Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the censorship of the Hunter Biden controversy by Facebook and Twitter. The response of the Biden campaign and figures like Rep. Adam Schiff has been to dismiss the story as the likely product of Russian intelligence. Notably however they do not address the underlying emails. As many of us have written, there is ample reason to suspect foreign intelligence and the FBI is reportedly investigating that possibility. However, that does not mean that the emails are not authentic. Hillary Clinton was hacked by Russia but the emails were still real. It is possible to investigate both those responsible for the laptop’s disclosure and what has been disclosed on the laptop. The censorship by these companies however has magnified concerns in the controversy, particularly with the disclosure of close connections between some company officials and the Biden campaign. Continue reading “The Rise of The Corporate Censors: How America Is Drifting Toward The Chinese Model Of Media”
We have discussed the growing intolerance for opposing views of politics or the law on our campuses. The most recent example is small but highly illustrative. The sorority Kappa Delta has issued an abject apology. The reason is that the sorority committed the unforgivable sin of tweeting out a congratulations to Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a member of the sorority at Rhodes College, on her nomination to the Supreme Court. One should not have to agree with Barrett’s judicial philosophy to offer a simple attagirl to a sorority sister for her extraordinary accomplishment. However, other members protested that this simple act of civility was “hurtful” and traumatic to them as fellow members. The most notable however was feminist writer Amy Siskind who previously was attacked on Twitter for her own views opposing Black Lives Matter and supporting such political figures as John McCain and Sarah Palin. It is a tale of two Amys and one is being shunned for defending her long-held views and one is being celebrated for dispensing with them.
I previously testified in the Senate on Antifa and the growing anti-free speech movement in the United States. I specifically disagreed with the statement of House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler that Antifa (and its involvement in violent protests) is a “myth.” My greatest concern remains the growing use of violence to shutdown free speech events around the country — a practice that has been going on for years on our campuses. That danger was evident in San Francisco yesterday when a conservative group gathered for a free speech rally to protest the recent actions of big tech companies like Twitter. They were violently attacked and the organizer had two teeth knocked out before the event was canceled. Continue reading “Conservatives Attacked by BLM and Antifa Supporters In Effort To Hold Free Speech Rally In San Francisco”
Midwestern State University in Texas Professor Nathan Jun has triggered a free speech fight in Texas after a series of unhinged, hateful statements on social media. Wearing an Antifa teeshirt on social media, Jun has lashed out at police, capitalists, and politicians. His views are extreme and offensive. They are also, in my view, entirely protected. Much like the banning of Louis Farrakhan discussed yesterday, Jun is the test of our true commitment to free speech. By supporting this right to speak, we support the right of everyone, including the vast majority who view Jun’s comments as deeply unsettling and obnoxious. Continue reading “Texas Professor Triggers Free Speech Fight After Calling For The Death Of All Police By Strangulation with the “Intestines of the Last Capitalist””
This morning, we passed the 45,000,000 mark in views on the blog. The blog continues to grow with new regular commenters and a growing international readership. The continued growth is due primarily to our loyal readers who return every day to discuss contemporary legal, political, and occasionally bizarre stories. We have used these moments to give thanks for our many regular readers around the world and give you an idea of the current profile of readers on the blog. We continue to rank with the top legal blogs in the world. As always, I want to offer special thanks for Darren Smith who has continued to help manage the blog and help out folks who encounter posting problems.
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As many on this blog know, I have been a long and vocal critic of Louis Farrakhan, who regularly espouses racist and antisemitic views. Coming from Chicago, I have criticized Farrakhan for years, including recent posts. Nevertheless, the move by YouTube to remove the video channel of the Nation of Islam is in my view another example of private censorship of speech on the Internet. Many of us have denounced Farrakhan, but censorship begins with the most unpopular and obnoxious among us. This action places the Internet on the slippery slope where more and more speech is likely to be banned as offensive or hateful. Continue reading “YouTube Reportedly Shuts Down Farrakhan And The Nation Of Islam”
In Connecticut, U.S. District Judge Alfred V. Covello has dismissed a free speech challenge that could have sweeping implications for protests against police operations or policies. Michael Friend was arrested in 2018 after he held up a sign warning motorists “Cops Ahead.” The police were looking for distracted drivers in Stamford. Covello ruled that Friend did not have a free speech right in making such a protest. As will likely surprise few on this blog, I disagree. Covello’s decision dismisses the obvious political and social viewpoints reflected in Friend’s protest. Under this standard, a wide variety of speech could be curtailed as inimical to police operations.
Today I have the pleasure of speaking at the Media Law Conference, the largest legal organization of media defense practitioners. The panel discussion is entitled “The Roaring 20s: The Decade Ahead in Libel, Privacy, National Security & Newsgathering and Other First Amendment Law.” Continue reading “Turley Speaks At National Media Law Conference”
The New York Times on Thursday published an opinion column by Regina Ip, the Hong Kong official widely denounced as “Beijing’s enforcer.” Ip declared “Hong Kong is part of China” and dismissed the protesters fighting for freedom in their city. I have no objection to the publishing of the column. Ip is a major figure in Hong Kong and, despite her support for authoritarian rule and crushing dissent, there is a value to having such views as part of the public debate. Rather, my concern is that the New York Times was denounced by many of us for its cringing apology after publishing a column by Sen. Tom Cotton (R, Ark.). and promising not to publish future such columns. So it will not publish a column from a Republican senator on protests in the United States but it will publish columns from one of the Chinese leaders crushing protests for freedom in Hong Kong.
Louisville Metro Police Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly is reportedly moving forward with defamation actions against those who have called him a “murderer” for his role in the Breonna Taylor case. His attorney Todd McMurtry has been unclear on who would be sued for the commonly used label following the shooting of Taylor and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker. A defamation is possible but it would be highly challenging under controlling case law and this specific context. Continue reading “Does Officer Jonathan Mattingly Have A Defamation Case In The Coverage Of The Breonna Taylor Case?”
We have been discussing a crackdown on some campuses against conservative columnists and newspapers, including the firing of a conservative student columnist at Syracuse, the public condemnation of a student columnist at Georgetown, and a campaign against one of the oldest conservative student newspapers in the country at Dartmouth. Now, The Badger Herald, a student newspaper at the University of Wisconsin Madison, has dismissed columnist Tripp Grebe after he wrote a column opposing the defunding of police departments. What was equally disturbing was how the rationale for this raw act of viewpoint intolerance tracked the rationale used by the New York Times in a controversy over the column by Sen. Tom Cotton on the George Floyd protests.
We have followed the rapid destruction of the secular government and civil liberties in Turkey under the authoritarian rule of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan used a failed coup to push his effort to create a de facto Islamic regime and to complete his work in arresting his critics, including forcing the resignation of thousands of secular academics, and suspending all civil liberties in a proclaimed state of emergency. Despite Erdogan’s repression of dissidents and groups in the name of Islam, there remain people of courage who defy him and his government. Sebahat Tuncel was sentenced Saturday for saying (four years ago) that Erdogan was a “complete misogynist” and an enemy of women — statements that are demonstrably true.
In Harry Potter, Albus Dumbledore told the students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry that “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” Many are learning the truth of that line written by famed author JK Rowling as self-described progressives burn her books or ban them from shelves because she personally holds an opposing view of gender. Much like the boycott movement of Chick-Fil-A over comments by its CEO, people are seeking to punish Rowling through attacks on her literature. We previously discussed the embracing of art destruction as analogous to book burning, but now actual book burning is being embraced as a weapon of the woke.
I have been critical recently of remarks attributed to Attorney General Bill Barr, including the alleged consideration of criminal charges against a mayor for not acting against rioters and the use of sedition charges against some individuals. The latter allegation was reinforced by the Associated Press after it obtained a memo to United States attorneys. The memo suggests a more general use of sedition for anyone opposing government authority by force. Such a use of sedition laws directly threatens free speech values and would return to dark periods of the suppression of dissent in our country. It is also entirely unnecessary given the array of ample and severe laws available to punish looters and rioters.