December 1, 2005

Houston MediaSource Loses Contract

Posted by Amanda Toering
September 14, 2005 @ 11:28 am
Filed under: Free Speech?

Houston MediaSource, the organization responsible for the city’s cable access broadcasts, has lost its contract after a battle with the City Council.

Some council members complained about racy language and nudity that aired on the channel in the wee hours of the morning. Last week, 8 of the board’s 15 members were replaced. This week, Houston MediaSource was cut from the picture entirely.

From KHOU:

Months of controversy abruptly ended at City Hall on Wednesday when Houston MediaSource lost a contract to run the city’s public access channel.

The move caught Mayor Bill White by surprise when a tie-vote killed the deal.

Controversy has flared around the cable channel for months after council members complained about what they called indecent programming.

City Council Member Addie Wiseman had objected to the racy language sometimes aired on Houston MediaSource, the access channel funded with fees paid by cable TV subscribers.

Nudity was also featured in some late-night programming.

That put the channel’s future in jeopardy with City Council but supporters hoped a reshuffling of the board had quieted the controversy.

Mark another point for the censorship crowd.




Okies from Muskogee Say No to Library Censorship

Posted by Amanda Toering
September 14, 2005 @ 11:21 am
Filed under: Libraries

The Muskogee Phoenix thinks that the Oklahoma City library commission is over-reacting by hiding “gay-themed” kids’ books from their intended audience.

Free access to knowledge is a library tradition.

Sadly, Oklahoma County’s Metropolitan Library Commission feels a need to restrict that tradition and the commission’s fears have gotten the better of its members’ good sense.

The commission voted 10 to 7 late last month to place youth material of a “sensitive nature” in the adult section accessible only by “adults in authority.”

The decision came after a parent complained about children books with homosexual themes being on the children’s bookshelves.

But these books are not pornography — something children need to be protected from - nor do they describe sexual acts or themes inappropriate for children.

The books designated for restriction do present a different idea about the structure of society. And once a commission begins restricting books because they present a new idea, what new idea will they restrict next?

The commission says it will form a committee using “good judgment and community standards” to review which books should be restricted. However, this is only another name for censorship that once started, doesn’t end.

And if the commission wants to keep children away from certain books, it is going about it the wrong way. Like many other morality busts in the past, the commission is only drawing more attention to something it says it wants to hide from the public.

From the Muskogee Phoenix.




John Roberts on Free Speech

Posted by Amanda Toering
September 14, 2005 @ 11:09 am
Filed under: Free Speech?

Where does Chief Justice nominee John Roberts stand on free speech?

I dunno.

I read the whole transcript, and I still can’t figure it out.

Regarding “free speech zones,” and whether we live in the age of a “shrinking public square”:

[O]ne of the factors that the court considers is the availability of alternative avenues for expression, and a concern, if they’re cutting off a particular mode of expression, a particular avenue, are there alternatives available? And I think that’s a very important consideration.

Regarding the general principle of free, public speech:

you do try to focus a little bit on whether you are dealing with a public forum, one that has traditionally been open to expression, and if it has, then any restrictions on expression are going to be subject to a very exacting standard before they’ll be upheld.

If it’s a more limited public forum, it’s only been open for certain types of speech, or the nature of the forum requires there to be a restriction — that was the government’s argument in the post office case I litigated — then it’s a less-demanding standard in those situations.

You read it and tell me where he stands.




Restrictions on Free Speech…

Posted by Eric Jaffa
September 14, 2005 @ 9:34 am
Filed under: Government, Free Speech?

…which don’t exist.

During the Senate hearings, Bush’s nominee for chief justice, John G. Roberts, can’t comment on the controversial Kelo case, which gives the government the right to take control of private property.

Or can he? From the Daily Howler:

Sam Brownback asked Roberts about the Kelo decision. The Post’s live blog records what we heard:

POST BLOG (9/14/05): Roberts yesterday had said he did not want to comment on potential future cases. In refraining to give his views about Kelo, he used a somewhat different approach, saying because the case "was just decided last year," he wasn’t going to discuss it.


"If the issue does come back before the court, " Roberts said, "I need to address it without previously commenting on it."

But why does he need to do that? Every current sitting justice has “previously commented” on the issue in the decisions on Kelo this year! All of them have “previously commented — so why does Roberts “need” to be different?

Obviously, a judge shouldn’t announce which side he’d rule for if an appeal comes before him. But saying what he thinks of existing decisions doesn’t bind him, and isn’t prohibitted.