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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, September 09, 2019

#FREESPEECH IN THE NEWS: September 9, 2019

Bliss Davis, Content Coordinator, The City Club of Cleveland

#FREESPEECH IN THE NEWS: September 9, 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.) Language guide at CSU sparks 'free speech' debate in some circles

A so-called “inclusive language guide” created at Colorado State University sparked a new kind of controversy when an early version suggested faculty and staff avoid the word “American” when referring to people from the United States.

While CSU has since deleted that draft of the guide , when that version made news this summer, it set off controversy in some circles.

The guide included the word “American” as possibly offensive because, “the Americas encompass a lot more than the United States. There is South America, Central America, Mexico, Canada … 42 countries total.”

It suggested describing yourself as, “a person from the U.S.” as an alternative.

2.) Catholic School Bans ‘Harry Potter’⁠—But According To Free Speech Advocates, It’s Nothing New

A Nashville-area Catholic school banned the Harry Potter books for their depiction of “actual curses and spells”⁠—however, censoring Harry and friends has been happening for decades and probably will keep happening.

Reverend Dan Reehil, a pastor at St. Edward Catholic School, decided to ban the Harry Potter series from the school library, without input from teachers, school administrators, or parents.

In an email to faculty, Reehil wrote, “The curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text,” after conferring with exorcism experts on the matter.

Parents of St. Edward’s students submitted a letter objecting to the library’s removal of Harry Potter, but there is little legal ground for them to have the series reinstated because it is a private school, according to Deborah Caldwell-Stone, interim director of the American Library Association (ALA) office for intellectual freedom.

3.) He wasn't smoking weed, just talking about it. Now, college is facing suit over free speech

When J. Michael Brown was a student at Jones College, formerly Jones County Junior College, he tried to poll his fellow college students about legalizing marijuana.

He wanted to spark a dialogue about civil liberties. Instead, he was deprived of his own, according to federal lawsuit filed Wednesday against the college.

The campus police chief took Brown to his office and, according to the lawsuit, told him he should’ve been “smarter” and followed campus policy. The policy includes administrative approval and a minimum three-day waiting period before “gathering for any purpose” anywhere on campus.

Jones College said in a statement that the college is aware of the complaint.

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