be fined, then FCC fines wouldn’t bother me as much.

Instead, the FCC can hit networks with millions in fines for scenes with no expletives or nudity.

The existing vague rules let the government hurt any broadcaster it wants. Not a notion consistent with freedom of speech or freedom in general.




“South Park” Flattering Portrayal of Bush

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 13, 2006 @ 8:51 pm
Filed under: Free Speech, Media Watch

In the right-wing, topsy-turvy world of “South Park,” Bush is a big defender of the First Amendment while journalists oppose it.

On tonight’s “South Park” cartoon on cable TV, George W. Bush holds a press conference (episode title: “Cartoon Wars” conclusion).

The White House press corp want Bush to stop a (fictional) episode of the cartoon “Family Guy” which has an image of the prophet Muhammad.

Bush tells them that he can’t do that because of the First Amendment.

The press corp doesn’t know what that is.

Bush explains that the First Amendment guarantees “free speech.”

The press corp urge him to get rid of the First Amendment.

« Reality »

In actuality, Bush does not embrace the spirit of the First Amendment.

One of George W. Bush’s first official acts was to promote government secrecy by stopping Reagan-era documents from being released.

At his apperances, the Secret Service kept protestors away while letting supporters near his path, until the ACLU sued to stop this practice.

His town halls in 2004 required people to send loyalty oaths to attend.




Oh No! There May Be More Political Cartoons On the Internet!

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 11, 2006 @ 6:41 am
Filed under: Free Speech

Carol Darr of the the “Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet” criticizes the freedom people who post on the internet have under new FEC rules:
(more…)




Campus Codes Against Free Speech

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 10, 2006 @ 11:22 am
Filed under: Free Speech, Government

Stephanie Simon writes in the Los Angeles Times:

[Ruth] Malhotra says her Christian faith compels her to speak out against homosexuality. But the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she’s a senior, bans speech that puts down others because of their sexual orientation.

Malhotra sees that as an unacceptable infringement on her right to religious expression. So she’s demanding that Georgia Tech revoke its tolerance policy.

With her lawsuit, the 22-year-old student joins a growing campaign to force public schools, state colleges and private workplaces to eliminate policies protecting gays and lesbians from harassment.

During classroom discussion, students who hate gays, blacks, Jews, and women should be allowed to say so. Students shouldn’t be shielded from hearing offensive remarks during classroom discussions.

If Ruth Malhotra takes a class where discussion of gay issues is relevant, she should be able to give her opinion. Whether she’s truly barred from doing so under current Georgia Tech rules, I don’t know.

If a student follows another student around campus shouting epithets, that is harrassment and that should be illegal.

Colleges shouldn’t have speech codes which exceed what is legally required.




Should Protestors Who Broke Racist Laws Be Pardoned?

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 7, 2006 @ 5:20 am
Filed under: General, Free Speech

From Julian Borger in Alabama:

It is nearly 55 years since Lillie Mae Bradford was charged with “disorderly conduct” for sitting in the whites-only seats on an Alabama bus, and she is still waiting for a pardon…while the South abolished Jim Crow (the epithet, derived from a minstrel show character, given to the segregation laws) and claimed to move on, a large number of African Americans were left carrying its burden decades later. Ms Bradford felt it every time she applied for a government job.

“There was always a box that said: Do you have a criminal record?” she recalled. “I went for federal clerk positions, and I would pass the tests, but I wouldn’t get the job. That’s when I came to the conclusion that it was because I had a police record.”

Many others with criminal records for resisting Jim Crow laws later had difficulty in getting a mortgage and throughout their lives were never quite treated as full citizens. Until three years ago, anyone with a felony on their records was unable to vote.

Today, the Alabama senate is expected to vote on a bill aimed at setting the record straight. It will offer a formal pardon to anyone arrested under Jim Crow laws and expunge their records. Other southern states are watching the bill’s progress and may follow suit.

“The death of Rosa Parks was a wake-up call that not everybody had to be dead before you put this right,” said Thad McClammy, a veteran state legislator who first proposed the bill. “Give people their flowers when they’re still alive, I say, because people feel: either I am part of America or I am not.”

The other side of this…

But not everybody wants to be pardoned. Some think it suggests they did something wrong in the first place.

Washington Booker was a Birmingham schoolboy when he was arrested in 1963 for protesting against Jim Crow and the brutality of the city’s police commissioner, Theophilus “Bull” Connor, who regularly turned dogs and fire hoses on civil rights demonstrators. It remains Mr Booker’s proudest moment.

“Pardon me for what? For demanding civil rights I should have had on the day I was born? Excuse me!” Mr Booker laughed. It was a spring afternoon and he was revisiting the scene of his “crime” - a crossroads between Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park and the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church where he was arrested.

“I don’t want to take it off my record,” Mr Booker said. “I think it was a just and righteous act, and I was lucky to be able to do it. We changed the course of human history.”

Sadly, while dogs and fire hoses seemed like a cruel way to treat protesters at the time, now police spray protesters with a noxious chemical which is far worse.




ACLU Supports Flag Waving

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 6, 2006 @ 7:25 pm
Filed under: Free Speech

From yesterday’s Lou Dobbs Tonight on CNN:

LOU DOBBS: And in Southern California, the Oceanside School District is banning American flags on campus after last week’s illegal alien protests and demonstrations there. Tina Azedin (ph), from our affiliate KGTV, with the report.

KEN NOONAN (Oceanside school superintendent): Well, someone would wave the Mexican flag and then someone else would wave an American flag, almost as if they were using the flags as emotional weapons with each other, and we think, you know, that’s not appropriate for either flag, for the flag to be used as a weapon. That’s almost a form of desecration.

TINA AZEDIN: Now, the Oceanside School District is sending this letter to parents, stating, no student may bring or wear disruptive clothing, face paint, signs, placards, or flags. Claiming they were contributing factors to last week’s disruptive behavior.

…LOU DOBBS: And reporting, Tina Azedin of our affiliate KGTV. The issue of wearing flags is one being taken up by the American Civil Liberties Union, supporting those students who would wish to demonstrate their views by wearing an American flag or taking an American flag and holding it high wherever they choose.

Symbols were being used by students as “emotional weapons,” says the school superintendent. Goodness gracious! Everything must be bland.

No one should be allowed to express themselves in ways which will emotionally affect other people (end sarcasm.)

Fortunately, the ACLU says let the kids wave their flags, whether it’s an American flag or a Mexican flag.




Cynthia McKinney Tussle: Fix the Checkpoint, Don’t Prosecute

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 5, 2006 @ 6:39 pm
Filed under: Free Speech, Media Watch

Summary: Bad checkpoint procedures cause accidents. The solution to the Cynthia McKinney situation is to fix the Capitol building checkpoint. Not to blame the cop, and not to blame McKinney.

Liberals are divided over Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Georgia) and her run-in with a Capital Police officer (here and here.)

This is my understanding of what happened based on conflicting reports:

McKinney walked through a checkpoint for members of Congress without wearing the pin which is supposed to tell the cops that she’s allowed to walk right through as a member of Congress. A police officer asked her to stop a few times, and she didn’t, and he grabbed her arm. Then she poked him with her cellphone.

A grand jury is now considering whether to indict her.

I don’t consider the cop at fault. And I don’t consider McKinney at fault.

I consider the checkpoint procedures to be at fault.

They should install a locked turnstile just for members of Congress, and the cops should make people flash ID to be buzzed though. Then incidents like this won’t happen.

It’s a lousy system to say a cop is supposed to be able to tell if someone in motion is wearing the pin, and if not then chase that someone.

Gathering a grand jury to try to indict McKinney is ridiculous. Prosecutors need to be selective. Authorities should only seek to prosecute someone when it may benefit society.

People have an instinctive reaction to being grabbed to shove back. That won’t change whether she’s prosecuted or not. Indicting McKinney won’t benefit society.

If a Republican Congresswoman ever pokes a cop with her cellphone and doesn’t injure him, I won’t advocate for her to be prosecuted, either. Being a good prosecutor means showing discretion.

« Free Speech »

There is a free speech angle to this issue. At the 2004 Republican National Convention, a young man held up a protest sign. He was grabbed by cops, and charged with assault based on the fact that his elbow moved in the direction of one of the cops as he was being grabbed.

When people are prosecuted for instinctive reactions, it’s a blow to freedom of speech and freedom in general.

I’m not saying that the Cynthia McKinney tussle is directly a free speech issue. I’m saying that they way we treat people who are grabbed by cops and shove back in some way can be a free speech issue, because protesters are among people who are grabbed by cops.

Someone deciding whether to attend a protest ideally wouldn’t have to worry that if a cop grabs him or her at the protest, then he or she may be prosecuted for assault based on the tussle that causes.

« Checkpoints in Iraq »

There is also a problem with checkpoints in Iraq, though that is much more serious. The US military usually waves at a car to try to signal for it to stop, instead of installing a stop sign.

When drivers don’t understand the waving and keep driving, US soldiers shoot the drivers.




Democrats Are Stronger on Lobbying Reform…

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 5, 2006 @ 10:28 am
Filed under: SpeakSpeak, Free Speech, Government

…but neither party is trying to fundamentally change the lobbying system.

SpeakSpeak is a website about free speech and the media.

So why I do I discuss lobbying reform here? Because people don’t use their free speech to talk about politics merely for its own sake.

They want those in power to hear them, but under our current system ordinary people are usually drowned out by corporate lobbyists.

Raw Story has this information on what is going on in the US House today:

The House Rules Committee mark-up of the Lobbying Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (HR 4975), authored by Rep. David Dreier (R-CA), will be considered Wednesday afternoon. The meeting will be the final Rules meeting on the bill before it is brought before the Rules Committee for a vote and then the full House.

Democrats will propose several amendments, aides say. The following are their characterizations of the proposals, which are not immediately available.

Crackdown on backroom legislating affecting conference reports. (Amendments 1, 2)
Allow members to “actually read the bills they pass.” (Amendments 3,5)
The Hammer Rule: crackdown on alleged arm-twisting and influence peddling on the House Floor. (Amendment 4)
Require leadership to include both parties in the conference process. (Amendment 6)
Place strong disclosure requirements on all types of earmarks
Tighten regulations on congressional use of corporate jets (Amendment 8)

In other words, Democrats will try to improve a phony Republican bill, but will probably fail because Republicans have the majority.

« The Democrats Aren’t Going Far Enough »

Even if the Democratic amendments pass, which I expect they won’t, it won’t create fundamental change.

I don’t want Congress to “tighten regulations on congressional use of corporate jets.” I want a total ban. Senators should ride in the same planes as you and me. I want it to be illegal for Senators, Reps, and their staff to ride in corporate jets, even if they pay a fair price for the trip. It’s the convenience which is corrupting, not the price.

I want a total ban on gifts to Senators, Reps, and their staff, including no free trips from educational and charitable organizations. Firstly, there is the problem of phony charities. Secondly, even if a charity is genuinely interested in a cure for pancreatic cancer, it shouldn’t be able to drown out a charity interested in a cure for uterine cancer by giving a Senator a free trip.

Our representatives and their staff should pay for their own trips, or let the taxpayers pay.




Free Speech Wins in Bullshit “Bushit” Case

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 5, 2006 @ 10:03 am
Filed under: Free Speech, Government, Free Press, Courts

From the Atlanta Jounal-Constitution:

Bashing President Bush will not cost an Athens woman $100 after all.

Denise Grier, who was cited in DeKalb County for her “I’m Tired of All the BUSH—” car decal, has had her case thrown out.

“We couldn’t prosecute it,” DeKalb Recorders Court Chief Judge R. Joy Walker said because Georgia’s lewd decal law was ruled unconstitutional in 1990. Walker said a letter of dismissal was mailed to Grier’s home last week.

The bumper sticker says, “I’m Tired of All the BUSHIT.”

I don’t get why the AJC can’t just print that. I doubt many of their readers are such delicate flowers that they couldn’t bear seeing the word “BUSHIT.”

It isn’t even a real word, for Pete’s sake.




Don’t Dance at a Bar in New York…

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 4, 2006 @ 11:15 am
Filed under: Free Speech?, Courts

…unless they’ve got a license.

From Reuters:

New York City may be known as a centre of artistic expression, but a judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit that argued people have a constitutional right to dance in any bar or restaurant.

Ruling on a suit that argued recreational dancing was a form of expression protected under the New York State Constitution, Judge Michael Stallman of New York’s State Supreme Court said clubs and restaurants that permitted dancing increased traffic and noise around the establishment.

The case was brought by a club seeking to overturn a law requiring establishments to have a special licence for patrons to be allowed to dance.

Although he dismissed the case for “a lack of any viable constitutional claim”, the judge did say the 80-year-old prohibition-era cabaret law could be reexamined. “The city can take the lead by finding a way to accommodate more opportunities for participatory social dancing,” he said. “Surely, the Big Apple is big enough to find a way to let people dance.”

Many of New York’s bars and restaurants that do not carry a cabaret licence post signs on their walls saying “No Dancing” and bartenders frequently tell people they are not allowed to dance in a bar, leaving tourists bewildered.

Perhaps they should allow a certain number of people to dance at once in a bar or restaurant in New York City which doesn’t have a dancing license, if there isn’t such a threshold already.




Tom DeLay Says Goodbye

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 3, 2006 @ 7:05 pm
Filed under: Free Speech, Government

We all have free speech to talk about our political opinions.

But Republican leader Tom DeLay worsened a situation in which corporate lobbyists are the ones who are listened to by Congress.

DeLay loosened ethics rules on letting corporate lobbyists buy meals for Congressional staff.

Now it looks like DeLay won’t be a politician much longer:

Rep. Tom DeLay will drop out of his re-election race, two Republican congressional sources told CNN Monday.

DeLay was forced to step down as House majority leader last year after being indicted in his home state of Texas.

DeLay told Time magazine Monday that he and his wife, Christine, had been prepared for an election battle, but that he decided Wednesday to spare his suburban Houston district the mudfest to come.

“This had become a referendum on me,” he told the magazine. “So it’s better for me to step aside and let it be a referendum on ideas, Republican values and what’s important for this district.”

It is a Republican value to put corporate management above workers and consumers. If someone with Republican values takes Tom DeLay’s seat, then DeLay’s dropping out won’t help ordinary people.

Will the Texans in that district choose another corporate whore? We’ll find out in November.

« Update Later in Evening »

Time Magazine’s Mike Allen has confirmation from Tom Delay himself that he’s not seeking re-election.




“Current TV” Video on Phoning the White House

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 2, 2006 @ 6:49 pm
Filed under: Free Speech, TV

The cable channel “Current TV” shows short videos 24 hours a day.

Today these videos included an excerpt from a documentary by Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler, daughters of the late, great civil liberties attorney William Kunstler.

The documentary is called “Getting Through to the President” (2004). There is a trailer in QuickTime format here, similar (but not identical) to what was shown on “Current TV” today.

The premise of the documentary is that for three days, the sisters asked people on a sidewalk in Manhattan to use a public pay-phone to call the White House comment line and leave a message with the staff who answer the phone.

A couple of the people in the excerpt on “Current TV” phoned the comment line to say George W. Bush is doing a great job.

Most people, however, were critical of Bush. One caller criticized the killing of civilians in Iraq. Other callers criticized Bush’s support for banning gay marriage and most abortion.

« “Let My People Vote” »

A middle-aged black man called the White House comment line and said, “Next time around, let my people vote.”

Unfortunately, blacks were disenfranchised both in Florida in 2000 and in Ohio in 2004.




Fashion Freedom, Fashion Lawsuits

Posted by Eric Jaffa
March 31, 2006 @ 12:55 pm
Filed under: Free Speech, Government, Courts

Corporate Possessiveness vs. the Public Good

Do you like lawsuits over rap albums which sample seconds from a prior recording?

How about lawsuits over novel based on a novel written decades earlier, like “Gone with the Wind”?

I don’t like these lawsuits. I want books, songs, and recordings to become public domain much faster, and an expansive definition of fair use.

Some clothing designers, however, want more copyright lawsuits. Specifically, lawsuits between clothing companies who allegedly steal each others fashion ideas:

Designers like Diane Von Furstenberg, Narciso Rodriguez and Zac Posen have been journeying there to lobby for copyright protections like those governing books, music and other creative arts. Mr. Posen was in Washington on Tuesday with Steven Kolb, the executive director of the council, who said a bill could be introduced in Congress as early as today by Representative Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican.

Mr. Rodriguez designed the white slip wedding gown worn by Caroline Bessette Kennedy in 1996, a style that inspired innumerable brides to don copies, and Ms. Von Furstenberg’s signature wrap dresses have been copied so many times that she may no longer wish to be associated with them. They are asking lawmakers to support a proposed fashion design anti-piracy act.

From Eric Wilson of the New York Times to Lindsay Beyerstein to Evan Derkacz to here.




Fired Over a Photo…

Posted by Eric Jaffa
March 31, 2006 @ 8:01 am
Filed under: Free Speech?

…of a 70 year-old man touching his chin.

The [Boston] Herald reported Monday that Scalia made “an obscene gesture, flicking his hand under his chin” in response to a question about whether lawyers might question his impartiality in matters of church and state. The incident occurred after he attended Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.


Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia flicks his chin.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

Pam Spaulding of Pandagon quotes the Boston Herald:

A freelance photographer has been fired by the Archdiocese of Boston’s newspaper for releasing a picture of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia making a controversial gesture in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Sunday.

Peter Smith, who had freelanced for The Pilot newspaper for a decade, lost the job yesterday after the Herald ran his photo on its front page. Smith said he has no regrets about releasing it.

“I did the right thing. I did the ethical thing,” said Smith, 51, an assistant photojournalism professor at Boston University.

I ended the previous article by noting that everyone has limited free speech in connection with their jobs.

However, management can make a bad decision regarding whether/how to punish an employee who expresses himself in a way they don’t like.

The Pilot didn’t like the photographer releasing that photo, but they could have reprimanded him instead of firing him.




Freedom From Religion…

Posted by Eric Jaffa
March 31, 2006 @ 6:30 am
Filed under: Free Speech, Religion

…conflicts with the free speech of military chaplains.

But not necessarily in a burdensome way:

Religious conservatives have long tried, with some success, to characterize efforts to enforce the separation of church and state as a direct assault on Christianity, all the better to convince their constituents they’re fighting the long-promised culture war. Towards that end, 74 members of Congress petitioned President Bush last fall to issue an executive order specifically guaranteeing the right of military chaplains to pray in the name of Jesus; it must have come as something of a surprise, then, when the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces—which represents 70% of the chaplains in the U.S. military—recently came out in opposition to such an order, calling it unnecessary and polarizing.

Rev. Herman Keizer Jr., the group’s chairman, said that support for the executive order has been fed by “confusion and misinformation”, pointing out that Christian chaplains pray in the name of Jesus thousands of times a week, in military chapels across the world. The distinction is between those voluntary worship services and larger, ceremonial gatherings for which attendance is mandatory. In those settings, chaplains are required to perform nondenominational prayers, or simply allow for moments of silent contemplation.

Proponents of the [theoretical] executive order would see that changed, apparently desiring that soldiers of all faiths and beliefs attending mandatory ceremonies be led in forced praise of Jesus.

No one can say whatever he wants while on the job.