Below is an updated version of my column in The Hill on Facebook’s decision to uphold the ban on former president Donald Trump. Notably, this weekend, Twitter took it upon itself to add a gratuitous response to an observation made by Donald Trump Jr. after he tweeted “Biden isn’t the next FDR [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] he’s the next Jimmy Carter.” Twitter took it upon itself to say that many are “confused” by the remark since Carter was a great humanitarian and noble prize winner. It was a telling moment. These companies now act as either censors as officious intermeddlers when it comes to comments made on the platforms. They view themselves as a party to any postings and that viewpoints must be corrected or clarified to advance the corporate position.
Here is the column:
Continue reading “Free Speech Inc.: How Democrats Have Found A New But Shaky Faith In Corporate Speech”
Mount Allison University Professor Rima Azar feels a strong identification to Canada. Born in Lebanon during a civil war, Azar developed a lasting appreciation for the freedoms of Canada, particularly free speech. An accomplished academic in the field of health psychology, she often discusses her views of political and social issues on her personal blog Bambi’s Afkar from her unique perspective. However, she recently ran afoul of an individual who spotted comments denying that Canada is a racist country and criticizing Black Lives Matter as an organization. The individual compiled an array of what was viewed to be objectionable positions and triggered a movement to have Azar fired. In a direct attack on free speech and academic freedom, the University then suspended Azar without pay. Continue reading “Professor Suspended After Denying Canada is a Racist County and Criticizing BLM”
Happy Mother’s Day to all! Today holds a special meaning for me because last year I was with my now 93-year-old mother, Angela Piazza Turley, who was in hospice. We all thought that would be our last Mother’s Day with her. She is doing well and celebrating with my siblings in Chicago today. They make them tough in the Ohio coal country.
Continue reading “Happy Mother’s Day”
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
Semi-arid lands do not often come to mind when one envisions beautiful countryside. One attribute it affords the beholder is its accentuation of geology and a sense of timelessness. Left undisturbed, change is often not of importance to nature as it seems decades later to not have evolved. Only what humanity leaves behind tends to show aging in what we consider time, mirroring more of us than the environment.
The landscape does justice to tranquility.
Continue reading “Weekend Photos: Just Deserts”
There is an interesting First Amendment case brewing in New York after an appellate ruled that a mother identified as Christie could lose custody of her daughter unless she removes a rock with a small confederate flag image on it in the driveway. The child is of mixed races and the court has deemed the display as inimical to the best interests of the child. The family court judge did not make such a determination and the ruling raises a very serious free speech concern over conditioning a right to custody on the curtailment of political speech. As will come as no surprise to regulars on this blog, I view the order as an unconstitutional infringement of the First Amendment.
Continue reading “New York Court Orders Mother To Remove Confederate Flag Decoration or Risk Losing Custody of Her Daughter”
There are new disclosures from Hunter Biden’s laptop that offer an added perspective on his dealings with Chinese figures, including Patrick Ho, secretary general of Chinese oil giant CEFC, who was later indicted and has been connected with Chinese intelligence. The emails and pictures relate to the young Chinese assistant supplied to Hunter who makes revealing statements about the fluid expense accounts and level of support given Hunter by the Chinese. I have read through the new messages and I am not clear about the relationship with the young aide who tells him that she still has his dog tags in her New York apartment. However, the new emails include details on how Biden was paid and the fluidity of the accounts established by the Chinese.
Continue reading ““Keep As Much Money As You Can”: Hunter Biden Disclosures Offer New Details On His Chinese Financial Dealings And Associations”
The Justice Department has secured indictments of the four former Minneapolis police officers involved in George Floyd’s arrest and death. The three-count indictment unsealed Friday names Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao.The indictment creates as new front for the officers and a type of insurance for state prosecutors if they fail to convict the three remaining officers (or Derek Chauvin is given a new trial).
Continue reading “The Justice Department Announces Civil Rights Indictments Against All Four Former Officers In Floyd Death”
We recently discussed the controversy at Cypress College involving a professor becoming irate after student, Braden Ellis, stated that he felt police officers are heroes in our society. The College later put the teacher on leave. Now the faculty union at Cypress College has denounced the school for “a failure to be anti-racist” in its treatment of the teacher. I agree that a professor should not be fired or even suspended over such an incident, though the issue for me is academic freedom. However, there is a notable omission in the statement from Christie Diep, president of United Faculty of the North Orange County Community College District, and Mohammad M. Abdel Haq, its lead negotiator: a criticism of the professor for her overtly hostile and biased treatment of the student. Continue reading ““A Failure To Be Anti-Racist”: Faculty Denounce Cypress College Over Suspension Of Professor In Anti-Police Diatribe”
We have been discussing the termination of public employees and others for their postings on social media or public displays. The latest case is out of New Jersey where former Hopewell Township police officer Sara Erwin was fired recent over a June 2020 posting on Facebook in which she referred to Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters as “terrorists.” There remains an uncertain line of what political or social views are tolerated and what are barred on social media. Indeed, Sgt. Mandy Gray was suspended and demoted for simply liking the June 2020 post.
Continue reading “New Jersey Police Officer Fired For Calling BLM Protesters “Terrorists””
As many on this blog know, I am a lifelong hiker and backpacker. I often do dawn hikes on the Billy Goat trail along the Potomac, one of the most cherished and beautiful areas in the Washington metropolitan area. This morning, I decided to celebrate my birthday with one of my dawn hikes and it was glorious. I had the trail to myself as the sun was coming up over the Potomac. It was a perfect hike until I made it to the end of the trail (one the Angler’s end) where the beautiful rock face is now defaced with anti-police graffiti. Continue reading “Protesters Deface Billy Goat Trail With Anti-Police Graffiti”
Below is my column in The Hill on the Supreme Court’s rejection of the case of a former West Point cadet who was barred from suing over the handling of her alleged rape. The case would have allowed a reconsideration of the Feres Doctrine, one of the most damaging and pernicious doctrines ever created by the Supreme Court. Continue reading “The Supreme Court Fails To End The Feres Doctrine . . . Now It Is Up To Congress”
Facebook’s Oversight Board just voted that the company may want to give Trump back his boots.
The decision of the board to uphold the decision to ban Trump but reconsider his lifetime ban may seem transparently convenient for many. However, there is precedent. One of my favorite trial accounts is from Ireland where an Irishman was accused by an Englishman of stealing a pair of boots. The guilt of the defendant was absolutely clear but the Irish jury could not get itself to rule for the Englishman. Instead, it acquitted the Irishman but added a line, “We do believe O’Brien should give the Englishman back his boots.” Case closed. Continue reading “Facebook Upholds Trump Ban But Admits Permanent Ban Lacked Any Objective Standard”
The lawsuit of Virginia Tech student Kierstien Hening begins with a simple statement: “Kierstien Hening refused to kneel.” The lawsuit filed this week against Virginia Tech soccer coach Charles “Chugger” Adair (in his official capacity) alleges that when Hening refused to kneel and support Black Lives Matter, she was benched, harassed and ultimately forced off the team. If the allegations are true, she could have not only a winning case but a case that could set important precedent for the freedom of speech. Continue reading ““Kierstien Hening Refused To Kneel”: Virginia Tech Sued By Student Who Alleges Abuse Over Her Refusal To Support BLM and Diversity Displays”
The conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was undermined this week after the previously anonymous Juror #52 went public with interviews to discuss his experience on the jury and support the movement to curtail police abuse. The problem was not the public disclosure of his identity (which jurors can elect to do) but what his self-identification triggered on the Internet. A picture soon emerged showing Brandon Mitchell wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt with a reference to the death of George Floyd. The image was raised as contradicting his answers in voir dire and raising an appellate question as to juror bias that could be used to challenge the conviction. Continue reading “Juror 52: Does Chauvin Have A New Challenge Over Juror Brandon Mitchell?”
For years, I and others have argued for body camera (and police interrogation cameras) to be used in every jurisdiction. Despite the obvious value of such cameras, jurisdictions like Los Angeles County have resisted and still do not have this basic protection for both officers and citizens alike. Likewise, prosecutors in cities like Chicago long opposed the filming of officers by citizens. The recent controversy over a traffic stop in L.A. shows the importance of such body cameras. In the video, an officer pulls over a self-described teacher for using her cellphone while driving and is met with a barrage of racist slurs. The officer was only able to show his side in the encounter because he paid for his own camera. It is absurd that Los Angeles County forces officers to pay for their own cameras to guarantee a record of such encounters. In LA County, it is bring your own camera (BYOC) or engage in policing at your own risk.
Continue reading “BYOC: Teacher’s Racist Diatribe Highlights Failure To Equip Officers With Body Cameras”