Another professor is under fire this week for rabidly anti-Republican views. Clemson School of Computing Assistant Professor Bart Knijnenburg called not just Trump but all Republicans “xenophobic and racist.” He previously called all Republicans “racist scum.” Despite his hateful and intolerant views, I still believe that he has a free speech right to express those views in social media and would oppose efforts to terminate him. Unfortunately, such views are not uncommon among faculty. What made this story stand out is that Knijnenburg appeared to encourage others to find the home address of someone who published an open letter calling for schools to stop admitting Chinese students. It has become a standard practice of some groups to harass and threaten people at home if they express opposing views or contradict a new orthodoxy on our campuses. Continue reading ““Living Hell”: Clemson Professor Under Fire After Prompting Others To Find The Home Address Of Public Letter”
This week I testified in the Senate about the erosion of free speech and academic freedom in our universities where professors are being punished or even fired for expressing viewpoints that challenge a new orthodoxy on our campuses, particularly with regard to racial and political issues. The latest example can be found this week at the University of Pittsburgh, which has removed Associate Professor of Medicine Norman Wang was removed from his position as Program Director of the Electrophysiology Fellowship. The removal was in direct response to Wang publishing an article in a peer-reviewed journal that questioned the use of affirmative action in medical schools admissions. The action raises serious concerns over both free speech and academic freedom. The only thing more unsettling than the actions of the university was the relative silence of his colleagues throughout the University of Pittsburgh as he was punished for expressing his academic views.
Another professor is under fire for a tweet this week. In a now-deleted post on Twitter, Auburn University professor Jesse Goldberg declared “f*ck every cop. Every single one.” He then added, “the only ethical choice for any cop to make at this point is to refuse to do their job and quit.” The university is reportedly considering actions against Goldberg. As will likely come as no surprise to many on this blog, I do not agree that Goldberg should be subject to termination for the tweet which was the expression of his social and political views outside of the classroom. As I stated in my testimony in the Senate this week, faculty across the country are being subjected to campaigns for their termination due to controversial statements on the current protests and their underlying causes. While most of these cases involve professors who question the Black Lives Matter organizations or claims of systemic racism, it does not matter from a free speech perspective.
Today I am testifying in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution on the anti-free-speech movement in the United States. The hearing is entitled “The Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble: Protecting Speech by Stopping Anarchist Violence.” The hearing will be held at 2:30 in the Dirksen Senate Office Building and will be broadcast on C-Span and available on the Internet through the Committee. My testimony is below.
Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the continued speculation over President Donald Trump delaying or cancelling the 2020 election. This conspiracy theory first appeared shortly after Trump’s election and became the rage when Vice President Joe Biden predicted that Trump would try to halt the election (and try to steal the election through the Postal Service). Despite the overheated coverage, Trump did not try to delay the election. He cannot delay the election. He asked a question of whether it should be delayed, which Congress can legally do. However, as I said immediately after the tweet, it is a question that is politically absurd and legally unfounded. However, the only thing more ridiculous was the response to this eleven-word question. It is all part of the panic disorder that seems triggered by Trump tweets on a daily basis.
Here is the column: Continue reading ““Blood-Chilling” or Just A Tweet? Debunking The Coup d’Trump”
Below is my column on the recent hearing before the House Judiciary Committee with Attorney General William Barr. The hearing was widely ridiculed after Barr was repeatedly prevented from answering questions. It was a great disappointment. I just testified on the Lafayette Park controversy and many of us were waiting for a month to hear from Barr directly on the details, particularly the statements of many in the media that the Park area was cleared to allow President Trump to take a picture in front of St. John’s Church. Democratic members continued to refer to that as a fact (as has many in the media) despite the federal agencies supplying information that shows that the plan was approved days before and the order was given with no knowledge of the photo op. Yet, on repeated occasions Barr tried to supply times and dates, Democratic members immediately “took back the time” and even got angry when he tried to answer. The same is true on other controversies. We lost an opportunity to actually answer these questions. Yet, after repeatedly blocking Barr from answering, Speaker Nancy Pelosi called him a “Blob” at the hearing. He might seemed less blob-like if Democrats allowed him to speak. Instead, the hearing was an example of how Congress will work tirelessly not to find answers when a narrative is too good to check.
President Donald Trump has continued his dogmatic and potentially dangerous advocacy of the use of hydroxychloroquine despite recent studies questioning its benefits (and possible risks) as a treatment for COVID-19. One doctor who disagrees with these reports, including some out this week, is Dr. Stella Immanuel. Immanuel’s views however have been censored by Facebook and Twitter after her video was removed as false information. That brought an attack from Trump over censorship and the President has encouraged action from Congress which is looking this week at the issue. However, Dr. Immanuel called upon a higher source for intervention. She has warned the companies that Jesus will shutdown the companies unless her video is restored.
For many years, we have discussed disciplinary actions taken against teachers for social media postings. As a free speech blog, the trend has been alarming as teachers are fired for taking dissenting or controversial views. Now, an incoming Winthrop University Professor, April Mustian, is openly threatening K-12 teachers that they are being watched for any “rhetoric” deemed pro-police or antiBlack. A conservative group has objected to the now deleted Facebook posting from April 26th. This is a small such controversy but it is not isolated. It is indicative of thousands of such postings against free speech from academics across the country. This threatening posting was notable because it reflects a conscious effort to intimidate other teachers in their exercise of free speech. The whole purpose is to chill free speech by threatening their jobs and livelihood if they dare to voice opposing views. This latest controversy highlights the unresolved question of what speech rights teachers still have in participating in the national debate over police abuse and systemic racism.
The Washington Post settled a lawsuit filed by the family of a teenager Nicholas Sandmann who was falsely labeled a racist who aggressively attacked an elderly Native American activist during a visit to the Lincoln Memorial with his high school class. The false account of the incident was widely circulated in the media. He was attacked on networks like MSNBC and CNN as well as in newspapers like the Post. He sued the Washington Post for $250 million but the settlement terms were not disclosed.
U.S. District Judge James Robart issued an order Friday night that blocked a Seattle law prohibiting police from using pepper spray and other anti-riot weapons. While described by the court as “very temporary,” it is also very dubious from a constitutional standpoint. I do not see the authority of a federal judge to stop the City of Seattle from determining what gear and devices may be used by its own officers, particularly in response to the federal government objecting to the state policy. The court in my view does not have the authority to make such a policy decision, even on a “very temporary” basis. Update: A different federal judge issued a more credible ruling in rejecting the demand of the Oregon Attorney General to put limits on the federal officers. The Oregon Attorney General’s filing was long on rhetoric and short on the law.
Growing up in Chicago, the giant Christopher Columbus statue was a well-known feature in Grant Park. It is now gone. Mayor Lori Lightfoot moved to end the violent protests through an act of surrender. She unilaterally ordered the removal of statue. Problem solved? No, the problem was mob action to remove the statue and Mayor Lightfoot just yielded to violence which left many police officers injured in its wake as well as a number of protesters. Indeed, before the removal, Lightfoot’s own home was targeted after she spoke with President Donald Trump about the use of federal officers to deal with the crime surge in the city. The protesters were demanding the defunding of the Chicago Police Department. My concern is that this was an act that confirmed that rioting and violence can prevail. In the end, it was not the statue but the rule of law that was at issue in Grant Park. Both were lost in the dead of night.
We have previously discussed my reservations about the use of federal charges of arson and other crimes to prosecute individuals accused of rioting offenses in the recent protests. The concern was the federalization of local offenses. Now, however, I have concerns about state charges out of Oklahoma. Teenagers are facing terrorism charges after allegedly helping to break in the windows of an Oklahoma City bail bonds business in late May. I have long raised concerns about the broadening of terrorism laws and this is an example of why I still hold such concerns. As the Justice Department explores possible terrorism charges, the Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater appears to be adopting an exceptionally broad interpretation of that crime. Among those charged was Malachai Davis, 18, who was shown breaking the window of the CJ Bail Bond building using what appeared to be brass knuckles. That charge has a tragic irony because, according to his attorney, Davis’ father died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 2001.
We have previously discussed how President Donald Trump has repeatedly asserted constitutional authority that he does not have in dealing with the pandemic. The President routinely ignored the principles of federalism in such claims of control over states in their internal health and policing decisions. He is not alone. Cities like Portland have demanded that federal officers leave the city and stop making arrested. While there are legitimate questions raised about the conduct of federal officers in putting people into custody and the use of force in Portland, those concerns related to the use of federal powers, not the basis for those powers. The federal government has full authority to protect federal buildings and to carry out arrests for federal crimes in any city. Current reports coming out of the White House appear to refer to surging law enforcement personnel, not sending military personnel. That would be constitutional if used for protect federal assets or enforce federal laws. That is the flip side of federalism. But how about the recent claims that the President is about to take over policing from cities like Chicago? The answer is that such a federal deployment without a request from the governors would be unwise but would be legal. However, there are practical and legal reasons why such any massive deployment is unlikely.