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Editorials

  • GUEST OPINION: Shoot straight: Kids can, too, pray at school

    By CHARLES C. HAYNES
    First Amendment Center
    The latest attack on the “godless public schools” — a staple of Republican primaries past — is a new ad in Iowa by Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign proclaiming there’s “something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.”

  • OUR OPINION: Kudos to nine county officials who get it

    We couldn’t be more proud of the nine Roane County Commission members who carried the vote against a measure that could  greatly increase secrecy in government proceedings.

    Remember these names: County Commissioners Nick Forrester, Copper Bacon, Ron Berry, Ray Cantrell, Benny East, Randy Ellis, Jerry Goddard, Carolyn Granger and Stanley Moore voted “no” to giving their backing to a proposed change to state law that would allow members of a governing body to meet in private — as long as a quorum is not present.

  • To report, journalists must observe

    By GENE POLICINSKI
    First Amendment Center
    I wonder if news magnate Michael Bloomberg really would agree with alter ego New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the nuts and bolts of a free press.

    Bloomberg, the mayoral version, was quoted in recent news reports as saying journalists weren’t justified in complaining about being blocked from witnessing the Nov. 15 police removal of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators from an encampment in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park.

  • Tennessee jail does right by First Amendment

    By DAVID L. HUDSON
    First Amendment Center
    Jail officials in Sumner County did not violate the First Amendment rights of a former inmate when they prohibited him from wearing a kufi, or Islamic head covering, a federal magistrate judge said recently.

    Horatio D. Burford contended that during his time in the Sumner County jail, officials denied him the right to wear the kufi, citing a general ban on head coverings.

  • GUEST OPINION: Let’s get back the holiday that got away

    By KEN PAULSON
    First Amendment Center
    Imagine if they canceled Independence Day.

    What if the federal government declared that the Fourth of July was no longer a holiday?  We would be told to report for work, cancel fireworks displays and picnics and go about our business the same as any other day.

    There would be outrage. Americans would be angered by the suggestion that we shouldn’t celebrate freedom. 

    Not recognize Independence Day?  Why, that would be un-American.

  • Judge seeks balance in Occupy ruling

    By GENE POLICINSKI
    First Amendment Center
    A federal judge in Minnesota has provided an interesting, common-sense decision that appears to balance fairly the First Amendment rights of the Occupy movement demonstrators, the responsibilities of public officials, and the larger interests of the public.

    Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle ruled Nov. 23 that protesters can post signs in a Hennepin County government plaza and that they can assemble there “during any hour of the day.” But he also said county officials may ban tents and forbid anyone from sleeping overnight in the area.

  • Our Opinion: A salute to the bravery of sex assault victims

    As the child molestation accusations continue to unfold at Penn State and Syracuse University, it seems that there’s only one group involved that can be viewed with pride.

    That’s the victims who were brave enough to come forward.

    Many of us can only imagine the lasting pain these people may feel — even those who never report the abuse they were dealt by someone they knew and trusted.

  • 45 words from 1791 are ultimate power

    By GENE POLICINSKI
    First Amendment Center
    The comparisons have already started — police in Egypt attacking demonstrators with clubs and tear gas, and police in a number of U.S. cities breaking up “Occupy” camps with clubs and tear gas.

    If you’re a demonstrator in Cairo or Oakland, any difference between foreign and domestic nightsticks and pepper spray probably doesn’t matter a whit.

  • Feel the glow from Kingston Christmas lights

    Christmas should be a little brighter on Kingston’s main streets this season — thanks to a set of new holiday decor lights.

    The city council bit the bullet earlier this year and purchased energy-saving LED lights in the form of twinkly snowflakes and sparkly, candy-cane-stuffed stockings.

    The cost of Christmas lighting had the city thinking of turning off the old lights for a big part of the Christmas season. That seemed to make everyone involved sad.

  • Chilling power of GPS surveillance tested in court

    By GENE POLICINSKI
    First Amendment Center
    The First Amendment was not in plain sight Nov. 8 when the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over a drug conviction involving police use of a hidden GPS tracking device without a search warrant.

    But the Court’s decision — expected next spring — will have implications for our First Amendment rights of association and free speech, owing to a legal concept called “practical obscurity.”