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Editorials

  • GUEST OPINION: Religious freedom favors none, protects all

    By CHARLES C. HAYNES
    First Amendment Center
    Louisiana State Rep. Valarie Hodges used to be a big fan of school vouchers. “I liked the idea,” she explained, “of giving parents the option of sending their children to a public school or a Christian school.”

    Then last month Hodges got a First Amendment reality check when she discovered that Christian schools wouldn’t be the only religious schools getting tax dollars.

    “Unfortunately, it [vouchers] will not be limited to the Founders’ religion,” she said.

  • GUEST OPINION: A victory for free speech from court

    A late June Supreme Court decision in United States v. Alvarez is a victory for free speech and common sense.

    The Supreme Court in a 6-to-3 vote struck down the Stolen Valor Act, which made it a crime to falsely claim military honors. The Court concluded that the act violated the First Amendment by criminalizing lies without a showing of fraud or other criminal conduct.

  • GUEST OPINION: Arizona ruling not very well thought out

    By KEN PAULSON
    First Amendment Center
    A new state law in Arizona threatens to withhold 10 percent of funding from public schools and libraries if they don’t block “harmful” content on the Internet.

    The law, which goes into effect Aug. 1, requires that minors be blocked from accessing “visual depictions that are child pornography, harmful to minors or obscene.”

    According to The Arizona Republic, Rep. Steve Court, who sponsored the bill, says it’s intended to refine existing law.

  • GUEST OPINION: Artist rolls to victory over Crimson Tide

    By KEN PAULSON
    First Amendment Center
    College football means big money. Amid talk of a possible national playoffs system, we’re reminded of the extraordinary revenue potential of an “amateur” sport.

    Understandably, universities want to maximize their income and protect their broadcast and intellectual-property rights, particularly in a digital age. And yet it was refreshing last week to see a clear First Amendment victory for someone who works in one of the oldest media: paint on paper.

  • GUEST OPINION: Students push back to keep items of faith

    By CHARLES C. HAYNES
    First Amendment Center
    When Jake Balthazor was sent to the office by his teacher last week, imagine his surprise.

    After all, Jake hadn’t disrupted class, failed to do his homework or committed any other offense that might lead to disciplinary action at Coon Rapids High School near Minneapolis.

    The problem, it turned out, wasn’t with what the 15-year-old was doing, but with the black-and-silver rosary beads he was wearing.
    Rosary beads are used by many Roman Catholics to offer prayers to the Virgin Mary.

  • GUEST OPINION: Passionate debate on ideology a good thing in schools

    By GENE POLICINSKI
    First Amendment Center
    No doubt it’s more efficient to run a school without any disruption, complaint or controversy.

    But does an absence of challenges, conflicts or intellectual collisions automatically make a school better? Make teaching more effective?

    Learning any more likely to occur?

    James Yoakley, an 11th-grade English teacher at Lenoir City High School in eastern Tennessee, was transferred recently to Lenoir City Middle to teach eighth-grade English — in a move that

  • GUEST OPINION: Reflections on the toppling of the Berlin Wall

    By GENE POLICINSKI
    First Amendment Center
    Monuments to freedom and liberty generally come as things — marble statues, carved granite slabs — that are meant to last for the ages.

    But on June 12, let’s pause to remember a monument noteworthy because it no longer exists: the Berlin Wall. As we do, let’s also recall and celebrate the monumental words spoken 25 years ago that helped spur its destruction.

  • GUEST OPINION: State open records laws riddled with loopholes, more

    Kent Flanagan, director of the Tennessee Coalition of Open Government, reminded TCOG followers on Twitter recently that the Tennessee General Assembly has added more than 350 exemptions to the state’s open records law over the years.

    Those exemptions are scattered throughout Tennessee Code Annotated, not codified in any one place in the Tennessee Public Records Act.

  • GUEST OPINIONG: Judge’s Facebook ruling flawed

    By KEN PAULSON
    First Amendment Center
    I “like” the First Amendment.

    And Bruce Springsteen. And the Chicago White Sox.

    In fact, you’ll find my “likes” on Facebook pages devoted to news, sports and music.

    All along, I’ve believed I was sharing my positive opinion of the people and organizations behind these pages. But now comes a federal court saying that clicking on the “like” button is not free speech after all.

  • GUEST OPINION: Censorship at library should never happen

    By KEN PAULSON
    First Amendment Center
    Being a librarian is a tough job. You have to tend to your community’s diverse information needs, often while working with limited resources. The job gets tougher when you find yourself in the crossfire of public opinion over a book.

    This time it’s a controversial trilogy of books called Fifty Shades of Grey, erotic novels that have moved to the top of the best-selling lists all across America.