Category: Free Speech

CNN Files Challenge To Suspension Of Acosta’s Press Access

A couple of days ago, we discussed the prospect of CNN suing the Trump Administration over the suspension of CNN’s Jim Acosta’s press credentials after a flair up in a former press conference with President Donald Trump and the refusal of Acosta to surrender the microphone.  CNN has now filed its  lawsuit and it is basically the claims that we anticipated with one addition: a claim that the move violated the Administrative Procedure Act.  As I have said from the outset, I strongly oppose the move by the White House, even though I feel that Acosta went too far in the press conference.  However, I still remain a bit more cautious than many commentators on what is being described as a slam dunk of a case. Continue reading “CNN Files Challenge To Suspension Of Acosta’s Press Access”

Mosques Demand Twitter Bar Any Tweets By Geert Wilders

Freedom_of_SpeechSome 144 Turkish mosques in the Netherlands are demanding that Twitter bar any tweets from conservative politician Geert Wilders due to what they alleged are hateful and disparaging comments.  As many on this blog know, I hold to a robust view of free speech protections.  I tend to oppose censorship through both governmental and private means.  This is no exception. It has nothing to do with Wilders’ views.  I remain committed to the view that the best way of dealing with bad speech is good speech — not the censorship or criminalization of case. Continue reading “Mosques Demand Twitter Bar Any Tweets By Geert Wilders”

Poll: One In Three College Students Believe Violence Is Justified To Stop “Hate Speech”

Online survey of 800 full-time undergraduates conducted by McLaughlin & Associates and sponsored by Yale University’s William F. Buckley, Jr. Program found that a startling number of colleges students believe that violence is justified to silence what they consider to be hate speech.  Today we discussed an FSU student arrested for battery in a confrontation with conservative students.  I will be having a debate at Rice University over calls for schools and government to outlaw hate speech.  As with many in the free speech community, I have been opposed to such criminalizing of speech. Continue reading “Poll: One In Three College Students Believe Violence Is Justified To Stop “Hate Speech””

FSU Student Charged With Battery In Confrontation With Campus Conservatives

Unknown-7Florida_State_University_seal.svgWe have seen an increase in physical assaults on campuses in the last few years as some students and professors seek to harass or silence those with opposing views.  The latest example comes with the criminal battery charge filed against FSU student Shelby Anne Shoup.  She was captured on videotape as they threw chocolate milk on conservative students and kicked over a sign for Ron DeSantis.  Notably, it was the FSU police who made the arrest.  Notably, we also discussed a poll today showing that one out of three college students believe that violence is justified to stop what they consider to be hate speech.  The incident raises a tough question whether such an offense warrants a criminal charge, though it is possible for a court to allow an expungement for some types of misdemeanors in the case of first offenders.

Continue reading “FSU Student Charged With Battery In Confrontation With Campus Conservatives”

College Students Win Prize For Halloween Outfits . . . And Mandatory Diversity Training

imagesI recently wrote about the growing controversy over Halloween costumes on campuses and beyond over allegations of cultural appropriation.  Various colleges have cracked down on costumes deemed inappropriate or insulting or culturally appropriating. There is little consideration of the free speech concerns over such regulations or the differing views of cultural appropriations theories.  There is little question that many of these costumes are insulting and inappropriate.  The question is the role of universities in policing good taste and punishing those students who fail to meet often ambiguous standards.  The latest such controversy of students facing discipline can be found at the College of Charleston where members of the softball team cross the line of the Halloween etiquette.

Continue reading “College Students Win Prize For Halloween Outfits . . . And Mandatory Diversity Training”

Ireland Votes To Remove Blasphemy As An Offense From It’s Constitution

Ireland has voted to remove blasphemy as a punishable offense from the country’s constitution — a move that could allow the repealing for Ireland’s long-controversial crime for speech deemed offensive to religious sensibilities.  Ireland has held the ignoble distinction as one of the few non-Muslim countries still criminalizing blasphemy.  I have previously criticized the law (here and here and here).  Some 65% of the voters supported the removal of the blasphemy reference in the Constitution. Continue reading “Ireland Votes To Remove Blasphemy As An Offense From It’s Constitution”

European Court Upholds Prosecution Of Woman For Comparing Muhammad’s Marriage To A Six-Year-Old Girl To Pedophilia

A new decision from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) confirms the all-out assault on free speech that has taken hold of Europe.  In a chilling decision, the ECHR upheld a fine levied against an Austrian woman who called Muhammad a pedophile for his arranged marriage with a young girl while in his 50s.   The court ruled that such views are not protected by free speech because they violate “the right of others to have their religious feelings protected.” The decision confirms the near complete subjugation of free speech to religious and other views in society.   Continue reading “European Court Upholds Prosecution Of Woman For Comparing Muhammad’s Marriage To A Six-Year-Old Girl To Pedophilia”

“It’s a Sin To Kill A Mockingbird”: Canadian School Board Denounces American Classic As “Violent and Oppressive For Black Students”

To_Kill_a_MockingbirdOne of the largest Ontario school boards has sent out a warning to teachers that they should steer away from assigning the American classic To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The memo rejects the book for how its “white saviour” makes less characters look “less than human.” It also cites the use of the “N word” and its violent scenes as reasons to reject the book.  We have previously discussed other efforts to ban the book.  This is how school officials know sin. It is when they actively seek to discourage the reading of great literary works to “protect” students from the depictions of harsh realities and dehumanizing conditions. Atticus said  “remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”  Continue reading ““It’s a Sin To Kill A Mockingbird”: Canadian School Board Denounces American Classic As “Violent and Oppressive For Black Students””

Banning “Glottophobia”: French Legislators Move To Ban The Mocking Of Accents

libertyWe have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England ( here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws. We have seen comedians targeted with such court orders under this expanding and worrisome trend. (here and here).  Now the French parliament is considering the making of jokes or mockery over accents a form of prohibited discrimination. It is a ban on “Glottophobia”, the French term for discrimination based on pronunciation and tone. Continue reading “Banning “Glottophobia”: French Legislators Move To Ban The Mocking Of Accents”

Nevada Teacher Faces Calls For Termination After Her Son Dresses As Hitler For Halloween

Janet Arsanian, a teacher at Cortney Junior High School, is facing calls for her termination after her son dressed as Adolf Hitler for Halloween.  The controversy rekindles our long debate over the free speech rights of teachers and public employees in controversial statements or actions in their private lives. Arsanian insisted that “we don’t worship Hitler or agree with what he did.” More importantly, there is no allegation that Arsanian has shown any intolerance or inappropriate responses in her role as a teacher.  I share to reaction of many to such a costume as offensive but, as many on this blog know, I tend to follow a robust view of free speech in such controversies. Continue reading “Nevada Teacher Faces Calls For Termination After Her Son Dresses As Hitler For Halloween”

Ireland To Hold Referendum On Removing Anti-Blasphemy Offenses From Constitution

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

This October twenty-sixth, voters in Ireland will decide at the polls if the country’s prohibition on blasphemy should be removed from the nation’s constitution. It comes for me as a welcome sign of some progress against what otherwise was a trend in Western Europe toward establishing an international blasphemy standard that many regard as censorship and a vehicle for possible criminal prosecution of speech and expression.

While the Irish government has insisted that no persons have been successfully prosecuted for blasphemy since the 1850s, the existence of any such statute serves as leverage by the state to control what its citizens may say or what behavior it considers objectionable. The time for repeal I believe has arrived.

Continue reading “Ireland To Hold Referendum On Removing Anti-Blasphemy Offenses From Constitution”

Ohio University Student Arrested After Making False Claims Of Threatening Messages Due To LGBTQ Status

Anna Ayers, a student at Ohio University and a member of the OU student senate, recently caused an uproar at the university after saying that she received threatening messages, including a death threat, due to being part of the LGBTQ community.  Police now say that Ayers made the entire thing up and have arrested her for “making false alarms.” That wording seemed a bit curious so I went to the state code, which indeed has a provision that departs from the usual language of a false police report.   Continue reading “Ohio University Student Arrested After Making False Claims Of Threatening Messages Due To LGBTQ Status”

Kuwait: We Are Not Orwellian . . . We Banned Orwell

504px-Coat_of_Arms_of_Kuwait-2.svg1984-Big-BrotherKuwait has continued to remind the world that, despite its advances in the modern world, it remains a religiously orthodox government imposing medieval values on its population.  That fact was on display this week as the government banned such works as “The Little Mermaid” and Michelangelo’s David as unIslamic or indecent.  Sounds Orwellian? Perhaps but Kuwaiti’s would not know it . . .  Orwell’s masterpiece “1984” was also banned.

Continue reading “Kuwait: We Are Not Orwellian . . . We Banned Orwell”

UK’s Highest Court Rules In Favor Of Bakery That Refused To Make Cake Supporting Same-Sex Marriage

England flagLast year, we experienced a national debate over the right of  Colorado cake shop owner Jack Phillips can refuse to make a special cake for a same-sex marriage due to religious objections in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. I supported the position on Phillips as a matter of free speech as opposed to free exercise.  Now Ireland has had its own challenge which  is remarkably similar to Masterpiece Cakeshop including lower court rulings against the owners at the Ashers bakery, Daniel and Amy McArthur, in Northern Ireland by lower courts. Continue reading “UK’s Highest Court Rules In Favor Of Bakery That Refused To Make Cake Supporting Same-Sex Marriage”

Israel’s Denies Entry and Jails American Student on Suspicion Of Supporting The BDS Movement

660px-flag_of_israelsvgI have previously criticized U.S. laws barring public contracts or employment with people who support the boycott or boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.  Those laws raise troubling questions under the First Amendment and various courts have pushed back on the constitutionality of such laws.  Now Israel is holding an American university student for a week because she supported the BDS movement.   Lara Alqasem, 22, was held depending appeal at Ben-Gurion Airport.  She has Palestinian grandparents and was told that she could be released if she apologizes and disavows any boycotting of Israel.  Continue reading “Israel’s Denies Entry and Jails American Student on Suspicion Of Supporting The BDS Movement”

Res ipsa loquitur – The thing itself speaks