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FIRST AMENDMENT? WHAT FIRST AMENDMENT?

President Announces Executive Order ‘Very Soon’ on Conservatives on College Campuses

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Donald Trump with Hayden Williams

President Trump, during his bizarre, often rambling speech in front of the 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), lauded a young conservative activist assaulted on the University of California at Berkeley campus last month, vowing to sign an executive order in support of far-right speakers.

Trump urged the man, Hayden Williams, to “sue the college, the university. And maybe sue the state” over the assault, which was spurred on by signage at the Turning Point USA booth Williams was stationed at on the Berkeley Campus.

“He’s going to be a very wealthy young man,” said Trump. “Go get ’em, Hayden.”

Williams is not a student of the university, but was asked to be at the booth that day by members of the UC Berkeley chapter of Turning Point USA to attend. His suspected attacker, Zachary Greenberg, is also not a UC Berkeley student.

According to Williams, a pair of men had initially been angered by a sign referencing Jussie Smollett, and began cursing at the group. One of them, allegedly Greenberg, became physically aggressive.

Cell phone video of the assault shows Williams recording his attacker up close, before the assailant shoved Williams away, then punches Williams.

The school’s Chancellor, Carol Christ, spoke out about the attack in a message sent to the university. 

“Let there be no mistake, we strongly condemn violence and harassment of any sort, for any reason,” read the message from Christ and the Vice Chancellor for student affairs Stephen C. Sutton. “That sort of behavior is intolerable and has no place here. Our commitment to freedom of expression and belief is unwavering.”

The president also announced that he will “very soon” sign an executive order requiring schools to “support free speech” as a requirement to receive research money from the government. 

“If they want our dollars, and we give it to them by the billions, they’ve got to allow people like Hayden to speak,” said Trump.

It is unclear how such a statement would enhance already existing protections under the United States Constitution, nor if such an executive order would be limited to conservative speakers.

View the exchange below:

Image via screen capture from video source.

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FIRST AMENDMENT? WHAT FIRST AMENDMENT?

‘We Don’t Promote That Here’: Kentucky School Administrators Force Students to Remove LGBTQ-Pride Tee Shirts

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Student Says Principal Outed Several LGBTQ Students to Their Parents

Administrators at a Kentucky high school reportedly forced several students to remove LGBTQ-affirming tee shirts,. The students say they were told “we don’t promote that here,” referring to being LGBTQ, and that the shirts were a “disruption.”

Administrators at Martin County High School reportedly claimed the tee shirts violate the school’s dress code, which says: “Clothing must be appropriate for school and must not interfere with the educational process.”

The tee shirts said “Queen Queer” and “Lady Lesbian,” according to Yahoo News.

The school administrators might have violated the students’ free speech, based on other similar cases (below).

The students are accusing the administration of refusing to allow a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), suggesting that words like “lesbian” or “queer” when used in a positive manner are “disruptive” and could put students in danger, and saying that school is not a place they can or should be open about who they are – while allowing students to flaunt their support of the Confederate flag or President Trump.

“The administrators stated to us that [students] were forced to change because [administrators] were ‘worried for the dangers of the students, and did not want to hear of any students coming back saying they were being bullied,” one of the students told Yahoo News. They added that the administrators said “That school was not a place for children to express their sexual orientation.”

Rather than working to protect free speech – an important lesson for all school students – the LGBTQ students were discriminated against, victimized, and might have had their civil rights violated by the school administrators.

“It was basically just [the principal] saying that we don’t need to advertise our orientations on a big billboard because that puts a target on us for bullying,” one of the students, Jessica, added. “She also said we didn’t need a [Gay-Straight Alliance because we already know who our friends are that support us.”

“We want the administration to really treat others equally because we want the ability to express our identities just like the students who wear Trump apparel, religious apparel or the Confederate flag. I know we are in a rural, Christian-Republican community, but we want tolerance. Our shirts aren’t hurting anyone. It’s unfair that because the staff have certain beliefs, they treat students differently and scare them into not speaking out,” Jessica also said. “We just want justice.”

Yahoo News adds that “Jessica even alleged that the principal outed some LGBTQ students to their parents when calling to warn about a possible walkout which never took place.”

The school appears to be ripe for an intervention from civil rights groups.

In 2016 The ACLU sued a Tennessee school district that had banned a student from wearing a tee shirt that said: “Some People Are Gay, Get Over It.” The ACLU won.

In a detailed look at pro-LGBTQ tees cases, including the 2016 Tennessee case, the Southern Poverty Law Center adds: “First and most importantly, a school cannot manufacture its own ‘disruption’ by overreacting to speech.”

The SPLC also offers more examples, including this one:

“In 2008, a Florida judge struck down a Pensacola-area school’s ban on logos including rainbows, pink triangles and the words ‘gay pride’ or ‘GP,’ which students began wearing in defense of a classmate bullied for being a lesbian.”

Here’s a video report from about the Martin County school administrators decision to ban the speech of several LGBTQ students, from WYMT:

 

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FIRST AMENDMENT? WHAT FIRST AMENDMENT?

Viral Video Shows Pickup Truck Ramming Crowd Protesting ICE – They Say a Guard Was Driving, Cops Did Nothing

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Protestors Were Also Pepper Sprayed

A video that has gone viral on social media shows a group of protestors sitting peacefully across a road in front of Rhode Island’s Wyatt Detention Facility Wednesday night, chanting for the release of about 120 immigrants. A black pickup truck approaches, honks, briefly stops, then runs into the crowd. Children and one person in a wheelchair were part of the protest, organizers say.

“It was terrifying because we didn’t know what exactly his intention was,” said Amy Anthony, a spokesperson for Never Again Action told The Washington Post. “It certainly appeared he was trying to hit us.”

Several protestors were injured and taken to a hospital for treatment. None of the injuries were severe.

“The driver, protesters say, was a correctional officer employed by the privately run facility who was wearing a badge and a uniform — an assertion backed up by video of the incident,” The Washington Post reports.

Local police did not arrest the driver, and in fact took no action at all, according to Anthony.

The driver was allowed to walk into the prison, while prison guards were allowed to pepper spray the protestors.

“If this is the way this correctional officer is behaving in public when people are recording, it’s not hard to imagine the behavior is much worse behind the walls in the facility where no one can see what is happening,” Anthony noted.

The Wyatt Detention Facility is a publicly-owned but privately-run prison facility that contracts with various government agencies, including ICE, to detain prisoners.

It is unclear if private prison guards have the legal right to pepper spray protestors exercising their First Amendment rights.

On its website Never Again Action says it is “a mass mobilization of Jews who are organizing to shut down ICE.”

They also say, “We’ve been taught the signs by our ancestors. As our government runs concentration camps, and rounds up and cages our neighbors, we are called to speak out: #NeverAgainIsNow.”

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FIRST AMENDMENT? WHAT FIRST AMENDMENT?

‘Anti-American’: Trump Order Regulating Social Media Companies, Possibly Favoring Conservatives, Blasted by Experts

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“The mother of all bad ideas”

The Trump administration is drafting an executive order that would regulate the largest social media platforms and “Big Tech” companies in the country, from Google to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Pinterest. President Trump’s goal apparently is to make these critical platforms extra-friendly to conservatives, who falsely have been claiming there’s an anti-conservative bias in the way Silicon Valley operates in the public realm.

While multiple reports say the executive order is not finalized, TechCrunch and CNN on Friday report the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would be charged with regulating Big Tech and social media platforms. The FCC is headed by a Trump loyalist who opposes net neutrality,

The executive order, currently titled “Protecting Americans from Online Censorship,” is a direct response to both right wing activists’ false claims of censorship and left-wing bias among social media platform operators, and an invitation-only White House meeting last month, labeled a “social media summit” that included mostly just “right wing extremists.”

On Friday, CNN reported the draft Trump executive order “could lead to a significant reinterpretation of a law that, its authors have insisted, was meant to give tech companies broad freedom to handle content as they see fit.”

It would “significantly narrow the protections afforded to companies under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.”

It also “would reflect a significant escalation by President Trump in his frequent attacks against social media companies over an alleged but unproven systemic bias against conservatives by technology platforms.”

Justice staff writer Melissa Gira Grant at The New Republic tweeted, “if this reporting is accurate, Trump has decided to chip away at Section 230 by executive order.”

The Legal Director for Public Knowledge, a D.C.-based nonprofit that says it “promotes freedom of expression, an open internet, and access to affordable communications tools and creative works,” offered this push-back:

NYC-based nonprofit PEN America, which works “to protect free expression,” including press freedom and safety, blasted the proposed order, calling it “an anti-American edict that would empower FCC & FTC to be viewpoint-based arbiters of online speech.”

“Thankfully, 1st Amendment forbids that,” the group adds. “It’s regrettable that this Administration doesn’t seem to know that.”

The Editor-in-Chief of the tech site Lifewire calls it “The mother of all bad ideas.”

 

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