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Saudi Arabia declares atheists and political activists “terrorists”

The Sunni Islamic monarchy/theocracy's restrictive laws on political expression have become even stricter this year. This is in response to potentially dangerous dissidents returning to Saudi Arabia from the Syrian civil war. But the categories of offenses are so broad as to define virtually any non-Muslim as a terrorist, and to ban all independent political expression. [more inside]
posted by Sleeper on Apr 2, 2014 - 48 comments

 

Australiafilter: Back to the (18)50s, or a new comedic golden age

Since winning government in September 2013 (previously) Australia's conservative Coalition Government has been causing controversy, recently leading to nationwide protests (previously). Undaunted, this week the Coalition voiced support for the rights of bigots (more on that issue here), and reintroduced Knights and Dames. So, where's a depressed politics junkie to turn? To comedy, of course! After a successful crowdfunding campaign, satirical political comedy collective A Rational Fear are producing a 10 week season of Australian political comedy. [more inside]
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts on Mar 25, 2014 - 43 comments

Satire Amicus

"After all, where would we be without the knowledge that Democrats are pinko-communist flag-burners who want to tax churches and use the money to fund abortions so they can use the fetal stem cells to create pot-smoking lesbian ATF agents who will steal all the guns and invite the UN to take over America? Voters have to decide whether we’d be better off electing Republicans, those hateful, assault-weapon-wielding maniacs who believe that George Washington and Jesus Christ incorporated the nation after a Gettysburg reenactment and that the only thing wrong with the death penalty is that it isn’t administered quickly enough to secular humanist professors of Chicano studies."
The Cato Institute's unique amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the Dreihaus political speech case is a defense of "truthiness", mocking and satire which it contends "are as old as America, and if this Court doesn’t believe amici, it can ask Thomas Jefferson, 'the son of a half-breed squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.'”
posted by dios on Mar 3, 2014 - 47 comments

The Hindus

Why free speech loses in India “The Hindus: An Alternative History,” an eight-hundred-page book by Wendy Doniger, an eminent professor of religion at the University of Chicago, will be removed from Indian book shops. Penguin Books India, which first published the book, in 2009, signed an out-of-court settlement with an advocacy group, the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, who claim to be defending 'the sentiments of Hindus all over the world.'"
posted by dhruva on Feb 15, 2014 - 35 comments

Whither Academic Freedom

144 characters can ruin a lifetime of work. In September, The University of Kansas suspended a tenured journalism professor for a tweet. On Wednesday, the Kansas Board of Regents adopted a new rule that says that faculty members and other employees can be fired for "improper use of social media", including when the usage "is contrary to the best interest of the university." [more inside]
posted by MisantropicPainforest on Dec 20, 2013 - 79 comments

GitHub removes anti-feminist satire from code repo

In the wake of a questionable article about feminist programming languages, a group of trolls leapt on the idea to create a parodic implementation. GitHub promptly removed the code repository, as did BitBucket, but the latter restored it amid the controversy. More commentary from Slashdot and Twitter.
posted by vira on Dec 18, 2013 - 138 comments

McCutcheon v. FEC

Supreme Court to consider lifting campaign contribution limits. Reversing McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission would allow unlimited individual campaign contributions.
posted by kliuless on Oct 7, 2013 - 101 comments

"I always had low self-esteem. I never thought I'd get anywhere."

How Joe Redner Invented The Lap Dance, Built A Strip-Club Empire, Became A Model Citizen, Fought For Your Rights, And Beat Cancer
posted by reenum on Sep 3, 2013 - 23 comments

A win for boobie bracelets in middle school

"The question was not so much what the bracelets said but whether school officials used reasonable judgment when they concluded that such apparel was inappropriate and might lead to more egregiously sexual and disruptive displays, all in the name of advocating a cause." Special bonus: The knockers displayed in a Google ad running below the innocent image of a boobie-bracelet-bedecked wrist.
posted by Bella Donna on Aug 7, 2013 - 33 comments

Daddy, what was the MetaFilter?

New Proposal Could Singlehandedly Cripple Free Speech Online
47 state attorneys general have sent a letter asking Congress to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The EFF responds.
posted by cjorgensen on Aug 6, 2013 - 108 comments

Ag Gag

Gagged by Big Ag. "Horrific abuse. Rampant contamination. And the crime is…exposing it?"
posted by homunculus on Jun 19, 2013 - 58 comments

This Guy is on FIRE

An interview with Greg Lukianoff, founder of Foundation for Individual Rights in Education where he tackles that fine line between harrassment and sharing an opinion.
posted by Leezie on Jun 4, 2013 - 34 comments

No longer sci-fi: world's first 3D printed (almost) all-plastic firearm.

Defense Distributed, creators of the controversial printable AR-15 receiver, have now released CAD files and video of the first firing of the Liberator, a real plastic pistol capable of firing between one and 10 .380 calibre rounds before exploding. [more inside]
posted by MoTLD on May 7, 2013 - 257 comments

Free Speech on the Internet

The Delete Squad: Google, Twitter, Facebook and the new global battle over the future of free speech.
posted by homunculus on Apr 30, 2013 - 27 comments

Going Clear Blocked By UK Libel Laws

Why can't we read the Scientology book Going Clear in the UK?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants on Feb 1, 2013 - 31 comments

Old Greek Blasphemy Laws Stir Up Modern Drama

"It seems like every time there's a crisis in Greece, there's a search for saviors," Philippos Loizos, a 27-year-old scientist, tells NPR. Loizos set up a Facebook page that criticized a Greek monk as xenophobic and close-minded. Last September, Greek police arrested Loizos and charged him with blasphemy, which carries up to six months in prison.
posted by winecork on Jan 4, 2013 - 28 comments

Coursera Not Allowed to Provide Courses to Minnesota Residents?

The State of Minnesota has informed Coursera that it cannot offer courses to Minnesota residents because it has not obtained permission to do so from the state. The Chronicle of Higher Education's Wired Campus blog reports on the story here. The State was acting pursuant to the "Minnesota Private and Out-of-State Public Postsecondary Education Act," which requires schools to register with the state if they offer courses in Minnesota and requires approval if degrees are granted or the words "college" or "university" are used in the name of a school. The law was enacted in 1975 and appears to have been intended to be a consumer protection law. Noted First Amendment scholar Eugene Volokh has opined at his blog that the statute is unconstitutional, at least as applied to a web site that offers its courses for free and does not grant degrees.
posted by Area Man on Oct 19, 2012 - 69 comments

This is a public service announcement...

Citizens United has wrought widespread changes in the election law landscape. Yet, a lesser-known consequence of this watershed case might have a significant impact in the workplace: it may permit employers to hold political captive audience workplace meetings with their employees. Under Citizens United’s robust conception of corporate political speech, employers may now be able to compel their employees to listen to their political views at such meetings on pain of termination. [1]
And employers such as Koch Industries are taking full advantage of this. [more inside]
posted by eviemath on Oct 14, 2012 - 83 comments

If they are going to legislate my anatomy, I see no reason why I cannot mention it.

"And finally, Mr. Speaker, I'm flattered that you're all so interested my vagina, but 'no' means 'no.'" After this pointed observation, Michigan Representative Lisa Brown (D) was subsequently barred from speaking on a bill about the retirement of school employees. Twitter responds. Meanwhile, many remember a similar kerfuffle over the word "uterus" in Florida last May.
posted by emjaybee on Jun 14, 2012 - 241 comments

Bullying or Free Speech?

Guidelines [pdf] recently published by a coalition of religious liberty and free speech organizations caution educators against violating student rights when trying to enforce anti-bullying policies. Other groups, however, worry that concern for free speech rights may keep educators from effectively addressing bullying. [more inside]
posted by audi alteram partem on May 29, 2012 - 66 comments

Sockpuppet Party!

Republican-sponsored New York State Assembly bill would ban anonymous online speech. "AN ACT to amend the civil rights law, in relation to protecting a person's right to know who is behind an anonymous internet posting..." S6779, introduced by Rep. O'Meara, is brief: it establishes "a person's right to know who is behind an anonymous internet posting" as a civil right, and requires that NY-based "Web site administrator[s]" remove any anonymous postings. The summary of the Assembly bill, A8688, whose text is identical, describes the bill as "a means for the victim of an anonymous posting on a website to request that such post be removed, unless the anonymous poster is willing to attach his or her name to it." [more inside]
posted by chesty_a_arthur on May 25, 2012 - 90 comments

When it comes to prosecuting speech as support for terrorism, it’s the thought that counts.

On April 12, Tarek Mehanna was sentenced to 17 and a half years in prison. The sentence has renewed worries about the extent to which political speech might be counted as material support for terrorism and possible effects on Al Qaeda recruitment efforts. One wonders just how far the law might go. [more inside]
posted by Jonathan Livengood on Apr 23, 2012 - 151 comments

A controversy in bioethics

When Alberti Giubilini and Francesca Minerva published a provocative paper about the ethics of infanticide in the Journal of Medical Ethics, the hostile response they received included death threats. [more inside]
posted by xchmp on Mar 3, 2012 - 131 comments

President Colbert, the lobbyists are here to see you

Why Citizen's United isn't the problem, and why Stephen Colbert is missing the mark. [more inside]
posted by postel's law on Jan 17, 2012 - 88 comments

MIC CHECK!

Scott Walker, Michele Bachmann, Robin Vos, Karl Rove, Joe Moore, Ron Paul, Scott Serota, Newt Gingrich, Rahm Emanuel, Eric Cantor, and, today, Barack Obama
posted by finite on Nov 22, 2011 - 195 comments

Love is stronger than hate

After an Islamist party won * the first post-revolutionary election in Tunisia, the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo* ran a 'Sharia Hebdo' issue lampooning the result. The prophet Mohammed was named 'guest editor' of the issue and put on the cover proclaiming '100 lashes if you're not dying of laughter'. In response, their offices were promptly firebombed, destroying all their equipment. A week later, from its temporary home in the offices of the daily newspaper Libération, what is Charlie Hebdo's message? Love is stronger than hate. (Guardian story)
posted by Anything on Nov 8, 2011 - 374 comments

Bookseller/Zine Publisher/Free Speech Hero

"Born Shigeyoshi Murao in 1926, he was universally known as Shig. His playful demeanor—not to mention his signature beard, Pendleton shirts, Royal Air Force exercise vest, horn-rimmed glasses, and bowler—rendered him unforgettable. But that did not make him easy to know. Shig, who died in 1999, is largely remembered for an event that occurred on June 3, 1957, when two undercover agents from the San Francisco Police Juvenile Squad showed up at City Lights to buy a seventy-five-cent book of poetry." [more inside]
posted by Toekneesan on Oct 5, 2011 - 10 comments

Ratchet & Clank's Favorite Columnist

Controversial Australian newspaper columnist and television host Andrew Bolt has been found to have breached the Racial Discrimination Act when he suggested in 2009 that "fаіr-skinned Aborigines identified themselves аѕ such fοr personal gain" (official court judgement). Andrew Bolt has responded, along with other writers claiming the ruling will "harm healthy debate" and "stile free speech". Commentary site Crikey has collected other responses and suggests that 'he may turn out to be the courtroom loser who wins the propaganda war'.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn on Sep 28, 2011 - 183 comments

Irvine 11 Guilty Verdict

In February of 2011, eleven students that attended UC Irvine and UC Riverside went to a fundraising speech featuring Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, at the UC Irvine campus. During Oren's speech, students would stand up, shout an objection to Oren's speech, and then would allow themselves to be escorted by security, essentially causing a "heckler's veto." They were arrested, charged, and today found guilty of disrupting Oren's speech. [more inside]
posted by jabberjaw on Sep 23, 2011 - 59 comments

1st Circuit Upholds Right to Record Police in Public

The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals has held that recording police officers performing their duties in public is a "clearly established first amendment right". [more inside]
posted by epsilon on Aug 31, 2011 - 132 comments

No First Amendment Right to Bark at a Police Dog

An Ohio trial court judge last Friday in State v. Stephens [.pdf] held that there is no First Amendment right to bark at a police dog. [more inside]
posted by T.D. Strange on Jul 26, 2011 - 35 comments

some people might call that chutzpah

We have explained that the matching funds provision substantially burdens the speech of privately financed candidates and independent groups. ... We have explained that those burdens cannot be justified by a desire to “level the playing field.” In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down an Arizona law that provided public funds to candidates who have been outspent by either private funding or independent spending. Link to PDF of full decision. [more inside]
posted by gerryblog on Jun 27, 2011 - 105 comments

Landmark Ruling in Favor of on-line Student Speech

Two simultaneous landmark court rulings in favor of student speech limit the extent to which a school can censor a student's OFF CAMPUS on-line speech. These rulings centered on two cases where students parodied school principals in a disrespectful manner on MySpace.
posted by Seymour Zamboni on Jun 15, 2011 - 35 comments

Stay classy, corporados.

Just your classic corporation-meets-social-good, corporation-funds-social-good, corporation-dumps-social-good story. Cable giant Comcast meets ReelGrrls, a Seattle-based nonprofit dedicated to supporting young women in becoming filmmakers. Comcast funds ReelGrrls. Comcast buys NBC, giving their cable network (presumably cheaper) access to NBC's vast back catalog of content. FCC approves the union. FCC head Meredith Attwell Baker leaves and becomes head of Comcast. ReelGrrls tweets about her career move. Comcast yanks funding for ReelGrrls. ReelGrrls says, "OMG, you broke up with me over a tweet?" (SLYT) [more inside]
posted by gusandrews on May 19, 2011 - 25 comments

Freedom of Speech or Human Rights Violation?

Vancouver comedian Guy Earle and the restaurant he was performing at were fined a combined C$22,500 by the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal after a 2007 incident where Earle mocked a member of the audience. [more inside]
posted by inturnaround on Apr 25, 2011 - 190 comments

More voices you won’t hear in the election campaign

Though mentioned intermittently, Mr. Harper's determination to muzzle critics will not be a “ballot box question” for most Canadians when they vote. Yet the implications for a Canada ruled by an unrestrained Harper majority government are obvious, and terrifying. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has now published an excellent commentary by Maria Gergin called “Silencing Dissent: The Conservative Record”. [via Gerald Caplan for the Globe and Mail] [more inside]
posted by ServSci on Apr 24, 2011 - 34 comments

The supreme irony.

During a speech at George Washington University by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in which she condemned governments that arrest protesters and don’t allow free speech, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern was arrested and beaten by security for standing silently with his back turned during her remarks.
posted by - on Feb 25, 2011 - 117 comments

Truth No Defense against Danish Hate Speech Law

A Danish court rules that truth is not a defense to its hate speech law and fines Member of Parliament Jesper Langballe $1,000 for commenting that "Of course Lars Hedegaard [President of the Danish Free Press Society] should not have said that there are Muslim fathers who rape their daughters when the truth appears to be that they make do with killing their daughters (the so-called honour killings) and leave it to their uncles to rape them." Hedegaard had tried to explain that he was speaking in the context of an epidemic of honor violence within Muslim families when he said "They rape their own children"; he faces his own set of charges. (via Volokh Conspiracy) [more inside]
posted by shivohum on Jan 14, 2011 - 229 comments

"People are so mean on the internet." - Complaints Choir of Chicago

The Complaints Choir phenomenon, started by the Finnish artists Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, has spread all over the world since last we paid it any attention, from Birmingham to Helsinki, Hamburg, St. Petersburg, Poikkilaakso, Bodø, Penn State, Canada, Juneau, Gabriola Island, Sointula, Jerusalem, Melbourne, Budapest, Malmö, Chicago, Florence, Copenhagen, Vancouver (2), Philadelphia, Sundbyberg, Milano, Åland, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Rotterdam, Basel, Umeå, Ljubljana, Gdansk, Arizona State University, Washington, DC, Horace Mann School, Durham-Chapel Hill, Auckland, Toronto theatre students, Kortrijk, Cairo (2), St. Pölten, Maribor, Port Coquitlam, Ústí nad Labem, Columbus & Kauhajoki (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8). For more information, including a 9 step guide to forming your own complaints choir, go to the Complaints Choir website. Finally, here's the Singapore Complaints Choir, whose performance was banned by the Singapore government.
posted by Kattullus on Nov 19, 2010 - 40 comments

The thrill of a good fake explosion

Why the Supreme Court should rule that violent video games are free speech
posted by Artw on Nov 1, 2010 - 193 comments

"For his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China"

The 2010 Nobel Peace Prize goes to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. Beijing had previously warned the Nobel committee not to honour Liu. A BBC biography of Liu from last year: "Now his name is unknown. But one day, even if he's not regarded as a hero, he'll be thought of as a very good citizen - a model example."
posted by WPW on Oct 8, 2010 - 63 comments

Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project

Court Affirms Ban on Aiding Groups Tied to Terror. "In a case pitting free speech against national security, the Supreme Court on Monday upheld a federal law (PDF) that makes it a crime to provide 'material support' to foreign terrorist organizations, even if the help takes the form of training for peacefully resolving conflicts."
posted by homunculus on Jun 22, 2010 - 59 comments

Supreme Court: Maybe Free Speech Really Isn't Free (Or: "You Get What You Pay For")

Supreme Court Blocks Arizona Campaign Finance System. After it's recent highly controversial ruling in Citizens United Vs. Federal Election Commission, which struck down longstanding Federal limits on corporate political spending (discussed previously here and here on the blue), the court now seems poised to strike the last nail in the coffin of the possibility of public campaign finance reform by considering arguments over the constitutionality of public financing of political campaigns. [more inside]
posted by saulgoodman on Jun 8, 2010 - 51 comments

Icelandic Modern Media Initiative

Al Jazeera English's "Listening Post" on the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, a proposal that could turn Iceland into a "journalism haven."
posted by brundlefly on Mar 28, 2010 - 11 comments

Student Newspaper Defends Holocaust Denial Ad

On Wednesday, students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison rallied to honor Holocaust victims and demand that the student newspaper remove an offensive ad posted to their website. The Badger Herald recently posted an ad questioning the existence of the Holocaust paid for by a Holocaust denier. The paper’s editors are defending the ad on free speech grounds. UW Chancellor Biddy Martin weighs in.
posted by Consonants Without Vowels on Mar 5, 2010 - 164 comments

Why won't Glenn Beck deny these allegations?

You can blame Gilbert Gottfried, or you can blame Fark, but either way a website was born that pissed Glenn Beck off enough that he sicced his lawyers on Isaac Eiland-Hall. The First Amendment protects Eiland-Hall, so Beck's lawyers are trying an end run on the Constitution by petitioning the ICANN to give rights to the website glennbeckrapedandmurderedayounggirlin1990.com to Beck. Eiland-Hall's lawyer Marc J. Randazza responds in a well-written and hilarious brief. (via) (previously) [more inside]
posted by cjorgensen on Oct 8, 2009 - 102 comments

Newspaper owner loses libel case in UK

Suing for libel, UK newspaper proprietor Richard Desmond made a point of denying that he exerts any influence over stories appearing in his papers. He lost his case today, but reading his paper's website, you'd be forgiven for thinking he'd actually won it! [more inside]
posted by salo on Jul 23, 2009 - 44 comments

Ireland Passes Blasphemy Law

Who asked for Ireland's blasphemy law? Ireland's sweeping new defamation law, passed in the Dáil on the 9th, "introduces a new crime of blasphemous libel." The creators of Father Ted want some clarification. And at their recent AGM, "...Atheist Ireland members voted to test the new law by publishing a blasphemous statement, deliberately designed to cause offence. The statement will be finalised in the coming days." Across the sea, comedian and co-author of Jerry Springer, the Opera Stewart Lee asks: "What's Wrong With Blasphemy?" [40 minute documentary] [more inside]
posted by milquetoast on Jul 13, 2009 - 68 comments

Discrimination to Fight Discrimination?

"How do black women fight crime? They have abortions." "How do you stop a poofter from drowning? You take your foot off his head." These and other 'jokes' featured in an advertisement on The Gruen Transfer, an Australian television program focusing on advertising. The ad, part of a segment called 'The Pitch' which usually produces humorous ads, was banned by the ABC, but the national broadcaster has still allowed it to be viewed online, and hundreds have now seen it. The ad was designed to sell "fat pride", with creator Adam Hunt explaining his motivation behind the ad being to say "if you discriminate against somebody on the basis of their shape then you are no different to someone who is racist, homophobic or anti-Semitic." Debate has raged online if the ad is offensive and discriminatory, as the ABC has declared, and whether or not it was effective. Watch the ad and judge for yourself.
posted by Effigy2000 on May 15, 2009 - 157 comments

Orwellian, eh?

In what has been described as "a major blow to online free speech in Canada", an Ontario court has ordered the owners of FreeDominion.ca to disclose all personal information on eight anonymous posters to the chat site - including email and IP addresses. [more inside]
posted by Joe Beese on Mar 25, 2009 - 34 comments

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