Too many Americans like the idea of free speech, so long as they agree with what is being said

Free speech has been synonymous with America since our founding. Free expression is one of many great things about America. Being able to protest our government without reprisal, going out in public and espousing a particular belief, supporting a candidate (or not supporting a candidate) are all covered by our guiding principles found in our U.S. Constitution. And it is nothing new, after all, the Magna Carta was crafted in 1215.

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Photo Credit: John Nakamura Remy

But what often happens, some people get offended by all of that freedom. Many people are citing President Donald Trump as being highly critical of media outlets who profile him and his administration, as he says, unfairly. At least Trump is not putting them in jail as would Abraham Lincoln. You see, notions of fake news are nothing new in our constitutional republic and those who are offended by someone’s free speech often go down the wrong road of trying to inhibit that speech.

Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the notion that simply because someone is offended, it does not limit one’s ability to exercise another’s public speech. When it comes to religion, a government entity can allow religion to come into the government nexus, but it cannot show favoritism to any one religion.

For example, here in Boca Raton, Fla, the city government is considering reversing its historical practice of temporarily allowing religious organizations to put symbols of their religion in city-owned Sanborn Square each December. The reason? Someone chose to exercise his free speech rights and offered a contrasting symbol of the “normal” Christian birth of Jesus and the Jewish menorah. Everything was fine until someone offered an “unpopular” religion, so now it is suddenly being proposed that there will not be any displays permitted. The person behind the Satanic symbol that caused all the controversy last year was making the political statement that the city government should not have been allowing the displays in the first place.

Similarly, many state and local governments would hold a prayer before their official meetings and this is against our Constitution unless they offer different religions the same on a rotating basis. It cannot just be a Christian or Jewish “prayer” before official government meetings, it must be open to all religions. This is what made Chaz Stevens and others around the nation did a couple years ago, as a “minion of Satan” offering his invocation before local government meetings. Most city governments ended the practice of praying before their meetings or have at least opened it up to other religions as to finally be lawful under the U.S. Constitution. Though I can say as a frequent guest at city council meetings, this is not always the case. Stevens was simply trying to point out that the government should not be showing favoritism toward any particular religion and for so long as elected officials inject religion into government, it must be non-discriminatory. Afterall, while Christians and Jews make up a large swath of Americans, a near equal number of Atheists, Islamists, Buddhists, and over 300 other religions make up the rest of America.

We have even heard recent talk that some people should not be allowed on television if they support President Trump or his positions. This type of thinking is the complete opposite of what free speech is all about. Media outlets should offer opposing viewpoints on their television stations and on their websites so the public can decide for themselves what is best. It is not up to news media companies to parse through and edit footage to offer up a particular viewpoint to the general public. It is up to news outlets to offer unbiased information from all sides. This is Journalism 101. But we rarely see that in today’s media and that is unfortunate. American journalism is on life support.

Sadly, we see students being disciplined at schools around the country simply for espousing a contrasting opinion. Ultimately, thanks to organizations such as FIRE, these overboard decisions by school systems are held accountable. But such discipline should not exist for a student simply putting for their opinions. If not on a college campus, then where can a young person get the intellectual growth necessary to be a productive human being exposed to multiple points of view?

Another issue on today’s college campuses seems to be people wanting to shut down debates or speeches by those with opposing views. This has been a dramatic upswing this past year where speakers have been shouted down and physical threats have been made if they step foot on campus. OK, so you disagree with what they are saying; you can choose to not attend or you can attend and then during the Q & A offer your strong objections to what they said. But shouting them down for having an opposing view is clearly un-American and doesn’t help public discourse.

Another local case was T.A. Wyner went up again the Florida parks system, challenging their “bathing suit rule” as being unconstitutional. This, because the rule violates state law which allows one being nude in a public place so long that area has been set aside for that purpose and it is not for sexual reasons. In 2003, Wyner, an avid naturist, held a performance art exhibit in MacArthur State Park which included her being without clothes in violation of the state park’s “bathing suit rule.” Although she was arrested, she took the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won. Wyner should not have been arrested for two reasons, (1) she was actively expressing her first amendment right and (2) she was not violating state law.

So, while there are multitudes of people with which I may disagree, I enjoy exchanging ideas back and forth in a non-threatening, intellectual manner. It has been my experience, this works better than going out protesting a person instead of an issue or idea. Hopefully, when those exchanges happen, we both leave the conversation learning something. This is what free speech is all about in my opinion, and it is sad to see so many people willing to throw such discourse literally in the trash.

Florida Gubernatorial candidate fights Real ID in court tomorrow

Florida Gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie continues his fight against Real ID and the State of Florida in court tomorrow, July 18, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. He will be in a hearing at the Pinellas County Justice Center in Clearwater, Florida to dismiss the state’s charge against him for traveling for personal purposes without their permission. Should the judge rule in favor of his motion, then Real ID will have been found to be unconstitutional in Florida. If the judge denies the motion, there will be a jury trial in August. Wyllie is facing Rick Scott and the Democratic primary winner (Charlie Crist or Nan Rich) in the general election in November, 2014 to be Florida’s next governor.

Read the FULL story here.

Constitutional expert Tom Regnier speaks tomorrow in Miami

Tomorrow evening, July 8, 2014, Tom Regnier, a libertarian lawyer and law professor will speak on the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. After South Floridians celebrated July 4th (Independence Day) this past weekend, Regnier will offer an education as to how we went from a country of freedoms to a country near tyranny.

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Movie rights purchased in Supreme Court Kelo case

Susette Kelo—the working class nurse who lost her waterfront home in an epic U.S. Supreme Court battle—has lived a life that reads like a Hollywood movie, and now that is exactly what it will become. Today, June 23, 2014 marks the 9th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s rulling in the Kelo case.

Producers Ted and Courtney Balaker of Korchula Productions today announced they purchased the movie rights to the book “Little Pink House,” which documented the behind-the-scenes story behind the Kelo fight against eminent domain abuse, and they also purchased the life rights to Kelo’s personal story. With those rights secured, the script ready, and funding expected to be completed this year, Korchula Productions plans to move forward with casting and move into production of the theatrical movie in the spring of 2015. Next year marks the 10th anniversary of the infamous ruling in Kelo v City of New London, a much-despised decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government could take the homes of ordinary Americans and hand the land over to another private party for the mere promise that the new project would raise more money in taxes.

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Ferry brothers will not be heard by the Supereme Court

Today, June 2, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of a case challenging a nearly century-old, government-imposed ferry monopoly on Lake Chelan in central Washington state. The appeal, filed by the Institute for Justice on behalf of brothers Jim and Cliff Courtney, raised important questions concerning the scope of protection that the U.S. Constitution provides for the economic rights of ordinary Americans. The Court’s refusal to hear the appeal lets stand a terrible 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision wholly dismissive of economic rights.

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IRS declines to seek U.S. Supreme Court review of ruling

Today, May 13, 2014, three independent tax-return preparers’ victory over the IRS became final, after the agency declined to file a petition seeking review from the U.S. Supreme Court. The lapse of the deadline marks the conclusion of a two-year battle over whether the IRS had the authority under the “Horse Act” of 1884—a statute passed to govern compensation claims for dead horses brought on behalf of Civil War veterans—to impose a nationwide licensing scheme on tax preparers.

Read the full story here.

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Ohio GOP succeeds in eliminating competition by Libertarian candidate

As we wrote in March (see below), a federal judge felt the Republican Party of Ohio had a hand in actively working to remove Libertarian Party Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl off the May 6, 2014 primary ballot. In that March decision to keep Earl off the ballot, U.S. District Judge Michael Watson commented that Ohio Republicans appear to be behind the effort to disqualify Libertarian Party gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl from the May primary ballot. Yesterday, May 1, 2014 lost an appeal to that decision and the Libertarian Party of Ohio has committed to appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

See the rest of the story here.

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