There is a new debate over impact of social media on academics. We previously debated the status of Boston University sociology professor Saida Grundy after a series of racist postings on social media. Boston University retained Grundy while many asked what would have happened if a white professor had posted the inverse comments about the “problem” of black males on campuses. Now a Memphis professor, Zandria Robinson, has triggered the same debate after denouncing whites and insisting that “whiteness is most certainly and inevitably terror.” However, in Robinson’s case, she was rehired by Rhodes College, which seemed to view her controversial comments as a positive element supporting her appointment. Some have criticized the decision and asked again if a white professor had called blackness a “terror,” if those comments would have been deemed a positive intellectual perspective.
There is an interesting story out of England that shows the rising expectations among people that speech is regulated to prevent unpopular expressions. A man was photographed walking past Parliament with a small child on his shoulders and waiving an Islamic State flag. What I saw was a demonstration of free speech that is a testament to Western values. What many in England saw was an outrageous failure of the police to arrest the man.
There has been rising criticism of YouTube censoring content on its site and today is another example. People posted the video of a mob taunting a man nearly beaten to death at a Fourth of July event. The video has triggered a debate over hate crime investigations as well as the simple lack of humanity found in today’s society. In other words, there is a substantive debate surrounding the videotape. However, YouTube says that it has been taken down for disgusting content. It rekindles the objection that YouTube has become a private censor — rather than a forum that warns of such content but allows people to make their own choices. [UPDATE: The video appears to be going up and coming down on YouTube but appears to be currently available here with a warning. I have not problem as I stated below with the addition of such a warning and wall]
Below is my column today in the Washington Post on the ruling in Obergefell on the basis for the Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. Due to limitations on space, I could not go into great depth in the opinion which primarily dealt with the notion of the “right to dignity.” The Court did not pursue an equal protection analysis beyond the following highly generalized statement:
The right of same-sex couples to marry that is part of the liberty promised by the Fourteenth Amendment is derived, too, from that Amendment’s guarantee of the equal protection of the laws. The Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause are connected in a profound way, though they set forth independent principles. Rights implicit in liberty and rights secured by equal protection may rest on different precepts and are not always coextensive, yet in some instances each may be instructive as to the meaning and reach of the other. In any particular case one Clause may be thought to capture the essence of the right in a more accurate and comprehensive way,even as the two Clauses may converge in the identification and definition of the right.
Since the Court did not substantially address whether homosexuals are a protected class or the other Equal Protection line of cases, the opinion appears to craft a right around the inherent right of self-expression and dignity in intimate affairs. That is very appealing to many in the expansion of due process concepts, but the column explores what it portends for future rights.
Here is the Sunday column:
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Pirate Members of Parliament Helgi Gunnarsson, Jon Thor Olafsson, and Birgitta Jónsdóttir introduced the repeal measure.
Article 125 formerly of the Penal Code read in part: “Anyone who publicly ridicules or insults the dogmas or worship of a lawful religious community in Iceland, shall be fined or imprisoned for up to 3 months.”
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
A tradition spanning multiple generations in the United States is that a large portion of our society celebrates and shows tribute to the United States through the lighting and observance of fireworks. Yet numerous municipalities and counties impose sweeping and total bans of fireworks. Some statutes regulate the type of firework allowable, such as those having a ferocity that safety requires certified technicians. Others ban benign devices such as snakes and small fountains.
But does a complete ban on fireworks regardless of size constitute an infringement on the first amendment rights of citizens?
This is truly painful since I am neither a fan of Donald Trump or beauty pageants, but here it is: Is it possible that the actions taken against not just Donald Trump but his business associations are excessive? NBC has issued a statement that it will no longer air the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants and that Trump will no longer participate in “The Celebrity Apprentice.” (Univision previously banned the pageant as did Televise. Mexico swore not to send its contestant to the pageant). Now many people have long advocated a Dump the Trump position because they view him as an obnoxious self-caricature. However, NBC is now dropping its association with Trump because he said highly negative things about border illegal aliens at a political event. [Now Macy’s has joined the corporate Dump Trump movement]
One could understand dropping a personality from a show like “The Celebrity Apprentice” over public comments, but the network is shooting shows that are connected Trump’s business interests. It seems odd to pull the plug on the Miss USA and Miss Universe contestants solely because the events is connected financially to someone who has controversial political views. The Miss USA contestants expected to appear on NBC on July 12 from Baton Rouge. The network has aired the program for the last 11 years.