By Harvey Silverglate
Three cheers for Margery Eagan for her July 8th Boston Herald column’s deft skewering of those who have reacted with horror and, even worse, threats of future censorship toward this year’s Beverly Farms Horribles Parade, posted on YouTube. Eagan alone appears to understand the appropriateness of the biting – even crude and vicious – satire directed at the whole brouhaha over whether a group of teenage mothers-to-be in Gloucester got together to plan their deliveries at about the same time.?xml:namespace>
The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the owners of the Chicago Cubs are considering enacting a de facto "civility code" at Wrigley field, in response to some Cubs fans who have taken to booing the underperforming left fielder Alfonso Soriano. As Sports Law Blog notes, Wrigley and the Cubbies are privately-owned, so fans don't have First Amendment rights to express their disappointment at their team's defensive performance.
Following up on Harvey's post about the right to travel to Cuba, a few days ago Israeli security services detained American (ex-)academic Norman Finkelstein and refused to allow him entry to Israel for the next ten years. Salon.com's Glenn Greenwald quotes a Jerusalem Post article explaining that "the decision to deport Finkelstein was connected to
his anti-Zionist opinions and fierce public criticism of Israel around
This morning, the Supreme Court ruled that a law that outlaws promoting or advertising -- "pandering" -- child pornography is constitutional and does not interfere with First Amendment freedoms. In the case, United States v. Williams, decided 7-2, the justices declared that there is no free speech right that protects "offers to provide or requests to obtain child pornography," even if (in fact) there is no pornography to be provided.
By Wendy Kaminer
Reacting predictably to spate of noose hanging incidents in late 2007, New York
governor David Patterson has signed legislation criminalizing display of a noose with intent to harass or threaten because of bias against the usual categories, including race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability.
Last month, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (disclosure: for which TheFreeForAll blogger Harvey Silverglate serves as Chairman of the Board) noted that Colorado College had punished several students who published a parody of a campus feminist publication. FIRE is now reporting that the College has denied the students' appeal.
A popular viral video making the rounds on the internet shows New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman getting hit with a pie as he begins a speech at Brown University. The Brown Daily Herald reported yesterday that one of the students was taken into custody (but then released) by Brown police, while the second, who calls himself “Captain Custard” and may not have been a Brown student, remains unidentified.
The Waltham-based university named after the late and great Supreme Court Justice, Louis D. Brandeis, champion of free speech and free thought, has just achieved the dubious distinction of winning one of the “muzzle awards” given out annually by the highly respected Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, located in Charlottesville, Virginia.
I have two articles in the March 13, 2008 issue of the Boston Phoenix. In the first, Jan Wolfe and I criticize the ill-advised arrest of performance artist Milan Kohout and follow up on his case, which was dismissed in Massachusetts court. In the second article, I report on newspapers' annoying tendency to censor swear words even when those words are at the core of the story being reported.
Writing for the Los Angeles Times (and carried in the Boston Globe), the usually very informative David Savage is a perfect example of the aggravating and puzzling trend whereby newspapers, ranging from national to regional, fail to report adequately on certain stories because stylistic conventions lead them to self-censor
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: