Category: Politics

Free Speech Inc.: How Democrats Have Found A New But Shaky Faith In Corporate Speech

Below is an updated version of my column in The Hill on Facebook’s decision to uphold the ban on former president Donald Trump. Notably, this weekend, Twitter took it upon itself to add a gratuitous response to an observation made by Donald Trump Jr. after he tweeted “Biden isn’t the next FDR [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] he’s the next Jimmy Carter.” Twitter took it upon itself to say that many are “confused” by the remark since Carter was a great humanitarian and noble prize winner. It was a telling moment. These companies now act as either censors as officious intermeddlers when it comes to comments made on the platforms. They view themselves as a party to any postings and that viewpoints must be corrected or clarified to advance the corporate position.

Here is the column:

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Professor Suspended After Denying Canada is a Racist County and Criticizing BLM

Mount Allison University Professor Rima Azar feels a strong identification to Canada. Born in Lebanon during a civil war, Azar developed a lasting appreciation for the freedoms of Canada, particularly free speech. An accomplished academic in the field of health psychology, she often discusses her views of political and social issues on her  personal blog Bambi’s Afkar from her unique perspective. However, she recently ran afoul of an individual who spotted comments denying that Canada is a racist country and criticizing Black Lives Matter as an organization.  The individual compiled an array of what was viewed to be objectionable positions and triggered a movement to have Azar fired. In a direct attack on free speech and academic freedom, the University then suspended Azar without pay. Continue reading “Professor Suspended After Denying Canada is a Racist County and Criticizing BLM”

“Keep As Much Money As You Can”: Hunter Biden Disclosures Offer New Details On His Chinese Financial Dealings And Associations

There are new disclosures from Hunter Biden’s laptop that offer an added perspective on his dealings with Chinese figures, including Patrick Ho, secretary general of Chinese oil giant CEFC, who was later indicted and has been connected with Chinese intelligence. The emails and pictures relate to the young Chinese assistant supplied to Hunter who makes revealing statements about the fluid expense accounts and level of support given Hunter by the Chinese. I have read through the new messages and I am not clear about the relationship with the young aide who tells him that she still has his dog tags in her New York apartment. However, the new emails include details on how Biden was paid and the fluidity of the accounts established by the Chinese.

Continue reading ““Keep As Much Money As You Can”: Hunter Biden Disclosures Offer New Details On His Chinese Financial Dealings And Associations”

New Jersey Police Officer Fired For Calling BLM Protesters “Terrorists”

We have been discussing the termination of public employees and others for their postings on social media or public displays.  The latest case is out of New Jersey where former Hopewell Township police officer Sara Erwin was fired recent over a June 2020 posting on Facebook in which she referred to Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters as “terrorists.”  There remains an uncertain line of what political or social views are tolerated and what are barred on social media.  Indeed, Sgt. Mandy Gray was suspended and demoted for simply liking the June 2020 post.

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Protesters Deface Billy Goat Trail With Anti-Police Graffiti

As many on this blog know, I am a lifelong hiker and backpacker.  I often do dawn hikes on the Billy Goat trail along the Potomac, one of the most cherished and beautiful areas in the Washington metropolitan area. This morning, I decided to celebrate my birthday with one of my dawn hikes and it was glorious. I had the trail to myself as the sun was coming up over the Potomac.  It was a perfect hike until I made it to the end of the trail (one the Angler’s end) where the beautiful rock face is now defaced with anti-police graffiti. Continue reading “Protesters Deface Billy Goat Trail With Anti-Police Graffiti”

Facebook Upholds Trump Ban But Admits Permanent Ban Lacked Any Objective Standard

Facebook’s Oversight Board just voted that the company may want to give Trump back his boots.

The decision of the board to uphold the decision to ban Trump but reconsider his lifetime ban may seem transparently convenient for many. However, there is precedent. One of my favorite trial accounts is from Ireland where an Irishman was accused by an Englishman of stealing a pair of boots. The guilt of the defendant was absolutely clear but the Irish jury could not get itself to rule for the Englishman. Instead, it acquitted the Irishman but added a line, “We do believe O’Brien should give the Englishman back his boots.” Case closed. Continue reading “Facebook Upholds Trump Ban But Admits Permanent Ban Lacked Any Objective Standard”

BYOC: Teacher’s Racist Diatribe Highlights Failure To Equip Officers With Body Cameras

For years, I and others have argued for body camera (and police interrogation cameras) to be used in every jurisdiction. Despite the obvious value of such cameras, jurisdictions like Los Angeles County have resisted and still do not have this basic protection for both officers and citizens alike. Likewise, prosecutors in cities like Chicago long opposed the filming of officers by citizens. The recent controversy over a traffic stop in L.A. shows the importance of such body cameras. In the video, an officer pulls over a self-described teacher for using her cellphone while driving and is met with a barrage of racist slurs. The officer was only able to show his side in the encounter because he paid for his own camera. It is absurd that Los Angeles County forces officers to pay for their own cameras to guarantee a record of such encounters.  In LA County, it is bring your own camera (BYOC) or engage in policing at your own risk.

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The Biden Administration Drops Dozens of Charges Against Violent Protesters in Portland

We recently discussed how the plea agreement with a BLM protester (who tried to cut the brake lines on a police vehicle) may indicate a significant shift from the Trump Administration in prosecuting violent protesters.  New figures out of Portland would indicate that there is such a major shift occurring. The Justice Department are dropping 58 of the 97 criminal charges brought after the Portland riots, including assaults on officers.

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Evolving With Big Tech: Facebook’s New Campaign Should Have Free Speech Advocates Nervous

In 1964, Stanley Kubrick released a dark comedy classic titled “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” The title captured the absurdity of getting people to embrace the concept of weapons of mass destruction. The movie came to mind recently with the public campaign of Facebook calling for people to change her attitudes about the Internet and rethink issues like “content modification” – the new Orwellian term for censorship. Continue reading “Evolving With Big Tech: Facebook’s New Campaign Should Have Free Speech Advocates Nervous”

Chopped: Will Seattle Officials Now Claim Immunity From Lawsuits After Opposing Such Defenses For Police Officers?

Below is my column in The Hill on the new lawsuit against Seattle for its allowing the establishment of an autonomous zone within the city called CHOP.  According to the compliant, what Mayor Jenny Durkan called “a summer of love” proved instead to be a month of mayhem resulting in deaths, robberies and sexual assaults. Now the city may be relying an immunity defense despite leaders opposing such defenses for individual police officers.

Here is the column:

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Police Groups Ask The University of Minnesota To Investigate Student’s Call To Make Life “Hell” For Officers

Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association and the Law Enforcement Labor Services has taken the unusual (if not unprecedented) step of asking the University of Minnesota to investigate a student for her call to make the lives of campus police a living “hell.” In a video conference captured on video, student Lauren Meyers is caught making the statements in her capacity as Chief Financial Officer of the Minnesota Student Association Executive Board. Continue reading “Police Groups Ask The University of Minnesota To Investigate Student’s Call To Make Life “Hell” For Officers”

California Professor Triggers Controversy Over Anti-Police Comments Captured On Videotape

There are growing complaints about faculty using classes for raw advocacy or political diatribes. The most recent such complaint arose at Cypress College where an instructor slammed a student, Braden Ellis, after he called police “heroes.” The unnamed adjunct professor insisted that police were created in the South to track down runaway slaves and represent a danger to her and others.  What is particularly ironic is that the presentation was on cancel culture.

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University of North Carolina Awards NYT Reporter Hannah-Jones A Chair In Investigative Journalism

We have been writing about the assault on foundational concepts of neutrality in journalism in academia. This includes academics rejecting the very concept of objectivity in journalism in favor of open advocacy. Columbia Journalism Dean and New Yorker writer Steve Coll has denounced how the First Amendment right to freedom of speech was being “weaponized” to protect disinformation. Now the University of North Carolina has awarded the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism to New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. While Hannah-Jones was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her writing on The 1619 Project, she has been criticized (including on this blog) for her role in purging dissenting views from the New York Times pages and embracing absurd anti-police conspiracy theories.

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Twitter Suspends Cornell Student For Showing Embarrassing Picture Of Hunter Biden

Twitter LogoThe conservative site College Fix has an account from a Cornell student that caught my eye today in light of the lawsuit yesterday against Twitter by Project Veritas for violating ill-defined “privacy rule.”  Joseph Silverstein says that he was suspended after showing a widely available picture of Hunter Biden in his underwear — one of the pictures taken from his laptop. Twitter insists that the picture violates privacy rules despite being taken from an allegedly abandoned laptop, widely discussed in the public domain, and concerning a matter of public debate. It is also another example of Twitter’s strikingly conflicted censorship policies where images of Rudy Giuliani allegedly groping himself are permissible but a media confrontation in front of a home with a Facebook executive or a picture connected to the Biden laptop are not. Continue reading “Twitter Suspends Cornell Student For Showing Embarrassing Picture Of Hunter Biden”

The Difficult Realities Of Lethal Force

Below is my column in the Hill on the spate of recent police shootings and the resulting calls for reforms and criminal charges.  Two new incidents have occurred in the last week and both raise serious questions that must be answered on the use of lethal force.  In North Carolina, Andrew Brown Jr., 42, was shot and killed during execution of an arrest warrant. He was reportedly shot in the back while trying to flee but no gun was found. In Virginia, Isaiah Brown, 32, was shot more than six times by a deputy who appears to have thought that a cellphone was a gun.  The officers had previously given Brown a ride home and they were later called back to the home due to a disagreement. The tape shows Brown saying that he was going to kill his brother with a gun, but Brown told the 911 operator that he did not have a gun. These and the prior cases capture the dangerously uncertain and chaotic context of such cases.  Both Brown cases raise serious questions that need to be answered on the use of lethal force.

Here is the column:

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Res ipsa loquitur – The thing itself speaks