Category: Free Speech

“Revoke Their Degrees”: Harvard Faculty and Students Seek Revocation Of Degrees For Trump Officials and Allies

There is a building campaign at Harvard to rescind the degrees of Trump officials and allies including White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-TX).  This is not the only such effort to retaliate against Trump officials from blacklists to campaigns of harassment.  Indeed, previously there was a demand for a ban on former Trump officials from being allowed on campus at Harvard. Recently Rep. Elise Stefanik was removed from a high-ranking board on Harvard for challenging the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.  The concern for some of us is that the Capitol riot is now being used by many to accelerate the crackdown on free speech on our campuses.

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Ron Paul Posts Criticism of Censorship on Social Media Shortly Before Facebook Blocks Him

We have been discussing the chilling crackdown on free speech that has been building for years in the United States. This effort has accelerated in the aftermath of the Capitol riot including the shutdown sites like Parler.  Now former Texas congressman Ron Paul, 85, has been blocked from using his Facebook page for unspecified violations of “community standards.” Paul’s last posting was linked to an article on the “shocking” increase of censorship on social media. Facebook then proceeded to block him under the same undefined “community standards” policy.

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Parler Shutdown In Latest Attack on Free Speech On The Internet

Recently, millions of supporters of Twitter reportedly left that company due to its continued censoring of viewpoints and the permanent banning of President Donald Trump.  Many went to the more open forum offered by Parler — making it the number one item on Apple’s App store.  Apple, Google, and other companies then moved to cut off Parler, which has now been shutdown. In so doing, these companies eliminate any alternative to their own controlled platforms. It is a major threat to free speech. Yet, the silence of academic and many free speech advocates is striking and chilling. Continue reading “Parler Shutdown In Latest Attack on Free Speech On The Internet”

Washington Post Columnist Calls For Expulsion Of Members Who Challenged Electoral Votes

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin is calling for the expulsion of Republican members for challenging the electoral votes this week as “sedition.”  From the outset, I opposed this challenge as unfounded.  However, think about this demand (which has been raised by others).  Rubin wants to expel members who joined challenges allowed under a federal law (on the very same grounds that Democrats have made in past elections). Indeed, she declares “Every Republican bears a responsibility for what happened on Wednesday, whether or not they participated in a seditious attempt to overthrow our democracy.” So Republicans who opposed the challenge and denounced the violence should still be punished or blamed?

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“Free Speech Does Not Exist Outside Of Its Social Context”: McGill Student Groups Seek To Strip Professor Of Emeritus Status

Montreal’s McGill University is the latest school facing an attack on free speech and academic freedom.  We have followed efforts to fire professors who hold opposing views on police abuse or the Black Lives Matter organization. At McGill, eight student groups have gone further. They want to rescind the emeritus status of a retired professor to retroactively punish him for opposing their views.  Professor Philip Carl Salzman is a well-known anthropologist with an impressive record of publications and recognitions.  However, students are demanding the rare action to “protect and legitimize racist and Islamophobic dialogues.”  They further declare in an open letter that free speech “does not exist outside of its social context” and that it has been shown to be “dictated by whiteness.” Continue reading ““Free Speech Does Not Exist Outside Of Its Social Context”: McGill Student Groups Seek To Strip Professor Of Emeritus Status”

“Picking Quarrels And Provoking Trouble”: China Sentences Journalist Who Reported On Covid-19 To Four Years in Prison

Zhang Zhan, 37, is a citizen journalist who reported on the early evidence of a pandemic in Wuhan.  In its latest abuse of basic human rights, the Chinese regime has sentenced Zhang to four years in prison for her courageous reporting.  She was reportedly convicted under the absurd criminal allegation that she was “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”

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Feminist Activist Sentenced To Five Years For Endangering National Security

Saudi Arabia added to its list of human rights abuses this week with the sentencing of women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul.  I have previously written about the inspiring courage and commitment of Saudi feminists, but al-Hathloul is a standout even among that group.  She has tirelessly fought for simple rights like the ability to drive in a kingdom that continues to deprive women, religious minorities, journalists, and others basic protections. She was reportedly tortured by the Saudi government, a signature of the blood-soaked Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Now she has been sentenced to five years in prison. Continue reading “Feminist Activist Sentenced To Five Years For Endangering National Security”

“Their Campus Careers Are Over”: Cornell Student Representatives Targeted For Opposing Efforts To Defund and Disarm Campus Police

We have been discussing student editors and student government leaders using their positions to retaliate against the exercise of free speech by other students with the support of faculty. This trend is hardly surprising as journalism deans call for censorship and journalism professors call for the rejection of neutrality in the media. Universities have generally remained passive as students and faculty harass and punish those with opposing views.  The latest such example was detailed in a column on the site College Fix on how students at Cornell University moved to oust student representatives who voted against disarming and defunding campus police.  What concerns me most is the silence of the university on the controversy.

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Cass Sunstein Calls For Broader Use Of Defamation Lawsuit To Curtail “Fake News”

We recently discussed how Trump critics appear to be adopting his tactics and rhetoric as they prepare to take over the Executive Branch and possibly Congress. There is a sense of “Trumpunity,” a license to use any means in the aftermath of the Trump Administration. Now, Harvard Law Professor and Bloomberg columnist has added a Trump-like call for the use of defamation lawsuit to combat “fake news.” That call for defamation actions to hammer media has been one of the most consistent and criticized Trump positions. The call for such media lawsuit is no less concerning when it comes from a liberal like Sunstein.

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Former Rep. Hill Files Lawsuit Against Former Husband And Media Over Public Disclosures

In 2019, former Rep. Katie Hill resigned from Congress after the disclosure of sexual relations with a staff member. Ordinarily, the media and various public interest groups would have been outraged and unrelenting in their “MeToo” coverage, particularly with a young staffer recently out of college. In the case of Hill, however ,media outlets like MSNBC picked up on Hill’s claim that she was subjected to   a “double standard” and a “misogynistic culture.” It was the ultimate form of ironic hypocrisy where a politician claimed a double standard in being forced to resign — seeking an accommodation that was wisely denied to male colleagues in past scandals. Various male politicians from Sen. Bob Packwood to Rep. Trent Franks have resigned under such scandals. Sen. Al Franken resigned for acts that did not involve an actual sexual affair. Hill abused her position of power but somehow converted that abuse into a women’s rights issue. Hill sold that narrative and is now bizarrely treated by many as a victim. Now, Hill is suing over the coverage of her scandal in a lawsuit that challenges core protections for the media. Continue reading “Former Rep. Hill Files Lawsuit Against Former Husband And Media Over Public Disclosures”

Cuomo Signs State Law Barring Sale and Display of “Symbols Of Hate”

C-Span Screenshot

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation this week that would ban the the sale of Confederate flags and other symbols of “intolerance and hate” on public property and limit the display of such symbols. As a long-standing free speech advocate, you must often defend speech that you find offensive. However, the First Amendment is not designed to protect popular speech. We do not need protection for speech that people support.  The test of free speech is to support those with whom you disagree and speech that you oppose. This is one such case. In my view, the Cuomo legislation is a violation of the First Amendment. Continue reading “Cuomo Signs State Law Barring Sale and Display of “Symbols Of Hate””

Whitmer Defends Democratic Rep Over Violent Rhetoric As Other Democrats Seek diGenova’s Disbarment For His Comments

YouTube Screenshot

There is an interesting contrast developing in two controversies.  We recently discussed how legal experts demanded that Joe diGenova be disbarred for recently saying that Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency head Chris Krebs should to be “drawn and quartered” for his failure to protect this election.  Krebs has filed a legally dubious lawsuit against diGenova. Yet, in Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other Democrats have defended Rep. Cynthia Johnson who called out for “soldiers” to “make [Trump supporters] pay” for their criticism and harassment of her. Those who insisted on disbarment and other measures for diGenova are conspicuously silent about such overheated rhetoric from the left.

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YouTube Declares It Will Censor Videos Questioning Biden’s Victory

We have have been discussing how writers, editors, commentators, and academics have embraced rising calls for censorship and speech controls, including President-elect Joe Biden and his key advisers. The erosion of free speech has been radically accelerated by the Big Tech and social media companies. The level of censorship and viewpoint regulation has raised questions of a new type of state media where companies advance an ideological agenda with political allies.  The state media criticism was never more compelling than in the announcement of YouTube this week that it would now remove videos that question the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.  The election is over but YouTube will now scrub away any dissenting views that the election was marred by fraud. It now appears to be protecting history itself from things deemed disinformation — the ultimate calling of the corporate censor.

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“Free Speech Is Being Weaponized”: Columbia Dean and New Yorker Writer Calls For More Censorship

We have been discussing how reporters, editors, commentators, and academics have embraced rising calls for censorship and speech controls, including President-elect Joe Biden and key advisers.  This includes academics rejecting the very concept of objectivity in journalism in favor of open advocacy. Now, Columbia Journalism Dean and New Yorker writer Steve Coll has denounced how the First Amendment right to freedom of speech was being “weaponized” to protect disinformation. That’s right. A journalism dean and writer declaring that the problem is that free speech itself is allowing too much freedom on the Internet and other forums. Continue reading ““Free Speech Is Being Weaponized”: Columbia Dean and New Yorker Writer Calls For More Censorship”

Krebs Files Lawsuit Against diGenova, The Trump Campaign, and Newsmax

Christopher Krebs, has filed a lawsuit against Trump attorney Joe diGenova over this controversial joke that Krebs should be “drawn and quartered” and then “shot” for his failures as the former head of U.S. cybersecurity.  The lawsuit strikes me as meritless under governing tort doctrines. While Mark Zaid declared that “no rational person” who heard diGenova calling for a person to be drawn and quartered and then shot “would have taken it as ‘jest,’” many of us took the comment as an obvious use of exaggerated rhetoric. While I immediately condemned the language, I did not view it as a serious call for violence. Torts cases of defamation often turn common understanding of such expression as jokes or opinion. The lawsuit not only contradicts governing case law but threatens constitutional protections for free speech and the free press in seeking such tort relief.

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Res ipsa loquitur – The thing itself speaks