June 4, 2012 |
When can you be arrested for talking to someone? When can you be arrested for touching them? When the person you're talking to or touching is the vice president of the United States, it seems. On June 16, 2006, Steven Howards spotted Vice President Dick Cheney, who was coming out of a shopping mall in Beaver Creek, Colo., and chatting amiably with several people. Howards approached the vice president and allegedly pushed or touched him on the shoulder as he told him that his "policies on Iraq are disgusting.
October 5, 2011 |
Let's stipulate that you don't have to be a thug, racist or fool to oppose taxpayer-supported grants to illegal-immigrant college students. Let's agree, meanwhile, that you can support financial aid to those undocumented migrant students without being a squishy-headed traitor. The California Dream Act raises thorny issues about whether non-citizens should get government benefits at a time when many state services are being slashed. The arguments on the two sides are powerful enough that Gov. Jerry Brown has been taking weeks to decide whether to sign the legislation.
July 12, 2011 |
Facing increased scrutiny at home and a war crimes indictment abroad, Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir stood before his National Assembly on Tuesday and promised a freer, more inclusive government. Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court in connection with massacres in Darfur, spoke just days after attending ceremonies marking South Sudan's independence from his own Khartoum-based government. Sudan is entering a "second republic" comprising mainly Muslim Arabs, and people will be able to vote on a new constitution crafted with widespread participation, he said.
November 2, 2010 |
One version of the video game "Postal 2" features an easily angered "postal guy" with dark glasses and a high-powered rifle. He wanders through town killing everyone he sees, leaving them bloody and mutilated. A trip to the library turns into carnage of mass shootings and blazing fires. Another features young girls being struck by a shovel as they beg for mercy. The player can then pour gasoline over them, set them on fire and urinate on them. Despite admittedly being disturbed by what he saw in "Postal 2," a federal judge struck down, on free-speech grounds, a California law that would forbid the sale or rental of such grossly violent video games to those younger than 18. On Tuesday, when much of the nation is focused on the midterm elections to Congress, the Supreme Court will hear California's appeal and debate whether the states can restrict the sale of violent games to children and teenagers.
October 7, 2010 |
Despite free-speech concerns, Supreme Court justices sounded sympathetic Wednesday to a lawsuit filed by the father of a Marine killed in Iraq whose funeral was picketed by protesters with signs like, "Thank God for IEDs. " The justices appeared inclined to set a limit to freedom of speech when ordinary citizens are targeted with especially personal and hurtful attacks. The 1st Amendment says the government may not restrict free speech, but it is less clear when it shields speakers from private lawsuits.
July 24, 2010
It's called "libel tourism" — the practice of bringing a defamation lawsuit against an author or publisher in a country with less robust protections of free speech than those afforded Americans by the 1st Amendment and Supreme Court decisions. Many Americans may be surprised to learn that a leading destination for libel tourists is the United Kingdom. The United States can't prevent Britain or other countries from making it easier to win libel suits that might not succeed in this country, where even publications that include errors have received 1st Amendment protection.