Tuesday Links

– Last week the Supreme Court began hearing arguments in Town of Greece v. Galloway, which involves the constitutionality of opening legislative sessions with prayers. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals previously ruled against the town, finding that such practices violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. And, from the looks of it, the Supreme Court is likely to agree.

Photography is Not a Crime blogger Carlos Miller is facing felony witness intimidation charges for posting the publically available work phone number of a Boston Police Department public information officer and encouraging his readers to call her regarding bogus wiretapping charges filed against an associate of his. As Miller writes on his blog, “this is nothing but a clear-cut case of police intimidation.”

Police in Salem, Mass. have accused a local psychic studio of fraud after employees allegedly charged a man $16,800 to have a “curse shield” put on him. (The city of Salem requires fortune-tellers to be licensed and forbids them from doing anything other than foretelling the future or reading the past.) So, when is the city going to begin licensing priests?

– A New Jersey couple is suing to overturn the state’s ban on gay “conversion” therapy, arguing that by preventing their 15-year-old son from seeking treatment for his “unwanted same-sex attractions”, the state is infringing on his freedom of religion. While the law should certainly protect GLBT minors from coercion in any form, it’s not right to prohibit a teen from receiving therapy that he or she wants, simply because the state disapproves of it. (In the same way that the law usually distinguishes between parents forcing their daughter to have an abortion and the young woman obtaining an abortion on her own volition, so too should the law distinguish between forced and voluntary gay “conversion” therapy.)

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (the state’s highest court for criminal cases) has overturned the conviction of a Harris County man under a 2005 law making it a felony to communicate “in a sexually explicit manner” with a minor (or a police officer pretending to be a minor, for that matter). The court ruled that the law as written is unconstitutionally overbroad, with Judge Cathy Cochran pointing out that the law could very well criminalize descriptions of sexually explicit novels such as Lolita or Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

– In his latest column, The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen writes that: “People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children.” (Cohen’s probably just upset that de Blasio married outside of his bloodline.) In the same paragraph, Cohen says that de Blasio’s wife “used to be a lesbian.” Ugh. Cohen’s Wikipedia page says that he’s from New York City but I think that it’s supposed to say “Alabama.” How does a guy with the racial sensitivity of a Klan member still have a job at any big city newspaper in the year 2013, much less at a paper with as high of a reputation (and with as much liberal credentials) as The Washington Post? If newspapers like the Post want to stay relevant to today’s young adults, they could start by firing people like Cohen (who apparently has a history of saying incredibly stupid and offensive things).

– And finally, police in South Africa are investigating criminal charges against cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro following publication of a cartoon by Shapiro satirizing the Hindu god Ganesha. For something that looks like the mutant offspring of Charles Laughton and an elephant, Hindus sure take Ganesha very seriously. You can see the cartoon here.

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