“If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31” and “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me! Phil 4:13” are a few examples of the banners cheerleaders displayed at Kountze High School in East Texas. For three weeks, football players ran through the large banners containing quotes from the Bible while entering the field. While the student cheerleaders believed this was just a way to exercise their freedom of speech, an unknown person complained to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who in turn communicated with the school superintendent. Banners were subsequently prohibited at games. The mother of one of the cheerleaders, along with fourteen other parents, brought suit to challenge the school district’s decision to bar the cheerleaders’ signs. She claims that everyone at the small town high school agrees with the statements on the banners and for that reason they should not be a problem.
Read More... (Christian Cheerleaders & Religious Speech)
| Posted by Anna Jordan Cobb (Jordan) on Sun. October 28, 2012 8:17 AM
Categories: Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech
New York City guidance school counselor Tiffani Webb was fired from her job at Murry Bergtraum High School after racy photos of her in lingerie showed up on the Internet. Although this is only the latest in a recent string of educators losing their jobs for online behavior, Webb’s situation is slightly different; the pictures were taken over seventeen years ago, before she became a government employee. Additionally, as the Huffington Post reports, she disclosed her previous modeling career before she was hired by the Department of Education twelve years ago. She had been investigated three times by the DoE, but due to her excellent reviews and track record had always been cleared to work again. In December 2011, just days before she was to be tenured, Webb was fired for “conduct unbecoming” of a DoE employee. A three person panel cited the fact that “[t]he inappropriate photos were a accessible to impressionable adolescents,” in dismissing Webb. She is now suing the Department of Education for wrongful termination, sex discrimination, and violation of her First Amendment rights.
Read More... (Social Media and Teachers’ First Amendment Rights)
| Posted by Samantha L. Thompson on Mon. October 22, 2012 8:53 AM
Categories: Social Media
The New York Times has recently adopted a new policy authorizing reporters to refuse to cede editorial authority to sources. “Quotation approval” refers to the practice by reporters of granting sources “as a condition of an interview, that quotes be submitted afterward to the source or a press aide to review, approve or edit.” Absent this agreement, subjects decline to be interviewed, meaning that as a matter of good business practice, reporters must acquiesce in order to gain the access they need to do their jobs. In July of this year, Jeremy Peters, political reporter for the New York Times, published an article describing the impact of after-the-fact quotation approval on campaign reporting. In response, the Times’ Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan, called for the Times to adopt a new policy to combat this industry-wide practice.
Read More... (The New York Times and Free Speech)
| Posted by Charlotte R. Stewart on Mon. October 8, 2012 1:33 PM
Categories: Freedom of Speech
September 30, 2012-October 6, 2012 marks the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week, and will be celebrated as a part of UNC’s Fourth Annual First Amendment Day on October 2, 2012. Banned Books Week began as a reaction to the rapid increase in books that were challenged in educational facilities, bookstores, and libraries. The American Library Association (ALA) seeks to “promote the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinions even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular….” The Office for Intellectual Freedom, a subset of the ALA, tracks and records challenges to books, and subsequently seeks to honor the First Amendment protected Freedom of Speech through Banned Books Week each year.
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| Posted by Demitra M. Sourlis on Mon. October 1, 2012 9:46 AM
Categories: Banned Books Week, First Amendment Day
According to an Associated Press article, an anti-Islam advertisement were to go on display in 10 Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) subway stations in New York on Monday after a federal judge in the Southern District of New York ruled that the MTA could not refuse the advertisement on the basis of its content.
The American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) sponsored the ad, which read, "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad." The same ads recently appeared on San Francisco city buses; authorities there placed disclaimers beside the ads explaining that the city did not support the message and that all revenue generated from the ads would go to charity.
Read More... (Anti-Islam Ads: Hate Speech or Protected First Amendment Activity?)
| Posted by Justice D. Warren on Mon. September 24, 2012 11:53 AM
Categories: Freedom of Speech
On the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed during an attack on the U.S. consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi. The attack was purportedly sparked by an American-made film that presented a highly critical portrayal of the prophet Muhammad. The Wall Street Journal reports that the film entitled “Innocence of Muslims” was produced by a man who identified himself in a telephone interview as Sam Bacile, but whom the FBI believes to be Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. In the interview, Bacile described the film as “a political effort to call attention to the hypocrisies of Islam,” and later referred to Islam as “a cancer.”
Read More... (Appalling But Not Blasphemous: Why The Anti-Islam Film Is Protected Speech)
| Posted by Kelly A. Crecco on Mon. September 17, 2012 1:21 PM
Categories: Freedom of Speech