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Well, The Intercept strikes again. Just read this report of arrests for social media posts and felt it should be brought to anyone's and everyone's attention. And it follows the theme of threats to things such as free speech.
Original post starts here: Well, when I went The Intercept, I knew what the next blog post topic must be. Protest and dissent are facing increasing challenges and attacks. Please, readers, don't just think it only applies to "them" or that Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly are so "ivory tower" that they have no relevance. Even if they don't affect YOU directly NOW: a) you should stand for those rights for others and b) be aware that it might come to affect you in the future - and you'd better hope it's not too late then.
Let's begin: This report about visits to activists' homes and such in Cleveland was indeed the impetus for this post. From the article: “The purpose of these door knocks is simple: to intimidate the target
and others in efforts to discourage people from engaging in lawful First
Amendment activities,” Jocelyn Rosnick, a coordinator with the Ohio
chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, wrote in a statement denouncing
the home visits.
Now also consider this (again from the article):
Maggie Rice, an organizer with Food Not Bombs, said that members of her group were visited by police but felt too “rattled” to speak to a reporter. The group is not planning to stage protests but has applied for permits to be in the RNC event zone in order to feed both protesters and Cleveland residents dealing with disruptions... [emphasis mine]
In case you're not familiar with some background, there has been much controversy about "rules for protest" that Cleveland drafted for the days of the RNC (Repub. Nat'l Convention). You can read in the linked article also that the ACLU of Ohio is suing Cleveland over these rules. One update I found was that the ACLU of Ohio is asking for a speedy resolution of this suit.
Ok, now on from Cleveland to Philadelphia. The ACLU of PA has written Phila. Mayor Kenny about concerns as to how protests will be handled at the DNC You can read the letter and the city's response via links from this page. The ACLU of Pennsylvania is suing because the city has not issued a permit for the group Poor People's Economic Rights Campaign to march on opening day of the Democrat. Nat'l Convention. They marched peacefully along the same route on opening day of the RNC in 2000. So what's the problem?
We must also consider events at UC Irvine. There, some student protesters could face charges and one organization involved in the protest, the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine could possibly be banned from campus. The reason? The students protested the screening of a film about the lives of recruits to the Israeli Defense Forces and the presence of some IDF soldiers. You can read a very well-done article here.
The article notes that Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights issues a report that detailed 152 incidents of free speech suppression on campuses in 2014 related to speaking out on Palestine. There's a link to the report in the article.
The report, titled The Palestine Exception to Free Speech notes some thoughts from our Supreme Court:
...function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger. . . . That is why freedom of speech, though not absolute, is nevertheless protected against censorship or punishment, unless shown likely to produce a clear and present danger of a serious substantive evil that rises far above public inconvenience, annoyance, or unrest. (Terminiello v. Chicago and NY Times v. Sullivan, 1964)
that matters of speech on issues of public concern occupies the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values, and is entitled to special protection. (Connick v Myers, 1983)
Here's another campus free speech issue. I ran across this account of the attempt to create an expressive conduct policy at CUNY. I like the proposed policy offered by the article's author(s). Certainly something for academia to always keep in mind.
Guess What? Here's a protest story with a happy (or semi-happy at the very least) ending. The Heathrow 13 Climate Change Protesters were convicted but did not get jail time. I hadn't heard of them, but found mention of them in researching this post - and a bit of sunshine it was! Read this update.
Protest and dissent often take artistic forms. (WARNING: Adult Content in link) The artist of a controversial painting was assaulted. No U. S. gallery would display the work and she has received threat of legal action to deter sale of it. Read this!
Let's also not forget threats to freedom of speech and dissent online. This article highlights a report describing how freedom of speech and dissent online is being restricted or threatened in at least a dozen countries. Sobering news indeed.
The take away: we need to continually defend Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Assembly and other civil liberties. We must not take them for granted, but do our best to protect them for ourselves and for others.
According to this report, the ACLU v. Cleveland lawsuit about protest rules for RNC has been settled and the rules are supposed to be revised.