Trial Set for Next May in Student Lawsuit Against District for Banning Biblical Shirt While Allowing LGBTQ Speech

Next May, a student will head to trial against Overton County Board of Education for banning her Biblical shirt while allowing LGBTQ-themed attire and paraphernalia. Court documents show that the board attempted to mediate with the family on Monday. The record indicates that mediation wouldn’t resolve the issue.

“Written discovery has been exchanged that is sufficient to evaluate and discuss settlement substantively,” stated the joint report. “At this stage it does not appear that mediation will successfully resolve this case. However, depositions are scheduled which could help lead to settlement.”

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Free Speech Bills Making Their Way Through the Tennessee General Assembly

The General Assembly is considering several bills to further expand upon the protected rights of free speech. These bills address free speech in areas of public life such as college campuses, social media, state governments, and elections.

Several legislators proposed a bill to create accountability for social media companies and the government entities that use them. State Senator Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) and State Representative Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) introduced legislation that would prohibit state agencies from utilizing any social media platforms that censor the free speech of others on the basis of political ideology, viewpoint discrimination, or personal animus. The language of the bill claimed that using those platforms was a “tacit acceptance” of the practice to limit or censor free speech and therefore a violation of the state constitution. That legislation is in committee currently in both the House and Senate.

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Pharmacy Student Sues University of Tennessee for Alleged Free Speech Violations

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) initially expelled a student for content on her personal social media accounts. Officials claimed that the nuclear pharmacy student, Kimberly Diei (’23), used speech that violated the university’s conduct policies, though Diei has claimed they never informed her of which specific policies she’d violated. Neither of her profiles or any of her content identified Diei as a UT student or mentioned the school in any capacity. Only after Diei obtained legal help did the university reverse her expulsion.

Diei was investigated by the school’s Professional Conduct Committee on two separate occasions based on anonymous complaints. The first investigation occurred during Diei’s first month on campus in September 2019 regarding her Instagram and Twitter accounts in general. Following its review, the committee required Diei to write an apology letter. About a year later, Diei came under investigation again and was expelled for posting several explicit tweets referencing pop culture.
Diei was investigated by the school’s Professional Conduct Committee on two separate occasions, instigated by anonymous complaints from other program students. The first investigation occurred during Diei’s first month on campus, September 2019, regarding her Instagram and Twitter accounts in general; the committee required her to write an apology letter. About a year later, Diei came under investigation again and was expelled for posting several explicit tweets referencing pop culture.

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All Star Panelist Dr. Carol Swain Talks Parler Shutdown, Reality Czars, and the Current Orwellian Climate of America

Thursday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Dr. Carol M. Swain in studio to examine the First Amendment in the Orwellian climate of today.

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Vanderbilt Law Professor Says Social Media Platforms Should be on the Offensive, Not Defensive, When It Comes to Regulating Speech

Vanderbilt School of Law Professor Gautam Hans opined that social media companies should be on the offensive when it comes to regulating speech. In a spotlight series called “Ask an Expert” curated by Vanderbilt University, the assistant clinical professor suggested that these platforms ought to modify their approaches to content moderation.

In the brief video, Hans asserted that proactive approaches could improve the current dissatisfaction shared across party lines.

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Dan Gainor VP of MRC TechWatch Explains the Left’s ‘Freedom of Speech Does Not Equal Freedom of Reach’

Monday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Dan Gainor Vice President of Business and Culture for the Media Research Center to the newsmakers line to discuss America’s international battle for its civil rights.

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Host Leahy and Crom Carmichael Take Listener Calls Regarding Big Tech and Censorship

Monday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Crom Carmichael to the studio and took calls from listeners that questioned Big Tech, Section 230, and the right of free speech.

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Nashville Attorney’s License Suspended for Four Years After Advising How to Get Away with Murder on Social Media

A Nashville attorney received one year active suspension and three years’ probation for offering advice on how to get away with murder. Judge Holly Kirby of the Tennessee Supreme Court issued the ruling against attorney Winston Bradshaw Sitton last Friday, calling it a “cautionary tale on the ethical problems that can befall lawyers on social media.”

Sitton had posted the comment in question on a 2017 Facebook post from a woman, Lauren Houston, who was trying to leave an allegedly abusive relationship. At the time, the two had been friends on the site for about a year. The contested comments appeared on a post in which Houston asked whether it was legal to carry a firearm in her car without paying for a permit.

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Twitter Suspended Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Account for 12 Hours

Twitter suspended Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene from her personal account temporarily on Sunday. The suspension occurred shortly after Greene posted allegations that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer Gabriel Sterling were to blame for potential voter fraud.

Greene had issued a response to Sterling’s tweet which claimed that Greene, Doug Collins, and President Donald Trump were to blame for a significant drop-off in Republican turnout. Just over 270,000 less Republicans voted in the runoff elections, as compared to nearly 166,000 less Democrats.

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Tennessee REALTORS® Bans ‘Hate Speech’ by Members

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) banned all “hate speech” by its members – not just in members’ professional capacity, but in every aspect of their lives. The policy changes were approved by the NAR Board of Directors during a meeting on November 13.

The policy on hate speech encompasses an array of broad issues: “harassing speech, epithets, or slurs based on race, color, religion sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.” Collectively, these speech-related issues fall under what the NAR terms “public trust,” which also includes misappropriation of client or customer funds, or property and fraud that causes significant economic harm.

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Tennessee Principal on Administrative Leave for Warning Students About Social Media Censorship

A Tennessee principal was placed on paid administrative leave after warning students about the dangers of social media censorship. Principal Barton Thorne recorded a homeroom video on Monday, reportedly sharing his thoughts via the Shelby County Schools (SCS) virtual learning platform to address several Big Tech companies’ recent decisions to censor various individuals and platforms.

In a recording of the video since deleted from YouTube, Thorne emphasized the need to allow for free speech and a “marketplace of ideas.” He condemned the Capitol Hill riot and stated that his statements had nothing to do with President Donald Trump.

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At Princeton, a Racial Reckoning and a Free Speech Battle

In 2015, Princeton University became the second higher-education institution to sign the University of Chicago Statement supporting campus free speech. Yet, five years later, Princeton professor Keith E. Whittington wrote that the university stood “on the front lines” of the battle over speech. Those battle lines were drawn this summer by students and faculty demanding the adoption of “anti-racist” policies, which some on campus say run counter to free speech and open inquiry.

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Ohio Gov. DeWine Signs Bill That Protects Students’ Free Speech

When Ohio college students return to campus after the holidays, they will be able to speak their mind freely.

Gov. Mike DeWine signed the Forming Open and Robust University Minds Act that protects individuals’ First Amendment rights and prohibits “free speech zones” on public college and university campuses in the state.

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Ohio Lawmakers Require Free Speech Protection at Colleges, Universities

The Ohio House of Representatives made voices on the state’s college campus a little louder this week, if Gov. Mike DeWine approves.

The House passed the “Forming Open and Robust University Minds Act,” which would prevent colleges and universities from limiting political speech on campuses or moving that speech into “free speech zones.”

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Commentary: How to Restrain Big Tech Immediately

A year ago, University of Georgia professor Cas Mudde took to Twitter and asked: “How do you manage to stay informed about political news and stay mentally balanced?” In his next tweet, he confessed too much time on social media was contributing to anxiety and depression.

With this, Mudde expressed a sentiment many social media users share. As we discuss policy issues tied to social media—tech regulation, free speech, foreign influence—we shouldn’t lose sight of the damaging psychological effects of today’s information environment. You may not want to hear this a week before the election, but social media addiction is a public health issue. Big Tech is the new Big Tobacco.

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Student Sues School for Banning Biblical Shirt While Allowing LGBTQ Speech

A Tennessee high school student has filed a lawsuit against Overton County School District (OCS) for banning her Biblical shirt while allowing other free speech. The shirt read: “HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN – 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.” 
OCS claimed that the student’s shirt violated Livingston Academy dress code policy. Although the policy doesn’t define “offensive messages” or “sexual connotations,” Principal Richard Melton determined that the student’s shirt fell under those criteria.

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Facebook Disabled Dr. Carol Swain’s Ad Account For Promoting Law Enforcement Appreciation Event

Facebook blocked Dr. Carol Swain’s ad account, claiming her ads had violated their policies on “deceptive or misleading practices.” Swain had posted an ad for a virtual law enforcement appreciation event.

Swain told The Tennessee Star that she’d directed the woman who runs her social media to submit the ad. Facebook informed Swain that she’d have to change the ad or submit new paperwork to describe the ad as “political.”

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JMU History Professor Puts a Death Wish on Republicans: They ‘Can Die For All I Care’

James Madison University (JMU) Associate Professor of History Mary Gayne tweeted a death wish for the Republican Party.
“I’m not linked to a party but, this year, I’m just straight up voting the Democratic ticket. Not even going to think about other variations. The Republican Party can die for all I care. They’ve demonstrated lack of loyalty to democracy & the US Constitution. F*** ’em all.”

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Loudoun County School Board Backpedals on Policy Limiting Free Speech Indefinitely After Public Outcry

Loudoun County School Board voted this week to revise their “Professional Conduct” policy governing employee speech off of school property. Up until the latest meeting, members recommended to approve and accept the policy.
Apparently, public outcry from teachers unions and community members led to this decision.

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More Madness in Virginia’s School Systems: Free Speech… Unless We Disagree

The Loudoun County School Board will vote on a policy silencing employees who disagree with racial equity practices. The proposal would extend the school’s jurisdiction over off-campus speech, including social media, speeches, and any written forms of communication.
The new policy would govern employee speech “during and after school or work hours, whether on or off school board property, including the property of any school, office, or facility.”

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Campus Survey: 42 Percent of Students Say Their College Doesn’t Empower Free Speech

Conservative students on college campuses across the U.S. are more likely to self-censor than their more liberal classmates out of fear of backlash or retribution, according to a first-of-its-kind student survey commissioned by RealClearEducation and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

The survey is the largest of its kind – canvasing 20,000 students at 55 U.S. colleges and universities about their experiences with free speech on campuses. Conducted by College Pulse, the survey ranks schools according to how open and tolerant students say they are, among several other criteria, and includes numerous student comments about their experiences.

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Free Speech Group Warns University After it Allowed Black Lives Matter Protest but Banned Other Gatherings

A free speech advocacy group has sent two letters to East Carolina University after the public college banned gatherings of more than 50 students, but allowed a Black Lives Matter protest on campus.

Southeastern Legal Foundation sent a letter to the North Carolina public university on September 16 seeking information on its enforcement of its coronavirus policies. After receiving no response, the public interest law group sent a follow-up letter on September 24.

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Coalition Files Lawsuits to Stop Gov. Whitmer From Silencing Free Speech in Elections, Secretary of State Benson From Undermining Absentee Ballot Integrity

A coalition filed two lawsuits in Michigan on Monday, a federal case against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for allegedly silencing political speech, and a state suit against Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson for reportedly circumventing state law protecting the right of Michiganders to have their vote properly counted.

The lawsuits were announced on a new website launched by the coalition: Got Freedom? The website is available here.

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Commentary: Is Free Speech at Stake in November?

The phenomenon of “cancel culture” is a real and growing threat to free speech in America. This rapidly rising threat has caught many Americans off guard.

Since the rise of the nation-state, almost all the serious threats to freedom of speech have come from government or government sponsored agencies. However, this current threat is not from the government – at least not yet.

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‘Walking on Eggshells’: 62 Percent of Americans Are Afraid to Express Political Views, Survey Finds

Self-censorship is on the rise according to a new Cato Institute survey that reports nearly two-thirds of Americans are afraid to share their political views.

A new CATO Institute/YouGov national survey found 62% of Americans say the political climate today prevents them from saying what they believe. This is up several points from 2017 when 58% of Americans said they were afraid to share their political beliefs.

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Commentary: Big Tech’s Escalating War on Free Speech

On June 19, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld 9-0 the right to freedom of speech, including “hate speech.” As Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court: “The proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express the thought that we hate.” Justice Anthony Kennedy added in a concurring opinion: “A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all.”

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Hawley Calls For Investigation into Officials Favoring Protests While Targeting Religion

Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley called for an investigation into free speech double-standards, saying that state officials have favored protests while targeting religious freedom.

He asked Attorney General William Barr and the Department of Justice to launch a “full civil rights investigation” into violations of “free exercise and free speech rights of religious Americans” in a Tuesday letter.

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Crom Carmichael: The Democratic Party Opposes Conservative Speech

Live from Music Row Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael to the studio.

During the second hour, Leahy and Carmichael discuss the Democrat Party’s opposition to Conservative and common sense speak as recently witnessed by the shaming of New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees and Denver Broncos Head Coach Vic Fangio. Recently, both men have walked back their comments and apologized due to accusations of racism.

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Senators Ask State Department to Monitor Free Speech Violations Concerning Coronavirus in China, Other Countries

Several senators across the United States have called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the U.S. Representative to the United Nations Kelly Craft to address concerns about free speech violations in several countries around the world.

Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) submitted the letter on Monday, pointing to crackdown on free speech concerning the coronavirus in China, as well as in Turkey, Bangladesh, Niger and Cambodia, as a reason for concern.

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Trump Activists Mobbed on Ohio University Campus While Officers Watched

Two conservative activists were mobbed and harassed Monday on Ohio University’s Athens campus while multiple police officers watched.

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Sen. Marsha Blackburn Encourages Conservative College Students to Stay Strong Against Leftist Attacks

  U.S. Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee says conservative college students should feel encouraged as they contend with hostile leftist professors and leftist classmates on campus. “Be encouraged. Be grateful you are someone who does not fall in line with the liberal dictate of the day,” Blackburn told CampusReform.org…

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How College Students Really Feel About Free Speech on Campus

by Kaylee Greenlee   A new survey finding that college students generally support free speech also shows what for some is a worrisome divide over what students value more: an “inclusive society” that “welcomes diverse groups” or protecting “the extremes of free speech.” The Knight Foundation’s “Free Expressions of College…

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Perrysburg High School Student Arrested in Connection With Disparaging Twitter Account

A Perrysburg High School student was arrested this week in connection to a Twitter account that contained disparaging comments about his female peers. The student, 18-year-old Mehros Nassersharifi, was charged with telecommunications harassment for a Twitter account he started called “Perrysburg Girls Ranked.” All of the tweets have since been…

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Trump’s Executive Order to Colleges: Protect Free Speech or Risk Billions in Federal Grants

by Fred Lucas   Polly Olson, a student at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, last year handed out homemade Valentine cards on her campus with Christian messages until college officials told her she was restricted to a “free speech zone.” On Thursday, Olson told her story at the White House before…

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House Democrats Derail Rep. Green’s Attempt to Protect Free Speech By Voting Down His Amendment to Bill That Would Give Feds Control of Elections

House Democrats on Thursday voted down an amendment by U.S. Rep. Dr. Mark Green (R-TN-07) to protect free speech in House Resolution 1, which seeks to change campaign finance, election and lobbying laws. Tracking information on H.R.1 is here. “Free speech should be protected,” Green said in a hearing at…

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Arizona Lawmakers Stand Up for Students Wearing ‘MAGA’ Gear in Dispute With High School

by Ginny Montalbano   Some Arizona lawmakers are raising free speech concerns after a group of students and parents said high school officials called on students to remove pro-Trump “Make America Great Again” gear. The incident occurred March 1 when Perry High School in Gilbert, Arizona, hosted its “Party in…

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Tennessee Star Report-Knoxville Edition: According to CNN, ‘Everyone Get’s a Pass’ as MSM Bands Together Claiming First Amendment Rights to White House Press Corp

On Wednesday’s Tennessee Star Report: Knoxville Edition – broadcast on WETR 92.3 FM in Knoxville – Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill talked about Megyn Kelly’s inability to create a base and keep it, CNN’s lawsuit against the White House, and how the usual ‘liberal’ suspects are joining the MSM band wagon…

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Facebook, Google Tools Reveal New Political Ad Tactics

  Public databases that shine a light on online political ads – launched by Facebook and Google before Tuesday’s U.S. elections – offer the public the first broad view of how quickly the companies yank advertisements that break their rules. The databases also provided campaigns unprecedented insight into opponents’ online…

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Analysis: California’s Bill Establishing the ‘Internet Social Media Advisory Group’ Could Run Afoul of the First Amendment

California is one step away from going down the unconstitutional road of government-mandated censorship of Internet speech. The California Senate and State Assembly recently passed S.B. 1424, the “Internet: social media: advisory group” act. This fake news advisory act is now on the desk of Governor Jerry Brown for his signature. According…

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