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Monday, September 26, 2016

Man Imprisoned for “Threatening” Facebook Posts

Posted by Chantal Raymond on December 13, 2014

In 2010, Tara Elonis was granted a protective order against her estranged and soon to be ex-husband, Anthony.

A week later, in 2010, he wrote on his Facebook page; “Fold up your PFA [protection-from-abuse order] and put it in your pocket Is it thick enough to stop a bullet?”  In one rap-style post he wrote; “There’s one way to love ya but a thousand ways to kill ya.”  In another, “I’m not gonna rest until your body is a mess, soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts.” These were all posted in poetry style.

Anthony Elonis

On December 4, 2014, Elonis was convicted under a federal law that makes it a crime to “transmit in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another.” In this case the vehicle was the internet. He was sentenced to four years in prison.

Elonis maintained throughout that he had never intended to threaten anyone, and that his posts constituted therapy to deal with his emotions over the end of his marriage. He said his posts were nothing more than “fictitious lyrics” from an aspiring rapper. Several of his posts also made reference to the First Amendment which protects his right to free speech.

The Supreme Court had previously stated that, the government cannot punish violent words even “vehement, caustic” or “unpleasantly sharp attacks”, unless they are “true threats.”

Who should determine a poster’s intent on social media? Is it considered from the perspective of the poster or a reasonable reader?

Congressional Staffer Resigns After Facebook Comments About Obama Girls

Posted by Chantal Raymond on December 2, 2014

Elizabeth Lauten, communications director and spokeswoman for Republican Rep. Stephen Fincher, voluntarily responded to posted Facebook screenshots of Sasha and Malia Obama, the 13 and 16 year old daughters of the President of the United States.

The teenagers’ body languages conveyed that they were bored at Wednesday’s pre-Thanksgiving traditional event of pardoning turkeys and drew playful commentary from some media houses to which Ms Lauten responded explosively as seen above.

Dear Sasha and Malia, I get you’re both in those awful teen years, but you’re a part of the First Family, try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play. Then again your mother and father don’t respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter, so I’m guessing you’re coming up a little short in the ‘good role model’ department. Nevertheless, stretch yourself. Rise to the occasion. Act like being in the White House matters to you. Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar. And certainly don’t make faces during televised public events.”

Lauten has since “resigned” her post as communications director.

Freedom of speech is the fundamental right to communicate one’s opinions and ideas to any audience, using one’s own resources. Did Lauten merely exercise freedom of speech on her social media blog or did she violate any unwritten codes?

Carolyn Cooper: ‘KC Old Boys Desire Male Sex’

Posted by Chantal Raymond on November 24, 2014

Sunday Gleaner columnist, Professor Carolyn Cooper published an article on November 9, 2014 titled “KC old boys desire male sex”.

The article highlighted and responded to a move by the Kingston College Old Boys’ Association (KCOBA) to revert to the practice of barring women from attending its annual gala.

The University of the West Indies (UWI) professor of Literary and Cultural Studies wrote, “I have great respect for the KC old boys who have proudly come out and made their sexual preference absolutely clear. The female sex is not for them.”

Among other statements, Dr. Cooper said she “does not understand why some women are so angry with the KC old boys for publicly admitting that they want to play with themselves at their annual dinner. That’s their choice. They have a right to their sexual preference.”

Cooper added, “Delusional women believe they can channel the sexual desires of men. That’s just straight self-deception.”

The media responses are brimming with accusations of defamatory remarks regarding the “dreaded” homosexuality in boys’ schools. Some fear backlashes for current students and an unhealthy stigma for students and alumni of boys’ schools, especially Kingston College. This stigmatized group would also include the professor’s own brother, Attorney-at-Law and head of Pulse Limited, Kingsley Cooper, an alumnus of Kingston College.

Is this article merely a satire, a tool for progressive change or possibly defamatory in a sensitized culture?

Defamation in the Senate??

Posted by Chantal Raymond on November 15, 2014

Opposition Senator Kamina Johnson Smith is reportedly seeking legal advice about the allegedly “defamatory” tone of an email letter referencing her.

The letter in question is said to have been written to Opposition Senator Marlene Malahoo-Forte by Government Senator A J Nicholson.

Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, attorney Tom Tavares-Finson has allegedly informed the police of the situation. He read the following excerpt reportedly from Nicholson’s email.

“In all my life, no one has ever stated such a bare-faced lie on me publicly. But let your colleague be assured that the evil that people do – the big pay back is coming. Mark my word!”  said Tavares-Finson.  He expressed concern that this followed other threatening phrases earlier hurled at Johnson Smith by Nicholson.

Tavares Finson alleges that these phrases were hurled following an incident which occurred at Friday’s sitting of the Upper House of parliament. The item on the table was the Flexible Working Arrangements Bill. Marlene Malahoo-Forte expressed concern about the possibility of women working late hours being more exposed to the danger of being raped. Nicholson allegedly answered with a sotto voice “flexi-rape” comment.

Nicholson first stated it was intended as a humorous comment. He later submitted an apology, withdrawing the remark.

Johnson Smith did a follow-up interview with Nationwide Radio concerning the “flexi-rape” comment. It is alleged that it was said interview that inspired the email communication between Nicholson and Malahoo-Forte

Are there grounds for a defamation case here?

Former PM, Patterson wins libel suit against press, awarded $12.5M

Posted by Chantal Raymond on November 7, 2014

Nationwide News Network (NNN) and its Chief Executive Officer Cliff Hughes have been ordered to pay former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson $12. 5 million, arising from a defamation suit.

The suit related to a news item aired by the station in 2009. The item covered the May, 2009 arrival of a plane carrying Mr. Patterson and executives of telecommunications company, Digicel, at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.

Mr. Patterson alleged damaging misinformation was broadcasted.
Nationwide contended that it had received 20 pieces of information throughout the day and had received additional information from the Solicitor General.

NNN also contended that the broadcast addressed issues of public interest, in all circumstances, and operated under a moral and social duty to broadcast the information it had received about Mr.Patterson.

The court rejected NNN’s defense of qualified privilege on the grounds of press freedom.

The law firm Knight, Junor and Samuels represented Mr. Patterson.
The law firm Nunes, Scholefield, Deleon and Company represented Mr. Hughes.

The $12.5million award was neither the $180 million sought for aggravated and exemplary damages nor the $250,000 counter-offered for damage proven.

What impact do you see that this verdict will have on media coverage and free speech in Jamaica?

Muslim Leader Detained At Airport in Jamaica

Posted by Chantal Raymond on October 31, 2014

On October 15, 2014, Jamaican authorities detained Yasin Abu Bakr at the Norman Manley International Airport and refused him entry into Jamaica.

Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the crime portfolio, Glenmore Hinds, who immediately confirmed the matter, said he was uncertain of the details of the event.

It was later revealed that Bakr , who travelled with one of his four wives, and a son, was considered a risk to “national security” and would not  attend the Million Man March put on in Jamaica by Minister Louis Farrakhan, and attended by thousands of Muslim supporters from across the globe.

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan spoke to a capacity crowd at the National Arena in Kingston, Jamaica October 19. Photos: Mikal Veale/Choice Imagery

Bakr said he was refused a telephone call and then was being forced to travel back to Trinidad in coach, when he had his airline ticket to return to Trinidad first class.

After protesting, he was removed from the plane and eventually flown by private jet and at a cost of Ja $4.03M TO Jamaica.

Yasin Abu Bakr, a 62 year-old former policeman, is leader of the Jamaat Al Muslimeen in Trinidad and has been since the early 1980s.

Since 1985 he has led movements to challenge the status-quo, ranging from filing or defying injunctions against government bodies  seeking to dictate use of Jamaat land, to his biggest movement on July 27, 1990, when he  helped lead more than 100 Muslimeen members to stage a coup in Trinidad.

In this insurrection , Bakr led a section of the Jamaat which took over TTT and Radio Trinidad, while Bilaal Abdullah led another group which held the then Prime Minister ANR Robinson and Government Ministers hostage at the Red House.

Six days later, the Jamaat surrendered and the remaining hostages were freed. 24 persons, including a member of parliament were killed and more than TT$150 million looted and burned. Bakr and 114 Muslimeen members were charged with murder, treason and other offences, and then pardoned. The pardon was later ruled to be erroneous, but they were never re-arrested.

In your opinion, did Yasin Abu Bakr have rights which were violated? Was he victimized?