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Want to know what is on our minds? Find blog posts written here, by the City Club staff, members, and partners. Every week you can find a new edition of #FreeSpeech in the News — a collection of related stories, commentary, and opinions on free speech in the 21st century that’s making the news. You’ll also find takes on current events, past forums, and issues surrounding Northeast Ohio. Read on for all things City Club.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

#FreeSpeech in the News: July 12, 2016

As the Citadel of Free Speech here in Cleveland, we work to protect and promote the basis of our democracy by sharing related stories, commentary, and opinions on free speech in the 21st century. Here's what's making the news - and what you should know about - this week.

The last week has been one filled with tragedy. From that tragedy, robust debate around free speech on social media condoning terrorism or as a terrorism recruitment tool continues. Yahoo Finance reports on Fox Business coverage that explores the issue of Facebook not properly policing posts that violate its own policies.

How far should freedom of speech online extend? With respect to Facebook Live, the social media company outlined their policy with regards to the new feature this week when the killing of Philando Castile was broadcast using the app. "The video doesn't violate standards," explained a spokeswoman for Facebook, "but we marked it as disturbing with a warning." Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, said that the images were "graphic and heartbreaking." In an official statement on Facebook Live, the company said: "Live video can be a powerful tool in a crisis — to document events or ask for help," giving users a "window into the best moments" and also lets them "bear witness to the worst." Tech Times has more, but interestingly enough, the video has disappeared from Facebook.

A convention is rolling through Cleveland next week, and as preparations have been made and continue to be made for the Republican National Convention (RNC), protecting everyone’s right to free speech – delegates, protestors, and politicians – has been a major consideration. On that topic, The Kansas City Star penned a defense of the free speech rights of protestors, not political parties, saying: “Local government should worry more about protecting the fundamental liberties of Americans and less about the partisan wants of thin-skinned politicians and parties.”

Bustle provides an additional explanation of a free speech at the RNC, detail why the ACLU of Ohio sued the RNC for its regulations on protesting and political speech.

The New York Times also reminds us this week that Supreme Court Justices have the right to freedom of speech as well by providing commentary on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s criticism of Donald Trump and the threat his election would pose to the rule of law in the United States.

“The judicial code of ethics says that judges are not to endorse or oppose candidates for elected office. But these provisions do not apply to Supreme Court justices. 

Nor do I believe that such restrictions are constitutional or desirable. The First Amendment is based on the strong presumption that more speech is beneficial because it means we are all better informed. I think it is valuable for people to hear what the justices have to say on important issues. As a lawyer and as a citizen, I’d always rather know what justices and judges think rather than have enforced silence and pretend they have no views. We are in a relatively new era of public statements by justices, and I applaud it.”

Across the world, Newsweek details how, as ISIS attacks increase in Turkey, the country continues to limit free speech for its citizens and news publications. Specifically targeting the publication Zaman: “Sevgi Akarçeşme knew right away that her job was in jeopardy under the trustees appointed by the government to oversee the seized media group, which was charged with unspecified “terrorist activities” by Judge Fevzi Keleş. ‘I figured that it was a matter of time before [Zaman editors] were banned from leaving the country or arrested on terrorist charges,” she said.

Finally, this week the UK online publication Heat Street offers “the feminist case for free speech,” pointing out that “free speech and feminist politics are often presented as being mutually exclusive – at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of how public discourse unfolds.”

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