"Merely 'liking' a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection. In cases where courts have found that constitutional protections extended to Facebook posts, actual statements existed within the record."
-- Newport News (VA) U.S. District Judge Raymond A.
Jackson, in a preposterous January ruling
Judge Jackson's brilliant ruling about Facebook "likes," I should explain, was the reason, or one of the reasons, why he summarily dismissed the complaint of Daniel Ray Carter Jr., a sheriff's deputy in Hampton, VA, who alleged that he was fired by Sheriff B. J. Roberts because he "liked" the Facebook page of an official in their office who was running against the sheriff for reelection The case has come back to life because a bunch of briefs have just been filed in support of Carter's appeal by Facebook and the ACLU with the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, as reported by the Washington Post's Justin Jouneval ("A Facebook court battle: Is 'liking' something protected free speech?").
Daniel Ray Carter Jr. logged on to Facebook and did what millions do each day: He "liked" a page by clicking the site's thumbs up icon. The problem was that the page was for a candidate who was challenging his boss, the sheriff of Hampton, Va.
That simple mouse click, Carter says, caused the sheriff to fire him from his job as a deputy and put him at the center of an emerging First Amendment debate over the ubiquitous digital seal of approval: Is liking something on Facebook protected free speech? . . .
Carter's troubles began in the summer of 2009, when longtime Hampton Sheriff B.J. Roberts was running for reelection, according to the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Newport News in March 2011. Roberts learned that some of his employees, including Carter, were actively supporting another high-ranking Sheriff's Office official, Jim Adams, in the election.
Carter liked Adams's campaign page on Facebook, according to court records. When Roberts learned of the campaigning on the site, he became "incensed" and called a meeting of employees, according to the lawsuit. He allegedly told them that he would be sheriff for "as long as I want it."
After the meeting, the lawsuit says, Roberts approached Carter and told him: "You made your bed, now you're going to lie in it -- after the election you're gone."
About a month after Roberts was reelected, Carter and five other employees who supported Adams or did not actively campaign for Roberts were fired, according to the lawsuit. The other employees are also parties in the lawsuit.
Jackson's decision has also drawn criticism from some legal experts. Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, said firing government employees for speaking out about matters of public concern is generally unconstitutional.
He said there are some exceptions, such as when a high-ranking employee's political affiliations are relevant to the job, or if the speech greatly disrupts the workplace or diminishes public confidence in the government agency.
In the Sheriff's Office case, Volokh said, Jackson upset a precedent with deep roots in U.S. law.
"The judge's rationale that a like on Facebook is insufficient speech is not right," Volokh said. "The First Amendment protects very brief statements as much as very long ones. It even protects symbolic speech, like burning a flag."
Volokh, like the ACLU, says liking is similar to putting a bumper sticker on a car, so it should be protected. He said he thinks the 4th Circuit will probably overturn the district judge's ruling -- but if it does not, it would be a significant moment.
"If the 4th Circuit agrees with the judge -- that liking is not protected speech -- that would suggest an overturning of precedents," Volokh said. "It would be interesting to see what the Supreme Court would do with that decision."
In filings in response to the suit, Roberts's attorney disputes Carter's version of events and says the firings were not politically motivated. The attorney did not return a call for comment, and Roberts could not be reached.
"All employment decisions involving plaintiffs were constitutional, lawful, not the result of any improper purpose or motive, and not in retaliation for political expression," the sheriff's attorney wrote in the filings.
Roberts said that some of the fired deputies had unsatisfactory work performance and that the campaigning had disrupted the workplace.
(a) When Sheriff Roberts learned of the campaigning on the site, he became ?incensed? and called a meeting of employees and told them that he would be sheriff for ?as long as I want it."
(b) After the meeting, Sheriff Roberts approached Deputy Carter and said, ?You made your bed, now you?re going to lie in it ? after the election you?re gone.?
(c) All employment decisions involving plaintiffs were constitutional, lawful, not the result of any improper purpose or motive, and not in retaliation for political expression.?
(d) Some of the fired deputies had unsatisfactory work performance.
(e) The campaigning had disrupted the workplace.
The USCG and other U.S. government agencies seem to lack the imagination, vision and cautionary perspective to broadly understand how different things are rapidly becoming in the far, far North.[...]
Read The Full Article:
Click here to view this media
We've been accustomed to these type of signs at Tea Party rallies. What's unusual in this instance is that this person went on later to get himself elected and become a public official. The non-binding resolution means Smith still holds the position and is not up for re-election this year. The video above is a snippet from a longer video at YouTube, found here.
via The Detroit News
Sterling Heights? The City Council called for Councilman Paul Smith to resign over a video that shows him holding inflammatory signs depicting violence against President Barack Obama and others during a tea party rally in 2009.
The council on Wednesday passed a resolution, 6 to 1, with Smith the "no" vote, urging Smith to resign. He is in his first term on the council.
Mayor Pro Tem Michael Taylor said he began drafting the resolution after he saw the video. He described the images in the video, which runs 3minutes and 15 seconds, as "incredibly disturbing."
"It's beyond unreasonable for anyone to do, and it's obvious we're dealing with someone who is completely irrational," he said.
In the video posted on YouTube, Smith, a tea party member, displayed signs showing illustrations of the impaled head of the president, then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm with a noose around her neck and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with bullet holes in her face. The signs also included slurs against undocumented immigrants and gay people.
Reached Wednesday, Smith said he sees nothing offensive about the images, which he said were "good old First Amendment speech."
"Yeah, it's harsh, but it's a harsh world, it's a harsh game," Smith said. "As long as you don't use a real weapon, it's fair game."
An American "Lost Decade," seen here in progress.Fresh off his insult-the-nations-of-the-world tour, Mitt Romney has a special message for our friends in Japan: You suck. Sweet Jesus, how you suck.
"I know when things are tough as they have been for the last three-and-a-half, four years people begin to think it?s always ? [inaudible] ? We are not Japan. We are not going to be a nation that suffers in decline and distress for a decade or a century. We?re on the cusp of a very different economic future than the one people have seen over the past three years."I'm fairly certain Romney is referring to Japan's "Lost Decade," a period of economic stagnation prolonged by political incompetence and unwillingness to do anything about it. All the governmental types over here laughed at them for it, saying that we would never let political incompetence get in the way of fixing our own economy when it needed fixing, and then our own recession happened and we proceeded to out-incompetent the Japanese economic response in such spectacular fashion as to never cause anyone to doubt, ever again, that our politicians are every bit as buffoonish, craven, self-centered, ideologically rigid, willfully stupid and yes, as incompetent as any other nation's government. The constant demands for poor-people-only "austerity" and the debt ceiling debacle?a debacle which continues to merrily churn forward, as an entire building full of people suddenly say that they would never have signed on to that thing they signed on to if they knew people were actually going to take it seriously, provide proof enough of that.
So there's two big problems with Mitt's attempt to invoke a bit of nationalistic superiority, here. Insofar as Mitt seems to think Japan has been in "decline and distress" for perhaps a century, however, I'm not sure what the hell he's going on about, and I imagine people in Japan are probably wondering what the hell he's going on about, too. The second problem is that there's absolutely no evidence that we're going to suddenly gain political competence, when it comes to unemployment, housing and the general economy, anytime soon. Especially not when Mitt's own, personal plan is to do that stuff Bush did, except with more tax cuts to the rich, which is pretty much the definition of staying the effing course.
So can we top Japan's "Lost Decade"? Well, we're not planning on doing anything about unemployment anytime soon. The banks aren't any more stable than they were before, unless you chalk up the renewed expectations that we'll bail them out of any future jam as "stable." And people like Paul Ryan, hailed as architects of a new American future in which we just plain do less, in terms of infrastructure, science, education, consumer protection, worker protection, social services, etc., etc., etc., have proven fiscally incompetent even when presenting these "planned stagnation" programs.
So taking a look at that chart up there, I'd say we have a great shot at stretching this period of economic misery out for a decade or longer. It'll take a deep commitment to legislative incompetence, absolute indifference to the unemployment numbers and other misery indexes, and more than a little creative bullshitting on the parts of the usual suspects, but we're America. We can do this.
Harry Reid's source. Probably.Harry Reid has a Republican source who has told him that Mitt Romney didn't pay taxes in 10 years. Who could he possibly known that would have that information? Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman's dad sounds like the likely source.
Jon Huntsman Sr, is business partners with Robert C. Gay, who also happened to be Bain's managing director between 1989 and 2004. And if anyone knows the machinations Bain used to evade taxes for itself and its partners, well, it would be the guy in charge of the firm's finances.
Huntsman is also a Republican and a Mormon (like Harry Reid). As governor of next-door Utah, his son (who also served in the Obama administration as ambassador to China) likely developed a close working relationship on regional issues.
Want more? The Huntsman family gave some serious scratch to Reid's reelection campaign:
Indeed, the Huntsmans have long been Reid supporters, although the former governor, who is scheduled to be be in Nevada on Friday, has never given directly to Reid's Senate campaigns.Sure, the evidence is circumstantial, but still pretty solid, wouldn't you say?
[Jon Huntsman, Jr's] parents and a couple of his brothers (Peter, James) and some in-laws have. And his Dad even helped the Nevada Democratic Party ($5,000) in 2008. I?m told Reid has known the senior Huntsman since the 1990s and is friendly with the son, too.
Here?s a list of the donations from the GOP candidate?s family to Reid (with help from CQ MoneyLine):
Jon Huntsman, Sr., Karen Huntsman $9,600 (2/4/09)
Peter, Brynn Huntsman $9,600 (12/31/09)
James, Marianne Huntsman $4,600 (11/30/09)
Jon Huntsman, Sr. $2,000 (11/2/04)
Huntsman Corp. Friday announced a deal in which venture capital firm Bain Capital Inc. will invest more than $600 million in Huntsman.
5:33 PM PT: Great point, from the comments:
Remember it was a Huntsman daughter who penned
an article at HuffPo with Ryan Grim that had sources saying Romney would have never ran if he knew he had to open up his tax filings.
Does the Huntsman family talk Romney's taxes around the dinner table?
by Jacoby Jonze
Now he thinks it's Jr, but his reasoning makes me even more convinced it was one of the Huntsmans. My money is still on Sr.
Basically, then-Chief of Staff Bill Daley and Cass Sunstein met with a bunch of oil and chemical lobbyists, Sunstein sent around objections to the rule from the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable, and even quotes from House[...]
Read The Full Article:
I love these things.
Click here to view this media
This report contains offensive and violent language and is not safe for work.
Police in Grand Rapids, Michigan say that there was nothing they could do after Bible-preaching protesters threatened to rape and murder pro-LGBT activists at a "Gay Day" event over the weekend.
In a video posted to YouTube, several protesters with Bibles can be seen shouting at a woman celebrating in the inaugural "Gay Day" celebration, an event organized by the human rights group Tolerance, Equality and Awareness Movement (TEAM) to showcase the community's diversity.
"Back in the day there was no free power, there was no going to the mall," one protester tells the woman. "There was, 'sit your ass in this house until I bring my ass home.'"
"And if your ass get to going out there like you said, guess what?" a second protester adds. "You get raped. And that's what's going to happen to you. ... Keep your pussy clean, that's all you need to do. Do you understand?"
After one man claims, "the Lord said that," the woman challenges him to find the corresponding Bible verse.
He responds with Isaiah 13: "Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished."
"What does 'ravished' mean? It means, we going to rape your ass," the protester explains. "And I'm going to have fun doing that shit. And you going to like that. I promise you."
After briefly arguing that he is misinterpreting the Bible, the woman observes, "Anything I say, you say it doesn't matter."
"It's going to matter right now," the man shoots back. "It's going to matter when your clothes off and I'm going inside of you repeatedly. That's when it's going to matter. Because you going to enjoy yourself."
The woman in the video told WWMT that the men also recited her boyfriend's license plate number and promised to find and kill him. She said she called 911, but the Grand Rapids Police Department officer told her that there was nothing he could do.
Lt. Mark Ostapowicz explained to MLive.com that the report was closed because no one came forward with a specific complaint.
"The Gay Day celebration group was upset that the Bible group was able to protest, but in their protest they weren?t doing anything wrong, according to the (responding police officer?s) report," Ostapowicz said. "?When the officers got there they were not threatening each other. As long as they?re not breaking any of the protest rules, there?s nothing we can do."
"As of right now, we just have two groups in disagreement with each other. Nothing happened that led the officers to do more."
In a letter posted to their website on Tuesday, TEAM called on authorities to take action to protect the LGBT community.
"It is our position that these actions should not be tolerated in this community, and that the perpetrators of such actions be brought to justice," TEAM president Chris Surfus wrote in the letter. "[H]ate speech that incites violence, rape and other criminal actions is not constitutionally protected."
"It is our hope that the Grand Rapids Police Department will formally charge these men for these atrocious and unwelcome actions in our community," he added.
WWMT reported that the men were part of a Christian black supremacist group called the Black Hebrew Israelites. According to the South Poverty Law Center, the quickly spreading movement preaches "a frightening, racist theology that says Jesus Christ is returning soon to kill or enslave white people, Jews, homosexuals, and others."
Certain cultures practice "corrective rape" to "correct" the sexual orientation of Lesbian women.
The following video is NSFW.
Click here to view this media
Just when the story seemed to be dying off...
"This person is an investor in Bain Capital, a Republican also, and somebody who has been dealing with Romney's company for a long, long time and he has direct knowledge of this," said Reid aide Jose Parra, referring to Romney's tax returns.Is John McCain an investor in Bain?
Remember when NPR got all huffy-puffy when Lisa Simeone, the host of World of Opera got all in trouble and stuff because she supported Occupy Wall Street by hate-playing La bohème (which is an Italian communist opera based upon the popular American[...]
Read The Full Article: