My column yesterday discussed the increasing trend to treat the failure to use a person’s preferred pronouns (called “misgendering”) a type of hate speech or discriminatory conduct. A new case highlights the free speech problems associated with the trend. In Meriwether v. Hartop, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit handed down a major ruling in favor of Shawnee State University Professor Nicholas Meriwether, who was disciplined for refusing to use a student’s designated pronoun choices.
Roughly 50 years ago, Don McLean released his son song, “American Pie” with its famous line about “The Day the Music Died.” It was a reference to when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson died along with pilot Roger Peterson in an airplane crash. For Afghans, the day the music died coincided with the Taliban takeover of their country. Nothing drove home that fact than the horrific killing of Afghan folk singer Fawad Andarabi, who was executed by the Taliban for playing music. Continue reading “The Day the Music Died: Taliban Ban Music and Then Execute Leading Afghan Folk Singer”
I have long been an intense critic of blasphemy laws in nations like Pakistan as the ultimate rejection of free speech and religious freedoms. However, despite the chronicling of outrageous cases, these countries continue to shock the world in their religious fanaticism. This week in Pakistan, Muslims are demanding the execution of an eight-year-old boy who urinated on a carpet in the library of a madrassa or religious school. The boy and much of the Hindu community is in hiding after attacks on Hindus as well as a Hindu temple. Continue reading “Eight-Year-Old Child Charged With Blasphemy In Pakistan”
A few months ago, we discussed the ruling against the University of Iowa in Bus. Leaders in Christ v. Univ. of Iowa, 991 F.3d 969 (8th Cir. 2021) where the court held that we held that the law was clearly established that the University could not engage in viewpoint discrimination involving a Christian club. In a July 16 decision, the Eighth Circuit affirmed that the University of Iowa administrators violated the First Amendment rights of a second group, the InterVarsity Graduate Christian Fellowship. While the group allowed anyone to join, it required its leaders to adhere to core Christian values. It is another major victory for religious rights and their counsel the nonprofit Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. It is also a serious rebuke of the University which defiantly continued to discriminate at not just great cost to these students but the university as a whole.
There has been a great deal of controversy over the graduation address of Fairfax County school board member Abrar Omeish to the Justice High School in Falls Church on June 7th. In her remarks to the graduates, Omeish praised a teacher who made social activism part of her class and warned the graduates that they are going into a world filled with racism and white supremacy. However, what really struck an admittedly libertarian chord with me was the third danger that she warned about: “excessive individualism.” Like free speech, individualism is now being presented as a danger rather than a strength in our society.
The authoritarian rule of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has always been sobering for civil libertarians but this is ridiculous. After destroying civil liberties, the free speech and secularism, Erdogan remains unpopular with many inside Turkey and most people outside of Turkey. Facing an upcoming election, Erdogan has decided to play the Islamic card again and cracked down on liquor sales. It is the latest proof that he lied when he originally pledged to respect the secular traditions established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk that made Turkey unique in the Muslim world. Indeed, Ataturk was known as someone who was a heavy drinker in his time. Ataturk would drink a liter of raki (shown here), the Turkish national liquor, a day (which explains why he died at 57 years old from a chronic liver disease).
We recently discussed a meeting of the Loudoun County school board in which a teacher launched into a diatribe against classic works like To Kill A Mockingbird as racist. Now another teacher is the focus of a national debate after he spoke to the school board. However, teacher Byron “Tanner” Cross has been suspended for speaking against gender policies. Continue reading ““It’s Lying to a Child”: Virginia Teacher Suspended After Opposing Pronoun Policy”
A Christian group at the University of Iowa scored a major win this week before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. In an opinion (below) with sweeping potential impact, the court reversed District Court Judge Stephanie Rose and ruled that University of Iowa officials can be held personally liable for targeting a Christian club and denying the rights of free speech and association. The University ultimately did not appeal findings that it violated the rights of this religious group and these students in its discriminatory application of university policies.
A picture has been circulating on the Internet among Democratic and liberal posters that purportedly showed Republicans praying at a gold-colored statue of former President Donald Trump at the 2021 Conservative Political Action Convention (CPAC). The statue was mocked by critics as “the Golden Calf.” Figures like Joel Stein, who wrote for the Los Angeles Times, proclaimed that “the fall of Rome was this embarrassing.” Former Democratic congressional candidate Adam Christensen circulated the photo as did others with similar mocking notations. Another poster Mo Bella wrote Caption “this photo taken today of CPAC’s evangelical leaders. Yes, they are praying to a golden statue of their holy insurrectionist.” The problem is that the photo was fake. The question is whether those depicted could sue for false light in such a depiction.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei reportedly issued a fatwa to deal with a rising threat against the stability and morality of the Islamic Republic: all cartoon and animated women must wear hijabs. It is not clear if Khamenei will also create a cartoon version of Iran’s thuggish morality police, the Gasht-e Ershad, to pursue such “women” in the virtual streets of cartoons. Continue reading “Looney Tunes: Supreme Leader Issues Fatwa To Require Cartoon Women To Wear Hijabs”
The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a surprising blow to pandemic restrictions on house of worship in a late night order barring the enforcement of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Oct. 6 “Cluster Initiative” limiting attendance at religious services. Five justices (including newly installed Justice Amy Coney Barrett) blocked the limits while allowing the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to hear the merits in the case. Notably, Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the liberal justices but only because he felt that the order was not needed since the plaintiffs were not currently subject to the most severe limits. Continue reading “The Supreme Court Bars Cuomo’s Pandemic Limits On Houses of Worship”
We have been discussing the anti-Catholic attacks on Judge Amy Coney Barrett and how various commentators are calling her a “cult member” and a religious “monster.” Most responsible writers and newspapers have condemned the attacks but the New York Times has run a column that appears to justify the attacks using the same anti-Catholic tropes. (For the record, I was raised Catholic and attended a Catholic high school in Chicago). The column by Elizabeth Bruenig explains why the attacks may “not be entirely baseless” in exploring historical and philosophical sources. While I do not believe Bruenig holds or wants to advance long-standing anti-Catholic prejudices, the column references sources and advances stereotypes that are painfully familiar to many Catholics.
We have followed the rapid destruction of the secular government and civil liberties in Turkey under the authoritarian rule of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan used a failed coup to push his effort to create a de facto Islamic regime and to complete his work in arresting his critics, including forcing the resignation of thousands of secular academics, and suspending all civil liberties in a proclaimed state of emergency. Despite Erdogan’s repression of dissidents and groups in the name of Islam, there remain people of courage who defy him and his government. Sebahat Tuncel was sentenced Saturday for saying (four years ago) that Erdogan was a “complete misogynist” and an enemy of women — statements that are demonstrably true.
We have previously discussed the brutality of Islamic nations enforcing medieval Sharia law. Iran has given the world another shocking addition to the long list of beheadings, floggings, and other forms of Islamic punishment. A “court’ has ordered the amputation of the fingers of three teenagers found guilty of theft. Continue reading “Iranian Court Orders The Amputation of The Fingers Of Three Teenagers Under Sharia Law”