Category: Free Speech

“Prison Doesn’t Kill, Loneliness Does”: Filmmaker Dies In Prison For Video Mocking Egyptian President Al Sisi

Screen Shot 2020-05-04 at 7.33.18 AMAs the United States has continued to give the regime billions and President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi has been showered with praise from President Donald Trump, the Egyptian regime continues to wipe out free of speech, the free press, and other civil liberties.  The latest outrage is the death of Egyptian filmmaker Shady Habash, 24, who was incarcerated for two years without trial for a music video entitled “Balaha” mocking Sisi.  The American people has supported this lethally insecure authoritarian leader and a regime at war with the very founding principles of this country.  In a letter published by his supporters, Habash wrote “Prison doesn’t kill, loneliness does.”

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“A Gross Necropolitical Calculation”: Rutgers Professor Charges Trump and White Conservatives With Using The Virus To Kill Black People

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Brittney Cooper, an associate professor in the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Rutgers University, is doubling down on her prior public comments denouncing Trump supporters and alleging a conspiracy to kill black people.  She notably has invoked her tenure status with the latest tweet attacks: “I have tenure. Rutgers won’t be firing me for tweets.”  As many of you know, I have long taken the same position on the free speech rights of faculty on social media and public comments. However, schools have been less than consistent in punishing or investigating faculty based on the content of their views.  Cooper declaring “F— each and every Trump supporter” obviously would include many students in the university.  She blames “white depravity” and claims “when whiteness has a death wish, we are all in for a serious problem.”  As previously discussed, it is doubtful that these same attacks directed against African-Americans or other groups would be treated in the same fashion.

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Lawyer’s Social Media Comments Triggers Free Speech Fight In Kentucky

Unknown-1There is a free speech controversy brewing in Louisville, Kentucky where a lawyer is facing criminal charges for allegedly threatening Kentucky governor Any Beshear. James Gregory Troutman, 53, made uniquely stupid and disturbing statements opposing Beshear’s lockdown. However, the comments could easily be understood as hyperbolic and hateful but not actually threatening.  For the free speech community, these terroristic threat laws are written so broadly that they threaten political speech.  This could well be such a case where stupidity is being treated as criminality. Continue reading “Lawyer’s Social Media Comments Triggers Free Speech Fight In Kentucky”

Media Organization Rejects Sexual Orientation Claim By Woman Who Fell In Love With Chandelier

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If you are ready for a break from pandemic news and favor of the purely bizarre, I give you the ruling on the complaint brought by Amanda Liberty.  The British woman brought complaint after she alleged that she was mocked after declaring her love for a 92-year-old German chandelier.  According to news reports, Liberty targeted an article in the Sun as violating protections for sexual orientation for mocking her love for Lumiere  Liberty identifies as an “objectum sexual” – an individual who is attracted to objects.  The complaint was rejected by the Independent Press Standards Organization (IPSO), the largest independent regulator of the newspaper and magazine industry in the United Kingdom. The decision however raises an interesting legal question going forward, as discussed below

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Florida State University Drops Four Provisions Limiting Free Speech On Campus

Florida_State_University_seal.svgI often post critical or cautionary columns about the erosion of free speech on our college campuses.  It is a pleasure to be able to raise a positive development.  One such story is out of Florida State University which has removed five policies that “clearly and substantially” undermine free speech. The University of Florida has also moved to rescind such anti-free speech measures.

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“Crackpotish”: Washington Post Columnist Attacks Turley For Post Written By Someone Else

 

I previously ran a column about a demonstrably false statement made about my testimony in the Trump published in a Washington Post column by Jennifer Rubin. She never corrected the statement, but I let it go after writing a column addressing the false information in the Post. I now look back at that column with a degree of fondness since at least Rubin was right that I did testify at the hearing. Now Rubin has called me a crackpot for a column that I did not write. The lack of minimal research by Rubin has become something of a signature element. In her latest controversy, Rubin not only responded to those ridiculing me for a piece written by someone else but expressed delight at my forced retirement over the column. Ironically, her Post column the same day is entitled “What If Facts Matter?” — criticizing President Trump and his claims of “fake news.” In fairness to the Post, this latest error was not published by the newspaper though she identifies herself as “Conservative opinion writer at @WashingtonPost, MSNBC contributor” with a banner photo of the Washington Post on Twitter. What is becoming increasing clear is that, as the Post declares, “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” but accuracy dies with Jennifer Rubin.

I wanted also to respond to the criticism of Darren’s argument as “absurd” – a conclusion apparently reached solely on the headline of his column. The characterization is as unfair as it is unexplained in the tweet.

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Howard Dean Boycotts MSNBC Until They Stop Airing Trump’s Daily Briefing

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I previously criticized former Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Howard Dean for his view of unprotected speech under the first amendment. He is now taking a different tack than government censorship. He has announced that he will boycott MSNBC until it yields to his demand to stop airing President Donald Trump’s daily briefing. He is calling on other commentators to join his boycott. Dean has curiously not pledged to boycott the other networks, which are also carrying the briefings. The reason is simple: it is news. Moreover, the public in a pandemic has been watching the briefings even though some of us object to some of President Trump’s comments, particularly his attacks on political and media figures. Yet, Dean is only the latest liberal figure or group to try to censor the briefings to prevent public access.

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No Joking Matter: Survey Finds Six Out Of Ten Students View Offensive Jokes As “Hate Speech”

We have been discussing the growing intolerance for free speech on our campuses and the ever-expanding scope of both hate speech and “microaggression” definitions. Now, College Pulse has released a survey of 2,000 college students that finds six out of ten view offensive jokes to be hate speech — a view shared by many European countries which now regularly prosecuted people for such jokes.

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COVID-19 Situation Demonstrates The Potential For Harm To Society Caused By Politicians

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Putting aside the discussion of whether or not actions taken by various elected officials were reasonable, the hurried effects suffered by the public during the COVID-19 virus pandemic at the behest of politicians should if anything prove the potential for damage caused by unscrupulousness or incompetence in government.

Today’s events should be by now a self-evident reminder of the great importance of putting the right people in office and the folly of settling for very fallable politicians. The next coming weeks will make that point likely more for you, with less consideration to your rights or interests.

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“This Outta Make The Snowflakes Melt, Aye?”: Student Charge With Terrorism After Posting Photo With His New AR-15

Lake Superior State University student Lucas Gerhard is facing terrorism charges after he posting picture with his new AR-15 on Snapchat with a taunting message for “snowflakes.” Another student objected that she felt threatened by the posting and ultimately the police arrested Gerhard for what was clearly a simple taunting message.

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“I’m Terrified Of Your Organization”: CMU Professor Admits To Tearing Down Fliers For Conservative Group

The site Campus Reform is reporting a disturbing confrontation between student members of the conservative group Turning Point USA and Central Michigan University Professor Sara Moslener. The group posted a videotaped purportedly showing Moslener admitting to tearing down their posters because “I’m terrified of your organization.” While I have defended the right of academics to post and write in controversial and even offensive ways, this does not fall into any category of protected speech. This is the denial of free speech and should be a serious matter for the university.

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Trinity College Professor Doubles Down on “Whiteness Is Terrorism” Position

We previously discussed the controversy over the writings of Trinity College professor Johnny Eric Williams and his position that “whiteness is terrorism.” in a recent opinion editorial.  I previously supported Williams when many called for his removal because I believed — and still believe — that his writings are protected by both free speech and academic freedom. Williams has now penned a new opinion piece that lashes about at any one who identifies as white. My concern is not whether Williams’ speech is protected. It should be. Rather my concern that another professor saying that same about black people would not receive the same protection and the lack of any bright line rule protecting all free speech.

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A Less Than Noble Moment: Trump Campaign Sues CNN For Defamation

President Trump’s re-election campaign filed a defamation action in Georgia against CNN on Friday for publishing an opinion piece by Larry Noble, a CNN contributor and former general counsel for the Federal Election Commission. Based largely on an opinion piece by a well-known Trump critic, the lawsuit is weak and unlikely to succeed. The complaint offers more heat than light as a defamation action.

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Trump Campaign Sues The New York Times For Libel

We have previously discussed President Donald Trump’s repeated calls for changing libel laws and suing his critics, particularly the New York Times. Now his campaign has done just that with a defamation lawsuit against the New York Times for allegedly publishing false claims in an op-ed written by Max Frankel on March 27, 2019, entitled “The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo.” The selection of an opinion piece makes this case especially difficult. In addition to suing a newspaper for the alleged defamation of a public official, it is doing so for a piece that is identified as opinion and appears on the opinion page. In my view, the column is protected speech under the First Amendment.

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Kent Students Force Homeland Security From Job Fair

I have written extensively about how universities are refusing to act to prevent faculty members and students from disrupting classes, barring events, and shouting down speakers. Now we can add preventing other students from speaking to the Department of Homeland Security about jobs. Students at the job fair at Kent State University in Ohio blocked access to an ICE table by locking arms and eventually forced the department to leave the fair. Because these student oppose ICE, the university let them block access for all other students.

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