The UN's top free speech expert just denounced the new EU copyright plan as a "potential violation of international human rights law"

David Kaye (previously) is the UN's Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression; he just released a detailed report on the catastrophic free speech implications of Article 13, the EU's proposed copyright rule that would make sites filter everything their users post to check for copyright violations. Read the rest

Tanzania's independent websites, podcasts and video channels have gone dark as the country's new blogger tax goes into effect

As of this Friday, anyone operating an independent online presence in Tanzania will have to pay a licensing fee equivalent to an average year's wages, and submit to a harsh set of censorship rules, as well as an obligation to unmask anonymous posters and commenters, with stiff penalties for noncompliance. Read the rest

Koch-funded "academic freedom" grifters run into trouble at Wellesley

Reactionaries of every stripe have latched onto "academic freedom" for self-promotion as speakers on college campuses, but Wellesley College's Koch-funded Freedom Project came under scrutiny thanks to student activists and journalists. Now the program's head is taking a year off to teach "elsewhere." Read the rest

ACLU steps in to defend anti-Trump mural in New Orleans

A mural quoting a sexual assault comment made by the President of the United States led to a threat of jail time from the city of New Orleans. Neal Morris, owner of the property and commissioner of the work, got the ACLU involved. Read the rest

Survey: student attitudes about diversity and inclusion vs. free speech are shifting

A new Gallup-Knight Foundation survey suggests that shifting student views are exposing deep rifts in attitudes toward diversity versus free speech among demographic groups. The survey presents this false dichotomy of inclusion vs. the First Amendment, but that's how it's often presented in these debates, ignoring academic responsibility. Read the rest

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

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