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

Not just Europe: EU Copyright Directive will censor the world's internet

The EU's catastrophic new Copyright Directive is steamrollering towards completion, and that should worry every internet user, not just those in the EU. Read the rest

Tomorrow: come to our University of Chicago seminar on Renaissance censorship and internet censorship

Ada Palmer is a University of Chicago Renaissance historian (and so much more: librettist, science fiction novelist, and all-round polymath); she has convened a series of seminars at the University in collaboration with science and piracy historian Adrian Johns, and me! Read the rest

Antivirus maker Sentinelone uses copyright claims to censor video of security research that revealed defects in its products

At this week's B-Sides Manchester security conference, James Williams gave a talk called "Next-gen AV vs my shitty code," in which he systematically revealed the dramatic shortcomings of anti-virus products that people pay good money for and trust to keep them safe -- making a strong case that these companies were selling defective goods. Read the rest

Disney (yes, Disney) declares war on "overzealous copyright holders"

Disney is being sued by the Michael Jackson estate for using fair-use clips in a biopic called "The Last Days of Michael Jackson" -- in its brief, the company decries "overzealous copyright holders" whose unwillingness to consider fair use harms "the right of free speech under the First Amendment." Read the rest

To rescue journalism, journalists must collaborate to defend free expression, not merely condemning Trump

Dan Gillmor (previously) writes that journalism is at a crisis point, as authoritarian politicians (including, but not limited to, Trump) step up their attacks on the free press, even assassinating their sharpest critics. Read the rest

The platforms control our public discourse, and who they disconnect is arbitrary and capricious

Look, I'm as delighted as you are to see Alex Jones' ability to spread hatred curtailed -- because in a world where all the important speech takes place online, and where online speech is owned by four or five companies, being kicked off of Big Tech's services is likely to be an extinction-level event. Read the rest

American Conservative laments market concentration and private property as bad for free expression

For years, the big social media platforms have used their market dominance to decide who could speak and on what terms: they forced drag queens and trans people to use their "real" names; kicked Black Lives Matter activists off their platforms; and allowed autocratic rulers to force opposition activists to expose themselves to arrest and torture as a condition of using their platforms. Read the rest

What's at stake in the fight over printing files for guns

There's been a lot of news freakout over Defense Distributed (previously) and "3D printed guns" (a term that confusingly encompasses milled guns, 3D printed guns, and files that describe the shapes of guns). Read the rest

Big Tech's active moderation promise is also a potential source of eternal commercial advantage over newcomers

Farhad Manjoo (previously) writes in the New York Times about his cautious optimism that the big platforms are finally taking some steps to prevent harassment, but he also worries that this is setting the stage for a new era in tech, one in which the rules guarantee that Big Tech never has to worry about being challenged by upstarts. Read the rest

For the best of reasons, The Slants won the right to trademark racially offensive slurs -- and now there's rather a lot of that

It's been a year since the Asian-American band The slants won their court case against the US Patent and Trademark office, which had refused to allow them to trademark their band-name because it was a racial slur. Read the rest

Court rules that Trump can't block people on Twitter

A New York federal judge has ruled that Donald Trump can't block people he doesn't like on Twitter, because he uses Twitter to communicate his edicts and policies as President of the United States, and the US government can't exclude communications based on viewpoint, as this violates the First Amendment. Read the rest

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