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Editorials

  • 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.

  • A VIEW from LICK SKILLET: Character of Dr. Muhammad Morsi is discussed

    As promised last week, we will give some details about Dr. Muhammad Morsi, principally about a visit paid him by the author of Mullahs, Merchants, and Militants, by Stephen J. Glain, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2004. Mr. Glain is a former Wall Street Journal Middle East correspondent. His meeting with Morsi is set out in his book on pages 268 to 275. It took place primarily at Dr. Morsi’s office at Zaqaziq University.

  • 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.

  • OUR OPINION: Education Matters! needs our support

    Last month, The Roane Alliance kicked off an effort to save a program that every Roane Countian should embrace.

    The Education Matters! initiative is in danger because of substantial government funding cuts. It needs more support.

    The aim of Education Matters! is to ensure every child in Roane County goes on to a post-secondary school … and does well when they do.

  • GUEST OPINION: More on media and government secrets

    By Gene Policinski, First Amendment Center
    Will the government ever do it — charge a reporter under the Espionage Act with endangering national security for disclosing classified information?

    No journalist ever has been prosecuted for receiving and writing about such leaked information. Two recent controversies raised questions of how far the Department of Justice officials might go in investigations of such “leaks.”

    But President Obama clearly stepped back from taking the issue to any constitutional cliff.

  • GUEST OPINION: Legislative prayers are a murky situation

    By CHARLES C. HAYNES
    First Amendment Center
    When the U.S. Supreme Court declared legislative prayers constitutional 30 years ago, the justices sent a convoluted message to legislatures, city councils and other government bodies:

    You may open your sessions with prayer, a tradition that dates back to the founding of the Republic.  But don’t exploit the prayer opportunity “to proselytize or advance any one, or to disparage any other, faith or belief.” (Marsh v. Chambers, 1983)