Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md) is ending 2022 on an ominous note after declaring that “if you espouse hate… you’re not protected under the First Amendment.” The statement is obviously untrue, but it is only the latest example of the eroding support for free speech in Congress and the country at large. It is particularly chilling for one of the nation’s most powerful politicians (sworn to “support and defend the Constitution“) to show either a lack of knowledge or lack of fealty to the First Amendment. Continue reading “Sen. Cardin: Hate Speech is Not Protected by First Amendment”
There is an interesting defamation case out of Idaho in which Rebecca Scofield, an associate professor and the chair of the history department at the University of Idaho, is suing TikTok personality Ashley Guillard for defamation. Guillard continues to maintain that Scofield ordered the murders after a falling out with one of the victims from a romantic relationship. Scofield denies ever meeting any of the victims, let alone having an affair with one of them. Continue reading “TikTok Torts: Idaho Professor Sues “Internet Sleuth” for Defamation Over Idaho Murders”
Journalist David Zweig has reported that former FBI General Counsel and former Deputy Counsel at Twitter, Jim Baker, flagged an optimistic tweet of former President Donald Trump on Covid as possible “misinformation” to be censored. I have previously written about Baker becoming the Kevin Bacon of Washington scandals. He is now prominently featured in the censorship scandal and new disclosures show that he eagerly used his position at Twitter to seek to silence Trump and those with opposing views. The most recent exchange offers an insight into Baker’s hair-triggered tendencies on censorship. It appears that calling for optimism was intolerable for the former FBI general counsel.
There was an interesting ruling by U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson for the Central District of California last week in Woulfe et al. v. Universal. The case was brought by Peter Michael Rosza and Conor Woulfe who were aggrieved when they rented the 2019 film “Yesterday” under the assumption that actress Ana de Armas was in the film. The trailer featured de Armas but she was later cut from the film. Judge Wilson ruled that, while such movies and their trailers are exercises of free speech, this is commercial speech that is subject to greater limitations. Wilson is allowing the plaintiffs to proceed to trial in the case over alleged misleading advertising. Many fear that this will change the free-wheeling approach to such trailers, or, as the Beatles said, “Yesterday, love was such an easy game to play Now I need a place to hide away.” Continue reading ““Why She Had to Go…She Wouldn’t Say”: Movie Renters Allowed to Sue Over Absence of Featured Star”
This week, the arrest of British Catholic woman for ‘praying’ outside an abortion clinic has attracted international attention. However, the jailing of Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, director of anti-abortion group March for Life UK, is neither surprising nor particularly rare as a denial of free speech in Great Britain. While this form of “protest” is uncommon as the basis for an arrest, free speech has been in a free fall in the UK for years. It is also a cautionary tale for those in the United States, which is facing arguably the largest anti-free speech movement in its history. Continue reading “Without a Hope or a Prayer: Why the Arrest of a British Woman Outside of Abortion Clinic is a Wake-Up Call for Free Speech”
The storied career of James Webb as the second administrator of NASA (responsible for the Apollo missions) led to the naming of the space telescope in his honor. Now, however, he is the subject of a cancel campaign to remove his name after professors accused him of being anti-gay. That cancel campaign also now includes a black astrophysicist, Hakeem Oluseyi, who published a study exonerating Webb. He is reportedly being banned from leading journals after finding no evidence to support the claim. Regardless of the ultimate conclusions that one can reach on the Webb controversy, there should be universal concern over the growing intolerance for opposing views in academic institutional and journals. Continue reading “Webb of Lies? Astrophysicist Targeted Due to Study Exonerating James Webb of Being Anti-Gay”
It is not clear what is more chilling: the menacing role played by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Twitter’s censorship program or its mendacious response to the disclosure of that role. This week saw another FBI “nothing-to-see-here” statement to the release of files detailing how it actively sought to suppress the Hunter Biden story before the 2020 election, gave millions to Twitter, and targeted even satire or tiny posts that did not conform with its guidelines. Continue reading ““Conspiracy Theorists…Attempting to Discredit the Agency”: The FBI Attacks Critics Objecting to its Role in Twitter’s Censorship System “
This week the January 6th Committee voted to make criminal referrals to the Justice Department, including the proposed indictment of former President Donald Trump. However, the Committee’s splashy finale lacked any substantial new evidence to make a compelling criminal case against former President Donald Trump. The Committee repackaged largely the same evidence that it has previously put forward over the past year. That is not enough. Indeed, the reliance on a new videotape of former Trump aide Hope Hicks seems a case of putting “hope over experience” in the criminal Justice system.
Many of us have supported Elon Musk in his fight to restore free speech protections to Twitter despite concerns over decisions like the use of polls to determine if individuals should be allowed back on the social media site. He has now subjected himself to the same poll judgment in asking if he should step down as CEO. After more than 17.5 million users voted, 57 percent said yes. Unless Musk was looking for an exit, it was a mistake. He handed his critics an easy opportunity to remove him.
With the restoration of free speech protections on Twitter, panic has grown on the left that its control over social media could come to an end. Now, some of the greatest advocates of censorship in Congress are specifically warning Facebook not to follow Twitter in restoring free speech to its platform.
Despite my support for Elon Musk’s continuing efforts to reduce censorship and restore free speech protections on Twitter, I have been critical of some of his moves from his use of polls on restoring certain posters to the suspensions of media figures this week. However, this morning, I was struck by the European Union (EU) rushing into the controversy to threaten, again, sanctions against Musk. The EU is apparently aghast that Twitter could suspend media even temporarily after ignoring the bans on conservative media for years under the old management. Continue reading “EU Threatens Musk With Sanctions Over Suspending Media…After Ignoring Media Bans Under Old Twitter”