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Left In Lowell » Free Speech

Left In Lowell

Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs

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October 6, 2011

Open Thread: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs Edition

by at 1:27 pm.

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.


September 21, 2011

Blogger Ethics?!?!?!

by at 2:50 pm.

You know, everyone loves to beat on the unknown government. Who knows who the town administrator really is? Who knows who these selectmen are? … What I did was I ended up using technology in the response as a tool to try to make government more accessible and more human at the same time.

It helps to make the community leaders viewed not only as the eggheads you see on television at the selectmen meetings or in the newspaper talking about this, that or the other thing, but they’re also people who have their own families. They have their own lives, they’re trying to be part of a community. (emphasis mine)

Leon Gaumond has been the town administrator in West Boylston for seven years and previously served in a similar position in East Longmeadow. He is president of the Massachusetts Municipal Management Association.


Please follow me below the fold. (more…)

February 16, 2009

Topix forced to hand over identity of commentators

by at 8:12 am.

The on-line, public comment site used by the Lowell Sun, Topix, has been ordered by a Texas judge to ‘[identify] details about 178 anonymous commenters on the site.” A Dallas couple filed a law suit asking the site to give them details about anonymous commentators so that they can be identified. The site itself was not sued.

According to Computerworld, “Topix CEO Chris Tolles said that his company had received the subpoena and was currently figuring out what exactly it needed to do. Tolles said in an e-mail. ‘We prefer to make sure requests are clear and specific and not overly broad.’

“Tolles said that Topix takes privacy issues very seriously and that his firm would not ‘simply hand over all of our records’ without a review of the demand by its lawyers and a discussion of the issue with the court.”

Although in the past courts have protected the right to post comments anonymously, they have allowed lawsuits forcing web site to help identify the commentators.

This lawsuit will be watched closely not only in the blogsphere but also by first amendment advocates.

September 3, 2008

The United States of America, or the State of “Norsefire”?

by at 8:28 pm.

{Cross posted on BMG and Dailykos (please recommend on each site if you can). This is by far the most important story in America this week.}

Buried deep, deep under the seriously unvetted veep choice of John McCain, under Gustav, and under the formless, content-free speechmaking at the Republican convention, is the real scary story of the week - the scene outside of the RNC convention in St. Paul.

By all accounts, fascism is here, and it is us. The scenes just from that one Greenwald post alone should cause you great worry for our democracy. (more…)

March 10, 2008

Think They Wouldn’t? They Did

by at 1:50 pm.

Information is a precious and precarious commodity these days. Many “trusted” companies you do business with are selling their data on you to other companies. Junk mail and spam attack you at all angles, scams abound, and the universe is getting smaller and smaller.

Conservatives and liberals alike ought to be very, very frightened of our Big Brother culture. Because Big Brother is doing it…again:

Siobhan Gorman of The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that the National Security Agency has assembled what some intelligence officials admit is a driftnet for domestic and foreign communications.

Here’s the way the whole thing works, according to Gorman: into the NSA’s massive database goes data collected by the Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Treasury. This information includes data about email (recipient and sender address, subject, time sent), internet searches (sites visited and searches conducted), phone calls (incoming and outgoing numbers, length of call, location), financial information (wire transfers, credit-card use, information about bank accounts), and information from the DHS about airline passengers.
Gorman describes the NSA’s effort (elements of which have been reported before) as basically a resurrection of the Pentagon’s Total Information Awareness program, which of course was de-funded by Congress once the details became public.

OK, so the NSA figured out that naming a program Total Information Awareness sounded really Orwellian. So they changed the name and kept doing it - even after Congress said “No!”. Can someone tell me just where the due process is? Hello? Do we even have a Bill of Rights anymore?

And how important do you think it is to keep telecom immunity out of the FISA bill now?

February 26, 2008

Comcast Paid Shills for FCC Hearing

by at 5:40 pm.

What, you don’t trust these guys with your open and fair internet? From Free Press:

Comcast Blocks Public Debate at FCC Hearing
WASHINGTON — Comcast has admitted hiring people to fill up the limited number of seats at yesterday’s Federal Communications Commission hearing at Harvard. More than 100 people were turned away when the event reached capacity. The public hearing was part of the federal agency’s ongoing investigation into allegations that the cable giant is blocking consumers’ access to legal Web traffic.

Timothy Karr, campaign director of SavetheInternet.com, issued the following statement:

“First, Comcast was caught blocking the Internet. Now it has been caught blocking the public from the debate. The only people cheering Comcast are those paid to do so. Clearly, Comcast will resort to just about any underhanded tactic to stack the decks in its favor. And yet Comcast still expects us to trust them with the future of the Internet?”

Read Portfolio’s story.

Read the SavetheInternet.com blog.

A Positive Note for Net Neutrality!

by at 2:09 pm.

On today’s WBUR news, I heard a snippet of important reporting from yesterday’s Cambridge FCC public hearing on net neutrality. It sounds like the Chair, who is a Republican Bush appointee, is quoted as being against allowing the ISPs (internet providers) to pick and choose what traffic they can stifle. That’s good news for the future of free and fair use of the internet. You can listen or read the transcript of the report.

The Federal Communications Commission may have fired the first shot in what some are calling a fight over the future of the internet. Following a hearing in Cambridge yesterday, the head of the FCC said he’s ready to punish internet providers who purposefully slow down the transfer of massive files such as videos. WBUR’s Business and Technology Reporter Curt Nickisch has more.


NICKISCH: After the hearing, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said he’s prepared to stop Internet providers from hobbling traffic. That’s a key statement from a Republican who generally favors the market sorting things out on its own. Martin and the rest of the panel may get some help from Massachusetts Congressman Edward Markey. He introduced a bill last week that would give the FCC more authority on the issue.

September 25, 2007

IOKIYAR Writ Large

by at 1:43 pm.

In rulings over the decades, the Supreme Court has made it clear that money equals speech. This is a conservative “market” viewpoint, largely, carried out in conservative pro-market courts. However, in yet another stunning display of IOKIYAR (It’s OK If You Are Republican), money should only equal speech if Republicans like the message.

David Shuster, subbing in for Tucker (why do people keep giving him shows? His ratings always suck) on MSNBC, hits guest Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) with the fact that Rush Limbaugh and one of his callers has used the term “Senator Betray-us” in reference to Sen. Chuck Hagel, and asks her if that was wrong too. Blackburn’s answer? “But Rush Limbaugh did not go in and buy an ad and place it with the New York Times…”

So, if you’re keeping score…buying speech is OK. Buying speech while liberal…not OK. Got it?

July 31, 2007

Free Speech and the Folk Festival

by at 12:57 pm.

Dick Howe’s already got a write up on the Kevin Thompson (Constitutional Party candidate for MA-05) video from the Folk Festival about his curtailed free speech rights, which you can find here.

First, I just have to say that I despise the Constitution Party. The day they win a seat in Congress will be a sad day for America. While they claim to be for liberty and the Constitution, they want to tell women what to do with their bodies, proclaim the US a Christian nation, and of course gays have no rights according to them.

However, there are two points being made by Thompson with this video - one which deserves debate, and the other which is plainly a simple matter of fairness.

The first is the very concept of these so-called “free speech zones” in the public square. Peace groups and other organizations across this nation have encountered this bizarre concept over the years. If land is owned in public trust (such as the JFK Plaza), can’t it be said to always be a free speech zone? Since others have argued pretty passionately that the Constitution prohibits sign ordinances (that may or may not be in place in Lowell) against political signs on private property, what about public use of public land? So, that’s a debate to have (and I’m not sure what the answer is, though I disagree with Dick - I doubt the Folk Fest people really considered all the constitutional ramifications of having such a policy, they are just following the policy everyone else employs, rightly or wrongly.)

The second issue, and the real problem, is who followed the rules and who didn’t. That is an issue of basic fairness, and I do know the answer to this one.

The Eldridge campaign came out for the Festival on Saturday and I joined them. They were told by Festival people, no signs, no handouts. You can come, and you can talk to people, but nothing else, says they. Apparently, other campaigns were being told different things about “Free Speech Zones,” but more on that later. For now, suffice it to say I met Jamie and his entourage from the time they parked their cars, to the time they left in their cars, and Jamie and his people followed the rules they were told to. No signs, no handouts. We wore teeshirts with Jamie for Congress on them, and we wandered around talking to people.

This, despite the fact we too witnessed the Ogonowski crew with multiple signs, right near the “entrance” to the Folk Fest, where people stream in from the parking garage and much of the food is located. I had also seen them on Friday night as well. It steamed me at the time, because of what I knew the Festival people had told Jamie’s campaign. Did Ogonowski’s people even bother to find out the rules? Or were they just ignoring them? Either way, they should have been stopped.

I also have heard other candidates passed out handouts (frisbees?). Perhaps they were in one of the famous “Free Speech Zones” that we were not told about. (Trust me, Jamie’s people really would have loved to have the chance to pass out information.) Regardless, the information, and the enforcement, of the rules for candidates was inconsistent. The blame falls squarely on the shoulders of Festival organizers and the Lowell National Park employees, much as I love those guys. Never mind the fact that it’s questionable to stop someone from campaigning in the public square, especially if they are gathering official state of Massachusetts petition signatures (either for ballot initiative or candidacy status). I seem to remember people doing it last year for the Green party for Grace Ross, by the way, which I gladly signed.

July 22, 2007

Visual Pollution or Political Speech

by at 4:52 pm.

The comments I made in previous post regarding political signs are not an attempt by me or anyone else to suppress political speech, on the contrary. This is the only purpose of this blog; to give everyone an opportunity to express their views, anonymously at that.

However, my City is turning into a flea market because certain candidates for the Lowell City Council and their “enthusiastic supporters” do not care about the visual noise level they have created.

I am in full support with CC Rodney Elliott’s timely motion, made two weeks ago during the bi-weekly (summer schedule) Lowell City Council: “Have the City Manager develop regulations on political signs and forward it to the Zoning Sub-Committee (CCs Kevin Broderick, Chair and Jim Millinazo, and Elliott members) for their review and discussion”; then public hearings and eventual vote at a full City Council meeting.

CC Elliott made sure to emphasize that his intent was not to suppress free speech but rather to put into place a set of rules and regulations that all campaigns understand and can follow. Right now it is the wild, wild west. In a previous post, Commentator EaboClipper linked to a first amendment web site regarding yard signs. I liked the following paragraph because it addresses the problem that Lowell is currently facing: (more…)

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