The past month has seen blows against freedom of speech for independent news outlets and, indeed, for all Americans. I’m not being hyperbolic here. There are real threats to our freedom of speech against which we ought to mobilize. First, the Biden administration named something called a “Disinformation Governance Board,” housed in the Department of Homeland Security, whose job will supposedly be to “standardize the treatment of disinformation by the agencies it oversees.” That means that the government will be the final arbiter of what disinformation is. It will decide what we can and can’t read. At least that’s the plan. (It is now on hold after an angry backlash.)
Freedom of Speech
Suffolk Superior Court Judge Robert L. Ullmann on Thursday refused to issue an injunction requested by attorney Karen Hurvitz to prevent a panel discussion on Palestine from being convened at University of Massachusetts campus. Hurvitz argued the event could wound the college’s reputation, harm Jewish students and violate anti-discrimination policies. The program, titled, “Not Backing Down: Israel, Free Speech & the Battle for Palestinian Rights” will now go ahead as scheduled on Saturday, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the UMass Fine Arts Center.
In a win for free speech, a federal court in North Dakota recently dismissed a baseless $900 million lawsuit brought by the Dakota Access Pipeline company against Greenpeace and a number of individual protesters. The company should have learned its lesson. Instead, it refiled the case in state court. These meritless cases are textbook examples of “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation,” or SLAPPs. This tactic is increasingly used by corporations to silence critics with expensive legal actions. Protesters and advocacy groups have the right to freely and vigorously criticize their opponents, even when their speech threatens to subvert corporate interests.
We, the undersigned, oppose the coordinated campaign to deny academics their free speech rights due to their defense of Palestinian rights and criticism of the policies and practices of the state of Israel. Temple University in Philadelphia, USA and the University of Sydney, Australia have been under great pressure to fire, respectively, Marc Lamont Hill and Tim Anderson, both senior academics at their institutions, for these reasons. Steven Salaita and Norman Finkelstein have already had their careers destroyed by such attacks. Hatem Bazian, Ahlam Muhtaseb, William Robinson, Rabab Abdulhadi and others have also been threatened.
The National Park Service has proposed major changes in rules for protests in Washington, DC that would severely undermine constitutionally protected First Amendment rights. These restrictions would undermine hard one victories for Freedom of Speech and the Right of Assembly in Washington, DC. We need people to take action now to comment on these proposals. In an administrative proceeding like this the evidence in the case comes from the record of public comments. Therefore we need you to write comments that reflect on the importance of protest at the White House and in Washington, DC. Popular Resistance will be submitting comments that cover our history of organizing and participating in protests in the nation's capitol but your individual experiences will also be valuable.
One day after Ecuadorian Foreign Minister María Fernanda Espinosa declared that her government would continue blocking WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange from all communications and deny him any personal visitors, she was elected president of the United Nations General Assembly. Today marks 10 weeks since Ecuador’s government deprived Assange of his rights, which it is obliged to honour after granting him political asylum in its London embassy in 2012. The UN vote in support of Espinosa was a substantial 128, versus 62 for the only other nominee, Honduras’s UN ambassador Mary Elizabeth Flores Flake, and two abstentions. The vote suggests that the United States did not energetically intrigue on behalf of Honduras.
This month, it will be six years since Julian was forced to take refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London. He had been warned; the US Department of Justice was likely to file an application with Britain’s Home Office for his extradition to the United States. The allegations against Julian and WikiLeaks in the US were subsequently declared secret by a US District Court judge, but it has since been confirmed that a grand jury in Virginia has concocted a number of possible ‘charges’ against the WikiLeaks founder. The most likely of these is ‘espionage’, which harks back to a long -defunct First World War law designed to punish conscientious objectors. Julian is not an American; neither has he ‘betrayed’ any state.
Just when you think the NFL is done making your soul pulsate with detestation, it says, “Hold my beer.” The league on Wednesday dealt with the idea of protest in a dimwitted way that spits in the face of the idea of free speech. The new rule on the national anthem and kneeling is NO. If team personnel are on the field for the national anthem, they must stand or the club will be fined and the commissioner will deal with you later. But — and there is always a but when idiots are making policy — players and coaches are allowed to stay in the locker room during the anthem. This has all the optics of a mud-smeared camera lens.
If it was ever clear that the case of Julian Assange was never just a legal case, but a struggle for the protection of basic human rights, it is now. Citing his critical tweets about the recent detention of Catalan president Carles Puidgemont in Germany, and following pressure from the US, Spanish and UK governments, the Ecuadorian government has installed an electronic jammer to stop Assange communicating with the outside world via the internet and phone. As if ensuring his total isolation, the Ecuadorian government is also refusing to allow him to receive visitors. Despite two UN rulings describing his detention as unlawful and mandating his immediate release, Assange has been effectively imprisoned since he was first placed in isolation in Wandsworth prison in London in December 2010. He has never been charged with a crime.
Thousands of U.S. cities restrict panhandling in some way. These ordinances limit face-to-face soliciting, including interactions that occur on sidewalks and alongside roads, whether they are verbal or involve holding a sign. According to a growing string of court decisions, however, laws that outlaw panhandling are themselves illegal. In light of rulings that found these restrictions to violate the freedom of speech, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver and dozens of other cities have repealed laws restricting panhandling in public places since 2015. As a professor of law and urban studies, I study how local ordinances can harm the poor, particularly people experiencing homelessness. I volunteer with the American Civil Liberties Union and other nonprofits to help fight for more equitable local policies.
GENEVA (Reuters) - The U.N.’s freedom of speech expert said on Wednesday he was concerned about the ramifications of a decision in the United States to roll back net neutrality, since it could lead to small and independent voices being drowned out on the web. Last week the U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal rules intended to ensure a free and open internet, setting up a court fight over a move that could recast the digital landscape. David Kaye, an American law professor and the U.N. Human Rights Council’s independent expert on freedom of expression, said net neutrality, the idea that all internet traffic should be treated the same regardless of content, was essential.
WASHINGTON ― Justice Department prosecutor Jennifer Kerkhoff carried the cardboard evidence box past the jury and placed it next to Officer Andre Reid, the 14-year veteran of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department seated in the witness stand. Snapping on blue medical gloves inside this downtown courtroom, she took out a JanSport backpack ― the government’s exhibit number 43 ― and began removing its contents: two sharpies, a pencil, a pen, a Florida driver’s license, green goggles, a black bandana, black gloves, sunglasses, an energy drink, a phone charger with a cord, and a black hat. As jurors looked on, Kerkhoff and Reid examined a mask. “Have you ever heard of the term ‘balaclava’?” Kerkhoff asked? Reid hadn’t. He called it a ski mask. They took a look at a plastic bag containing two bandanas soaked in some mysterious “solution” that had a smell to it. “Can you smell that now?” Kerkhoff asked. Reid could. The JanSport in question belongs to Michelle Macchio, a 26-year-old from Naples who hasn’t had possession of the bag or its contents in nearly 11 months, ever since she was caught up in a mass arrest during a protest just before President Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. Yesterday, more than 700 protests were held across the nation in small towns, suburbs and cities by people calling for a free and open Internet, net neutrality. In red districts, blue districts or purple districts, the people of the United States were united in their call a free and open Internet and in calling on Congress to protect the Internet by stopping the FCC. The Internet is the primary venue for freedom of speech and freedom of commerce for businesses, small and large, in the 21st Century. It is not under the control of corporate interests but a space where everyone has equal access. Net neutrality ensures free and equal access to the Internet for all. A 3-2 majority of the FCC is moving to change the Internet from an open space to one controlled by a handful of corporations. People power is taking action to stop them.