- The swiftness with which injustice was meted out to Tommy Robinson is stunning. No, more than that: it is terrifying.
- Without having access to his own lawyer, Robinson was summarily tried and sentenced to 13 months behind bars. He was then transported to Hull Prison.
- Meanwhile, the judge who sentenced Robinson also ordered British media not to report on his case. Newspapers that had already posted reports of his arrest quickly took them down. All this happened on the same day.
- In Britain, rapists enjoy the right to a full and fair trial, the right to the legal representation of their choice, the right to have sufficient time to prepare their cases, and the right to go home on bail between sessions of their trial. No such rights were offered, however, to Tommy Robinson.
“One potentially positive aspect of this ugly turn of events is that it turned heads that should have been turned long ago.”
In recent years, alas, Britain has deviated from its commitment to liberty. Foreign critics of Islam, such as the American scholar Robert Spencer, and for a time, even the Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders have been barred from the country. Now, at least one prominent native critic of Islam, Tommy Robinson, has been repeatedly harassed by the police, railroaded by the courts, and left unprotected by prison officials who have allowed Muslim inmates to beat him senseless. Clearly, British authorities view Robinson as a troublemaker and would like nothing more than to see him give up his fight, leave the country (as Ayaan Hirsi Ali left the Netherlands), or get killed by a jihadist (as happened to the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh).
On Friday, as reported here yesterday, the saga of Tommy Robinson entered a new chapter. British police officers pulled him off a street in Leeds, where, in his role as a citizen journalist, he was livestreaming a Facebook video from outside a courthouse. Inside that building, several defendants were on trial for allegedly being part of a so-called “grooming gang” — a group of men, almost all Muslim, who systematically rape non-Muslim children, in some cases hundreds of them, over a period of years or decades. Some ten thousand Facebook viewers around the world witnessed Robinson’s arrest live.
The police promptly dragged Robinson in front of a judge, where, without having access to his own lawyer, he was summarily tried and sentenced to 13 months behind bars. He was then transported to Hull Prison.
Meanwhile, the judge who sentenced him also ordered the British media not to report on his case. Newspapers that had already posted reports of his arrest quickly took them down. Even ordinary citizens who had written about the arrest on social media removed their posts, for fear of sharing Robinson’s fate. All this happened on the same day.
A kangaroo court, then a gag order. In the United Kingdom, where rapists enjoy the right to a full and fair trial, the right to the legal representation of their choice, the right to have sufficient time to prepare their cases, and the right to go home on bail between sessions of their trial. No such rights were offered, however, to Tommy Robinson.
The swiftness with which injustice was meted out to Robinson is stunning. No, more than that: it is terrifying. On various occasions over the years, I have been subjected in person to an immediate threat of Islamic violence: I have had a knife pulled on me by a young gang member, and been encircled by a crowd of belligerent men in djellabas outside a radical mosque. But that was not frightening. This is frightening — this utter violation of fundamental British freedoms. Read the rest of this entry »
‘The threat to the First Amendment came from the Democratic side more,’ he says, arguing that journalists viewed a Democratic plank “overly charitably” as campaign finance reform.
Paul Bond reports: When it comes to politicians trampling free speech and free press, Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes said Tuesday that he doesn’t fear president-elect Donald Trump as much as he does his rivals on the other side of the aisle.
“The threat to the First Amendment came from the Democratic side,” Bewkes said during a conversation with Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget at a conference in New York in a session that was webcast. Read the rest of this entry »
At an awards ceremony, Obama praises journalists. Back in the White House, he blocks honest press queries with all his power.
Jack Shafer writes: The last person in the world who should be lecturing journalists on how to do journalism is President Barack Obama. Yet there Obama was Monday night at a journalism award ceremony, yodeling banalities about the role of a press in a free society, moaning over the dangers posed by “he said/she said” reporting, and—to the delight of the assembled audience—attacking Donald Trump in every way but name.
“The administration’s war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration.”
— Leonard Downie Jr. in a Committee to Protect Journalists report
The press-heavy crowd, convened by Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications to give the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting to Alec MacGillis, clapped at Obama’s 30-minute address, encouraging his best Trump-baiting lines about “free media” and the dangers of “false equivalence.”
At the awards dinner for Syracuse’s Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting, President Barack Obama lectured the media and their responsibilities toward an informed electorate.
What they should have done is bombard Obama with rotten fruit or ripped him with raspberries for his hypocrisy.
“Shame on Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications for allowing Obama—a documented opponent of the press—to pontificate on journalistic practice.”
How do we hate Obama’s treatment of the press? Let me count the ways. Under his administration, the U.S. government has set a new record for withholding Freedom of Information Act requests, according to a recent Associated Press investigation.
FOIA gives the public and press an irreplaceable view into the workings of the executive branch. Without timely release of government documents and data, vital questions can’t be answered and stories can’t be written.
“The only press award he has any business awarding is a special commendation to Trump, thanking him for making Obama look like a free-speech radical by comparison.”
Obama’s “Insider Threat Program” has turned employees across the government—from the Peace Corps to the Social Security Administration to the Department of Agriculture—into information-squelching snitches. If this isn’t Trumpian behavior, I don’t know what is.
“What makes Obama’s speech so unstomachable is the way he praises reporters at an award ceremony by calling their work ‘indispensable,’ ‘incredible,’ ‘worth honoring’ and essential to democracy while simultaneously blocking honest press queries with all the formidable energies of his office.”
“Obama hates the press,” New York Times national security reporter James Risen said not long ago, “and he hates leaks.” AP Washington Bureau Chief Sally Buzbee has decried the “day-to-day intimidation of sources” by the Obama administration, judging it worse than the Bush administration on that score. And in a 2013 piece, POLITICO’s Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen documented Obama’s mastery of “limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House.”
As ProPublica has reported, at the same time the Obama administration has been paying lip service to protecting whistleblowers, it has pursued national security leaks to the press with a vehemence unmatched by any previous administration, using the Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers who leak to journalists more times than all previous administrations combined. Read the rest of this entry »
Melissa Click confronted a student photographer and a student videographer during the protests, calling for ‘muscle’ to help remove the videographer, Mark Schierbecker, from the protest area. Schierbecker’s video of his run-in with Clink went viral, and he filed a complaint with university police.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jim Suhr reports: A University of Missouri assistant communications professor was charged Monday with misdemeanor assault linked to her run-in with student journalists during campus protests last November, drawing a curator’s renewed calls for her ouster.
“I’m willing to listen to the possibility of other job actions involving her as long as they’re serious. The whole situation surrounding this has been stonewalling and an attempt to run out the clock by the university.”
— Board member, David Steelman
Melissa Click, 45, faces up to 15 days in jail if convicted of the charge filed by Columbia city prosecutor Steve Richey, who retires next month and did not return messages seeking comment Monday.
Click confronted a student photographer and a student videographer during the protests, calling for “muscle” to help remove the videographer, Mark Schierbecker, from the protest area. Schierbecker’s video of his run-in with Clink went viral, and he filed a complaint with university police.
That day’s demonstrations came after the president of the four-campus University of Missouri system and the Columbia campus’ chancellor resigned amid protests over what some saw as indifference to racial issues.
Days after the confrontations, Click said publicly she regretted her actions, and that she apologized to Schierbecker and all journalists and the university community for detracting from the students’ efforts to improve the racial climate on the Columbia campus. Read the rest of this entry »
Panic at the State Department: Reporter Threatened at Briefing Detailing Obama Administration Concessions to IranPosted: June 29, 2015
Aisling Brennan reports: As part of the PEN World Voices Festival, the international press freedom organization scheduled an event this afternoon titled, “Finding Security in Unsafe Passages: United Nations Event about Protecting Journalists’ Safety and Rights.” The panel, according to PEN’s website, will “delve into the wide range of risks journalists face every day. Experts will offer safety tips, share advice for protecting sources and copyrights in all types of media and address cybersecurity risks.”
“The press is no longer able to attend this event. There has been an issue with press authorizations through U.N. security.”
— Festival spokeswoman Kyla McMillan, by email
But on the morning of the event, a spokeswoman for the festival, Kyla McMillan, notified the Observer that we had been denied entry. “The press is no longer able to attend this event,” said Ms. McMillan by email. “There has been an issue with press authorizations through U.N. security.” Read the rest of this entry »
by 尊子 (jun tze) | apple daily @ 3may15
today is world press freedom day
[VIDEO] Patrick Brennan: Baltimore’s Mayor Says She Intend to to Give Protesters ‘Space’ to ‘Destroy. But What Happened Anyway?Posted: April 27, 2015
At The Corner, Patrick Brennan writes: Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says that she didn’t mean, in some comments she delivered Sunday, that the protesters/rioters in Baltimore had been intentionally given “space” to “destroy” property. “The mayor is not saying that she asked police to give space to people who sought to create violence,” a spokesman says, a day after she made the comments. (A raft of outlets reported them this morning in the way she says she didn’t mean them.)
Whatever exactly she meant, it certainly seems that the Baltimore police took a hands-off approach to the unrest over the weekend, allowing the crowds to grow violent and unruly while doing little in response.
This is your mayor on Xanax.
— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) April 27, 2015
Presumably this is motivated in part by the sense that the protesters had some legitimate grievance and in part because it’s supposed to work, to help defuse the situation. Well, does it? Read the rest of this entry »
Hebdo printed up to seven million copies of the issue, which quickly sold out at European newsstands.
“When they refuse to publish this cartoon, when they blur it out, when they decline to publish it, they blur out democracy, secularism, freedom of religion, and they insult the citizenship.”
Meet the Press host Chuck Todd asked Charlie Hebdo’s new editor-in-chief Gerard Briard Sunday morning what he made of the decision of many American news outlets, including NBC News, to blur the cover of this week’s issue, which featured a caricature of the Islamic prophet Muhammed. Briard basically told Western media to grow a pair.
“This cartoon…is a symbol of freedom of religion, democracy, and secularism. It is this symbol that these newspapers refuse to publish.”
“Écoutez, we cannot blame newspapers that already suffer much difficulty in getting published and distributed in totalitarian regimes for not publishing a cartoon that could get them at best jail, at worst death,” he said.
“On the other hand, I’m quite critical of newspapers published in democratic countries,” he continued. Read the rest of this entry »
In the final segment of Friday’s edition of HBO’s Real Time, host Bill Maher took aim at those who oppose free speech, especially taking liberals to task for the “Islamophobia kills” campaign and being against “bullying” when it’s convenient.
“Yeah, liberals hate bullying alright but they’re not opposed to using it when they causally throw out words like bigot and racist.”
“It does cower people into avoiding this debate. And if you’re doing that, you don’t get to wear the “Je suis Charlie” button; the button you wear is ‘Je suis party of the problem.’ And that goes for everybody,” he added.
[BONUS: The pro-censorship website crooksandliars.com disapproves of Maher’s defense of free speech with this thumb-sucking, pouting, infantile headline: Maher’s New Rule: Limbaugh Can Say Whatever He Wants, You Little People Can Just STFU]
Maher criticized Catholic League president Bill Donahue for blaming the publisher of Charlie Hebo for not understanding “the role he played in his tragic death. Maher says that’s essentially blaming a woman for rape because she was wearing clothes that were too provocative.
“Free speech only works if there are no waivers. No waivers. Including for religion.”
— Bill Maher
Next, Maher slammed frequent guest of the show Glenn Greenwald for saying anti-Muslim speech is a “vital driver” for the occupation of Muslim countries and killing the innocent.
“Really? Newspaper cartoons did all that? Wait until they get to the horoscopes and the crossword.”
“It reminds me of one of those protest signs that I saw up in Berkeley last month; it said: ‘Islamophobia kills.’ Does it? The phobia kills? Or maybe it’s more the AK-47s, and the beheadings, and the planes into buildings,” Maher responded.
— Pamela Geller (@PamelaGeller) January 17, 2015
“…Ironically you’re not even a proper liberal because you don’t get free speech. You’re just a baby who can’t stand to live in a world where you hear things that upset you. Oh, you’re not alone.”
— FoxNewsInsider (@FoxNewsInsider) January 15, 2015
Freedom of Satire: Who’s Pro-Freedom, Who’s Pro-Censorship? Majority of Republicans Think Media Should Publish Mockery of Religion, Democrats, Not So MuchPosted: January 12, 2015
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) January 12, 2015
As reporters try to exercise their freedom of speech, they’re being killed in record numbers by Islamic jihadists and brutal regimes.
John Waage writes: The terrorist attack in Paris is a bleak reminder that Western values are under assault, with journalists being front and center in that battle.
As reporters try to exercise their freedom of speech, they’re being killed in record numbers by Islamic jihadists and brutal regimes.
“It’s a fact that it’s a visual medium and it can grab you instantly. It’s in a lot of ways more effective than the written word; and while this attack is incredibly high profile and incredibly terrible, there are cartoonists that are attacked every year.”
— Cartoonist Mark Fiore
At Notre Dame in Paris, the bells toll, and around the world, demonstrations are taking place in support of the journalists murdered by Islamic terrorists at Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper that often poked fun at Islam.
From Moscow to San Francisco, signs read “Je Suis, Charlie” (“I Am Charlie”).
“The Soviet Union under Stalin or the Nazis under Hitler or the Stasi in East Germany – what do they control? They control information. And who do they try to eliminate? Journalists or people who speak the truth.”
In Washington, journalist Stephane Raynud De Fitte is stunned. He was in the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris just a day before the shooting.
“Just ordinary heroes fighting for liberty of the press. I’m really sad first, angry–really angry as well.”
— Washington journalist Stephane Raynud De Fitte
The terrorist attack in France, as well as the gruesome beheadings of journalists in Syria and other Muslim hotbeds is having a chilling effect on the profession.
The BBC reported in August that 69 journalists had been killed in Syria alone in just two years, although many of them died in battle.
The threat is especially great for cartoonists. Read the rest of this entry »
Cartoonist on Al Qaeda on hit list in hiding
Even though Norris backed off the idea for a “Draw Muhammad Day,” the bounty remained. She took her concerns to the FBI, and agents in the Seattle field office told her the threats on her life were legitimate. She was encouraged to go underground.
Dan Springer reports: Cartoonists around the world reacted defiantly to Wednesday’s deadly Islamist terror attack at the offices of a Paris magazine, but the case of Molly Norris shows how the attack and prior threats of similar violence have already had a chilling effect on journalists who use art to convey their stories.
Seattle Weekly reported that Norris moved, changed her name and is living in hiding akin to the witness protection program. Editors have not heard from Norris and they have received no more cartoons from her.
Norris, a Seattle-based political cartoonist, has been in hiding for more than four years after she launched “Draw Muhammad Day,” a call to professional and amateur artists alike to sketch the Islamic prophet whose image is forbidden by the Koran.
“It was like a one-day story, then it was gone,” says Kelley. “She went underground and that was it, gone. And most people don’t even know who Molly Norris is.”
Norris was an obscure cartoonist and blogger who took action after the creators of the show South Park were targeted by Muslim extremists for an upcoming episode in which Muhammad was to be depicted. The hit show’s producers caved to the pressure of death threats and blurred the image of Muhammad when the show aired.
“We are no longer a free country if we journalists can’t criticize a religion that, for example, believes apostates need to be killed.”
– Larry Kelley, former colleague of Molly Norris
Norris’ own cartoon image of Muhammad was never published in the Seattle Weekly, which often carried her work, but it went viral on the Internet. U.S. born Muslim cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki issued a fatwa, calling for the killing of Norris. Read the rest of this entry »
— Gilles Klein (@GillesKLEIN) January 7, 2015
— Landon Ross (@LandonRoss) January 7, 2015
Free Speech Smack-Down Victory: California College Student Teaches School $50,000 Lesson on ConstitutionPosted: February 25, 2014
“What are the rules? Why are the rules tied to my free speech?”
— Student Robert Van Tuinen
“… if you’re going to start an organization like that you have to go through the rigamarole.”
— Campus Police Officer
It’s impossible to watch this video without getting mad. It’s a priceless document, capturing the most offensive and absurd violation of free speech perhaps ever recorded on the campus of a public University. The bureaucratic run-around given to this student by a Campus Law Enforcement Official, and an unidentified University official, is spectacularly, breathtakingly stupid. It’s heartbreaking to listen to their justifications, false objections, and rationalizations. More common than you might think. Blatantly illegal. Is this America? Welcome to modern Academia. Watch the whole thing:
Do these public servants realize they’re exposing the University to a lawsuit? This footage could be preserved as a training video for University staff members. Explicitly demonstrating how to violate a student’s constitutional rights. They couldn’t have performed a more perfectly-worded constitutional rights violation if they had a script written for them by a KGB public relations expert. Example, telling the student that there’s a ‘designated place..”
“…in front of the student center, in that little cement area,” where free expression is allowed…”
— University official
Here’s the legal victory story from Fox News:
A California college student who was blocked last year from handing out copies of the Constitution gave his school a lesson in civics and the law, winning a $50,000 settlement and an agreement to revise its speech codes.
Robert Van Tuinen, 26, settled with Modesto Junior College just five months after his run-in with school officials on Sept. 17 – National Constitution Day. Van Tuinen said he’s more excited about getting the school to revise its speech codes, which previously confined the First Amendment to a small area students had to sign up to use.
The American Center for Law and Justice‘s Matthew Clark reports: The Obama Administration’s Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is poised to place government monitors in newsrooms across the country in an absurdly draconian attempt to intimidate and control the media.
Peter Doocy reports from Washington, D.C.
Before you dismiss this assertion as utterly preposterous (we all know how that turned out when the Tea Party complained that it was being targeted by the IRS), this bombshell of an accusation comes from an actual FCC Commissioner.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai reveals a brand new Obama Administration program that he fears could be used in “pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.”
As Commissioner Pai explains in the Wall Street Journal:
Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.
The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about “the process by which stories are selected” and how often stations cover “critical information needs,” along with “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”
In fact, the FCC is now expanding the bounds of regulatory powers to include newspapers, which it has absolutely no authority over, in its new government monitoring program.
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) Jeff Barnard reports: A federal appeals court ruled Friday that bloggers and the public have the same First Amendment protections as journalists when sued for defamation: If the issue is of public concern, plaintiffs have to prove negligence to win damages.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial in a defamation lawsuit brought by an Oregon bankruptcy trustee against a Montana blogger who wrote online that the court-appointed trustee criminally mishandled a bankruptcy case.
The appeals court ruled that the trustee was not a public figure, which could have invoked an even higher standard of showing the writer acted with malice, but the issue was of public concern, so the negligence standard applied.
By GLENN HARLAN REYNOLDS
Sen. Dick Durbin thinks it’s time for Congress to decide who’s a real reporter. In The Chicago Sun-Times last week, he wrote: “Everyone, regardless of the mode of expression, has a constitutionally protected right to free speech. But when it comes to freedom of the press, I believe we must define a journalist and the constitutional and statutory protections those journalists should receive.”
How do you decide who is a journalist? Essentially, he says, it’s someone who gets a paycheck from a media organization: “A journalist gathers information for a media outlet that disseminates the information through a broadly defined ‘medium’ — including newspaper, nonfiction book, wire service, magazine, news Web site, television, radio or motion picture — for public use. This broad definition covers every form of legitimate journalism.”
Does it really? Everyform?
Because, as I write this, most of the information I’m getting from Egypt is being tweeted and blogged by Egyptians and American expats in Egypt. The media organizations are usually hours behind.
Personally, I think a journalist is someone who’s doing journalism, whether they get paid for it or not.
And Durbin is a constitutional ignoramus if he thinks that when the Framers talked about freedom of the press, they were talking about freedom for the press as an institution.
Journalism is indeed an activity, not a profession, and though we often refer to institutionalized media as “the press,” we should remember that James Madison talked about freedom of the press as “freedom in the use of the press” — that is, the freedom to publish, not simply freedom for media organizations.
In Madison’s day, of course, the distinction wasn’t as significant as it became later, when newspaper publishing became an industrial activity. It was easy to be a pamphleteer in Madison’s time, and there was real influence in being such.
But that changed with the increase in efficiencies of scale that accompanied the industrial revolution, and “the press” in common parlance became not a tool of publication but a shorthand for those organizations large and wealthy enough to possess those tools, much as the motion-picture industry has come to be referred to as “the studios.”
Yet now technology has changed things up again; the tools of Internet publication are available to anyone, however modest his or her means. (There are even homeless bloggers; I’ve met one myself.)
The ability to publish inexpensively, and to reach potentially millions of people in seconds, has made it possible for people who’d never be able to — or even want to — be hired by the institutional press to nonetheless publish and influence the world, much like 18th century pamphleteers.
Over the past few years, a lot of big scoops have come from people other than the institutional press — from James O’Keefe’s exposés of ACORN and voter fraud, to Edward Snowden’s release of NSA secrets via Glenn Greenwald, who talking head David Gregory suggested is not a “real journalist.”
Durbin’s pontifications about who’s entitled to press freedom were uttered in the course of promoting a federal “shield law” that would allow those “real” journalists to conceal their sources. I oppose such laws in general, but to the extent that they exist, they should protect everyone who’s doing journalism, regardless of where their paycheck comes from.
I wouldn’t trust Durbin (or most of his Senate colleagues) to baby-sit my kid. I certainly don’t trust them to decide who counts as a “real” journalist — and, more importantly, who doesn’t.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a law professor at the University of Tennessee.