Below is my column in the Hill on the first hearings this week to be held by the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. It could be one of the most consequential investigations for free speech in decades if it pulls back the curtain on government censorship programs. After the historic release of the Twitter Files by Elon Musk, questions remain on any similar coordination with other social media companies with federal agencies like the FBI to target views considered “disinformation” or “misinformation.”
There is a fascinating and chilling survey on the state of free speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The newly released Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) survey shows a growing fear among faculty over their ability to speak freely in classes or other forums on campus. Conversely, a majority of students believe that it is acceptable to shout down or block speakers who hold opposing views. The survey captures the downstream impact of students who have been taught in their primary, middle, and high school educations that speech is harmful and preventing free speech is a noble and necessary action.
A new survey of students at the University of Wisconsin found that almost sixty percent of students are afraid to share their opinions in class due to the intolerance on campuses today. It is only the latest such poll on how the orthodoxy and intolerance of higher education is having a chilling effect on student speech and class discussions. Notably, this is almost identical to earlier polling at other schools.
There is an interesting case out of Oregon where Judge Marco Hernández has ruled for a Portland State University Professor Bruce Gilley who was excluded from a Diversity Twitter page by the Communication Manager of the Division of Equity and Inclusion at the University of Oregon. (The manager is identified as “tova stabin” who the court notes “spells her name with all lowercase letters.”). Stabin has now left the school. The court rejects a critical motion to dismiss and said that Gilley has raised sufficient evidence to go to trial after stabin blocked Gilley for responding to a tweet with “all men are created equal.” Continue reading ““Racism Interruptor”: Court Rules for Professor Blocked from Twitter Page for Posting “All Men Are Created Equal””
Jack Phillip, the Colorado baker who brought the challenge in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission has again lost an appeal in Colorado state court. After the Supreme Court effectively punted on the issue of his free speech and free exercise challenges to the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (“CADA”), which protects against the denial of service in a place of public accommodation based on one’s identity. After the 2018 decision, Phillip faced additional demands including the creation of a gender transitioning cake. The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday that the refusal to make the cake requested by Autumn Scardina did not constitute free speech. Continue reading “Masterpiece Cakeshop Loses Appeal Over Gender Transition Cake”
With the recent passage of AB 2098, California took a highly controversial step in barring doctors from offering “false information” on Covid-19 and related subjects. The law is an extension of Democratic efforts to block or censor “misinformation” and “disinformation” in society from social media to medicine. However, this effort involves direct government action. As will come as little surprise to many on this blog, I opposed the measure as unconstitutionally vague and a threat to free speech. Nevertheless, Judge Fred Slaughter (C.D. Cal.) in McDonald v. Lawson held that this statute was likely constitutional and rejected a motion for a preliminary injunction. Now, however Judge William Shubb (E.D. Cal.) has reached the opposite conclusion in Hoeg v. Newsom, granting an injunction. Continue reading “Court Enjoins California’s Bar on Doctors Giving “False Information” on Covid”
We previously discussed the action of Hamline University not to renew the contract of an art professor, Erika Prater, who showed an image of Muhammad as part of an arts class. The action was an affront to both free speech and academic freedom. Prater has sued. In the meantime, the faculty has voted 72-12 to condemn the action and demand that Hamline President Fayneese Miller resign. With the exception of the 12 faculty dissenters, it is a relatively rare demonstration of academic courage in standing up to an anti-free speech mob. They are correct. Miller should resign immediately based on what we already know about this scandal. Continue reading ““We are the Faculty”: Hamline Professors Demand President’s Resignation After Abandoning Due Process and Academic Freedom”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long been one of the most anti-free speech leaders in the world, particularly demanding the censorship and the arrest of those who insult Islam. Now Erdogan is blocking Sweden from NATO membership because it refuses to curtail free speech. It is a tragically ironic moment for an alliance based on what were viewed as shared Western values. It is now held hostage by one of the most authoritarian leaders in the world. Continue reading “Turkey Blocks Sweden from Joining NATO Due to Sweden’s Free Speech Protections”
For many football fans (including this one) coach Tony Dungy is a legend. Even though his career is marred by beating my beloved Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI as head coach for the Indianapolis Colts, I am one of millions who tune into NBC to hear his insights on games. He was the first African-American to win the Super Bowl as head coach and coached for 13 seasons. Now, however, this Hall of Fame inductee is a marked man after a flash mob has formed to force his termination. Why? Because Dungy is a religious conservative who has publicly shared his views against abortion and homosexuality, including a speech at the March for Life this week. Continue reading ““Fire Dungy Now”: The Left Demands that NBC Sack Legendary Coach After Speaking at the March for Life”
Tulane University (where I once taught) has opened up an investigation into a student, Sarah Ma, after she wrote an opinion piece defending Kanye West in his wearing a “White Lives Matters” shirt and justifying comments that are widely viewed as antisemitic. In addition to the university telling Ma that she should leave the campus for her own safety, Erica Woodley, Tulane’s Associate Vice President & Dean of Students, sent out an email announcing that it was investigating the matter. Woodley stated “While the importance of free expression on a university campus cannot be overstated, words that run counter to our core values impact our community.” Perhaps Tulane cannot “overstate” free speech values, but it is clearly under protecting them in taking this action. Continue reading “Tulane Launches Investigation of Student Who Defended Kanye West and Advised Her to Leave Campus”
There has been much coverage over the resurfacing of former CNN host Brian Stelter as the host for a panel at the World Economic Forum on alleged disinformation and “hate speech.” Stelter previously called for censorship under a “harm reduction model” and led a panel at a conference where Democrats discussed how to shape the news. He was confronted over his own dissemination for false stories targeting Republicans on CNN. Yet, I was most struck by a statement from New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger who described “disinformation” as the “most existential” problem the world is facing today. Sulzberger insisted that disinformation is the reason why there is a loss of “trust” today. He ignores his own history in eroding that trust in the media through flagrantly biased decisions at the New York Times.
The anti-free speech movement in the United States continues to grow with alarming speed among writers, journalists, academics, and most importantly Democratic members of Congress. Members now openly call for censorship and the manipulation of what citizens see and read. Yet, even in this environment, a recent proposed by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D., Tx.) is a menacing standout. Jackson has introduced a bill that is an almost impenetrable word salad of convoluted provisions. However, what is clear (perhaps the only clear thing) is that the “Leading Against White Supremacy Act of 2023” would gut the First Amendment and create effective thought crimes. Continue reading “House Bill Would Criminalize Social Media Postings Supporting “White Supremacy” or “Replacement Theory””
We have previously discussed free speech concerns over companies firing workers over their political viewpoints expressed on social media or other forums. A most recent controversy arose after the decision of Limited Run Games to fire community manager Kara Lynne, also known as Kara Gooch, because a trans-rights activist found that she has made critical comments about pro-trans policies. Limited Run Games declared that an employee harboring such views was a threat to a “positive and safe environment.” This entire controversy began over the fact that Lynne likes Harry Potter.
The latest release of Twitter Files from Matt Taibbi shows that Democratic leaders like Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) were aware that they were pushing a likely false story of “Russian bots” to discredit a report on FBI abuses. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) are also mentioned by Twitter as part of what staff called “congressional trolls” who did not seem to care if the allegations were true and only wanted Twitter to say they were true. Schiff and Blumenthal have been two of most outspoken advocates for censorship on the social media, often using “conspiracy theories” by Republicans to justify limits on free speech.