Developments at Spring Valley High School

A federal civil rights investigation has been opened by the Department of Justice following the violent arrest of a student caught on video at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina.

Deputy Ben Fields, the officer seen violently pulling the student from her desk in the video, has been fired. A Spring Valley High School administrator has been placed on paid administrative leave. Up to 100 students staged a protest in support of the officer.

The incident has reopened the debate about police in schools. Here is a series of visuals about race disparity in school discipline, and here is some commentary. Also check out this and this.


CISA Clears the Senate

A controversial cyber security bill passed the senate last week, despite criticism from academia and Silicon Valley alike.

The bill has been many years in the making, and would encourage the sharing of data by private companies. CISA shields companies from liability after sharing some consumer data with the government. Critics, however, note that data sharing would not have had any effect in preventing many of the most notorious recent hacks.

The bill most be reconciled in the House of Representatives before being sent to the President.


Speech on Campus, UCLA and Beyond  

A proposed “anti bias” policy at UCLA, designed to quell anti-Semitic harassment experienced by those on campus supporting Israel, is a flashpoint for debate about the state of the first amendment on campus.

The controversy stems over the definition of anti-Semitism. Some have suggested the controversial definition used by the U.S. State Department, while others say the definition is overly broad and conflicts with freedom of speech and expression.

For a bit of background on what is leading to the controversy, look here and here. This isn’t the first instance in which UCLA’s campus policies have gotten first-amendment scrutiny from the public.

The controversy is the latest forum of the debate about free speech on campus. See also this, and this. Much of the criticism comes on the heels of a recent study about students and speech on campus.


Fighting “Pay or Stay” Bail Systems

“Pay or stay” bail fine systems have come under closer scrutiny after the death of a man who served 30 days because he couldn’t pay $772 in traffic fines. “Pay or stay” systems in Texas have been criticized, and in Alabama, a judge gave minor offenders the choice of giving blood or jail time.

Civil rights groups are fighting to end “pay or stay” schemes.


Civil Rights Abroad

Name-blind applications are coming to England, led by conservative Prime Minister David Cameron. This comes at Cameron’s urging that “Conservatives have become the party of equality”. The name-blind move will also extend to some employers. Studies have shown that “black-sounding” names, among others are often unconsciously discriminated against in the hiring and admissions process. See also, the Economist’s take.

A racist murder in Sweden has brought the Black Lives Matter movement abroad, argues Christian Christensen in Al Jazeera America.

In Kiev, officials are considering outright segregation in a soccer stadium “to avoid the manifestation of racism.” This follows a racist attack at a previous match. Racism in soccer is pervasive.

A French court has “officially recognized a third gender option in a case that’s being described in the country as a crucial victory for intersex rights.” The intersex individual who brought the case may now be legally recognized as “neutral.” This comes at a time when American intersex passport applicants are suing for appropriate designation on U.S. passports.