A recent court case reaffirmed that flipping the bird in protest is usually protected speech, not disorderly conduct. When the gesture is used to express contempt, anger, or protest, and not a “true threat,” in most situations a person cannot be guilty of a crime. But can you be fired from your job for flipping the bird? And what if you took it one step further… and flipped the bird at the President? Recently, […]Continue Reading
During his first months in office, President Trump has complained about people in government leaking sensitive or secret information to the news media. He has at times suggested news media should be prosecuted for publishing secret information. Is that likely? History gives one example to consider. Before the Pentagon Papers, the U.S. government’s most significant prosecution of a news media outlet occurred during World War II, arguably at the height of danger to our national […]Continue Reading
Could the President Punish NBC News for What He Says Is a False Report?
A recent NBC News report said that the president wanted an almost tenfold increase to our nuclear warhead stockpile. Trump was quick to claim the story was “made up and “pure fiction” on Twitter. He followed that up with a tweet threatening the broadcast license for NBC. With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country! — […]Continue Reading
Should the Press and the Public Be Shut Out during Times of Crisis?
During times of crisis, it is easy to understand why emergency management personnel want to control the message. They may have specific, urgent information to get out. They may want to minimize panic. But is shutting out the press and the public the best way to do that? That is exactly what happened during Hurricane Irma. The press was admitted into a small room in the Florida Emergency Operations Center with a glass wall. The […]Continue Reading
Is Flipping the Bird Disorderly Conduct or Protected Speech?
In August of 2014, pastor John Berry asked teachers attending his service to stand and be recognized, and he requested that the congregation pray for their success in the upcoming school year. One church member, homeschooling father David Justin Freeman, did not appreciate the request. According to court testimony, Freeman flipped the bird at the pastor and shouted, “Don’t send your kids to the evil public schools. Don’t let Satan or the devil raise your […]Continue Reading
Marks Gray, P.A. is pleased to announce attorney Edward L. Birk recently launched a new blog, Media and First Amendment Law. Mr. Birk is a thought leader and frequent speaker on first amendment law. In his first blog installments he discusses; The Difference Between Fake News and a Media Error: What We Can Learn from Las Vegas and Tom Petty and Lawsuit Threats from Movie Mogul Weinstein: Are They Real? Mr. Birk practices in the areas […]Continue Reading