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Editorials

  • GUEST OPINION: Care needed when dealing with Occupy camps

    A long winter for the Occupy Wall Street movement has seen a shift in tactics by cities, towns and state legislatures seeking to remove many of the estimated 600 encampments nationwide.

    Some Occupy groups camped on public property have obtained court rulings that permit them to protest anytime in public spaces, but not to keep tents or sleeping bags on the sites. Elsewhere, formal or informal bargains have been struck that allow tents but not the accessories of camping — in effect permitting momentary shelters, not encampments.

  • GUEST OPINION: Tobacco case: Feds’ warnings went too far

    By KEN PAULSON
    First Amendment Center
    The federal government can require that tobacco companies warn the public about health hazards, but it can’t force them to scare smokers out of the habit.

    That was the finding recently by Judge Richard J. Leon of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., who struck down a Food and Drug Administration rule as a violation of the First Amendment. Leon had earlier issued a preliminary injunction to prevent the FDA from requiring the new warning labels on cigarette packs.

  • GUEST OPINION:St. Louis case: When is a sign free speech?

    By KEN PAULSON
    First Amendment Center
    In declining to review a ruling that invalidated a St. Louis sign ordinance, the U.S. Supreme Court has let stand an opinion that both supports freedom of speech and reinforces the core values of the First Amendment.

    In 2007, Jim Roos had a 360-ft.-square mural posted on the side of an apartment building.

    Its message: “End eminent domain abuse.”

    The city of St. Louis said the sign was too large and ordered Roos to take it down, leading to a court battle.

  • GUEST OPINION: Booking photos — public record or intrusion?

    By GENE POLICINSKI
    First Amendment Center
    The mug shots of recently arrested federal prisoners are private and in most cases not available to the public, a federal appeals panel decided Feb. 22, turning back a request from the Tulsa (Okla.) World newspaper.

    The three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding a district court decision, rejected a number of arguments by the newspaper about the benefits of public access to U.S. Marshals Service booking photos.

  • GUEST OPINION: Unnecessary profanity law has no place

    By KEN PAULSON
    First Amendment Center
    An odd piece of legislation has been introduced in the Arizona Legislature that would discipline public school teachers for using profanity in the classroom.

    It’s unusual on a couple of fronts.

    First of all, there doesn’t seem to be any widespread problem in Arizona with profane teachers. Secondly, the bill uses the standards of the Federal Communications Commission’s indecency restrictions.

  • OUR OPINION: Rockwood city financials need action, oversight

    We hope the residents of Rockwood  are concerned about recent revelations that the city may be over budget and short on reserves.

    City officials there have had full plates with utility and other issues, but the most important of their duties is wise spending of the taxpayers’ dollars.

    Officials seemed unsure where the final talley will fall when certain projects are done and certain revenues come in.

    Hoping to break even is the best option we’ve heard tossed out there, but it didn’t seem like a strong possibility.

  • (Mis)conduct of police should be recordable

    By KEN PAULSON
    First Amendment Center
    Imagine Rodney King in the YouTube era.
    The beating captured on a camcorder in 1991 was seen on at least 240 TV stations around the world, impressive for pre-digital days, and served notice on law enforcement officers that cameras could capture them at their best — and worst.
    Today, when laughing babies can yield 42 million views, images of officers beating a suspect would go viral in minutes.

  • GUEST OPINION: Consider freedom during planning for conventions

    By GENE POLICINSKI
    First Amendment Center
    As the 2012 presidential primary season reaches full speed, let’s pause on the politics for a moment and look ahead to the national Republican and Democratic conventions with the First Amendment in mind.

    Republicans will meet the week of Aug. 27 in Tampa, Fla.

    Democrats huddle the week of Sept. 3 in Charlotte, N.C.

  • GUEST OPINION: Support for free speech drops if you hate message

    By GENE POLICINSKI
    First Amendment Center
    Does anybody have a sense of humor anymore?

    The First Amendment’s role in protecting free speech is to shelter remarks that most people don’t like. Words that everybody finds acceptable need no defense.

    In between those two polar points is the daily give-and-take of discourse. The verbal tumult of braggadocio, insults, satire and plain speaking can pass the time of day or give rise to what lawyers and Supreme Court justices politely call “robust discussion.”

  • GUEST OPINION:Copyright law favors Romney in anti-Gingrich ad

    By KEN PAULSON
    First Amendment Center

    NBC News has asked Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign to stop airing an anti-Newt Gingrich ad that includes an excerpt from a 1997 “NBC Nightly News” report featuring Tom Brokaw.

    The political ad shows the former NBC anchor reporting that Gingrich had been reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee.

    NBC and Brokaw have protested that the use of the clip violates copyright law and exploits Brokaw and NBC News’ journalistic credibility.