Posts Tagged ‘civil rights’

November 02, 2016

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. —The Rutherford Institute has asked a federal appeals court to safeguard the right of citizens and journalists to record police in public without fear of retaliation. In a friend-of-the-court brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Rutherford Institute attorneys argue that the First Amendment protects the right of citizens to make audio or video recordings of public law enforcement activities.

The brief was filed in a consolidated appeal of two cases in which a federal district court ruled that police and the City of Philadelphia could not be sued by persons who were arrested or physically assaulted by officers allegedly because they had made video recordings of police engaged in quelling disturbances.

“Police body cameras will never serve as an effective check on police misconduct as long the cameras can be turned on and off at will and the footage remains inaccessible to the public. However, technology makes it possible for Americans to record their own interactions with police and they have every right to do so without fear of arrest or physical assault,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People.  “The ability to record police interactions in public provides for greater accountability when it comes to police interactions with the citizenry and should be preserved as a necessary right of the people.”

In September 2012, Amanda Geraci, a legal observer who monitors police interactions with citizens at protests or demonstrations, attended a protest against fracking at the convention center in Philadelphia. When police arrested one of the protesters, Geraci moved to a spot where she could better observe and make a video recording of the incident. According to Geraci, a city police officer subsequently attacked her by physically restraining her against a pillar and preventing her from videotaping the arrest.

In a separate incident, Temple University student Richard Fields was walking on Broad Street in Philadelphia when he saw about 20 police officers standing outside a house that was hosting a party. Fields took a photograph of the scene with his cell phone. An officer then approached Fields, asked if Fields “likes taking pictures of grown men,” and ordered him to leave. When Fields refused, the officer handcuffed and arrested him, searched his belongings, and charged him with obstructing a public passage. That charge was eventually dropped. Both Geraci and Fields filed lawsuits asserting that the police retaliated against them for exercising their First Amendment right to record police activities in public.

In ruling on the lawsuits, a federal district court declared that there was no clearly established right under the First Amendment to record police activities and that a person only has the right to record police in public if they can assert there was some “expressive” purpose for the recording. In weighing in on the cases before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Rutherford Institute attorneys point out that the district court’s decision conflicts with numerous rulings from other courts that have affirmed a First Amendment right to collect information about government activities, and specifically to record police carrying out their duties in public.

In ruling on the lawsuits, a federal district court declared that there was no clearly established right under the First Amendment to record police activities and that a person only has the right to record police in public if they can assert there was some “expressive” purpose for the recording. In weighing in on the cases before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Rutherford Institute attorneys point out that the district court’s decision conflicts with numerous rulings from other courts that have affirmed a First Amendment right to collect information about government activities, and specifically to record police carrying out their duties in public.

Affiliate attorneys Jason P. Gosselin and Christopher F. Moriarty assisted The Rutherford Institute advancing the arguments in the Fields and Geraci brief.

Via The Rutherford Institute here

Conclusion: This attack on dissent is serious. Educate your family and friends about what’s going on. Do not be fooled by their propaganda, but beware of the risks of speaking out too freely.

Believe in conspiracy theories? You’re probably a narcissist: People who doubt the moon landings are more likely to be selfish and attention-seeking … Psychologists from the University of Kent carried out three online studies … -UK Daily Mail

We are seeing an increasing number of academic studies analyzing the psychology behind “conspiracy theorists” and those who question government propaganda. The idea being that people who don’t trust government may be mentally ill.

These analyses are published in prominent publications in the UK and are building a “scientific” literature revolving psychological dysfunction and “conspiracy theory.”

More:

Do you think the moon-landings were faked, vaccines are a plot for mind control, or that shadowy government agencies are keeping alien technology locked up in hidden bunkers?

If so, chances are you’re a narcissist with low self-esteem, according to psychologists. In the internet age conspiracy theories can incubate in quiet corners of the web, but it may be psychological predispositions of believers which keep them alive, rather than cold hard facts.

The article goes on to explain that researchers at the University of Kent have used online studies  from hundreds of people to generate the study’s conclusions.

The findings appeared in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science with the suggestion that those who adopt conspiracy theories have “outwardly inflated self-confidence” but may be “overcompensating for a lack of belief in themselves.”

The article mentions a previous study conducted by Oxford’s Dr. David Robert Grimes.

From what we’ve written on this study:

Grimes had the idea that mathematics could prove or disprove certain conspiracy theories. A physicist, he “developed a mathematical equation to derive the truth of conspiracy theories,” according to the Christian Science Monitor …

Grimes calculated that the moon landing and climate change conspiracies “would require about 400,000 secret-keepers each, the unsafe vaccination conspiracy would involve 22,000 people, and the cancer cure conspiracy would involve over 710,000 people.”  Even with the utmost secrecy, Grimes reports, his equations show within four years the conspiracies would be exposed nonetheless.

At the time, we commented on Grimes’s apparent “earnestness” in struggling to “understand how people can even engage in conspiratorial thinking to begin with.” We made this comment in relationship to yet a third article on the psychology of conspiracy.

This commentary appeared in the Guardian and, as we pointed out, “argued against conspiratorial thinking based on a new book, Suspicious Minds … written by Rob Brotherton.”

Basically, the idea is that people are naturally prone to conspiracy theories because of the way their brains have evolved. “Identifying patterns and being sensitive to possible threats,” the article explains, “is what has helped us survive in a world where nature often is out to get you.”

Brotherton explains in the article that he decided that the best way to present his thesis was to avoid confronting conspiracy theories head on. Instead, he wanted to explain how people adopted such theories for psychological reasons.

“I wanted to take a different approach, to sidestep the whole issue of whether the theories are true or false and come at it from the perspective of psychology. The intentionality bias, the proportionality bias, confirmation bias. We have these quirks built into our minds that can lead us to believe weird things without realising that’s why we believe them.”

So here we have three explanations of conspiracy theories presented by major publications in less than three month’s time. And, who knows, perhaps there were more.

In the conclusion to our Grimes’ analysis, we noted that: “It looks as if a more powerful and disciplined program may be underway. Something to ponder along with a further moderation of certain public declarations.”

By “public declarations” we meant those of individuals prone to mentioning conspiracy theories in non-appropriate contexts. As it turns out, we anticipated the current news cycle only by a couple of months.

Just this week, in fact, Attorney General Loretta Lynch attended a Senate Judiciary Hearing and acknowledged discussions at the Department of Justice of taking civil action against “climate change deniers.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) questioned her on the issue and drew comparisons between such deniers and the tobacco industry that claimed for decades that the tobacco was not proven to cause ill health.

The Clinton administration eventually brought a successful civil suit against Big Tobacco. And Whitehouse suggested that civil or criminal charges might be brought against “anti-warmists.”

The forces of intolerance are gathering in the US, just as overseas.

We have urged in the past that people pay close attention to these growing trends. By turning statements of opinion into a psychological condition they are trying to discredit anyone who speaks out against the government.

In the Soviet Union, people who spoke out against government policies were often placed in mental asylums. At the time, concerned citizens in the West protested such incarcerations as barbaric abuses. Yet now, if our supposition is correct, these practices are about to expand in the West as well.

Conclusion: This attack on dissent is serious. Educate your family and friends about what’s going on. Do not be fooled by their propaganda, but beware of the risks of speaking out too freely.

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