We have previously discussed the erosion of free speech on college and university campuses as students and faculty are punished for expressing views deemed offensive to any group. In the meantime, we have also seen protests by Black Lives Matter and other groups that silence other students with little response from university administrators. The videotape below captures this problem vividly. Conservative Milo Yiannopolous is often a lightning rod for such protests. However, it is not enough to protest outside. Students increasingly struck down events to prevent opposing views from being heard. In the case, two students shutdown the event as university security (paid by the event organizers) stand by and do nothing. It is a shocking scene for a university as student prevent a speaker from being heard because they disagree with what he has to say.
The rapid decline of free speech in England accelerated further this month with a ruling of the British high court banning The Sun newspaper from naming celebrities involved in a sordid sex story despite the fact that all three names are widely known and discussed on the Internet and non-British newspapers. Indeed, papers like the Toronto Star have running virtually mocking accounts of Elton John, his Toronto-born husband David Furnish, and British businessman Daniel Laurence. Elton John is obviously the quintessential public figure who has participated in a wide range of stories and programs on his family life with Furnish and their children. It is a chilling example of England’s rollback on basic free speech and free press protections.
We have been discussing the roll back on free speech rights in Germany and the recent controversy over Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to first apologize to authoritarian Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for a satirical poem and then approve the prosecution of the comedian is a shocking and chilling disgrace. The crackdown on comedian Jan Boehmermann has shocked many the West. Despite the global condemnations of Merkel and her government in its yielding to Erdogan, there is at least one German judge who shows the same Merkelian disregard for free speech. A court in Hamburg banned Boehmermann from publicly reading his poem. Indeed, the court ruled that only six lines of the 24-line poem could be recited. It is an absurd case of prior restraint and a chilling example of how free speech is under attack in the West.
One of the most impressive characteristics of religious extremists is the ability to hold facially contrary positions without any sense of contradiction or hypocrisy. Saudi Arabia decries any limitations on Muslims worshipping in other countries while banning churches and public worship of non-Muslims in its own country. Iran is particularly prone to such contradictions like executing homosexuals while denying that there are any homosexuals in Iran or objecting to the treatment of protesters in the West while jailing, beating and killing protesters in Iran. This week Iran offered another such example. In refusing to censor a Holocaust-themed cartoon festival, Iran (which has ordered the killing of authors and cartoonists for insulting Islam) insisted that it had to stand with free speech and would not think of interfering with an author or cartoonist in expressing their views. The same week, Iran has called for the arrest and punishment of models who allow themselves to be photographed without religious scarves. Likewise, it previously ordered the flogging of a model for a public kiss.
We previously discussed the protest held by Black Lives Matter at the library of Dartmouth — and the relative lack of any punishment from the college. Now, Black Lives Matter activists have torn down a display honoring police officers and then reportedly stood guard over the board to prevent the College Republicans from re-posting their memorial . . . in the name of not being silenced.
Politicians being barred from office for misconduct is unfortunately not new, but Iranian politicians Minoo Khaleghi, who won a seat in the city of Isfahan in February, transgressed by allegedly allowing a picture to be taken of her without a head scarf. While Khaleghi insists the photos are fake, Dispute Settlement Committee of Branches ruled that she cannot be sworn into office for violating Islamic values. A religious body previously made clear that they would not allow voters to elect Khaleghi.
There is another bizarre free speech case out of Europe. This case involves a 28-year-old man in Coatbridge Scotland who taught his pug to give a Nazi salute to a screen showing Adolph Hitler. He was arrested after posting a video for hate speech.