Two professors at the University of Sheffield have published a piece in the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies to extend hate speech protections to animals to deal with hateful “speciesist” remarks. Drs. Josh Milburn and Alasdair Cochrane insist that such protections will help achieve a “more benign human–animal relations within society.” The need for speech criminalization is based on the view that “some animals do seem to have their social confidence eroded because of their awareness of the risk of violence.”
The expanding censorship on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook continue to be a major issue in the United States. However, the same debate is occurring in Europe despite a long erosion of free speech values. In Spain, a far-right politician was locked out by Twitter after saying “a man cannot get pregnant” because they have “no uterus or eggs.” Francisco José Contreras, deputy to Spain’s Vox Party, made the response to an article about a transgender male who the birth of a baby girl. The remark was deemed hate speech by Twitter.
We have been discussing the expanding monitoring and sanctioning of teachers for their political commentary on social media. We have also discussed such actions taken against college, high school and grade school students. The Supreme Court is due to consider the issue in Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., a case involving high school students punished for off-campus activities. Now, the Board of Trustees at the University of Oregon have approved a vague policy that mandates the monitoring of the social media exchanges and other “conduct” of its students. For the “Ducks” of Oregon, it could be difficult to judge what language could be deemed disruptive to anyone on campus under the rule.
Read that headline a couple times. There was a time when such a headline would only appear on The Onion, but it is true. Facebook has long banned anyone who discussed the evidence that a worldwide pandemic killing millions and destroying the global economy may have been released from a government lab in Wuhan, China. Facebook would not allow the theory to be discussed as “debunked” despite widespread criticism that Facebook was, again, engaging in corporate censorship. The false claim that this theory was “debunked” was pushed by various media platforms as part of the criticism of then President Donald Trump and his Administration. Now however Dr. Anthony Fauci and others have acknowledged that there is a basis to suspect the lab as the origin of the outbreak. So now Facebook will allow you to talk about it. Continue reading “Facebook: People Will Now Be Allowed To Discuss Whether Covid-19 Originated In Wuhan Lab”→
We often discuss how defending free speech often means defending those who we find thoroughly grotesque or offensive. In that sense, Nicholas Brock, 52, is the ultimate personification of the price we pay for free speech. The neo-Nazi was given a four-year sentence for what the court called his “toxic ideology” based on the contents of the home he shared with his mother in Maidenhead, Berkshire. In my view, the only thing more troubling than Brock’s hateful views is the decision to criminalize the holding of such views. It is an example of the continued erosion of bright-line protections of free speech in the United Kingdom and other European countries. Judge Peter Lodder QC declared “I do not sentence you for your political views, but the extremity of those views informs the assessment of dangerousness.” That is a fine distinction that allows for sweeping criminalization of political viewpoints.
We have been discussing the state laws requiring contractors and employees to swear that they do not support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (“BDS”) movement against Israel. I have long maintained that the law is unconstitutional as a limitation of free speech and associational rights. This week, a court in Georgia became the latest to declare such laws unconstitutional. The case was brought by journalist Abby Martin who was denied a contract as a keynote speaker at Georgia Southern University due to her support of the BDS movement. The opposition to these laws is not driven by the merits of the BDS movement or its opposition. Rather, the issue is the curtailment of political speech, including compelling official speech or viewpoints, as a condition for state employment.
Columbia Professor Jeffrey Lax is under fire on conservative sites like the The College Fix for attacking Baruch College student Gabriel Montalvo for defending former President Donald Trump on Facebook. Lax appears entirely unhinged in the exchange and lashes out at Montalvo who at the time was a student at Queensborough Community College. To his credit, Montalvo did not call for Lax’s termination — as is often the case in college protests for those holding opposing views. However, he did call for Columbia to investigate Lax. I believe that such an investigation would also be an abuse despite viewing Lax’s postings as juvenile, hysterical, and unworthy of a professor. As will come as no surprise to many, I viewed the postings as exercises of free speech that should be protected by all academic institutions. Continue reading ““Neo-Nazi Murderer Lover”: Columbia Professor Under Fire After Attacking A Baruch Student On Social Media For Defending Trump”→