The two teenage girls in Maryland have been charged with hate crimes after they lit a Trump sign on fire. The novel charge is based on the prosecutors treating Trump supporters as the protected group. It is quite a stretch from the conventional hate crime. The very notion of a hate crime has been criticized by civil libertarians as raising free speech and double jeopardy concerns.
We have been discussing the erosion of free speech on our campuses across the country through speech codes and increasingly violent protests. Conservative speakers are now routined denied the opportunity to speak on campuses by university officials who cite security concerns or by mob action preventing events from occurring. The latest example is Ann Coulter whose speech was cancelled at the last minute by the university even though she agreed to additional conditions set by officials. Coulter however pledges to show up to speak regardless of the decision. That could produce a confrontation with the university in its continued failure to protect free speech on its campus.
We have previously discussed how some schools are abandoning the use of traditional pronouns to reflect a growing list of possible genders for students. Brown University has pushed these changes even further in its acceptance letters this year by using “they” as the “gender-inclusive” pronoun. Thus the letter refers to “their” achievements when referring to the singular admitted student. For many, the use of such plural pronouns for a single individual is confusing and ungrammatical. However, the Associated Press recently adopted the use of “they” as a preferred pronoun in recognition of transexual and other individuals who may not be comfortable with traditional genders.
We previously discussed the controversy over a painting by a constituent of Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay that depicted police as pigs in Ferguson, Missouri. As we discussed, the House had a right to remove the art and eventually did precisely that. However, before that decision from the House, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R., Cal.) took down the painting. Clay called for criminal charges. When the painting was rehung, another Republican member removed it. At the time, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said “We may just have to kick somebody’s ass and stop them. Then the architect stepped in and barred the hanging of the picture. A lawsuit challenged the actions of the House of Representatives and I expressed my great skepticism over the merits of such a case. It appears that U.S. District Judge John D. Bates agrees with that assessment. In a ruling yesterday, Bates rejected the claim that the Architect’s actions were unlawful in removing the painting by David Pulphus, a student artist from Missouri. Pulphus joined Rep. William Clay, in the legal challenge.
The world has condemned the referendum that narrowly gave near dictatorial powers to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Not only was the government accused of tampering with the close results, but the referendum represents the final demise of democracy in Turkey. Erdogan is also responsible for destroying the separation of church and state. However, Erdogan did get one call of congratulations . . . from the President of the United States.
There is an interesting study out this week by two University of Kentucky researchers that the number of atheists may be twice as large as previously estimated. The number may be closer to 26 percent — an fascinating prospect given the politics surrounding faith-based initiatives and policies. As I have previously discussed, both parties have courted the religious vote and largely ignored the sizable number of Americans who are either agnostic or atheist. That number may be finally reaching a political tipping point for office holders to heed their preferences for secular government and the separation of church and state. We have previously discussed studies indicating that one out of four Americans may not believe in God. This study would seem to support those earlier estimates.
We have been discussing the erosion of free speech on our campuses across the country. Much of that trend is the result of faculty members who have taught that free speech itself is a threat to students. The erosion of free speech has come in stages. First, schools began to declare speech to be hate speech while creating “safe zones” from the exercise of free speech. Second, schools began to enforce the ill-defined “microaggressions” to punish speech that is deemed as contributing to hostile environments or fostering stereotypes. Now, faculty and students are increasing declaring opposing views as simply outside of the definition of free speech. That extreme argument was advanced this week by the editors of The Wellesley News who published a column entitled “Free Speech Is Not Violated At Wellesley.” It is chilling message from the Editorial Board composed of Co-Editors in Chief Sharvari Johari and Michele Lee and opinion editors Maya Nandakumar, Genae Matthews, and Tabitha Wilson. Once the champions of free speech, students have become the new censors and have adopted the perfectly Orwellian notion that the protection of free speech requires the denial of free speech. Continue reading