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Kim Kardashian’s New Lawsuit Teaches Us Something About Free Speech

in First Amendment, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

Kim Kardashian’s New Lawsuit Teaches Us Something About Free Speech

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Whenever celebrities are hit with heavy criticism over things they have said, libertarians often come to their rescue, explaining that criticizing the content of their words is perfectly acceptable, but effectively lobbying to have said celebrity censored is something else entirely.

KimReality TV star Kim Kardashian West has been the main character in many of these cases, having been on the receiving end of government scrutiny over her public endorsements of drugs in the past.

But as the star experiments with some bad publicity of her own, her attitude begins to shift.

According to CBS, Kardashian is filing a lawsuit against an online media outlet that has allegedly claimed the reality star may have not spoken the entire truth after being attacked in Paris.

The lawsuit was filed in a Manhattan federal court, and it names MediaTakeOut.com as the party to blame for wrongly portraying the TV star as a liar and a thief.

According to the French police, armed robbers made their way into the star’s private residence on October 3rd, stealing $10 million worth of jewelry.

Despite the report she filed for libel, this isn’t the first time Kardashian is the target of negative and even infamous comments online, neither is it the first time she files a lawsuit over victimless “crimes.” Regardless of the rationale behind this lawsuit, it’s important to note that, in a free market of news — just like in a free market of ideas — stories compete for attention and “hits,” especially if the medium is publishing stories online. With the expansion of the Internet news industry, bad stories — or publications that become known for endorsing and promoting bad journalism — are buried in negative reviews, giving competitors even more incentives to fill the void.

Instead of publicly lobbying to censor negative or inaccurate comments, publicly shaming such institutions is a much more effective way of getting the word out. Especially if the goal is to be taken seriously.

Whether or not you agree with the reality TV star’s actions, it’s important to understand that, when speech is censored, the natural result is the establishment of a black market of ideas. Once those with vile and often aggressive ideas are pushed underground, it’s harder to spot them. And, as a result, those who defend censorship end up becoming the victims of the very policy they embrace.

Yet again, good intentions are not enough. And suing everyone with something negative to say isn’t the best way out. Instead, leave it to the free market of ideas, where the truth often surfaces, no matter how hard establishment institutions work to keep them in the dark.

Pokemon Go Creators Face Lawsuit Over Possible Property-Related Crimes

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty, Property Rights by Alice Salles Comments are off

Pokemon Go Creators Face Lawsuit Over Possible Property-Related Crimes

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

It’s no secret that Pokemon Go, the augmented-reality game, is currently one of the most popular apps in the country. But as users become involved in accidents due to their outdoor adventures trying to catch Pokemon characters, reports related to individuals being chased away and at times even shot at for trespassing are also becoming more common.

PokemonNow, a man from New Jersey is escalating the fight against Pokemon trespassers by suing the company behind the game—not the actual players. If he has it his way, individuals who own property listed as a Pokestops or Pokemon gyms in the app could be added to the list of plaintiffs.

According to the suit, Pokemon Go encourages players to go after Pokemon characters placed close to or at private properties without the owner’s consent. The suit also states that at least five individuals approached the plaintiff asking if they could have access to his backyard in the past. Interestingly enough, the suit alleges these individuals knocked “without plaintiff’s permission,” confusing anyone who believes that knocking and formally asking for access means that he was properly approached and that his property was never trespassed against.

To players, however, the concern brought up by the New Jersey man may seem illegitimate since the system alerts users they should not trespass, warning that attempting to gain or gaining “access to any property or location where you do not have the right or permission to be” should be out of the question.

Despite the warning, Niantic Labs, Nintendo, and The Pokémon Co. have all been named in the suit. California’s federal court should soon rule on whether the man who filed the complaint will be able to legally keep Pokemon hunters off his property.

The game, which has been downloaded more than 30 million times, generating over $35 million in revenue, continues to be both praised and criticized for the several consequences of its launch. But blaming the company behind the app for a potential trespassing incident might not have a positive outcome after all.

Pokemon Go players have an opportunity to learn a thing or two about property rights and voluntary cooperation while playing, taking the example of other players who have been involved in delicate incidents while catching Pokemon into consideration while roaming the streets in search of new characters. Instead of putting the blame on the game, why not help players understand that playing safely can also be fun? All they have to do is follow the company’s instructions and play responsibly.

After all, suing Niantic Labs over risks potentially associated with the act of playing the game is like suing a weapon manufacturer for a potential gun injury incident that hasn’t even materialized.

Allowing players to take responsibility for their actions could be yet another reason to believe Pokemon Go is one of the best things about modern life.

UC at San Diego Sued to Enforce First Amendment Rights

in First Amendment, Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

UC at San Diego Sued to Enforce First Amendment Rights

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Last week, The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit claiming the University of California at San Diego and the Associated Students Council defunded student organizations in retaliation for a controversial article published by a satirical paper, The Koala.

KoalaThe student paper, which has been published at UCSD since 1982, made fun of politically correct or “PC” culture last November in an article entitled, “UCSD Unveils News Dangerous Space on Campus.”

It mocked the use of “safe spaces,” repeatedly used the “N-word,” and mentioned the opening of a “dangerous space” to accommodate “individuals who do not like feeling safe…continuing the university’s theme of inclusion and equality.”

In a 22-3 vote on Nov. 18, the student government association eliminated funding for all 13 active student-funded media outlets on campus. Gabe Cohen, editor-in-chief of the satirical newspaper The Koala, known for its vulgar shock-value humor, said his publication is being targeted specifically.

The council’s vote came the same day UC San Diego administrators posted an online denouncement of The Koala as “profoundly repugnant, repulsive, attacking and cruel.”

Cohen criticized the budget cut, calling it as “thinly veiled censorship” aimed at The Koala in particular. He pointed out that The Koala’s $3,000 annual budget makes up a small portion of the total student government budget — less than one percent.

“The decision sends a dangerous message to the campus, which is essentially, ‘If we don’t like what you’re saying, we’ll do everything we can to shut you up, even if that means harming innocents in the process,’” he said. “A.S. hoped this would make us go bow down and go away, but in reality they challenged a belligerent drunk to a fist fight.”

So far, The Koala has raised $1,000 in addition to securing advertising contracts, Cohen said, adding that San Diego State University’s chapter of the publication draws its funding solely from ad revenues, “proving it is not impossible to run without school funding,” he said.

Now, with help from the ACLU, Koala staffers hope to overturn the cut by taking legal action.

The ACLU’s legal filing quotes extensively from the Bias Incident Report Forms, submitted to the college by students offended by The Koala’s article.

“[The publication] propagates insensitive mindsets with its sexist and racist comments masked under cruel humor,” one complaint said. “Screen works to make sure that there is no propagation of these attitudes.”

Another complaint demanded the university “immediately take the initiative to end any hate speech, actions or crimes that offend any groups represented on this campus.”

The Bias Response Incident Reports apparently prompted action, with one administrator noting, “we do not typically receive so many reports regarding single issue.” The student government responded by ending funding for all printed student media, even though it continues to pay for other forms of speech like forums and events with speakers.

The ACLU argues that “however offensive or outrageous it may have been, the article remains protected speech on topical issues of public concern, including but not necessarily limited to the nature, purpose, and appropriateness of trigger warnings and safe spaces on college and university campuses.”

Cohen agrees.

“Part of attending a university is learning through considering opinions and voices that differ from your own, which you might not agree with,” he said. “Cutting funding to print media is a slippery step in the direction of anti-intellectualism and paternalism that should have no place on this campus.”

A motion for a preliminary injunction will be heard in federal court on July 18, 2016.

Man Accused of Stealing Tomatoes Sues Off-Duty Cop Over Unlawful Arrest, Brutality

in Criminal Justice, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Man Accused of Stealing Tomatoes Sues Off-Duty Cop Over Unlawful Arrest, Brutality

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

A man from Atlanta, Georgia is suing an off-duty police officer over an incident that left him with broken bones and a severed artery.

CarnegayThe October 2014 incident, which was caught on camera, shows the off-duty cop beating Tyrone Carnegay. The officer was working as a security guard for Walmart at the time. According to the lawsuit, Carnegay was accused of stealing a tomato by the store’s manager, which prompted the officer’s aggressive reaction. After the encounter, Carnegay was rushed to the hospital with a broken leg and severed artery where he was handcuffed to the bed. After receiving treatment, the victim was sent to jail, where he stayed for three days. Charges were eventually dropped and no evidence of theft was found.

Due to his injuries, Carnegay now walks with a limp because of the titanium rod in his leg.

In an interview to WSB-TV, Carnegay claimed that the officer gave him a command to “get on the ground” while beating him with his baton. According to the footage of the incident, the officer hit Carnegay’s leg at least seven times. The officer reportedly never asked him for a receipt before the attack, but once Carnegay was subdued and placed in handcuffs, the officer allegedly reached into his pockets where he found a receipt showing Carnegay had paid for the tomato.

According to Craig Jones, the victim’s attorney, this incident could have been avoided if the officer had asked Carnegay a simple question. Instead of asking the customer for a receipt, “the officer went into Robocop mode and beat the crap out of him,” Jones told news organizations.

The lawsuit names the store’s manager, the officer, and Walmart, but the Atlanta Police has not been involved.

This is not the only wrongful arrest story to have hit the news recently.

According to the Baltimore Sun, six men who were arrested during last year’s Baltimore protests against police brutality have recently filed a lawsuit against the Baltimore Police Department. The suit alleges the six men were wrongfully arrested in what the plaintiffs claim to be an unconstitutional violation of their protected speech rights.

While the circumstances under which these men were arrested are different from Carnegay’s, both cases showcase an issue prompted by the country’s ongoing overcriminalization efforts.

As the nation struggles to abandon its addiction to passing too many laws, law enforcement agents are trained to act as if civilians are the enemies in an undeclared war against the individual.

Unless we address this issue by helping others understand the importance of limiting government bodies, not individual liberties, the issue of police brutality will never be fully tackled.

In a column for Bloomberg, Yale Law School Professor Stephen Carter wrote that, on “the opening day of law school,” he always counsels his “first-year students never to support a law they are not willing to kill to enforce.”

Are they listening?

In Wisconsin, Homemade Cookies are the Victims of Big Government

in Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

In Wisconsin, Homemade Cookies are the Victims of Big Government

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Things are hard out there for folks trying to make ends meat.

According to Watchdog.org, Wisconsin residents can go to jail and face steep fines if they dare to sell homemade baked goods without an OK from the government.

Under Wisconsin law, entrepreneurs selling homemade baked goods who prepare their products in home kitchens are not allowed to make a profit. After all, how will the state assure the quality of the those delicious cookies baked by grandma if she’s not following state regulations?

Cookies

According to Institute for Justice’s attorney Erica Smith, entrepreneurs in Wisconsin could face a $1,000 fine or go to jail for up to six months even if they “sell one cookie at a farmers market, to your neighbor, [or] somewhere in your community.” This practice, the attorney told Watchdog, “[is] not only unfair, it’s unconstitutional.”

In order to remedy this problem locally, three Wisconsin farmers filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection with the help of IJ’s Smith. The suit hopes to put an end to the ban on homemade baked goods.

But before there was a lawsuit, a piece of legislation introduced two years ago could have made small changes to the baked goods law. Unfortunately, the bill stalled in the Assembly after passing in the Senate. According to Smith, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) is the reason why the “cookie bill” won’t hit the House floor.

“That could very well be because he owns his own commercial food business,” known as Rojos Popcorn, Smith told Watchdog.

According to the bill, current law would be modified to allow up to $7,500 in annual homemade baked goods sale. While the proposed legislation isn’t perfect, it could have helped countless Wisconsin residents to earn some extra cash on the side.

According to Dave Schmdt, the executive director of the Wisconsin Bakers Association, the commercial food industry in the state is not happy with the proposed ban lift. “If several people in a certain market or particular community are doing that, they’re eating away at a local baker that’s been there for 100 years and taking away his livelihood,” Schmidt told Wisconsin Public Radio. To Schmidt, that’s simply not fair.

But home bakers also believe that the treatment they get from their own state government isn’t fair either.

To Lisa Kivirist, one of the plaintiffs fighting for her right to bake and sell her homemade goods, the “state’s home-baked-good ban hurts farmers, homemakers and others who just want to help support their family by selling simple goods from their home oven.”

Instead of keeping consumers happy and allowing local economies to gain from the competition, the ban also “prevents customers from buying the fresh and local foods of their choice,” Kivirist stated during a press event at the Capitol.

Current law keeps bakers from selling products that aren’t produced in commercial kitchens. To small outfits, the cost of setting up a commercial kitchen is simply too high. The only exemptions currently in place protect nonprofit groups such as churches or charity organizations. These groups are currently allowed to sell homemade goods, but there’s a catch: they may not put their products up for sale more often than 12 times a year.