Category: Society

Giving Thanks: Buy Coffee or Lunch For A Police Officer This Year

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

I thought I would make a suggestion for those who wish to pay forward a debt of gratitude we might owe our local police officers for what has been a very difficult few years. Maybe each of you might consider for even once in 2021 anonymously paying for coffee or a lunch for a police officer who serves your community. It might be a few dollars, but I can assure you it will make their shift just a bit more enjoyable–that someone cared and was grateful.

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SUNY Suspends Student For Posting Views On Biological Gender

There could be a significant First Amendment case brewing in New York after the School of Education at the State University of New York-Geneseo suspended student Owen Stevens for posting his view that gender is limited to biologically males and females.  As a state institution, SUNY is subject to the limitations of the First Amendment and Stevens could challenge the action based on his statements on Instagram. Continue reading “SUNY Suspends Student For Posting Views On Biological Gender”

Smith College Under Fire For Treatment Of Employees After Disproven Bias Incident

Smith College and its President Kathleen McCartney are under fire for its treatment of employees after a student, Oumou Kanoute, accused the school of racism in an incident with a security officer and a lunch worker.  The incident was disproven but McCartney and the college (as well as the media) treated the allegation as manifestly true — resulting in destruction of the reputations of a number of employees who were labeled as racists or examples of white privilege.  To this day, McCartney remains unapologetic for her failure to guarantee due process and fairness for these employees, even after an investigation of the incident in a recent New York Times piece. Continue reading “Smith College Under Fire For Treatment Of Employees After Disproven Bias Incident”

“The Dirty Dozen”: University of British Columbia Professor Fired After Doxxing Students Who Dropped Her Class

We often follow controversies at universities over free speech and academic freedom issues, but few are quite so bizarre as the case of Dr. Amie Wolf. Wolf was fired after a period of paid administrative leave due to her attacks on 12 students who transferred out of her Indigenous Education in Canada course. Wolf has since lashed out at the university and other professors, including a vulgar diatribe.  She is vowing to challenge the action of the university which she insists is due to her refusal to “assimilate to the institution’s norms” as “an academic who identifies as female Indigenous.”  While I am certainly no expert on Canadian law, that would seem highly difficult on these facts if pursued as a legal action. (Perhaps some of our Canadian academics or lawyers could contribute on such claims). Continue reading ““The Dirty Dozen”: University of British Columbia Professor Fired After Doxxing Students Who Dropped Her Class”

Fired High School Coach Sues Massachusetts School In Free Speech Lawsuit

There have been a variety of reported conflicts in school districts over curriculum changes and materials addressing racism, including the recent controversy in New York where white families were asked to chose between such “white identities” as “white supremacist” and “white traitor.” Such controversies make for poor lawsuits since they reflect policy, curricula, or programmatic choices of a given district. It becomes a legal matter when a district punishes parents for objecting to such material. That is part of the allegations raised in a recently filed lawsuit by the conservative group Judicial Watch. It is representing fired high school football coach Dave Flynn who alleges that he was terminated by the Dedham High School after raising objections as a parent over the course material in his daughter’s World Geography and Ancient History class. While I have not seen the school’s answer, the lawsuit highlights troubling allegations over how the district handled the matter and allegedly retaliated against Flynn. Continue reading “Fired High School Coach Sues Massachusetts School In Free Speech Lawsuit”

Lincoln Project Scandals Highlight The Role Of Lawyers As Donors

The Lincoln Project is facing rising allegations of ignoring sexual harassment claims against co-founder John Weaver, profiteering on donations, and even violating federal law in posting private messages by another co-founder. Now, in an effort to show that it is addressing the Weaver allegations fully and openly, the Project announced that it has retained a law firm to do an independent assessment of the controversy. However, the Project selected Paul Hastings, which has leading members (including a managing partner) who supported the Project financially. The support of lawyers for the Project is particularly troubling given its campaign to harass other lawyers to get them to drop Donald Trump or the Republican party as clients in election challenges. Continue reading “Lincoln Project Scandals Highlight The Role Of Lawyers As Donors”

“This Is About White Supremacy And Colonization”: Teacher Group Calls For Shakespeare To Be Removed From Reading Lists

While the House managers were quoting Shakespeare in their case against President Donald Trump last week, it appears that the Bard may soon be less known than “Poor Yorick” who we once knew so well. There is a growing campaign by teachers to drop Shakespeare and other Western literature from classes. One group, #DisruptTexts, insists “This is about White supremacy and colonization.” Lorena German, National Council of Teachers of English Anti-Racism Committee chair and a co-founder of the Disrupt Texts forum, insisted “everything about the fact that he was a man of his time is problematic about his plays. We cannot teach Shakespeare responsibly and not disrupt the ways people are characterized and developed.”

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Modus or Media Operandi? CNN Runs Statement Of Anonymous “Senior Aide” Who Said Trump Loved Watching The Riot

We recently discussed how House managers are claiming the right to use Trump’s failure to testify at his trial as proof of guilt (despite the fact that presidents historically have not given such testimony at Senate trials).  Now CNN has released (on the day before the start of arguments) an account from an unnamed former “senior aide” that Trump was watching the riot in the Capitol unfold and “loving watching the Capitol mob.” The same pattern emerged in the first Trump trial. It is being described as the “smoking gun” evidence needed to secure conviction. The story highlights the decision of the House not to call witnesses before or after its snap impeachment. The question is why the House would use implication, innuendo, and inference when it could have used direct evidence to seek the conviction of Donald Trump.

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Why Has Trump Not Been Charged With Criminal Incitement?

Below is my column in The Hill on the news that Donald Trump will not be charged with campaign finance violations linked to payments made to Stormy Daniels.  The report (and the start of the Senate trial) raise another question as to why Trump has not been interviewed, let alone charged, with the crime of incitement. Various members and legal experts have claimed that the case for prosecution is clear on its face. The crime occurred in public over a month ago, but there is no indication of a move to prosecute. Why? It is presumably not because prosecutors feel it would be too easy.

Here is the column:

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“We Cannot Mince Words”: San Francisco Education Official Denounces Meritocracy As Racist

Alison Collins, the Vice President of the San Francisco Board of Education, has declared meritocracy to be racist even in the selection of students at advanced or gifted programs. As we have previously discussed, this has been a building campaign in academia as educators and others denounce selection based on academic performance through testing. At issue in San Francisco is Lowell High School where top students were selected through testing and grades.  Most cities have such gifted programs or institutions, though we have discussed calls for the elimination of all gifted and talented programs in cities like New York.  Lowell had a majority of white and Asian students and only two percent of its student body were African-Americans. Collins and other board members want to abolish the merit-based selection in favor of a blind lottery system. Continue reading ““We Cannot Mince Words”: San Francisco Education Official Denounces Meritocracy As Racist”

“More Of This Please”: Professor Calls For The Death of Trump Supporters

An Australian professor of “moral psychology” used Twitter to call for the death of Trump supporters.  Neither Twitter nor his colleagues objected to Macquarie University Associate Professor Mark Alfano calling for “more of this please” after reading that a Trump supporter died in the recent Capitol Hill riot. He also called such deaths “comedy.” He is not the first academic to call for such violence or defend killings. We previously discussed Rhode Island Professor Erik Loomis who writes for the site Lawyers, Guns, and Money and declared that he saw “nothing wrong” with the killing of a conservative protester. (A view defended by other academics). Other professors have simply called for all “Republicans to suffer.” What is striking is that such views are neither barred by Twitter nor, according to a conservative site that broke this story, denounced at his university. For my part, I have always maintained an Internet originalist position on free speech opposing censorship, so I would prefer that these academics not be banned. However, there is a stark contrast in how such views are treated by both social media companies and universities. Likewise, there is legitimate condemnation of the social media statements of figures like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and many QAnon figures, but virtually nothing on figures voicing extremist views on the left in the mainstream media or academia.

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“Republicans Need To Suffer”: Drake Professor Triggers Free Speech Debate With Hateful Tweets Against Men and Conservatives

There is a free speech debate at Drake University over hateful and vulgar tweets from Associate English Professor Beth Younger, who called for Republicans “to suffer.” We have seen increasing vulgar attacks from academics, including such high-profile figures as Laurence Tribe in the last few years. Notably, Twitter did not suspend Younger’s account for calling for harm to all Republicans. I do not believe that she should be barred from social media or fired from Drake as a matter of free speech. Even with professors who have justified the murder of conservatives or killing police are protected in such hateful expressions.  The solution to such hate speech is more (and better) speech.  I would rather we denounce such speech than censor it. Continue reading ““Republicans Need To Suffer”: Drake Professor Triggers Free Speech Debate With Hateful Tweets Against Men and Conservatives”

Elizabeth Warren Calls Reporter’s Concerns Over A Wealth Tax As A “Bluff”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) was back on the airways this week touting her signature “wealth tax” in a sharp exchange with CNBC’s “Closing Bell” host Sarah Eisen. I have previously written about the constitutional concerns over a true wealth (as opposed to an income) tax, the exchange concerned the impact of a tax on the most wealthy. Warren ridiculed the notion of the wealthy leaving the country as a mere “bluff” meant to deter her and others from forcing the wealthy to pay their fair share.

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Twitter Summons “The Birdwatchers” In Expanding Campaign Against “Misinformation”

Twitter Logo

With much fanfare (and catchy background music) Twitter has launched the Birdwatch program, a platform that seeks to enlist the “community” to identify and comment on misinformation contained in tweets.  The company will initially select 1,000 such “Birdwatchers” in its monitoring of information exchanged on its once neutral platform.  Not surprisingly, many of us are not thrilled by the program. While the programs does not allow direct removal of tweets, it is clearly designed to flag tweets that the majority views as misleading. That can then be used by Twitter to further support its expanding censorship of information on the Internet.

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The Case Against Retroactive Impeachment Trials: A Response To The Open Letter Of Scholars

This week, a group of scholars wrote an open letter endorsing the constitutional basis for trying former President Donald Trump in a retroactive impeachment trial. The letter contains many individuals who I know and respect. I encourage you to read their case for such retroactive impeachment. As I have said in every column and posting on this subject, this is a close question upon which people of good-faith can disagree.  However, I would like to respond to the letter and offer a countervailing view. Continue reading “The Case Against Retroactive Impeachment Trials: A Response To The Open Letter Of Scholars”

Res ipsa loquitur – The thing itself speaks