Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The LuLac Edition #2887, April 28th, 2015

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ACLU SUIT AGAINST C.O.L.T.S.

Local blogger Justin Vacula sent this along and it has been a hot top the last few days. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania filed a federal lawsuit today against the County of Lackawanna Transit System (COLTS) over its refusal to allow a local atheist group, the Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) Freethought Society, to advertise on its buses. The lawsuit argues that the transit system violated NEPA Freethought Society’s free speech rights by rejecting its ads because of the group’s views.
Since 2012, the NEPA Freethought Society has tried unsuccessfully to run various ads on COLTS buses. The rejected ads simply say “atheists” along with the group’s name and/or website. COLTS first turned down one of these ads under a policy that gave COLTS discretion to reject ads it deemed "controversial" or that would spark debate or discussion of public issues. In commenting on the rejection, COLTS’ solicitors said that COLTS did not accept any ads “promoting” or “attacking” religion or ads intended to spark public debate. However, according to the complaint, for at least ten years before NEPA Freethought Society tried to advertise, COLTS never rejected a single ad. COLTS has run ads from religious organizations, a political candidate, and a blog with links to anti-Jewish websites. COLTS also displayed the message “God Bless America” on the front of one bus for years.
In September 2013, COLTS again rejected the society’s proposed “atheists” ad, explaining that COLTS believed the ad would “offend or alienate” some of COLTS’ riders, causing COLTS to lose money. Eight days after rejecting the ad, COLTS adopted a new advertising policy that explicitly banned ads that “promote the existence or non-existence of a supreme deity” or address religion.
In 2014, COLTS finally accepted a version of the NEPA Freethought Society’s ad after it removed the word “atheists.”
“It’s hard to advertise effectively if we’re not allowed to use the word ‘atheists’ to say who the NEPA Freethought Society’s members are or who we’re trying to reach,” said Justin Vacula, organizer and spokesperson for the NEPA Freethought Society. “We just want to be treated fairly and allowed the same opportunity to advertise that COLTS has given other groups for years.”
According to the complaint, COLTS’ decision to ban all religious ads and begin enforcing its advertising policy was motivated by its dislike for NEPA Freethought Society’s beliefs.
“The First Amendment means that government officials can’t censor speech just because it’s unpopular or because they disagree with the speaker,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “Once you open up a space for speech, you have to let everyone in equally.”
The NEPA Freethought Society is represented by Mary Catherine Roper and Molly Tack-Hooper of the ACLU of Pennsylvania and Theresa E. Loscalzo, Stephen J. Shapiro, and Monica Clarke Platt of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP.
More information about the case, including a copy of the complaint, is available at: www.aclupa.org/COLTS

THE DEMS FACE OFF

Wednesday night, April 29th tune in as the Democrats Grace Cuozzo and Jack Mundie face off in the Hazleton Mayoral primary race. On WYLN TV 35, Hazleton. Debate starts at 7 with Tiffany Cloud moderating. Post debate analysis starts at 8pm with Cloud, Gary Perna and your blog editor. The broadcast is on WYLN TV 35 in Hazleton, Service Electric Channel 7 in Wilkes Barre.

12 Comments:

At 9:04 AM, Blogger Better Life Seminars said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 4:05 PM, Blogger David Yonki said...

it is hard to take anything Justin Vacula says or does as any legitimate conversation,
IN RESPONSE
I disagree there. One and only one incident does not preclude anyone from taking a stand on a debate worthwhile having regarding free speech.
While the incident was a path you or I may not have chosen, it does point to the differences. Certainly not in a way that might be greeted by most folks. Not defending it but understanding the point.

 
At 4:47 PM, Blogger Better Life Seminars said...

I've often said, you are a better man than I in many ways... Your ability to look past is very Christian.

 
At 10:09 PM, Blogger David Yonki said...

I've often said, you are a better man than I in many ways... Your ability to look past is very Christian.
IN RESPONSE
I appreciate the kind comments..but as you know I'm a Roman Catholic, not a Christian.

 
At 2:54 PM, Blogger Michelle Hryvnak Davies said...

I'm not here to take sides about religion - to each his own, but Justin Vacula wasn't the one who "peed on a nativity scene".

http://citizensvoice.com/news/king-s-student-apologizes-for-urinating-on-nativity-1.540759

 
At 3:55 PM, Blogger David Yonki said...

I'm not here to take sides about religion - to each his own, but Justin Vacula wasn't the one who "peed on a nativity scene".
IN RESPONSE
Hi Michelle, thank you that clarification and my personal apologies to Mr. Vacula.
I am deleting the previous 9:04 AM post.

 
At 4:22 PM, Anonymous Joe said...

my bad

 
At 4:24 PM, Anonymous Joe said...

ps
Aren't Roman Catholics Christians?

 
At 4:45 PM, Blogger David Yonki said...

ps
Aren't Roman Catholics Christians?
IN RESPONSE
Not when it comes to inaccurate posts.

 
At 4:59 PM, Anonymous Joe said...

It happens... don't think I'm the only one to make that error over the years...
I apologize as well.

 
At 5:36 PM, Blogger Michelle Hryvnak Davies said...

No problem - I know Justin can get involved in controversial topics from time to time, but this was definitely not one of them! :)

 
At 7:49 PM, Blogger David Yonki said...

No problem - I know Justin can get involved in controversial topics from time to time, but this was definitely not one of them!+++
IN RESPONSE
What he gets involved in is passionate and filled with integrity. That's why I regret this error and put a retraction correction in #2888.

 

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