February 22, 2018

Free speech wins: Supreme Court deals huge blow to college liberals

21 June 2017, 07:13 | Felicia Parsons

Yes, hate speech is free speech

Asian-American band win top court case over offensive trademark

The court case stems from a 2011 attempt by the band's founder Simon Tam to trademark the band's name. "The Supreme Court has vindicated First Amendment rights not only for our The Slants, but all Americans who are fighting against paternal government policies that ultimately lead to viewpoint discrimination", wrote Tam. "We found the Trademark Office justifying the denial of rights to people based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, and political views, simply because they disagreed with the message of these groups". He had expected the Supreme Court to offer a more narrowly tailored opinion, but he views the ruling as consistent with the justices' previous stances on free speech.

"We have said time and again that "the public expression of ideas may not be prohibited merely because the ideas are themselves offensive to some of their hearers", he wrote, citing previous decisions.

In his opinion for the court, Justice Samuel Alito rejected arguments that trademarks are government speech, not private speech. When a flawed Washington Post poll showed that only nine percent of 504 self-identified Native Americans deemed the term offensive, the fact that one in 10 find the dictionary-defined slur to be offensive was enough to persuade me to continue to refrain from using it. "Now the Supreme Court says you can register offensive names".

In this case, they came for a self-described "Chinatown Dance Rock" band with a cheeky name, and the Supreme Court said, Sorry, not in America.

The ruling could benefit the NFL's Washington Redskins, whose trademark was canceled based on the same law in a separate proceeding.

Apple unveils voice-activated, connected home speaker
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"We grew up and the notion of having slanted eyes was always considered a negative thing", Tam said in January.

The Supreme Court yesterday struck down part of a law that bans offensive trademarks. The court's decision also likely will put an end to the efforts to cancel the federal registrations of "Redskins" trademarks, owned by the National Football League's Washington D.C. franchise, on the basis that the trademark is disparaging to Native Americans.

The court ruled in an 8-0 decision that the "disparagement clause" of the Lanham Act violates the First Amendment's free speech clause. "I feel like the whole process helped us get through this", she said, while noting "some people would go back to the Redskins name in a heartbeat".

Another section of the brief, focused on the USPTO's contention that registered trademarks constitute government speech, also mentioned the Sex Pistols and Steely Dan (named after a dildo in William Burroughs's Naked Lunch). Nine of 10 American Indians have no problem with the use of the term "Redskins" as a sports mascot, according to a poll a year ago conducted by the Washington Post.

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