Below is my column in the BBC on the historical and potential legal significance of the prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Much of the prosecution could turn on whether Assange is a journalist. Notably, Assange just received a European journalism award from the European parliamentarians. Assange is this year’s recipient of the 2019 GUE/NGL Award for Journalists, Whistleblowers & Defenders of the Right to Information.
In the meantime, there are some interesting comparison between the Assange and Zenger cases in the long-standing debate over what constitutes press freedoms.
We have previously discussed tutorials from Islamic clerics on how to beat your wife (here and here and here). The latest such grotesque lesson is from a leading cleric Abd Al-Aziz Al-Khazraj Al-Ansari in Qatar. Using a young boy as a stand-in for his wife, Al-Ansari, explains how to beat a wife “out of love” and how some women secretly want beatings because their want “violent and powerful husbands.”
Hillary Clinton has continued her national speaking on what the Democrats should do to win back the White House. For many, Clinton’s advice after losing to the most unpopular presidential candidate in history strikes a certain dubious note. However, there was an interesting component to some of her last appearances: referring to women as better or at least different leaders because they are women. It raises a glaring but rarely discussed issue in the media. The question is whether a male politician would be allowed to claim that voters should vote for him because men govern differently and have special leadership skills do to their gender. It is a view rejected by many women who voted against Clinton — women who Clinton promptly dismissed as controlled by their husbands. It seems like a verboten debate. It is considered fair for politicians to say that being a father or mother makes them a better leader. However, Clinton and others have gone further in suggesting that there is a gender difference to leadership and governing. Activists have argued that women are superior to men as leaders for such reasons as “They know how to spend and save money even when money is scarce.” Even academics are now arguing that women are inherently better leaders.
We just hit another milestone last night with over 36,000,000 views. With roughly 60,000 followers on Twitter, we continue to gradually expand our base of followers with the addition of new voices. We have tried to maintain this blog as a place for civil but passionate discourse on legal and policy issues of our time (and perhaps a few wacky stories).
We often use these milestones to look at the current profile of the blog and its supporters around the world. As always, I want to offer special thanks to Darren Smith who continues help up with periodic technical problems and our many regular commentators and readers. We try to keep this blog as an open forum with as little interference or monitoring of the comments as possible. Given our free speech orientation, we try not to delete comments and, for that reason, we are deeply appreciative of how most people avoid personal or offensive comments in debating these issues. Obviously, our open forum allows trolls and others to spew comments that are at times offensive and obnoxious but we continue to believe that civil and balanced comments will prevail. Thank you for voluntarily assuming restraint over the tenor and content of your comments.
Like most Americans, my family continues to be deluged with robo calls despite being on the “no call list” for years. The most reason annoying repeat offender has been an “Affordable Healthcare” number that calls repeatedly each day. I have previously written that I fail to see how the federal government cannot stop such companies. The fact is that they can and a recent report explains why they are not. According to the Wall Street Journal, it turns out that under Telephone Consumer Protection Act the Federal Communications Commission has imposed $208.4 million in fines. How much has the government collected? $6,790. You read that right. $6,790. That is just 0.003 percent of the fines.
Our close ally, Egypt, is again proving the worst expectations of its authoritarian rule. Singer Sherine Abdel-Wahabdemon commented to an audience in Bahrain that “Here I can say whatever I want. In Egypt, anyone who talks gets imprisoned.” Egypt could object and show that it remains a nation committed to free speech. Instead, it immediately proved her correct by banning her from ever performing in her native country. Egypt is obviously not disturbed by the world knowing that it is opposed to basic civil liberties. It was more concerned that its arbitrary arrests and punishments had not silenced this star and it was intent on showing other Egyptians what would happen if they even acknowledge their lack of free speech. What is truly depressing is that the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi had the Egypt’s Musicians Union silence a fellow artist, who in turn has begged for forgiveness for acknowledging that free speech no longer exists in Egypt.
I have been a critic of the alarming criminalizing of speech in Great Britain through hate speech laws. Such laws create an insatiable appetite for greater and greater speech regulation and create a sense of empowerment among citizens to silence those with whom they disagree. We have yet another example of how religious and political speech is being rapidly curtailed in Great Britain under expanding speech codes. Carolina Farrow, a Roman Catholic columnist, is now being investigated because, on Twitter, she referred to the biological rather than identified gender of the child of a transgender rights activist. She is accused of referring to Green’s daughter as a boy. For that, the activist, Susie Green, filed a complaint under Malicious Communications Act, which bars offensive, threatening and abusive content online. Police wanted a “taped interview with caution” on possible charges for transphobic conduct on social media. After criticism, Green decided to drop her demand for a criminal investigation but the point is that such references are now treated as criminal matters. The chilling effect on free speech is obvious.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all of the leprechauns of the blog from the Turley Clan. It is a beautiful St. Patty’s Day in McLean, Virginia and I went on a dawn hike on Billy Goat Trail (though the trail was closed due to flooding so I hiked to Olmstead overlook instead). The leprechauns came to bring treats and tricks to the Turley house this morning. Some of the hiking pictures from this morning are below.
Below is my column for the BBC on the controversy over President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration. Sixteen states, led by California’s Attorney General, are now suing. Others lawsuits have been filed on behalf of landowners and others. The lawsuits appear to challenge both the basis for an emergency declaration and the funding. I still expect Trump to prevail in the long-run if this goes to the Supreme Court. Ironically, House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff said this weekend that this controversy would be the “test” of his colleagues integrity and principles. Yet, Republicans could easily point out that Schiff never objected or took action when President Barack Obama circumvented Congress, including ordering the payment of potentially billions out of the Treasury after Congress refused to fund part of the Affordable Care Act. He was also silent when Obama not only refused to get authorization for the Libyan War but used undedicated funds to pay for it without an appropriation from Congress.
As this column discusses, there was at one time a much easier way to resolve the most bitter differences among political figures.
Ron Shaich, founder of the Panera line of restaurants, attracted considerable media attention with his announcement that the company would open various pay-what-you-can restaurants in Dearborn, Michigan; Portland, Oregon; Boston, and Chicago. He called it his “test of humanity.” It may actually be a test of economics and the experiment failed. After nine years and huge debt, the restaurants will now close, according to Eater Boston.
Yale is being sued in a class action brought by three female students who allege that fraternities create a hostile environment for women. Anna McNeil, Eliana Singer and Ry Walker object to the parties and atmosphere created by such fraternities. In their filing, they tell the court that “they have been shocked, disappointed, and disturbed by the prominent role that the Fraternities play in the campus social scene.” Many would note that there is not one social scene at Yale and that these students can simply avoid Frat parties and activities. That may be the response of the Court, which could view this as an effort in part to force Yale to curtail parties that these students do not want to attend. The filing objects to the very structure and role of fraternities on campus.
Below is my column in The Hill Newspaper on the long-standing debate over self-identification of race — an issue brought again to the forefront by the Elizabeth Warren controversy. There is a broader issue here that impacts universities and businesses on how race should be confirmed when used professionally or academically or financially. There is an ongoing debate over self-identification of race and whether such questions are simply cultural rather than genetic.
For Warren, the desire to focus on her race announced this weekend may be overshadowed by the other race issue.