As Julian Assange faces a revised indictment, much ado is made in the media about an assault on the 1st Amendment. Let me be clear here, I think that Julian Assange is filth. Nothing he has done has accomplished anything he purported to be his aims. No hinted promise he has ever made as to something big happening has ever come to pass. He took advantage of his Ecuadorian hosts and repaid their kindness with disdain. That said, is the impending prosecution of Mr. Assange really an assault on the 1st Amendment?
In 1917, the United States had declared war on Imperial Germany. The nation was gripped in a patriotic fervor in which the Wilson Administration did not ask for citizen support, it commanded it. Congress passed two laws which made it a crime in the United States, punishable with imprisonment, to make a comment or display an attitude that was “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language against the Constitution, the flag, the Armed Forces, and American institutions.”
Now, had Mr. Assange committed is actions in 1917 you can see where things could have been a bit of a sticky wicket for him. But for Robert Goldstein, who was at least honest about his intentions, it was a nightmare from which he never recovered…
In Maryland, a high school Student objects to an assignment on the basic tenants of Islam. Her father claims that the School is violating the 1st Amendment, specifically in that it is forcing his daughter to profess Islam by learning about the Shahada, the 1st Pillar of the Islamic faith. The Father tells his daughter to refuse to do the assignment and he files suit against the school.
Once upon a time (1997), I went to Israel and the Temple Mount where I had the opportunity to visit the Dome of the Rock and the Mosque that is there. Several people in our group strenuously objected to going inside (they were not forced to do so) and they refused to go in. But they also made it clear to those of us who did go inside that we were somehow or another denying our faith and insulting G-d.
So which is it? Is a school lesson about the basic fundamentals of Islam as a part of a course on world History from 1500c.e. to the Present a violation of the establishment clause or is it just an academic exercise?