Popehat's new First Amendment law-podcast is great!

Make No Law is a just-launched podcast hosted by Ken "Popehat" White (previously), a former Federal prosecutor who writes some of the best, most incisive legal commentary on the web; the first episode deals with the oft-cited, badly misunderstood "fighting words" doctrine and its weird history in the religious prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses (my sole complaint is that he didn't work in E. Gary Gygax). Read the rest

City of Sarajevo bans unsanctioned utterances of its name, threatens Facebook groups

The proprietors of every Facebook page containing the word "Sarajevo" in its title reportedly received demand letters from the city government of Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia, threatening legal action unless the proprietors pay a royalty for permission to use the city's name in their pages. Read the rest

Peter Thiel, "libertarian," wants to buy Gawker's archive, which would give him the power to censor stories he didn't like

Libertarian wisdom holds that "the answer to bad speech is more speech," but if you're a Peter Thiel libertarian (that is, the kind of "freedom lover" who doesn't think women should vote, wants to spy on everyone in the world, and secretly wields power to censor the free press), then "the answer to bad speech is secretly backing lawsuits by washed-up pro-wrestlers in order to kill a media outlet whose reporting you don't like." Read the rest

The Paradox of Tolerance: should intolerance be tolerated?

With the rise of white nationalist groups whose allies in government extend all the way to the President of the United States, tech companies are finding themselves in the uncomfortable position of deciding where tolerance begins and ends -- where they have a duty to step in and silence certain kinds of speech. Read the rest

JOHN WILCOCK: Allen Ginsberg's HOWL and THE DEATH OF LENNY BRUCE

Lenny Bruce by Scott Marshall and Ethan Persoff

Previous Wilcock/Lenny comics on Boing Boing:

Ladies and Gentlemen, Lenny Bruce! When Lenny Bruce Stayed at My Apartment

- Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall Read the rest

Woman who flipped off Trump got fired from government contracting firm

Last month, Juli Briskman, 50, flipped off the presidential motorcade passing her as she bicycled in Northern Virginia. A photo of Briskman's gesture went viral and last week she was fired from her job at Akima LLC, a government contracting firm. Even though she wasn't at work or wearing clothing that linked her to the company, her bosses claimed that she violated their social media policy:

“Covered Social Media Activity that contains discriminatory, obscene malicious or threatening content, is knowingly false, create [sic] a hostile work environment, or similar inappropriate or unlawful conduct will not be tolerated and will be subject to discipline up to an [sic] including termination of employment.”

From the Washington Post:

It gets even more obscene.

Because Briskman was in charge of the firm’s social media presence during her six-month tenure there, she recently flagged something that did link her company to some pretty ugly stuff.

As she was monitoring Facebook this summer, she found a public comment by a senior director at the company in an otherwise civil discussion by one of his employees about Black Lives Matter.

“You’re a f------ Libtard a------,” the director injected, using his profile that clearly and repeatedly identifies himself as an employee of the firm.

In fact, the person he aimed that comment at was so offended by the intrusion into the conversation and the coarse nature of it that he challenged the director on representing Akima that way.

So Briskman flagged the exchange to senior management.

Did the man, a middle-aged executive who had been with the company for seven years, get the old “section 4.3” boot?

Read the rest

Australian government proposes jail terms for satire

Juice Media is a company whose "Honest Government Adverts" Youtube series lampoon both the Australian government's decisions and the way it promotes them. Juice's videos are very funny, and very, very obviously parodies (they spell "Australian" wrong!). Read the rest

The future of digital rights in the UK will start at ORGCon 17, London, Nov 4-5

There has never been a moment in which digital rights in the UK were more up for grabs, between Brexit, sweeping new surveillance powers, and the accelerating drumbeat of the digitisation of every aspect of life and society. Read the rest

Cop sues a hashtag, and loses

A cop injured during a protest sued DeRay Mckesson, Black Lives Matter and a hashtag. His suit was tossed by the judge this week.

The officer argued Black Lives Matter was a “national unincorporated association” and called Mckesson its leader and co-founder. He claimed the activists had gathered in Baton Rouge to incite violence against police and that Mckesson was responsible for the actions of the unidentified demonstrator who hurled the rock. The judge disagreed. ... The judge also denied the officer’s attempt to add the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter to the suit, writing that “a hashtag is patently incapable of being sued.”

Cops and other government entities trying to sue protestors is an emergent free speech problem. Thankfully, Jeff Sessions will be fighting tooth and claw for minority activists' rights in the coming three years. Read the rest

Hurricane Maria started in 1898: how America spent more than a century brutalizing Puerto Rico

Nelson A Denis is the author of War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America's Colony, a highly regarded, bestselling 2016 history of the injustices perpetrated against Puerto Rico by successive American governments starting in 1898 and continuing literally to this present day. Read the rest

Debullshitifying the free speech debate about CNN and Trump's alt-right wrestling GIF

In the wake of CNN threatening to out a critic if he does not limit his speech in the future, former federal prosecutor and First Amendment champion Ken White has published an eminently sensible post about the incoherence of the present moment's views on free speech, and on the way that partisanship causes us to apply a double standard that excuses "our bunch" and damns the "other side." Read the rest

Egypt's "Jon Stewart" made fun of the corrupt government and was forced to flee

Earlier this week we went to see a Los Angeles screening of Tickling Giants followed by a Q&A with Bassem Youssef, the subject of the film. The evening was presented by Ziya Tong's Black Sheep.

Bassem Youssef, often called the “Jon Stewart of Egypt,” was a prominent heart surgeon who became the creator and host of the Egyptian late-night comedy TV show Al-Bernameg (“The Show”), which began as an immensely popular YouTube channel. The live network show revolved around Bassem’s use of satire and sarcastic humor towards the corrupt and oppressive Egyptian government. As the only program on Egyptian television concerned with free speech and the voice of the people, “The Show” quickly rose in popularity and attracted 30 million viewers per show, significantly more than the 2 million who tuned in nightly to The Daily Show. Even though Bassem and the team behind the show were constantly living in fear that their jokes would put them in danger, they bravely continued to produce a show that criticized authority and the country’s politics. The satirical program ran from 2011-2014, until Egypt’s oppressive military regime made it impossible for the show to continue.

Tickling Giants is a documentary based on Bassem Youssef, “The Show”, and their role in Egyptian culture. The film provides a detailed view of how Youssef “finds creative, non-violent ways to protect free speech and fight a president who abuses his power.

During the Q&A with Youssef following the documentary, Youssef shared experiences and advice not given in the documentary. Read the rest

Study: racial prejudice a 'reliable predictor' you're about to hear about free speech from people who hate it

Surprise! Principles of free speech are often deployed by its enemies as cover for racial prejudice. Which is, of course, free speech.

The new study reveals a positive correlation (Pearson r = .43) between having racial prejudice and defending racist speech using the “free speech argument” — a stronger correlation than the researchers expected.

White and Crandall recruited hundreds of participants via the Amazon Mechanical Turk service, conducting several interrelated studies where participants responded to descriptions of recent news events or readings involving someone being punished for racist speech. The racial attitudes of the respondents themselves were gauged using the Henry and Sears Symbolic Racism 2000 scale, a standard measure of racial prejudice in social psychology and political science.

The underlying opposition to free speech is key: "many who defend racist speech using the “free speech argument” might not extend the same principle of free speech to negative comments aimed at authority figures or the public in general."

“You might think that, ‘Maybe people who defend this racist speech are just big fans of free speech, that they’re principled supporters of freedom,’” Crandall said. “Well, no. We give them a ‘news’ article with the same speech aimed at police — and prejudice scores are completely uncorrelated with defending speech aimed at police — and also uncorrelated with snarky speech aimed at customers at a coffee shop, but with no racial content.”

So much for the tolerant right! Read the rest

U.S. Withdraws Summons for Twitter Records on Account Critical of Trump's Muslim Ban, So Twitter Drops Lawsuit

Twitter today dropped a lawsuit it filed on Thursday against the U.S. Homeland Security Department, after saying the DHS withdrew its summons for records about who is operating a Twitter account critical of President Donald Trump.

Read the rest

Longstanding, unpatched Bluetooth vulnerability lets burglars shut down Google security cameras

A security researcher has published a vulnerability and proof-of-concept exploits in Google's Internet of Things security cameras, marketed as Nest Dropcam, Nest Dropcam Pro, Nest Cam Outdoor and Nest Cam Indoor; these vulnerabilities were disclosed to Google last fall, but Google/Nest have not patched them despite the gravity of the vulnerability and the long months since the disclosure. Read the rest

Techdirt is being sued by the "I invented email" guy and needs your money

Indie news outlet Techdirt is being sued for $15M by Shiva Ayyadurai, who claims to have invented email in 1978, eight years after Ray Tomlinson sent an email over ARPANET; Ayyadurai is represented by Charles Harder, a key figure in the Gawker-killing legal campaign that Peter Thiel financed, and who is also representing Melania Trump in her $150m lawsuit against The Daily Mail. Read the rest

Restaurant owner acquitted after foiling police sting

Restauranteur John Horvatinovich refused to serve beer to two undercover teenagers, then let his followers know about the failed sting by sharing a picture of the underage police informants. Next thing he knew, he faced a year in jail for his tweet. Read the rest

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