President Donald Trump has continued his dogmatic and potentially dangerous advocacy of the use of hydroxychloroquine despite recent studies questioning its benefits (and possible risks) as a treatment for COVID-19. One doctor who disagrees with these reports, including some out this week, is Dr. Stella Immanuel. Immanuel’s views however have been censored by Facebook and Twitter after her video was removed as false information. That brought an attack from Trump over censorship and the President has encouraged action from Congress which is looking this week at the issue. However, Dr. Immanuel called upon a higher source for intervention. She has warned the companies that Jesus will shutdown the companies unless her video is restored.
For many years, we have discussed disciplinary actions taken against teachers for social media postings. As a free speech blog, the trend has been alarming as teachers are fired for taking dissenting or controversial views. Now, an incoming Winthrop University Professor, April Mustian, is openly threatening K-12 teachers that they are being watched for any “rhetoric” deemed pro-police or antiBlack. A conservative group has objected to the now deleted Facebook posting from April 26th. This is a small such controversy but it is not isolated. It is indicative of thousands of such postings against free speech from academics across the country. This threatening posting was notable because it reflects a conscious effort to intimidate other teachers in their exercise of free speech. The whole purpose is to chill free speech by threatening their jobs and livelihood if they dare to voice opposing views. This latest controversy highlights the unresolved question of what speech rights teachers still have in participating in the national debate over police abuse and systemic racism.
The State University of New York-Binghamton is the defendant in a new lawsuit over its failure to protect College Republicans and a leading conservative economist in public events last year. The Binghamton University College Republicans and the Young America’s Foundation (YAF) is suing Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger, Vice President for Student Affairs Brian Rose; Chief of Binghamton University Police Department John Pelletier, the College Progressives, and Progressive Leaders of Tomorrow (PLOT) for the denial of First and Fourteenth Amendment violations.
Like many, I have criticized Speaker Nancy Pelosi for calling federal officers in places like Portland “stormtroopers.” It is highly offensive on a myriad of different levels and serves to fuel attacks on federal officers who have suffered significant levels of injuries in the rioting. However, the recent statement from Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy secretary of Homeland Security, on the possibility of libel lawsuits is unsustainable under current tort law.
We recently discussed a Vermont principal who was told that she would have to retire after expressing her opinion of Black Lives Matter on her personal Facebook page. Now, a popular social studies teacher and baseball coach at Walled Lake Western High School in Michigan has been fired after tweeting his support for President Donald Trump and reopening the schools. For free speech advocates, the firing of Justin Kucera, 28, raises concerns that he might be another teacher terminated for expressing unpopular views outside of the school. The District denies that it fired Kucera over his support for Trump but that means that someone is lying: either Kucera or the District. For his part, Kucera said that it was the tweets that were raised by the District, not some other ground for termination. Continue reading “Was This Michigan Teacher Fired After Tweeting Support For Trump and Reopening Schools?”
We have been discussing the shocking abandonment of journalistic principles by the New York Times in its recent apology for publishing a column by a United States Senator and forcing out an editor who had the audacity to publish an opposing view of the current protests. The newspaper effectively declared echo-journalism to be its new mission. Now another opinion writer and editor, Bari Weiss, has resigned after what she called an “illiberal environment” where she has been harassed and abused by other reporters without any intervention from the management. In a scathing resignation letter, Weiss called the Times a “Digital Thunderdome.”
China has a long and authoritarian history of suppressing free speech even though some academics now believe that it has been right all along on such suppression on the Internet. Just when you thought China could not get more bold and outrageous in its anti-free speech actions, it surprises you. This week China sanctioned Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz for criticizing its treatment of minority Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. Continue reading “China Sanctions U.S. Senators For Criticizing China”
Now for some good news. We have been following efforts to have professors stripped of academic positions or outright fired for voicing opposing views of police shootings, Black Lives Matter movement or aspects of recent protests from the University of Chicago to Harvard to Cornell to other schools. Now we have a professor at Creighton University who has triggered an outcry by calling support for police officers an expression of white supremacy. The University later issued an apology on behalf of Associate Professor of Theology Zachary Smith but no one has called for his termination. Today, that is progress. We can only hope that if Smith’s comments were directed at groups or issues associated with the current protests, the university and his colleagues would have the same measured or muted response.
A New York City education council meeting recent attracted national attention after one member of the council (and its past President), Robin Broshi, accused another member, Thomas Wrocklage, of racism after he was seen in a zoom meeting bouncing a black child on his lap. The video below is rather breathtaking but the incident has led to countervailing claims of racism and slander. As is often the case, we tend to jump on any novel torts claims and this is a good example of the tension between opinion and slander, particularly in such overheated (indeed radioactive) moments in public debates. It is unfortunately an increasingly common legal question in today’s rage-filled politics. The video of his meeting has now been shown throughout the world. However, it has some interesting elements as a pedagogical tool for understanding the underlying applicability of tort liability, or lack thereof.
Today we discussed the formal censuring of a conservative student at Georgetown for his criticism of Black Lives Matter as an organization and his objections to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court. Georgetown University has remained silent as the student has been declared a racist and the student government called for his investigation. At Penn State, the university took an important step in this time of rising intolerance and actually included conservative students in a welcoming message. It did not last. After an outcry from students, the university deleted the tweet — thereby sending precisely the opposite message to conservative students.
We have been discussing the targeting of professors who voice dissenting opinions about the Black Lives Matter movement, police shootings, or aspects of the protests around the country from the University of Chicago to Cornell to Harvard to other schools. However, student face even greater pressure to conform to a new orthodoxy enforced on our campuses. An example is conservative Georgetown University junior Billy Torgerson who was the subject of a formal resolution of condemnation by the Georgetown University Student Association as well as a call for a bias complaint to the university. The reason is a column posted on his own website entitled “A Nation Of Virtuous Individuals” in which he espouses widely held conservative views of the law and patriotic views of the country.