Ever since the NFL season started, there’s been constant discussion about the decision of certain players not to stand during the national anthem and presentation of the flag before games. This talk reached a fever pitch last week after President Trump, during an Alabama rally, referred to the players who refuse to stand as “son[s] of bitch[es].” Detractors of the president and supporters of the players protesting the anthem are attempting to frame national discourse over the issue as a matter of the First Amendment. They, of course, are correct, but perhaps not in the way they might expect.
Earlier this month, civil liberties advocate and journalist Glenn Greenwald (along with Ryan Grimm of The Intercept) wrote an article warning about a bill before Congress with potentially dire consequences for free speech. If passed, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, S.720, would make it illegal for Americans to engage in organized boycotts against the state of Israel. Participation in such activity could lead to a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. Unfortunately, the bill is very likely to pass. Continue Reading
In America, free speech is a sacred right. That is, until it threatens corporate interests. We’ve seen the scenario repeated. Someone says something offensive. Interest groups become aware and threaten sponsors of the speaker’s platform with boycott. Sponsors relent to protect their corporate image, and, ultimately, the speaker loses the platform. Continue Reading
Since I published “Fake News” three months ago, the meaning of that particular phrase has changed. It has morphed from a tool of the corporate media to silence citizen journalists into a weapon of the Trump administration to attack the corporate media. Whereas the former had the effect of chilling the free speech of everyday citizens, the latter takes the corporate elites down a peg and empowers everyday citizens. Continue Reading
Donald Trump’s election as President was, in part, a reaction to PC culture; a culture which regards the utterance of certain speech as worse than the offense of violent crimes. Unfortunately, the election of Trump has not eliminated this culture. Instead, it has evolved. Some of those who spoke out against PC culture before Trump’s election now enforce their own version of it. Take a look at a couple recent examples: Continue Reading
Every time I read the news, I hear about so-called “fake news.” “Fake news” spread Russian propaganda. “Fake news” invented Clinton scandals. “Fake news” elected Donald Trump. “Fake news” has destroyed American democracy. And now, the mere mention of a “fake news” story could cause the loss of life.
Hysteria over “fake news” reached a fever pitch with the election of Donald Trump. The mainstream media had repeatedly declared there was no way Trump could win. Continue Reading
Earlier this month, a new threat to liberty emerged as originalist Justice Antonin Scalia died in Texas, vacating his seat on the Supreme Court. On that day, the stakes of the 2016 presidential election grew exponentially. Now, whoever gets elected will either maintain the status quo in the Court or create a new, more dangerous majority. Continue Reading
“Americans, whatever their thinking on [same-sex marriage], should worry about what the [Obergefell] majority’s claim of power portends.”
–Justice Alito dissenting in Obergefell v. Hodges
Obergefell v. Hodges, which struck State prohibitions on same-sex marriage, establishes a troubling precedent for democratic institutions and limited government. Through the “reasoned judgment” of five of its nine justices, the Supreme Court bypassed traditional democratic means to establish the issuance of public benefits for same-sex marriages as a fundamental right under Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process. Though many libertarians now celebrate the decision, a careful reading should temper any jubilation. This decision promotes the Cult of the Court, which may now work to restrict rights and actually expand government. Continue Reading
While recent media coverage of the Supreme Court’s conclusion of its 2013 term centered on the Hobby Lobby religious freedom decision, the most meaningful First Amendment case has received much less mention. Though underexposed, the rejection of Massachusetts’s restriction on abortion clinic protest in McCullen v. Coakley is perhaps this term’s single greatest contribution to the reaffirmation of freedom in the United States.
Whereas Hobby Lobby upheld the religious freedom of corporations in rejecting enforcement of a single Obamacare provision, the McCullen decision reestablished the right of every natural person to express actual views. Continue Reading