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Editorials

  • 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)

  • GUEST OPINION: Freedom to report requires another freedom

    By GENE POLICINSKI
    First Amendment Center
    Freedom to report the news requires the freedom to gather it.

    In the months ahead, that basic concept — so central to the First Amendment’s protection of a free press — will also be at the heart of the ongoing debate over how far government officials may go in pursuit of those responsible for “leaking” classified information to journalists.

  • GUEST OPINION: Graduation prayer fights a lost cause

    By CHARLES C. HAYNES
    First Amendment Center
    School officials in Lake City, Arkansas have come up with a novel solution to the fight over prayer at graduation:
    No prayer, no graduation.

    On May 6, the school board voted to cancel sixth-grade graduation at Lake City’s two elementary schools.

    The action came soon after the district received a complaint letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation objecting to prayers at previous graduations.

    Rather than drop the prayers, the district opted to drop the entire ceremony.

  • AP records seizure an affront to a free press

    By GENE POLICINSKI
    First Amendment Center
    What The Associated Press calls “a massive and unprecedented intrusion by the Department of Justice”(DOJ) into its news gathering activities is more than an affront to a free press — it’s a direct challenge.

  • Rutherford Co. Commandments issue revisted

    By KEN PAULSON
    First Amendment Center
    It’s been almost 10 years since the Rutherford County, lost a very expensive lawsuit over the posting of the Ten Commandments in the county courthouse.
    The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Commission, contending that the posting was an unconstitutional promotion of religion.  U.S. Judge Robert Echols agreed and ordered the Ten Commandments removed in 2004.  It will “stay down,” County Mayor Ernest Burgess said at the time, calling it “the end of the story.”

  • GUEST OPINION: Praise our teachers for important work

    By GERA SUMMERFORD
    Tennessee Education Association
    Public education reform has been a hot-button topic at both the state and federal levels for several years.  

    When the Bush Administration passed No Child Left Behind, the plan called for every student in every public school achieving specific learning goals by 2014.  

    Since its passage, we have seen an increase in standardized and high-stakes tests across the nation and here in Tennessee, since many reformers believe the only way to measure student achievement is through testing.

  • GUEST OPINION: Tragedies reshape news reporting effort

    By GENE POLICINSKI
    First Amendment Center
    Two national tragedies separated by six years and a day – the April 15 bombing at the Boston Marathon and the April 16, 2007, mass shooting at Virginia Tech University – also are notable in marking how technology is reshaping our freedoms of speech and press.