Speech Wins. Again.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court published its opinion on the case of Matal v. Tam<./a> This is the case often referred to as “The Slants” case in which the Patent and Trademark Office denied the Slants the ability to copyright the name of the band.

Quoting the decision:

This case concerns a dance-rock band’s application for federal trademark registration of the band’s name, “The Slants.” “Slants” is a derogatory term for persons of Asian descent, and members of the band are Asian-Americans. But the band members believe that by taking that slur as the name of their group, they will help to “reclaim” the term and drain its denigrating force.

The Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) denied the application based on a provision of federal law prohibiting the registration of trademarks that may “disparage . . . or bring . . . into contemp[t] or disrepute” any “persons, living or dead.” 15 U. S. C. §1052(a).

The Slants sued the government on First Amendment grounds.

The arguments and positions from both the Slants and the government are pretty interesting.

The Slants argued that the regulation was being interpreted too broadly by the PTO in covering who groups of people when the statute clearly states “individuals” and persons. The Slants argued that the PTO had allowed other disparaging trademarks previously.

The government argued that the trademark was government speech and not subject to the provisions of the First Amendment. The government also argued that the speech in question was “government subsidized,” and therefore the government could control the content.

The Supreme Court voted 8-0 that the disparagement clause being used by the PTO was unConstitutional.

We loved this part of the decision: (more…)

East Lansing Punishes Farm Owners Outside The City For Their Beliefs.

Steve Tennes owns a farm that is 22 miles outside of of East Lansing, Michigan. Since 2010, Tennes has been a staple at the East Lansing Farmer’s Market, operating without a complaint. In fact, Tennes’ reputation, goods and service was so good that year after year he was invited back to the market.

In August of 2016, Tennes posted on Facebook his Catholic based beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman and that he would not support or attend a gay marriage held on his farm. (This was prior to the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage.) The post had nothing to do with East Lansing or the Farmers’ Market.

When East Lansing officials saw the post they demanded that Tennes leave the market even though he had a contract for two more months and had not broken any laws in East Lansing or elsewhere. All Tennes had done was issue a statement about his beliefs.

When the East Lansing officials discovered that they could not force him out, they passed a new ordinance saying that venders – even those who are based outside of East Lansing – must comply with a Civil Rights Ordinance within the City. In other words, East Lansing said “we are extending our laws and beliefs outside of the City.”

It should be remembered that Tennes had never now sold or denied a sale to anyone in the Farmers’ Market.

Once the Supreme Court decision came down legalizing gay marriage, Tennes stuck to his principles and declared that no marriages would be performed on his farm.

At no point in time can anyone point to or cite where Tennes ever broke the law in discriminating against anyone.

More Educational Stupidity. Silver Cross Is “Disrespectful.”

(courtesy Liberty Council)

This is a case which is more of a “two-fer” – a activist teacher who is a bully and a school and school district that are completely, totally and utterly ignorant or stupid and most likely both.

The story begins with a student attending Riverview High School in Hillsborough County, FL, made an “egregious” error in a math class taught by one Lora Jane Riedas:

One of our student clients reports that she had just sat down in class, and placed her books on her desk, when Ms. Riedas approached her. Referencing the tiny cross necklace which was around the student’s neck, Ms. Riedas said, “I need you to take your necklace off.” Our client asked “Why?” and Ms. Riedas refused to explain, stating “That’s disrespectful; you have to take it off.”

The cross in question is shown above and measures less than an inch.

The student acquiesced to the Riedas’ ridiculous and unConstitional demand, but when she told her parents, they investigated and found other children who had been subjected Riedes’ bullying by being told to remove religious jewelry. The parents did the smart thing and reached out to the Liberty Counsel for legal representation.

Liberty Counsel took the case and sent a demand letter (seen below) to the Hillsborough School Superintendent, one Jeff Eakins. The letter states the reason the teacher has banned the wearing of religious jewelry:

Ms. Riedas has prohibited at least three children from wearing Christian cross necklaces in her classroom, claiming on occasion that they are “gang symbols.”

This is the type of thinking and reasoning that a teacher has in a high school?

“Gang symbols?”

Of course, the question would be “if they are ‘gang symbols,’ to what ‘gang’ the symbols belong?”

The Supreme Court case in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District is quite clear on this issue:

The First Amendment – Death By A Thousand Cuts.

New York Supreme Court Justice John Galasso

A 23 year old woman named Jessica Pelletier filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her previous employer, a company by the name of Tikun Olam, Inc.

In papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, Jessica Pelletier, 23, of Rocky Hill, Conn., says management accused her of having “an attitude” because she didn’t want to hear bosses describe their sexual prowess in detail, objected when one of them ran his fingers through her hair and another stole her prescription pills.

Pelletier says one boss, Eric Lerner, the house counsel to Tikun Olam, Inc., was himself addicted to drugs and hounded her to share her medications with him, the lawsuit says.

Tikun Olam claims to be one of the biggest suppliers of medical cannabis in the world.

The company and Eric Lerner responded to the lawsuit by basically calling the allegation a pack of lies made by someone looking to get a quick payday.

Rick Ostrove, a lawyer for Tikun Olam and its officers, said “this is a frivolous lawsuit filed by a disgruntled person who the company terminated… We have emails and texts disproving her allegations. … We are confident these claims will be dismissed.”

We know all these things because the lawsuit is public record. The plaintiff and her lawyer held a press conference and made statements to the press. The lawyers and defendants made statements to the press as well. In other words, the who, what, when, where and how of the lawsuit was known and in the public record.

However, Eric Lerner decided to counter sue Pelletier under the premise that her lawsuit was filed strictly to embarrass him and cause the company financial damage.

The New York Daily News dutifully reported on all of these things.

Enter into the fray one New York Supreme Court Justice John Galasso.

NOTE: New York is a state that organizes its courts slightly differently in name than other states. Being a New York Supreme Court judge is the equivalent to being a Superior Court judge in other states. The New York Supreme Court is not the highest court in the state.

In his filing, Eric Lerner claimed that being named the defendant has damaged his reputation and he wanted his being named as a defendant stricken from the public eye.

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.

Revere High School – Doublethink Appears Again.

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.

“Reason”-able, Anonymous, Free Speech.


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 to uncover the names, emails and IP’s of those who made comments on the 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 concerning the sentencing of Ross Ulbricht.

On May 31, Nick Gillespie published a post at’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 to turn over “any and all identifying information” we had about the individuals posting those comments.

The six comments are:

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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