Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
From the Sedalia Democrat:
The Smith-Cotton High School band had to abandon new t-shirts that showed a monkey evolving into a man--you've undoubtedly seen that image. The difference here was that the various iterations of the figures each carried a different brass instrument. The band's program theme was "Brass Evolutions."
Some parents objected, the school administration got involved, and the t-shirts were scrapped. One parent, whose child is in the band said she "didn't think evolution should be association with our school." But another said "Whatever happened to the separation of church and state?...I thought it [the shirt] was funny."
Smith-Cotton High School is a public school. Read more here.
The West Virginia Supreme Court has held that a judge's personal emails that are not otherwise related to his or her official duties are not subject to the state's Freedom of Information Act. The Associated Press had requested disclosure under the statute, but the Court held that the trial court's "analysis of the content of the e-mail and does not extend to a context-driven analysis because of public interest in the record."
Flemming Rose’s decision to run twelve cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed triggered an international controversy. In defending his decision, Rose relies on two arguments: (1) the cartoons were a necessary response to a growing atmosphere of self-censorship imposed by a totalitarian radical Islam and (2) the cartoons-far from being insulting-were actually a way to include Danish Muslims into a national “tradition of satire.” On examination both arguments are problematic. The fear of totalitarian censorship-if even it applies to Muslims-fits poorly with an American free speech discourse that counsels patience, not action in the face of totalitarian threats. Rose’s reference to a “tradition of satire” is rooted in the Danish practices of social informality (hygge) and teasing, But this argument is undercut by Rose’s own anti-immigrant rhetoric as well as the larger anti-immigrant mood in Denmark and Europe.
Download the paper at the link.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Mark Lawson evaluates what may be a much more timid BBC after outrageous episodes such as the Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross mess. Artists are now complaining that the venerable network is now too cautious, "dumbing down" offerings because of fears over complaints. Says Mr. Lawson in part,
At the time [of the Brand/Ross scandal], a common view (certainly mine) was that, 12 months on, Ross might well have found a job elsewhere, but that the BBC's general panic over editorial guidelines might have calmed down. In fact, it has gone the other way. Ross remains in his post – a ghost of what he used to be, because of a strict system of precautionary recording and editing – while an increasing number of writers and performers are complaining about the effects of "compliance": the system of BBC editorial defences introduced after Ross/Brand and an earlier run of scandals over faked or misleading content.
Read more here.
According to MSNBC.com, Jon Gosselin's former PA may be set to sue him over a contract they may (or may not) have entered into last summer. Here's the language.
“I, Jon Gosselin, will employ Kate Major as a personal assistant handling some but not all future accounts,” Gosselin is said to have written. “She will be a sub-contractor. She will receive a percentage of accounts for payment based upon involvement.”
Read more here.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Throughout the United States, state and federal courts discipline and sanction attorneys who make disparaging remarks about the judiciary and thereby impugn judicial integrity. In so doing, courts have almost universally rejected the constitutional standard established in New York Times v. Sullivan for punishing speech regarding government officials. While courts have imposed severe sanctions regardless of the forum where the speech has occurred, many of the cases involve speech made by attorneys in court proceedings. The existing scholarly literature generally supports the denial of First Amendment protection in such cases, indicating that attorney speech when made in court proceedings is entitled to little, if any, constitutional protection.
In A Free Speech Right to Impugn Judicial Integrity in Court Proceedings, Professor Tarkington examines why a free speech right to impugn judicial integrity must be recognized for attorneys - even, and perhaps especially, when acting as officers of the court and making statements in court proceedings. Such a right is necessary to protect the constitutional and other rights of litigants to an unbiased and competent judiciary. Further, the recognition of such a right in the attorney preserves litigants’ access to courts and due process rights. These rights belonging to litigants are all but lost where attorneys are punished for or chilled from asserting them in court proceedings. Previous scholarly arguments - which are based on analogies to other areas of limited First Amendment protection - fail to account for the protection of the underlying rights of litigants, the role of attorneys in our adversary system, and the constitutionally-required role of the judicial branch. Importantly, the judiciary does not need to punish attorney speech impugning judicial integrity in order to protect its legitimate interests in the just adjudication of cases. In fact, by curbing speech in the presentation of claims, the judiciary undermines its own role and responsibility in remedying constitutional violations and providing fair proceedings.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009