- Another web accessibility settlement from the U.S. Department of Justice, this time Carnival cruise lines [Minh Vu and Paul H. Kehoe, Seyfarth Shaw, my warnings on legally prescribed web accessibility]
- A topic I’ve often discussed: “Has The ADA Broken Its Economic Promises To People With Disabilities?” [Amelia Thomson-Deveaux, Five Thirty-Eight]
- Nebraska meat-packer tried too hard to hire only legal workers, will now pay dearly for asking for too many documents [Department of Justice press release]
- Owing to discrimination, a Colorado couple had to drive a few extra miles to get a cake, and fly 2000 extra miles to get a marriage license. So guess who’s now in legal trouble for inconveniencing them [Jacob Sullum, New York Post] Sen. Ted Cruz sounds as if he might be skeptical of religious discrimination laws as applied to public accommodation, and down that path might be found libertarian wisdom [Scott Shackford, Reason]
- EEOC says University of Denver Law School must pay its female faculty more [Denver Post, TaxProf]
- “Court Rejects The EEOC’s Novel Attempt To Impose Disparate Treatment Liability Without Any Injury” [Seyfarth Shaw; EEOC v. AutoZone, N.D. Ill.]
- Because more coercion is always the answer: France considers ban on “discrimination” against poor [Frances Ryan, The Guardian]
“Calais, France to sue Britain for being a magnet for migrants that are destroying Calais before they cross channel.” [Associated Press]
- If the law was symbolic, consumers were apparently unswayed by its symbolism: L.A. zoning ban on new freestanding fast-food restaurants had no effect on obesity [The Guardian, NPR, Baylen Linnekin, earlier]
- More on draft new federal dietary guidelines: “Report lays groundwork for food ‘interventionists’ in schools, workplaces” [Sarah Westwood, Washington Examiner, earlier, public comment open through April 8]
- Opposition to GMOs is not humanitarian [Telegraph] Washington Post editorial rejects labeling on GMO foods;
- Baker fell afoul of French law by keeping his boulangerie open too often [Arbroath]
- A sentiment open to doubt: “There is a great need for lawyers to utilize their policy and litigation tools in the fight for a better food system.” [Melanie Pugh, Food Safety News]
- “Food policy” progressives “whistle same tune as large food producers on issue of food safety” [Baylen Linnekin, related on single-agency scheme, more Linnekin on competition-through-regulation among makers of wine corks]
- Why restaurant operators need to know about patent trolls [James Bickers, Fast Casual]
Jacob Sullum on why a nation that mourned the murderous attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo over its provocative speech was nonetheless content to let the magazine be sued, and sued, and sued over such speech:
under French law, insulting people based on their religion is a crime punishable by a fine of 22,500 and six months in jail.
In addition to religion, that law covers insults based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, or disability. Defamation (as opposed to mere insult) based on any of those factors is punishable by up to a year in prison, and so is incitement to discrimination, hatred, or violence.
In France, antiracism set itself squarely against freedom of speech. The passage of the 1990 Gayssot Law, which punished denial of the Holocaust, was a watershed. Activist lobbies sought to expand such protections by limiting discussion of a variety of historical events—the slave trade, colonialism, foreign genocides. This was backed up by institutional muscle. In the 1980s, President François Mitterrand’s Socialist party created a nongovernmental organization called SOS Racisme to rally minority voters and to hound those who worked against their interests.
Older bodies such as the communist-inspired Movement against Racism and for Friendship Among the Peoples made a specialty of threatening (and sometimes carrying out) lawsuits against European intellectuals for the slightest trespasses against political correctness: the late Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci for her post-9/11 lament “The Rage and the Pride,” the philosopher Alain Finkielkraut for doubting that the 2005 riots in France’s suburban ghettos were due to unemployment, the Russia scholar Hélène Carrère d’Encausse for speculating about the role of polygamy in the problems of West African immigrants.
Other countries that criminalize “hate speech,” including Germany, the Netherlands, the U.K., Sweden, and Canada, are likewise sending the dangerous message that offending people with words or images is akin to assaulting them with fists or knives. …
Sacrilege may upset people, but it does not violate their rights. By abandoning that distinction, avowed defenders of Enlightenment values capitulate to the forces of darkness.
- “Victory for ‘Caveman’ Blogger in Free Speech Fight – the right to give advice about what to eat” [Institute for Justice, earlier]
- “Is an academic discussion of free speech potentially traumatic?” Given campus trends, it might soon be [Wendy Kaminer]
- Logic of rejecting heckler’s veto points likewise to rejecting its savage cousin, terrorists’ veto [Ronald Collins]
- Someone tried to yank a Minnesota urbanist’s engineering license because of things he wrote on his blog. It didn’t work [Strong Towns; compare first roundup item]
- Departing NPR ombudsman would take free speech law back to ’50s, and that means 1850s not 1950s [Volokh, earlier]
- The last time I saw Paris, it was making a fool of itself in litigation [Mediaite, Huffington Post, earlier on city’s threats to sue Fox]
- Argentina: state uses control over soccer broadcasts to beam propaganda denouncing opposition [David Kopel] “Dissenting voices silenced in Pakistan’s war of the web” [Jon Boone, Guardian]
- Pennsylvania has passed that grotesque new law seeking to muzzle convicts from discussing crimes when “mental anguish” to victims could result. Time for courts to strike it down [Radley Balko, earlier]
- “First Amendment challenge to broad gag order on family court litigants” [Eugene Volokh]
- Federally funded Indiana U. program to monitor political opinion on Twitter didn’t much like being monitored itself by critics [Free Beacon, earlier (project “intensely if covertly political”)]
- Holocaust denial laws abridge the freedom of speech. Do they even accomplish their own aims? [Sam Schulman, Weekly Standard]
- Is it defamatory to call someone a “censorious a**hat”? [Adam Steinbaugh, Eric Turkewitz, earlier on Roca Labs case]
- We should take up a collection to translate Voltaire into French [Reason, Huffington Post on Dieudonne case, yesterday on talk of “Fox maligned Paris” suit]
- Some would-be speech suppressers upset over Citizens United ruling also quite happy to drown out Justices’ speech [Mark Walsh, SCOTUSBlog] “Campaign finance censors lose debate to Reddit” [Trevor Burrus] Citizens United “probably the most misunderstood case in modern legal history.” [Ilya Shapiro]
Jonathan Turley in the Washington Post explores at more length a point I made briefly in my TIME opinion piece: to honor the slain cartoonists of Charlie-Hebdo, we should be lifting legal constraints on what their successors tomorrow can draw and write and say, rather than, as France and other countries have been doing in recent years, bringing it under tighter legal constraint in the name of equality and the prevention of offense:
Indeed, if the French want to memorialize those killed at Charlie Hebdo, they could start by rescinding their laws criminalizing speech that insults, defames or incites hatred, discrimination or violence on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity, nationality, disability, sex or sexual orientation. These laws have been used to harass the satirical newspaper and threaten its staff for years.
The numerous court actions brought against Charlie Hebdo by religious groups (as of 2011, organizations connected with the Catholic church had taken the magazine to court 13 times, Muslim groups once) are only the beginning:
[Other] cases have been wide-ranging and bizarre. In 2008, for example, Brigitte Bardot was convicted for writing a letter to then-Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy about how she thought Muslims and homosexuals were ruining France. In 2011, fashion designer John Galliano was found guilty of making anti-Semitic comments against at least three people in a Paris cafe. In 2012, the government criminalized denial of the Armenian genocide (a law later overturned by the courts, but Holocaust denial remains a crime). …Last year, Interior Minister Manuel Valls moved to ban performances by comedian Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, declaring that he was “no longer a comedian” but was rather an “anti-Semite and racist.” It is easy to silence speakers who spew hate or obnoxious words, but censorship rarely ends with those on the margins of our society….
Recently, speech regulation in France has expanded into non-hate speech, with courts routinely intervening in matters of opinion. For example, last year, a French court fined blogger Caroline Doudet and ordered her to change a headline to reduce its prominence on Google — for her negative review of a restaurant.
Related: National Post and Jacob Gershman, WSJ Law Blog, on efforts to repeal Canada’s not-entirely-in-disuse blasphemy law; earlier here and here. And from Ireland, an urgent reason to repeal its own law of this sort: Muslim leader vows to “take legal advice if Irish publications …republish or tweet cartoons.” [Irish Times, Irish Examiner, Independent]
P.S. Graham Smith on Twitter: “What if every State represented in Paris today promised to repeal one law that restricts free speech?”