Category: Free Speech

New York City Gives 1.1 Million Students Free Pass From School To Join Climate Change Protests

There is an interesting story in the New York Times that the city has decided that any of its 1.1 million public school students will be allowed to skip classes without penalties to join the global youth climate strikes to be held this Friday. As someone who has long advocated for action on climate change and opposes the Trump environmental policies, I am entirely in support of demonstrations. However, the decision raises some concerns over how the New York Public School system chooses which protests to sanction. Would students be permitted next month to attend anti-climate change protests? If not, this authority is being used in a viewpoint discriminatory manner.

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NRA Sues San Francisco Over Resolution Declaring It To Be A Domestic Terrorist Organization

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has filed a lawsuit against San Francisco over the resolution denouncing the organization as a “domestic terrorist organization.” I am cited in the brief, which can be read below. The NRA is correct that I have written in opposition to the resolution of the Board of Supervisors as a direct attack on free speech and “the very definition of demagoguery.” However, the quote that is attributed to me is in error. it was in fact from another column by Henry Olson. It is minor matter since the NRA correctly attributes my view that the resolution is an attack on first amendment rights of free speech and association.

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Finland Investigates Politician For Quoting Bible In Opposition To Church’s Support For LGBT Parade

We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in Europe (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). The latest example of hate speech laws curtailing free speech is found in Finland where a politician is under criminal investigation for sharing a Bible verse to criticize a church for participating in a LGBT Pride festival.

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New Jersey Event Canceled After Threats From Anti-Free Speech Groups

We have been discussing the rising attacks on free speech across the country, including students and faculty who support the silencing of speakers who hold opposing views. What is most concerning is that these attacks are working. The latest example can be found in New Jersey where the Broadway Theater in Pitman cancelled an event because anti-free speech organizations and individuals threatened protests and some even threatened to burn down the theater. Among the speakers was journalist Andy Ngo, who suffered a brain hemorrhage after being beaten by Antifa supporters at an event in Oregon. My concern is not with planned protests but the coordinated effort to have the event cancelled to prevent others from hearing opposing views.

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Italian Town Makes Blasphemy Illegal

The northern Italian town of Sanoara has offered another chilling reminder of how the West is rejecting free speech at an accelerating pace. Mayor Walter Stefan has announced with some pride that the town is going to make it illegal “to blaspheme against any faith or religion.” That’s right, the town has embraced the same blasphemy used by extremist Muslim countries to punish those who dare speak against religion.

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Fourth of July in Derry, Northern Ireland

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

I thought it an interesting twist and in the end quite fitting to celebrate this year’s U.S. Independence Day in Derry, Northern Ireland which coincides a month shy of the fiftieth anniversary Battle of the Bogside and the birth of the Free Derry zone within NI.

I’ve noted in my travels that one can learn from different expressions of freedom, or the lack thereof, in visiting other nations that in the end resulted in a better appreciation for the gift of Liberty that we have a civil right to experience in the United States.

The Derry Murals: (click on each to enlarge)

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Virginia Beach Employee Arrested For Telling Supervisor That She Is The Type Of Boss Who Pushes Employees To Violence

There is a disturbing case out of Virginia Beach where city employee Elizabeth Mann, 48, was fired and then arrested for telling Wendy Swallow, a supervisor, that she is the type of boss who pushes people to violence. She was referencing the recent shooting spree of DeWayne Craddock, 40, an engineer with the city’s Public Utilities division, that killed 12 people and wounded several others. It was a uniquely stupid thing to say but Mann’s arrest raises serious constitutional concerns.

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Doctoral Candidate At UC-Santa Barbara Faces Protests After Speaking Out Against Transgender Ideology

We have previously discussed the growing intolerance on campuses over those who speak or write from a conservative or opposing perspective. The latest such target is Laura Tanner, a doctoral candidate in its Department of Feminist Studies. Tanner has written against transgender status and ideology. Her tweets have led students and alumni at the University of California-Santa Barbara to demand the termination of Tanner’s association with the university.

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Law Professor: MAGA Hat “Undeniable Symbol Of White Supremacy”

download-3Gonzaga University School of Law Visiting Law Professor Jeffrey Omari has written a column in the ABA Journal that demonstrates the increasingly shrill environment faced by conservative students.  Omari took to the pages of the Journal to recount his almost breathless encounter with a student wearing a “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) hat. Most of us are used to students wearing political hats and teeshirts.  I am always happy to see students with such clothing because it shows that they are engaged and passionate regardless of their views. For Omari, the incident was chilling since he declares the MAGA hats worn by many conservatives to be per se racist symbols. Continue reading “Law Professor: MAGA Hat “Undeniable Symbol Of White Supremacy””

France Emerges As One Of The World’s Greatest Threats To Free Speech

libertyBelow is my column on the vote scheduled for this week by France to impose a new regulation on Internet speech — essentially forcing companies to scrub their sites of any hate speech as defined under sweeping French laws.  What is astonishing is how many Americans are prepared to follow the European model in limiting free speech on the basis for loosely defined terms of threatening or intimidating or harassing anyone on the basis for race or religion or sexual orientation or other protected groups. The implications for free speech is sweeping and chilling. The West has fallen out of love with free speech.  What is most concerning however is that countries like France and Germany are likely to strip away free speech protections for the rest of the World, even in countries like the United States where free speech is still given broad protection.

Here is the column: Continue reading “France Emerges As One Of The World’s Greatest Threats To Free Speech”

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!!!

download-1The Fourth is one of my favorite holidays as a time when citizens should put aside our differences and focus on the freedoms that unite us.  The American Republic is still a work in progress, a constitutional system that must be renewed by each generation.  This holiday unfortunately shows how our differences threaten to overwhelm our common article of faith in this representative democracy.  The Nike controversy shows how our differences are now overwhelming our core shared values, including the very symbol of this nation.  Nevertheless, many of us will join today to celebrate these United States and its history and values.  My family will celebrate with a cookout and, of course, fireworks. Continue reading “HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!!!”

“Just Don’t Buy It”: Nike Controversy Is About More Than Sneakers

nike-logoBelow is my column in The Hill Newspaper.  Even after Nike embraced Colin Kaepernick, I was flabbergasted by the decision of Nike to pull sneakers showing the early American flag because Kaepernick found it offensive.  Supporters of Kaepernick has insisted that the flag is now a symbol of white supremacists.  I do not know about the adoption by white supremacists but I am familiar with the flag being used by prior protesters  ranging from Civil Rights marchers to anti-Vietnam activists as well as displayed at events like President Barack Obama’s inauguration.  Today, the Anti-Defamation League added its voice in saying that  “We view it as essentially an innocuous historical flag. It’s not a thing in the white supremacist movement.”

Nevertheless, Nike has clearly decided that it will write off those citizens who feel strongly about the flag as a national symbol and play to Kaepernick’s base.  The company’s sales went up seven percent after its controversial decision to hire Kaepernick for its campaign in 2018.   Yet, the move has also hurt its brand with a sizable number of Americans and the latest move will likely weigh heavily on many not to buy Nike products. Many of us are not inclined to buy Nike products in light of its extreme position on the flag.

Here is the column: Continue reading ““Just Don’t Buy It”: Nike Controversy Is About More Than Sneakers”

Top Universities Sanctioning Law Professors For Unpopular Clients

I have previously written about the growing intolerance of faculty and students for opposing views and speech. Recently, however, there has been a further erosion in long-standing principles of free speech and academic freedom in the targeting of law professors for representing unpopular clients. Harvard University has been widely denounced for its removal of Law Professor Ronald Sullivan and his wife Stephanie Robinson as “House Deans” after Sullivan agreed to represent former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in his criminal trial. Columbia effectively forced out Columbia University law professor Elizabeth Lederer due to her prior work as a prosecutor in the “Central Park Five” case. It appears that no speech or even the principle of the presumption of innocence is to be recognized in the new realities of higher education.

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Trump Supports Flag Burning Amendment

Today President Donald Trump declared support for a new constitutional amendment to allow Congress to override the First Amendment and criminalize the burning of the American flag. The legislation for the amendment was reintroduced by Sen. Steve Daines (R- Montana) and Sen Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota). While I consider flag burning (of any country) to be deeply offensive, there is no need for such an amendment to combat the extremely few incidents of flag burning. It is certainly a popular political cause, but we should not amend the Constitution to reduce free speech, particularly given the low number of flag burnings.

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