Tag Archives: free speech

Free speech for bloggers as journalists reaffirmed

This should have been obvious already from the Open Government Act of 2007, among other laws, but now a court has reaffirmed it.

Dan Levine wrote for Reuters 17 January 2014, Blogger gets same speech protections as traditional press: U.S. court,

A blogger is entitled to the same free speech protections as a traditional journalist and cannot be liable for defamation unless she acted negligently, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday.

Crystal Cox lost a defamation trial in 2011 over a blog post she wrote accusing a bankruptcy trustee and Obsidian Finance Group of tax fraud. A lower court judge had found that Obsidian did not have to prove that Cox acted negligently because Cox failed to submit evidence of her status as a journalist.

But in the ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said Cox deserved a new trial, regardless of the fact that she is not a traditional reporter.

“As the Supreme Court has accurately warned, a First Amendment distinction between the institutional press and other speakers is unworkable,” 9th Circuit Judge Andrew Hurwitz wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel.

Here’s the actual ruling: Obsidian Finance Group, LLC; Kevin D. Padrick v. Crystal Cox, United States Cour tof Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 17 January 2014, Continue reading

I would certainly encourage you to speak your mind —VSU Pres. Levy

Henry Calhoun asked VSU Interim President Louis Levy where are the free areas on campus? Dr. Levy answered:
Right outside of Palms Quad there’s a free speech thing, but, as you can see, uh…. [gestures around]
You know, like I said. If someone’s violating the law here, and creating a dangerous situation by, uh, physically disrupting the students or faculty, that’s one thing, we deal with that….

But if it’s, even this gnat, we will allow this gnat to….

Continue reading

We tend to promote free speech —VSU President Levy

Henry Calhoun found VSU Interim President Dr. Louis Levy, who came over to the Occupy Valdosta meeting 27 October. Erin Hurley invited him to come to the mid-November Teach-In. He replied:
…as long as it’s legal and non-obstructive in terms of people getting in and out of buildings. We tend to promote free speech. And if we don’t, we’ll pay the price for it later.

We actually encourage free discussion and debate. Besides, I’m a sociologist. We can take what everyone knows and put them into four different kinds of perspectives and lenses just to do battle with each other.

He thanked Erin for the invitation.

VSU students, staff, and faculty who want their next president to hold positions like that on free speech might want to get involved with selection of the next VSU president.

Here’s the video:

We tend to promote free speech.
Information and Organization,
General Assembly, Occupy Valdosta (OV),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 27 October 2011.
Videos by John S. Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.


Valdosta State Students defend their right of free speech

Campus authorities tried getting students to move away from the University Center where Governor Nathan Deal was having a luncheon. The students stood their ground.

Here’s the video.

Protesting Gov. Nathan Deal at Valdosta State University (VSU), 16 September 2011.
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.

The students had been standing on the sidewalk in front of the Continue reading

Ashley Paulk’s Greatest Hits!

No, not every intemperate outburst! We can’t be everywhere. Just the outstanding ones from the podium as chairman in County Commission meetings.

Ashley Paulk is code enforcement

Citizens were opposing a rezoning on Old Pine Road, 8 June 2010. A Mr. Mulligan of Bemiss Road wanted to know who does code enforcement. Chairman Paulk responded:
You’re looking at him. Me.

I locked up some of my best friends!

While he was interrogating Dr. Noll 12 January 2011 who had the temerity to come to invite the Commission to a meeting, Ashley Paulk remarked:
“I was the sheriff sixteen years; I locked up some of my best friends; that’s the way I operate.”
This was shortly after he said: Continue reading

Quartzsite police chief puts most of the dept. on leave for whistleblowing

They were complaining about the conduct of the police chief. He also put them under curfew and selective house arrest. This is the town where activists were dragged out of city council meetings and arrested by that same police chief, over the protests of the mayor.

Tory Rangel wrote for abc15.com 21 July 2011, Town of Quartzsite puts more than half of its police department on leave

An Arizona town has put more than half of its police department on leave and officers tell ABC15 they feel it’s retaliation for speaking out against their boss.

William Ponce said he now feels he could lose his job with the Quartzsite Police Department after he, and eight other officers, came forward and accused the police chief of misconduct and abuse of power.

“I feel this is retaliation against the officers that signed this letter and came forth speaking out against corruption,” said Ponce.

After complaints from officers, DPS launched a criminal investigation into allegations Chief Jeff Gilbert had workers run criminal background check on people he didn’t like.

Maybe the chief felt he had to look into their character. I wonder if he made them all take drug tests?

That was a week ago. As of yesterday, Continue reading

To pacify the community? —Susan Leavens

Received yesterday on Arrests for speaking in an Arizona town. -jsq
I really feel like the Lowndes County Commissioners meetings are more to pacify the community then to actually listen to the concerns of the citizens which I’m sure most counties are the same. I feel quite positive matters of concern actually never leave that room, I’m pretty certain if the room were full and more individuals showing concern for their community maybe things could change slightly. I have gotten the impression that they really don’t want to hear people’s opinions. I was once under the impression that there job of commissioners where to also hear from the residence of the county. It certainly has shown me how transparency issues and intimidation also go hand in hand. When you think of a member of county government it’s a position of power and power some obviously let go to their head. But after reading the article it appears no matter where in this country when you oppose them you obviously could be removed in handcuffs. You’re only allowed to have your 3 to 4 minutes to speak after interruptions and snide remarks. First Amendment right allows us to have freedom of speech… but broken down, it allows us our time at the podium less freedom of speech if Mr. Paulk decided to stop us. I wonder how the rest of the commissioners feel about his antics toward people being heard. Maybe they don’t have concerns in the matter but you have to wonder if they feel intimidated as well and just choose to say nothing.

-Susan Leavens

Gigabit Internet in Chattanooga

If we’re going to copy Chattanooga about something, how about this: 133 US cities now have their own broadband networks by Nate Anderson in Ars Technica:
Such publicly owned networks can offer services that incumbents don’t, such as the 1Gbps fiber network in Chattanooga, Tennessee, run by the government-owned electric power board. And they sometimes have more incentive to reach every resident, even in surrounding rural areas, in ways that might not make sense for a profit-focused company.
According to this map of Community Broadband Networks by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, quite a few small cities in south Georgia have municipal cable networks:

All three of Moultrie, Thomasville, and Cairo use CNS, whose brochure for Moultrie says you can get:

DownstreamUpstreamMonthly Cost
5 Mbps1 Mbps$29.95
12 Mbps2 Mbps$35.95
22 Mbps3 Mbps$49.95
Now that’s not 1 Gbps, but it’s a darn sight faster than the allegedly 3Mbps AT&T DSL!

If Moultrie, Thomasville, and Cairo, and yes, Doerun can do this, why can’t Valdosta and Hahira?

And then how about add on a wireless network to reach the rest of us rural folk?

Maybe then we wouldn’t be the Internet backwoods.


The Internet backwoods: that’s south Georgia

Saturday I heard somebody bragging about how fast the Internet is in Atlanta. That would be maybe a tenth of the speed it is in Tokyo. But still blazing fast compared to the broke-down wagon in a muddy ditch speeds we get in south Georgia:

I wrote that article more than a year ago, and Internet speeds in rural Georgia have not improved much if at all. This isn’t just about playing Farmville. It’s about communicating with your relatives, about competing in business, Continue reading