HuffPost: Politics on August 27, 2014 published “Docs v. Glocks Case Fires Up in Florida: ACLU Files Brief on First Amendment Speech Rights” a column by Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication Clay Calvert.
HuffPost: Media on August 20, 2014 published “Honor Journalist James Foley: Don’t Watch the Video” a column by Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication Clay Calvert.
The Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project on Monday filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the true threats case of Elonis v. United States.
“In Elonis, the court will better define what it means by ‘true threats,’ which constitute one of the very few categories of speech not protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” said Clay Calvert, the Project’s director and the Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications.
“The key question for the court in Elonis is whether a defendant-speaker’s actual intent behind a message should matter in sorting out whether that message amounts to a true threat of violence,” Calvert explained.
The Elonis case centers on Facebook postings in the form of violent-themed rap lyrics. The postings’s creator, Anthony Elonis, claims the messages were artistic, therapeutic and not meant to be taken as literal threats of violence. Elonis was convicted, however, with the trial court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit refusing to consider Elonis’s intent and, instead, focusing only on how a mythical reasonable person would interpret his speech.
“Our goals with the brief are twofold. First, we want to help the justices understand the interpretative problems of meaning and understanding of rap lyrics and, second, we strive to highlight the artistic and political aspects of rap music that often are lost amidst the negative stereotypes that surround it,” Calvert said.
For instance, the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project brief states that “Rap music resides squarely within a long tradition of African American storytelling and verbal competition, one that privileges exaggeration, metaphor, and, above all, wordplay. Underlying this tradition is the practice of signifying, or the obscuring of apparent meaning; in the process of signifying, ambiguity is prized, meaning is destabilized, and gaps between the literal and the figurative are intentionally exploited. This practice, along with rap’s dense slang and penchant for imbuing words with new meaning(s), makes it especially susceptible to misreading and misinterpretation.”
Working on the brief with Calvert were two professors who specialize in rap music – Erik Nielson of the University of Richmond and Charis E. Kubrin of the University of California, Irvine.
“Nielson and Kubrin are academic stars in the scholarly study of rap music, and their efforts here in contributing to the brief were excellent,” Calvert said. “The brief really is a prime example of applied research – we’re taking scholarship about rap music and applying it to a real-world legal problem in an attempt to help the U.S. Supreme Court reach a better understanding of both rap music and the true threats doctrine.”
The Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to current and contemporary issues affecting the First Amendment freedoms of speech, press, thought, assembly and petition. It is housed at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. Clay Calvert can be reached at email@example.com or via telephone at 352-273-1096.
Rebecca Patterson, JM 1990 and chief investment officer of Bessemer Trust Co., is featured in the August 13, 2014 article on Bloomberg.com, “Bessemer Investment Chief Braces Rich Families for Tumult.”
HuffPost: Politics on August 7, 2014 published “Rap Music Scores Big Legal Win in New Jersey: Now on to the Supreme Court” a column by Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication Clay Calvert.
HuffPost: Politics on July 29, 2014 published “Florida Court Tells Doctors to Shut Up About Guns” a column by Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication Clay Calvert.
Elite Daily on July 28, 2014 published “Up In The Air: 20 Pieces Of Advice For The Class Of 2020,” by coordinator of visual production Steve Johnson.
Journalism Associate Professor Ted Spiker has accepted the position of interim chair of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications’ Department of Journalism, Dean Diane McFarlin announced today. He replaces Wayne Wanta who has stepped down.
Spiker joined the faculty in 2001 after working at several magazines, including Men’s Health. He earned his master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware. Before he came to UF, he was also an adjunct at the University of Delaware and Lehigh University.
He is the co-author of about a dozen books, including the “YOU: The Owner’s Manual” series, and his work has been published in such places as Outside, O The Oprah Magazine, Fortune, Reader’s Digest, Runner’s World, Esquire.com, and many others.
His first sole-authored book about the psychology and biology of weight loss will be published in October. In addition, he has done scholarly research on magazine covers and has served as head of the Magazine Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.
HuffPost: Politics on July 17, 2014 published “False Accusations of Homophobia and Racism: Are They Libelous?” a column by Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication Clay Calvert.
The College’s Summer Journalism Institute for high school students is featured in the July 15, 2014 story, “Aspiring journalists learn newest skills for media jobs,” in the University of Florida Spotlight series on the UF Web site.