Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Its been quite a week for free speech around these parts.
Earlier this week, we reported that information gathered from a public records request showed Chico Mayor Randall Stone, along with councilors Alex Brown and Scott Huber, had blocked people from their political Facebook pages, essentially depriving them of their First Amendment rights. And yesterday, we reported that councilor Sean Morgan admitted he had also blocked people as mayor, but no longer has a political Facebook page as a council member which is why we were unable to receive any information from him regarding our request.
Based on the information we have in hand, Stone was the biggest violator. Our list showed 19 people had been blocked from his Mayor Randall Stone page, and in the days that followed, two more people showed us proof they had been blocked as well.
The actions of Brown and Huber seem far less egregious. Brown blocked only one person and said it was because of hate speech a claim others have told us is accurate. Huber, the first to respond to our request, admitted to making five blocks (two people, three groups) before becoming aware of the possible legal issues, and hasnt done it since.
The other councilors either said they had never blocked anyone or didnt operate a political Facebook page.
The Facebook-block-fever then extended to Oroville, where one resident complained that councilor Linda Draper had blocked him from Facebook. We researched that and agreed with Drapers position that her Facebook page is personal, not political, so shes free to block anybody shed like.
Its been an astounding story to investigate and report. From our end, we contacted the editors of two dozen daily newspapers (from Los Angeles to the Oregon border) and asked each if theyd received any complaints from readers about any local elected official blocking them on Facebook. Not a single one had heard such a thing; a grand total of one said hed gotten one complaint from one reader saying a mayor (in Southern California) had blocked him on Twitter.
That was it.
Violating the free speech rights of citizens is not a charge we take lightly. The fact that it didnt seem to be happening anywhere else definitely not to this extent made our jaws drop. So we did a lot of investigating, and a lot of reporting on the multi-leveled-layers of legalities surrounding the issue, and ran the story.
We recognize theres a lot of new here, for the politicians as well as us. It can take a while to decipher the difference between a private Facebook page and that of a government actor who is discussing official duties on a public profile. And, we are encouraged by the actions taken by our Chico councilors; theres been a lot of unblocking going on lately. (And, we trust other local elected officials have learned from this, because chances are we havent filed our last public records request.)
Stone said he first began unblocking people after a city attorney told him blocking was a path best avoided. And, to his credit, Stone has forcefully spoken out from the dais in favor of the rights of people to have their say at council meetings in the past even if it sometime wanders too close to offensive territory. So, we know he gets that part. After our stories, we hope all elected officials understand those rights drift over into the social-media realm, too.
Because, remember, thats why the First Amendment was written to protect speech that is controversial.
After all, no one ever complains about the other kind.
- Assault on rights to free speech, dissent: 99 ex-IAS, IPS, IFS officers say in open letter - ThePrint - July 5th, 2020
- Freedom of expression is under threat in Lebanon - Middle East Monitor - July 5th, 2020
- No masks allowed: stores turn customers away in US culture war - The Guardian - May 24th, 2020
- Vaccination and coronavirus: Public good clashes with choice, freedom - UPI News - May 24th, 2020
- Have We Weaponized Virtue? - lareviewofbooks - May 24th, 2020
- Hate Speech and the New Tyranny over the Mind - Heritage.org - May 24th, 2020
- [ANALYSIS] The right to call the government crazy - Rappler - May 24th, 2020
- How a 20-year-old student put the spotlight on Australian universities' cosy relationship with China - The Guardian - May 24th, 2020
- Freedom of Speech Is Under the Gun as the Virus Spreads in Russia - The Nation - May 11th, 2020
- Divorcing Parents Have a Right to Post Their Stories Online, Court Says - The New York Times - May 11th, 2020
- Gov. Whitmer becomes target of dozens of threats on private Facebook groups ahead of armed rally in Lansing - Detroit Metro Times - May 11th, 2020
- Readers' Letters: 'Hate bill an attack on free speech and could affect football and comedy' - Evening Telegraph - May 11th, 2020
- Big TCPA Supreme Court Oral Argument Complete: Here Are the Top 10 Things You Need to Know About the Barr v. AAPC TCPA Review Right Now -... - May 11th, 2020
- Assange's US Extradition, Threat to Future of the Internet and Democracy - CounterPunch - May 11th, 2020
- Readers React: Are the reopen protests about free speech or presidential politics? - The San Diego Union-Tribune - May 6th, 2020
- The SNPs war on free speech - Spiked - May 6th, 2020
- The best political reads to keep on your bookshelf - Spectator.co.uk - May 6th, 2020
- A Contrarian's View of the Uses, and Abuses, of Free Speech - Jewish Week - April 9th, 2020
- Update: Signature Gatherers and Solicitors | Downey Brand LLP - JD Supra - April 9th, 2020
- U of I protests of the 1960s - Illinois Times - April 9th, 2020
- China Appointed To UN Human Rights Panel To Help Identify Threats To Free Speech - The Daily Wire - April 9th, 2020
- A Zionist attack on free speech - Redress Information & Analysis - April 9th, 2020
- How the Chinese Government Undermined the Chinese People's Attempts to Prevent and Respond to COVID-19 - Heritage.org - April 9th, 2020
- ACLJ to File Amicus Brief with Supreme Court in Pro-Life Speech Case Battling the Abortion Distortion - American Center for Law and Justice - April 9th, 2020
- The Right Constitutional Philosophy for This Moment - The Atlantic - March 31st, 2020
- Lebanese Activists Fear Hezbollah-led Government Is Using Coronavirus to Solidify Power - VOA News - March 31st, 2020
- Improving decision-making in the face of growing misinformation - Ecofin Agency: Economic information from Africa - March 31st, 2020
- Ming Pao row: If we learn anything from the virus outbreak, it should be the importance of free speech - Hong Kong Free Press - March 31st, 2020
- Freedom of speech 'is the property of the left of politics' - Sky News Australia - March 31st, 2020
- No one is safe from the puritanical poison of wokeness says SIR JOHN HAYES - Express - March 31st, 2020
- ASG introduces three resolutions, votes on advocacy committee - The Daily Northwestern - March 5th, 2020
- Why Toby Young and other robust white men are using free speech to whip universities - The Guardian - March 5th, 2020
- A Slap in the Face: Chinese Readers Share Their Coronavirus Stories - The New York Times - March 5th, 2020
- Opposition to Ted Nugent - Villages-News - March 5th, 2020
- Bitcoin Is the Technology of Dissent That Secures Individual Liberties - Bitcoin Magazine - March 5th, 2020
- NRB Resolves that Religious Liberty & Freedom of Speech Must Prevail - MissionsBox - March 5th, 2020
- The Guardian is not a fan of Toby Young or free speech - The Post Millennial - March 5th, 2020
- No platforming nowhere near as productive as debate or conversation - The Badger Herald - March 5th, 2020
- When The PC Police Come For Our Books - The Jewish Press - JewishPress.com - March 5th, 2020
- Following the crowd - Education - WORLD News Group - March 5th, 2020
- How progressives and conservatives have changed the debate over freedom of speech - Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) - February 27th, 2020
- What transgenderism and Islam have in common: Destroying free speech - Lifesite - February 27th, 2020
- Hitler would be very proud of the Aalst Carnival in Belgium! - The Times of Israel - February 27th, 2020
- Facebook and Zuckerberg keep getting freedom of expression wrong - The Next Web - January 21st, 2020
- Sheffield Arena urged to cancel event by 'homophobic' Trump ally - The Guardian - January 21st, 2020
- Ninth Circuit Affirms Anti-Libel Injunction, Rejects Overbroad Portion - Reason - January 21st, 2020
- What we still havent learned from Gamergate - Vox.com - January 21st, 2020
- Montclair State Univ. Sued for 'Unconstitutional' Speech Policy and Favoring One Student Group Over Another Based on Their Beliefs - CBN News - January 21st, 2020
- POV: Trump's Executive Order Aimed at Protecting Jews Will Have a Chilling Effect on Freedom of Speech at Colleges - BU Today - December 21st, 2019
- 92% of Americans think their basic rights are being threatened, new poll shows - USA TODAY - December 21st, 2019
- Trump's Executive Order Targets Federal Funding to Universities in Suppression of Speech on Palestinian Rights - International Middle East Media... - December 21st, 2019
- Washington State's Mike Leach responds to Donald Trump impeachment: 'I'm yet to hear what he did wrong' - Sports and Weather Right Now - December 21st, 2019
- Impeachment won't slow the global rise of the radical right but an alternative vision might - Salon - December 21st, 2019
- Over Regulating Intermediaries: Threat To Free Speech? - Inc42 Media - December 15th, 2019
- Charter of Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom to be adopted - News - The University of Sydney - December 15th, 2019
- Is YouTube Cracking Down on Free Speech With New 'Harassment Policy'? - NewsBusters - December 15th, 2019
- Johnson orders universities to protect freedom of speech - Stock Daily Dish - December 15th, 2019
- Freedom of speech must trump safe spaces in universities, minister says - Stock Daily Dish - December 15th, 2019
- Alberta premier says energy war room will be respectful as it takes on critics - CFJC Today Kamloops - December 15th, 2019
- Amnesty International Canada Questions Freedom of Speech and Assembly - Reason - December 13th, 2019
- Why we need to stop believing freedom of speech is a dangerous thing - Marie Claire UK - December 13th, 2019
- Drawing the Line: When Does Freedom of Speech Go Too Far? - SUNY The New Paltz Oracle - December 13th, 2019
- RTI is Inbuilt within Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression, says Bombay HC - Moneylife - December 13th, 2019
- Opinion: The clear line between hate speech and free speech - DW (English) - November 26th, 2019
- Appleton school board signs off on policy that some say endangers free speech, others see as a constitutional safeguard - Post-Crescent - November 26th, 2019
- What to Be Thankful For | Cato @ Liberty - Cato Institute - November 26th, 2019
- Universities Enabling the Hijacking of Free Speech When Jews are Involved - The Times of Israel - November 26th, 2019
- Documentary Takes Aim At Higher Eds Free Speech Violations - Washington Free Beacon - November 26th, 2019
- Should the First Amendment protect language deemed to be hate speech? - The Vector: NJIT's Student Newspaper - November 26th, 2019
- Fight to protect your freedom of speech - The Saint - November 26th, 2019
- Improv joke reaction: What about free speech? - Mount Airy News - November 26th, 2019
- Trump defends Yovanovitch attack: 'I have freedom of speech' | TheHill - The Hill - November 17th, 2019
- 'Critical Infrastructure' Bill Is a Major Threat to Freedom of Speech - Shepherd Express - November 17th, 2019
- Free speech rights a concern in Wisconsin water resolution - Minneapolis Star Tribune - November 17th, 2019
- Freedom of speech and freedom from lies - Opinion - Cape Cod Times - November 17th, 2019
- Trump: 'I Have Freedom of Speech Just as Other People Do' - MRCTV - November 17th, 2019
- Freedom of speech and its consequences - BCLocalNews - November 17th, 2019
- Free speech in Canada: It was bad five years ago. Do you think it's gotten better since? - National Post - November 17th, 2019
- The American Internet Sucks. The Alternative Is China. - BuzzFeed News - November 17th, 2019
- Sydney University to consider updating Freedom of Speech Charter - News - The University of Sydney - October 27th, 2019