Archive for the ‘Civil Liberties’ Category

The Government

Monday, February 26th, 2007

It just keeps getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger:

The welfare state is bigger than ever despite a decade of policies designed to wean poor people from public aid.

The number of families receiving cash benefits from welfare has plummeted since the government imposed time limits on the payments a decade ago. But other programs for the poor, including Medicaid, food stamps and disability benefits, are bursting with new enrollees.

Freedom for Kareem

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

Freedom for Egyptians blogs about the Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suleiman, the Egyptian blogger who was arrested after criticizing the Egyptian government on his blog

And the biggest disaster that it is not the issue to agree or disagree with Kareem Amer’s blog, but the real disappointment is that many people are supporting jailing Kareem, including his family. They do not know that regardless where do they stand on politics and religion, their turn is coming….

Speech Code Killed

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

Mike Adams recounts helping bring down a speech code at Appalachian State University:

When one embarks upon a mission to eliminate speech codes from college campuses it’s tough to know where to start. Some codes ban speech that is merely “offensive.” Some ban speech that is “maligning.” Others ban speech that “challenges.” Imagine a college that guarantees a four year education without any fear of being challenged. It’s as easy as imagining a worthless college education.

Whatever the reasons, it was just over a year ago today that we agreed to target the speech code at Appalachian State University. The “we” began as a joint effort between the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in Raleigh and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education in Philadelphia. The FIRE and the Pope Center wrote a report on censorship in the UNC system, which got surprisingly good coverage in the mainstream media.

Egyptian Blogger Jailed

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

I previously blogged about Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suleiman, the 22 year old Egyptian standing trial for insulting Islam, the Egyptian president, and other “crimes.” Unfortunately, things have become worse for him:

An Egyptian blogger was convicted of insulting Islam and President Hosni Mubarak and sentenced to four years in prison on Thursday in Egypt’s first prosecution of a blogger.

Abdel Kareem Nabil, a 22-year-old former student at Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, an Islamic institution, had pleaded innocent to all charges, and human rights groups had called for his release.

Certainly bad news for anyone who desires freedom in the Middle East. More info here. Other reaction from Michelle Malkin, Harry’s Place, and Michael Silence.

Egyptian Dissident Blogger Disowned

Monday, February 19th, 2007

Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suleiman, the Egyptian blogger who was arrested after criticizing the Egyptian government on his blog, has been disowned by his father:

The family of Al-Azhar student Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suleiman, accused of “contempt of religion”, has disowned him before his court verdict session on the upcoming Thursday. His father, a retired mathematics teacher, has demanded applying the Sharia [Islamic law] ruling on him by giving him three days to repent, followed by having him killed if he does not announce his repentance.

Kareem’s blog is known to have advocated secularism and women’s rights. He had been arrested after criticizing Muslim’s roles in riots in Alexandria in 2005 in response to a play performed at a Coptic church. He was later expelled from Al-Azhar University for criticizing fundamentalist professors there.

He was arrested for the final time on November 6, 2006, for blog posts deemed “anti-religious” by the Egyptian authorities, and now stands trial incitement to “hate” Islam, defaming the president of Egypt, and other bogus charges. He faces up to 11 years in prison if convicted. Unfortunately, Kareem’s lawyer is “very pessimistic” about the verdict.

Amnesty International has come to Kareem’s defense. So should, as Michelle Malkin points out, our State Department.

UPDATE: This post is taking part in the Beltway Traffic Jam.

Federal Censorship Commission Strikes Again

Friday, February 16th, 2007

Not content to merely protect children from sex, the government now thinks it should protect them from violence as well:

Television networks are free to sprinkle their programs with shootings, slashings, torture and other gore because the government has no regulatory authority over violent programming.

But a draft report being circulated at the Federal Communications Commission says Congress can change that, without violating the First Amendment.

I doubt that. The FCC itself violates the First Amendment. But the government (and, even more tragically, most Americans) quit caring what the Constitution says long ago.

Blogs Under Attack

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

I haven’t followed the recent controversy over a proposed anti-defamation bill targeting blogs and other websites in Tennessee, not because I’m not concerned, but because I have been rather busy. Thankfully, many other bloggers have been all over it. Bill Hobbs describes the bill thusly:

The legislation would have required website operators in Tennessee to remove any allegedly defamatory statements about a person within either 15 days or two days after being put on notice by that person – and created the “presumption of malice intent,” a key element in court when trying to prove a public figure has been defamed, if the website operator failed to remove the allegedly defamatory statements within that timeframe.

That certainly sounds pretty bad, not to mention unconstitutional. Pretty scary stuff. It appears to have been rejected for now, but I have little doubt things like this will resurface in due time – and when we least expect it. Perhaps the blogosphere needs its own ACLU-style legal group to expose and challenge any attempts to curtail our rights.

Big Government: Not Just For Liberals Anymore!

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

John Stossel examines the idiocy that it the war on drugs. Money quote:

Drug prohibition — like alcohol prohibition — is a silly idea, as the late free-market economist Milton Friedman often pointed out. Something doesn’t go away just because the government decrees it illegal. It simply goes underground. Then a black market creates worse problems. Since sellers cannot rely on police to protect their property, they arm themselves, form gangs, charge monopoly prices, and kill their competitors. Buyers steal to pay the high prices.

What is the definition of insanity again?

Congress to Curtail Free Speech?

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

Bill Hobbs has the details on a bill that would stifle free speech, possibly treating bloggers and lobbyists:

Section 220 would require reporting of “paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying,” – and would define “‘paid” merely as making communications to 500 or more people. That’s it. And last week the Senate passed an amendment to the lobbying reform bill to create criminal penalties, including up to one year in jail, if someone “knowingly and willingly fails to file or report.”

So, a blogger with 500 readers who criticizes Congress or urges some sort of policy action would be subject to the law’s reporting requirements. In effect, critics of Congress would have to register with Congress.

Quite a scary prospect. Hopefully, the First Amendment will triumph here, but given the ever expanding power of the government, I wouldn’t bet on it.

Doug Jackson Goes Wild

Friday, January 12th, 2007

State Senator Doug Jackson declares war on the First Amendment:

Jackson calls the measure his “Girls Gone Wild Be Gone” Bill. It would make it illegal to run advertising for any obscene matter and would apply to any station that knowingly accepted the ads.

The obvious answer to this problem is to simply utilize one’s remote when shows or commercials that one does not approve of are aired. But obvious answers rarely occur to politicians. They think if they don’t approve of something, it should be censored. And sadly, many Americans agree.

Not content to merely parent his own children, Sen. Jackson thinks it’s his job to parent yours as well. And if freedom of speech gets sacrificed in the process, so be it. Doug Jackson knows what’s best for you and your children.

UPDATE: Music City Oracle notes that Doug Jackson is also an ardent supporter of raising the minimum wage. It’s good to see that he is consistently anti-liberty in both the social and economic realms.