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  • January 31, 2008
    By James Tierney
    One year ago today, Boston was sent into a panic by some cartoon characters. Boston municipal and state officials were fooled by light-up displays that local artists Sean Stevens and Peter Berdovsky made of the mooninites Ignignokt and Ur -- characters from the Cartoon Network show Aqua Teen Hunger Force -- as part of a guerilla marketing campaign for the Aqua Teen movie.

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  • January 31, 2008
    By Harvey Silverglate

    This past weekend, my research assistant James Tierney and I published an op-ed in the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly about the dubious arrest and prosecution of local attorney Simon Glik under the state "wiretapping" statute. The op-ed (and the news article that David Frank of the Lawyers Weekly wrote to accompany our piece) lays out the facts in some detail, but here's a summary:

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  • January 31, 2008
    By webteam

    By Jan Wolfe


    University Presidents have developed a strange knack for lauding the First Amendment even as they dispense with it. That’s why it’s so encouraging to see Gene Nichol, President of The College of William & Mary, match his anti-censorship rhetoric with action.

    According to The Daily Press of Newport News, Virginia, Nichol has permitted students to bring to campus the Sex Workers' Art Show, a sort-of X-rated Vagina Monologues in which strippers, prostitutes, and porn stars apparently rave about how much they love their jobs (much to the dismay of campus feminists of the anti-pornography school, I’m sure).


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  • January 31, 2008
    By Jan Wolfe

    By Jan Wolfe


    University Presidents have developed a strange knack for lauding the First Amendment even as they dispense with it. That’s why it’s so encouraging to see Gene Nichol, President of The College of William & Mary, match his anti-censorship rhetoric with action.

    According to The Daily Press of Newport News, Virginia, Nichol has permitted students to bring to campus the Sex Workers' Art Show, a sort-of X-rated Vagina Monologues in which strippers, prostitutes, and porn stars apparently rave about how much they love their jobs (much to the dismay of campus feminists of the anti-pornography school, I’m sure).


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  • January 30, 2008
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    Last year, high school senior Heidi Zamecnik sued her school for prohibiting her from wearing a t-shirt expressing her preference for heterosexuality. “BE HAPPY, NOT GAY,” her shirt read. According to the complaint in her case (filed by the Alliance Defense Fund,) the Dean of Students pulled her out of the lunchroom, complained that the message on her shirt was offensive, and prohibited her from wearing it in school.

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  • January 25, 2008
    By Harvey Silverglate
    A new battle has commenced in the war over suppression of free speech and due process at Brandeis, the institution named (ironically and inappropriately, it would seem) after the late Supreme Court Justice and champion of individual liberty.

    As my colleague Wendy Kaminer wrote in this space on Wednesday, the school opened an investigation into Professor Donald Hindley, a 40-year veteran of the Politics Department, last October after two students complained about comments he made in class.

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  • January 23, 2008
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    In a 2007 episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David’s troubles started when he expressed outrage at someone else’s use of the word “nigger.” Where did Larry go wrong? In decrying the perjorative use of the word “nigger,” he repeated the word “nigger.” His sin was not referring to it as the “N-word,” I guess.

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  • January 21, 2008
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    Last year, Governor Patrick signed a law mandating expanded no speech and no loitering zones around the entrances to abortion clinics; members of the general public are now prohibited from approaching within 35 feet of clinics unless they're entering or exiting or simply passing by. Last week, the Alliance Defense Fund, (ADF) a conservative advocacy group, challenged this law in federal district court, arguing that it’s vague and vests too much discretion in police officers, encouraging discriminatory enforcement, and that it privatizes a public sidewalk and public forum, banning peaceful anti-abortion protests where they are most likely to matter.

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  • January 18, 2008
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    It's foolish to seek logic in appeals to religious faith, especially those made while campaigning, but I can’t help interrogating Fred Thompson’s refrain that our "basic rights come from God and not from any government." What exactly does this imply – that if Christians are denied the right to proselytize, they should pray for the right to be restored instead of petitioning their government? When people are fired or not hired on the basis of race, religion, or sex, should they turn to their spiritual leaders for help instead of their lawyers?



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  • January 18, 2008
    By Harvey Silverglate

    In a case with eerie similarities to the Bush administration’s destruction the CIA “torture tapes,” the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center, a school in Canton, MA, for special needs students, is reportedly being investigated by state prosecutors over its destruction of videotape evidence. According to a page-one story in today’s Boston Globe, the school electroshocked one student 77 times and the other 29 times after a prank caller posing as a supervisor ordered the treatments, and then erased (by recording over) video surveillance footage of the bizarre incident.

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  • January 17, 2008
    By webteam

    In this week's Boston Phoenix, Harvey Silverglate writes about how a troubling new obstruction-of-justice statute, and a precedent set in a Connecticut kiddie-porn case, could be used to prosecute the CIA if the government brings obstruction charges related to the destruction of the so-called "torture tapes."

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  • January 14, 2008
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    My mother believed firmly in civility: “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything,” she plaintively advised; but even she didn’t take this maxim literally. My mother was smarter and more tolerant of dissent than a lot of college administrators today, who seem to regard graciousness as the highest educational value.

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  • January 10, 2008
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    Telecomunications companies that exposed their customers to warrantless surveillance, in what they claim was service to the nation, have discovered the limits to their patriotism: “Telephone companies have cut off FBI wiretaps used to eavesdrop on suspected criminals because of the bureau's repeated failures to pay phone bills on time,” according to the AP.

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  • January 09, 2008
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    Identity politics seemed to have worked for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, after all, and given the unseemly glee with which so many pundits predicted her demise, given their gratuitous brutality toward her, I confess to feeling pleased and even vindicated by the support she received from women. I'm not a member of the Hillary fan club (I'm uneasy with her centrist, communitarian instincts,) and I recoil from the notion of voting on the basis of sex, race, or any other demographic category.

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  • January 08, 2008
    By James Tierney

    NBC reports that a group of abortion protesters disrupted a Barack Obama rally in New Hampshire. Though the police came to usher the protesters out, Obama’s response seems to suggest that he understands the old notion of disagreeing with you but fighting for your right to say it:

    “Let me just say this though. Some people got organized to do that [protest].

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