The Freedom To Sing
“In the beginning, God gave birds the freedom to sing their own songs. No government on Earth has the power to pass laws to take away that freedom.”
– The Catbird
Sightings from The Catbird Seat
~ o ~
“Our safety, our liberty, depends upon preserving the Constitution of the United States as our Fathers made it inviolate. The people of the United States are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”
— Abraham Lincoln
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THE BILL OF RIGHTS
The Conventions of a number of the States having, at the time of adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added, and as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution…
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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
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The Good News About God!
By Lorraine Day, MD
A dense darkness is falling over America and the World. Truth-tellers are becoming an extinct breed. Many Americans are afraid to speak the truth or even to hear the truth, fearful of intimidation by the government, and ridicule and ostracism by their friends and family.
Some on the internet, who are willing to post “all points of view,” are becoming increasingly squeamish about taking a hard stand for truth on sensitive issues. They exercise their “Freedom of Speech” (sort of) while still trying to remain politically correct, attempting to dance delicately through the political minefields while trying to remain “acceptable” to all sides.
All too frequently these days, when one boldly speaks truth, the listener begins to get nervous and fidgety, furtively glancing over his or her shoulder, and often responds, “You better be careful what you say.”
Whatever happened to REAL Freedom of Speech in America?
On this web site, you will find an in-depth analysis of the story behind the news, the real truth – from the political, social, religious and medical perspectives – and where each story fits into the bigger picture of the diabolical plan of the Illuminati and the Zionist Jews to destroy America and to rule the World….
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Fighting for Bloggers’ Rights
Electronic Frontier Foundation
You Have the Right to Blog Anonymously. EFF has fought for your right to speak anonymously on the Internet, establishing legal protections in several states and federal jurisdictions, and developing technologies to help you protect your identity….
You Have the Right to Keep Sources Confidential. In Apple v. Does, EFF is fighting to establish the reporter’s privilege for online journalists before the California courts….
You Have the Right to Make Fair Use of Intellectual Property. In OPG v. Diebold, Diebold, Inc., a manufacturer of electronic voting machines, had sent out copyright cease-and-desist letters to ISPs after internal documents indicating flaws in their systems were published on the Internet. EFF established the publication was a fair use….
You have the Right to Allow Reader’s Comments Without Fear. In Barrett v. Rosenthal, EFF is working to establish that Section 230, a strong federal immunity for online publishers, applies to bloggers….
You Have the Right to Protect Your Server from Government Seizure. In In re Subpoena to Rackspace. EFF successfully fought to unveil a secret government subpoena that had resulted in more than 20 Independent Media Center (Indymedia) news websites and other Internet services being taken offline….
You Have the Right to Freely Blog about Elections. EFF has advocated for the sensible application of Federal Election Commission rules to blogs that comment on political campaigns….
You Have the Right to Blog about Your Workplace. EFF has educated bloggers on their rights to blog about their workplace and developed technologies to help anonymous whistle bloggers….
You Have the Right to Access as Media. EFF has educated bloggers on their right to access public information, attend public events with the same rights as mainstream media, and how to blog from public events….
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OH, YEAH? TELL IT TO THE JUDGE IN THE FOLLOWING CASE…
August 21, 2006
KESSNE DUCA UMEBAYASHI
BAIN & MATSUNAGA
Attorneys at Law
A Law Corporation
220 South King Street, 19th Floor
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
United States District Court
For the District of Hawaii
JAMES B. NICHOLSON SUCCESSOR TRUSTEE, Plaintiff
vs. “EVERYMAN” (obvious alias), Defendant
– – – – –
JUDGE: The Honorable David Alan Ezra
… Judgment is hereby entered under which Defendant “EVERYMAN” shall within ten (10 days) from the date of entry of this Final Judgment permanently and forever remove and/or delete from any web-site owned, managed or operated by Defendant “EVERYMAN” all offensive materials which contains any reference to “Protected Subject Matters”, as that term is described and defined in the Arbitration Award dated October 6, 2004. Defendant “EVERYMAN” is also ordered to provide the Court with written confirmation, a copy of which shall be served on Plaintiff, that all offensive materials have been removed and/or deleted from any web-site owned, managed or operated by Defendant EVERYMAN.
“Post-judgment interest runs on the total Judgment amount of FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY-TWO THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED SEVENTY DOLLARS AND 54/100 ($422,970.54) at the legal rate of ten percent (10%) per annum on the unpaid principal balance, or $115.88 per day, from the date of entry of this judgment until the judgment is fully satisfied….”
The website that was found to contain such outrageously “offensive materials” to warrant such drastic punishment is THIS WEBSITE:
This gray catbird invites EVERYONE to visit this site to judge for yourself whether or not these “offensive materials” should be forever removed and banned from the World Wide Web
Better hurry, though, before the powers that be silence this whistleblower forever!
For more, GO TO
Confessions of a Whistleblower
December 12, 2006
The Government’s Assault
on Press Freedom
By William Bennett Turner, San Francisco Chronicle
The United States government consistently undermines democracy
by eroding the media’s ability to report.
Vladimir Posner, the former Soviet journalist, used to claim the press was freer in the Soviet Union than it was in the United States. This was during Glasnost, as the Soviet empire was disintegrating. Posner explained that the government was dysfunctional, so journalists did not have to worry about the official censors, and the media had not been privatized, so journalists were not accountable to commercial sponsors and advertisers. The result was a kind of anarchic freedom. The press was free, but only for a brief window in time.
The window in America once was open wide and, I thought, permanently so. I used to tell my students on the first day of class that we had the freest speech and press in the world. I can’t do that anymore.
In recent years American press freedom has eroded. Many other countries are now ranked freer than the United States — all of the Scandinavian countries, Belgium, the Netherlands, New Zealand and many others. In the most recent survey by Freedom House, an independent American-based organization that assesses liberties around the world, the United States tied for 17th place, with the Bahamas, Estonia, Germany and others.
The international free-press advocates Reporters Without Borders ranked us 53rd, tied with Botswana, Croatia and Tonga. These rankings may not be scientifically valid, for a lot of subjective judgment is involved. But it is sobering to see the consensus that the United States is no longer anywhere near the top.
By virtue of Supreme Court decisions, the U.S. press remains freer than the press elsewhere in a few respects.
First, our law provides significantly greater protection for the press against libel suits, especially by government officials. In many countries, libel is a bullying tool for officials and the powerful to silence dissent. Under the 1964 decision in New York Times vs. Sullivan, insults, parodies and vicious criticism of officials are protected by the First Amendment.
Second, our law protects the press against almost any attempt by government to impose a “prior restraint” on what can be published. That is, the government is not allowed to censor, in advance, information the press may wish to publish. The famous “Pentagon Papers” case in 1971 allowed the New York Times and the Washington Post to publish information about a classified Defense Department study on American involvement in Vietnam, despite the government’s contention that publication would impair national security.
Third, perhaps unique in the world, our law protects the advocacy of dangerous, potentially divisive ideas. One can preach overthrow of the government — domestic “regime change” — religious hatred, racial discrimination and even criminal activity. Under the Supreme Court’s 1969 decision in Brandenburg vs. Ohio, government may not suppress ideas, however repugnant to most, unless their expression amounts to incitement to imminent unlawful acts….
But U.S. press freedom has been slipping away since Sept. 11, 2001. Now that we are in a seemingly permanent “war” on terrorism, the government claims wartime powers that result in restricting press freedom.
The Bush administration has multiplied exponentially the number of documents it classifies as secret, shielding them from public view. It has classified literally millions of documents “top secret,” according to reports filed with the National Archives; and the office of Vice President Dick Cheney claims to be exempt from reporting even the numbers of records it brands with the “classified” stamp. (The administration has also tried to retrieve antique classified documents from columnist Jack Anderson’s estate, contending that only the government may possess such documents, however old.) Within weeks after 9/11, President Bush issued Executive Order 13233, allowing him to veto public release not only of his own presidential papers but those of former President Ronald Reagan, Bush’s father and former President Bill Clinton.
The administration also is aggressively pursuing leaks, not with a Nixonian Plumbers unit but by threatening criminal prosecution. Some Republicans in Congress have called for Espionage Act prosecution of the New York Times for publishing revelations about the National Security Agency’s monitoring of communications by U.S. citizens and tracking international financial transactions. Bush himself said it was “disgraceful” for the Times to reveal these government activities and publishing the security agency’s leak was “helping the enemy.”
Pursuing leaks inevitably means pursuing the reporters who received and published the leaks, forcing them to give up confidential sources or telephone records or go to jail. Whatever Judith Miller’s motivation and however questionable her arrangement with “Scooter” Libby, she went to jail solely because she refused to reveal communications with her source to the federal grand jury….
So far, the courts have refused to protect subpoenaed reporters no matter how important the information they unearthed or how insignificant the alleged crime. It is true that reporters have never had strong protection against federal subpoenas, but they have hardly ever needed it. Until now.
One of former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s first post-Sept. 11 acts was to issue a directive to federal agencies restricting access to government records under the Freedom of Information Act. Ashcroft’s directive effectively reversed the presumption of openness and told agencies not to allow inspection of records if there was any arguable basis for withholding the records, assuring officials that Justice Department lawyers would defend them if sued.
Ashcroft’s Justice Department also proceeded to round up mostly Muslim immigrants and conduct deportation hearings in secret, not allowing the press or public even to know that any hearing took place, which caused one federal judge to remark that “democracy dies behind closed doors.” Ashcroft’s moves toward greater secrecy were of a piece with Cheney’s refusal when sued under the Freedom of Information Act to disclose even the identity of the corporate executives he met with to determine the administration’s energy policy.
Unlike in Sweden, where the right of access to government documents is enshrined in the Constitution, our 1966 information act is solely a legislative creation. Unlike in South Korea, where the Supreme Court decided in 1989 that the right of access to government documents was an integral part of the constitutional freedom of the press, the U.S. Supreme Court held (in a case I lost, Houchins vs. KQED) that there is no such thing as a First Amendment right of access to government information or facilities. Consequently, Americans’ right to know what their government is up to is not as well recognized as it is in some other countries.
Nor is government propaganda healthy for a free press or the citizenry. The Bush administration did not advance press freedom by producing and canning favorable “news” stories with fake reporters and peddling them to television stations, or by clandestinely paying friendly columnists for publishing opinions supporting administration policies….
The press is free in countries that trust the people to make wise decisions when they’re fully informed, countries that remain willing to take the risks of dissent, rude discourse, instability and some insecurity, that tolerate eccentricity and unorthodox ideas. The erosion of press freedom in the United States, relative to other nations around the world, is disheartening. We have always had high expectations of freedom, which we now don’t live up to.
It is hard to stomach the hypocrisy of claiming to spread democracy abroad while restricting at home the very freedoms that make democracy possible.
* * * * *
VOTE TO IMPEACH BUSH
* * * * *
What Part of “No Law” Don’t You Understand?
By William Bennett Turner
A primer on the First Amendment and its interpretation for the digital age, by constitutional scholar and attorney William Bennett Turner.
It’s hard to imagine that our antique First Amendment, written in 1789, is up to the task of dealing with 21st-century digital communication. James Madison would have had a hard time getting his mind around instant worldwide electronic communication. The Supreme Court has said, ominously, that “differences in the characteristics of new media justify differences in the First Amendment standards applied to them.”
In light of this, some thoughtful observers of new technology have proposed constitutional amendments to ensure that government does not censor, manage, or restrict electronic communications.
The truth, however, is that we don’t need a new First Amendment for digital communication. All we need is adherence to the bedrock principles of First Amendment interpretation that have grown up with us over the first two centuries of the republic. Madison’s 18th-century framework is flexible enough to protect our freedoms in any century.
Reality check: free speech is not absolute
The First Amendment speaks in seemingly absolute terms: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.” This has never meant, however, that people can say whatever they want wherever they want. Freedom of speech does not mean speech totally uninhibited by any legal restraint.
It has always been true that some forms of speech can be outlawed or penalized – and many have been. Common examples include fraudulent advertising, child pornography, obscenity, “fighting words,” help-wanted ads that discriminate on the basis of race, words used in a criminal transaction (“I’ll kill your husband for US$10,000”), unkept promises, unlicensed broadcasts, libel, speech that infringes a copyright, and unauthorized disclosure of data used to make atomic weapons.
Correctly interpreted, the First Amendment does not prohibit all restrictions on speech. It doesn’t prohibit private restrictions at all. Our constitution is a series of constraints on government, not on individuals or even powerful corporations.
It is not a violation of the First Amendment for the Microsoft Network, if it so desired, to forbid postings that criticize Bill Gates. Microsoft is not the government, at least not yet. Similarly, CompuServe’s censorship of sex newsgroups may offend freedom lovers but does not violate the First Amendment.
The amendment prohibits government restrictions on “the freedom of speech,” not on all speech, and it’s a mistake to argue that no speech can be restricted. In every case, the question is whether the particular “speech” is within the “freedom” comprehended by the amendment.
No fine print
The First Amendment means what the courts say it means. Since the amendment’s words themselves don’t tell us what falls within its “freedom,” it is up to the courts, faced with the necessity of deciding particular cases, to spell out the rules for deciding exactly what speech is free, in the sense that it cannot legally be prohibited or penalized. While the courts sometimes go astray, it remains true that Americans have freer speech than any other people because our freedoms have been forthrightly defined and enforced by the courts.
In every case in which government tries to restrict speech, some high-minded – or at least plausible – reason is offered. When the Nixon Administration tried to suppress publication of the Pentagon Papers, it was argued that their publication would undermine national security. When Congress acted to prohibit phone sex, it said that such action was necessary to protect children from exposure to indecent material. When state governments forbid publication of the names of rape victims, they say it is necessary to protect privacy and encourage the reporting of sex crimes. And so on. In each new case, a court has to decide whether the government’s justification prevails over the interest in free speech.
Fundamental free speech principles
In deciding free speech cases, the courts have elaborated some bedrock principles that inform First Amendment decision-making. What the First Amendment “freedom” means, in fact, is basically this set of principles. We should remind ourselves of them and ask whether they need adjustment for the 21st century.
Here are some of them:
• Government may not restrict or penalize speech because of its content or its viewpoint. It must remain neutral in the marketplace of ideas.
• There is no such thing as a “false idea.” This principle rests on the belief that bad ideas will be driven out not by censorship but by good ideas, that the remedy for offensive speech is not suppression, but more speech.
• Restrictions on speech must not be vague or uncertain but sufficiently precise so that everyone understands exactly what is unlawful. No overly broad meat-axe regulation is allowed – any restriction must be a sensitive tool that cuts no more than is necessary to serve the precise government interest involved.
• “Journalism” is not a licensed, credentialed profession. Under our legal system, the “lonely pamphleteer” has the same First Amendment rights as the publisher of The New York Times.
• The press cannot be ordered to print statements it does not wish to print.
• “Prior restraints” on speech – government orders that certain information not be published – are prohibited.
• Penalties (like damages in libel suits) may not be imposed for innocent mistakes that happen to defame someone.
• Advocacy – including advocacy of the overthrow of the government – cannot be outlawed, so long as it does not amount to inciting people to imminent lawless action. Speech short of incitement cannot be banned because of the anticipated adverse reaction of the audience.
• Punishment for “seditious libel” – scathng criticism of government – is not tolerated under the First Amendment.
• No one can own or control facts or ideas (though a person can copyright the unique way he or she expresses those facts or ideas).
These are all great protections that allow us to call ourselves free people. And these principles apply regardless of the means of communication: via big newspapers, small magazines, telephones, television, radio, or the street-corner orator. There is no reason to fear that these principles will not apply with full force to all forms of digital communication.
On the other hand, one must recognize that some of these principles – like the First Amendment itself – are not absolute. There can be exceptions. For example, government can restrict certain speech because of its content, if it proves that there’s a “compelling” government interest (like protecting national security or shielding children from sexual exploitation) and there’s no less onerous means of protecting the government interest. Even a “prior restraint” on certain speech may be warranted if the government proves, say, that disclosure of the locations of strategic missiles in wartime would sabotage the war effort or endanger troops.
The question, then, is whether anything about the nature of digital communication would justify exceptions to the basic principles of our longstanding First Amendment freedom.
New media, new rules?
The Supreme Court spoke too loosely when it said that differences in new media justify different First Amendment standards. The notion first surfaced in a 1949 case (Kovacs v. Cooper) involving restrictions on the use of sound trucks in congested cities. The court not surprisingly ruled that cities could keep the “new medium” from disrupting sleep and drowning out all conversation by blaring slogans at all hours and decibel levels. Such a regulation is a reasonable “time, place, and manner” restriction that does not forbid any speech based on its content. Government can more easily justify regulating the way the message is delivered rather than the message itself.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court retrieved the thought about new media years later, reformulated it, and unthinkingly applied it to a case in which the issue was government regulation of content. In 1969, the court handed down Red Lion, the most important decision ever on broadcasting.
The Court upheld the FCC’s “Fairness Doctrine,” which required licensed broadcasters to cover important public issues and to give voice to contrasting views on the issues. In other words, broadcasters were required to air information they would otherwise have chosen not to air, including views with which they vehemently disagreed. For example, a broadcaster strongly in favor of constructing a nuclear power plant would have to air the anti-nuke point of view as well as his or her own.
The Court’s rationale in Red Lion was that the airwaves were a public resource, and those licensed to monopolize one of the scarce frequencies could be required to use this government-bestowed benefit in the public interest. Scarcity of frequencies justified both government allocation of frequencies and regulation of content. The court said that requiring broadcasters to air diverse views enhanced rather than hobbled our First Amendment marketplace of ideas.
Just five years later, people concerned about the increasing concentration of media power in large corporations owning newspapers tried to get a similar concept applied to the world of print. They asked the Supreme Court to uphold a Florida law giving political candidates a “right of reply” to newspaper attacks against them during campaigns. The law was a lot like the FCC’s “personal attack” rule (part of the Fairness Doctrine), one that the court had enforced against broadcasters in Red Lion. But in the Miami Herald case, the Court rejected the argument as completely inconsistent with the First Amendment right of newspapers to exercise editorial discretion in deciding what to publish and what not to publish. The result left one rule for print and another for broadcast – the most prominent illustration to date of the different-media, different-standards rule.
Now that print is becoming electronic, will it lose its preferred status? Certainly not. There is far less need for a government-enforced right of reply regarding digital communication than there is for print. There is no “scarcity” problem. You can reply instantly without permission, and you don’t have to worry about economic or license barriers to entry. Your ability to respond, virtually free of charge, makes it silly to think that government should strive for some kind of “fairness” or balance in digital communication.
Whatever the merits of the Fairness Doctrine (it was abandoned by the FCC in 1987, though the Red Lion precedent stands), the Supreme Court should not extend the broad statement that new media justify different First Amendment rules. Former Justice Robert Jackson’s original statement in the sound-truck case was that “the moving picture screen, the radio, the newspaper, the handbill, the sound truck, and the street-corner orator have differing natures, values, abuses, and dangers. Each, in my view, is a law unto itself.” In Red Lion, the Court gave too much emphasis to the “law unto itself” part. If all the Court meant to say is that the law must reflect the “differing natures, values, abuses, and dangers” of each medium, that’s fine – the unique characteristics of computer-mediated communication favor greater freedom.
Not broadcast, not print
Computer-mediated communication should have much greater freedom than, for example, broadcast. Instead of being one-way – from a broadcaster with a government license to a captive audience – it’s interactive and from many to many. Its decentralization and user control are vastly different from the monopolistic control of scarce frequencies by powerful broadcasters.
Nor is the medium “intrusive” in the sense that your kids might be surprised and “assaulted” by hearing dirty words, such as when they scan radio stations. (This is what led the Court, in the 1978 Pacifica decision, to uphold the FCC prohibition of “indecency” on the radio.) User control means you need to work at it in a fairly sophisticated way to participate, and you have an incredible range of choice about exposing yourself to communication. Parental control should not be a thing of the past.
Of course, the fact that digital communication is cheap means anybody can become a publisher. There’s no built-in preference for speech by the rich and powerful – those who own printing presses, tons of newsprint, or broadcast licenses – or for speech whose main appeal is to generate paid advertisements. It’s far more democratic even than print.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has repeated the new-media new-rules statement in recent cases. In 1994, for example, the Court quoted the line from the Red Lion decision in deciding a case (Turner Broadcasting v. FCC) on whether cable television operators could be required to carry local broadcast and public television channels. I hope the court, when it gets its first digital communication case, does not woodenly recite the same slogan.
The idea that there should be special First Amendment rules for new media makes little sense. The basic principles of First Amendment jurisprudence apply to all media. And, to the extent that digital communication is different – because it is fast, cheap, interactive, and controlled by decentralized users – the differences call for less regulation than traditional media, not more. The application of the basic principles should reflect these characteristics of the new technology….
Fourth Amendment turf
Do you have a First Amendment right to speak anonymously on the Internet or to encrypt your communications? Many bits have already zoomed through cyberspace discussing these questions, but there have been no definitive rulings by the courts. In 1995, the Supreme Court decided that government may not insist that the author of political speech identify herself in election leaflets. The court reminded us that the authors of the Federalist Papers themselves used pseudonyms, and that much great literature was written under noms de plume.
But what if some state legislature decided that anonymous digital communication allowed wrongdoers to escape responsibility for unlawful speech too easily – and so enacted a law requiring that every communication be “signed” by the person making it? This would be an interesting case, but there’s no doubt that the law would have to be evaluated in light of the same old bedrock principles, especially the one prohibiting overly broad regulation. A law that merely required the system operator to be able to trace unlawful communications to their makers would be a less restrictive means of serving the state interest, if there is a valid one.
As for encryption, I will duck the question, not simply because I don’t begin to understand the technological issues, but because it seems that this is primarily a Fourth Amendment issue. The controversy is mostly about whether the government should have the means of intercepting or retrieving digital communications, or whether people should be allowed to encrypt them so that the government remains clueless.
The controversy, in Fourth Amendment terms, involves the circumstances in which government may “search” or “seize” such communications. I realize that encryption advocates say they have a First Amendment right to code their speech so that government can’t hear it or find it. I would only say that the issue should be resolved once again by applying the old tried and true principles.
No new constitutional amendment needed
Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe has proposed a new constitutional amendment to ensure cyberspace freedom. His amendment would supplement the First and Fourth amendments to say: “This Constitution’s protections for freedoms of speech, press, petition, and assembly, and its protections against unreasonable searches and seizures and the deprivation of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, shall be construed as fully applicable without regard to the technological method or medium through which information content is generated, stored, altered, transmitted, or controlled.”
Tribe’s intent is to protect digital communication against constitutional assault because it is a new and unruly medium. Tribe believes, as I do, that there should be no general rule that new media demand different First Amendment standards. His main concern seems to involve incursions on Fourth Amendment liberties.
I have no quarrel with Tribe’s amendment. But I’m not at all convinced of its necessity for First Amendment purposes. I believe that any tinkering with the Bill of Rights is a perilous undertaking with an uncertain outcome. Since all foreseeable First Amendment issues can be resolved by resorting to the basic principles already developed, I would not open the door to the potential for mischief (such as an anti-flag-burning amendment) that could come from the amendment process. I would simply leave well enough alone.
Proponents of speech restrictions often have a plausible-sounding reason for the restrictions: We need to protect our children from learning bad values or seeing pornographic pictures; We need to protect our citizens’ reputations or privacy; We need to protect national security; We want the press to behave responsibly and to give us the information we need to maintain a functioning democracy. And so on.
All of these contentions can and should be dealt with by using existing First Amendment principles. It does not matter that the speech in question is digital. Indeed, to the extent that digital communication is different – fast, cheap, interactive, and user-controlled – the differences point to less restriction on it than on more traditional media. Those who want to restrict digital communication should have, if anything, a much heavier burden of proof to justify restriction.
In the Miami Herald case on newspaper speech, former Chief Justice Burger wrote: “A responsible press is an undoubtedly desirable goal, but press responsibility is not mandated by the Constitution and, like many other virtues, it cannot be legislated.”
In other words, speech that is required by government to be fair is not free. For my money, I’ll take freedom over government-compelled responsibility in almost all cases, any time.
And because the Net is more democratic than even print, digital communication should point the way to still greater freedom.
William Bennett Turner (email@example.com) is a San Francisco lawyer who teaches the First Amendment and the Press at the University of California at Berkeley.
© 1993-2004 The Condé Nast Publications Inc. All rights reserved.
June 30, 2006
Rep. Harbin’s lawsuit threat forces artist
to shut Web site
By Mark Niesse, Associated Press
When Jon Asato drew comics on his Web site portraying state Rep. Bev Harbin as the Incredible Hulk and the Joker, he did not expect to be threatened with a lawsuit.
But a sheriff’s deputy showed up at his door recently with a letter from Harbin, who said she would take him to court unless he removed his parody site.
Asato gave up ownership of www.bevharbin.com rather than hire an attorney to fight allegations that he illegally stole Harbin’s identity and broke cybersquatting laws….
NO TALK STINK
“It was clearly satire and parody,” he said. “As much as I believe in the right to creative and critical speech of a public official … it’s not in my constitution right now to go to the trouble of having to defend my good humor.”
Asato posted four comics on the site making fun of Harbin, who failed to disclose that she had $125,000 in state tax debts and misdemeanor criminal convictions for passing bad checks when she was appointed to the state Legislature by Republican Gov. Linda Lingle last fall.
Asato said he wanted to point out Harbin’s criminal history and how Lingle’s politics backfired when she appointed Harbin, who Democratic leaders consider to be a Democrat in name only. Lingle was required to appoint a Democrat to replace Rep. Kenneth Hiraki (D, Kakaako-Downtown), who resigned to become a lobbyist for Hawaiian Telcom.
Harbin says she understands that criticism comes with the turf, but she was offended that the Web site carried her name.
“I feel violated. … You can’t take someone’s trademark or name and keep it as your own,” Harbin said. “This whole political decision-making thing isn’t a computer game. This is life. We’re dealing with people’s lives over here.”
Federal laws prohibiting cybersquatting — the practice of using a domain name with the bad-faith intent of profiting from someone else’s trademark — apply more frequently in commercial cases, said Danielle Conway-Jones, a law professor at the University of Hawaii who teaches Internet law and policy.
“Your name is your very being, and it’s almost as if you are allowing another person to register another being to say what they want to say about them,” she said. “The courts haven’t really addressed it.”
Asato took down the site June 18 after receiving a second letter from Harbin that said she would take legal action. Harbin said she paid sheriff’s deputies to deliver both letters.
She said she has applied for the Web site name and plans to use it for her re-election campaign.
The comics have been republished on another one of Asato’s Web sites at www.talkstink.com.
Read the complete article (with pictures and ads) at…
July 18, 2003
Talking Back to the Ganglords
Free speech activist defeats computer industry
by Ted Nace, Gangs of America
Computer giant Intel lost a major lawsuit against a fired employee who sent email protest letter to thousands of his former colleagues in a court decision that experts say is a major victory for free speech and workers’ rights.
The California Supreme Court decision last month marks the end of a five-year battle between Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturer and Kourosh (Ken) Hamidi, a 56-year-old engineer, who was let go by the company after nine years of service.
“He no more invaded Intel’s property that does a protester holding a sign or shouting through a bullhorn outside corporate headquarters, posting a letter through the mail, or telephoning to complain of a corporate practice,” Justice Kathryn Werdegar wrote on behalf of the judges who ruled in his favor.
Hamidi, who immigrated to California from Iran in 1978, organized a group called Former and Current Employees, or FACE Intel (www.faceintel.com), soon after being fired in 1995. The organization claims that Intel’s demands on its employees created health problems, stress on families, and even suicide. Using a company email list that he had received from an anonymous source, Hamidi sent six emails to between 8,000 and 35,000 Intel employees, detailing what he claimed were Intel’s abusive practices.
Among the practices objected to by Hamidi and FACE Intel were: forced overtime, a ranking system used to routinely winnow the ranks of employees, discrimination against older workers, and unhealthy conditions in the company’s fabrication facilities.
In response, Intel first tried to block the emails, then sued Hamidi. Two lower courts ruled in favor of the company. But Hamidi, who now had been forced into bankruptcy and was struggling to support his family of four on odd jobs and disability payments, refused to abandon the case.
Said the chagrined Hamidi: “I worked extremely hard and achieved the ‘American Dream’. I was proud of being privileged with my constitutionally guaranteed freedoms as an American citizen … such as freedom of speech. I lost all of the material side of my ‘American Dream’ only because I stood up and fought for rights that were taken away from me by Intel.”
In its lawsuit, Intel claimed the letters to its employees constituted a “tresspass to chattels.” Hamidi’s lawyers countered that the emails were the equivalent of “peaceful pamphleteering,” a form of communication protected from court interference by the First Amendment….
Read the complete article at…
# # #
For related sites protecting your right to sing your own songs:
~ ~ ~
If YOU ‘VE had any similar experience with some buzzard telling you that
you have to sing THEIR tunes … OR NONE AT ALL …
please feel free to share your story over at …
The Catbird’s Forum
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Allied World Assurance
Aloha, Harken Energy!
American Savings Bank: Behind the Blinds
APCOA: Vultures in the Parking Lot
Birds in the Lobby
The Blackstone Group
Broken Trust: The Book
Buzzards on the Bar
The Carlyle Group: Birds that Drink from Cesspools
The Chubb Group
Confessions of a Whistleblower
Dirty Money, Dirty Politics & Bishop Estate
Dirty Gold in Goldman Sachs
I Sing the Hawaiian Electric
The Kissinger of Death
Marsh & McLennan: The Marsh Birds
Office of the United States Trustee vs. Harmon
Parrots in the Newsroom
RICO in Paradise
Vultures in The Nature Conservancy
The NutraSweet Syndrome
The Rise and Fall of Summit Communications
The Silence of the Whistleblowers
The Sinking of the Ehime Maru
The Strange Saga of BCCI
Tracking The Murdoch Flock
Uncle Sam’s Guinea Pigs
Of Vampires & Daisies
Vultures of The Sandwich Isles
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Last update January 16, 2007, by The Catbird Seat.