Tag Archives: First Amendment

‘Dangerous’: Pelosi Calls for FBI to Investigate Cease-Fire Supporters

“She is calling for effectively more surveillance and potential criminalization of protestors by suggesting (falsely) that they have foreign links,” said one critic.

By Julia Conley Published 128-2024 by Common Dreams

Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

As The New York Times reported Sunday that more than 1,000 Black American pastors have joined the widespread call for a cease-fire in Gaza, U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi suggested the demand was “Putin’s message” and said the FBI should investigate groups that are speaking out about Biden’s pro-Israel policies.

On CNN, the former House speaker, a California Democrat, told Dana Bash that the “call for a cease-fire is [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s message” and said she thinks some of the protests that have erupted across the U.S. since October to demand the U.S. push for an end to Israel’s killing of civilians in Gaza “are connected to Russia.”

Continue reading
Share Button

‘No, This Is Not a Parody’: Florida School District Bans Dictionaries Under DeSantis Law

Webster’s Dictionary & Thesaurus and The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank are among the books that the Escambia County School District has yanked from library shelves.

By Jake Johnson Published 1-10-2024 by Common Dreams

A photo of a Florida K-8 school’s dumpster, filled to the brim with history and civics textbooks. As part of a new policy, schools must destroy all material not allowed by the state government. Photo: Yamasztuka/Wikimedia Commons/CC

Dictionaries and encyclopedias are among the more than 2,800 books that a Florida school district has pulled from library shelves in an effort to comply with a law that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed last year.

Judd Legum, author of the Popular Information newsletter, reported Wednesday that the Escambia County School District said the books that have been banned pending further investigation “may violate H.B. 1069,” which “gives residents the right to demand the removal of any library book that ‘depicts or describes sexual conduct,’ as defined under Florida law, whether or not the book is pornographic.”

Continue reading
Share Button

‘Horrifying Precedent’: Penn President Resigns Amid Right-Wing Campus Speech Uproar

“She was coerced into resigning for defending her students’ right to political free speech,” said one critic.

By Julia Conley. Published 12-10-2023 by Common Dreams

Liz Magill, president of University of Pennsylvania, testifies before the House Education and Workforce Committee on December 5, 2023 in Washington, DC. Screenshot: CBS News

Professors at the University of Pennsylvania on Saturday were joined by rights advocates in condemning the attacks that forced university president Liz Magill to resign days after she testified before the U.S. Congress.

Magill had angered lawmakers from both parties by refusing to say students should be punished for hypothetically “calling for the genocide of Jews.”

Continue reading
Share Button

University of Florida Pro-Palestine Group Sues DeSantis Over Deactivation

“This attack on free speech is dangerous,” said the head of Florida’s ACLU. “Today it is pro-Palestinian students, tomorrow it could be any other group the governor dislikes.”

By Brett Wilkins. Published 11-16-2023 by Common Dreams

DeSantis administration alleges Students for Justice in Palestine is aligned with terrorists; leaders of the group decry a “disgraceful” assault on free speech. Screenshot: ABC Action News

The University of Florida chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine on Thursday sued state education officials and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis over their move to deactivate the group for its support of Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation, apartheid, and other crimes.

The lawsuit—which was filed by the ACLU of Florida and Palestine Legal—seeks a preliminary injunction to block State University of Florida System Chancellor Ray Rodrigues’ deactivation order, issued last month after Students for Justice in Palestine’s (SJP) national body declared support for Palestinian “resistance” to Israel’s war on Gaza.

Continue reading
Share Button

Students Demanding Protection for Pro-Palestinian Activism Arrested at House Hearing on Campus Speech

“Palestinian students deserve to speak on the genocide of their families,” said one protester as they were led out of the room by police.

By Julia Conley. Published 11-8-2023 by Common Dreams

A pro-Palestinian rights protester holds a sign saying that “Pro-Palestine is not equal to Antisemitism” at a hearing held by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on November 8, 2023. (Photo: @codepink/Twitter)

The limits of the Republican-led U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s views on freedom of speech were on full display Wednesday shortly after a hearing on “Free Speech on College Campuses” began, when several pro-Palestinian rights demonstrators were removed from the hearing room and arrested for speaking out.

The committee, led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), invited representatives of conservative and pro-Zionist groups including Young Americans for Freedom and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to speak about what Jordan called “hostility towards certain points of view, in particular conservative points of view” amid growing outrage over Israel’s U.S.-backed assault on Gaza and the West Bank.

Continue reading
Share Button

Report Exposes US Media for Framing Social Justice Protests as ‘Terrorism’

“Equating activism with terrorism is undemocratic and serves to silence dissenters,” said Deepa Kumar, who analyzed how major U.S. media outlets have covered protesters of “Cop City” in Georgia.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 11-7-2023 by Common Dreams

Stop Cop City solidarity protest in New York City March 2023. Photo: Felton Davis/flickr/CC

A paper published Tuesday by a media studies scholar explores what she calls “one of the enduring costs of the ‘War on Terror,'” mainstream outlets parroting police talking points on terrorism and “legitimating state violence while stifling democratic protest.”

Rutgers University professor Deepa Kumar’s paper—released by the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs—focuses on how major U.S. media outlets have covered protesters of “Cop City,” Atlanta’s proposed Public Safety Training Center just outside of city limits in Georgia.

Continue reading
Share Button

ALA Decries ‘Attacks on Our Freedom’ With Record Book Challenges So Far in 2023

The data reflects a growing right-wing movement to restrict the topics taught in public schools and the media that children have access to.

By Olivia Rosane. Published 9-20-2023 by Common Dreams

Banned Books Week installation on the second floor of Kennedy Library on Monday, September 24, 2018. Photo: Kennedy Library/flickr/CC

A record number of library books were challenged during the first eight months of 2023, the American Library Association revealed Tuesday.

The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) documented 695 attempts to remove a total of 1,915 library titles as of August 31. That’s up from the 681 challenges to 1,651 distinct titles for the same period in 2022, and last year as a whole broke the overall record for book challenges since data collecting began more than two decades ago.

Continue reading
Share Button

Kansas Newspaper Co-Owner Dies as Press Defenders Decry ‘Deeply Disturbing’ Raid on Home, Office

One columnist said that “it is not hyperbole to say that this attack on the people’s right to know appears to have killed” 98-year-old Joan Meyer.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 8-13-2023 by Common Dreams

The Marion County Record confirmed the death of the newspaper’s co-owner on August 13, 2023. 
(Photo: screenshot/Marion County Record)

Advocacy groups and reporters across the United States have sounded the alarm throughout the weekend about a legally dubious police raid on Friday targeting the Marion County Record office and the publisher’s Kansas home in an alleged identity theft investigation—events that the newspaper said contributed to the death of the elderly co-owner.

“Stressed beyond her limits and overwhelmed by hours of shock and grief after illegal police raids on her home and the Marion County Record newspaper office Friday, 98-year-old newspaper co-owner Joan Meyer, otherwise in good health for her age, collapsed Saturday afternoon and died at her home,” the outlet reported.

Continue reading
Share Button

Faith Leaders, Parents, and Public Education Advocates Sue Over First US Religious Charter School

“Governmental sanctioning of a religious charter school drives a stake in the heart of religious liberty and seeks to eviscerate the fundamental precept of the separation of church and state,” said the head of a plaintiff group.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 7-31-2023 by Common Dreams

Photo: Julia M. Cameron/Public domain

A nonprofit that supports public education and nine Oklahoma residents on Monday filed a lawsuit to stop the state from sponsoring and funding the St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School, the first religious charter school in the United States.

A legal challenge has been brewing since the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board approved the online institution in a 3-2 vote last month. St. Isidore, a “collaborative effort between the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Diocese of Tulsa” intended to provide “a quality Catholic education” to children statewide, is set to open for the 2024-25 academic year.

Continue reading
Share Button

Federal Judge Blocks Arkansas Law Criminalizing Librarians

“Do Arkansans still legally have access to reading materials? Luckily, the judicial system has once again defended our highly valued liberties,” said the head of the state ACLU.

By Brett Wilkins. Published 7-30-2023 by Common Dreams

Photo: Fayetteville Public Library/Facebook

A federal judge on Saturday temporarily blocked the implementation of an Arkansas law criminalizing librarians and booksellers who provide access to materials deemed “harmful to minors.”

U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks—an appointee of former President Barack Obama—issued a preliminary injunction against two sections of Act 372 (also known as S.B. 81), a censorship bill introduced by Arkansas state Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-20), passed by the Republican-controlled state Legislature, and signed into law by GOP Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders in March.

Continue reading
Share Button