November 27, 2013 1:06:16 PM by
On November 13th the United States Court of Appeals in Boston affirmed the conviction of young Sudbury pharmacology student Tarek Mehanna. Mehanna was convicted on charges of rendering “material support” to terrorism – a dangerously broad and vague provision of the Patriot Act – though nothing Mehanna did came close to posing actual danger. In our op-ed for the Boston Globe, my paralegal Juliana DeVries and I argue that the tragic Mehanna verdict was made possible by the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Humanitarian Law Project v. Holder. The Humanitarian Law Project decision opened the door for federal prosecutors to criminalize a wide range of previously protected expressive activities, such as those in which Mehanna engaged.
You can read our op-ed at: http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2013/11/27/ruling-terrorism-that-throttles-civil-liberties/LXmml8hiFCkugBmvmYEt5J/story.html
November 15, 2013 2:49:19 PM by
A contretemps currently taking place at Boston’s public broadcasting network WGBH is one of the more recent examples of pressure applied by interest groups to enforce ideological conformity. This latest such controversy involves billionaire industrialist and philanthropist David Koch, who sits on the WGBH board. Climate change activists are calling for his dismissal from that post. Without any evidence that Koch – who donates generously to the station – has attempted to influence, much less actually influenced and corrupted the network’s programming, these voices believe that he has no place serving as a board member on account of his minority-held views on the nature of climate shift. A loud and very public campaign, including picket lines outside of the network’s headquarters in Boston, is taking place.
In my recent piece for Forbes.com, I explain the stunted logic of this kind of campaign. Citing Justice Robert Jackson’s famous and moving 1943 Supreme Court opinion in the West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette case, I remind those intolerant of Koch’s role in the public arena that unpopular opinions must be protected against the majority-held or “official” view of the day, particularly with regards to issues as important to all of us as the health of our planet. I invite you to read the full column here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/harveysilverglate/2013/11/15/david-koch-and-the-wgbh-controversy-pledging-allegiance-to-the-flag-of-the-day/.
May 14, 2013 3:22:57 PM by
Want to openly discuss gender discrepancies in the workplace? Want to listen to uncensored rap music? How about put on a comedy show? Not on our campuses! And what if you or a friend or family member has to pursue a defense to an unmeritorious charge of sexual harassment? Forget it!
On May 9th, the Department of Justice and the Department of Education jointly issued a letter to the University of Montana, which the government called “a blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country,” and which mandates changes to campus sexual harassment policies that will effectively make each of the above actions punishable offenses and will turn hearings into even worse kangaroo courts than exist today. This is a very serious development that everyone who thinks our universities play an important function in society will want to know about.
In my latest column for Minding the Campus, co-authored with my research assistant Juliana DeVries, we argue that the federal government’s unconstitutional mandate will obliterate free speech and fair process on campuses and make every student guilty of “harassment” several times a day. You can read the column on the Minding the Campus website.
An excerpt after the jump...
September 20, 2012 2:32:41 PM by
I’ve been asked many times of late where I stand in the current presidential race. This has raised for me larger questions, the answers to some of which have perhaps become evident in my writings of recent years. So when The Phoenix (successor, as of today’s inaugural issue now on newsstands, in street boxes, and at www.thephoenix.com,to the decades-old Boston Phoenix) asked me to write a “Freedom Watch” essay on the politics of the day, I made an attempt to compress many thoughts on numerous complicated issues into a brief essay. I hope that I’ve succeeded in enlightening rather than confusing my readers.
You can find some of the article after the jump.
August 24, 2012 8:39:48 AM by
The American press rightfully has been having a field day berating the Putin government for its use of the infamous “hooliganism” statute in the “Pussy Riot” controversy. But back here in the States, the University of Delaware has begun using an equally vague handle – denominated a “disruptive conduct” code – to abolish what is increasingly becoming the American analogy to Russia’s “hooliganism,” namely “bullying” or “harassment.” In my most recent column for Forbes.com, co-authored with my research assistant and FIRE Program Associate Juliana DeVries, we point out that, while just about everyone has come out to condemn the Russian court system, very little attention has been paid to this outrageous free speech violation right here at home. The column after the jump...