There is an interesting lawsuit filed against the University of Oregon after Portland State University Professor Bruce Gilley was blocked from a social media account. Gilley claims that he was blocked after he tweeted “all men are created equal.” The lawsuit names Tova Stabin, communication manager for the university’s Division of Equity and Inclusion, as the sole defendant. Gilley may believe that “all men are equal” but the censoring of his post suggests that, as in Orwell’s Animal Farm, “some are more equal than others” at the University of Oregon.
Twitter continued to crackdown on dissenting political views this week with the permanent suspension of columnist and commentator Paul Sperry. The suspension came down after Sperry allegedly tweeted about the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago. Sperry said that Twitter gave “No warning, no explanation, reason given.” That is a signature for the company, which has little transparency or ability to challenge such private censorship. Continue reading “Twitter Permanently Bans Paul Sperry After Posting on the Mar-A-Lago Raid”
In January, we discussed the case of Ferris State Professor Barry Mehler, who was suspended after Mehler went full Howard Beale in a video in which he called his students “vectors of disease” and tells them to “stay the f**k away from me.” Mehler is known for his outlandish lectures, which appear to have been popular with students. He has now reached a settlement under which he will retire but will receive $95,000. There is a notable catch, however. Continue reading “Ferris State Professor Settles Lawsuit; Retires with Helmet and Pension Intact”
Below is my column in USA Today on the withdrawal of Associate Justice Clarence Thomas from the faculty at George Washington University. The announcement merely said that Justice Thomas was now “unavailable” to teach. While the decision is being celebrated by both GWU and across the Internet, it is only the latest blow to free speech and the struggle to preserve a diversity of viewpoints in higher education. When the university announced earlier that it would not fire Thomas, I wrote a piece expressing doubt about how that victory would play out in the future to protect free speech on campuses. The cessation of teaching the course only magnifies those concerns. Such withdrawals raise the concern over the “unavailability” of a diversity of thought in higher education.
Below is my column in The Hill on a shift in the rhetoric in the aftermath of the overturning of Roe v. Wade. From politicians to pundits, pro-life positions are being treated as virtual hate speech. The demonization of those with pro-life views is meant to cut off any debate on the basis or scope of abortion rights. It is the latest attack on free speech as critics seek to silence those with opposing views.
Here is the column:
The South Carolina legislature is moving to enact a new law with deeply troubling free speech implications. Following the Jackson Women’s Health Organization v. Dobbs decision overturning Roe, the legislators have sought to criminalize any effort to ”aid, abet or conspire with someone” to obtain an abortion. That apparently includes sharing information over the Internet or other communication systems. In my view, the law violates the First Amendment and should be scuttled by the legislature. Otherwise, it would likely be struck down by the courts.
University of Michigan football head coach Jim Harbaugh is facing calls for his termination after he went public with his pro-life views. Harbaugh is a devout Catholic and said that “I believe in having the courage to let the unborn be born.” The response has been overwhelming and furious, but it is unlikely that Harbaugh (who just signed signed a 5-year, $36.7 million contract) will be canned. It is an interesting comparison to the successful campaign recently to force a NFL coach to withdraw his comments about Jan. 6th. Yet, if critics had their way, both coaches would be fired for holding dissenting views on such issues. Continue reading ““He’s a Public Employee. Fire his A**”: Critics Call for Harbaugh to be Canned for Coming Out as Pro-Life”
Anthropology professor Joseph Manson announced his retirement this month with a broadside blog post that detailed the loss of academic freedom and integrity at UCLA. Manson describes many of the things that I have previously addressed as standard measures used to force out dissenting or conservative voices, including the isolation and investigation of colleagues to get them to resign. He is now among that lengthening list of such faculty who have decided to cut their academic careers short rather than work under such intolerable conditions. Continue reading ““Morally and Intellectually Corrupt”: UCLA Professor Resigns in Protest over Viewpoint Intolerance”
There is a major verdict in a free speech case out of Texas where Charlene Carter, a former Southwest flight attendant won a verdict of more than $5 million for her wrongful termination after a posting on social media criticizing her union on its abortion stand. Both Southwest and the Transportation Workers Union of America (TWU) (Local 556) are named as defendants. Ironically, the TWU insists that it is “offering working people a voice.” However, it is accused of working with the company to terminate this worker who spoke up against the union.
We previously discussed the case of Professor Stuart Reges who was disciplined because he refused to post the school’s “land acknowledgment” and instead posted an alternative statement. Professor Reges is now suing and the case could bring great benefits for free speech at this and other universities. Professor Reges has declared “Land acknowledgments are performative acts of conformity that should be resisted, even if it lands you in court.” Continue reading ““Performative Acts of Conformity”: Professor Sues University of Washington Over Land Acknowledgment Statement”
Recently, Professor Richard Epstein wrote a column in favor of prosecuting protesters targeting Supreme Court justices and criticizing what he calls “First Amendment exceptionalism.” He specifically cites my writings as an example of those with extreme views of free speech. While I disagree with Professor Epstein on this issue, it is an interesting and insightful publication that I recommend to our readers as they develop their own views on this admittedly difficult issue. Continue reading “Protests and “First Amendment Exceptionalism”: A Response to Professor Richard Epstein”
I am happy to report that my law review article in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy is now out in print. The article entitled “Harm and Hegemony: The Decline of Free Speech in the United States,” explores the anti-free speech movement in the United States and the increasingly common claim that free speech itself is harmful. I wanted to thank the journal editors and staff for their tireless efforts to bring this rather lengthy work to print. It was a great pleasure to work with each and every one of the law students who contributed to the editing and sourcing of this law review.
The University of Idaho has lost a major free speech and religious freedom case after a federal judge ruled in favor of three Christian law students at the College of Law. Judge David Nye granted a preliminary injunction in favor of the students who objected to “no contact orders” issued against them. A faculty member, Professor Richard Seamon, was also made the subject of such an order. Continue reading “University of Idaho Loses Major Free Speech and Religious Freedom Case”