Friday, June 24, 2016

Big Chill? - Updated Again!


Anyone there - human that is?  Found out that pageviews may not always be real pageviews but something called "referral spam."  So it would be wonderful if an actual human reader would leave a comment.  C'mon - we real people should stick together!


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.

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  1. I agree with your assessment that we need to defend our liberties. I believe that the best method in achieving this is by educating the people.

    Thomas Jefferson quoted "Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government;... whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights."

    The problem is that we have people who are basically incompetent and not seeking what is best for We The People, instead they choice their own profit as being priority.

    Only a radical shift in the way we perceive the role of government will be suffice to fix our many problems nowadays. We need to all unite and reestablish the basic principals and values we as a society cherish. We need to reinvigorate the spirit of liberty by having people become more involved.

    Good article, but I have to ask, what would your solution be to help these people?

  2. Hi Tim and thank you for stopping by and commenting!

    Oh yes, we need to unite and restore our basic values all right. Now you ask what would my solution be to help people get to there?

    That's one I really wrestle with. It's hard when you try to talk issues to folks and you see their eyes glaze over.

    You mentioned Jefferson on having people be well-informed. I can relate to that as I'm a retired educator. One thing I think we need to do is start emphasizing critical thinking again in schools, and somehow challenge adults to really look at things critically.

    I think we also need to fight us humans being so commodified. It seems as if we're always being sold something. So we need to dig deeper and start seeing ourselves and others as more than mere consumers.

    And I guess we have to try to educate folks about the issues confronting us, not just letting msm propaganda (which it what it mostly is now)stand without challenge. That's one reason I blog. I also one gave a cousin some reading material. In other words, we need to try casting the stones we can.

    Hope that's a start. And be sure to come back - anytime!!!


What are your thoughts?