Satire or Propaganda? The Free Speech Implications of the Violent Trump Video – WDET

A fake and incredibly violent video emerged over theweekend.

In it, Donald Trump is seen attacking his enemies inside the Church of Fake News including a variety of outlets like NPR, CNN and the Washington Post. As Lynyrd Skynyrds Free Bird plays in the background, Trump in a church massacre scene from the 2014 movie Kingsman shoots, stabs and lights fire to members of the news media along with late Senator John McCain, former Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders, the Black Lives Matter movementand Congresswoman Maxine Waters, amongothers.

While this could technically be defined as satire something that is a cornerstone of democracy and freedom of speech it feels downright disturbing to watch this video in a time when the president is openly aggressive in his verbal attacks against these people and organizations, and mass shootings are happeningregularly.

Its also worth noting that this video was shown at a Republican event at one of Trumps resorts inFlorida.

This was one of those instances where you cant help but be angry, says Tim Alberta, POLITICO Magazines chief political correspondent, on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson. POLITICO is one of the news organizations depicted in the video beingkilled.

This is a really tense time in America, and when the President of the United States is regularly deploying violent rhetoric against the media, and he does not immediately come out on camera to denounce [the video], its just disturbing, Albertacontinues.

Experts who study satire and propaganda say that this video could fit into the definition of either of those kinds of speech. They say, although Trump might not be directly responsible for the video, he should still bear some of the moral burden itcreates.

Although the violence in the video was fiction, that kind of violence is not fictional, points out University of Texas Rio Grande Valley associate professor of philosophy Cory Wimberly, the author of an upcoming book called How Propaganda Became PublicRelations.

A lot of it is coded. There are a lot of things we might see when we see the video, but there are also elements of it that are only meant to be understood by its intended audience that are lost on the rest of us, he continues, referencing memes on alt-right and incelinternetforums.

Fred Vultee, a Wayne State University associate professor of journalism who studies satire, says the video might be repugnant, but its still likely constitutionally protectedspeech.

Its hard to me to look at this and think that it poses a direct threat to anyone, says Vultee. I dont think, partly because its been up for 15 months now,that an immediate effect of this is likely. But there might be a more indirect and a more tangentialeffect.

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Satire or Propaganda? The Free Speech Implications of the Violent Trump Video - WDET

LeBron James angers Hong Kong protesters with free speech comments – PBS NewsHour

HONG KONG (AP) When the ball smashed into a photo of LeBron James face stuck above the hoop and dropped into the basket, the Hong Kong protesters cheered.

They also trampled on jerseys bearing his name and gathered in a semicircle to watch one burn.

James standing among basketball fans in Hong Kong took a hit because of comments the NBA star made about free speech. Fans gathered on courts amid Hong Kongs high-rise buildings Tuesday to vent their anger.

The player for the Los Angeles Lakers touched a nerve among protesters for suggesting that free speech can have negative consequences. They have been protesting for months in defense of the same freedom that James said can carry a lot of negative.

READ MORE: NBA says it supports freedom of speech after Hong Kong tweet

The protesters chanted support for Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, something of a hero among demonstrators in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory for having tweeted on Oct. 4 in support of their struggle, infuriating authorities in China.

What the crowd of approximately 200 people chanted about James wasnt printable.

People are angry, said James Lo, a web designer who runs a Hong Kong basketball fan page on Facebook. He said hes already received a video from a protester that showed him burning a No. 23 jersey bearing James name.

He expects more, given the backlash from protesters whove been regularly hitting the streets of Hong Kong and battling police because of concerns that the international business hub is slowly losing its freedoms, which are unique in China.

Students, they come out like every weekend. Theyve got tear gassed and then they got gun-shot, like every weekend. Police beating students and then innocent people, like every day. And then he (James) just comes up with something (like) that. We just cant accept that.

James made his comments in response to a question about whether Morey should be punished for his tweet that reverberated in China and had consequences for the NBA.

Yes, we do have freedom of speech, James said. But at times, there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when youre not thinking about others, when you only think about yourself.

READ MORE: In Chinas film industry, the Communist Party is in the directors chair

He added: So many people could have been harmed, not only financially but physically, emotionally, spiritually. So just be careful what we tweet and what we say and what we do. Even though yes, we do have freedom of speech, it can be a lot of negative that comes with it.

NBA players werent made available before or after games in China, which CCTV didnt broadcast, and several companies and state-run offices reportedly severed their ties with the NBA over Moreys tweet and the leagues response to it.

Protesters said James comments smacked of a double-standard, because hes used his clout as a sports headliner to press for social causes in the United States.

Please remember, all NBA players, what you said before: Black lives matter. Hong Kong lives also matter! one of the protesters, 36-year-old office worker William Mok, said in addressing the applauding crowd.

Others said LeBrons comments made it seem that hes more worried about money than people.

James was trying, you know, to take a side, on the China side, which is like ridiculous, said Aaron Lee, a 36-year-old marketing director. He was being honest, financially. Financial is money. Simple as that. LeBron James stands for money. Period.

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LeBron James angers Hong Kong protesters with free speech comments - PBS NewsHour

Internet Industry Under the Microscope as House Committee Grills Witnesses on Liability for Online Content – BroadbandBreakfast.com

WASHINGTON, October 16, 2019 -The chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday said that technology companies need to step up and better address challenges surrounding online content. If not, they will likely have to navigate a world in which Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act is modified.

The internet is more sophisticated than it was when Section 230 was enacted as part of the Telecom Act of 1996, said Chairman Frank Pallone, D-N.J.

But Ranking Member Greg Walden, R-Ore., countered that the internet isnt something that can be regulated and managed by the government. When discussing Section 230 reform, he said, there needs to be differentiation between illegal content and constitutionally protected speech.

The witnesses present at the hearing echoed the notion that Section 230 needs to stay. Yet the bill does have some issues that should be addressed.

Reddit Co-Founder and CEO Steve Huffman said that even slightly narrowing the constraints of the CDA could undermine the freedom of the internet. At Reddit, for example, individual users play a crucial role in self-moderation of content. Those interactions, he said, helped curb Russian meddling in the 2016 election via social media.

Section 230 needs to return to its original purpose, said Danielle Keats Citron, professor of law at Boston University School of Law. When the bill was first introduced, she said, its goal was to incentivize online platforms to be at the forefront of moderation.

Nowadays, Citron added, Section 230 has created a legal shield that covers the actions conducted by these platforms, including websites that may engage in illegal activities. This problem, she said, requires legal reform and cant be solved by the market alone.

The CDA has helped regular people by removing much of the gatekeeping for social change, said Corynne McSherry, legal director at Electronic Frontier Foundation. Increasing company liability, she said, could lead to over-censorship and stifle competition as smaller firms would be burdened by regulation.

In contrast, Gretchen Peters, executive director at Alliance to Counter Crime Online, said that tech companies need to face greater liability in order for them to reduce online safety risks. Social media algorithms, she said, are used by terrorist organizations and other nefarious people to further their agendas.

Section 230 is more about liability than freedom of speech, she said. Because of safe harbors and broad interpretation of the bill, tech firms have failed to uphold their end of the bargain to protect people from dangerous online content.

Hany Farid, professor at the University of California, Berkeley, advised the Committee not to view artificial intelligence as the savior for content moderation. The billions of contents created every day, he said, would be too much for mere automation to handle. Human action is necessary to uphold a decent standard of online communication.

Googles Global Head of Intellectual Property Policy Katherine Oyama said that her companys ability to take action on questionable content is underpinned by the foundation of Section 230s regulations.

The CDA helps differentiate the US from how countries such as China and Russia approach the internet, she said. Furthermore, weakening online safe harbors could have a recession-like impact on investment and cause companies to suffer more intensely from consumer litigation.

Without Section 230, Oyama added, online platforms would either not be able to filter content at all or over-filter content that needs to be heard, hurting both consumers and businesses.

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Internet Industry Under the Microscope as House Committee Grills Witnesses on Liability for Online Content - BroadbandBreakfast.com

Can we have too much freedom of speech? – Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

Inever thought I would be coming out against free speech and Im not, exactly.

Its more like an over-abundance of free speech at inappropriate times.

I am all for free speech. I usually say what I think, sometimes when I shouldnt say anything at all. And I wish more people would say, publicly, what they think.

Paradoxically, the most difficult thing to get in a newspaper in a small town is honest opinion. People are shy, or more likely overly concerned about what their boss, friends, neighbors or family will think of them for it.

They may say a lot privately but not in a public, on-the-record setting.

But lately there has been an exception: governmental meetings.

People should be able, and encouraged, to make their feelings known to elected officials. But there is a time and a place.

This past week New Albany aldermen met to reach a final decision on next years budget. The meeting ran nearly three hours and much of what was said was relevant to the unfortunate and uncomfortable situation concerning the civic center.

But much of what was said had nothing to do directly with the budget and the meeting had the air of a verbal free-for-all.

The Union County Board of Supervisors allows comments from the public and others present at their meetings, but this never really gets out of hand.

The New Albany School Board takes a more draconian approach: no one is allowed to speak up during a meeting unless that person is on the agenda and even trustees themselves appear reluctant to raise questions. People have effectively been exiled for flouting the rules.

As much as I hate to say it, aldermen need to institute a similar rule in order to keep order and deal with business in a business-like way.

Only those on the agenda should be allowed to speak and they should be given a reasonable time limit that is enforced.

Board members or the mayor can control follow-up questions or comments, or perhaps there can be a time of informal discussion following the formal meeting.

But the verbal wild west attitude is getting out of hand.

The public should be allowed to speak, but they should also show common sense as to when they speak up and whether it is appropriate to the situation.

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Can we have too much freedom of speech? - Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

The Arizona Supreme Court Strikes a Powerful Blow for Free Speech and Religious Freedom – National Review

Breanna Koski, co-owner of Brush & Nib Studio, at news conference following oral arguments at the Arizona Supreme Court, January 22, 2019.(Alliance Defending Freedom)

Free speech and religious liberty are on a winning streak. Last month the Eighth Circuit Court of appeals ruled that Christian wedding photographers could not be compelled to use their artistic talents to help celebrate same-sex weddings. Today, the Arizona Supreme Court reached a similar holding, this time on behalf of Christian calligraphers and painters Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski. The case, brought by my friends and former colleagues at the Alliance Defending Freedom, is similar to multiple other wedding vendor cases. The plaintiffs do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation (they happily serve gay customers). They merely refuse to produce art that advances ideas they find objectionable.

Duka and Koski operate a limited liability company called Brush & Nib Studios. The companys Operating Agreement declares its beliefs quite clearly stating that it will not create custom artwork that communicates ideas or messages . . . that contradict biblical truth, demean others, endorse racism, incite violence, or promote any marriage besides marriage between one man and one woman, such as same-sex marriage. As with all these cases, the core question is whether the custom artwork at issue constitutes constitutionally protected speech (the court was interpreting the Arizona constitution, but applied federal free speech precedents). If so, then the states demand that the plaintiffs produce art for same-sex marriages constitutes a form of compelled speech, among the most egregious forms of First Amendment violation. Compelled speech violates the fundamental principle that an individual has autonomy over his or her speech and thus may not be forced to speak a message he or she does not wish to say.

The court held that the plaintiffs custom wedding calligraphy constituted pure speech:

Each custom invitation created by Duka and Koski contains their hand-drawn words, images, and calligraphy, as well as their hand-painted images and original artwork. Additionally, Duka and Koski are intimately connected with the words and artwork contained in their invitations . . . For each invitation, Duka and Koski spend many hours designing and painting custom paintings, writing words and phrases, and drawing images and calligraphy. Moreover, they insist on retaining artistic control over the ideas and messages contained in the invitations to ensure they are consistent with their religious beliefs.

The court compared the plaintiffs to tattoo artists, individuals who are unquestionably in the business of creating art. Its worth repeating time and time again that refusing to advance a particular message is not the same thing as the refusal to provide a service. Custom art is not ham and eggs at Cracker Barrel. Progressive legal dissenters (including the dissent in this case) recognize and dont wish to overrule the compelled speech doctrine; they instead label the custom artwork at issue (whether its a custom cake, custom wedding video, or custom floral arrangement) as mere commercial activity, and the plaintiffs refusal to create the custom artwork is discriminatory conduct. The court disagreed:

Ultimately, the Citys analysis is based on the flawed assumption that Plaintiffs custom wedding invitations are fungible products, like a hamburger or a pair of shoes. They are not. Plaintiffs do not sell identical invitations to anyone; every custom invitation is different and unique. For each invitation, Duka and Koski create different celebratory messages, paintings and drawings; they also personally write, in calligraphy or custom hand-lettering, the names of the specific bride and groom who are getting married. In short, Plaintiffs do not create the same wedding invitation for any couple, regardless of whether the wedding involves a man and a woman or a same-sex couple.

A well-crafted court opinion is an educational document. It can and often should not only persuade the precise legal reasoning at issue but also the justifications for the legal rules it applies. The courts words are compelling:

Duka and Koskis beliefs about same-sex marriage may seem old-fashioned, or even offensive to some. But the guarantees of free speech and freedom of religion are not only for those who are deemed sufficiently enlightened, advanced, or progressive. They are for everyone. After all, while our own ideas may be popular today, they may not be tomorrow.

Free speech for me, but not for thee cannot be an American governing philosophy. Moreover, continued victories for freedom of speech could well draw lines that allow both sides of the cultural divide the space to speak and exercise their liberties without creating a false, zero-sum conflict. The court quoted the Supreme Court of the United States seminal opinion in West Virginia v. Barnette, and its worth quoting here as well:

As governmental pressure toward unity becomes greater, so strife becomes more bitter as to whose unity it shall be. . . . . Ultimate futility of such attempts to compel coherence is the lesson of every such effort from the Roman drive to stamp out Christianity as a disturber of its pagan unity, the Inquisition, as a means to religious and dynastic unity, the Siberian exiles as a means to Russian unity, down to the fast failing efforts of our present totalitarian enemies. Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.

This is a great truth of history, and every American victory for free speech builds a larger and deeper defense of American pluralism. Today, the Arizona Supreme Court did its part to maintain Americas first freedoms.

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The Arizona Supreme Court Strikes a Powerful Blow for Free Speech and Religious Freedom - National Review

The Growing Right-Wing Threat to Campus Free Speech – Reason

When it comes to free speech on American campuses, there seems to be a law of conservation at work: Just when the internal threat of censorship from left-wing campus activists is abating, the external threat from right-wing lawmakers starts rising. Given that the new threat relies not on the decibel level of immature 18-year-olds but the state power of motivated adults, it may be much harder to fight.

Concerns about political correctness on campus date back at least 25 years before Philip Roth wrote The Human Stain,his brilliant novel depicting the travails of a half-black classics professor pretending to be Jewish who gets summarily fired after black students take offense over his use of the word "spooks." But after a brief hiatus, these concerns came back with a vengeance in the last decade, at least partly because a well-oiled right-wing machine emerged to pounce on every student transgressionbig and small, real and imagined, in order to paint a picture of a "free speech crisis" in academia.

Consider the experience of Ursinus College's Jonathan Marks, a conservative professor who writes extensively about higher education: He recounts with amusement how first The College Fix, a right-wing campus watchdog website, and then Breitbart picked up a piece he wrote for Commentary earlier this year making fun of California State Fresno's new faculty and staff rules prescribing that "everyone be nice to each other." Both outfits distorted the story and blamed students who had nothing to do with the rules, because that was better aligned with their narrative of easily triggered snowflakes demanding safe spaces. The College Fix appended a grudging "update" after some coaxing from Marks, but Breitbart didn't bother. "If you investigated the dental profession with as much intensity as college campuses and devoted entire websites to covering it, you could come up with lots of bad things too," he laughs.

Though the notion of a campus free speech crisis may be overblown, it's still a problem. Otherwise, New York magazine's Jonathan Chait, a liberal, wouldn't write about the damage that a culture rife with trigger warnings and microaggressions does to the cause of free and open dialogue. Vox even thought it fit to run a piece by a liberal professor under a pseudonym complaining that some of his liberal students "terrify" him.

But regardless of how one characterizes what's transpiring on campuses, there are encouraging signs that things are getting better.

A report last year by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), an outfit that does yeoman's work tracking the threats to free speech in colleges, found that the percentage of institutions with speech codes "that clearly and substantially restrict freedom of speech," a genuine problem in the 1990s, had diminished by 42 percentage points since 2009 in the sample it surveyed. Even better, 37 universities earned its green light rating for having no speech codes whatsoever compared to merely eight in 2009. Meanwhile, 27 schools or faculty bodies embraced University of Chicago's widely-praised free speech principlesup from just seven the year before. The principles reaffirm the university's commitment to stand firm against the disinvitation of controversial speakers or disruption of events.

There is more good news on the disinvitation front: After peaking in 2016 at 43 disinvitations, the number plummeted to 18 last year, according to FIRE's non-comprehensive tracking list. This year, the disinvitation number has moved up to 30including 13 leftist speakersbut that's still lower than the peak. The most likely reason for the overall drop isn't self-censorship or state laws protecting campus speech, Acadia University's Jeffrey Adam Sachs has convincingly argued. Rather, it is a combination of boredom over the tactics of campus yahoos and a new culture of campus tolerance with students forming clubs and networks to promote respectful cross-political dialogue. It also helps that, unlike 2016, this is not a polarizing presidential election year.

But even as universities are beginning to defuse the threat to free speech from leftist radicals on campus, they are facing new ones from right-wing lawmakers off campus.

Conservatives warn day and night about liberal political correctness but give scarcely a thought to how their own brand of patriotic correctness stifles free expression. If they did, they wouldn't be instigating anti-flag-burning amendments on a regular basis. And they certainly wouldn't have stood squarely behind this president when he berated 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and demanded that the NFL fire him.

Nor are conservative lawmakers shy about launching their own jihad on academic freedom to squelch professors or viewpoints they dislike.

There is a rising trend that goes something like this, as per New York University's Jonathan Haidt: A left-wing professor says something provocative on social media or elsewhere and the right-wing media goes into overdrive, covering the story ad nauseum to gin up viewer outrage. Republican politicos jump in and demand action. University administrators, terrified of the PR damage but unworried about academic freedom, put the professor on leave and begin the "process of termination," especially if the professor isn't tenured. (Haidt, incidentally, is no liberal pleader. He is a celebrity in conservative circles because he founded the highly respected Heterodox Academy, whose purpose is to address the lack of intellectual diversity on liberal-dominated campuses.)

In just the last six months, Acadia University's Sachs has documented several incidents in Iowa, California, and Connecticut that fit exactly this pattern.

In another incident just last month, the University of Alabama fired Jamie R. Riley, its black assistant vice president and dean of students, after Breitbart exposed past tweets in which Riley criticized the American flag and made a connection between police and racism. Meanwhile, the chief of staff of Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (RNeb.) personally called and threatened University of Nebraska Professor Ari Kohen for "liking" a Facebook post depicting a defaced campaign sign of the congressman showing googly eyes and calling him Fartenberry. The staffer accused Kohen of encouraging "vandalism," arguably an attempt at chilling speech.

It isn't just professors that Republicans are going after. In January, FIRE had to send a cease-and-desist letter to the University of Georgia after it invited an investigation by the state's Republican attorney general into a philosophy graduate student who called white people "crappy" at a meeting.

Meanwhile, bills are proliferating across Republican-controlled states such as Wisconsin requiring universities to expel students engaging in "disruptive" protests, which could potentially include anything from loud clapping to walkouts, according to the ACLU. Also in Wisconsin, a Republican lawmaker threatened to cut the University of Wisconsin's budget over an "obscene" reading assignment aimed at exploring how sexual preferences can lead to racial segregation in the gay community.

In another disturbing incident, Rep. Ted Budd (RN.C.), successfully petitioned the Department of Education secretary to investigate Duke University and the University of North Carolina to ensure that the $235,000 grant that the universities' Middle East consortium received isn't being used to promote "anti-Israel bias."

Conservatives pose as the guardians of free speech against the excesses of political correctness. Yet they have few qualms about deploying the purse and power of the state to police the boundaries of acceptable speech and speakers. It is too bad that conservatives' threat of censorship is heating up just when campus snowflakes are showing signs of melting away.

A version of this column originally appeared in The Week.

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The Growing Right-Wing Threat to Campus Free Speech - Reason

Freedom of Speech Protects Calligraphers’ Right Not to Create Custom Same-Sex Wedding Invitations – Reason

From this morning's decision inBrush & Nib Studios, LC v. City of Phoenix:

The rights of free speech and free exercise, so precious to this nation since its founding, are not limited to soft murmurings behind the doors of a person's home or church, or private conversations with likeminded friends and family. These guarantees protect the right of every American to express their beliefs in public. This includes the right to create and sell words, paintings, and art that express a person's sincere religious beliefs.

With these fundamental principles in mind, today we hold that the City of Phoenix cannot apply its Human Relations Ordinance to force Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, owners of Brush & Nib Studios, LC , to create custom wedding invitations celebrating same-sex wedding ceremonies in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs. Duka, Koski, and Brush & Nib have the right to refuse to express such messages under article 2, section 6 of the Arizona Constitution [which protects the freedom of speech and of the press], as well as Arizona's Free Exercise of Religion Act .

Our holding is limited to Plaintiffs' creation of custom wedding invitations that are materially similar to those contained in the record. We do not recognize a blanket exemption from the Ordinance for all of Plaintiffs' business operations. Likewise, we do not, on jurisprudential grounds, reach the issue of whether Plaintiffs' creation of other wedding products may be exempt from the Ordinance.

Duka and Koski's beliefs about same-sex marriage may seem old-fashioned, or even offensive to some. But the guarantees of free speech and freedom of religion are not only for those who are deemed sufficiently enlightened, advanced, or progressive. They are for everyone. After all, while our own ideas may be popular today, they may not be tomorrow. Indeed, "[w]e can have intellectual individualism" and "rich cultural diversities only at the price" of allowing others to express beliefs that we may find offensive or irrational. West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943). This "freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much [t]he test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order."Id.

I hope to post more about this soon; note that I cosigned an amicus brief in this case, together with the Cato Institute and fellow Volokh Conspiracy blogger Dale Carpenter.

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Freedom of Speech Protects Calligraphers' Right Not to Create Custom Same-Sex Wedding Invitations - Reason

Nicholls holds freedom of speech panel discussion – Daily Comet

In honor of the university's Constitution Week, several of Nicholls State University's professors offered their perspectives on free speech in today's society and on campus during a panel discussion Tuesday.

They ranged from discussing "cancel culture" to the history of student press rights at public schools to the role freedom of speech plays in maintaining a democracy.

Sitting on the panel were Nicki Boudreaux, a mass communication professor; Rusty Thysell Jr., a government professor; David Whitney, the social sciences department head; and Paul Wilson, the geography department head. They were also joined by Student Government Association Vice President Markaylen Wiltz, and the discussion was moderated byJames Stewart, mass communication department head.

All of the panelists shared the sentiment that the right to free speech is integral to the country's progress and finding truth

"To me, free speech is the cornerstone of our society, and it's the cornerstone of this and all universities," said Whitney. "It has to be protected at all costs."

Whitney asserted that freedom of speech is a protection for the minority in society against the majority.

"From mob rule," he said, pointing to how public opinion changes over time with examples like the acceptance of gay marriage and the civil rights movement.

Wilson argued "cancel culture," or the boycott of someone like a celebrity due to a questionable opinion or behavior, is the greatest threat to freedom of speech. This is an alternative term to "call-out culture."

"You're allowed to change," he said. "You've all said offensive things in your life."

Wiltz noted that the original purpose of a liberal arts college was to promote "freedom of thought."

"We're caught in this dilemma of society where people want to feel safe, but they don't want to hear the reaction to their words," he said. "You need to remember to watch how you say things but also get your point across."

Thysell said he advises his students to recognize that while they have the right to say something, they still have to think about whether there are repercussions.

"You can basically say anything you want," he said. "The problem is the consequences."

Boudreaux added that in the mass communication department, they couple the law associated with freedom of speech with the ethics of speech so students understand "the personal responsibility we have as speakers."

"I can offend you," she said. "But just because I can say something doesn't mean I should say something."

Staff Writer Halle Parker can be reached at hparker@houmatoday.com or 857-2204. Follow her on Twitter, @_thehalparker.

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Nicholls holds freedom of speech panel discussion - Daily Comet

Australian universities are accused of trading free speech for cash – The Economist

SEEK HARMONY but not sameness, advised the Chinese philosopher Confucius 2,500 years ago. Neither quality was on display when Chinese nationalists violently disrupted a rally at the University of Queensland in July in support of anti-government demonstrators in Hong Kong. Since then Drew Pavlou, one of the organisers of the sympathy rally, says he has received a litany of threats from Chinese patriots. The passport details of another participant in the rally, who is from the Chinese mainland, have been disseminated on social media. A third says authorities in China visited his family there, to warn them of the consequences of dissent.

Mr Pavlou claims his university has since tried to squelch protests that might upset China, a charge it firmly denies. It is one of 13 campuses in Australia to host a Confucius Institute, a language school and cultural centre funded by the Chinese government. Some students worry about the universitys cosy ties with China. Peter Hoj, its vice-chancellor, has worked as a consultant to the Chinese state agency responsible for Confucius Institutes. Recently he quietly made a Chinese diplomat, Xu Jie, a visiting professor. Many Australians were outraged when Mr Xu praised the spontaneous patriotic behaviour of the Chinese students who instigated the scuffle.

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Other Australians are dazzled by the money to be made teaching Chinese students. Relative to the size of its population, Australia now hosts more international students than any other country. Just over a third of themaround 150,000come from China. In the universities most eager to woo them, Chinese students now fill about a quarter of all places, says Salvatore Babones of the University of Sydney. This has turned tertiary education into Australias third-biggest export, enabling administrators to pump cash into new facilities and research. But the conservative coalition government seems increasingly worried about the implications for free speech and security.

Lecturers gripe about complaints from Chinese students who bristle at criticism of their government. Some have apologised publicly for supposedly hurting students feelings; one was suspended in 2017 after he claimed that ordinary Chinese believe that government officials only ever speak the truth by accident.

Last year Victoria University cancelled a screening of a film criticising Confucius Institutes after Chinese diplomats expressed misgivings about the event. Some academics complain that administrators have encouraged them to keep awkward opinions to themselves. One grumbles that his freedom of speech was egregiously compromised when a panel discussion on Chinese politics was suddenly cancelled ahead of a Chinese state visit to Australia.

Students police each other as well as their teachers. Officially Chinese Students and Scholars Associations, which are backed by the Chinese state, run social events and help newcomers. But they are also assumed to snitch on dissenters, leaving many Chinese students afraid to speak their minds.

By courting controversy, these organisations may have done more harm than good to Chinas interests, says Mark Harrison, a Chinese-studies lecturer at the University of Tasmania. So have the Confucius Institutes, which are accused of stifling academic freedom by discouraging students from discussing sensitive topics. It is completely inappropriate for universities to host what amount to arms of the Chinese Communist Party on their campuses, argues Kevin Carrico of Monash University.

Universities dont think they need to register the institutes under a new law that requires agents of foreign governments attempting to influence politics to declare themselves. The attorney-generals office is mulling whether they should. A separate government taskforce is investigating whether universities are doing enough to prevent sensitive research from reaching foreign governments. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), a think-tank, reckons 300-odd scientists tied to Chinas armed forces have visited Australia since 2007, studying subjects such as quantum physics and navigation technology. In one particularly worrying case, a professor at the University of New South Wales worked with a Chinese general to develop supercomputers used in nuclear-weapons tests, notes Alex Joske of ASPI.

Australian universities say they are working with the government to safeguard security without undermining the invaluable asset of global collaboration. But few seem keen to reduce their dependency on a continuing influx of Chinese students. This amounts to a crisis of leadership, a conservative senator recently asserted. If universities do not change their tack, says Mr Harrison, they may find that federal agencies do it for them.

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Australian universities are accused of trading free speech for cash - The Economist

Remembering why free speech is important – Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF)

At a time when freedom of speech seems to be under assault, its worth stepping back to reconsider why it matters.

In a free society, all citizens must be able to pursue their own paths, set their own goals, and think for themselves. Of course, in America and elsewhere, there are norms, orthodoxies, and taboos. And dissident personalities frequently challenge these norms by eschewing orthodoxy and venturing into the taboo.

How a society treats these dissidents can tell you a lot about how truly free that society is. In some places, government silences or punishes those with unpopular viewpoints for refusing to sacrifice their independence and their ideas (the recent protests in Hong Kong are an instructive example).

America offers a richer tradition. People are free to express their ideas, even if those ideas are unpopular, unconventional, or wrong (though, in many cases, they may eventually be proven right). Americans are thus free to participate in peaceful protests, wear black armbands to school, and even burn the nations flag. A speaker may say things that are unpopular, uncomfortable, or downright grotesque. But in a free society, we engage dissent through discussion and debate rather than through censorship and punishment.

Free speech is inextricably linked to prosperity. After all, prosperity comes from ideas, and new ideas can thrive only in a society in which they are free from suppression. Its easy to think of widely embraced ideas that were once controversialfor example, the idea that all children, regardless of race, should have the same educational opportunities. Thanks to our tradition of free speech, such forward-looking ideas reshaped our society for the better.

Today it is more important than ever to protect our freedom of speech. Too many people have come to believe that discussion and debate are inadequate; they seek a society that squelches dissent with force. In law, government regulations are censoring speech that is disparaging, immoral, and offensive.

In culture, people attack the speaker rather than engaging their ideas. Opponents vilify speakers as misogynists, or racists, and then attempt to drive them from the public square, or deprive them of their livelihood. In worst-case scenarios, disagreeable speech is met with violence. These attacks on the tradition of free speech are damaging to a free society and suppress uninhibited, robust, and wide open debate.

Freedom of speech is an invaluable cornerstone of a free societyand its worth fighting to protect.

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Remembering why free speech is important - Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF)

Wheaton College Students Sue Chicago for Banning Them From Evangelizing at The Bean – The Daily Beast

Four students at Wheaton College filed a federal free-speech lawsuit against the City of Chicago this week, claiming that it violated the Constitution when it prohibited a group of evangelists from speaking and passing out fliers near The Bean statue at the popular Millennium Park.

The three sophomores and one junior who filed suitMatt Swart, Jeremy Chong, Gabriel Emerson, and Caeden Hoodare all members of the Chicago Evangelism Team at the 2,500-student, Christian liberal arts school. The team is sponsored by the colleges Office of Christian Outreach.

An essential part of Christianity is sharing the gospel, Chong told The Chicago Tribune, which first reported the lawsuit, on Thursday.

The 24.5-acre park is the most popular tourist destination in the midwest, with about 25 million annual visitors, and was often used by the team to proclaim the gospel in the city of Chicago to whomever we find there, pray with and listen to all those we meet and be a light and a witness for Christ, according to the lawsuit.

But six members of the team were halted by park security in December 2018 while open air preaching, the complaint claims.

Park officials told the students that they were soliciting the public to subscribe to their beliefs and therefore in violation of a Chicago ordinance which prohibited solicitation on the park sidewalk between Randolph Street and Roosevelt Street, the lawsuit states.

Over the next several months, the students and other evangelists continued to face hostility and opposition from park employees frustrating their ability to preach or distribute free religious literature, the complaint contends. In one case, students say they were told by a park official they could not discuss religion in the park. That official allegedly ordered the students to leave the park if they wanted to talk about religion.

In April, the citys Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events officially divided the park into 11 areas, or rooms, and on its website announced that it would ban the making of speeches and passing out of written communications in 10 of them.

The rules, which were updated in August, contain unconstitutional provisions which unduly restrict speech within a traditional public forum, the lawsuit claims.

The rules essentially restrict anyone from making speeches or passing out written materials in the park, including near the world-famous Cloud Gate statue, commonly known as The Bean, except for the area of Wrigley Square and the Millennium Monument, in the northwest corner of the park, according to the complaint.

The Bean is one of the highest tourist attractions in the United States ... thats where you want to get your message out, the students attorney, John Mauck, told the Tribune.

The 39-page federal lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois and claims the city violated their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion.

This isnt just about evangelists, Mauck said. This is for politicians campaigning, political activists and whoever else wants free speech.

This case is about keeping secure the liberty of public citizens, in general, and the four student plaintiffs, specifically, to freely engage in speech activities at Millennium Parka public park and traditional public forum, the complaint states. The right of citizens to discuss matters of public importance, to engage with other citizens, and to hear encouraging or challenging opinions is a bedrock of the first amendment, which has found its fullest expression in the context of public forums.

Through the suit, the students are seeking to forbid the city and its employees from enforcing rules that prohibit or unduly restrict the students speech and religious activities within a traditional public forum, unspecified damages for violating their rights, and reimbursement of attorneys fees and expenses.

Despite the fact that he was forwarded a copy of the complaint, Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for the citys legal department, told The Daily Beast on Thursday: We have not yet received this suit and therefore cannot comment specifically on the litigation, however, the new rules protect First Amendment rights while also respecting the rights of patrons to use and enjoy the park.


Wheaton College Students Sue Chicago for Banning Them From Evangelizing at The Bean - The Daily Beast

A Revival of Free Speech (and True Tolerance) – Townhall

When it comes to freedom of speech, were in the midst of a revival.

On Monday, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in favor of Phoenix artists Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski of Brush & Nib Studio, holding that the Arizona Constitutions Free Speech Clause does what it purports to do; namely, it ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.

This ruling continues a trend back toward the fundamental freedoms of belief and expression that our nation was founded upon. Its a welcome change.

Not long ago, Tolerance 2.0 was in full swing. For the uninitiated, Tolerance 1.0allowed for the existence of opinions that one dislikes or disagrees with. In contrast, Tolerance 2.0seeks the homogenization of belief and expression, particularly as it relates to the government-approved orthodoxy regarding marriage and human sexuality.

Those who dissented by stubbornly clinging to their sincerely-held beliefs were to be punished. They were to be rebuked, reeducated, and (if successful) reintroduced to society as reformed. Alternatively, they were to be removed from polite society and the public square.

The examples are numerous, but include:

-Jack Phillips, the cake artist in Colorado

-Barronelle Stutzman, the florist in Washington

-Blaine Adamson, the promotional printer in Kentucky

-Carl and Angel Larsen, the filmmakers in Minnesota

-Joanna and Breanna, the artists in Arizona

One by one, these men and women were forced to plead their cases before human rights commissions, as well as state and federal courts. They faced the possibility of fines, the loss of personal assets, or even prison. Some received death threats or were compared to Nazis. All were told some variation of this message: compromising your religious beliefs is the price of citizenship.

But then Jack Phillips stood before the U.S. Supreme Court, and Justice Kennedy proclaimed that tolerance is essential in a free society. I wrote at the time that Masterpiece Cakeshopwould require that the justices grapple with the question of what tolerance demands in a free society. The Court answered, in part, ruling that the state in its position here has beenneither tolerantnor respectful of Mr. Phillips religious beliefs and condemning the commission for implying that religious beliefs and persons are less than fully welcome in Colorados business community.

Many wondered what might come next. Would lower courts protect the constitutional freedoms of all Americans, or simply require future infringement on those freedoms to be undertaken with more respect (that is, with less overt hostility)?

We are starting to see the answer.

Just weeks ago on August 23, Blaine Adamson stood before the Kentucky Supreme Court and asked it to rule that Americans need not surrender their First Amendment rights of expression and belief when they enter the public square. Two lower courts in the state have already ruled in favor of Blaine and his company, Hands On Originals. Its very possible the Kentucky Supreme Court will uphold those decisions.

On that same day, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Carl and Angel Larsen, holding that the First Amendment allows the Larsens to choose when to speak and what to say. The Larsens seek to make films about Gods design for marriage as a lifelong union of one man and one woman, but a state law demands that if the Larsens produce such films, they must also create films celebrating same-sex marriage. The courts ruling instructs the trial court to reconsider whether the Larsens are entitled to a preliminary injunction preventing enforcement of the law.

Mondays ruling in Arizona gives defenders of freedom additional cause to rejoice. It recognizes that, while Christian professionals like Joanna and Breanna happily serve all people, they are unable to express messages that conflict with their faith. The Court held:

Plaintiffs must, and they do, serve all customers regardless of their sexual orientation. But no law, including a public accommodations law, is immune from the protections of free speech and free exercise. The enduring strength of the First Amendment is that it allows people to speak their minds and express their beliefs without government interference. But here, the City effectively cuts off Plaintiffs right to express their beliefs about samesex marriage by telling them what they can and cannot say.

Time will tell if this trend continues. Barronelle Stutzman loves her longtime customer and friend Rob Ingersoll, but she was sued when she respectfully declined his invitation to help celebrate his same-sex ceremony, and now faces the loss of everything she owns. She may be headed back to the U.S. Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Jack Phillips remains embroiled in the latest attack on his faith and livelihood. It remains to be seen whether freedom of belief and expression will prevail in his case.

Any good revival doesnt just beginit endures. Lets hope this recent free speech revival turns out to be a good one.

The rest is here:

A Revival of Free Speech (and True Tolerance) - Townhall

Appeals Court: No, Lynching Threats Are Not Free Speech – Patheos

A federal appeals court has ruled against a man who sent clear lynching threats to a Muslim candidate for public office, who argued that these were not true threats (the legal standard applicable here) because they were covered by the First Amendment Free Speech Clause. The court upheld a district court judge that said he had to stand trial for it.Credit: JMacpherson https://www.flickr.com/photos/lipstickproject/16195812463

Attorneys for Joseph Cecil Vandevere, 52, argued that charges against their client should be dropped on the grounds of freedom of speech, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

Vandevere is charged with interstate communication of a threat to injure a person. He allegedly used anonymous social media accounts to communicate lynching threats.

In one tweet, Vandevere is said to have sent a picture of a lynching to Virginia state Senate candidate Qasim Rashid, who is Muslim. The tweet included the words VIEW YOUR DESTINY.

He didnt limit his hatred only to Muslims. He also posted on Facebook that Jews should be arrested and prosecuted for being dual citizens of the United States and Israel. The district court judge rightly ruled that, A true threat dressed up in political rhetoric or artistic expression alone does not render it a non-threat.

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Appeals Court: No, Lynching Threats Are Not Free Speech - Patheos

Why oppose banning books and free speech? – Seacoastonline.com

These days, I sometimes question the value of the First Amendment: freedom of speech. When I watch movies on Netflix and every other word is profanity, for instance. Or when the president tells four dynamic recently elected women in the U.S. House of Representatives to go back to where you came from, or denounces a major American city for being rat-infested as a cover for his racist beliefs. Why does our society have to endure such unfair, ugly uses of words?

But of course, the consequences of banning free speech would be unendurable, and undemocratic. Our countrys founders knew that. If we legalized limitations, think of the tyranny that would result. Only specific books and speeches would be allowed, and they could be fascistic or bigoted. Every controversial idea could be labeled subversive as a means of controlling thought! The creative possibilities of art and literature might never be developed!

So while we may fantasize a time without an embarrassingly crude and hateful speaker in the White House, we do not want to consider a time where books are banned from schools and libraries because of the damage free thought might cause in our thinking and actions. And it is this freedom of speech and freedom to read and freedom from censorship that we annually celebrate during Banned Book Week. This year, we will honor those rights on September 24 at Water Street Book Store at Banned Book Night, co-sponsored by the bookstore and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire.

Six local readers will read segments from six banned or challenged books. Each reader has chosen a book from a huge list of books, and this year, the choices show an interesting pattern: four of the books are by and about black lives, and a fifth is about book banning by burning! It seems to me that the news of the year is influencing these readers choices. Discriminatory practices, racist talk at high levels: they often lead readers to explore more fully writers such as James Baldwin and Nobel Prize winner, the late Toni Morrison and books such as To Kill A Mockingbird, Their Eyes Are Watching God, Go Tell It On the Mountain, and The Bluest Eye. And Ray Bradburys fascinating Fahrenheit 451 illustrates the outcome of banning books and limiting free thought!

In addition to the emphasis on books dealing with race in our local program this year, national reports show that books dealing with LGBTQ topics have been most frequently banned and challenged in 2019, even including childrens books. And Tango Makes Three is among those, and it, too, will be highlighted in our Exeter event.

The public is invited to attend readings from these banned books by Paul Durham, author of young adult and childrens books; Leslie Haslam, director of Exeter Adult Education; Eileen Flockhart, local activist and former state representative; PEA student Liam Ahern; PEA Diversity and Inclusion Director Stephanie Bramlett; and Joe Pace, chair of Kensington Board of Selectmen and area political activist. Join in the conversation about whether there should ever be book banning or limits on free speech. Some banned books will be raffled. Refreshments will be served.

Pat Yosha is a resident of Exeter and is the facilitator of the Banned Book Night at the Water Street Bookstore.


Why oppose banning books and free speech? - Seacoastonline.com

The litmus test for free speech – The Hindu

Freedom of speech and individual liberty are enshrined in Articles 19(1)(a) and 21 of the Constitution. However, these rights, like all others, are not absolute but subject to reasonable restrictions. What would be a reasonable restriction is an extremely important matter to consider, as on that would depend the validity of several detention orders and prosecutions in India.

In America, the earlier decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court had laid down the bad tendency test to determine whether the restriction was reasonable or not. This test was that free speech or acts could be prohibited if they were likely to adversely affect the welfare of the public. However, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, a celebrated judge of the U.S. Supreme Court, felt that the bad tendency test was vague. In Schenck v. United States (1919), he laid down the clear and present danger test to determine the reasonability of the restriction. This test means that a restriction would be reasonable only if the speech or action constitutes a clear and present (and not remote) danger to state security or public order.

The clear and present danger test was not consistently followed by the U.S. Supreme Court, though. In Dennis v. United States (1951), for instance, a balancing test was adopted.

In Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), the clear and present danger test was expanded, and the imminent lawless action test was laid down by the U.S. Supreme Court, which the court has followed since. This test states, The constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit the state to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation, except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action.

The word imminent used in the judgment is very important. Imminent means likely to happen very soon, at hand, or fast approaching.

Two decisions of the Indian Supreme Court Sri Indra Das v. State of Assam (2011) and Arup Bhuyan v. State of Assam (2011) followed the decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio, and so Brandenburg has become the law of the land in India too.

By applying the Brandenburg test, it becomes evident that the prosecution against the Bhima Koregaon accused; Professor G.N. Saibaba; activist Shehla Rashid; and Pawan Jaiswal, the journalist who published a report that children in a primary school in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, were getting only roti and salt in their mid-day meals; among others deserve to be quashed as these acts or speeches did not create any danger of an imminent lawless act. The recent detention of many persons in Kashmir (except those accused of militant activities) would also be illegal from that standpoint.

Recently, the Bombay High Court rejected the plea of Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, for quashing the criminal proceedings against him, observing that there was some material to indicate that the accused was in contact with Naxalites. But being in contact with a militant organisation cannot by itself be a crime, a`s it does not result in any imminent lawless act. One could be a writer who contacts Naxalites for doing research about them, or a social activist, or even a sympathiser. That would be legal, being within the ambit of the Brandenburg test.

It is submitted with respect that the Bombay High Courts decision is incorrect, and should be set aside by the Supreme Court, which should reaffirm the Brandenburg test. That would pave the way for quashing several detentions and prosecutions (many of them based on manufactured evidence) which are a slur on democracy and liberty.

In these critical days in India, when onslaught on liberty and freedom of speech is commonplace, it is the higher judiciary which must do its duty as guardians of the citizens constitutional rights. The court must not succumb as it did during the Emergency.

Markandey Katju is a former Judge of the Indian Supreme Court

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The litmus test for free speech - The Hindu

The Right Wings War on the L.G.B.T.Q. Community – The New Yorker

An Arizona Supreme Court ruling on Monday provided further evidence that gay rights are under siege in this country. Other recent events show that the Trump Administration is leading the assault. The Arizona court held that Brush & Nib Studio, a Phoenix-based company that makes customized wedding invitations, has the legal right to reject a gay couple as customers. Even though Phoenix has a local law that prohibits discrimination against the L.G.B.T.Q. community, the court ruled that the religious convictions of the business owners exempted them from the obligation to treat all customers equally. According to the court, designing wedding invitations is a creative act; to compel the owners to design an invitation against their will violates their rights both to freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

The opinion treats the business ownerstwo womenas a beleaguered minority. Their beliefs about same-sex marriage may seem old-fashioned, or even offensive to some, the court wrote. But the guarantees of free speech and freedom of religion are not only for those who are deemed sufficiently enlightened, advanced, or progressive. They are for everyone. This, to put it charitably, is nonsense. The owners of Brush & Nib are free to believe anything they want. What they should not be allowed to do is to use those beliefs to run a business that is open to the general public but closed to gay people.

Its important to recognize that religious people have made similar arguments for decadesthat their beliefs entitle them to exemptions from the rules that bind everyone else. This has been especially true when the religious people in question operated a business. In 1982, the Supreme Court rejected an attempt by an Amish business owner in Pennsylvania to avoid paying his share of his employees Social Security taxes, because his community believed in helping their own and not accepting assistance from the state. Every person cannot be shielded from all the burdens incident to exercising every aspect of the right to practice religious beliefs, Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote in his opinion. When followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.

Its long been clear that the government has the right to make sure that businesses refrain from discriminating in their business practices. In 1964, the court upheld the Civil Rights Act, and the burdens it places on business owners, because, Justice Tom C. Clark wrote, the government has the right to prevent the deprivation of personal dignity that surely accompanies denials of equal access to public establishments.

But the use of religious freedom as a tool to enable discrimination has become a bedrock principle of the modern conservative movementand of the Trump Administration. The Labor Department has just proposed a rule that would allow companies that do work as federal contractors to discriminate against prospective L.G.B.T.Q. employees based on the company owners religious beliefs. Conscience and religious freedom rights have been given second-class treatment for too long, a senior Labor Department official told Politico. This fulfills the Presidents promise to promote and protect our fundamental and inalienable rights of conscience and religious liberty, the first freedom protected in the Bill of Rights in the First Amendment itself.

Of course, its not clear that the Supreme Court will uphold these discriminatory practices. In the famous Masterpiece Cakeshop case, in 2017, which involved a Colorado baker who had refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, the Court dodged the issue. (The Court ruled for the baker, on the ground that Colorado officials, specifically the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, had behaved improperly, in a non-neutral manner.) But anyone counting on the current Supreme Court to protect the rights of any minorities, including the L.G.B.T.Q. community, is almost certainly looking for disappointment. That may become even clearer this term, when the Justices hear three cases on the question of whether the Civil Rights Act forbids employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity as it does on the basis of race or sex. These cases will be the first to address the rights of gay Americans since Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was clearly supportive of them, stepped down and was replaced by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who is not. The President and his allies boast of their tolerance and enlightenment on L.G.B.T.Q. issues, but facts stubbornly suggest that they are hurting the cause in every way they can.

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The Right Wings War on the L.G.B.T.Q. Community - The New Yorker

Reactions Mixed After Brush & Nib Ruling – KJZZ

Jimmy Jenkins/KJZZ

Joanna Duca, co-owner of Brush & Nib.

STEVE GOLDSTEIN: But first, the Arizona Supreme Court is allowing a calligraphy studio to refuse to sell their custom wedding invitations to LGBTQ couples. It's a blow to Phoenix's anti-discrimination ordinance. The decision was 4-3, and the majority said the ruling applied only to this company and only to their wedding invitations. But the decision raises all sorts of questions. We'll get some legal analysis in just a few minutes. But here to report on the reaction is KJZZ's Bret Jaspers. Good morning.

BRET JASPERS: Good morning.

GOLDSTEIN: So the people who brought the case with the owners of Brush & Nib Studios, they lost in lower court.

JASPERS: That's right. The two owners of Brush & Nib are Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski. They say making their wedding invitations is an artistic act and they shouldn't have to make custom invitations for same-sex couples because that would be compelling speech that's against their religious beliefs. The majority of justices on the state Supreme Court agreed with them. Here's Duka.

JOANNA DUKA (audio): Breanna and I are thankful and relieved that the court has upheld, not just our freedom, but the freedom of other speakers to choose what they say and what they don't say.

GOLDSTEIN: So what does this mean then for Phoenix's anti-discrimination ordinance?

JASPERS: Well the mayor and the city's lawyer said this was a narrow ruling, and the ordinance still stands. Here's a direct quote from the decision: "Our holding is limited to plaintiff's creation of custom wedding invitations that are materially similar to those contained in the record. We do not recognize a blanket exemption from the ordinance for all of plaintiff's business operations.".

GOLDSTEIN: So this is a narrow ruling by the court, then?

JASPERS: Well it seems so, but I'm really curious as to what your legal guest will say. The dissenting judges did not agree that this would only affect this one business. In fact, they thought this opened the door to discrimination in many other contexts. And the attorney for the calligrapher is Jonathan Scruggs, also said the analysis was broad. He's with the Christian Legal Group Alliance Defending Freedom.

GOLDSTEIN: Ok, so that's the group based in Scottsdale that represented the Colorado baker in a similar recent Supreme Court case.

JASPERS: Yeah, and they're also defending a florist in Washington state who refused a gay couple. Here's what Scruggs said about the ruling being brought.

JONATHAN SCRUGGS (audio): The analysis the court put forth is broad. Protecting the freedom of speech and freedom of religion. So that's what the ruling did. It protected the speech, as Phoenix acknowledged, that what our clients do is create speech.

JASPERS: But I talked to Brendan Mahoney. He's a lawyer who actually co-wrote Phoenix's anti-discrimination ordinance. His view is that this is a case of a certain group being denied, not the case of a message that's being compelled.

BRENDAN MAHONEY (audio): That was part of the question, is writing an invitation free speech or not? And if it is free speech, even free speech has its limits. In this case, it isn't a particular message. It's a broad class of people that are being discriminated against. And that's the distinction.

JASPERS: So Mahoney told me that it isn't that someone is coming to the calligraphers and asking them to write a different message than they typically write. It's asking them to provide a service that they're providing to the rest of the public and the calligraphers say each wedding invitation is unique and their unique artistic vision is at play. So that's why they say the city was compelling speech.

GOLDSTEIN: So how did Mayor Kate Gallego respond?

JASPERS: Well she wouldn't say, Gallego wouldn't say whether or not she's worried about other businesses bringing similar cases against the city. She framed it as part of a long-term struggle against discrimination.

KATE GALLEGO (audio): This case was never about one business refusing to acknowledge the humanity of our LGBTQ community. It was about whether we accept discrimination in our community. The ordinance is not just something nice to have on paper. It's something we have seen been used to lodge complaints by community members who have, who feel they have been unfairly targeted.

GOLDSTEIN: Bret, finally, this was in state court. Are there federal court appeals possible here?

JASPERS: Well, the city's lawyer kept repeating that they're reviewing the decision and reviewing their options. He wouldn't really say what the next steps even were.

GOLDSTEIN: KJZZ's Bret Jaspers, thank you.

JASPERS: You're welcome.

LAUREN GILGER: And now for a legal analysis of the case, we are joined by Professor Gregg Leslie, executive director of the First Amendment clinic at ASU's law school. Good morning, Gregg.

GREGG LESLIE: Good morning.

GILGER: OK. So let's start with that question that Bret brought up there. So the court says, the majority of the court said this was a narrow ruling, some of the dissenting judges disagreed. How narrow is this?

LESLIE: Well, it seems like it has to be a fairly narrow ruling. They very carefully parsed through whether the writing of an invitation is expressive, is speech basically. And they seem to have narrowed this to cases where somebody is expressing their opinion about something. Now, to agree with the outcome, you'd have to believe that a calligrapher, or, in the other case, a cake decorator, is actually communicating their thoughts on a wedding, to agree with the outcome, it seems. I've never thought of a calligrapher in that way but maybe some people do. I've never received a wedding invitation and thought, "Oh great, the calligrapher approves of this wedding."

GILGER: But could you see this case being used to protect a different company who decided not to sell its different sort of artistic products to a gay couple or somebody else that they didn't want to?

LESLIE: Well, you're kind of touching on an important distinction. If it's about just selling a product to a couple, they would still say that falls, that is, the law is applicable there. If they're compelled to create speech, then yes, other businesses would probably object on the same grounds. It's that idea of being compelled to say something that's critical.

GILGER: Yeah. So this is a case, like Bret mentioned, that is being carried out across the country. We talked a lot about the Colorado baker case, we've covered that on The Show, and there's another one in Washington. The thought is that one of these cases will end up at the Supreme Court at some point. What are your views on that, and could it be this case?

LESLIE: Well it's strange, I don't know if the Supreme Court has an appetite to take these cases. When they considered Masterpiece Cake Shop, they really went out of their way to say "we don't want to consider this right now." Even after they took it, then they punted it back for the strangest of reasons. So I'm not sure if they're anxious to take it, and a further complication is that the U.S. Supreme Court won't review a state constitutional decision. So if the state Supreme Court decided it purely on First Amendment grounds, the U.S. Supreme Court might take it. But this court went out of its way to talk about the Arizona constitution, and they kind of pegged it to the Arizona constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court won't review the Arizona constitution.

GILGER: Right. Ok, so I want to, in the last few minutes we have here, dig into the First Amendment issue right at hand. So, what is considered free speech, religious speech, and what is not, in general, in these cases? What did the lower courts rule that ruled in favor of the city's ordinance?

LESLIE: Yeah. And I think there is no solid answer to that. That's why cases like this go to appellate courts. I would not have thought that writing out an invitation when, it's somebody else's wedding invitation, you're not really expressing anything, you're not welcoming people to a wedding, you're just providing the artistic touch on an invitation. I would not have thought that was speech in the sense that you could decide who or who not to work with based on that. So there is no clear standard, but you have to look at how much expression is involved in something and whether they're actually trying to communicate something. So, regardless of how it came out in this case, I think there are a lot of cases where somebody really engaged in artistic output could say that their rights are violated by having to comply with a law like this. And those will be tricky situations and there's no clear bright line rule that will tell us which ones, how those will come out at any particular time.

GILGER: Is this common that nondiscrimination ordinances like this come into conflict with First Amendment issues?

LESLIE: Well you saw it all the time, 50 years ago. In the 60s, when there were groups saying they didn't want to have to let African Americans stay in their hotels or sit at their lunch counters, and they would often try to claim Christian beliefs that justified that. So we saw it all the time then, we thought that era was over, I think. But then when cities started passing gay rights measures, and a lot of religious groups feel that's objectionable, it's kind of arisen again in this context, and it seems to be limited to this context.

GILGER: Alright. That's Gregg Leslie, executive director of the First Amendment clinic at ASU's law school. Gregg, thank you for coming in.

LESLIE: Thank you.

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Reactions Mixed After Brush & Nib Ruling - KJZZ

Freedom of speech | Britannica.com

Freedom of speech, Right, as stated in the 1st and 14th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, to express information, ideas, and opinions free of government restrictions based on content. A modern legal test of the legitimacy of proposed restrictions on freedom of speech was stated in the opinion by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in Schenk v. U.S. (1919): a restriction is legitimate only if the speech in question poses a clear and present dangeri.e., a risk or threat to safety or to other public interests that is serious and imminent. Many cases involving freedom of speech and of the press also have concerned defamation, obscenity, and prior restraint (see Pentagon Papers). See also censorship.

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Freedom of speech | Britannica.com

What Does Free Speech Mean? | United States Courts

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Among other cherished values, the First Amendment protects freedom of speech. The U.S. Supreme Court often has struggled to determine what exactly constitutes protected speech. The following are examples of speech, both direct (words) and symbolic (actions), that the Court has decided are either entitled to First Amendment protections, or not.

The First Amendment states, in relevant part, that:

Congress shall make no law...abridging freedom of speech.

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What Does Free Speech Mean? | United States Courts

Freedom of speech | Britannica.com

Freedom of speech, Right, as stated in the 1st and 14th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, to express information, ideas, and opinions free of government restrictions based on content. A modern legal test of the legitimacy of proposed restrictions on freedom of speech was stated in the opinion by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in Schenk v. U.S. (1919): a restriction is legitimate only if the speech in question poses a clear and present dangeri.e., a risk or threat to safety or to other public interests that is serious and imminent. Many cases involving freedom of speech and of the press also have concerned defamation, obscenity, and prior restraint (see Pentagon Papers). See also censorship.

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Freedom of speech | Britannica.com