Bill from Missouri's Rep Ben Baker threatens librarians with prison sentences for allowing minors to read books banned by town committees

Under Missouri House Bill 2044 -- the "Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act" -- each town will elect a committee of five local people (librarians are not permitted to serve) who will take local submission for books to ban. If they choose to ban a book, any librarian who allows a minor to check out or read that book will face up to a year in prison, and their libraries will be de-funded. Read the rest

Permitting the growth of monopolies is a form of government censorship

In my latest Locus column, Inaction is a Form of Action, I discuss how the US government's unwillingness to enforce its own anti-monopoly laws has resulted in the dominance of a handful of giant tech companies who get to decide what kind of speech is and isn't allowed -- that is, how the USG's complicity in the creation of monopolies allows for a kind of government censorship that somehow does not violate the First Amendment. Read the rest

The lawyer who caught UNC giving $2.5m to white nationalists orders the white nationalists to create a $2.5m fund for Black students or face a lawsuit

T Greg Doucette is the lawyer who put the pieces together on the University of North Carolina's $2.5m handout to the white nationalist group the Sons of Confederate Veterans, then found and published a smoking gun in the form of a "victory letter" written by the SOCV's "commander" Kevin Stone, which Stone and the SOCV used a fraudulent DMCA notice to censor. Read the rest

About Face: EFF's new campaign to end government use of face surveillance

Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation launched About Face, a new national campaign to end governmental use of facial recognition technology for surveillance at all levels -- city, state and federal. Read the rest

Indiana University Provost: The First Amendment says we can't fire our notorious bigot professor, so here's what we're doing instead

Eric Rasmusen is a tenured business school professor at Indiana University Bloomington; for many years, he's posted a stream of "racist, sexist, and homophobic views" to his personal social media, including the idea that women do not belong in the workplace (he often refers to women by slurs like "slut" when discussing this and other subjects); that gay men should not be allowed in academia because of their insatiable sexual appetites and propensity for abusing students; that Black students are academically inferior to white students and do not belong at elite academic institutions. Read the rest

Disgraced ex-cop's bullshit libel case has nearly destroyed the newspaper that outed him for sexual predation of teen girls

In 2017, Carroll, Iowa police officer Jacob Smith resigned from the force after a disciplinary investigation regarding sexual encounters between Smith and teenaged girls. Read the rest

New Hampshire court to patent troll: it's not libel when someone calls you a "patent troll"

New Hampshire's Supreme Court has ruled that calling someone a "patent troll" is not defamatory because "patent troll" is a statement of opinion and can neither be factually proved nor disproved. Read the rest

Three California Nazis sentenced to prison for their participation in the Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rally

Benjamin Daley, Michael Miselis, and Thomas Gillen, members of the California Nazi group "Rise Above Movement (RAM)" have been given prison sentences by a Virginia court for their participation in the 2017 Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rally; United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen said, "They were not interested in peaceful protest or lawful First Amendment expression; instead, they intended to provoke and engage in street battles with those that they perceived as their enemies." All pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to riot. (Thanks, Kathy Padilla!) Read the rest

Mississippi makes it a jailable offense to call plant-based or cultured-meat patties "burgers"

FDA (totally not in thrall to Big Dairy): we're going to ban calling almond milk "milk"; Missouri State legislature (totally not in thrall to Big Ag): hold my beer. Read the rest

Speech Police: vital, critical look at the drive to force Big Tech to control who may speak and what they may say

David Kaye (previously) has served as the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression since 2014 -- a critical half-decade in the evolution of free speech both online and offline; in Speech Police: The Global Struggle to Govern the Internet a new, short book from Columbia Special Reports, Kaye provides a snapshot of the global state of play for expression, as governments, platforms, and activists act out of a mix of both noble and corrupt motives to control online discourse. Read the rest

The platforms suck at content moderation and demanding they do more won't make them better at it -- but there ARE concrete ways to improve moderation

Concentration in the tech sector has left us with just a few gigantic online platforms, and they have turned into playgrounds for some of the worst people on earth: Nazis, misogynists, grifters, ultranationalists, trolls, genocidal mobs and more. The platforms are so big and their moderation policies are so screwed up, and their use of "engagement" algorithms to increase pageviews, that it's making many of us choose between having a social life with the people we care about and being tormented by awful people. Even if you opt out of social media, you can't opt out of being terrorized by psychopathic trolls who have been poisoned by Alex Jones and the like. Read the rest

Owner of civil war reenactment business sues school district that canceled field trips after his far-right social media came to light

Riley's Farm is a staple of Los Angeles overnight school trips (my daughter visited last year with her elementary school); it's an apple farm with a pick-your-own apples sideline that branched out into civil war re-enactments, with some students staying overnight in tents. Read the rest

Court strikes down Iowa's unconstitutional ag-gag law

"Ag-gag" laws -- which ban the collection of evidence of wrongdoing on farms, from animal cruelty to food-safety violations -- are a sterling example of how monopolism perpetuates itself by taking over the political process. Read the rest

Arizona's kick-ass new bisexual Senator took her oath on the US Constitution, administered by cringing, homophobic Dominionist Mike Pence

Last week, incoming Senator Kyrsten Sinema [D-AZ] was sworn in by Mike Pence, in his aspect as President of the Senate, choosing to take her oath on a book containing both the Constitutions of the United States of America and Arizona, a tome repeating the framers' prohibition on the US government's establishment a state religion or discrimination on the basis of faith or lack thereof. Read the rest

Congressional Democrats' first bill aims to end gerrymandering, increase voter registration and rein in campaign finance

HR1, the first bill that the new Democratic House of Representatives will vote on, is omnibus legislation that takes on some of the most pervasive scourges of representative democracy: vote suppression, oligarchic campaign financing and gerrymandering. Read the rest

The Ghastlygun Tinies: MAD's Edward Gorey satire that takes aim at school shootings

Edward Gorey's "Gashlycrumb Tinies" is a much-beloved, macabre illustrated children's book that is a favorite of remixers of all kinds; but Mad Magazine's Ghastlygun Tinies dials up the "trenchant" knob to 11. Read the rest

Nation Park Service on the verge of blocking most White House protests: comments due by MONDAY!

Monday is the end of the comment period for a sweeping National Park Service proposal that will have a dramatic effect on the ability of Americans to protest in sight of their government. Read the rest

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