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What If Our Constitution Were Written Like Campus Speech Codes?

From the folks at FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.)

Administrators at college campuses routinely use speech codes to launch investigations into campus newspapers, prohibit religious symbols, and silence support for political candidates. Instead of fostering a marketplace of ideas at the university, faculty and students often push to disinvite controversial speakers and entertainers.

College administrators have used speech codes to prohibit biased speech, disrespectful speech, and “inappropriately directed laughter,” and to restrict all questionable speech to “free speech zones.” The University of California System has decided that statements like “America is a melting pot” or “America is the land of opportunity” are examples of microaggressions and should not be said on campus.
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Revere High School – Doublethink Appears Again.

Revere-High-Pom-Pom-Boots-ROH
A senior and captain of the cheerleading team named Caley Godino at Revere High in Massachusetts was suspended from all social activities for the rest of the year after she sent out a tweet on voting.

The situation arose, Godino said, on Nov. 4, the day after the City Election.

She was on a field trip outside the school building when she and other students got a Tweet from her Civics teacher. The Tweet was to spur thought about the low voter turnout in the City Election – saying only 10 percent of Revere ended up voting, and what the students thought about that. (Turnout was actually about 41 percent in the last City Election, rather than 10 percent).

Godino Tweeted back, “10 percent of Revere voted because the others are not legal.”

Godino said it wasn’t meant to hurt anyone. School officials have said they don’t believe she had any ill intentions, either.

However, the Tweet took off and people began to send messages back saying it wasn’t right. She immediately realized she had probably made a mistake, and deleted the Tweet.

The school was not happy with the tweet. Neither were some of the students who threatened Godino.

One person said they were going to wait for the bus to come back to the field trip; some soccer players said they were going to get their [slur deleted] crew and come for her; others said slurs about white people in Spanish and English.

“Reverse racism is not real,” read one Tweet.

“Is it possible to be racist to a white person?” read another.

The school initially said Godino’s speech was protected by the First Amendment, but the next day reversed course and told Godino she was suspended from all social activities at the school for the remainder of the year. That meant no more cheerleading, no dances, no prom, no Senior Night, no anything.

It is here that the doublethink we talked about yesterday comes into play.
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“Reason”-able, Anonymous, Free Speech.

Reason-and-DOJ-ROH

Once in awhile, we get some flack from people who say that we should not write using pseudonyms or allow anonymous comments. There are generally two reasons we allow such postings. The first is that we don’t care too much who says what as we would rather deal with the ideas that are presented rather than who said them. People who demand to know who said something want to engage in the lame and ridiculous act of making ad hominem attacks. Instead of dealing with what is presented, people want to “attack the man” to somehow try to attempt discredit the writer.

Our second reason is a respectable concern as to what those who are being criticized will do, especially when those people work for the government.

For the past few weeks, the internet has been abuzz with talk of a subpoena issued to reason.com to uncover the names, emails and IP’s of those who made comments on the reason.com site. The reason the buzz was just “talk” was because it was rumored that not only had the government sought to stifle free and protected speech, they sought to make it illegal to disclose their actions.

The incident started with an article on reason.com concerning the sentencing of Ross Ulbricht.

On May 31, Nick Gillespie published a post at Reason.com’s Hit & Run blog discussing Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht’s “haunting sentencing letter” to District Court Judge Katherine Forrest, and the judge’s harsh response. Gillespie noted that Forrest “more than threw the book” at Ulbricht by giving him a life sentence, which was a punishment “beyond even what prosecutors…asked for.”

In the comments section of the post, six readers published reactions that drew the investigative ire of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. In a federal grand jury subpoena dated June 2, the U.S. District Court commanded Reason.com to turn over “any and all identifying information” we had about the individuals posting those comments.

The six comments are:
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T-Shirt Maker Cannot Be Compelled To Make Shirts.

Hands-On-Originals-ROHHands on Originals is a Christian printing company based in Lexington, Kentucky.

In 2012, the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) sought quotes for tee-shirts for a Gay Pride Festival. The organizing committee called various shops asking for quotes based on a tee shirt with printing on the front and back of the shirt.

Hands on Original was the lowest bidder for the shirts. The GLSO then called Blaine Adamson, the owner of Hands On Originals in an attempt to negotiate a lower price for the tee-shirts. At this time, the caller identified the group he was representing and the fact that the message on the tee-shirts was to promote a gay pride festival and parade.

According to a complaint filed by the GLSO:

[Adamson’s] inquiries were related to what the GLSO was, what our mission was, and what we were promoting. The committee member explained, including that the t-shirt would only contain a stylized number “5″ on the front and the name of the festival, and sponsors on the rear.

When Blaine learned that it was a gay pride festival, he asked, “You know we’re a Christian organization, don’t you?” He then continued on to say that Hands On Originals would not print shirts related to a gay pride festival. He suggested that he could refer us to a different business who would print the shirts. Our committee member told them he would take that offer to the board, but that he felt that we would not want to do business with anyone who did business with Hands On Originals, based on their discrimination.

On March 25th, the GLSO board met in emergency session and agreed to file a complaint with the HRC under the Lexington Fairness Ordinance.

In 2014, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission found that Hands on Originals had discriminated against the GLSO:
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Laws? City Of Lake Worth Florida Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Laws.

Lake-Worth-Boot-ROHThe City of Lake Worth, Florida decided to attack a church requiring it to have a business license despite local ordinances saying the church was not required to do so.

The incident appears to have started when a legal and licensed coffee shop run by the Common Ground Church was the subject of an anonymous complaint to the City because the shop being used to hold services in the rented space as well. Prior to the complaint, Pastor Mike Olive had heard that City Commissioner Andy Amoroso was making statements that the church was “anti-gay.” When Olive went to talk to Amoroso, Amoroso told Olive “”you better not have a church down there.”

Apparently Amoroso doesn’t understand the concept that people don’t need his permission or the City’s permission to meet and worship. It’s that whole pesky First Amendment thing, you know.

After the complaint was made, the City sent code enforcement inspector Gerard Coscia to the coffee house. Coscia never identified himself to anyone nor did he have on a City ID. Instead, Coscia wore a hoodie and had a hidden camera filming the location and the people in the building.

If this weren’t America, we would say that the actions of Coscia were more akin to religion oppressive regimes like communist China and North Korea or even the former USSR. (We won’t even mention some of the Islamic states where faiths other than Islam are under attack.) No matter who we want to compare the situation to, the actions of Coscia were suspect in many ways.

Coscia’s report on the inspection is telling. While the whole report can be read here, some of the Coscia’s comments include:

I walked back to the Coffee Bar and was able to visualize, in my opinion what appeared to be a ministry in progress

There was the following going on inside the Coffee Bar Someone speaking from a podium. A overhead TV or projection with scripture verse on it. Rows of people sitting in chairs on both sides like a gathering setting. People holding what appeared to be bibles or religious books as one had a cross on it.

…..

I was approached by an unknown man with a cross around his neck,…..

…….

I asked him if it was a church gathering or a coffee shop and he replied, both but on Sundays there are two services and to, come back at 11:00

How dare anyone worship without government approval!

Coscia’s report also lists the violation:
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Speaking Of The First Amendment…..

Talk about being timely. As we we were surfing the ‘net while thinking about the First Amendment, we came upon this video from Stephen Crowder who interviewed some students at the University of Michigan. The University recently implemented an “Inclusive Language” program that oddly enough, many people see as a restriction of speech by seeking to ban certain words and terms.

(Sometimes we feel that we are trapped in some Orwellian novel where “inclusive” means to “ban or prohibit use or participation.)

The Crowder video is a little different in that it is not a “gotcha” video where people are asked a question and then the video is edited to show ridiculous answers. Crowder seeks to have real, honest conversations with students and faculty. The results are intriguing and troubling.

The University of Michigan took some pretty big steps toward stifling free speech on its campus this month. Just how important is the 1st amendment to students today, and is it our duty to protect it? Watch to find out!




“Je suis Charlie” Dies A Quick Death.

(image courtesy the New Yorker magazine.)

(image courtesy the New Yorker magazine.)

Well, that didn’t take long. After the groundswell of support for the writers and artists at Charlie Hebdo last week, things have returned to “normal.”

Two men entered the French satirical magazine offices killing twelve people (including two police officers) as well as wounding eleven others. The attacks were in response to cartoons that the magazine had run which “offended” the two men.

The vast majority of the world stood up and said “we aren’t going to accept this. We aren’t going to allow the expression of ideas and words to be suppressed.”

It was a “feel good” moment which quickly died on the vine.

PARIS France ordered prosecutors around the country to crack down on hate speech, anti-Semitism and glorifying terrorism, announcing Wednesday that 54 people had been arrested for those offenses since terror attacks left 20 dead in Paris last week, including three gunmen.

The order came as Charlie Hebdo’s defiant new issue sold out before dawn around Paris, with scuffles at kiosks over dwindling copies of the satirical newspaper that fronted the Prophet Muhammad anew on its cover.

France has been tightening security and searching for accomplices since the terror attacks began, but none of the 54 people have been linked to the attacks. That’s raising questions about whether President Francois Hollande’s Socialist government is impinging on the very freedom of speech that it so vigorously defends when it comes to Charlie Hebdo.

In its message to prosecutors and judges, the ministry said it was issuing the order to protect freedom of expression from comments that could incite violence or hatred. It said no one should be allowed to use their religion to justify hate speech.

We are certainly against the spreading of terroristic messages, but we also realize that in the name of “terrorism” and “hate speech,” ideas can and do get caught in the backlash. For example, a person saying that homosexuality is wrong based on their religious beliefs would fall under “hate speech.” A statement such as “Jesus was the Son of God and Mohammed was a false prophet” would be considered “hate speech” simply because someone is “offended.”
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Schools Still Don’t Understand The First Amendment.

Alliance-Defending-Freedom-ROHChase Windebank is a senior attending Pine Creek High School in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The school has an “Open Time” policy which allows students to interact with other students for the students.

The school district’s Open Time Policy permits all students to leave class 15 minutes after the beginning of the “seminar” home-room period on Mondays

and Wednesdays. Students who are earning more than a “D” grade can do the same on Fridays. School district policies and procedures define “open time” in numerous places as consisting of lunchtime and the seminar period.

During the free time, students are permitted to engage in a virtually unlimited variety of activities, including gathering with other students inside or outside; reading; sending text messages to their friends; playing games on their phone; visiting the bathrooms; getting a snack; visiting teachers; and conducting official meetings of school clubs.

For three years Windebank has been using the time to meet with other students in the choir room to converse, pray and sing praise songs. No one has complained about the students meeting and the students have never had a conduct issue while meeting.

That all changed this year when after a few meetings, Wildebank was told by the principal that the meetings had to stop due to “separation of church and state.”

Ummmm….. what?
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