April 10, 2014
Re "Mozilla CEO resigns after Prop. 8 outcry," April 4 If former Mozilla Chief Executive Brandon Eich had made a contribution - however long ago - to, say, an anti-Semitic group or even one of the organizations trying to sell the message that a woman's place is in the home after all (in short, any cause that seeks to infringe on the civil liberties or equality of any specific social group), we wouldn't be having this conversation. Why is it, among all the other "antis," anti-gay attitudes are somehow singularly defended as expressions of free speech?
March 9, 2012 |
The recent exchange between an atheist and a judge in a small courtroom in rural Pennsylvania could have come out of a Dickens novel. Magisterial District Judge Mark Martin was hearing a case in which an irate Muslim stood accused of attacking an atheist, Ernest Perce, because he was wearing a "Zombie Mohammed" costume on Halloween. Although the judge had "no doubt that the incident occurred," he dismissed the charge of criminal harassment against the Muslim and proceeded to browbeat Perce.
April 21, 2010
A nearly unanimous Supreme Court on Tuesday delivered a resounding reaffirmation of the importance of free speech in a case arising from the sordid "sport" of dogfighting. As is often true in 1st Amendment cases, the victor in this decision is an unsympathetic figure. Robert Stevens, a Virginia pit bull breeder, advertised videos portraying dogfights, as well as an "instructional video" on using pit bulls to hunt boar. Stevens was sentenced to 37 months in prison for violating a federal law criminalizing the creation, possession or sale of a "depiction of animal cruelty."
September 28, 2009
An increasing sensitivity to the suffering of animals has been reflected both in public attitudes and in the law. Michael Vick's involvement in an illegal dogfighting ring provoked appropriate public outrage and resulted in a 19-month prison stay for the football star. Movie credits assure the audience that "no animals were harmed in the making of this film." Greater protection for animals is an important objective, but, as with other desirable goals, it can be pursued overzealously and at the cost of constitutional rights.
December 28, 2013
Re "'Duck' and a free society," Opinion, Dec. 24 Like many conservatives chiming in on the "Duck Dynasty" controversy, Jonah Goldberg appears to hold a fundamental misunderstanding of free speech: It is the freedom to say what you want without fear of government persecution, which is different from freedom from criticism. "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson exercised his free-speech rights when he uttered offensive comments about gay men and women. His critics then used their free-speech rights.
June 22, 2010
Disregarding the dictionary as well as the Constitution, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that advising foreign terrorist groups to pursue their objectives peacefully amounts to "material support" of their violent activities. The 6-3 ruling blurs a distinction that Congress needs to sharpen in the interest of free speech. The ruling is a defeat for two groups of activists that want to engage in so-called peace building. One is a collection of organizations supportive of the humanitarian and political activities of Tamil separatists in Sri Lanka.