Tag Archives: draft

Paul Robert Cohen

Paul Robert Cohen

Are words on a jacket conduct or speech?
And if speech, is it protected?

Bill of Rights

We know our Constitution contains the Bill of Rights and the very first of those first 10 Amendments reads:


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


Freedom of speech does not mean that we can say anything at anytime. We cannot yell “Fire” in an assembly. Nor can we protest on the steps of the US Supreme Court.


Paul Robert Cohen was 19 and worked in a department store. On  April 26, 1968, Cohen was in the corridor of the Los Angeles Courthouse waiting to testify on behalf of an acquaintance.


He had he met a woman the night before and she had stenciled the words “Fuck the Draft. Stop the War” on his jacket.


Police arrested him

Convicted

A court convicted him of violating section 415 of the California Penal Code, which prohibited “maliciously and willfully disturb[ing] the peace or quiet of any neighborhood or person [by] offensive conduct” and sentenced him to 30 days in jail. (California Legislative article


Cohen appealed, but the California Court of Appeals upheld the conviction. That Court held that “offensive conduct” means “behavior which has a tendency to provoke others to acts of violence or to in turn disturb the peace.”


Cohen appealed to the California Supreme Court, but that Court denied the appeal.


Fortunately for Cohen, on June 22, 1970, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal. (1970 NYT article)


Almost a year later, on June 7, 1971 in a 5 – 4 decision, the US Supreme Court agreed that California’s statute had violated Cohen’s freedom of expression.  (Oyez article)

Paul Robert Cohen

          In an opinion by Justice John Marshall Harlan, the Court reasoned that the expletive, while provocative, was not directed toward anyone; besides, there was no evidence that people in substantial numbers would be provoked into some kind of physical action by the words on his jacket. Harlan recognized that “one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric.” In doing so, the Court protected two elements of speech: the emotive (the expression of emotion) and the cognitive (the expression of ideas). (see Oyez article


In his dissenting opinion, Justice Harry Blackmun suggested that Cohen’s wearing of the jacket in the courthouse was not speech but conduct (an “absurd and immature antic“) and therefore not protected by the First Amendment.


Though he asked, Cohen never got back his jacket.

Paul Robert Cohen

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October 29 Peace Love Activism

October 29 Peace Love Activism

BLACK HISTORY

Abram Colby
October 29, 1869: Abram Colby was born into slavery in Greene County, Georgia, in approximately 1817. The son of an enslaved black woman and a white landowner, Colby was emancipated 15 years before the end of American slavery and worked tirelessly to organize freed slaves following the Civil War. A Radical Republican, Colby was elected to serve in the Georgia House of Representatives during Reconstruction. His impassioned advocacy for black civil rights earned him the attention of the local Ku Klux Klan, a terrorist organization founded in 1865 to resist Reconstruction and restore white supremacy through targeted violence against black people and their white political allies.

Klansmen attacked and brutally whipped 52-year-old Abram Colby on October 29, 1869. Three years later, when called to Washington, DC, to testify about the assault before a Congressional committee investigating reports of racial violence in the South, Colby bravely identified his attackers as some of the “first class men in our town. One is a lawyer, one a doctor, and some are farmers.” Shortly before the attack, Colby explained, the men had tried to bribe him to change parties or give up his office. Colby refused to do either and days later they returned:

"On October 29. 1869, [the Klansmen] broke my door open, took me out of bed, took me to the woods and whipped me three hours or more and left me for dead. They said to me, 'Do you think you will ever vote another damned Radical ticket?' I said, “If there was an election tomorrow, I would vote the Radical ticket.” They set in and whipped me a thousand licks more, with sticks and straps that had buckles on the ends of them.

Colby told the committee that the attack had “broken something inside of [him],” and that the Klan’s continued harassment and violent assaults had forced him to abandon his re-election campaign. Colby testified most emotionally about the attack’s impact on his daughter, who was home when the Klansmen seized him to be whipped: “My little daughter begged them not to carry me away. They drew up a gun and actually frightened her to death. She never got over it until she died. That was the part that grieves me the most.” (see January 20, 1870)
Civil Rights Committee
October 29, 1947: the President Harry Truman’s Civil Rights Committee, [created on December 5, 1946] was the first presidential committee or commission on civil rights. The commission’s report, To Secure These Rights, released on this day, was an historic event. The report identified race discrimination in virtually every area of American life — education, employment, voting, military service, and so on — and its recommendations charted the course of the civil rights movement for the next 20 years. (see January 12, 1948; military, see October 30, 1954)
Muhammad Ali
October 29, 1960: Cassius Clay’s first professional fight against Tunney Hunsaker, police chief of Fayetteville, West Virginia. “He sure was a brassy young boy when I fought him. He drove to the Louisville airgrounds in a brand new pink Cadillac,” said Hunsaker, loser of the bout. (BH, see Nov 1; Ali, see June 18, 1963)
Stokely Carmichael
October 29, 1966: Stokely Carmichael addressed an audience consisting primarily of college students at the open-air Greek Theater at the University of California at Berkeley in a speech that has become known as “Black Power”—although he gave other speeches that stressed the same theme and sometimes have been referred to by that same title. [@ ~42 minutes speaks of Black Power phrase] (see Nov 30)

School Desegregation
October 29, 1969: Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education, the US Supreme Court demanded that its opinion in 1955's Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (the so-called Brown II case)  ordered desegregation be implemented despite the phrase of "all deliberate speed". The phrase had given the South an excuse to defy the law of the land. The Court wrote that "The obligation of every school district is to terminate dual school systems at once and to operate now and hereafter only unitary schools." The previously-set pace of "all deliberate speed" was no longer permissible. ( integration at once)  (BH, see Feb 21, 1970; SD, see April 20, 1971)
Vietnam, Chicago 8 & Black Panthers
October 29, 1969: Judge Julius Hoffman ordered "Chicago Eight" defendant Bobby Seale gagged and chained to his chair during his trial. Seale and his seven fellow defendants (David Dellinger, Rennie Davis, Thomas Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Lee Weiner, and John Froines) had been charged with conspiracy to cross state lines with intent to cause a riot during the violent anti-war demonstrations in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Hoffman gave the order to gag Seale after Seale repeatedly shouted accusations and insults at the judge and prosecution and disrupted the court proceedings. In November, Seale's conduct forced the judge to try him separately. Seale was sentenced to 48 months in prison for 16 acts of contempt. Seale was then charged with killing a Black Panther Party informant in New Haven, Connecticut; the contempt charges were eventually dismissed and the murder trial ended with a hung jury. (Vietnam, see Nov 3; Chi8, see February 9, 1970)

US Labor History

October 29, 1889: Japanese immigrant and labor advocate Katsu Goto was strangled to death, his body then strung from an electric pole, on the Big Island of Hawaii by thugs hired by plantation owners.  They were outraged over Goto’s work on behalf of agricultural workers and because he opened a general store that competed with the owners’ own company store. (see January 25, 1890)

Anarchism

October 29 Peace Love ActivismOctober 29, 1901: Leon Czolgosz, assassin of President McKinley, executed. His body was buried in a pine coffin, but before the coffin was sealed, authorities poured acid over the body to destroy it within 12 hours. (NYT article) (see Mar 3, 1903)

Military draft

October 29, 1940, The US began its first peacetime military draft. NYT  article)

October 29 Music et al

Surfin’ Safari”
October 29, 1962, the Beach Boys' debut album, "Surfin' Safari," was released. (see July 4 – 17, 1964)
“96 Tears”
October 29 – November 4, 1966: “96 Tears” by ? and the Mysterians #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Allison Steele

October 29 Peace Love Activism

October 29, 1967: WNEW-FM DJ Allison Steele (a rare female DJ) announced that Rosko will be a WNEW-FM DJ. (Allison's announcement) (see April 5, 1983)

Mind Games
October 29, 1973: UK release of John Lennon’s Mind Games album, his fourth. He recorded it  at Record Plant Studios, NYC in summer 1973. The album was Lennon's first self-produced recording without help from Phil Spector. It reached number 13 in the UK and number 9 in the US, where it went gold.

Lennon and May Pang went to Los Angeles to promote ‘Mind Games’ and decided to stay. But without Ono’s restraint, Lennon began to drink heavily. (see Nov 16)
October 29 Peace Love Activism

Feminism

October 29 Peace Love Activism

October 29, 1966, Feminism: The National Organization for Women (NOW), organized by feminist leader Betty Friedan and a small group of friends on June 30 was formally chartered.  (see Dec 22)

Technological Milestone

October 29, 1969: the Internet had its beginnings when the first host-to-host connection was made on the Arpanet – an experimental military computer network – between UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, Calif. (see January 4, 1972)

Vietnam

October 29 Peace Love ActivismOctober 29, 1971: US troops in Vietnam drop in number to 196,700, their lowest since January 1966. (see Dec 18)

Marijuana

Medical marijuana

October 29 Peace Love Activism

October 29, 1998: prior to the election, former Presidents Ford, Carter, and Bush released a statement urging voters to reject state medical marijuana initiatives because they circumvented the standard process by which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tests medicines for safety and effectiveness. 'Compassionate medicine,' these leaders insisted, 'must be based on science, not political appeals.' (see Nov 3)
Medical licenses

 

October 29, 2002: after California legalized medical marijuana in 1996, the US government threatened to take away the medical licenses of physicians who recommended the use of marijuana. On Oct. 29, 2002, a US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit 3-0 ruling  (80 KB) in the case Conant v. Walters prohibited "the federal government from either revoking a physician's license to prescribe controlled substances or conducting an investigation of a physician that might lead to such revocation, where the basis for the government's action is solely the physician's professional 'recommendation' of the use of medical marijuana." The US Supreme Court denied an appeal, so physicians maintained the right to discuss marijuana with their patients. (see May 26, 2004)

Trayvon Martin Shooting

October 29, 2013: Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother, told a panel of US senators that state “stand your ground” self-defense laws do not work and must be amended, reviving the politically charged gun-control issue a year ahead of the 2014 midterm elections. But little besides politics emerged from the session, held in the Senate’s made-for-television hearing room. Democrats, who hold majority power in the Senate and are trying to keep it, supported call. Republicans, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), said the matter should be left to the states that passed the laws. (see Nov 18)

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