Tags >> rights
Jun 22
2009

Hate Speech and the 1st Amendment

Posted by Bruce Robinson in rights , politics , news , media , legislation , law enforcement , Ideas , government

Bruce Robinson

 

Hate speech is abhorrent, widespread on the Internet and elsewhere, and Constitutionally protected by the First Amendment.

 

The near-absolute protection of all forms of speech by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (see full text, at left)  is a rarity, not even shared by Great Britain, whose Magna Carta served as a model and inspiration for our Founding Fathers. Peter Scheer, Executive Director of the First Amendment Coalition in San Rafael, notes that other long-established western Democracies in Europe set tighter limits.

The risk inherent in attempting to legislate against hate speech, says Peter Scheer (right), lies in how it is defined, and who is doing the defining.

Even in thoroughly modern and democratic nations, attempts to limit hate speech have proven problematic. Scheer details a specific recent instance in Canada.

 

 

 

 

Jun 09
2009

CodePink in Gaza

Posted by Bruce Robinson in war , volunteer , students , rights , peace , parks , nonprofit orgs , news , justice , international , government , children , activism

Bruce Robinson

 In her recent visit to the Gaza Strip, a Sebastopol woman left behind some hot pink playground equipment, and brought back a heightened humanitarian concern for the region's residents.

CodePink , the San Francisco-based women's peace organization, assembled an international delegation of 66  that included Barbara Briggs-Ledson of Sebastopol, for a five-day visit to the Gaza Strip early this month, just ahead of President Obama's visit to Egypt. While they were there,the CodePink represetatives were given a letter from the leadership of Hamas to deliver to the President, inviting him to also visit Gaza. Read the letter here .

 The sliver of land known as the Gaza Strip comprises just 139 square miles, covering roughly the distance between Sebastopol and Petaluma and extending halfway out to the coast. Home to 1.5 million residents, nearly half of them children and youth, it is intensively urbanized--the refugee camps are blocks of concrete apartment buildings. So Barbara Briggs-Letson says she took particular pleasure in helping bring something colorful for the kids to that scene.

 




 Barbara Briggs-Letson (in white) smiles for the camera along with the Palestinian women who acted as translators for the  CodePink visitors. In addition to bringing and assembling the playgrounds, the CodePink delegation visited hospitals and other public facilities, Briggs-Letson says they also met with some of the area's political leaders.

Damaged buildings at every turn were a constant reminder of day-to-day dangers of life in the Gaza Strip, says Briggs-Letson. And there were others, too.

Below are some additional pictures of the pink new playground equipment in use.

 

 

You can see more photos from the Code Pink Gaza delegation's trip here

May 26
2009

Proposition 8 Ruling

Posted by Bruce Robinson in rights , protest , politics , policy , justice , government , families , activism

Bruce Robinson

The California Supreme Court's decision upholding Proposition 8 will not be the last word on the contentious issue of same sex marriage in our state.

  

As much as she dreaded it, Jeanne Rizzo (seen at left in white, celebrating her marriage with long-timer partner Pali Cooper last summer)  had a sinking expectation well in advance that the court's ruling would go against the same sex marriage advocates who had sought to overturn Proposition 8.

 

The case before the court contended that passage of Proposition 8 last November didn't just amend the California state constitution, but created a substantive change to it by denying rights unequally to a subset of the population. The decision, in Romesburg's view, says more about California's legal and legislative standing than it does about same sex marriage.

Shortly after the Supreme Court decision was announced, KRCB was able to reach Jane Spahr (right), the Presbyterian minister who was threatened with internal sactions from the church for marrying two same sex couples in Sonoma County. Spahr was among the hundreds of protesters outside San Francisco City Hall (see photo below) and described the scene as she and dozens of others prepared to be arrested as part of that demonstration.

 

Demonstrators sit down at Van Ness Avenue at Grove Street. Protesters took part in a civil disobedience demonstration that blocked traffic on Van Ness following the California Supreme Courts decision upholding of Prop 8 vote, the ban on gay marriage.  About 100 protesters were arrested, a small portion of the crowd that turned out to object to the California Supreme Cour decision upholding Proposition 8.

 

May 20
2009

Okili's Deportation

Posted by Bruce Robinson in volunteer , rights , policy , news , justice , international , immigration , government , families , events , community , children , Africa

Bruce Robinson

Belated enforcement of an African student's expired visa, more than 20 years later, is now threatening to tear apart a Santa Rosa family.

There will be a benefit concert, featuring many of Okili's musical friends and supporters, Friday night, May 22 at the Sebastopol Community Center, to raise money for his legal defense (more details below). Donations can also be made directly here.

It's been a full month since Okili was taken away from his home and family  including his son, Olembe, who is now 17. During that time,his wife, Sabrina Krauss, has managed only limited telephone contact with him.

Sabrina Krauss says the couple made what they felt were good faith attempts to obtain legal immigrant status for Okili, even consulting with Congressal representative.