Category: Free Speech

UK Commission Bans Commercial Joking About Avocados As “Disparaging Good Dietary Practice”

We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England ( here and here and here and here and hereand here and here  and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws. Of course, once you start to criminalize and regulate speech, the appetite for more speech controls becomes increasingly insatiable and ultimately absurd.  The latest example in the United Kingdom is a ban ordered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)  to prevent Costa Coffee from airing a humorous commercial poking fun at avocados.

Continue reading “UK Commission Bans Commercial Joking About Avocados As “Disparaging Good Dietary Practice””

Maldives Destroys Famed Art Piece As UnIslamic

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(Maldives Police)

The intolerance of art and free expression in many Islamic countries was particularly and painfully evident in the Maldives last week.  A beautiful and powerful underwater sculpture by British artist Jason DeCaires Taylor was ordered destroyed by the government after objections by Islamic leaders for its depiction of human forms.  Ironically, the art highlighted the dire risk of rising sea levels for the Maldives. Instead, its demise will forever symbolize the risk of rising intolerance of religious orthodoxy.  For some tourists who flock to the Maldives, this outrageous attack on art just might be a deterrent to future vacation plans.

Continue reading “Maldives Destroys Famed Art Piece As UnIslamic”

“Necessary in a Democratic Society”: European Court Bars Pro-Life Advocate From Calling Abortion Murder

imagesWe have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here and here) and England ( here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws.   The Europeans appear committed to this trend of curtailing free speech and subjecting speech to coercive definitions of what the majority deems acceptable.  That commitment was made all the more evident, and chilling, by the decision of the European Court of Human Rights rejecting a German anti-abortion activist’s challenge to court orders enjoining him from referring to abortions as “aggravated murder” and comparing them with the Holocaust.  So now the courts are enforcing speech controls over clearly religious and political viewpoints in Europe. Continue reading ““Necessary in a Democratic Society”: European Court Bars Pro-Life Advocate From Calling Abortion Murder”

Georgetown Professor Under Fire For Profane Kavanaugh Rave

Georgetown_sealGeorgetown University professor Dr. Carol Christine Fair is under fire after her profance Twitter rant   against Judge Brett Kavanaugh went viral. I have written previously in opposition to the growing discipline of teachers and professors for their political commentary on social media.  This is no exception.  However, I have left the posting in their unredacted original despite my view of Fair’s commentary as both vulgar and reprehensible.  However, since the issue is whether such posts should be subject to discipline, they are not redacted. Warning: the tweets below contain highly offensive language. Continue reading “Georgetown Professor Under Fire For Profane Kavanaugh Rave”

Le Pen Ordered Into Psychiatric Evaluation For Tweets In France

libertyFar right political leader, Marine Le Pen, has been ordered into psychiatric evaluations after she posted graphic images of bodies of people executed by the Islamic State.  She was accused under the French laws criminalization different forms of speech — laws that I have long criticized as part of a European rollback on core free speech rights.  Posting the pictures was charged as circulating “violent messages that incite terrorism or pornography or seriously harm human dignity” and that can be viewed by a minor.

Continue reading “Le Pen Ordered Into Psychiatric Evaluation For Tweets In France”

The Spanish Inquisition: Actor Becomes Latest Blasphemy Target In The West

913px-Santo_Domingo_en_oraciónI have previously written about the continued use of blasphemy laws in the West, including Spain and Ireland.  The continued enforcement of medieval concepts of blasphemy as evidenced by the detention of Willy Toledo, who was accused of ridiculing God and the Virgin Mary in court. Toledo is being targeted due to comments made on social media in support of three women who are being prosecuted for blasphemy.   It is chilling to think that an actual judge would hold such a hearing in modern times.  The nation that gave us the Spanish Inquisition still claims the right to imprison people for insulting God.

We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws as well as blasphemy laws. Continue reading “The Spanish Inquisition: Actor Becomes Latest Blasphemy Target In The West”

Defense Counsel Calls Out DOJ For Falsely Accusing His Client Of Trading Sex For Access . . . Court Imposes Gag Order On Counsel

09dc-butina-jumboYesterday, we discussed the prosecution of accused Russian agent Maria Butina and how prosecutors put out clearly false allegations that she traded sex for favors.  Butina’s defense counsel Robert Driscoll called out the government for the clearly baseless allegations spread throughout the media.  U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has now responded by gagging counsel, an order that has become all too common in federal cases. Continue reading “Defense Counsel Calls Out DOJ For Falsely Accusing His Client Of Trading Sex For Access . . . Court Imposes Gag Order On Counsel”

British Police Department Calls On Citizens To Report Non-Criminal Offensive or Insulting Comments

download-1We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech. Now the South Yorkshire police department is making it clear that it does not just want citizens to report crimes but “incidents” involving offensive or insulting comments. This follows an effort to make wolf whistles a crime in England.

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Just Don’t Do It: Burgerville Takes Opposite Approach To NFL On Protests

download-5300px-National_Football_League_logo.svgWe discussed yesterday the decision of the NFL to shelve its policy on anthem protests.  In the meantime, the Burgerville chain has faced the same question and reached a very different conclusion.  Its employees were wearing protest buttons reading “Abolish ICE” and “No One Is Illegal.”  Unlike the NFL which did have guidelines barring such protests, Burgerville had nothing in its rules. However, the chain then formally adopted a non-retroactive rule against such protests or advocacy during work hours for its employees.  It is not clear if any Burgerville employee will now be considered for the next Nike “Just Do It” campaign. Continue reading “Just Don’t Do It: Burgerville Takes Opposite Approach To NFL On Protests”

Brown Under Fire After Censoring Article On Research Because It “Might Invalidate The Perspectives Of The Transgender Community”

Brown University is under fire this week for an act of censorship that undermines its status as a leading academic institution.  The university removed an article discussing a peer-reviewed article that ran in  PLOS One by Lisa Littman, an assistant professor in behavioral sciences at Brown.  The article discusses “rapid-onset gender dysphoria” and how this transition toward transgender status is influenced by social media and online videos.  That nexus was immediately flagged by activists as not fitting the narrative that such gender decisions are predetermined and pressure was put on Brown University to act.  Bess Marcus, dean of Brown’s School of Public Health, explained that the article was removed because ” the study could be used to discredit efforts to support transgender youth and invalidate the perspectives of members of the transgender community.”  Instead, Marcus and the university discredited its entire academic institution by engaging in censorship and attacking academic freedom principles.  Rather than simply allowing an opposing academic viewpoint to be heard, the university removed a story on research by popular demand.   Continue reading “Brown Under Fire After Censoring Article On Research Because It “Might Invalidate The Perspectives Of The Transgender Community””

The False Friend Dilemma: Why Trump Has Few Options In Dealing With Omarosa

Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the continuing controversy surrounding the release of the tell-all book by Omarosa Manigault Newman.  Manigault Newman has continued her release of secret tapes featuring the President and his staff.  Her latest tape captures a private conservation with Lara Trump who offers Manigault Newman a $15,000 a month job with the Trump campaign on the promise that she will “stay positive.”  Trump refers to the rumor that Manigault Newman has dirt of Trump as she offered a job with few apparent duties or expectations other than “staying positive.”  Of course, many of us are still wondering what Manigault Newman did in the White House.  Nevertheless, the taping shows the utter lack of loyalty or honestly by Manigault Newman in dealing with friends and coworkers. 

The Trump campaign has now filed a civil action, which is discussed as a possibility in the column below.  The potential for criminal liability however is limited in this case.

Here is the column: Continue reading “The False Friend Dilemma: Why Trump Has Few Options In Dealing With Omarosa”

Trump Revokes Clearance Of John Brennan and Orders Review Of Other Former Officials

donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedIn a highly controversial move, President Donald Trump has revoked the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan and ordered the review of other officials who all share one obvious distinguishing characteristic: they are all fierce critics of Trump.  The move has been widely condemned as Nixonian and amounting to a black or enemies list.  While I have been highly critical of everyone on the list (and called for some to be fired and, in a couple cases, prosecuted), I find the move very troubling from a free speech perspective.  Indeed, I am still uncertain about the rationale for the actions and why the list would be composed entirely of Trump critics if based on a consistent, apolitical basis. Continue reading “Trump Revokes Clearance Of John Brennan and Orders Review Of Other Former Officials”

North Carolina Judge Fines Klansman For Littering In Troubling Free Speech Case

There is an interesting case out of North Carolina where Justin Adams was fined $1,000 for littering.  Adams is a KKK member who was distributing Klan literature on car windshield wipers.  Complaints followed and police were called.  Chief District Judge Mark Galloway imposed the fine, but there are serious questions raised about content-based discrimination of speech. Adams’ views are vile but it seems unlikely that others distributing literature would be subject to arrest. Indeed, Roxboro Police Chief David Hess seemed to confirm as much in his later comments.

Continue reading “North Carolina Judge Fines Klansman For Littering In Troubling Free Speech Case”

Criminal Tweets: Trump Critics Should Not Respond To Acts Of “Fake News” With Fake Law

Below is my column in the Hill Newspaper on the latest “smoking gun” of obstruction in the form of Trump tweets.  There continues to be a categorical refusal of many to acknowledge the implications of the interpretation being advanced to implicate Trump.  There is also a failure to acknowledge that the Clinton campaign received more information was Russian sources, including Russian intelligence figures. The difference is the Clinton people were smart enough to use a cut out in the form of a former British spy.

While advocates continue to maintain that agreeing to go to a meeting to review promised evidence of crimes is a federal election violation, no case like this has ever resulted in a conviction that I know of.  Indeed, I do not know of any case remotely similar to this case as being brought.  The First Amendment implications should bar any such prosecution.

Here is the column: Continue reading “Criminal Tweets: Trump Critics Should Not Respond To Acts Of “Fake News” With Fake Law”

Res ipsa loquitur – The thing itself speaks