Daily Digest: Twitter + free speech, “American Century,” birth control coverage exemptions

by Taryn Wobbema

Here's your Daily Digest for Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012:

Western Kentucky University is trying to change its student disciplinary policy to give administrators more control over what students post on social media, the College Heights Herald, the school’s student newspaper, reported. Specifically, WKU wants to monitor student accounts for “cyber harassment and impersonation.” It seems to stem from a fake Twitter account a student made to impersonate WKU’s president. The school says it monitors the use of its #WKU hashtag for inappropriate behavior. In at least one case, it has enforced its copyright of WKU to remove a post or user from Twitter. Some First Amendment lawyers say the policy change would violate free speech and is unconstitutional.

The University of Minnesota is currently in the state’s Supreme Court defending its discipline of a student who posted some questionable things on Facebook pertaining to her mortuary science class. The WKU story actually mentions the case and its implications in a supplemental story.

An essay by a Boston University professor of history and international relations proposes that the “American Century” ended somewhere between 2006 and 2008. It was a phrased first coined in 1941 in a “Life” essay by Henry Luce. "What can we say and foresee about an American Century?" Luce wrote. "It must be a sharing with all peoples of our Bill of Rights, our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, our magnificent industrial products, our technical skills." Professor Andrew Bacevich writes in the Chronicle of Higher Education that contemporary politicians speak like this is still America’s place in the global society, but he believes the time has passed. What do you think?

A Washington Post graphic breaks down which states have laws requiring group health insurance plans cover birth control – and which exempt some institutions from covering it. Nearly a third of the 28 states with laws don’t offer exemptions for churches or church-affiliated organizations, WaPo reported. Some religiously affiliated employers have found a way around the laws through self-insuring, which puts them “outside the reach of state regulation.” But they would lose that freedom not to cover birth control under the Obama administration’s decision to make it a federal rule.