Category: First Amendment

The God the Law Protects, according the the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court

| May 2, 2014 | 1 Reply

This man and I do have some differences of opinion, it seems. It wouldn’t bother me much except that he is the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

“Speaking at the Pastor for Life Luncheon, which was sponsored by Pro-Life Mississippi, Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court declared that the First Amendment only applies to Christians because “Buddha didn’t create us, Mohammed didn’t create us, it was the God of the Holy Scriptures” who created us.

“They didn’t bring the Koran over on the pilgrim ship,” he continued. “Let’s get real, let’s go back and learn our history. Let’s stop playing games.””

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Riding A Hobby Horse

| January 28, 2014 | 1 Reply
Riding A Hobby Horse

Hobby Lobby is suing to be exempted from certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case . . . The question at the heart of this is, should a company be forced to pay for things with which it has a moral objection? [More . . . ]

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Duck (And Cover…)

| January 4, 2014 | Reply
Duck (And Cover…)

By now those who don’t know about Phil Robertson and the debacle at A & E are most likely among those who have no access to any kind of media.  They have no idea what the world is doing, because they have no way of knowing what to pay attention to.  [More … ]

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Common Sense, Grammar, and Original Intent

| April 8, 2013 | 1 Reply
Common Sense, Grammar, and Original Intent

According to recent polls, a growing number of Americans believe that the Second Amendment was put in the Bill of Rights in order to guarantee that our government will not impose any kind of tyranny upon us. That an armed populace is a bulwark against government oppression. [More . . . ]

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Considering Cults and the Need for Meaning

| February 27, 2013 | 10 Replies
Considering Cults and the Need for Meaning

Recently, I finished reading Lawrence Wright’s new book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollwood, & the Prison of Belief, about Scientology. It’s a lucid history and examination of the movement. [More . . . ]

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New organization–Freedom of the Press Foundation–protects meaningful freedom of the press

| December 20, 2012 | Reply

Glenn Greenwald is a member of the Board of the Directors of a new organization called Freedom of the Press Foundation. Here’s how Greenwald describes the mission:

The primary impetus for the formation of this group was to block the US government from ever again being able to attack and suffocate an independent journalistic enterprise the way it did with WikiLeaks. Government pressure and the eager compliance of large financial corporations (such as Visa, Master Card, Bank of America, etc.) has – by design – made it extremely difficult for anyone to donate to WikiLeaks, while many people are simply afraid to directly support the group (for reasons I explained here).

We intend to raise funds ourselves and then distribute it to the beneficiaries we name. The first group of beneficiaries includes WikiLeaks. We can circumvent those extra-legal, totally inappropriate blocks that have been imposed on the group. We can enable people to support WikiLeaks without donating directly to it by donating to this new organization that will then support a group of deserving independent journalism outlets, one of which is WikiLeaks. In sum, we will render impotent the government’s efforts to use its coercive pressure over corporations to suffocate not only WikiLeaks but any other group it may similarly target in the future.

. . . I’m very excited to have participated in its formation and will serve as an unpaid member of the Board of Directors, along with the heroic whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, 2012 McArthur-fellowship-receipient and Oscar-nominated documentarian Laura Poitras, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation John Perry Barlow, the actor and civil liberties advocate John Cusack, BoingBoing co-founder Xeni Jardin, and several other passionate free press and transparency activists.

David Carr of the New York Times recently wrote an article titled: “Group Aims to Be a Conduit for WikiLeaks Donations”:

A group advocating a more transparent government has formed a nonprofit organization called the Freedom of the Press Foundation to serve as a conduit for donations to organizations like WikiLeaks. The goal is to insulate those groups’ fund-raising efforts from political and business pressures.

In December 2010, Visa, MasterCard and PayPal announced that they would no longer accept transactions for WikiLeaks, the online leak group that released thousands of secret documents from the American government. The move to cut off donations, which came after vocal protests against the organization’s activities from members of Congress, eliminated the vast majority of financing for WikiLeaks.

Michael Calderon of Huffpo is recently posted on FPF:

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Timm said the idea for the foundation grew out of conversations with fellow co-founders, Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower behind the Pentagon Papers, and John Perry Barlow, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a former Grateful Dead lyricist.

The foundation plans to direct tax deductible donations to WikiLeaks for as long as payment processors block the organization, while protecting other outlets if they are similarly targeted.

“WikiLeaks was the inspiration for it, but we wanted to make the mission much broader than WikiLeaks,” Timm said.

For that reason, the group is also raising money for three other entities: MuckRock News, an open government organization; National Security Archive, an archive of declassified government documents; and The UpTake, a citizen-journalism news site.

Here is more on the four beneficiary organizations.

FDL’s Kevin Gosztola writes:

[T]he idea had come from something that had been discussed for months. There was a “real sense that the blockade on WikiLeaks was censorship of not just of WikiLeaks but actually of the people who wanted to express their opinions by making donations.” It was a suppression of “their rights to free speech,” as well.

FPF decided to do something that would empower people to do something that could keep WikiLeaks operational while also inspiring a new generation of WikiLeaks-like organizations that would be resistant to government and corporate pressures.

Here’s an excerpt from the About Page of Freedom of the Press Foundation:

The Freedom of the Press Foundation is dedicated to helping promote and fund aggressive, public-interest journalism focused on exposing mismanagement, corruption, and law-breaking in government. We accept tax-deductible donations to a variety of journalism organizations dedicated to government transparency and accountability.

The Freedom of the Press Foundation is built on the recognition that this kind of transparency journalism — from publishing the Pentagon Papers and exposing Watergate, to uncovering the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program and CIA secret prisons — doesn’t just happen. It requires dogged work by journalists, and often, the courage of whistleblowers and others who work to ensure that the public actually learns what it has a right to know.

But in a changing economic and technological age, media organizations are increasingly susceptible to corporate or government pressure. This can lead to watered-down or compromised coverage, or worse: censorship.

Increasingly, non-profit media and transparency organizations are emerging as a critical component of the journalism landscape. Leveraging the power of the Internet, these organizations are helping to reinvent and reimagine independent watchdog reporting.

Right now, too many of those organizations are struggling for funding, relying on a few large foundations or competing for donors. Our goal is to broaden the financial base of these types of institutions—both start-ups and established non-profit organizations — by crowd-sourcing funding and making it easy for people to support the best journalism from an array of organizations all in one place.

Using the same networked, collaborative approach, the Freedom of the Press Foundation will also provide support for organizations and individuals that have been unjustly censored or cut off from funding for doing their job as journalists. Given the variety of corporate and government pressures on journalism outlets around the world, the need has never been greater.

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Insanity and Rights

| December 16, 2012 | 4 Replies
Insanity and Rights

Doubtless whatever I say, someone will find fault, take offense, withdraw into positions, place guard dogs at the gates and lookouts in the towers. We are a people enamored of the idea of violence.  We like the idea that when it gets down to the proverbial nitty gritty we can and will kick ass and take names.  Americans are tough, not to be messed with, ready to exact justice by knuckles or 9.mm. . . .

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Looking Forward?

| November 7, 2012 | 2 Replies
Looking Forward?

As usual, Florida is still undecided, a mess. According to NPR, though, it is leaning heavily toward Obama, despite the shenanigans of the state GOP in suppressing the vote.

I didn’t watch last night. Couldn’t. We went to bed early.

But then Donna got up around midnight and woke me by a whoop of joy that I briefly mistook for anguish.

To my small surprise and relief, Obama won.

I will not miss the constant electioneering, the radio ads, the tv spots, the slick mailers. I will not miss keeping still in mixed groups about my politics (something I am not good at, but this election cycle it feels more like holy war than an election). I will not miss wincing every time some politician opens his or her mouth and nonsense spills out. (This is, of course, normal, but during presidential years it feels much, much worse.) I will not miss…

Anyway, the election came out partially the way I expected, in those moments when I felt calm enough to think rationally. Rationality seemed in short supply this year and mine was sorely tasked. So now, I sit here sorting through my reactions, trying to come up with something cogent to say.

I am disappointed the House is still Republican, but it seems a number of the Tea Party robots from 2010 lost their seats, so maybe the temperature in chambers will drop a degree or two and some business may get done.

Gary Johnson, running as a Libertarian, pulled 350,000 votes as of nine last night. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, got around 100,000. (Randall Terry received 8700 votes, a fact that both reassures me and gives me shivers—there are people who will actually vote for him?)

Combined, the independent candidates made virtually no difference nationally. Which is a shame, really. I’ve read both Stein’s and Johnson’s platforms and both of them are willing to address the problems in the system. Johnson is the least realistic of the two and I like a lot of the Green Party platform.

More . . .

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Churches and Candidates

| November 5, 2012 | 1 Reply

Through no effort of my own, I receive email bulletins from the Christian Coalition, an unabashedly theocratic (and more covertly white-centric) political action committee, yet somehow still tax free (503-(c)4).
The latest email tells people to bring voters their guides to church. Their splash page practically forces you to download it.

I am of the opinion that churches that want representation like this should be amenable to taxation. Naturally they argue that just because every member shills for their platform, the churches should not be held accountable. Can this be remedied?

Discussion?

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