Gays can't say 'Israeli apartheid' in Toronto

Let them in the parade and let people along the parade route judge for themselves. I've booed and shouted opinions at a few organizations in gay pride parades.

Do we have to act as if everyone with a sign in a gay pride parade has to follow a certain script?

Geena, June 9, 2010 12:29 PM

It's strange that the phrase 'Israeli apartheid' is now banned at a major political event in Toronto. This involves a pro-Palestinian group that has marched in Toronto's gay pride parade for many years, as have groups supporting Israeli government policies. That 'both sides' approach seems so civilized and democratic, but times are a-changing and not for the better.

Pride festival bans 'Israeli apartheid'

Toronto parade marshal resigns in protest
By Carmen Chai
Windsor Star
June 8, 2010  

This year's Toronto Gay Pride Parade Grand Marshal has resigned and 23 former Pride Toronto activists announced on Monday they have pulled out of Pride festivities after organizers banned the term "Israeli apartheid" from its 10-day event.

"Pride's recent decision to ban the term 'Israeli apartheid' and thus prohibit the participation of the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid in Pride celebrations this year is a slap in the face to our history of diverse voices," said Alan Li, a co-founder of Gay Asians Toronto who rejected his appointment as grand marshal.

"Pride's choice to take a pre-emptive step to censor our own communities' voices and concerns in response to political and corporate pressure shows a lack of backbone to stand up for principles of inclusiveness and anti-oppression." . . .

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Why Are Animal Rights Groups for Banning Depictions of Animal Cruelty?

The most memorable video we watched in middle school showed the treatment of animals in the beauty industry. Students squirmed as they saw what happens to a rabbit’s eyes after lipstick has been shoved in them. Many kids covered their faces. Others protested having to watch.

It bothered me then, newly a vegetarian, to see students shielding themselves from confronting cruelty. But today it troubles me more to see animal rights advocates defending a law to banish images of cruelty entirely.

The federal law, Section 48, prohibits selling any “depiction of animal cruelty” across state lines. The Supreme Court is now considering whether the ban – targeted at violence fetish “crush” videos of people stomping animals, but far broader in scope – violates the First Amendment. Animal rights groups and the Obama administration are asking to Court to restore Section 48, which was overturned by 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, along with the conviction of Robert Stevens, who created and narrated dogfighting videos using others’ footage.  Stevens had been sentenced under Section 48 to three years in jail for making the films.  Michael Vick served one year less for running a dogfighting ring.

Animal Rights groups like the Humane Society reassure us that Section 48 specifically exempts works with “serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical, or artistic value.” But by carving out that exception, the law’s authors only confirm that banning videos just because they depict violence against animals is a problem for free expression. That exception is no solution. Section 48 requires depictions of violence against animals, unlike other speech, to demonstrate serious value (How would Zombieland fare against the same standard?). It’s an arbitrary standard, and it invites arbitrary judgments: In oral arguments, Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal reassured the Justices that Spanish bullfights are artistic enough, and Roman gladiator contests are historic enough, to be exempt from the ban.

Some have defended Section 48 by comparing animal cruelty law to child pornography. But the act of capturing an abused child on tape is, itself, a further violation of the child’s dignity.  Few would argue, on the other hand, that the act of taping an abused animal is a separate violation of the animal’s rights.

As part of his defense, Stevens is now claiming that his videos, which he marketedthrough the underground “Sporting Dog Journal,” were really designed as critiques of dogfighting.  As a factual claim, that’s hard to take seriously.  But by raising the hypothetical – what if these videos really were intentionally nauseating exposes, theApocalypse Now of dogfighting – he highlights a serious challenge to Section 48 and its defenders.  If the law would ban the ugly film supporting dogfighting but permit the one opposing it, how can animal rights advocates defend it under the First Ammendment? On the other hand, if the law bans disturbing images equally, whether they condone or condemn the cruelty, should those advocates want to defend it?

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More on Free Speech and Holocaust Denial: Parliament Today

Crossposted on The Motley Moose

By bizarre coincidence, a timely and provocative diary by Canadian Gal about Holocaust denial and Facebook, has raised issues of free speech in the US, which have become a hot button issue today in the UK.

BNP leader Nick Griffin has been pelted with eggs and forced to abandon a press conference outside Parliament.

Dozens of protesters disrupted the event, which follows the British National Party winning its first two seats in the European Parliament.
Chanting anti-Nazi slogans and holding placards they surrounded Mr Griffin as he was bundled into a car.

Mr Griffin was elected for the North West region - a result condemned by parties across the political spectrum.

BBC video here. Guardian video here

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Conservative Group Is Right: Free Speech Isn't a Political Issue

California, that liberal hellhole according to many conservatives, is the only state that extends the First Amendment to private colleges, which as a matter of educational philosophy should encourage, not restrict, freedom of expression.

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Banned by Open Left

I was banned from Open Left this evening. I probably deserved it on some level. We had all been warned that it was wrong to criticize David Sirota. I couldn't help myself. His constant attacks on Democratic Candidates is repugnant to me. My comment on his diary about Barack Obama and Warren Buffet was clearly over the top in its vehemence (and vulgarity), but I couldn't help myself from attacking someone who claims to be on our side and yet attacks our candidates -- all the time! My feelings are best summed up in a great song I learned from Pete Seeger.

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