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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, May 13, 2019

#FREESPEECH IN THE NEWS: MAY 13, 2019

Bliss Davis, Content Coordinator, The City Club of Cleveland

#FREESPEECH IN THE NEWS: MAY 13, 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.) Facebook is being sued by a Polish drug prevention group over free speech violation

Facebook’s efforts to shut down harmful and malicious content on its platform have landed it in a European courtroom, after an anti-drug abuse organization in Poland claimed that a freeze on its Facebook Pages is a violation of its rights to free speech.

The Civil Society Drug Policy Initiative (Społeczna Inicjatywa Narkopolityki in Polish) says that it has filed a complaint with the District Court of Warsaw against Facebook for violating articles 23-24 of the Polish Civil Code, which ensures free speech for individuals and organizations.

SIN says that Facebook deleted several of its pages on Facebook and Instagram for violating its community standards in 2018 and 2019. SIN is asking for Facebook to reinstate its Pages and its followers, and to publicly apologize for its actions.

2.) Fired state worker sues Kentucky governor over free speech

An ex-state employee is suing Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, claiming she was fired due to her ties to a group that supported teacher sickouts that shut down school districts to protest GOP-backed legislation.

The federal suit filed Wednesday alleges Charissa "Chris" Cooke's First Amendment rights were violated.

"Cooke's termination appears to be part of the defendants' efforts to punish and intimidate individuals who oppose their policy positions," Cooke's suit says. It seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages as well as reinstatement to her job as a paralegal for an administrative law judge who oversees cases involving workers' compensation claims.

3.) Are online threats protected free speech? Colorado Supreme Court to decide on Denver student’s tweets

In the wake of the 2013 fatal Arapahoe High School shooting, a 17-year-old Denver-area student threatened on Twitter to kill a student at a different high school, posting an image of a handgun and writing “We don’t want another incident like Arapahoe. My 9 never on vacation.”

He also made other explicit comments such as, “Let me catch you away from school you is a dead man” and “Trust me I’m not afraid to shoot.”

The student, who has not been identified because he was a juvenile at the time, was convicted of harassment and ordered to write an essay. However, his defense attorneys successfully argued to the Colorado Court of Appeals that those tweets were not threats and should be protected by the First Amendment and the conviction was thrown out.


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