What does the KKK's case against Georgia say about the First Amendment?

Understatement of the century: The KKK isn't exactly known for doing nice things.

The white supremacist hate group known as the Ku Klux Klan started in the mid 1800s and still exists today, albeit in much smaller and less active factions.

One of those factions, named the International Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is in Georgia.


And believe it or not ... the group wants to pick up trash as part of Georgia's adopt-a-highway program.

While that may sound like a good thing, consider the fact that as part of the program, all motorists driving along the Appalachian stretch of highway near the North Carolina border would have to drive past a sign that says "IKK Realm of GA, Ku Klux Klan."

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Which is why the state of Georgia saw the KKK's request and responded with a resounding, "Thanks but no thanks."

Now, the monthslong conflict over the hate group's right to free speech and Georgia's inclination to not hang a giant KKK ad on the highway is heading to the state's supreme court.

The interesting thing about this case is that, while free speech is at the heart of the issue, it's not really a free speech case.

The case largely boils down to the concept of "state sovereign immunity," which essentially says that no one can criminally prosecute the state without the state's consent.

To put it simply: The KKK wanted to participate in a state-sanctioned adopt-a-highway program which would involve having a sign promoting their hate group on government property. The state of Georgia declined that request, at which point the KKK decided to sue the state for infringing on its right to free speech. The state of Georgia then cited "state sovereign immunity" and said, "Nope, sorry, we can't be sued for that."

Maya Dillard Smith, executive director for the American Civil Liberties Union in Georgia, told The Washington Post that the state's sovereign immunity claim is "disheartening."

Frankly, if the state of Georgia doesn't want to hang up a big sign with the KKK's name on it just to get a couple miles of highway cleaned, it's hard to disagree with that decision.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

The ACLU's argument, however, is that refusing to allow the KKK to participate in adopt-a-highway sets a dangerous precedent of regulating speech.

"It will be expanding the right of the state to engage in viewpoint discrimination," Smith said in a statement, explaining that if the state wins the case, it will be given "a license to refuse participation of individuals and groups whose speech the government disagrees with."

“Today it’s the KKK," Smith told the Post, "Tomorrow it’s journalists, lobbyists, religious evangelicals and even Black Lives Matter."

Of course, "slippery slope" arguments like that are a logical fallacy and can easily be argued in the other direction: Today it's a KKK sign, tomorrow it's a KKK billboard, a KKK recruitment center...

You get the picture.

Legal nuances aside, the case does raise a lot of difficult questions about our First Amendment right to free speech.

If it seems strange that the ACLU is defending a hate group's right to free speech, it's worth noting that the organization has a history of defending free speech for noted hate groups, including the American Nazi party and, on multiple other occasions, the KKK.

Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU in 2006. Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images.

And as tough as it may be to swallow, all of those parties do have the right to express their beliefs in America. That whole "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend with my life your right to say it" thing isn't just a patriotic Instagram quote graphic; it's actually one of the things that makes America great.

The right to speak freely is a fixture of democracy that we take pretty seriously.

The right to free speech doesn't mean the right to free speech without consequences. Problems arise when what's being said goes beyond being just "disagreeable."

The KKK's message has always been one of hate and racism, and their history is deeply saturated in violence, murder, and rape.

If you're someone whose ideals are entrenched in violence and hate, one of the consequences of you exercising your right to free speech might just be your government telling you to please shut the hell up.

Yes, you. Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images.

That's true for any entity. Free speech is often misinterpreted as the right to say or promote whatever you want wherever you want, but there are restrictions. For example, you can't yell "fire" in a movie theatre or promote violence against women on Facebook (though the latter is more recent and, disappointingly, only loosely enforced).

Things get more complicated when you're talking about governments, and the ACLU raises an interesting question about setting precedents that would allow the government to censor groups it simply doesn't agree with.

That's why laws about defining and litigating hate speech are still the subject of much debate and controversy here in America.

That's also why we have supreme courts. In this case, the Supreme Court of Georgia's job is to interpret the Constitution's assertion of "free speech."

Interpreting and defining just what the Constitution protects under the First Amendment is no easy task, especially because the parameters of "free speech" are constantly shifting, evolving, and growing on a case-by-case basis.

Just in the last couple of years, the United States Supreme Court has had to interpret and rule on free speech as it applies to animal cruelty, promoting illegal drug use, and abortion buffer zones.

Supreme Court justices are the final defenders and interpreters of our Constitution, and even they have to constantly rethink and reinterpret what the seemingly simple concept of "freedom of speech" actually means.

So when the Senate Judiciary Committee says it won't have any hearings to confirm a presidential appointment to the United States Supreme Court, they're not just playing politics. They're playing fast and loose with some of the most important moral and legal decisions this country has to make.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who's said he will reject any Supreme Court nomination made by President Barack Obama. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

We'll soon find out if the state of Georgia has the right to disallow a hate-group group from participating in the adopt-a-highway program that is open to any other citizen.

Whether you think censoring a hate group is the right thing to do or that to do so would set a dangerous precedent, this case shines a light on just how complicated free speech can be and how important cases like this are to pay attention to.

Freedom of speech is something many of us take for granted. But it can be challenged, expanded, or restricted as time goes on and culture changes. But it's an inalienable right that we'll have as long as there are people willing to defend it.

Courtesy of Creative Commons
True

After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

"I was entered into a lottery and I just said to myself, 'Okay, this is going to work out,'" Jackson said. "The next thing I knew, I had won the lottery — in more ways than one."

Keep Reading Show less

Cats are notoriously weird. Everyone who's had cats knows that they each have their own unique quirks, idiosyncrasies, preferences, habits, and flat-out WTFness.

But even those of us who have experience with bizarre cat behavior are blown away by the antics this "cat dad" is able to get away with.

Kareem and Fifi are the cat parents of Chase, Skye, and Millie—literally the most chill kitties ever. They share their family life on TikTok as @dontstopmeowing, and their videos have been viewed millions of times. When you see them, you'll understand why.

Take Chase's spa days, for example. It may seem unreal at first, but watch what happens when Fifi tries to take away his cucumber slices.

When she puts them back on his eyes? WHAT?! What cat would let you put them on once, much less get mad when you take them off?

This cat. Chase is living his best life.

But apparently, it's not just Chase. Skye and Millie have also joined in "spaw day." How on earth does one couple end up with three hilariously malleable cats?

Oh, and if you think they must have been sedated or something, look at how wide awake they are during bath time. That's right, bath time. Most cats hate water, but apparently, these three couldn't care less. How?

They'll literally do anything. The Don't Stop Meowing channel is filled with videos like this. Cats wearing glasses. Cats wearing hats. Cats driving cars. It's unbelievable yet highly watchable entertainment.

If you're worried that Kareem gets all the love and Fifi constantly gets the shaft, that seems to be a bit for show. Look at Chase and Fifi's conversation about her leaving town for a business trip:

The whole channel is worth checking out. Ever seen a cat being carried in a baby carrier at the grocery store? A cat buckled into a car seat? Three cats sitting through storytime? It's all there. (Just a heads up: A few of the videos have explicit language, so parents might want to do a preview before watching with little ones.) You can follow the couple and their cats on all their social media channels, including Instagram and YouTube if TikTok isn't your thing, here.

If you weren't a cat person before, these videos might change your mind. Fair warning, however: Getting a cat because you want them to do things like this would be a mistake. Cats do what they want to do, and no one can predict what weird traits they will have. Even if you raise them from kittenhood, they're still unpredictable and weird.

And honestly, we wouldn't have them any other way.

True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

When Donato Di Camillo was a kid, his family couldn't afford film for their Polaroid camera.

So instead, he ran around the house with a film-less camera pretending to be a hotshot photographer on an African safari, mimicking the heroes behind iconic photos he saw in the discarded National Geographic magazines his dad grabbed for him out of the garbage.

Years later, when Di Camillo found himself in prison after collecting a lengthy rap sheet of thefts, he discovered a library full of those same magazines.

While other inmates were working out or getting into trouble, he pored over old issues of National Geographic, Life, and Time.

Keep Reading Show less

There have been many iconic dance routines throughout film history, but how many have the honor being called "the greatest" by Fred Astaire himself?

Fayard and Harold Nicholas, known collectively as the Nicholas Brothers, were arguably the best at what they did during their heyday. Their coordinated tap routines are legendary, not only because they were great dancers, but because of their incredible ability to jump into the air and land in the splits. Repeatedly. From impressive heights.

Their most famous routine comes from the movie "Stormy Weather." As Cab Calloway sings "Jumpin' Jive," the Nicholas Brothers make the entire set their dance floor, hopping and tapping from podium to podium amongst the musicians, dancing up and down stairs and across the top of a piano.

But what makes this scene extra impressive is that they performed it without rehearsing it first and it was filmed in one take—no fancy editing room tricks to bring it all together. This fact was confirmed in a conversation with the brothers in a Chicago Tribune article in 1997, when they were both in their 70s:

"Would you believe that was one of the easiest things we ever did?" Harold told the paper.

"Did you know that we never even rehearsed that number?" added Fayard.

"When it came time to do that part, (choreographer) Nick Castle said: 'Just do it. Don`t rehearse it, just do it.' And so we did it—in one little take. And then he said: 'That's it—we can't do it any better than that.'"

Keep Reading Show less