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Editorials

  • U.S. turned own guns against WWI vets in 1932

    By GENE POLICINSKI
    First Amendment Center
    The “Occupy Wall Street” movement and its rapidly spreading urban echoes are — like the Tea Party movement — grand examples of Americans using at least two of our lesser-known First Amendment freedoms: assembly and petition.

    Regardless of how you feel about either or both movements, they are the latest examples of the role of protest in American politics and society. In the history of protest, there are both lessons to be learned and mistakes to be avoided.

  • Change in libel law increased press freedom

    By KEN PAULSON
    First Amendment Center
    Forty-seven years ago, the free press became much more free.

    In New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that journalists may not be sued successfully by public officials for libel unless their news coverage was false, damaged a reputation and was published with “actual malice.”

    That meant establishing that the defamation was published “with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”

  • Saturday delivery cuts no answer for postal service

    By DONALD J. HALL JR.
    To ensure its future, the U.S. Postal Service must do more than seek short-term fixes to its long-term financial problems. Year after year, the U.S. Postal Service continues to raise postal rates to cover its growing expenses without adequately addressing its underlying organizational and operational issues.

    Instead, it is offering to cut service by eliminating Saturday mail delivery.

  • School Internet filters often too blunt to help

    By KEN PAULSON
    First Amendment Center
    There’s nothing sexy about the First Amendment Center’s website.

    Our goal is to publish a daily report that can be used in any classroom in America. We strive to be nonpartisan, apolitical and as tasteful as possible.

    We know that if parents and educators know that we’re a safe and trusted destination, their children and students are more likely to turn to us for research and term papers on the First Amendment.

  • Free speech defense should include all sides

    By KEN PAULSON
    First Amendment Center
    Here’s a quick two-step self-test of how you really feel about free expression.

    Step 1: What did you think about Hank Williams Jr. comparing President Obama to Adolf Hitler?
    Should Monday Night Football stop using Williams’ “Are You Ready for Some Football?”

    Step 2: How did you feel about Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks telling a London audience that she was embarrassed that President Bush was from her home state of Texas?

  • Interruptions shouldn’t be celebrated

    By KEN PAULSON
    First Amendment Center

    You don’t have to spend much time watching cable television or listening to talk radio before you hear people being interrupted and cut off.

  • The newspaper myth dispelled, once and for all

    By WILLIAM E.N. HAWKINS
    National newspaper week, Oct. 2-8, is a time to celebrate the unique role newspapers play in our society and dispel the myth that they are going away.

    It may be difficult for some to see through the fog of recession and digital disruption, but if you look closely you’ll see that newspapers remain healthy.

    Despite the doomsayers, newspapers are actually growing readership as we find new ways to reach consumers.

    While overall revenues are down, so are expenses and most newspapers remain profitable. 

  • It sounds like a threat, but it really isn’t

    By GENE POLICINSKI
    First Amendment Center

    When are words that seem threatening not legally a threat?

    A jury in Hartford, Conn., refused on Sept. 16 to convict blogger Hal Turner of charges stemming from online comments he made in 2009 urging others, in response to a new state law, to “take up arms and put down this tyranny by force” and that public officials should “obey the Constitution or die.”

  • TVA lawsuit puts residents between rock, hard place

    Many of us are watching with interest as the first of lawsuits over TVA’s 2008 ash spill makes its way through federal court.

    The lawsuits, which kicked off last week in Knoxville, are important and many millions of dollars are at stake.

    It’s difficult for Roane Countians to take a side in these cases.

    One the one hand, many Roane Countians have suffered as the result of what TVA’s own inspector general has deemed carelessness.

  • Putting 9/11 fear aside in favor of freedom

    By GENE POLICINSKI
    First Amendment Center
    “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in March 1933 — speaking in his first inaugural address to a desperate and fearful nation wracked by the Great Depression.

    Those same words, which perhaps would be sent today as a tweet from PrezFDR.gov, translate well to today’s war on terror as we mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001.