“We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.”This was just part of a collaborative response by French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo to then-French President Jacques Chirac back in 2006.
What should happen if someone threatens to kill you on social media? Are they protected by the First Amendment right guaranteeing the right to freedom of speech, or are they breaking the law? We will soon know now the answer after the Supreme Court rules on a case that may have far reaching ramifications well beyond the single case they are hearing.
House Democrats followed through on one of their biggest campaign promises in 2018 and passed a sweeping election reform bill that takes a crack at campaign finance, ethics, and voting rights reforms in one fell swoop. The bill would transform voting as we know it, notably making election day a national holiday and dramatically expanding early voting nationwide.
"They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed." And just like that, marriage equality is the law of the land.Today is a day millions of our citizens--both gay and straight--will never forget.
"After they drove the car into the ditch, made it as difficult as possible for us to pull it back, now they want the keys back. No! You can't drive. We don't want to have to go back into the ditch. We just got the car out." -- President Obama slamming Republicans on the campaign trail, May 2010.
When the Senate Intelligence Committee passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act by a vote of 14 to 1, committee chairman Senator Richard Burr argued that it successfully balanced security and privacy.
2014 was a great year for liberals. Marriage equality is sweeping across the nation, the federal courts now have a majority of liberal jurists, America's foreign policy is being reshaped in Obama's image, and both red and blue states voted to choose if they wanted to legalize a plant. Democrats may have lost the Senate, but their priorities surely won in 2014.
For the 2014 midterm elections, the GOP has some truly scary candidates with extreme views on women's rights, the climate, and how our government should function. Some of them proudly tout their extreme beliefs while others hide behind them, but all of them would take us a step backward should they be elected.
Virtually all the alarm over the spread of Sharia law, as expressed by Geller and the anti-Muslim movement, can be traced back to an old document of questionable authority and relevance.
The name of the poor wretch is lost to history, but the year is recorded: It was in 1631 that last German Jew was burned at the stake, falsely accused of desecrating the Host. Flash forward a few hundred years. In 1989, the AIDS activist group ACT UP disrupted services in St Patrick's Cathedral, New York. One protester grabbed a consecrated communion wafer, broke it, and tossed it to the floor. He and some 100 others were arrested. A few of the protesters were sentenced to community service. None went to prison. Needless to say, none was burned at the stake.
Anti-Muslim advocate Pam Geller has the absolute right to draw any cartoon she wants of the Prophet Muhammad. That was not just the response from Muslim-American leaders I spoke to after news broke Sunday night of a shooting outside a Garland, Texas, event that Geller had organized—offering $10,000 for people to draw images of Muhammad—but before that event as well.
On Tuesday Public Policy Polling released a survey measuring Republicans’ attitudes toward the upcoming presidential election. The survey assessed Republicans’ opinions of various candidates and political figures, along with their positions on a few policy issues. One of the more curious policy questions presented to respondents was whether or not Christianity should be established as America’s “national religion.” A 57 percent majority of Republicans surveyed agreed that Christianity should, in fact, be established as the United States’ national religion. Broken down into different subsets, the numbers differed somewhat. Younger Republicans in the 18 – 45 age group were more favorable to the idea, with 63 percent of that cohort affirming that Christianity should be our national faith.
This is the age of the whistleblower. From Chelsea Manning to Edward Snowden to the latest cloak-and-dagger lifter of files, ex-HSBC employee Hervé Falciani, whistleblowers are becoming to this decade what rock stars were to the Sixties — pop culture icons, global countercultural heroes. But one of America's ugliest secrets is that our own whistleblowers often don't do so well after the headlines fade and cameras recede. The ones who don't end up in jail like Manning, or in exile like Snowden, often still go through years of harassment and financial hardship. And while we wait to see if Loretta Lynch is confirmed as the next Attorney General, it's worth taking a look at how whistleblowers in America fared under the last regime.
In 1947, near the 40th anniversary of his invention of the Audion tube, Lee de Forest, “the father of radio,” addressed a message to the National Association of Broadcasters that was widely circulated and printed in Time magazine, the Chicago Tribune, and other news outlets: "What have you gentlemen done with my child? He was conceived as a potent instrumentality for culture, fine music, the uplifting of America’s mass intelligence. You have debased this child…made of him a laughing stock… The occasional fine program is periodically smeared with impudent insistence to buy or try… Soap opera without end or sense floods each household daily."
We can blame religion in general, and we can blame Islam. (We can hem and haw around, Bill Maher-style, and say that we’re not blaming absolutely all Muslims but only some of them, perhaps most. Or we can go full Fox News and blame the whole damn religion.) We can blame free speech carried to irresponsible and obnoxious extremes, and we can blame the pantywaist spinelessness of liberalism. We can blame the cultural arrogance, racism and Islamophobia of French society, and we can turn around and blame its overly lax immigration policies, the residue of colonial guilt.
We like to say—we who work with pens (or pixels)—that the pen (or pixel) is mightier than the sword. Then someone brings a sword (or Kalashnikov) to test the claim, and we’re not so sure. The French cartoonist Stéphane (Charb) Charbonnier liked to say, when jihadis repeatedly threatened to silence him, that he’d rather be dead than live on his knees or live like a rat, so he kept right on drawing and publishing his loud, lewd, provocative, blasphemous caricatures of theocratic bullies. And now he’s dead—he and nine of his colleagues at Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine he edited in Paris—massacred by masked gunmen, who came for them in broad daylight, shouting “Allahu Akbar,” and also killed two policemen before fleeing with a cry, “The prophet Muhammad is avenged.”
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