aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Another suit claiming the right to intolerance
Yet another lawsuit from the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of Christians who want to speak out against homosexuality at school:
Three Pennsylvania high schoolers have sued the Downington Area School District after it prevented them from expressing their views on the “sinful nature and harmful effects of homosexuality.”
Stephanie Styer, Steven Styer and Kim Kowalski want to express at school their belief “that there is a superior religious point of view to other competing views that would, for example, affirm a homosexual lifestyle.”
“High schools in America are not enclaves of totalitarianism,” their federal lawsuit states. “Through its written policies and actions, [the district] is violating the free speech and associational rights of every student on its campus.”
Attorneys for the three students believe they will prevail, since the wording of the district’s anti-harassment policy resembles one from the State College Area School District that the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia struck down five years ago.
Judge Samuel Alito Jr., who has since been elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court, wrote: “The Supreme Court has held time and again, both within and outside of the school context, that the mere fact that someone might take offense at the content of speech is not sufficient justification for prohibiting it.”
The Alliance Defense Fund case in Georgia claims that the GA Tech Safe Space initiative denies conservative students their free speech rights.
In my earlier post on the Court banning “Gay-Bashing” t-shirts I explain why I think both the kid and the court were right. The same reasoning pretty much applies here.
SEE ALSO Jane Smiley’s piece, “Tolerance" or Social Control?, from back in February: “When Christians talk about secular Americans being “tolerant” of Christian beliefs, they are misusing the word. What conservative Christians want is not toleration, but social control.”
Atlanta Progressive News
SoVo has the story of a Gay Katrina evacuee who landed in Atlanta and launched a newspaper to empower progressives and partered with the homeless:
MATTHEW CARDINALE UNDERSTANDS that “it takes some audacity to come to a city you don’t know and start a newspaper,” but that didn’t stop the 24-year-old graduate student from launching Atlanta Progressive News less than one month after arriving in town last October.
Unlike most news outlets that publish under the pretense of objectivity, Atlanta Progressive News boldly states its mission to promote liberal issues including universal healthcare, living wages, affordable housing, peace, a healthy environment and social justice that includes gay rights.
“It’s a totally different approach to say we have a platform, we have principles, and we’re going to cover news that brings us closer to those principles,” Cardinale says. “We’re coming out and just saying it, and so I hope people will gravitate towards that.”
About 750,000 people have gravitated toward Atlanta Progressive News since Cardinale created the online version in November, providing the support to transition into a print edition, which launched April 1. READ ON.
Here is a link where you can read ”oral arguments” from the Lawrence v. Texas case, in which the Supreme Court ruled that sodomy laws are unconstitutional and unenforceable when applied to consenting adults. And here is Justice Kennedy, blogging against heteronormativity on behalf of the Lawrence majority:
“Liberty protects the person from unwarranted government intrusions into a dwelling or other private places. In our tradition the State is not omnipresent in the home. And there are other spheres of our lives and existence, outside the home, where the State should not be a dominant presence. Freedom extends beyond spatial bounds. Liberty presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct.” ...
“...[Liberty] counsel[s] against attempts by the State, or a court, to define the meaning of the relationship or to set its boundaries absent injury to a person or abuse of an institution the law protects. It suffices for us to acknowledge that adults may choose to enter upon this relationship in the confines of their homes and their own private lives and still retain their dignity as free persons. ...
“...’At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.’” [quoting Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey]
RELATED: Ian Ayres and Jennifer Brown, Straightforward: How to Mobilize Heterosexual Support for Gay Rights
DMCA: From bad to worse
For the last few years, a coalition of technology companies, academics and computer programmers has been trying to persuade Congress to scale back the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Now Congress is preparing to do precisely the opposite. A proposed copyright law seen by CNET News.com would expand the DMCA’s restrictions on software that can bypass copy protections and grant federal police more wiretapping and enforcement powers.
As it they don’t already have Congress locked up through the influence of big media money, the administration plays the terrorism card:
During a speech in November, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales endorsed the idea and said at the time that he would send Congress draft legislation. Such changes are necessary because new technology is “encouraging large-scale criminal enterprises to get involved in intellectual-property theft,” Gonzales said, adding that proceeds from the illicit businesses are used, “quite frankly, to fund terrorism activities.”
The 24-page bill is a far-reaching medley of different proposals cobbled together. One would, for instance, create a new federal crime of just trying to commit copyright infringement. Such willful attempts at piracy, even if they fail, could be punished by up to 10 years in prison.
It also represents a political setback for critics of expanding copyright law, who have been backing federal legislation that veers in the opposite direction and permits bypassing copy protection for “fair use” purposes. That bill--introduced in 2002 by Rep. Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat--has been bottled up in a subcommittee ever since.