Today's Drudge Report prominently features a headline and a link: "Bahrain Jails Rights Activist for Tweet" and, of course, the typical American's reaction is: "what an oppressive regime!"
Surely, we in the United States are so advanced and enlightened, we would never jail someone for the content of a Tweet. However, in Ohio, we actually live under the same sort of oppressive regime as is featured in this story in the New York Times.
Last fall, COAST Treasurer Mark Miller, using COAST's Twitter account, made entirely truthful statements about the City budget and the Streetcar project. As a result, Cincinnatians for Progress Chairman Robert Richardson brought a frivolous Complaint before the Ohio Elections Commission under its false claims statute, a statute whose penalties include criminal prosecution. He wanted Mark Miller and COAST punished for having the temerity to speak out about the terribly wasteful Streetcar project.
COAST has filed suit, actually two suits, seeking to have Ohio's false claims statute thrown out as unconstitutional to end this intimidation and bullying once and for all. One of those suits was dismissed by Judge Black and is on appeal to the 6th Circuit and the other (the Tweets Complaint) is pending before Federal Judge Michael R. Barrett.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court released an important decision striking down another "false claims" statute and denounced the notion that America would have an "Oceania Ministry of Truth" to judge the claimed truth and falsity of statements. You may read about that in the Miami Herald here.
COAST will keep you updated on the two cases as they progress through the Courts. Someday soon, Ohioans may enjoy freedom of speech better than the subjects of the Kingdom of Bahrain.