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Posts Tagged ‘First Amendment’

Did Brooklyn College’s Political Science Department Violate the First Amendment?

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

The co-sponsorship by the Brooklyn College political science department of an anti-Israel hate fest, from which pro-Israel students were excluded, may have violated the First Amendment.

Had the event been sponsored only by student and outside private groups, their decision to exclude pro-Israel students and to prevent the distribution of anti-BDS leaflets would have been a private matter, that at worst may have violated the rules of the college. But the official co-sponsorship of the event by an academic department may have turned their exclusionary decisions into illegal “state action.”

For purposes of the First Amendment, the political science department is Brooklyn College, which is the City University of New York, which is the State of New York. It was the State of New York, therefore, that expelled pro-Israel students who wanted to distribute constitutionally protected leaflets and wanted to pose constitutionally protected political questions. Such state action violates the First Amendment and New York law.

Accordingly, the benighted action of the political science department in taking sides in the debate over boycotting Israeli academics and institutions, may now come back to haunt the City University of New York, which is taking this situation seriously. The Chancellor issued the following statement:

At last week’s event at Brooklyn College, sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine and the College’s Department of Political Science, allegations were made by members of the college community who attended that they were impeded from expressing views either orally or in writing. There were reports that some said they were asked without cause to leave the event. If this were true, it was wrong and we need to understand exactly what the circumstances were. At the request of President Karen L. Gould, I have asked General Counsel and Senior Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs Frederick P. Schaffer to quickly investigate these allegations. This investigation will be coordinated by CUNY’s Office of Legal Affairs, working with an independent consultant, and charged with reporting directly back to me.

There is, apparently, strong evidence to corroborate the accounts that pro-Israel students, especially those wearing yarmulkes or “looking” Jewish, were deliberately excluded, even though they secured written permission to attend. There is also corroboration of the accusation that pro-Israel students who managed to get into the event were thrown out when they refused to turn over to the organizers anti-BDS leaflets they wished to distribute. When these students complained to an official of the college, he reportedly replied that the anti-Israel students who were running the event were “calling the shots” and he could therefore do nothing. But once the political science department became involved as a co-sponsor, the students alone could not call the shots, when it comes to the First Amendment. The university assumed responsibility for assuring that the free speech of all students was equally protected. The First Amendment forbids the State of New York from discriminating against pro-Israel or anti-BDS speech, as it apparently did here.

What happened at Brooklyn College demonstrates the wisdom of keeping academic departments from sponsoring non-academic hate fests, such as the BDS event. When academic departments become selective sponsors, the constitutional rules change, because the imprimatur of the university—and thus the state—is placed on the event.

The radical anti-Israel students who arranged the BDS conference thought they had obtained a benefit from the political science department’s co-sponsorship—and perhaps they did in the short term. But in the long term, they may rue the day they persuaded the department to become involved in what should have been a student event. Now there may be legal consequences. The sword of co-sponsorship may have become a shield to protect the First Amendment rights of the students who were prevented from handing out anti-BDS leaflets and asking anti-BDS questions. I wonder if we will hear from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York Times editorial board about these violations of freedom of speech!

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

After Drawn Out Battle, Chicago Transit Allows Anti-Jihad Ads

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

It took months and plenty of sturm and drang, but the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) finally caved and accepted our #myjihad ads. It is disturbing that a government agency is working hand in hand with a Hamas group, but that is indeed the low state of the world at this point in the war.

Here is the white flag. Look at how the city of Chicago calls our defense of freedom, of minorities, women and children, Jews, Christians, and Hindus racist, intolerant and “hatred.” They have the indecency to call us “morally reprehensible.” Oh, the irony. They are morally reprehensible for denying us our First Amendment rights. They are morally reprehensible for carrying water for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. They are morally reprehensible for abandoning religious minorites, women and children living under the boot of the most oppressive and extreme ideology on the face of the earth.

Our ads are like the silver cross to their Dracula. And the jihad-aligned media can’t get enough of the Muslim Brotherhood lie. Another glowing piece ran yesterday at CNN International. Look here. This is the same CNN whose Peter Bergen is telling us not to overstate the threat of al Qaeda. (Link thanks to Larry.)

Help us run these ads in Chicago, San Francisco and in DC. I have them going up wherever Hamas-CAIR runs their propaganda. Please donate via Paypal to writeatlas@aol.com or tax-deductible todirector@jihadwatch.org

Mailing address: 1040 1st Avenue, Box 121 NY NY 10022

Daily Caller has the exclusive:

Lawsuit forces Chicago to accept anti-jihad bus ads Neil Munro

The Chicago Transit Authority has agreed to display plain-spoken anti-jihad ads on city buses, following a lawsuit by the American Freedom Law Center.

City officials initially rejected the American Freedom Defense Initiative’s anti-jihad ads, even after the city accepted bus ads that touted a sanitized portrayal of jihad as exercise and education rather than warfare.

The center’s anti-jihad ads are “morally reprehensible — advocating racism, hatred and intolerance of cultural diversity,” said a Feb. 4 letter from Karen Seimetz, the general counsel of the city’s bus authority.

Read the rest here.
Here are the ads that ran in New York:

Myjihad2update

Myjihad2update

Myjihad2update

Myjihad2update

Myjihad2update

Visit Atlas Shrugs.

Three Rabbis Sue City over Metzitzah B’peh

Friday, October 12th, 2012

A lawsuit filed Thursday by Jewish organizations and three rabbis argues that a new NY City rule requiring parental consent for metzitzah b’peh, a post-circumcision ritual that involves oral suction in order to stimulate blood flow in the traumatized organ, violates the First Amendment, the NY Daily News reports.

The new rule, which take effect Oct. 21, requires mohels who perform the metzitzah b’peh to provide parents with a document they must sign, containing information about the health risks involved.

City officials say babies may contract herpes from the practice, and they cite 11 cases between 2004 and 2011, including two fatalities.

The lawsuit argues that the new rule violates the constitutional freedom of religion.

“Government cannot compel the transmission of messages that the speaker does not want to express — especially when the speaker is operating in an area of heightened First Amendment protection, such as a religious ritual,” the lawsuit argues.

City officials said they are planning to fight the suit “vigorously.”

“The city’s highest obligation is to protect its children; therefore, it is important that parents know the risks associated with the practice,” Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said.

It has been argued that the city is yet to prove that the herpes contracted by the babies was the same virus carried by the mohel. Another argument made regarding this issue, is that babies whose mothers are carriers of herpes receive immunity to the virus in the womb, and that only babies born to uninfected mothers are in danger from metzitzah b’peh.

Those two arguments are crucial to understanding the current law suit, because it is possible that the babies who received metzitzah b’peh from a mohel contracted their herpes from a third person and not via the genitalia.

It is estimated that about 80 percent of American adults are carriers of oral herpes (cold sores).

MTA Sneaks In Free Speech Restrictions, Bypassing Court Ruling Favoring Anti-Jihad Ad

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

In what many, including legal scholar Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, call “unconstitutional” restrictions on free speech, the board of the New York City Transportation Authority unanimously passed a new set of regulations governing the kinds of advertisements it will accept. The MTA is now empowered to ban any ad the  MTA

reasonably foresees would imminently incite or provoke violence or other immediate breach of the peace.

The new regulations also require disclaimers to be included in any political, religious or morality-based ads, stating  that they do not represent the views of the MTA.

These new regulations were announced on Thursday, September 27, just three days after the American Freedom Defense Initiative ads were put up after a lengthy and costly court battle brought by AFDI and its executive and associate directors, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, to enforce their First Amendment right to free speech.  That ad appears in 10 subway stations in the New York subway system.  It reads, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.  Support Israel.  Defeat Jihad.”

The spokesman for the MTA, Aaron Donovan, admitted to a reporter from The Blaze that the changes came in response to AFDI’s anti-Jihad ads and the ensuing litigation.

Initial reports were that commuters were passing by the ads without any noticeable responses, but apparently there were complaints that instilled fear in MTA board members.

There was at least one widely publicized attack against the ad, engaged in by Egyptian-American activist Mona Eltahawy. That attack was motivated by the woman, who has only been a U.S. citizen for one year.  Eltahawy claimed that her acts of criminal vandalism, which were caught on videotape by The New York Post, were legitimate acts of free speech and non-violent protest.

Eltahawy was arrested and charged with various offenses.  When she was released from prison the next day, Eltahawy was critical of her time in jail.  However, Eltahawy  neglected to mention that when she was detained by Egyptian police during the Arab Spring uprisings, her arm and her wrist were broken and she claimed the police repeatedly physically and sexually assaulted her.

The newly-elected Egyptian president, former Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi, instructed the Egyptian Consul General, Zousef Zada, to monitor Eltahawy’s case.

The New York Times reported on the new restrictions, without any comment regarding the potentially unconstitutional regulations.

Instead, the venerable leader against the assault on the First Amendment – The New York Times - merely reported the outlandish statements made at a press conference announcing the changes, by the MTA chairman, Joseph J. Lhota.   “We’ve gotten to the point where we needed to take action today,” Lhota said, in what must have been a reference to anger directed at the anti-Jihad ads, “You deal with a free speech issue with more free speech.”   Like Eltahawy, Lhota appears to believe that free speech includes official action taken to restrict free speech.

The MTA may hope it has avoided a First Amendment challenge because its restriction is “viewpoint neutral.” This is because the new regulation does not overtly single out any special group or groups for special treatment, which was the fatal flaw pointed out by Judge Englemayer in his July 20 ruling which forced the MTA to finally post them, after a year-long delay caused by their rejection of that ad on grounds determined to be unconstitutional.

The new restriction is sure to inspire potent legal challenges on other constitutional grounds.  For example, can one “reasonably foresee” what kind of ad will “incite violence” or a “breach of the peace”?  A legal challenge on numerous grounds should be anticipated, as predicted by Dershowitz in an interview with The Algemeinerin which he referred to the new rules as not only “unconstitutional,” but also “plain dumb.”

And to argue that ads, such as the anti-Jihad ones, will incite violence, whereas the pro-Israel ones would not, because they did not, might lead to an argument underscoring the point of Geller’s ads. That ads perceived by Muslims, to be anti-Muslim, such that they justify violence, could conceivably be used to prove that Muslims are unable to tolerate First Amendment norms in the same way as do other ethnic groups.  And that argument itself might, under this theory, incite violence.

Egyptian Reporter Defaces Subway ‘Anti-Savage’ Ad, Sprays an Opponent, Gets Arrested (Video)

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Mona Eltahawy is an extremely well-spoken, Egyptian-American journalist who has become the g0-to speaker for comments on the Middle East in general, and on Egypt and Women’s issues in particular.  A speaker who stays on message no matter what is being asked, Eltahawy’s theme is: former Egyptian President Hosnai Mubarak and those who supported him are always bad, Muslims seeking to control their own destiny are always good and should be supported in the name of freedom and democracy, no matter how reprehensible their actions. Over the past few years Eltahawy has regularly been represented as an expert on such media outlets as CNN, the Guardian (UK), The New York Times and the Washington Post.

Eltahawy was arrested Wednesday evening, September 26, in a New York City subway station because she insisted free speech included her right to deface an ad espousing a message with which she disagreed – Pamela Geller’s anti-Jihad ad discussed and shown here.  She also insisted her free speech right extended to spraying toxic paint on a woman, Pamela Hall, who tried to interfere with Eltahawy’s efforts to deface Geller’s ad.  And then Eltahawy blamed Hall for interfering with her free speech rights and accused the arresting police officers of interfering with her “non-violent” protest, thereby engaging in anti-democratic activity.

It appears Eltahawy has a singularly self-focused understanding of freedom and democracy.  Given her limitations, it is problematic that so many media outlets rely on Eltahawy as an “expert.”  It is possible that given her criminal activity Wednesday evening, some will see her convoluted views of reality as casting doubts on past Eltahawy discourses.

The journalist’s inability to recognize why her activity was criminal and subverted the First Amendment, simply because Geller’s anti-Jihad ad constituted speech with which she didn’t agree, is telling.

But this isn’t the first time Eltahawy’s view of reality has been refracted through her own, narrow prism.

Eltahawy is best known for being an ardent activist for women’s rights, a dangerous and valiant effort for a Muslim.  She has written about the enormously high percentage of women who have been sexually assaulted in Egypt, as many as 80 percent, and that four out of five Egyptian women have reported being sexually assaulted.

Although Eltahawy has been highly critical and very vocal about the subjugation of women under Islam, when that view bumps up against her global recognition as an articulate spokesperson for the revolutionary Arab Spring, a disconnect takes place.

In the context of the anti-Jihad ads which she defaced, Eltahawy expressed outrage over the use of the term “savage,” to describe Jihadi activity.  In her view, the use of the word savage was an insult because she interpreted it to refer to all Muslims.  While defacing the ad, she told Hall, who tried to prevent the ad from being damaged, that she was protesting racism, and that Hall was defending racism.

But Eltahawy described Muslims who sexually assaulted and beat her last winter as a “pack of wild animals.”  So, was her anger over the use of the term savage, when she described wild, violent Muslims as “wild animals” hypocritical?  Not necessarily, because her criticism of the Egyptian police is consistent with her world view.  There were numerous reports of women assaulted by the civilian crowds, the revolutionaries, in Tahrir Square, during the Arab spring.  And it is in commenting on those assaults that Eltahawy’s hypocrisy is made clear.

Perhaps the best known, to western audiences, of sexual assaults by the Arab spring activists, is the assault on CBS’s Lara Logan.  Logan was brutally physically and sexually assaulted by those demonstrating in Tahrir Square crowds in February, 2011.

When Eltahawy was asked to comment on CTV News on the attacks on Logan, she “unequivocally condemned” the violence experienced by Logan.  However, the focus of her ire was always pointed back at the Mubarak regime, which was, she said, “known for targetting women.”

Eltahawy even went so far as to insinuate that Logan’s story was in some ways questionable, or at least an anomaly.  She also deflected the responsibility for the attack on unnamed others.

“Women I know said it was the safest area in Cairo,” Eltahawy said of Tahrir Square during the demonstrations.  But after Mubarak, the area was “open to all, so we don’t know who else was there.”

Pamela Hall is pressing charges against Eltahawy.  Her clothing and her bags were damaged by the paint.  When reached by The Jewish Press, Hall said she knew who Eltahawy was as soon as she saw her, but she was “surprised” to see her spray painting the ad.

According to Hall, using “paint is a much more serious act than slapping a sticker up and walking away.  What was she thinking?”

NY Court: MTA Violated Pro-Israel Group’s 1st Amendment Rights in Rejecting Ad Campaign

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

A federal judge on Friday ruled that the New York City Metro Transit Authority’s (MTA) refusal to run a bus advertisement calling enemies of Israel “savages” violates the First Amendment rights of the plaintiff, the American Freedom Defense Initiative.

The ad – which the group sought to run on 318 city buses for four weeks, at a cost of about $25,000 – states: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

Proposed bus ad by the American Freedom Defense Initiative

The American Freedom Defense Initiative, which is headed by blogger and critic of political Islam Pamela Geller, sued the MTA in September 2011 for rejecting the group’s sharply-worded advertisement. The MTA claimed the ad violated its advertising standard, which prohibited ads that “demean individuals or groups based on race, religion or other protected categories.” The MTA offered the group the opportunity to revise the ad, but it refused, and instead filed suit claiming that the MTA’s “no-demeaning” standard violated its First Amendment rights.

Judge Paul A. Engelmayer of the Federal District Court in Manhattan, stated that the ad was “not only protected speech — it is core political speech,” and ruled that the ad “is afforded the highest level of protection under the First Amendment.” He found that the no-demeaning standard had the effect of discriminating against advertisers based on the content of their intended message.

The judge granted a preliminary injunction barring the MTA from enforcing the standard, but said it would only take effect in 30 days, to permit the MTA to evaluate its legal options and consider alternatives to its current advertising standards.

The MTA said in a statement that it was “evaluating its existing advertising standards in light of the court’s ruling.”

An article on albawaba.com said that the case is “sparking much concern that Islamophobia in the United States is being allowed to grow and has found support in the judiciary.” Omar Makram Radwan, a Muslim-American and CUNY student, was quoted on Bikyamasr.com as saying:“This sort of hate speech is now being tolerated by judges and as Ramadan hits it is very unfortunate. People are angry.”

Radwan warned that if the ads going up “there will be widespread anger and protests against what to almost all common person is blatant hate speech against Muslims and Muslim-Americans.”

In response to the decision, Geller wrote on her blog, Atlas Shrugs: “Any war that targets innocent civilians is savage. Period. These ‘irate’ Muslims sanction jihad and Jew-hatred. That is what they are saying.

“I never see US Muslims marching against jihad. Or supporting Israel’s right to exist.” she continued, “Where are they? Instead, they issue threats if our ads go up. And, brother, are they going up.”

Can You Cry ‘Hitler’ in a Crowded University? Rutgers Investigating

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Rutgers University is investigating a student-run satirical newspaper for publishing an article that praises Hitler and attributing it to a Jewish student.

The Daily Medium, which receives university funding, published the false column “What About the Good Things Hitler Did?” in its April 4 edition and attributed it to Aaron Marcus.

The university is investigating the incident as a bias incident under the university’s anti-bias policies, Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick said in a statement issued April 6.

Marcus has said in interviews that he did not write the article and called it “painful” since some of his relatives are Holocaust survivors.

Marcus has spoken out in the past about an anti-Semitic atmosphere at the university.

“Federal courts extend broad protection to student media. However, a recent article in the Medium, purporting to be written by student Aaron Marcus and using Mr. Marcus’ photograph, is extremely offensive and repugnant. No individual student should be subject to such a vicious, provocative, and hurtful piece, regardless of whether First Amendment protections apply to such expression. The Medium’s article was particularly despicable in light of Mr. Marcus’ Jewish faith,” McCormick’s statement to the university said.

“I couldn’t help but think that history has given the Third Reich and its leaders a bad rap,” the column read, in part. It also praised Hitler for bringing about the creation of Israel. Marcus has a regular column in the mainstream student publication The Daily Targum.

In 2004 The Daily Medium printed a front-page cartoon that belittled victims of the Holocaust.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/can-you-cry-hitler-in-a-crowded-university-rutgers-investigating/2012/04/08/

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