Posts Tagged 'free speech'

Photographing Children To Be a Crime In NJ?

Photo taken in New Jersey with parent’s consent.

It starts with farm animals, then goes to children … pretty soon, you won’t be able to photograph anything.

Today, the New Jersey Assembly heard testimony on Bill A3297, which will make it a third degree crime to photograph or videotape a child without a parent’s consent.

The bill is a reaction to a creepy guy who took photos of tween girls at a lake because he thought they were “sexy.” As upsetting as that is, this feels like reactive, fear-mongering legislation. Not all people who photograph children are perverts in the same way that not all people who carry shampoo bottles onto airplanes are terrorists.

The New Jersey Press Association came out against the legislation — and rightfully so.

Lauren James Weir, an attorney for the New Jersey Press Association, spoke against the bill. She argued that it was “overly broad” and said that its vague standards would have a chilling effect on free speech.

And beyond newsgathering, it’s just disheartening that this is the direction our society is moving in. There will always be deviants, but do we really want to restrict our civil liberties because of that?


Filming Chicago Police OK, Audio Not

NPR did a piece this morning on Chicago artist Chris Drew, who’s made it his mission to make sure the First Amendment works. What started as an act of civil disobedience — Drew is a crusader for free speech and wanted to test laws regarding where artists can sell their work — turned into a felony charge for illegal eavesdropping. It turns out he had recorded his arrest and in Illinois it’s illegal to record conversations without consent of all parties.

The Chicago police union claims, if you can believe this, that recordings like these could inhibit officers from doing their jobs. Or…if they do their jobs professionally and competently, if they happen to be recorded, an audio recording would make absolutely. No. Difference.

“The general theme that drifts through these cases is very clear,” [Illinois ACLU lawyer Harvey] Grossman says. “Law enforcement, in these instances, is rebelling and is refusing to allow public scrutiny of their behavior. And they are using the eavesdropping statute as a weapon against civilians.”

On August 18, the Illinois ACLU filed a federal lawsuit challenging this law.

Story from NPR

Colorado Police Want to Outlaw Back Talk

Photo by Discarted

A Colorado police chief wants to make it illegal for people to talk back to his officers. The Rocky Mountain News reports that Chief Paul Schultz of the Lafayette Police Department, a city located in the Boulder metropolitan area, has asked the City Council to include taunting and profanities as grounds for obstruction charges.

Presumably not realizing how ridiculous he sounded, Chief Schultz explained it this way:

“Officers have been subjected to very abusive language. This gives them a tool. Otherwise, they would just have to stand there and take that verbal abuse.”

Chief Schultz concedes that it would have to take “repeated, prolonged” verbal attacks to warrant arrest, but who’s to say where that line is?

Predictably the Boulder County Civil Liberties Union has taken issue with this, and two council members opposed the ordinance change citing its restriction of free speech. “I don’t think we need to be in the business of regulating speech in Lafayette,” councilman Alex Schatz said. 

To contact Chief Paul Schultz:

Article from the Rocky Mountain News via

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