We have seen in the last four years how rage has replaced reason for many experts. Legal experts who long defended criminal defense rights have suddenly become advocates of the most sweeping interpretations of criminal or constitutional provisions while discarding basic due process and fairness concerns. Academics who teach journalism have called for an abandonment of neutrality and objectivity. The Democratic Party itself has become the champion of censorship. Even in this company, CNN’s media expert Brian Stelter is a standout. Stelter has been regularly criticized for alleged bias but this week Stelter offered an argument for limiting both free speech and the free press that would have kept George Orwell up at night. Stelter told his viewers that they really do not have to talk about censorship and simply should refer to reductions of free speech as “a harm reduction model.” Continue reading ““A Harm Reduction Model”: CNN’s Brian Stelter Offers A Perfectly Orwellian Attack On Free Speech And Freedom Of The Press”
An Australian professor of “moral psychology” used Twitter to call for the death of Trump supporters. Neither Twitter nor his colleagues objected to Macquarie University Associate Professor Mark Alfano calling for “more of this please” after reading that a Trump supporter died in the recent Capitol Hill riot. He also called such deaths “comedy.” He is not the first academic to call for such violence or defend killings. We previously discussed Rhode Island Professor Erik Loomis who writes for the site Lawyers, Guns, and Money and declared that he saw “nothing wrong” with the killing of a conservative protester. (A view defended by other academics). Other professors have simply called for all “Republicans to suffer.” What is striking is that such views are neither barred by Twitter nor, according to a conservative site that broke this story, denounced at his university. For my part, I have always maintained an Internet originalist position on free speech opposing censorship, so I would prefer that these academics not be banned. However, there is a stark contrast in how such views are treated by both social media companies and universities. Likewise, there is legitimate condemnation of the social media statements of figures like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and many QAnon figures, but virtually nothing on figures voicing extremist views on the left in the mainstream media or academia.
There is a free speech debate at Drake University over hateful and vulgar tweets from Associate English Professor Beth Younger, who called for Republicans “to suffer.” We have seen increasing vulgar attacks from academics, including such high-profile figures as Laurence Tribe in the last few years. Notably, Twitter did not suspend Younger’s account for calling for harm to all Republicans. I do not believe that she should be barred from social media or fired from Drake as a matter of free speech. Even with professors who have justified the murder of conservatives or killing police are protected in such hateful expressions. The solution to such hate speech is more (and better) speech. I would rather we denounce such speech than censor it. Continue reading ““Republicans Need To Suffer”: Drake Professor Triggers Free Speech Debate With Hateful Tweets Against Men and Conservatives”
With much fanfare (and catchy background music) Twitter has launched the Birdwatch program, a platform that seeks to enlist the “community” to identify and comment on misinformation contained in tweets. The company will initially select 1,000 such “Birdwatchers” in its monitoring of information exchanged on its once neutral platform. Not surprisingly, many of us are not thrilled by the program. While the programs does not allow direct removal of tweets, it is clearly designed to flag tweets that the majority views as misleading. That can then be used by Twitter to further support its expanding censorship of information on the Internet.
Hundreds of publishing officials, professors, and academics have signed a petition to blacklist Trump administration alumni from receiving book deals. It is the latest step in a rapidly expanding anti-free speech movement in the United States. In the wake of the Capitol riot, Democratic members and others are calling for a crackdown on free speech and punitive actions for those viewed as complicit with Trump. What is striking is how censorship, blacklists, and speech controls are being repackaged as righteous and virtuous. Indeed, the failure to sign such anti-free speech screeds is a precarious choice for many. It is as easy as calling for tolerance through intolerance. After all, why burn books if you can just effectively ban them? Continue reading “Why Burn Books When You Can Ban Them? Writers and Publishers Embrace Blacklisting In An Expanding American Anti-Free Speech Movement”
The media has been airing discussion of hosts and leading figures like Katie Couric on “deprogramming ” Trump supporters or treating Trump supporters as a cult, including a CNN interview with an actual “cult expert.” Since that would include over 70 million Trump voters, the hyperbolic language can be dismissed as just more examples of our rage-filled political environment. After all, a few days after the election, a law professor declared that even questioning the Biden electoral victory was tantamount to being a holocaust denier. One professor however has taken this call even further in declaring such supporters are worse than the Nazis and heralding the need for the same type of treatment seen with the Nuremberg trials, including the apparent elimination of the Republican Party. Smith College Professor Loretta Ross, who teaches women’s and gender studies, rejected calls for unity and instead called for punitive action against supporters in Congress, universities, and “regular jobs.”
There is an interesting interview this week with former FBI Director James Comey. He states that he now believes that the infamous alleged “pee tape” may be real and makes other surprising statements while pitching his new book. One statement, however, stood out: “The Republican party needs to be burned down … It’s just not a healthy political organization.” Since the Republican National Committee was targeted with a pipe bomb in the recent riots, some could argue that this is incitement to arson or violence. I would not. I would call it free speech and hyperbole. The question is where the line is drawn given the impeachment of Donald Trump based on his speech and the allegations that others who used such hyperbolic language are actually guilty of incitement. Continue reading “Incitement Or Free Speech? Comey Calls For the Republican Party To Be “Burned Down””
There is a building campaign at Harvard to rescind the degrees of Trump officials and allies including White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-TX). This is not the only such effort to retaliate against Trump officials from blacklists to campaigns of harassment. Indeed, previously there was a demand for a ban on former Trump officials from being allowed on campus at Harvard. Recently Rep. Elise Stefanik was removed from a high-ranking board on Harvard for challenging the victory of President-elect Joe Biden. The concern for some of us is that the Capitol riot is now being used by many to accelerate the crackdown on free speech on our campuses.
We have been discussing the chilling crackdown on free speech that has been building for years in the United States. This effort has accelerated in the aftermath of the Capitol riot including the shutdown sites like Parler. Now former Texas congressman Ron Paul, 85, has been blocked from using his Facebook page for unspecified violations of “community standards.” Paul’s last posting was linked to an article on the “shocking” increase of censorship on social media. Facebook then proceeded to block him under the same undefined “community standards” policy.
Recently, millions of supporters of Twitter reportedly left that company due to its continued censoring of viewpoints and the permanent banning of President Donald Trump. Many went to the more open forum offered by Parler — making it the number one item on Apple’s App store. Apple, Google, and other companies then moved to cut off Parler, which has now been shutdown. In so doing, these companies eliminate any alternative to their own controlled platforms. It is a major threat to free speech. Yet, the silence of academic and many free speech advocates is striking and chilling. Continue reading “Parler Shutdown In Latest Attack on Free Speech On The Internet”
Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin is calling for the expulsion of Republican members for challenging the electoral votes this week as “sedition.” From the outset, I opposed this challenge as unfounded. However, think about this demand (which has been raised by others). Rubin wants to expel members who joined challenges allowed under a federal law (on the very same grounds that Democrats have made in past elections). Indeed, she declares “Every Republican bears a responsibility for what happened on Wednesday, whether or not they participated in a seditious attempt to overthrow our democracy.” So Republicans who opposed the challenge and denounced the violence should still be punished or blamed?
Montreal’s McGill University is the latest school facing an attack on free speech and academic freedom. We have followed efforts to fire professors who hold opposing views on police abuse or the Black Lives Matter organization. At McGill, eight student groups have gone further. They want to rescind the emeritus status of a retired professor to retroactively punish him for opposing their views. Professor Philip Carl Salzman is a well-known anthropologist with an impressive record of publications and recognitions. However, students are demanding the rare action to “protect and legitimize racist and Islamophobic dialogues.” They further declare in an open letter that free speech “does not exist outside of its social context” and that it has been shown to be “dictated by whiteness.” Continue reading ““Free Speech Does Not Exist Outside Of Its Social Context”: McGill Student Groups Seek To Strip Professor Of Emeritus Status”
Zhang Zhan, 37, is a citizen journalist who reported on the early evidence of a pandemic in Wuhan. In its latest abuse of basic human rights, the Chinese regime has sentenced Zhang to four years in prison for her courageous reporting. She was reportedly convicted under the absurd criminal allegation that she was “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”
Saudi Arabia added to its list of human rights abuses this week with the sentencing of women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul. I have previously written about the inspiring courage and commitment of Saudi feminists, but al-Hathloul is a standout even among that group. She has tirelessly fought for simple rights like the ability to drive in a kingdom that continues to deprive women, religious minorities, journalists, and others basic protections. She was reportedly tortured by the Saudi government, a signature of the blood-soaked Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Now she has been sentenced to five years in prison. Continue reading “Feminist Activist Sentenced To Five Years For Endangering National Security”