The First Amendment protects Americans’ freedom of speech and assembly. Unfortunately, at various times in US history, our law enforcement and intelligence agencies have disregarded these protections, targeting people or groups based on political viewpoint, religious affiliation, or participation in lawful protests. The advent of the internet as the new “town square,” has opened a new front in the battle to protect free speech and assembly, and new technologies make it easier for the government to track our communications and movements both on and offline, inhibiting our willingness to dissent.
Undercover agents have infiltrated law-abiding activist groups, police have beaten and tear-gassed protesters at peaceful protests, and people are considered suspect merely because of their real or perceived Islamic faith. On the internet, police and intelligence agencies monitor social media and speech that should be protected by the First Amendment is considered evidence of “material support for terrorism.”
Dissent is being criminalized by DHS Terror Threat Assessments that name environmentalists, practicing Muslims or people with Ron Paul bumper stickers as potential terrorists, by legislation that conflates activism with terrorism (as in the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act), and by over-policing at protests and restrictive “free speech zones.”
Defending Rights & Dissent Calls on Congress to Reject Cynically Misnamed Bill Designed to Hamper Human Rights Advocacy
Anti-semitism, like all forms of bigotry, is reprehensible, but the so-called Anti-Semitism Awareness Act is a cynical attempt to exploit good faith concerns about anti-Semitism to silence student speech. The bill’s real target is not anti-semitism at all, but student political speech in support of Palestinian human rights. As such, it is unconstitutional.
The prosecution in the J20 case was dealt another major setback today as Chief Justice Robert Morin found that they failed to disclose to the defense parts of an undercover video containing clearly exculpatory evidence. An edited version of the video was part of the prosecution’s case-in-chief during the first J20 trial and was expected to be so in an upcoming trial. Now, with the prosecution facing sanctions, there are questions as to whether they will be allowed to show the video at all.
The US Attorneys Office claims the trial isn’t about protest or dissent, but the crux of their case centers around the argument that a First Amendment protected march is a criminal conspiracy.
Late last year, the FCC voted to repeal net neutrality. That terrible decision will take effect on June 11 unless Congress takes action. Tomorrow, Wednesday May 16, the Senate will hold an important vote to save net neutrality
Russia is part of a dangerous global trend of countries rolling back basic freedoms for opposition voices… but so is the United States.