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  • October 25, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    New York’s aggravated harassment law is unquestionably unconstitutional, in part, as a federal court ruled in 2002. The law includes a prohibition on communicating with someone “with intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm … in a manner that is likely to cause annoyance or alarm.” In other words, the state legislature tried to criminalize intentionally annoying speech – the sort of speech in which many New Yorkers indulge every day, the sort of speech they are accustomed to hearing, especially from their elected officials.

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  • October 25, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    By Harvey Silverglate


    The act of censorship is usually seen as a direct affront to the First Amendment, buts it’s not always that clear and simple. The reason, of course, is that the amendment has several clauses, and at times some of them are in tension with one another, if not in seeming conflict.

    Consider today’s curious report in The Boston Globe that the pastor of St.


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  • October 24, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    Any publication that devotes itself to promoting liberty, like this blog, must stop for a moment to take note of the passing of one of the giants in the never-ending battle for freedom. Connecticut attorney Catherine Roraback died last week at the age of 87. While she left no survivors other than a sister who announced her death, she did leave an enormous legacy for which we all should be grateful.

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  • October 23, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    Scholars have for centuries sought to define and promote the concept of academic freedom, and, while the exact definitions they’ve arrived at have varied, the underlying rationale has always been the same: to shield academics from political and religious pressure. For this reason, I’m a bit puzzled by the fact that many of the modern-day groups that describe themselves as defenders of academic freedom are also clearly political in nature and often seem to be promoting a political agenda rather than neutral principles of liberty.

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  • October 22, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    by Wendy Kaminer

    Freedom to publish ads for escort services may seem like a peripheral perquisite of a free press, as well as a source of entertainment for readers, but prosecuting newspapers for selling the ads is serious First Amendment business – especially if the prosecution constitutes retaliation for the paper’s editorial policies.

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  • October 18, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    When the Anti Defamation League objects to blackballing a speaker accused of anti-Semitism, you know the speech police have gone too far. So it wasn’t surprising when the president of St. Thomas College in Minnesota apologized for vetoing a speaking invitation to Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a sometime critic of Israel.

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  • October 13, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    It’s not exactly an epidemic, but about a dozen racial incidents involving the universal symbol for lynching – a hanging noose - have been reported in the past couple of months. They followed a spate of publicity about the Jena 6 case, which began when white students threw a noose over a tree branch at a Louisiana high school.

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  • October 11, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    Hamline University prides itself on its commitment to diversity. Its website boasts that “Hamline’s five schools have more than 4,500 students, and each one of these students is different …Hamline isn’t a place where you ‘fit in,’ conforming to the Hamline mold. Rather, Hamline ‘fits in’ you, welcoming your unique contributions and valuing who you are.

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  • October 06, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    Thanks to Burton Hanson for alerting us to a ruling by the Supreme Court of Washington State striking down a law that barred political candidates from knowingly or recklessly making false statements about their opponents. This was an easy case: if the First Amendment means anything at all, it means that government officials may not restrict the content of political speech, as the majority recognized: “The notion that government, rather than the people, may be the final arbiter of truth in political debate is fundamentally at odds with the First Amendment,” Justice James Johnson wrote, in Rickert v Public Disclosure Commission

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  • October 05, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    Once again, the news media faces a “prior restraint against publication” imposed by the courts, yet few in that industry or elsewhere seem to understand the nature and impact of prior restraints and the true threat they pose. Contrary to common belief, prior restraints pose a more serious threat to Sixth Amendment rights (i.

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  • October 04, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate
    Sometimes it seems as if Massport is lacing the water coolers that Logan Airport security personnel drink from on their breaks. After the imbroglio surrounding M.I.T.-undergraduate-cum-performance-artist Star Simpson, which I blogged about last week, some people appropriately began to question the judgment of airport security in failing to recognize what was obviously not an explosive device.

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  • October 03, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    Thanks to Hillary Clinton, Wellesley retains a certain cachet, but most women’s colleges have suffered predictable declines in popularity and prestige since the late 1960s, when the top men’s school became coed. By the late 1990s, only 1.3% of all women receiving B.A. degrees were graduates of women’s colleges. Some single sex schools, (like Vassar and Skidmore) joined a trend they could not beat and began admitting men; others, like my alma mater, Smith College, struggled to find new raison d’etres: Smith offers an engineering program and boasts of the superior science education it provides for female students.

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