We have been discussing the rising support for corporate censorship among leading Democratic politicians, academics, and writers. Social media and Internet companies now actively respond to calls from government officials to silence those with opposing views. The latest such example is Google-owned YouTube removing videos of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny before Russia’s parliamentary elections. Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Apple Inc. also pulled a voting app from Navalny ahead of the election. Nevertheless, CEO Susan Wojcicki bizarrely claimed in a Bloomberg interview Bloomberg Television that free speech remains a “core value” for the company. Continue reading “YouTube Removes Videos of Putin Critic in Latest Act of Corporate Censorship”
We recently discussed the move by Point Park University to include “misgendering, pronoun misuse, and deadnaming” as forms of discrimination subject to discipline at the school. Now students are seeking the removal of Logan Dubil, an undergraduate student who appeared in media criticizing the policy. The Change.org petition has hundreds of signing students and is the latest example of a rising generation of censors emerging from our campuses. Many today focus more on silencing others than responding to their opposing viewpoints.
Below is my column in the Hill on growing conflicts over “misgendering” in the use of pronouns. Both governmental agencies and academic institutions are increasingly treating misgendering as a form of hate speech or discrimination. That is triggering major free speech fights in this county and abroad.
We recently discussed a controversy over a teacher being told to remove an Antifa flag and Gay Pride flag. We now have the inverse case. A teacher in Washington was told to remove a “Blue Lives Matter” flag that she put up to support her brother who was a former police officer. The flag was surrounded by pictures of her brother. She was told to remove the flag as a “political statement” that would disturb some students. These controversies raise questions of content-based discrimination over speech, particularly after the Washington teacher was reportedly told that she could have Black Lives Matter or Gay Pride flags in her class but not a Blue Lives Matter flag. Continue reading “Washington School Triggers Free Speech Fight Over Order to Remove Blue Lives Matter Flag”
My column yesterday discussed the increasing trend to treat the failure to use a person’s preferred pronouns (called “misgendering”) a type of hate speech or discriminatory conduct. A new case highlights the free speech problems associated with the trend. In Meriwether v. Hartop, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit handed down a major ruling in favor of Shawnee State University Professor Nicholas Meriwether, who was disciplined for refusing to use a student’s designated pronoun choices.
Even in this age of rage and delirium, a claim being made on the Internet is breathtaking. Videos are circulating on social media that claim that taking the Covid-19 vaccines makes you legally “transhuman” and therefore you have no rights guaranteed under the Constitution. What is impressive about this demonstrably false claim is that it is based on a purported holding of the Supreme Court. The viral story has been cited as an example of “disinformation” that supports calls for greater governmental or corporate censorship. However, it is a prime example to prove the opposite: how free speech can correct bad speech. There is no need to censor rather than expose such lunacy. Vaccines will clearly not make you transhuman but censorship will certainly make you less free. Continue reading “The Ultimate Disinfectant: The Only Thing Worse Than The “Transhuman” Videos Would Be Banning Them”
We have previously discussed the worrisome signs of a rising generation of censors in the country as leaders and writers embrace censorship and blacklisting. The latest chilling poll was released by 2021 College Free Speech Rankings after questioning a huge body of 37,000 students at 159 top-ranked U.S. colleges and universities. It found that sixty-six percent of college students think shouting down a speaker to stop them from speaking is a legitimate form of free speech. Another 23 percent believe violence can be used to cancel a speech. That is roughly one out of four supporting violence. Continue reading “Heckler’s Veto: Sixty-Six Percent of College Students Say Stopping Speech Is Free Speech”
We have been following various controversies involving academics who have referred to Covid-19 as the “China Virus” or the “Wuhan Virus.” There is even a lawsuit on the issue. There is now an interesting case brewing at the University of Dallas. Professor William Atto is accused of using the reference on a syllabus, which the student newspaper University News called “misnaming COVID-19” and violating the university policy on such references. In response, the head of the History Department, Susan Hanssen, came out in support of her colleague and denied that any such policy exists. Continue reading “Dallas History Professor Triggers Academic Freedom Fight Over Reference To “China Virus””
We recently discussed the controversy at Washington University in St. Louis after Student Senator Fadel Alkilani pulled up flags memorializing 9/11 and throwing them into the trash. At the time, I raised the issue of whether preventing or destroying the speech of others is itself an exercise of free speech. Now, Law Professor Gregory Magarian has gone public with his view that Alkilani was indeed engaging in free speech and criticizing the position of the school in condemning his actions without also recognizing the discomfort for many in seeing the flags as a “powerful, contestable political statement.”. Continue reading “Law Professor: Tearing Down 9/11 Memorial is the Exercise of Free Speech”
Today at 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (PDT), I will have the pleasure of speaking as the Constitution Day speaker for Santa Monica College. It will be on a crisis of constitutional faith in our country, particularly in the abandonment of free speech principles. The moderator for the event, which will be shown by Zoom, is Professor Hari Vishwanadha. Continue reading “Turley Speaks At Santa Monica College on Constitution Day”
Occasionally we discuss pieces in student newspapers that reflect the evolving views on our campus toward free speech. One such editorial appeared last week in the
As we discussed yesterday, there are different views of what occurred on 9/11 that are expressed (appropriately) on our campuses. Indeed, while some have criticized the holding of critical forums on the anniversary, it is precisely the type of diversity of viewpoints that sustains higher education. However, a student senator at Washington University in St. Louis has triggered a free speech debate after he allegedly removed American flags from a 9/11 memorial display and threw them into the trash. While condemning the action, the school has taken no action against Fadel Alkilani, vice president of finance for the student union. A common argument on campuses today is that shutting down the speech of others is itself an exercise of free speech — something I have long contested. Continue reading “Flagging Free Speech: Washington University Student Triggers Free Speech Debate by Removing 9/11 Memorial”
There is an interesting lawsuit filed in Washington against the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) over censorship. The lawsuit was brought by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and the Animal Legal Defense Fund after the government blocked comments on opposing animal testing on the agencies’ social media sites. The lawsuit has ample support in the case law. Notably, it also comes at a time when the Administration and many Democratic leaders, like President Joe Biden, have called on private companies to engage in massive censorship programs on social media. The lawsuit was filed in People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals v. Collins, No. 1:21-cv-02380 (D.D.C.).