Category: Free Speech

University of Idaho Loses Major Free Speech and Religious Freedom Case

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”

“Just Do It”: Democrats Continue to Struggle to Find a Crime to fit the Offense

Below is my column in The Hill on claims of Democratic members that they have established the case for a criminal conspiracy by former President Donald Trump. The search of the home of former justice official Jeffrey Clark shows a serious escalation of the investigation by the Justice Department. Probable cause of a federal crime had to be alleged as part of the Clark warrant. Yesterday’s hearing exposed Clark’s efforts to challenge the election, including a letter that was wildly inappropriate that he drafted for the top Justice officials to sign. His effort was very disturbing and was rightfully rejected by these officials. However, the claims of an established crime by Trump remain rather fluid and undefined. Making such a case is far more challenging than making the claim on national television. While castigating Trump counsel John Eastman for telling legislators to “just do it,” the same message seems to be coming from members and legal experts on some cable programs.

Here is the column:

Continue reading ““Just Do It”: Democrats Continue to Struggle to Find a Crime to fit the Offense”

Facebook Blocks Greitens’ “Hunting RINOS” Ad

Eric Greitens, the former governor of Missouri, is under fire this week for his ad featuring himself, a former Navy Seal, storming a house looking for “RINOs” (or Republicans In Name Only). The ad, in my view, was inflammatory and irresponsible. At a time of rising politically-motivated violence, this type of ad, even if meant in jest, is reckless. However, Greitens has now been blocked on the ad by Facebook and tagged by Twitter, a continuation of robust censorship and “content modification” policies at these companies. This is news and there is a worthy discussion on the use of such imagery. However, we have seen how such censorship leads to ridiculous outcomes like YouTube censoring the Jan. 6th Committee because it had video clips of former President Donald Trump. Greitens has lashed out at the companies. Continue reading “Facebook Blocks Greitens’ “Hunting RINOS” Ad”

Speechphobia: University of North Texas Students Seek to Ban “Transphobic” Group

As Hillary Clinton advises Democrats to move away from the discussion of trans rights, one student government is taking a different approach in seeking to ban others from speaking against such rights. The students are pushing for a ban on any “transphobic” clubs from campus. The student government at the University of North Texas became the latest student body to seek to curtail free speech rights of other students by declaring opposing views to be harmful. It is a new example of the growing “speechphobic” movement on our campuses. Continue reading “Speechphobia: University of North Texas Students Seek to Ban “Transphobic” Group”

Chico State University Employee Pleads Guilty of Hate Crime in Potential Violent Speech Case

 

There is an interesting case out of Chico State University in California on the criminalization of violent speech. Custodian Kerry Thao pleaded “no contest” last week to hate crimes after he advocated Asians “kill whites and blacks.” What was striking was the reports that the police fully investigated his past contacts and actions and found “no evidence that showed there could be any further threat to the public.” The question is why Thao pleaded guilty if that was the case since his views, while hateful and disturbing, would be arguably protected by the First Amendment. Indeed, professors have been making analogous statements for years without investigation, let alone criminal charges.

Continue reading “Chico State University Employee Pleads Guilty of Hate Crime in Potential Violent Speech Case”

He Who Must Not Be Heard: YouTube Censors Jan. 6th Committee for Including Video Clip of President Donald Trump

We have previously discussed the increasing censorship at YouTube where conservative and dissenting viewpoints are now increasingly blocked, including U.S. senators and physicians with opposing views of Covid.  It has also banned videotapes of former President Don Trump. Other social media companies have banned others from posting the voice of Trump. The problem with censorship is that it becomes an insatiable appetite. As you censor opposing views, it demands more and more censorship. It becomes increasingly ridiculous as was the case this week. According to a New York Post report YouTube censored the Democratic-controlled Select Committee for a video that included a clip of Trump. It was being posted to implicate Trump in the January 6th riot but YouTube has continued to blindly follow its “he-who-must-not-be-heard” policy.

Continue reading “He Who Must Not Be Heard: YouTube Censors Jan. 6th Committee for Including Video Clip of President Donald Trump”

Phallus Saxa Loquuntur: Ancient Roman Insult Excavated In Northumberland

(C) The Vindolanda Charitable Trust

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

An archeological excavation at Vindolanda in Northumberland revealed again the notion that once an insult or offense is written into the public forum it can never be successfully retracted, often coming back to haunt despite efforts to bury the story.

The subject of this Roman insult, Secundinus, must have been so infamous of a cad to have invited such scorn from a nemesis; the latter resolved to carve into rock the insult “SECVNDINVS CACOR” along with a very prominent phallus.

Continue reading “Phallus Saxa Loquuntur: Ancient Roman Insult Excavated In Northumberland”

Can FIRE Be The New ACLU? Hopefully Not, But It Can Be The Old ACLU

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has long been the leading defender of free speech in education. It has now announced that it has changed its name to the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression. Many are asking if FIRE can be the new ACLU. Hopefully not, but it could be the old ACLU. Many of us have been highly critical of the conversion of the ACLU into a more political and partisan organization under the leadership of executive director, Anthony Romero, former President Susan N. Herman, and current president Deborah Archer. The involvement of the ACLU in the defamatory column of Amber Heard was the final straw for many long-time supporters of the civil liberties group. Unlike the ACLU, FIRE has remained focused on its mission as a leading civil liberties advocacy group. It could well become the old ACLU and fill the void left by the demise of that once revered organization.

Continue reading “Can FIRE Be The New ACLU? Hopefully Not, But It Can Be The Old ACLU”

Court Rules for Home Depot in Barring Black Lives Matter Imagery

In January, I wrote a column criticizing the legal position of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in favor of Whole Food workers seeking to wear Black Lives Matter (BLM) symbols or clothing at work.  Now a judge has rejected a similar claim brought by employees at Home Depot despite a decision in their favor earlier by the NLRB General Counsel. Continue reading “Court Rules for Home Depot in Barring Black Lives Matter Imagery”

No Stadium for You: Democratic Leader Cites Jan. 6th Comment for Shelving Stadium Plans

The start of the Jan. 6th hearings has been accompanied by the anticipated attacks on anyone expressing doubts about the scope, findings, or balance of the investigation. That was evident this week when Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) cited an opposing view by a coach with the Washington Commanders as one of the reasons that the state shelved a proposal for a new stadium for the team. It is doubtful that the comments of Commanders defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio made this week were truly a significant part of the decision since D.C. and Maryland also opted out for now on economic grounds. However, Saslaw clearly wanted to use the decision to pressure the team for allowing dissenting views to be expressed even by employees in their personal capacity. Saslaw, like so many today, finds it intolerable that such opposing positions could be uttered in public. Groups like the NAACP have called for Del Rio to be fired.

Continue reading “No Stadium for You: Democratic Leader Cites Jan. 6th Comment for Shelving Stadium Plans”

Shapiro Resigns From Georgetown After the Law School Reinstates Him on a “Technicality”

Last week, many of us initially celebrated the reinstatement of the Center for the Constitution Director Ilya Shapiro as a belated but important victory for free speech and academic freedom. Then we all read the rationale from Law Dean William Treanor, who adopted a technicality that not only avoided a full endorsement of Shapiro’s rights but left a menacing uncertainty as to his (and any other conservative’s) future protections at Georgetown University Law School.  Shapiro has elected to leave Georgetown to take a position with the Manhattan Institute given the lack of support for his right to speak freely at the law school. Unfortunately, most schools want to avoid litigation (and the controversy) over terminating dissenting faculty. The preference is to make life on faculties so hostile or intolerable that faculty will simply resign.

Continue reading “Shapiro Resigns From Georgetown After the Law School Reinstates Him on a “Technicality””

George Brown College Under Fire for Requiring a “Land Acknowledgment Statement” for Access to Zoom Event

We have been discussing controversies over “land acknowledgement” statements at universities, including recently at the University of Washington. A new such controversy has arisen at George Brown College in Toronto where, in order to join a Zoom call, both faculty and students were required to agree to a statement that included an acknowledgement that they benefited from colonization.

Continue reading “George Brown College Under Fire for Requiring a “Land Acknowledgment Statement” for Access to Zoom Event”

The Depp Trial and the Demise of the ACLU: How a Celebrity Trial Exposed the Collapse of a Once Celebrated Group

In yesterday’s massive defamation award to actor Johnny Depp, his ex-wife Amber Heard was left holding a bill for $15,000,000. Even after a reduction for her own award and a statutory reduction of the punitive damage portion, Heard is still looking at $8,350,000 in damages. Many view that amount (which is $1.35 million more than her divorce settlement) to be justified in light of the damage caused to Depp’s reputation and career. However, the stain of  this verdict should be shared with others, even if they avoided the sting of actual damages. That includes many in the media (including the Washington Post staff) who rushed to paint Heard as a victim and Depp as an abuser. Yet, the greatest condemnation should be reserved for the organization that not only pushed that narrative but actually helped draft the defamatory column: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Continue reading “The Depp Trial and the Demise of the ACLU: How a Celebrity Trial Exposed the Collapse of a Once Celebrated Group”

“I Mean, Because it’s Texas”: Penn Professor Alleges Police May Have Delayed Rescue in Uvalde Due to Racism

University of Pennsylvania professor Anthea Butler is at the center of another controversy after going on Twitter to suggest that the delay in rescuing the children in the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas was due to racism. She asked if the police “didn’t give a damn” about the children because they were “predominantly brown kids.” While she later deleted the Tweet, Professor Butler has a long history of offensive racial statements. While some have previously called for her termination, these comments (including this disgraceful tweet) should be protected under principles of free speech and academic freedom. However, this is another example of the double standard often applied at universities, which are quick to investigate, discipline, or fire conservative, libertarian, or dissenting faculty members in such controversies. Continue reading ““I Mean, Because it’s Texas”: Penn Professor Alleges Police May Have Delayed Rescue in Uvalde Due to Racism”

UCF Forced to Reinstate Professor Fired After Writing About “Black Privilege”

We previously discussed the effort to fire University of Central Florida Professor Charles Negy after he tweeted about “black privilege.”  UCF President Alexander Cartwright abandoned any pretense of academic freedom or principle in failing to protect a colleague from an anti-free speech campaign. Now, after a major court ruling against the university, an arbitrator has awarded Negy all back pay and benefits from the time of his firing.  That is good news. What is not good news is that, despite shredding core principles governing higher education, Cartwright remains the UCF president.  To the contrary, the university issued a statement that indicated that it is undeterred by the adverse court rulings.
Res ipsa loquitur – The thing itself speaks