Black Lives Matter, Community, Law Enforcement, Social Injustice

#FreeSpeech #Kaepernick

Freedom of speech

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.

First is the matter of racial equality. When slavery was abolished, it was not by constitutional fiat but by the joining of military necessity with the moral force of a great antislavery movement, acting outside the Constitution and often against the law. The Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments wrote into the Constitution rights that extralegal action had already won. But the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments were ignored for almost a hundred years. The right to equal protection of the law and the right to vote, even the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 underlining the meaning of the equal protection clause, did not become operative until blacks, in the fifteen years following the Montgomery bus boycott, shook up the nation by tumultuous actions inside and outside the law.

The Constitution played a helpful but marginal role in all that. Black people, in the political context of the 1960s, would have demanded equality whether or not the Constitution called for it, just as the antislavery movement demanded abolition even in the absence of constitutional support.
What about the most vaunted of constitutional rights, free speech? Historically, the Supreme Court has given the right to free speech only shaky support, seesawing erratically by sometimes affirming and sometimes overriding restrictions. Whatever a distant Court decided, the real right of citizens to free expression has been determined by the immediate power of the local police on the street, by the employer in the workplace and by the financial limits on the ability to use the mass media.

The existence of a First Amendment has been inspirational but its protection elusive. Its reality has depended on the willingness of citizens, whether labor organizers, socialists or Jehovah’s Witnesses, to insist on their right to speak and write. Liberties have not been given; they have been taken. And whether in the future we have a right to say what we want, or air what we say, will be determined not by the existence of the First Amendment or the latest Supreme Court decision but by whether we are courageous enough to speak up at the risk of being jailed or fired, organized enough to defend our speech against official interference and can command resources enough to get our ideas before a reasonably large public.
The language of the First Amendment looks absolute. “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.” Yet in 1798, seven years after the First Amendment was adopted, Congress did exactly that, it passed laws abridging the freedom of speech-the Alien and Sedition Acts.

The powerful words of the First Amendment seem to fade with the sounds of war, or near war. The Sedition Act of 1798 expired, but in 1917 when the United States entered World War I, Congress passed another law in direct contradiction of the amendment’s command that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” This was the Espionage Act of 1917.

“The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic…. The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.”
… the national government can restrict freedom of speech in relation to foreign policy, through judicial reinterpretations of the First Amendment. But what about state laws restricting freedom of speech or press? For over a century, the First Amendment simply did not apply to the states, because it says, ”Congress shall make no law.” The states could make whatever laws they wanted.

Four years later, however, when a group of people were arrested in a shopping mall for distributing leaflets against the Vietnam War, the Court said they were properly arrested. What was the difference between this case and the other? The union people, the Court said, were expressing themselves about an issue connected with the shopping center. But the Vietnam War had nothing to do with the shopping center, so those people had no First Amendment right to express themselves.’ Much like the kneeling – which is directed towards police brutality of African American folk, yet the anthem, the flag nor football has any connection with police brutality.
The point in all this recounting of cases is that citizens cannot depend on the First Amendment, as interpreted by the courts, to protect freedom of expression. One year the Court will declare, with inspiring words, the right of persons to speak or write as they wish. The next year they will take away that right.

A young black man named Charles MacLaurin learned this by hard experience in the year 1963. That summer, he addressed a group of fifty black people in front of the courthouse in Greenville, Mississippi, protesting the arrest of several young black people who had been demonstrating against racial segregation. It was a peaceful meeting, in which MacLaunn criticized the conviction and urged that blacks register to vote to deal with such injustices. A police officer told McLaurin to move on. He said he had a right to speak and continued. He was arrested, charged with disturbing the peace and resisting arrest, found guilty by the local court, sentenced to six months in jail, and this was affirmed by the Mississippi Supreme Court.
When he appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, he discovered the rule that most citizens (who grow up hearing again and again from some aggrieved person: “I’ll take this to the Supreme Court!”) don’t know: Four of the nine justices must agree to take a case (in technical terms, to grant certiorari). Only three Supreme Court justices voted to take MacLaurin’s case. By now, it was 1967, and so, four years after his conviction, he went to prison.

An even more serious problem with the First Amendment is that most situations involving freedom of expression never make it into the courts. How many people are willing or able to hire a lawyer, spend thousands of dollars, and wait several years to get a possible favorable decision in court? That means that the right of free speech is left largely in the hands of local police. What are policemen likely to be most respectful of-the Constitution, or their own “police powers”?

This is always the price of liberty-taking the risk of going to jail, of being beaten and perhaps being killed.

Source Howard Zinn

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Education, Politics

Berkeley Riot – Free Speech – Federal Funding – Univision

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Free Speech – According to Fox News – President Trump tweeted early Thursday that if schools like University of California, Berkeley, do not allow free speech, it may cost them federal funding.

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Okay class here the deal on “Free Speech” Protected vs. Unprotected Speech

Freedom of speech includes the right:

  • Not to speak (specifically, the right not to salute the flag).
    West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943).
  • Of students to wear black armbands to school to protest a war (“Students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate.”).
    Tinker v. Des Moines, 393 U.S. 503 (1969).
  • To use certain offensive words and phrases to convey political messages.
    Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971).
  • To contribute money (under certain circumstances) to political campaigns.
    Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976).
  • To advertise commercial products and professional services (with some restrictions).
    Virginia Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Consumer Council, 425 U.S. 748 (1976); Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 433 U.S. 350 (1977).
  • To engage in symbolic speech, (e.g., burning the flag in protest).
    Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989); United States v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990).

Freedom of speech does not include the right:

  • To incite actions that would harm others (e.g., “Shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”).
    Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919).
  • To make or distribute obscene materials.
    Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476 (1957).
  • To burn draft cards as an anti-war protest.
    United States v. O’Brien, 391 U.S. 367 (1968).
  • To permit students to print articles in a school newspaper over the objections of the school administration.  – …did you know this?
    Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260 (1988).
  • Of students to make an obscene speech at a school-sponsored event.
    Bethel School District #43 v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675 (1986).
  • Of students to advocate illegal drug use at a school-sponsored event.
    Morse v. Frederick, __ U.S. __ (2007).

Source:  U.S. Courts

Only one arrest was made at Berkely – According to Legal Insurrection –

Wednesday night’s riots at the University of California, Berkeley (University of California–Berkeley is ranked #20 in National Universities)  quickly turned violent, with some agitators even throwing explosives at police officers, yet it appears not a single arrest was made.

In fact, according to a university press release issued the night of the riots, “no arrests had been made by UCPD as of 9:30 p.m.,” with other outlets reporting the following morning that still no arrests had been made throughout the night.

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Who is Milo Yiannopoulous?

He is  a British journalist, author, entrepreneur, public speaker, and senior editor for Breitbart News, a far-right news and opinion website – Wikipedia.

His events have sparked protests over his inflammatory comments about women and minorities – for example:

Yiannopoulos proudly represents the “alt-right,” an Internet-based ideology propagating views commonly associated with white supremacy and white ethnonationalism. He was banned from Twitter after spearheading a racist harassment campaign against African-American actress Leslie Jones last year, and frequently lashes out against what he considers a liberally biased media landscape, according to JoeMyGod

In a statement  Yiannopolous , Rwas asked – How he obtained credentials for the presidential briefing, he replied, “I’m a  senior editor at America’s most influential news outlet. How the f–k do you think?”

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Riots

Individuals have been rioting since the assassination of Julius Ceaser of the Rome – yet interestingly one person may have been arrested in the Berkeley riot.  Riots are a form of civil disorders characterized by disorganized groups lashing out in a sudden and intense rash of violence, vandalism or other crime.  Riots often occur in reaction to a perceived grievance or out of dissent. Historically, riots have occurred due to poor working or living conditions, government oppression, taxation or conscription, conflicts between races or religions, or even the outcome of a sporting event. Some claim that rioters are motivated by a rejection of or frustration with legal channels through which to air their grievances.

Cleveland – On the morning of April 6, 1970, 350 to 400 whites, mostly students, gathered outside of Collinwood High School and began throwing rocks at the school, breaking 56 windows.  Police often had to resort to arresting Collinwood students when fights and demonstrations went too far. According to the Plain Dealer 11 persons were arrested after a series of incidents involving fistfights between Negroes and whites, beatings and vandalism.”

Minneapolis – What started out as a lunchtime food fight in a Minneapolis high school ended in a massive brawl involving hundreds of students and police officers wielding canisters of Mace.

New York- Columbia University protests of 1968 were among the many student demonstrations that erupted over the spring of that year after students discovered links between the university and the institutional apparatus supporting the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War, as well as their concern over an allegedly segregatory gymnasium.

I point out the various riots that have occurred over the course of time at various educational institutions to note that when individuals and/or groups are moved by their passions the need to show their thoughts are sadly coupled with physical violence.  Yet the President of the United States has elected via “freedom of speech” to indicate that Federal Funding should be a consequence of – freedom to use a form of communication, i.e. symbolic speech…

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When a nation  becomes possessed with  a spirit  of  commercial  greed, beyond those just and fair  limits set by  a due regard to a moderate and reasonable  degree of  general  and individual prosperity,  it  is  a nation  possessed by  the devil of  commercial  avarice,  a passion  as ignoble  and demoralizing  as avarice in the  individual;  and as this  sordid  passion  is  baser and more unscrupulous  than ambition,  so it  is more hateful,  and at last  makes the infected  nation  to be regarded as the enemy of  the human race. To  grasp at the lion’s  share of  commerce, has always  at last  proven the ruin  of  States, because it invariably  leads  to injustices  that make a State detestable;  to a selfishness  and  crooked  policy that forbid other nations to be the friends of a State that cares only for itself.  Pike