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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 01, 2021

#FREESPEECH in the News February 1, 2020

Bliss Davis, Content and Programming Coordinator, The City Club of Cleveland

#FREESPEECH in the News February 1, 2020

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.) Minnesota woman flies controversial flag, testing free speech rights

Flags are flying at a neighborhood house causing some controversy, specifically a "F**** Biden" flag, and "F*** You for voting for him" flag. Kimberly, who doesn't want her last name used, has been flying the flag outside her home.

Kimberly admitted she could get her point across without the profanity but said she is protected by the First Amendment.

WDAY News spoke with Detroit Lakes Mayor Matt Brenk and Steve Todd, chief of police for The Detroit Lakes Police Department. Both are aware of the flags' profane references to President Joe Biden, and both sought legal advice regarding them.

Even though people may find the flags offensive, they are protected free speech.

There is a city ordinance that says offensive public indecency is a violation of law, but Attorney Charles Ramstad believes the First Amendment would overrule it.

2.) With Parler down, QAnon moves onto a ‘free speech’ TikTok clone

After last month’s deadly attack at the Capitol, QAnon has been widely banished from the internet. Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok have all banned Q-related content, and the right’s favored platform, Parler, has been forced offline for weeks. But it hasn’t all disappeared. A new platform called Clapper, a “free-speech” TikTok clone, is becoming a home for QAnon followers.

Clapper launched last July as a “Free Speech Short Video” app — it’s basically TikTok, but the company promises a lot less moderation. In the six months since its launch, the app has been downloaded over half a million times, with a considerable amount of that growth coming in just the past two weeks.

Once you download Clapper, you can start scrolling through a “For You” page that works similarly to TikTok’s. But instead of seeing popular creators like Charli D’Amelio, the feed looks like if One America News Network made a short-form video app. There are airsoft and fishing videos with people calling themselves “patriots,” but also plenty of anti-vax misinformation and videos calling out Democrats as “pedophiles.” According to Clapper’s website, #trump2020 and other political hashtags are some of the most popular on the platform.

3.) Bills involve filing for new trials and free speech rights for student journalists

Senator Justin Wayne from Omaha has introduced LB 28.

His measure would allow people to file motions for new trials when new evidence or material is discovered, or new testimony has become available that could not be produced at trial.

Another measure, LB 88 from Lincoln Senator Adam Morfeld would protect free speech rights of student journalists and student media advisers in public high schools, colleges and universities in Nebraska.

The bill does not protect expression by the student that violates state or federal laws, among other exceptions.

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