Category: International

“Then Hate Me When Thou Wilt”: Salford Removes Sonnets as “Products of White Western Culture”

China Censors WHO Head After Tedros Advocated Censorship to Combat the “Infodemic”

French journalist Jacques Mallet du Pan famously observed during the French Revolution that “like Saturn, the Revolution devours its children.” It appears that the same can be said for censorship. We previously discussed how WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has supported censorship to combat what he calls the “infodemic.” Now Tedros has been reportedly censored by China for disinformation on its own pandemic measures.

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Five Steps to Save Free Speech on Twitter: A Musk Roadmap

Twitter Logo

According to reports, Elon Musk is now expected to take over as the temporary CEO of Twitter as soon as his financing of the purchase is finalized. It is good news because buying Twitter may prove a mere skirmish in comparison to the coming battle. Political forces in the United States and abroad are already aligning to resist his effort to restore free speech to social media.

If history has shown one thing, it is that it is easier to lose rights than to regain them. Musk has a product in demand but neither governments nor many of his own employees want to be sold. If Musk is to fulfill his pledge, he will need to take five specific steps to secure free speech protections.  Given the interests allied against him, Musk must move quickly if he wants to not only reintroduce but to maintain free speech on Twitter. Continue reading “Five Steps to Save Free Speech on Twitter: A Musk Roadmap”

Stay Calm and Censor On: Musk Summoned to Parliament to Answer for his Pledge to Restore Free Speech

I previously wrote about Hillary Clinton’s call on European countries to pass censorship laws to force social media companies like Twitter to regulate speech even after Elon Musk’s pledge to restore free speech to Twitter. Now the Parliament has called on Musk to testify and to explain his alarming pledge to restore free speech.

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University of Waterloo Limits Science Position to “Women, Transgender, Non-Binary, or Two-Spirit” Persons

British Man Convicted After Sending Drunk Tweet About Dead Soldiers

There is a new free speech controversy in the United Kingdom after Joseph Kelly, 36, was convicted of posting a “grossly offensive” tweet about a war veteran. Kelly has been sentenced to 150 hours of community service. The conviction is another blow to free speech in the UK in a case of clear political speech.

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Yacht or Not? It is Easier to Seize an Oligarch’s Than it is to Keep it.

Below is my column in USA Today on the continuing push to seize the yachts and other property of Russian oligarchs. While enormously popular, it is easy to take a yacht. It is far more difficult to keep it. Indeed, the public could end up footing the bill for not just litigation but possible repairs to these opulent vessels.

Here is the column: Continue reading “Yacht or Not? It is Easier to Seize an Oligarch’s Than it is to Keep it.”

The War on Free Speech: Chess Federation Suspends Grandmaster for Supporting the Russian Invasion

We have been discussing Russian artists and athletes blackballed for failing to publicly denounce Putin of his invasion of Russia. Despite the support that most of us have expressed for Ukraine against this unprovoked and savage attack, there is a danger that we are losing a war at home against free speech. The Russian invasion has added new allies in a growing anti-free-speech movement to censor and blackball dissenting voices. The latest such controversy involves Sergey Karjakin, a Russian grandmaster who supports the Russian invasion. He has been banned from competitions for six months by the International Chess Federation (FIDE).  He has been banned due to the unpopularity of his political views — an act that should be denounced by anyone who values free speech.

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Zelenskyy Bans Opposition Parties in Ukraine in Blow to Free Speech

Many of us strongly support the fight of Ukraine against the Russian invasion and have commended Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for the heroic leadership that he has shown in the face of this unprovoked and savage attack. Yet, that support should not shield the country or Zelenskyy from criticism whether it involves filming POWs or cracking down on free speech. The latter concern has arisen after Zelenskyy banned Ukraine’s main opposition party and ten other parties. It is hard to criticize the actions of a nation facing annihilation at the hands of a tyrant. However, Putin is carrying out precisely this type of anti-free speech, counter-democratic crackdown in Russia. Ukraine has the moral high ground in this struggle and should not surrender that ground through its own acts of political censorship and suppression. Continue reading “Zelenskyy Bans Opposition Parties in Ukraine in Blow to Free Speech”

Choosing Sides: The Congress Should Freeze Aid to Countries Buying Russian Gas

Below is my column in the Hill on a proposal for legislation to address allies supporting Russia through gas contracts. Congress can constitutionally freeze aid to countries undermining sanctions by buying cut-rate gas from the Putin regime. In the meantime, India’s major gas contract pumping money into the Russian economy will not be treated by the Biden Administration as a sanctions violation. Congress can force a bright line on foreign aid that aligns with our public and moral positions on Ukraine. Under its Article I powers, Congress can condition such foreign aid and, if necessary, override a veto from President Joe Biden.

Here is the column: Continue reading “Choosing Sides: The Congress Should Freeze Aid to Countries Buying Russian Gas”

Putin or Peace? International Economics Rather Than International Law May Prove the Answer

Below is my column in the Hill on the limits of international law in face of a “war of aggression” by Russia. Indeed, it will likely be international economics rather than international law that will drive the outcome of this conflict.

Here is the column:

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A Sound of Transcendent Beauty and Defiance from the Bomb Shelters of Ukraine

The world has watched in utter disgust at the wanton destruction of Ukraine by Russia. However, in the very midst of the ruins left in the wake of this invasion, the indomitable spirit and beauty of humanity has broken through in the actions of brave Ukrainians. The video below is one of the most beautiful and inspiring moments that I have seen. It is overwhelming and I wanted to share it with anyone who has not seen it.  It shows 94 violinists in 29 countries joining young Ukrainian violinist Illia Bondarenko as he plays in a bunker with the Russian onslaught attacking Kyiv above him.

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Should Universities Take a Stand on Ukraine? UChicago is Facing That Question

It has become increasingly common for universities to take political positions in support of everything from Black Lives Matter to D.C. Statehood. As such positions increase, there is more and more pressure for official positions to be taken on other subjects. Now, the University of Chicago is being asked to affirm its support of Ukraine after controversial statements from Professor John Mearsheimer. (For full disclosure, I am a graduate of UChicago and Mearsheimer was one of faculty when I was doing strategic studies research at the department). Continue reading “Should Universities Take a Stand on Ukraine? UChicago is Facing That Question”

Bolshoi Conductor Resigns Over Free Speech Controversy as the Crackdown Continues for Artists and Athletes

We recently discussed controversies involving Russian artists and athletes being told that they will be cancelled or blacklisted if they do not expressly denounce the Russian invasion of Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin. Now that assault on free speech has reached the highest levels of ballet after Tugan Sokhiev, the chief conductor at Bolshoi Theatre and the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, resigned rather than be coerced into such public statements. The Munich Philharmonic also dismissed chief conductor Valery Gergiev after he failed to condemn the invasion. Continue reading “Bolshoi Conductor Resigns Over Free Speech Controversy as the Crackdown Continues for Artists and Athletes”

Flagging Free Speech or Nepotism? Formula One Team Drops Russian Driver Over Ukraine Invasion

I recently wrote about the Metropolitan Opera Manager Peter Gelb cancelling  soprano Anna Netrebko after she failed to condemn Vladimir Putin. Netrebko, who denounced the Ukrainian invasion, has appeared in pictures with Putin and has said that she will take a hiatus from performing after the controversy. I drew heated objections to my column for defending a supporter of Putin. I was defending free speech rather than Putin but it is an old saw used against civil libertarians when they object to public or private censorship. Now we have a different story out of Formula One racing where Russian driver Nikita Mazepin was dropped by Haas F1 despite a FIA ruling he could compete in Formula One races.  The controversy has some unique elements tied to the racing but raises similar issues of compelled speech. Continue reading “Flagging Free Speech or Nepotism? Formula One Team Drops Russian Driver Over Ukraine Invasion”

Res ipsa loquitur – The thing itself speaks