Saturday, November 29, 2008

FREEDOM & JUSTICE

Guardian, UK - The Metropolitan police is to boycott the home secretary's plan to arm 10,000 frontline officers with Taser stun guns because of their potential to cause fear and damage public confidence. The Metropolitan Police Authority said yesterday it had no intention of immediately taking up Jacqui Smith's offer to sanction an increase in the availability of Tasers. "We recognise the potential to cause fear and damage public confidence if the use of Tasers is extended to non-specialist trained police officers and is perceived by the public to be indiscriminate," the MPA said. "There is no doubt that in some circumstances Tasers are a very effective alternative to firearms . . . but their use must be tightly controlled and we have seen no case made out to extend their availability."

Newsweek - When the Olympic torch passed through Juneau, Alaska, in 2002, 18-year-old Joseph Frederick saw a chance at TV airtime. His tactic: a banner reading BONG HITS 4 JESUS. Not amused, Frederick's principal confiscated the banner and suspended him for five days. He shot back something about Thomas Jefferson. She tacked on another five. Frederick took his free-speech argument to court, with backing from the ACLU. Five years later it was before the U.S. Supreme Court, with Kenneth Starr representing the school. The court ruled that since Frederick was holding the banner at a "school-supervised" (though not on school grounds) event, the principal had a right to restrict what he said about illegal drugs-even if his message was rather nonsensical. Now 25, Frederick is learning Mandarin and teaching English in China. Although he is proud that he stood up for his rights, he regrets "the bad precedent set by the ruling." His case was finally settled at the state level in November, winning him $45,000 and forcing the school to hold a forum on free speech.

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