Dems Want New Constitutional Amendment to Curb Rights Guaranteed by the First Amendment

November 30, 2012 at 6:58 pm (Citizens United, Constitution, First Amendment, Georgia, Guam, Hank Johnson, Nancy Pelosi)

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), previously best known for his belief that the island of Guam could somehow tip over, is seeking an interesting way to fight what he considers an unfair ruling in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling.

He wants an amendment to the Constitution that would control speech – a fundamental right guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Suddenly, the thought of Guam tipping over seems reasonable.

Via CBS Atlanta:

A Democratic representative is calling for an amendment to the United States Constitution that would allow for some legislative restriction of freedom of speech.

“We need a constitutional amendment that would allow the legislature to control the so-called free speech rights of corporations,” Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) was quoted as saying by CNS News.

He reportedly made these comments while speaking at the Annesbrooks HOA candidate Forum held last month.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this out of Democrats.  Nancy Pelosi made similar comments back in April.

From CNSNews.com:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday endorsed a movement announced by other congressional Democrats on Wednesday to ratify an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would allow Congress to regulate political speech when it is engaged in by corporations as opposed to individuals.
The First Amendment says in part: “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. . .”
Television networks, newspapers, publishing houses, movie studios and think tanks, as well as political action committees, are usually organized as, or elements of, corporations.
Pelosi said the Democrats’ effort to amend the Constitution is part of a three-pronged strategy that also includes promoting the DISCLOSE Act, which would increase disclosure requirements for organizations running political ads, and “reducing the roll of money in campaigns” (which some Democrats have said can be done through taxpayer funding of campaigns).
The constitutional amendment the Democrats seek would reverse the Supreme Court’s 2009 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In that decision the court said that the First Amendment protects a right of free speech for corporations as well as for individuals, and that corporations (including those that produce newspapers, films and books) have a right to speak about politicians and their records just as individuals do.

If you’re wondering how this would lead to censorship of everyday things like books, papers, or the internet, Chief Justice Roberts can explain.

The case in question led to this opinion written by Roberts:

“The government urges us in this case to uphold a direct prohibition on political speech,” wrote Roberts. “It asks us to embrace a theory of the First Amendment that would allow censorship not only of television and radio broadcasts, but of pamphlets, posters, the Internet, and virtually any other medium that corporations and unions might find useful in expressing their views on matters of public concerns.”

So we’re looking for a 28th Amendment to say, “You know that First Amendment … Just kidding!”

Confusing.  Makes you just want to throw up your arms and say, “Whatever it is, I’m with the Constitution of the United States.”

Permalink Leave a Comment

Chuck Schumer: There Ought to be Limits on the First Amendment

July 18, 2012 at 7:00 am (Chuck Schumer, Citizens United, Democrats, DISCLOSE Act, First Amendment, Free Speech, Nancy Pelosi, New York)

Despite more pressing and urgent business at hand for the Senate, Democrats have placed the DISCLOSE Act – a bill which requires disclosure of political activity by restricting the First Amendment – on the front burner.

The Act is sponsored by New York Senator Chuck Shumer, who recently blatantly admitted the need to curb freedoms assured by the First Amendment.

Schumer:

I believe there ought to be limits because the First Amendment is not absolute. No amendment is absolute. You can’t scream ‘fire’ falsely in a crowded theater. We have libel laws. We have anti-pornography laws. All of those are limits on the First Amendment. Well, what could be more important than the wellspring of our democracy? And certain limits on First Amendment rights that if left unfettered, destroy the equality — any semblance of equality in our democracy — of course would be allowed by the Constitution. And the new theorists on the Supreme Court who don’t believe that, I am not sure where their motivation comes from, but they are just so wrong. They are just so wrong.

Shumer isn’t the only Democrat who wants to re-write the First Amendment.  Nancy Pelosi previously stated her desire to amend the First Amendment using the same DISCLOSE Act.

Pelosi said the Democrats’ effort to amend the Constitution is part of a three-pronged strategy that also includes promoting the DISCLOSE Act, which would increase disclosure requirements for organizations running political ads, and “reducing the roll of money in campaigns” (which some Democrats have said can be done through taxpayer funding of campaigns).

The constitutional amendment the Democrats seek would reverse the Supreme Court’s 2009 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In that decision the court said that the First Amendment protects a right of free speech for corporations as well as for individuals, and that corporations (including those that produce newspapers, films and books) have a right to speak about politicians and their records just as individuals do.

If you’re wondering how this would lead to censorship of everyday things like books, papers, or the internet, Chief Justice Roberts can explain…

The case in question led to this opinion written by Roberts:

“The government urges us in this case to uphold a direct prohibition on political speech,” wrote Roberts. “It asks us to embrace a theory of the First Amendment that would allow censorship not only of television and radio broadcasts, but of pamphlets, posters, the Internet, and virtually any other medium that corporations and unions might find useful in expressing their views on matters of public concerns.”

JJFWFPER7HR6

Permalink Leave a Comment

Video: Muslims Filmed Stoning Christians … in the United States of America

June 26, 2012 at 6:43 pm (Arab Festival, Christians, Constitution, Dearborn, First Amendment, Michigan, Muslims, Radical Islam, Sharia, United States)

The video below, courtesy of United West, is stunning…

It appears as though a group of Christians staged a protest outside the 2012 Dearborn Arab Festival, and that protest turned ugly.  Those holding signs are seen being physically assaulted with bottles, eggs, stones, crates and several other objects.  The police, rather than diffusing the situation, turned the other way as things escalated.

The video is over 22 minutes long, and a majority of the swearing and violence seems to come from younger American Muslims.  While the video is shorter, the editors claim the assault took roughly 30 minutes before the police stepped in – to exchange words with the Christian group.  After the exchange, the hostile group continued their assault.

After the second barrage, the police instruct the Christian group to leave despite their assertion that they have a right to be there.

First Amendment anyone?  What is the police and media reaction if this were a group of Occupiers being assaulted?

Here is a YouTube description (h/t FTR Radio):

If this extremely disturbing video does not result in a Federal investigation into the human rights violations of those Christians physically attacked at the 2012 Dearborn Arab Festival then we are watching the beginning of a new America, a MUSLIM AMERICA.

In this new America, a MUSLIM AMERICA, shariah-compliant Muslims have succeeded in striking fear into the hearts of the infidels. In the case of the Dearborn Arab Festival, you will see that the infidels are NOT the few, brave Christians who withstood the physical attacks by the blood-thirsty Muslims, but the fearful are those who have taken an oath to protect Americans. The fearful, are the Dearborn Sheriff and Police. Sadly, you will see the Police fearful of confronting the criminals and enforcing the law as they stand by watching “Muslims Gone Wild,” attack the helpless Christians.

The United West predicts that success of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt combined with the mounting fury of the “Arab Spring,” coupled with the support of President Obama will result in an expansive, “strong-horse” onslaught of Muslim physical aggression, similar to this Dearborn disaster, all across the new, MUSLIM AMERICA.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Conservative Bloggers Get Legal Help in the Fight For Free Speech

June 7, 2012 at 4:12 pm (ACLJ, Ali Akbar, American Center for Law and Justice, Blogger, Brett Kimberlin, Conservative, First Amendment, Free Speech, Jay Sekulow, Michelle Malkin, National Bloggers Club)

In the ongoing battle against SWAT-ting and those forces who would like to quell free speech, conservatives just received major reinforcements.

Today, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), through Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, has announced that they too will stand against the harassing and dangerous tactics of domestic terrorist Brett Kimberlin and his ilk, and stand for the First Amendment and free speech.

Here is the press release:

ACLJ  DEFENDS  FREE  SPEECH  IN  BLOGOSPHERE – REPRESENTS  TOP CONSERVATIVE BLOGGERS  TARGETED  FOR  HARASSMENT

(Washington, DC) – The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which focuses on constitutional law, announced today it is providing legal representation to a top conservative blogger and his organization that represents many other bloggers who are facing threats and intimidation tactics by those opposed to their viewpoint.

“Free speech is under attack,” said Jay Sekulow, ACLJ Chief Counsel. “Conservative writers are now facing threats against themselves, their families, and their livelihoods merely because they’ve aggressively investigated the history and funding of radical liberals. The ACLJ has a long history of successfully defending free speech, and we look forward to defeating this latest attempt to threaten and intimidate conservatives into silence.”

The issue involves targeting a number of conservative bloggers with a dangerous and illegal tactic that’s become known as SWAT-ing – (making false 911 calls sending police to the homes of bloggers, claiming a crime has occurred.) The tactic is used in retaliation for posts the conservative bloggers have written.

The ACLJ is representing Ali Akbar, a top blogger and president of the National Bloggers Club, a coalition of conservative bloggers which reaches millions of readers. Akbar has seen his mother’s home photographed and placed on the internet. He has also received formal notification that he may soon be sued for publishing truthful information about radical liberals and their wealthy donors.

“I’m grateful for the support of the ACLJ, and I’m confident we’ll defeat any and all legal challenges to our fundamental right to free speech,” said Akbar. “We will not be deterred in our quest for the truth.”

The ACLJ will aggressively defend the constitutionally-protected free speech rights of Akbar and his organizations.

The ACLJ’s representation of Akbar comes as Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) is calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the SWAT-ting cases to see if federal laws have been violated. In a letter to the Attorney General, Sen. Chambliss wrote: “Any potentially criminal action that incites fear, seeks to silence a dissenting opinion, and collaterally wastes the resources of law enforcement should be given close scrutiny at all levels. . . Regardless of any potential political differences that may exist, threats and intimidation have no place in our national political discourse.”

Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice is based in Washington, D.C. and online at http://www.aclj.org.

Here is a blog post from Jay Sekulow on the matter (courtesy of Michelle Malkin).

Sekulow explains why his organization is jumping into the fray:

Free speech is under attack. Conservative writers are now facing threats against themselves, their families, and their livelihoods merely because they’ve aggressively investigated the history and funding of radical liberals …

… The ACLJ will be providing legal representation to Akbar and his organization of conservative bloggers who are facing threats and intimidation tactics by those opposed to their viewpoint. We will aggressively defend their constitutionally-protected free speech rights from these unwarranted attacks …

… The ACLJ has a long history of successfully defending free speech, and we look forward to defeating this latest attempt to threaten and intimidate conservatives into silence.

This type of support is invaluable, as most bloggers (as Kimberlin is well aware) find it difficult to sustain any lengthy and successful legal battles.  Now however, they have an accomplished means to fight back in court.

To date, nobody has backed down to Kimberlin and the SWAT-ters.  To the contrary, they are now escalating their defensive efforts.

These opponents of free speech have truly picked the wrong targets.

Thank you ACLJ!

Permalink Leave a Comment

NY Republicans Trying to Ban Anonymous Online Comments AND Apparently the First Amendment

May 24, 2012 at 7:09 am (Anonymous Comment, Assembly, Daily Caller, Federalist Papers, First Amendment, Jim Conte, New York State, Republicans, Thomas O'Mara)

Here is a clear-cut example of not really thinking things through very carefully – Republicans in the New York State Assembly have proposed legislation that would ban online comments made anonymously.

As a blogger, I can’t tell you how infuriating it is sometimes to watch people make nasty, ill-informed comments under the guise of being anonymous.  It allows people to say things and stoop to levels they wouldn’t normally go, because they are protected by the lack of identification.

That said, this proposal has one law professor referring to it as “clearly unconstitutional”, a violation of speech protected under the First Amendment.  Thomas O’Mara, the Republican sponsor of the bill, told the Daily Caller that “he had not initially considered that the legislation might ban First Amendment-protected speech.”

He wasn’t the only one however, as Assemblyman Jim Conte wrote a release which urged his colleagues to “promote the Internet Protection Act (A.8688/S.6779)” because it will combat cyber-bullying, crack down on anonymous criticism of local businesses, and “cut down on the types of mean-spirited and baseless political attacks that add nothing to the real debate…”

Additionally, the Daily Caller report indicates that nearly half of the Republicans in the Assembly have supported the legislation.

Ohara explained, “I certainly didn’t introduce the legislation with the thought that it was violative of the First Amendment. We’re certainly looking forward to any and all input.”

The input is this – the legislation is a violation of free speech.  The cyber-bullying works both ways.  Not allowing some instances in which readers can post comments anonymously could lead to them being harassed by the owner of the site or others who post online.  When you run a site that allows for commenting, you’re assuming the risk involved.

Wired.com adds that the measures have yet to be voted on but, “unless the First Amendment is repealed, they stand no chance of surviving any constitutional scrutiny even if they were approved.”

They also humorously note the following:

Had the Internet been around in the late 1700s, perhaps the anonymously written Federalist Papers would have had to be taken down unless Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay revealed themselves.

The anonymous comment legislation is a clear example of over-legislating by lawmakers in New York.  Sadly, it was just a couple of weeks ago that judges in the state were ruling that merely viewing child pornography online did not constitute a crime.

No crime for child porn, but a proposed fine for commenting anonymously…  Republicans in the Assembly need to redirect their efforts to items of import.

Permalink Leave a Comment

High School Teacher Screams and Threatens Student Who Dares Criticize the President

May 21, 2012 at 7:00 am (Catawba College, First Amendment, Mitt Romney, North Carolina, North Rowan High School, President Bush, President Obama, Teacher)

The teacher in this clip (seen below) is a point-blank unhinged propagandist.

Breitbart News obtained information from a source claiming that the student recorded the classroom discussion to “prove to his parents what he has been trying to tell them for some time.”

According to the source, “The teacher in this video has a long history of pushing a liberal agenda, by shouting down students. She is very intolerant of other points of view that she does not share.”

When you listen to the audio, you get the sense that perhaps the student should have been teaching the class about First Amendment rights.

From the Salisbury Post:

After reviewing a video in which a North Rowan High School teacher tells a student he can be arrested for speaking ill of President Barack Obama, the Rowan-Salisbury School System said it can be a learning experience.

Meanwhile, an expert on politics at Catawba College says the social studies teacher just doesn’t have her facts straight when she insists speaking your mind about a president can get you charged with a criminal offense.

Although two students provided the name of the teacher, the Post is not publishing it because officials within the school system would not confirm her identity and she could not be reached for comment.

The video captures audio of the dispute but does not show the teacher or anyone else. It appears to have been shot with a phone or other device as the camera pointed at the ceiling the entire time.

Rowan-Salisbury spokeswoman Rita Foil confirmed the teacher is still employed with the district and has not been suspended for disciplinary reasons. Foil emailed this statement to a Post reporter Friday on behalf of the school system:

“The Rowan-Salisbury School System expects all students and employees to be respectful in the school environment and for all teachers to maintain their professionalism in the classroom. This incident should serve as an education for all teachers to stop and reflect on their interaction with students.

“Due to personnel and student confidentiality, we cannot discuss the matter publicly.”

Here are some excerpts provided by Breitbart:

The video shows a classroom discussion about the Washington Post hit piece about Mitt Romney bullying a kid some five decades ago. One student says, “Didn’t Obama bully someone though?” The teacher says: “Not to my knowledge.” The student then cites the fact that Obama, in Dreams from My Father, admits to shoving a little girl. “Stop, no, because there is no comparison,” screams the teacher. Romney is “running for president. Obama is the president.”

The student responds that both are “just men.”

The teacher yells — literally yells — that Obama is “due the respect that every other president is due … Listen,” she continues, “let me tell you something, you will not disrespect the president of the United States in this classroom.” She yells over the student repeatedly, and yells at him that it’s disrespect for him to even debate about Romney and Obama.

The student says that he can say what he wants.

“Not about him, you won’t,” says the teacher.

The teacher then tells the student – wrongly – that it is a criminal offense to say bad things about a president. “Do you realize that people were arrested for saying things bad about Bush? Do you realize you are not supposed to slander the president?”

Holy hell.  It’s criminal to slander the President in this country?  If so, there’d be an awful lot of people in jail for holding up Bush is Hitler signs.

What’s worse?  She is a Social Studies teacher with seemingly no concept of recent history, or the Constitution.

Now it’s one thing if you think the kid is being a punk in his delivery (and he is), but as a teacher are you not better equipped to counter that with something other than shrill, screaming, propagandizing?

Permalink Leave a Comment

Nancy Pelosi Wants to Amend the First Amendment

April 20, 2012 at 9:10 am (Citizens United, Congress, Constitution, Democrats, First Amendment, Free Speech, Nancy Pelosi)

Zip it!

Since when is adhering to the Constitution a concern for Pelosi anyway?

From CNSNews.com:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday endorsed a movement announced by other congressional Democrats on Wednesday to ratify an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would allow Congress to regulate political speech when it is engaged in by corporations as opposed to individuals.
The First Amendment says in part: “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. . .”
Television networks, newspapers, publishing houses, movie studios and think tanks, as well as political action committees, are usually organized as, or elements of, corporations.
Pelosi said the Democrats’ effort to amend the Constitution is part of a three-pronged strategy that also includes promoting the DISCLOSE Act, which would increase disclosure requirements for organizations running political ads, and “reducing the roll of money in campaigns” (which some Democrats have said can be done through taxpayer funding of campaigns).
The constitutional amendment the Democrats seek would reverse the Supreme Court’s 2009 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In that decision the court said that the First Amendment protects a right of free speech for corporations as well as for individuals, and that corporations (including those that produce newspapers, films and books) have a right to speak about politicians and their records just as individuals do.

If you’re wondering how this would lead to censorship of everyday things like books, papers, or the internet, Chief Justice Roberts can explain…

The case in question led to this opinion written by Roberts:

“The government urges us in this case to uphold a direct prohibition on political speech,” wrote Roberts. “It asks us to embrace a theory of the First Amendment that would allow censorship not only of television and radio broadcasts, but of pamphlets, posters, the Internet, and virtually any other medium that corporations and unions might find useful in expressing their views on matters of public concerns.”

Permalink Leave a Comment

City Democrats Dig In Their Heels to Shield Election-Rigging, Convicted Felon

April 6, 2012 at 2:11 pm (City Council, First Amendment, Free Speech, James Gordon, Kevin McGrath, Lou Rosamilia, Lynn Kopka, New York, Troy, Voter Fraud)

Democrats in the city of Troy have already proven to have a complete disregard for the cherished right of a citizen to cast their own vote.  Now it seems they are hell-bent on stifling another fundamental American right – the right to free speech.

At a City Council meeting on Thursday night, First Amendment rights were ushered out the door when Democrat Council President, Lynn Kopka, refused to listen to an opinion that may have dissented from her own.

On the Troy City Council web page, meetings are described as being open to the public, and that citizens will have a forum “where you can address the Council members and briefly speak your mind on any topic pertinent to city government.”

Kopka herself, sports a “likes Freedom of Speech” update on her own Facebook page.

So when Troy Republican Committee Chairman, James Gordon, took to the podium to discuss a ‘topic pertinent to city government’, there should have been a minimal number of complaints.

And initially, no umbrage was taken.  When Gordon started off on an issue in which he actually praised the council – voting against pay raises – nobody spoke up.  But when he turned to the topic of a sitting councilman, who recently accepted a plea deal in the voter fraud case, may yet face future voter fraud charges, and admitted to being a convicted felon, things turned dicey.

Gordon had written a letter in which he requested that Councilman Kevin McGrath step down from his public post, in lieu of the recent embarrassing revelations.  When he started reading his request to the council, Lynn Kopka took the extraordinary step of trampling on his free speech rights, gavelling him out of order and demanding that he simply hand her the letter.

The letter, seen below, contains nothing out of the ordinary.  It gives a clear and concise argument for why McGrath should step down.  In the letter, Gordon sites specific testimony between the defense attorney and McGrath:

Question by Premo: “And you said a few minutes ago that you realize you committed crimes in this case. Is that correct?”
            Answer by McGrath: “I have been told, yes.”

This candid admission according to Gordon, “is in clear violation of the Troy City Charter due to his “disorderly conduct” as outlined in Article VII, subsection C-31.”

That portion of the charter reads:

The City Council shall determine the rules of its proceedings; may compel the attendance of any regular or regularly called special meeting of Council members absent therefrom; may declare the seat of any Council members inexcusably absent from three successive regular meetings to be vacant; and may expel a Council member for disorderly conduct or misfeasance in office. No seat shall be declared vacant and no Council member shall be expelled until the delinquent Council member has had an opportunity to be heard in his/her own defense.

Council President Lynn Kopka(function() { var scribd = document.createElement(“script”); scribd.type = “text/javascript”; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = “http://www.scribd.com/javascripts/embed_code/inject.js“; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })();

A taxpaying citizen of the city of Troy making a formal request to remove a council member who is in violation of the city charter seems pertinent to most.  Perhaps more importantly, the concerns voiced by James Gordon are all valid concerns of many residents of Troy, as dozens of community members have contacted him personally to find out why McGrath is still allowed to serve.  There is a demand for answers here whether Kopka or McGrath want to admit it.

Video of the incident can be seen below, with the relevant portion beginning at 28:33.

As Gordon begins reading his letter, McGrath can be seen sitting to the left of the viewer’s point of view, and is seen motioning to Kopka at 30:26 to cut the speaker off.  Kopka dutifully does his bidding, and responds by interrupting Gordon saying, “Jim, I’d like to remind you there’s no personal attacks…”  Gordon responds that, “This is a statement of fact, not a personal attack.”

Facts, as they say, are stubborn things.  More stubborn however was Kopka’s insistence on cutting Gordon off.

At this point, McGrath himself added insult to injury saying, “It’s a little early for the silly season, Jim.”

After some cross-talk, Gordon asks if he can continue and again assures the Council that there are no personal attacks.  One council member is heard asking for Gordon to simply hand over the letter, assuring that the people in attendance would not hear his thoughts and concerns.

Shortly thereafter, Kopka interrupts the speech again with her gavel, and calls the statement “out of order”.  Another person is heard saying that he may have crossed legal boundaries, though it is unclear what legal boundaries can be crossed when exercising one’s right to free speech.

Kopka eventually demands the letter from Gordon and turns off his microphone.

Why any of this came as so offensive that it would have to be censored can only be understood by Kopka herself.  To the casual observer, there can be only one explanation.  Kopka and McGrath do not want the criminal history of a currently serving member and representative of the city as a matter of public record.

At the time of this printing, e-mails to the City Council and Mayor Lou Rosamilia have gone unanswered.  Fellow Councilmember Ken Zalewski however, voiced his opinion on Facebook saying, “At last night’s City Council meeting, Troy residents James Gordon and Jim de Seve were prevented from exercising their free speech rights. I disagree strongly with the Council President’s decision to gavel them out of order, and I offered my own thoughts on this subject.”

Last month, we also called on the immediate resignation of Mr. McGrath based on a newly revealed history of felony drug charges, and more importantly his latest role in the voter fraud scandal.

At the trial, Premo pressed McGrath about his criminal background. He also confronted him with a stack of absentee ballots that were not part of Smith’s case, but showed what Premo suggested were other forged ballots handled personally by McGrath.

Yet McGrath continues to make light of these incidents, calling Gordon out on initiating the ‘silly season’ for wanting to address them publicly.

McGrath for his part, has a propensity to crack jokes in the midst of very serious matters.  During the voter fraud trial, he cracked wise about his inability to turn a profit selling drugs (proven untrue), the same crime for which he had been convicted.  While most would have hung their heads in shame, McGrath laughed it off, prompting an apology from the judge in the case.

But the reality here is that the joke is squarely being played on the residents of the city of Troy.  This joke is not vaguely amusing, it is a practical joke gone horribly awry – the career of Kevin McGrath.

McGrath’s history is too checkered to ignore.  It needs to be addressed by the City Council today.  From drug deals, to plea deals, his record is a blight on Troy politics specifically, and New York politics in general.

Because of this incident, we are also calling on Council President Lynn Kopka to issue a public apology not only to James Gordon, but the entire city of Troy.  Until she takes this necessary and appropriate action, the residents of Troy will always wonder if they can trust their elected officials to hear their voice, and if they too will be censored for the simple act of speaking up.

Video streaming by Ustream

Permalink Leave a Comment

Does The First Amendment Protect Bloggers Too?

February 16, 2012 at 8:39 pm (Blogger, Crystal Cox, First Amendment, Franklin Center, Journalist, Main Stream Media, MSM, Protect Your Voice, Washington Examiner)

A court ruling last December would seem to indicate that no, bloggers are not privy to the same legal protections afforded so-called real journalists.

Via the Washington Examiner:

This past December, federal judge Marco Hernandez of Oregon issued a ruling in the libel trial of Obsidian Finance Group v. Cox that has dangerous First Amendment implications.
Hernandez ruled that blogger Crystal Cox was not entitled to the same protection under media shield laws that other members of the press enjoy. This ruling made it easy for a jury to find her guilty of libel. That result threatens the First Amendment rights of all citizen-journalists.

I would argue that the work being performed by bloggers can sometimes be far superior and more timely than that being manufactured by the main stream media.  From my personal experience, every time that I have come across something for the first time on an outlet like MSNBC or CNN, and commence researching, that topic has already been widely covered in the blogosphere.

But we’re not debating quality of work here.  We’re debating basic First Amendment rights.

In a terrific op-ed by Jason Stverak, a strong case to apply those rights to bloggers is made:

“… why is this issue so complicated? Bloggers, like all citizens of the United States, have First Amendment rights. Has the definition of a journalist changed? Or has perception and therefore legal definition simply not adjusted to modern technology?”

He adds that:

The public now relies on citizen-journalists to perform an invaluable service to our democracy — serving as government watchdogs.

Media shield laws must be revised to make clear that bloggers and all citizen-journalists deserve the same protection as the city hall beat-writer at the local newspaper.

If you believe that bloggers should be included in a state’s shield laws and granted Freedom of the Press rights, then please sign the petition at Protect Your Voice.

And please read the rest of the op-ed about bloggers and First Amendment rights here…

Permalink Leave a Comment

MMA Fighter Getting Beat Up Over Obama Remarks

January 10, 2012 at 3:03 pm (Comedy, First Amendment, Free Speech, Gene Policinski, Jacob Volkmann, Minnesota, President Obama, White Bear Lake School District)

Jacob Volkmann is a mixed martial arts fighter who also works as an assistant wrestling coach at the White Bear Lake School District in Minnesota.

Recently, Volkmann cracked an obvious joke about President Obama.  A relatively tame joke at that.

The lesson the school decided to teach their kids?  Exercise free speech and you may pay a price.  Volkmann has been suspended from his job.

Fox News has reported on the overreaction…

Jacob Volkmann, 31, of White Bear Lake, Minn., said he was placed on paid administrative leave on Friday by the White Bear Lake School District after he invited Obama to make an appointment with him for a “glass-ectomy” on Dec. 30.

“A glass-ectomy is when you cut your belly button out and put a piece of glass in there so when you have your head up your butt you can see where you’re going,” Volkmann told a reporter following his victory over Efrain Escudero at UFC 141.

If anything, Volkmann should be sent to a comedy club to work on his material.  The joke is terrible.

Gene Policinski, senior vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center, puts things in context:

“That sounds more like a vulgar remark than a threat, at least on the surface,” Policinski said of Volkmann’s “glass-ectomy” comment. “The First Amendment doesn’t mandate civility, even though we may wish it did. One person’s vulgarity is another person’s off-handed remark.”

Overreaction, or proper punishment?

Permalink Leave a Comment