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Freedom of Speech

Some folks may question whether street preachers should be allowed in the public square, particularly if they’re annoying or confrontational. The public, however, is better served when such spaces are open for debate. […] Read More

Laws against blasphemy remain “astonishingly widespread” around the world, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Such legislation is “detrimental to religious freedom,” often leads to human rights abuses, and most commonly is used against persons who hold minority perspectives. USCIRF defined blasphemy as “the act of expressing contempt or a lack […] Read More

When does provoking hatred cross the line from free speech to irresponsible speech? The legal answer may differ from the moral answer. The legal answer appeared in a recent court ruling. A United States District Court judge ruled earlier this year that the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority had to run an incendiary advertisement […] Read More

The terrorist attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine came as yet another shocking example of the impact of Islamic fundamentalism on today’s world. Nothing, absolutely nothing, that offends us justifies murder. Admittedly that is a Western value, but it is one we would defend at all costs. Whether it’s New York, Bali, Nairobi, […] Read More

My favorite amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the First Amendment. The First Amendment is a warm blanket of free thought that has served as the example of freedom we get to enjoy. I get to think, say and write what I want, associate with whom I want and pretty much do what I want […] Read More

WASHINGTON (RNS) A bipartisan group of senators has introduced a bill that would make it harder for protesters from a fringe Baptist church in Topeka, Kansas, to protest outside military funerals. The Sanctity of Eternal Rest for Veterans Act, introduced by Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, comes in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 8-1 decision […] Read More

HARRISBURG, Pa. (RNS) Westboro Baptist Church, the controversial group that just won a free speech Supreme Court case, said it plans to protest at a funeral for seven Pennsylvania children who died in a fire Tuesday (March 8) night. “I’m baffled that they would choose this,” said Perry County District Attorney Charles F. Chenot III. […] Read More

The Supreme Court recently upheld, on First Amendment grounds, a federal appeals court’s decision to overturn a verdict awarding millions to the father of the late Matthew Snyder. The decision represents an interesting – some would say tragic – irony in the unfolding drama surrounding the Fred Phelps family, aka Westboro Baptist Church, of Topeka, […] Read More

IRVINE, Calif. (RNS) “Michael Oren, propagating murder is not an expression of free speech!” And so began the protest of Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s lecture at the University of California, Irvine in February 2010, as the shouting student, Osama Ahmed Shabaik, was escorted out of the auditorium by police to cheers and jeers. It didn’t […] Read More

Saturday’s tragic shooting in Tucson, Ariz., has prompted sober reflection. Much of the response has centered around the partisan rhetoric that marks our political stage. The question is: Does that rhetoric invite this particular incident and others like it? I think the answer is yes. It can be argued that partisan palavering has been with […] Read More