Civil Rights » ADL Blogs
June 16, 2016 0

Charleston Anniversary: We Mourn, We Act

One year ago, on June 17, 2015, a white suprema­cist mur­dered nine parish­ioners at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.   It’s ter­ri­ble – and unfair – that the quiet space in time we should have had to reflect and prop­erly mourn these mur­ders tar­get­ing African-Americans has been lit­er­ally blown apart by another tragedy – even larger in scale – involv­ing the delib­er­ate tar­get­ing of mem­bers of the LGBTQ com­mu­nity in Orlando this past weekend.

We can and must grieve for the vic­tims of the heart­less white suprema­cist who mur­dered nine peo­ple who had wel­comed him into prayer,

com­mu­nion, and fel­low­ship.   We can and must mourn the vic­tims in Orlando cel­e­brat­ing life dur­ing Pride Month and Latino Night.

And:  we can do more than stand in sol­i­dar­ity and mourn.

On this anniver­sary, after a week­end of bias-motivated may­hem, we should reded­i­cate our­selves to ensur­ing that we, as a nation, are doing all we can to fight hate and extremism.

1)     Law enforce­ment author­i­ties are now inves­ti­gat­ing what role – if any – rad­i­cal inter­pre­ta­tions of Islam played in inspir­ing the Orlando mur­derer to act — and that work is clearly jus­ti­fied.  But we must rec­og­nize and pay atten­tion to extrem­ism and hate com­ing from all sources – includ­ing white suprema­cists, like the mur­derer in Charleston.

2)     Charleston and Orlando are fur­ther evi­dence that firearms are more pop­u­lar than ever as the deadly weapons of choice for Amer­i­can extrem­ists. We must end lim­i­ta­tions on fed­eral research on gun vio­lence – and make it more dif­fi­cult to obtain firearms through increased wait­ing peri­ods, safety restric­tions, and lim­i­ta­tions on pur­chases – espe­cially of assault-style weapons.   None of these steps will cer­tainly pre­vent the next gun-toting mass mur­derer – but, as Pres­i­dent Obama said, “to actively do noth­ing is a deci­sion as well.”

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Photo Credit: Cal Sr via Flikr

Emanuel African Methodist Epis­co­pal (AME) Church.
Photo Credit: Cal Sr via Flikr

3)     We need more inclu­sive and exten­sive laws in place to com­bat vio­lence moti­vated by hate and extrem­ism.  On the state level, though 45 states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia have hate crime laws, a hand­ful of states – includ­ing South Car­olina – do not (the oth­ers are Arkansas, Geor­gia, Indi­ana, and Wyoming).  ADL and a broad coali­tion of three dozen national orga­ni­za­tions have formed #50 States Against Hate to improve the response to all hate crimes, with more effec­tive laws, train­ing, and policies.

And, though hate crime laws are very impor­tant, they are a blunt instru­ment – it’s much bet­ter to pre­vent these crimes in the first place.  Con­gress and the states should com­ple­ment these laws with fund­ing for inclu­sive anti-bias edu­ca­tion, hate crime pre­ven­tion, and bul­ly­ing, cyber­bul­ly­ing, and harass­ment pre­ven­tion train­ing programs.

4)     And finally, let us resolve to more fiercely resist unnec­es­sary and dis­crim­i­na­tory laws, like North Carolina’s HB 2, that deprive indi­vid­u­als of the oppor­tu­nity to live their lives in dig­nity, free from per­se­cu­tion because of their race, reli­gion, national ori­gin, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, gen­der iden­tity, or disability.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

June 9, 2016 0

LA Times Editorial Board Criticizes EU Hate Speech Code of Conduct for Online Platforms

In response to a Code of Con­duct adopted at the request of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion by online com­pa­nies Face­book, Twit­ter, YouTube and Microsoft, the Los Ange­les Times Edi­to­r­ial Board called the Code “a well-meaning but heavy-handed move against jihadist pro­pa­ganda.”  The Edi­to­r­ial explained:

The code of con­duct was pre­sented as a set of vol­un­tary com­mit­ments closely track­ing what the four com­pa­nies say they’ve been doing on their own ini­tia­tives. But it’s not as if they could have blithely refused to coop­er­ate. Under Euro­pean law, cer­tain types of hate speech are ille­gal and must be removed on request. The com­mis­sion also is a highly active reg­u­la­tor  — much more so than U.S. author­i­ties are — hav­ing launched antitrust, tax and pri­vacy enforce­ment actions against some or all of the four com­pa­nies. In other words, they would have ignored the com­mis­sion at their peril.

The LA Times Edi­to­r­ial Board item­ized its con­cerns this way:

  • “The Commission’s move could lead the com­pa­nies to cen­sor legal speech as well. Rather than leav­ing com­pa­nies to set their own terms of use, the code of con­duct man­dates that such rules “pro­hibit the pro­mo­tion of incite­ment to vio­lence and hate­ful con­duct,” which is a vaguer and broader cat­e­gory than what Euro­pean gov­ern­ments have outlawed.”
  • “It would fast-track the removal of con­tent flagged by advo­cacy groups and other non-governmental orga­ni­za­tions blessed by Euro­pean offi­cials, leav­ing those whose posts are blocked online with no due-process rights (the com­pa­nies say they have inter­nal appeals processes, but that’s a far cry from the court-supervised process under U.S. copy­right law).”
  • “The code could set a prece­dent for other coun­tries to force Inter­net com­pa­nies to restrain speech more than their laws dic­tate or global prin­ci­ples of human rights sup­port. For exam­ple, what if a repres­sive regime demands that social net­works adopt rules ban­ning “incite­ment to insta­bil­ity” or other code words for dissent?”
  • “But just as the United States has strug­gled to find the right bal­ance between secu­rity and civil lib­er­ties, so too must the com­mis­sion be care­ful not to squelch legal speech. The new code of con­duct may be well-meaning, but it would have been bet­ter to have a truly vol­un­tary effort by social net­works backed by real due-process protections.”

While Jonathan A. Green­blatt, ADL CEO has stated that the Code par­al­lels ADL’s Best Prac­tices for Respond­ing to Cyber­hate, and that empow­er­ing users to bet­ter report hate speech is the rea­son why ADL has brought it Cyber-Safety Action Guide to Europe, ADL acknowl­edges the con­cerns expressed by civil soci­ety and the Los Ange­les Times, and con­tin­ues to believe that vol­un­tary efforts to com­bat online hate speech is prefer­able to government-imposed require­ments.  ADL has com­mit­ted to work with the Euro­pean Jew­ish Con­gress and Euro­pean Union of Jew­ish Stu­dents to expand ADL’s Cyber-Safety Action Guide for use by Euro­pean cit­i­zens in the wake of the EU Code announcement.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

June 7, 2016 5

Governor Urges Iowans to Attend Bible Marathons

Iowa Gov­er­nor, Terry E. Bran­stand, recently issued a reli­giously divi­sive and likely uncon­sti­tu­tional procla­ma­tion urg­ing all Iowans to attend state-wide Bible read­ing marathons orga­nized by Christian-based groups.

Iowa gov proclamationDeclar­ing “the Bible … as the one true rev­e­la­tion from God, show­ing the way of Sal­va­tion, Truth, and Life …,” the procla­ma­tion states that the Governor:

… encourage[s] all Iowans to join in this his­tor­i­cal 99 County Bible Read­ing Marathon to take place June 30th through July 3rd, 2016 in front of all 99 cour­t­houses and fur­ther­more, encour­ages indi­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies in Iowa to read through the Bible on a daily basis each year until the Lord comes.

Read­ing the Bible gives many Amer­i­cans guid­ance, strength and com­fort.  And it is com­pletely appro­pri­ate for clergy and other reli­gious lead­ers to call on con­gre­gants to read the Bible.  The Gov­er­nor, how­ever, should not be pro­mot­ing such activities.

This procla­ma­tion divides Iowans along reli­gious lines within and out­side the Chris­t­ian faith.  As a start­ing point, there are numer­ous ver­sions of the Chris­t­ian Bible.  So which ver­sion is the right one for Iowans read?  Undoubt­edly, the procla­ma­tion also sends a mes­sage of exclu­sion and mar­gin­al­iza­tion to Iowans who are not Chris­t­ian or are of no faith.

The Governor’s action is a good illus­tra­tion for why the First Amend­ment pro­hibits gov­ern­ment from pre­fer­ring one faith or reli­gion more gen­er­ally.   Offi­cial reli­gious par­tial­ity erodes non-adherents’ trust in gov­ern­ment treat­ing them fairly and in the most extreme cases can coerce adop­tion of a par­tic­u­lar faith based on the belief that it will result in favor­able treatment.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,