For the first time, Israel has denied entry to a prominent traveler due to her part advocacy of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. African theologian and academic Isabel Phiri is an assistant general secretary with the World Council of Churches in Geneva. She was refused entry at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport on Monday afternoon. The decision has raised a long-standing concern over people being barred from Israel for their political views and protected speech. The decision this week raises the concern that millions of people supporting the BDS movement could be barred from entry on the basis of their political support for the movement.
We recently discussed the courageous stand of the University of Chicago in favor of free speech (a position followed by schools like Purdue). We can now add the Cardiff University in Wales as a school standing with free speech principles over demands for censorship and “safe zones”. Conversely, student leaders at Tufts University unanimously voted against a measure protecting free speech by addressing the vague and fluid terms used to curtail free speech.
Longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro is dead at age 90. While many around the world spoke highly of Castro’s success in greatly reducing illiteracy and proving basic services like health care, I have long been critical of his reign and his enablers in the West. Whatever success he achieved, he did so through a brutal dictatorship that denied freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and other basic civil liberties. For those of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s, he was a defining character of our generation. The menace across the border. When we were being taught to shelter under our desks in any nuclear attack, it was his image with that of the Soviet premier that would be flashed across the screen. It was a time of utter madness and mania — on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel long ago established herself as a menace to free speech, particularly in her decision to first apologize to authoritarian Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for a satirical poem and then approve the prosecution of the comedian is a shocking and chilling disgrace. Now, she is throwing her support behind a crackdown on “hate speech” on social media like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube — radically expanding the already broad scope of government regulation of speech.
School officials at Loyola University Maryland pressured student government leaders to drop the “America” theme for their senior class party as “very alienating, divisive and harmful” and against the university’s “core values.” The party was to be one of four celebrations for graduating seniors and the theme was selected by the students themselves but then declared as inappropriate and offensive by university officials.
We have followed the actions of various universities and colleges to bar conservative speech either by declaring their positions as hate speech or claiming a campus security risk. One of the targets of this content-based censorship has been conservative British commentator Milo Yiannopoulos. Now, Yiannopoulos, 32, has been barred from speaking at his own former grammar school in the United Kingdom: Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys in Canterbury.
We have previously discussed how some European countries limit the names that can be given to chidren, including some with approved lists of names. We have seen such controversies arise in this country with children, for example, named after Adolph Hitler. However, this generally remains a protected right of parents in the United States. The latest case comes out of France where a court will decide whether a Muslim family can use the name of Mohamed Merah, an Islamic radical who killed seven people in 2012.