Category: Free Speech

Augsburg University and UChicago Face Protests Over Classroom Use Of The N-Word

In Minnesota, Augsburg University has reportedly stripped Professor Phillip Adamo of his directorship of the honors program after he used the n-word in a class discussion of a passage (using the word) from James Baldwin. In the meantime, at the University of Chicago (my alma mater) Professor Geoffrey Stone is under fire for the same alleged offense in a classroom. Unlike Augsburg, however, UChicago has continued its staunch defense of free speech and academic freedom in support of Stone.

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Sarah Lawrence Students Demand Tenure Review Of Conservative Professor, No-Whites Scholarships, And Free Detergent

Sarah Lawrence College students have demanded issued a list of demands from the ” the Diaspora Coalition” to address “the injustices imposed on people of color by this institution on a daily basis.” What is striking about the list is the inclusion of scholarships that would bar white students and an action targeting a member of the faculty because they disagree with his views. While the college is pledging to work with the students to reach a compromise, the demands reflect the growing intolerance of opposing views and free speech rights on campuses — as well as a call for the awarding of scholarship on the basis of race. They also demand special benefits for “first-generation students” as well as mandatory training sessions for all students on “intellectual elitism and classism.” They also include demands for free food, free detergent and free student storage.

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Iran Sentences Lawyer To 38 Years and 148 Lashes After Representing Women Opposed To The Islamic Headscarf

We have been discussing the incredible courage of women activists in Saudi Arabia and Iran who are being arrested, tortured, and imprisoned for claiming the most basic civil liberties. One of the most inspiring activists is Nasrin Sotoudeh, a world renowned human rights lawyer jailed in Iran for her representation of women who removed their mandatory headscarf. In an act of unspeakable brutality and savagery, an Iranian court has sentenced her to 38 years and 148 lashes in a trumped up charge of spying, spreading propaganda, and insulting Iran’s supreme leader. In the meantime, ten women are being tried in Saudi Arabia which continues to repress women and girls under its strict Islamic code.

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Beach To The Rescue

By Daren Smith, Weekend Contributor

© 2019 Darren Smith

There are times in operating any business when one needs to walk away else levy a deafening rebuke against a vendor.  After one just likely cost me a grand in lost income due to their incompetence and making promises they could not keep, I found myself at a bit of a crossroads.  I could either drive East read him the riot act or I could drive West and take in some photos and save my heart the aggravation.

Here is the result: (click to enlarge)

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Harvard Students Demand Dean Step Down Due To His Representations of Harvey Weinstein

Harvard students are petitioning for the removal of law professor Ronald Sullivan, the house dean (previously called House Master) of Winthrop House. The school has announced a “climate review” on whether Sullivan can continue as dean after he agreed to represent accused sexual harassers Harvey Weinstein and Harvard economics professor Roland Fryer. It appears that even the representation of people accused of sexual harassment is now considered its a threatening or improper act.

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University of Virginia Investigates Fraternity and Sorority For “Cultural Appropriation” Offenses

According to The Cavalier Daily, the University of Virginia is proceeding against a fraternity and sorority for “engag[ing] in alleged cultural appropriation” during chapter-sponsored activities. The violations involved students at the Kappa Sigma fraternity dressed as American Indians and members of the Zeta Tau Alpha “wearing sombreros and holding maracas.”

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Professor Suspended After Reading Literary Work Using N-Word

We have previously discussed protests over professors using the n-word in hypotheticals or as part of a course on hate speech. Professors are being denied basic academic freedom over such content to courses. The most recent such action was taken against Professor Phil Adamo of Minneapolis’s Augsburg University. He has been suspended for using the n-word during a classroom discussion about a James Baldwin book which uses the word.

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Stanford Professor Stops Teaching Course On American Indian Mythologies After 50 Years Due To Protest

For 50 years, Stanford Professor Kenneth Fields has taught the course “American Indian Mythology, Legend and Lore,” Professor Fields has agreed to stop teaching the course. A nationally recognized academic and poet, Fields dropped the course after some students accused him of being “insensitive and inappropriate” and circulated a petition requesting to “improve” the course. The bases for the protest raise serious issues of academic freedom and the lack of of support for faculty in such disputes.

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Turkish Courts Release Imprisoned Politician After Hunger Strike In Protest To Isolation Of Abdulla Öcalan

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

On January 13th I posted an article featuring PKK Leader Abdullah Öcalan being held without access to visitation by family and attorneys since 2016. The government’s reversal of policy occurred after a two month long hunger strike staged by imprisoned Kurdish sympathizers including pro-Kurdish Turkish Member of Parliament Leyla Guven, 55. MP Guven’s condition was described as “grave” and in the end considerable concern was that her life was in danger. Now, at least for the time being, Ms. Guven is no longer in custody and hopes are high for her recovery.

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Montreal Club Cancels Comedian For Wearing Dreadlocks

I have been previously critical of “cultural appropriation” campaigns against students and faculty and others accused of incorporating or adopting clothes, food (here and here and here), or exercise (and here) or even art (and here) associated with other cultures. These controversies have also involved hair and jewelry styles, including dreadlocks. The latest controversy arose over a comedian, Zach Poitras, who happened to have dreadlocks who was scheduled to have a show in Montreal at a bar associated with the University of Quebec. It was cancelled after people objected that he was white and thus his hair style was cultural appropriation. It is the same misguided position that we have seen on college campuses in sanctioning those who explore different styles or art forms or foods.

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No, Mr. Giuliani, BuzzFeed Should Not Be Sued Or Investigated [Updated]

It often seems that when the Trump team has the high ground on a story, it rushes to bulldoze it to the ground. The controversial interview by Rudy Giuliani on CNN, it a case in point. In response to the rebuke of BuzzFeed by the Special Counsel, Giuliani gave a rambling interview that included a call for BuzzFeed to be investigated or sued. Neither should occur. I have been critical of how the media and legal experts overplayed the BuzzFeed story. However, if BuzzFeed had two officials connected to the Mueller investigation giving this information, it was news. Indeed, aspects of the story are likely to be born out by Michael Cohen in his testimony before Congress. There is ample reason to criticize how the media treated this story but the suggestion that journalists should be investigated or sued for reporting such a story is dangerous and unwarranted. Indeed, Giuliani made news  an by asking “And so what if he talked to him about it?” In fairness to Giuliani (who has been unfairly reported on the context of the statement), he prefaced that statement by saying that he did not know if Trump spoke to Cohen. However, it would be a reckless and problematic act if Trump spoke to a witness about this testimony on his and Trump’s conduct. Such an act would maximize the risk to himself and Cohen.

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PKK Leader Abdullah Öcalan Granted 1st Visit in Two Years After Jailed Pol. Listed In Critical Condition During Hunger Strike Protesting His Isolation

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Abdullah Öcalan, in 1997 by Halil Uysal

Turkey granted imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan his first visitor in nearly two years this Saturday. Turkish courts ruled in 2016 that he was to receive no visitors, including family. Mr. Öcalan has not had access to visits from his attorneys since 2011 despite filing over seven hundred requests to do so. Mr. Öcalan was visited by his brother, Mohammad Öcalan.

While it is unclear exactly why Turkey had a change of heart regarding the visits, it was recently widely reported on Thursday in Turkish and Kurdish news media that a jailed member of Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey is suffering “life-threatening” medical conditions during her hunger strike that started sixty-five days ago. She began the strike to protest the conditions and isolation that Mr. Öcalan was experiencing at the hands of his Turkish captors.

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Saudi Teenager Continues Standoff In Thailand In Seeking Asylum

There remains confusion in Thailand over the fate of Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, who is seeking asylum after renouncing Islam and refusing to be treated as chattel under the medieval laws of Saudi Arabia. We have previously discussed the sexist and repressive laws imposed on women in the Kingdom, making adult women effective wards of male family members, including younger siblings or family members. Since the Saudis kill people for apostasy, the fear of this young woman is real and immediate. She is deserving of asylum and the United States should show that it truly believes in women’s rights and step forward to give her protection against our Saudi allies.

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Hitler Goes Ballistic Over Patreon Censorship: Patreon Part 5

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

You know you’ve reached a level of notoriety when someone creates a Hitler Goes Ballistic meme in your disfavor. Well, now it has happened for our friends at Patreon where a creator dubbed over a clip from the WWII film “Der Untergang / Downfall” and had the charity to cast Patreon CEO Jack Conte as Hitler.

The reported author surely displays courage to craft this, considering that he receives significant funding from Patreon, who’s Trust and Safety Team seems bent on wiping out what they disagree with, or what others label as being “Nazi” or such. Casting Mr. Conte as Hitler is worth a laugh in itself for the irony.

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