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Editorials

  • GUEST OPINION: Gay equality trumps religious objections

    By CHARLES C. HAYNES
    First Amendment Center
    In the wake of two favorable Supreme Court decisions, gay-rights proponents got another boost this month with the release of State of the First Amendment: 2013, a public-opinion survey supported by the First Amendment Center.

    According to the new poll, a majority of Americans (62 percent) now agrees that religiously affiliated groups receiving government funds can be required to provide health benefits to same-sex couples, even if the group has religious objections to same-sex marriage or partnerships.

  • GUEST OPINION: Constitution dispels myth of Christian nation

    By CHARLES C. HAYNES
    First Amendment Center
    Culture warriors, pseudo-historians and opportunistic politicians have spent the last several decades peddling the myth that America was founded as a “Christian nation.”

    The propaganda appears to be working.

    A majority of the American people (51 percent) believes that the U.S. Constitution establishes a Christian nation, according to the State of the First Amendment survey released last month by the First Amendment Center.

  • GUEST OPINION: Rights for religious same for those who believeth not

    By CHARLES C. HAYNES
    First Amendment Center
    Government in America must be neutral among religions and neutral between religion and non-religion — at least that’s how the U.S. Supreme Court interprets the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

    But escalating conflicts involving government treatment of the nonreligious — atheists and humanists — reveal that far too many government officials are confused and conflicted about the meaning of “neutrality.”

  • GUEST OPINION: Fear after violent incidents imperils our core liberties

    By GENE POLICINSKI
    First Amendment Center
    At various times, every American likely has wished for less of some things that the First Amendment protects.

    Less hateful speech. One less noisy protest group. Or maybe even the swift departure of a media outlet or personality whose stance or voice is just grating on a personal level.

    But for the most part, those wishes come and go – or the targets do, as media fortunes or political trends wax and wane.

  • America’s favorite freedom involves words, not bullets

    By KEN PAULSON
    First Amendment Center
    What is America’s favorite freedom?  It’s freedom of speech by a wide margin, according to the annual State of the First Amendment survey.
    About 47 percent of those polled in the First Amendment Center survey said freedom of speech is the most important right, almost five times the number citing second-choice freedom of religion, named by 10 percent.

  • OUR OPINION: $585 bags are like gold toilets ­to taxpayers

    We’ve long been a supporter of good, well-compensated teachers.

    However, we share every taxpayer’s distaste for wasteful adminstrative spending.

    That’s why we’re utterly disgusted with Roane County Schools’ plan to buy two fine Italian leather briefcases at $585 each to shuttle mail to the central office.

    Schools Director Gary Aytes seemed untroubled by the potential expense.

  • GUEST OPINION: Is Congress ready to step up support for a shield law?

    Editor’s note: This column was first published in USA Today on May 21.

    By KEN PAULSON
    First Amendment Center
    Suddenly, freedom of the press is very, very popular.

    In the wake of revelations that the Justice Department had subpoenaed the phone records of Associated Press reporters, many members of Congress were quick to share their outrage.

    “The First Amendment is first for a reason,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. “If the Obama administration is going after reporters’ phone records, they better have a damned good explanation.”

  • GUEST OPINION: County could have prevented school mess

    By JAMES “DUB” HARMON
    Former District 2 County Commissioner
    As a former Roane County commissioner representing District 2, I attended a joint meeting of the school board and county commission.

    I asked then-director-of-schools Toni McGriff why the board was intending to build a new school for Dyllis near Oliver Springs instead of building it at DeArmond Crossing for Walnut Hills Elementary and Dyllis.

  • GUEST OPINION: Second try at shield law echoes first

    By GENE POLINCINSKI
    First Amenedment Center
    An irony of timing twice has put U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning in the headlines at critical moments in gaining congressional approval of a federal shield law that would protect journalists and their confidential sources.
    On Capitol Hill, there’s new-found  White House support and congressional action behind  proposals to for the first time provide legal means in federal courts for journalists to keep secret their confidential sources and unpublished information.

  • GUEST OPINION: Crying out loud: When free speech is shouted down

    By GENE POLICINSKI
    First Amendment Center
    So how “free” is free speech, really?

    By law, under the First Amendment, speech is very free. Government can only stop us from speaking, or punish us for what we’ve said, under very limited circumstances.

    Sometimes, those limits on free speech are pretty clear and generally agreed upon. For example, speech that is involved in a criminal act like extortion or blackmail finds no shelter in the First Amendment.