Britain, Fix Your Libel Laws!

Legal observers have noted for some time that the laws governing defamation in the United Kingdom are far more plaintiff-friendly than similar laws in the U.S. In the U.S., anyone claiming they were libeled has to prove that the allegedly libelous statements were false. But in the U.K., the burden of proof is reversed: the defendant in a libel suit has to prove that the statements they made were true. This creates a serious hazard to free speech: rich, litigious individuals can file lawsuits and … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: ID on Trial

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 8The best place to settle a scientific debate is in the peer-reviewed journals and the larger research community - a strategy which, as we've noted, the creationists have steered well clear of. This means, when they inevitably attempt to push their beliefs into public schools anyway, that we have to take them to court, and that's where most direct encounters between science and creationism take place.However, though it's not an ideal forum for the … [Read more...]

Weekly Link Roundup

I'm happy to report that there's quite a lot of good news this week:• The U.K. government recommends that primary school religious education classes should teach about "secular beliefs such as humanism and atheism", in addition to learning about major world religions like Christianity, Buddhism and Islam. This is just one more symptom of how far ahead of us our European friends are in some respects - can you imagine the religious right frenzy that would ensue if a U.S. politician … [Read more...]

Free Speech Still Threatened in Europe

Scarcely two days into 2010, we've gotten a stark reminder of how free speech is still threatened by religious fanatics: Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist who drew the image of Mohammed depicted to the right, was attacked at home Friday night by a murderous, ax-wielding religious fanatic. Fortunately, neither Westergaard nor his 5-year-old granddaughter, who was with him at the time, were harmed. They escaped to a panic room built into the house for just this purpose and summoned police, … [Read more...]

Another Cult Leader Convicted

I've got to give the government credit: they've been doing an excellent job cracking down on criminals who try to hide behind religion. Between Kent Hovind, Warren Jeffs, and now a new conviction, federal prosecutors have been diligently enforcing the law against creeps, con men, and petty tyrants who claim that the law of God gives them license to break the laws of society.This month's creep is Tony Alamo, former head of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries. On Friday, Alamo was convicted on ten … [Read more...]

Cdesign Proponentsists

In 2005, the constitutionality of teaching "intelligent design" was tested in court in the landmark case Kitzmiller v. Dover. The lawsuit was triggered by the school board in rural Dover, Pennsylvania, voting to require a statement to be read in science classes which said, in part:Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view. The reference book Of Pandas and People is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of … [Read more...]

Take Action: Tell Obama to Prosecute Bush's Torturers

Under pressure from the ACLU, the Obama administration has finally released a set of four Bush-era memos from the White House Office of Legal Counsel. Written by assistant attorney general Jay Bybee and acting assistant attorney general Steven Bradbury, these memos detailed the torture techniques which the Bush administration believed could be used on captured terrorists and terror suspects.These techniques included "walling" (slamming a prisoner into a wall by swinging them from a collar … [Read more...]

Taxation Is Not Theft

In last August's post "Spread the Wealth", I talked about the justifications for redistributive taxation. I felt that some of the issues raised in the comments deserved to be revisited - and since it's tax time here in the U.S., it's worth a reminder of why we pay them and what we get out of it.The centerpiece of the libertarian rhetorical strategy is to refer to taxation as theft, robbery, slavery. I've heard these epithets and others like them many times. It's easy to see what purpose this … [Read more...]

Full Faith and Credit

Why don't we already have gay marriage in all of America?I mean this as a simple question of law, not a matter of fundamental rights or justice. The reason I ask is because we already have legally recognized gay marriage in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and because Article IV of the U.S. Constitution contains the following clause, commonly known as the Full Faith and Credit Clause:Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of … [Read more...]

No Religious Exemptions from Discrimination Laws

Via ABC, this good news: the California Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that doctors cannot deny patients medical care on religious grounds. The case involved two Christian doctors, working at a fertility clinic, who had refused to perform artificial insemination on a lesbian:Guadalupe Benitez, now 36, had maintained that the California medical clinic that was treating her polycystic ovary syndrome had "dumped" her when she asked for artificial insemination.In 1999, after a year of … [Read more...]


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