We have been writing about the rising intolerance for conservative and dissenting views on our campuses. Many faculty members are fearful that, if they challenge the liberal orthodoxy at their schools, they will be shunned, investigated, or fired. For many, that fear was realized this month at Princeton where the university used a previously adjudicated grievance against Classics Professor Professor Joshua Katz to seek his termination. Katz had drawn the ire of faculty and students by questioning a proposed anti-racism program of benefits for minority faculty. Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber called on the university board to fire Katz in a move being denounced as a transparent effort to circumvent free speech and academic freedom protections over his prior public stance.
Conflicts over pronoun use have been rising around the country. There is a potentially important free speech case developing in Wisconsin. In Kiel, Wisconsin, three eighth graders are facing a Title IX complaint due to their failure to use plural pronouns “they/them” to refer to a single student. Indeed, it is reminiscent of the recent litigation involving a teacher in Loudoun County, Virginia. When the litigation involving teacher Byron “Tanner” Cross was unfolding, I noted that the most difficult such case for the district would be to impose such rules on students. This seems to be precisely that case in Wisconsin.
Politicians have long viewed tragedies and crises as opportunities not to be “wasted.” Most recently, Samantha Power, Biden’s Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, told ABC that they did not want to waste the war in Ukraine as a way of pushing green initiatives. She explained to George Stephanopoulos that you should “never let a crisis go to waste.” Governor Kathy Hochul (D-NY), adopted the same approach to the massacre in Buffalo in renewing calls for censorship on the Internet. While many drew the connection between the shooting and the need for greater gun control measures, Hochul notably went further to demand the curtailment of free speech protections. Speaking later at a church, she pledged to “silence the voices of hatred and racism and white supremacy all over the Internet.”
French journalist Jacques Mallet du Pan famously observed during the French Revolution that “like Saturn, the Revolution devours its children.” It appears that the same can be said for censorship. We previously discussed how WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has supported censorship to combat what he calls the “infodemic.” Now Tedros has been reportedly censored by China for disinformation on its own pandemic measures.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) facing criticism over a tweet in which she issued a “call to arms” after the recent leaking of the abortion decision from the Supreme Court. In the aftermath of the firebombing of a pro-life office and the doxing of Supreme Court justices, the “call to arms” was alarming for many, particularly given the violent protests in Chicago in prior years. I do not believe that Lightfoot is encouraging anything other than peaceful advocacy. Yet, it is striking how virtually identical language has been used by Democrats to seek the disqualification of GOP members and criminal charges against figures like Donald Trump. Indeed, such rhetoric featured greatly in the second impeachment of Donald Trump. Continue reading “Insurrection or Advocacy? Chicago Mayor Lightfoot Issues “Call to Arms” After Leaked Abortion Ruling”
According to reports, Elon Musk is now expected to take over as the temporary CEO of Twitter as soon as his financing of the purchase is finalized. It is good news because buying Twitter may prove a mere skirmish in comparison to the coming battle. Political forces in the United States and abroad are already aligning to resist his effort to restore free speech to social media.
I previously wrote about Hillary Clinton’s call on European countries to pass censorship laws to force social media companies like Twitter to regulate speech even after Elon Musk’s pledge to restore free speech to Twitter. Now the Parliament has called on Musk to testify and to explain his alarming pledge to restore free speech.
Harvard’s The Crimson is reporting that a panel discussion on autism has been postponed after protests that the panel titled “Autism Awareness: Thinking Outside the Box” is “violently ableist.”
Below is a slightly expanded version of my column in The Hill on the appointment of Nina Jankowicz as the new head of the federal government’s announced Disinformation Governance Board. This Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas assured CNN viewers that there is nothing to fear from his new Disinformation Governance Board, which will “gather together best practices in addressing the threat of disinformation.” I think we can guess what the “best practice” might be from one of the most vocal advocates of corporate and state censorship.
The George Washington University (where I teach) has a new free speech controversy after the Student Association Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling on school officials to suspend the campus chapter of the Young America’s Foundation (YAF) for alleged four “transphobic” tweets. Continue reading “GWU Student Association Demands Suspension of Conservative Group Over Offensive Tweets”
It has become depressingly common to read unrelenting attacks on free speech in the Washington Post and other newspapers. The anti-free speech movement has been embraced by Democratic leaders, including President Joe Biden, as well as academics who now claim “China was right” on censorship. However, a Time magazine column by national correspondent Charlotte Alter was still shocking in how mainstream anti-free speech views have become. Alter denounces free speech as basically a white man’s “obsession.”
There was a revealing “town hall” meeting of Twitter employees this week where they joined executives in open panic over what life would be like without their ability to censor others. Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal attempted to calm the obvious angst that (perish the thought) free speech could return to Twitter.
There is an old fable of a scorpion who wants to cross a river and convinced a hesitant frog to carry him on its back. After all, if he stung the frog in the river, they both would die. That seemed logical so the frog agreed to do so only to have the scorpion deliver a lethal sting halfway across. When the frog asked why the scorpion would doom them both, the scorpion replies: “I am sorry, but I couldn’t resist the urge. It’s in my nature.”
The story came to mind this week when the new head of the Disinformation Governance Board, Nina Jankowicz, pledged to protect free speech despite a career dissing and dismissing the right. After withering criticism of her appointment, Jankowicz declared the new board at Homeland Security will “maintain the Dept’s committment [sic] to protecting free speech.” She has spent a career denouncing “first amendment zealots” like myself who believe in a robust view of free speech.
Many politicians and pundits are in full panic over Elon Musk’s threat to restore free speech values to Twitter. While Hillary Clinton has called upon Europeans to step in to maintain such censorship and Barack Obama has called for U.S. regulations, the Biden Administration has created a new Disinformation Governance Board in the Department of Homeland Security. It appointed an executive director, Nina Jankowicz, who is literally pitch perfect as an advocate for both corporate and state censorship.
Below is my column in USA Today on how the Musk purchase of Twitter has forced politicians and pundits to move from corporate censorship to calls for good old-fashioned state censorship. Indeed, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) has declared Musk’s pledge to restore free speech values on social media as threatening Democracy itself. She has promised that “there are going to be rules” to block such changes. She is not alone. Former President Obama has declared “regulation has to be part of the answer” to disinformation. For her part, Hillary Clinton is looking to Europe to fill the vacuum and called upon her European counterparts to pass a massive censorship law to “bolster global democracy before it’s too late.”
Here is the column: