In the aftermath of the vicious tweets against MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, there was an intriguing allegation that three top Trump Administration officials called Joe Scarborough and threatened that, if he did not call Trump to apologize for his negative comments, the National Enquirer would run a hit piece on the hosts. The allegation is deeply troubling and, while it would not necessarily constitute a crime, it would raise a serious question of abuse of office in the use of staff to convey such an alleged threat. With all of the understandable passion following the tweets. this is a very significant allegation and one that was not previously disclosed. It has not appeared in both print and on air by the hosts, who are obviously sticking by this chilling account of what they say was a campaign to intimidate them. The White House has denied the allegations and said that Scarborough has misrepresented his call to the White House.
Without fanfare, the Justice Department dropped the long fight over stripping the trademark protections from the Washington Redskins football team as an offensive term. I have long been a critic of the action taken by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and said at the time that the action was flagrantly unconstitutional. Now millions have been spent but the case is withdrawn in light of the recent decision in Matal v. Tam.
Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, 37, is a leading Vietnamese blogger known as “Mother Mushroom” has been writing for years to expose the torture and oppression of the one-party state. This week Vietnam showed the world that, despite its portrayal as one of the world’s emerging economies, it remains an authoritarian warmed-over Communist regime. It convicted Quynh and sentenced her to 10 years in jail. For telling people the truth about their government.
We have yet another academic fired this week for statements made on social media. University of Delaware professor Kathy Dettwyler attracted national criticism over her statement that Otto Warmbier “deserved” to die after being arrested in North Korea. The professor of anthropology will now be denied rehire as an adjunct.
We just discussed the free speech and academic freedom issues of schools investigating professors for their postings on social media. Now we have A New Jersey college professor who was fired by Essex County College after appearing on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” Professor Lisa Durden staunchly defended a black-only Black Lives Matter event and caused an uproar of criticism over her highly insulting comments about “white people.”
There is a new controversy involving an investigation of a professor for statements made on social media. Trinity College Professor Johnny Williams has fled Connecticut after receiving death threats over his postings, including an inflammatory reference to people considered bigots and how we should “Let Them. F**king Die.” Williams teaches classes on race and racism and clearly wanted to get others to read this hateful screed.
The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a major victory for free speech on Monday in striking down a provision of the Lanham Act that barred registration for “disparaging” trademarks. The decision came in Matal v. Tam, a case that we have been following. I have previously written about my disagreement with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decision to rescind federal trademark protections for the Redskins as a racially disparaging name. As predicted, the ruling answered the question raised in the prior column in controversies like the denying of trademark protection to the Washington Redskins. The decision is good news for Washington’s NFL team, which lost its trademark because its name is disparaging to Native Americans.