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.
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.
June 17, 2010
UC Irvine officials recently recommended a one-year suspension for the Muslim Student Union, the group that appears to have been behind the disruption of a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren on the campus in February. It's an apt punishment for what was clearly an inappropriate protest, although it will satisfy neither conservative politicians such as Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R-Irvine), who wrote a letter to the university's chancellor urging that the group be permanently banned, nor defenders of the Muslim group, who think the students were only exercising their free-speech rights.
April 4, 2009
Most Americans understand that protecting free speech means defending not only those who speak truth to power but those who hate us, scare us, revolt us or offend us. The United States has upheld the right of Nazis to march through Jewish neighborhoods and the right of Hustler publisher Larry Flynt to portray Jerry Falwell losing his virginity to his mother in an outhouse.