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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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Monday, February 04, 2019

#FREESPEECH IN THE NEWS: FEBRUARY 4, 2019

Bliss Davis, Content Coordinator, The City Club of Cleveland

#FREESPEECH IN THE NEWS: FEBRUARY 4, 2019

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 – in the past week.


1.) Judge says Tampa conversion therapy ban violates First Amendment free-speech rights

A federal magistrate judge this week recommended that a ban on conversion therapy in Tampa be partially blocked, arguing it violates therapists' free-speech rights under the First Amendment.

A pair of licensed marriage and family therapists, along with a Christian ministry organization, sued the city of Tampa over an ordinance adopted in April 2017 that barred mental health professionals from subjecting minors to conversion therapy, a highly controversial practice that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The therapists, represented by the conservative Christian legal advocacy group Liberty Counsel, argued that the ordinance was unconstitutional because it prohibited them from taking part in “speech” through their counseling, simply because city officials disagree with the content of that speech.

2.) Facebook, Twitter and Google Finally Got Some Good Feedback on Their Anti-Hate Speech Efforts

European Union officials have given Facebook, Google and Twitter a rare pat on the back, for cutting the time it takes to scrub hate speech from their platforms.

The EU’s crusade against hate speech is a long-running issue that has involved threats of new regulation, as happened in Germany, if the big social media firms don’t do more to tackle the problem. As things stand, the companies have signed up to a voluntary code of conduct.

On Monday the European Commission—the bloc’s executive body—said its clean-up drive is bearing fruit. According to its statistics, 89% of suspect content is being evaluated within a day of someone flagging it up, and 72% of the content that is found to be illegal is removed.

3.) Arkansas State Senator proposes campus free speech bill

Students and faculty members all across Arkansas have been impacted by some sort of restriction on college campuses when it comes to voicing their opinions, a sponsor of a bill working its way through the state legislature said this week.

State Sen. Kim Hammer, R-Benton is working on legislation to allow free speech for college students and professors, whether in the classroom or any state funded institution.

After two readings, Sen. Hammer spoke with the Senate Education Committee on Jan. 23. “Students on campuses are having their voices silenced when sitting in the classes and wanting to express their opinion, either side of the aisle, doesn’t matter," Hammer said. "But also where professors are put in that same position where they are being directed by the administration of the colleges to stay within certain perimeters would violate free speech which is the most precious of our constitutional rights.”

The bill, Senate Bill 118, would impact college campuses that have free speech zones where administration are restricting free speech including political opinions, ideas and opinions administrators may find immoral, offensive and racist.


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