In this election, the Lincoln Project has been arguably the most prolific anti-Trump organization in running scathing and often personal attacks on Trump, his family, and his associates. The ads have ranged from the genuinely funny to the shockingly vicious. Now however, the Project may have added openly defamatory. The Project has erected a pair of billboards in Times Square that slam Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump as callous and mocking figures in the fast of the rising death toll from Covid-19. The Project has received a letter of intent to sue from the family’s lawyer and, while these actions by public official or public figures are extremely difficult to maintain, the claim could have merit. I have updated the column below to add the statement from the Lincoln Project.
When a detective on October 20th spotted a man who looked like a serial bank robber being pursued by police, they quickly deduced that they had the right man from prepared notes for bank tellers and a ball-peen hammer in his waistband. They also learned that the suspect, Aaron Patrick Honaker, 41, is a lawyer who previously represented parties in business and creditor cases. Continue reading “Business Litigator Charged As Serial Bank Robber In Florida”
Just a day after more than 50 former senior intelligence officials signed on to a letter declaring that the recent disclosure of emails from the Hunter Biden laptop is likely Russian disinformation, the FBI reportedly confirmed that the material does not appear to be Russian disinformation. While former officials like John Brennan insisted that the story “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation,” the FBI appears to have found no such evidence thus far. This followed a similar conclusion from the Director of National Intelligence in response to House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff saying that the story was pure Russian disinformation. The question is whether Twitter and Facebook will now bar access to Schiff’s statements pending further review since the actual intelligence agencies are suggesting that this could be democratic disinformation. After all, a former Twitter executive is calling for President Trump to be barred from all social media until after the election to prevent “misinformation.” The burden of being a free speech advocate is the the answer is clearly no. Those, like Schiff, who have called for censoring material on the Internet still should benefit from the protections of free speech. Continue reading “Will Adam Schiff’s Claims Now Be Blocked On Twitter?”
Peter Greenberger, a former Twitter and Google executive, is calling for the social media accounts of President Donald Trump to be shutdown for the remainder of the election. For those of us who have criticized calls for censorship from Democratic leaders for years, the demand is yet another example of the slippery slope of censorship that awaits this country with increasing regulation of speech on social media. Continue reading ““Time To Mute The President”: Former Twitter and Google Executive Calls For Trump To Be Banned From Social Media Until After The Election”
We have discussed the growing intolerance for opposing views of politics or the law on our campuses. The most recent example is small but highly illustrative. The sorority Kappa Delta has issued an abject apology. The reason is that the sorority committed the unforgivable sin of tweeting out a congratulations to Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a member of the sorority at Rhodes College, on her nomination to the Supreme Court. One should not have to agree with Barrett’s judicial philosophy to offer a simple attagirl to a sorority sister for her extraordinary accomplishment. However, other members protested that this simple act of civility was “hurtful” and traumatic to them as fellow members. The most notable however was feminist writer Amy Siskind who previously was attacked on Twitter for her own views opposing Black Lives Matter and supporting such political figures as John McCain and Sarah Palin. It is a tale of two Amys and one is being shunned for defending her long-held views and one is being celebrated for dispensing with them.
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor.
The below is a reprint of an article I authored four years ago concerning the hazard government agencies face in their reliance on censorship wielding organizations such as Facebook and Twitter to disseminate official information to the public. While it offers a quick, cheap, and easy way to offer news to the public, the price demanded in terms of arbitrary third-party rules, ownership of information, public records keeping liability, and reliance on a platform that could remove individual or all postings without prior notice is a risk the public should not be expected to bear.
There are extant messaging protocols that are not dependent upon third-party proprietary services. These include methods such as RSS Feeds, list based e-Mail servers to push information in addition, and standard web pages. Each more than adequately can fulfill the needs of the informed public. But as long as social media companies act as arbitrary and capricious gatekeepers to official information that information is at risk.
It really is also a matter of controlling the integrity of the information. Governments and agencies are opening themselves up to failure and censorship by taking the easy way out and not deploying these technologies in-house. If either of these supposedly “too big to fail” social media platforms suddenly collapsed (either financially or technologically) it would cause an immediate breakdown of a messaging system spanning governments globally. It can be one of the worst forms of single-point failure imaginable. Yet if each agency or government maintained their own system, if one individual server broke down the damage would be rather benign.
The most immediate problem before us presently is the proclivity to censor by social media outfits which might be at odds with legislation or rulemaking relating to public records and news announcements by government. It is not a duty of the social media companies to edit or formulate this information.
Here is the article:
Below is my column in USA Today on the troubling course taken by Democratic members in the confirmation hearing of Judge Amy Coney Barrett. As I have stated, there are a host of legitimate questions to be raised over Judge Barrett’s view of the law. Indeed, I praised the exchanges between Sen. Dick Durbin (D., IL.) and Judge Barrett as the substantive highlight of the hearing. Unfortunately, those were the exceptions. Instead, the thrust of the entire hearing was that Barrett was unqualified due to her expected vote in the upcoming case on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Various senators directly stated that they would vote against Barrett to protect the ACA. That is what is so unnerving about the Barrett confirmation hearing.
Here is the column:
We have been discussing the recent talking point emerging from the Biden campaign and Democratic leaders on court packing. While continuing to refuse to state their position on packing the Supreme Court to create an ideological majority, various Democratic figures have been calling the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett (and all of the Trump nominees) a form of court packing. A recent Gallup poll found only 32 percent of voters thought that the Supreme Court was dominated by conservatives. Continue reading “Gallup Poll: Voters Do Not Support Claims Of A “Packed” Supreme Court”
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
I thought this week I would share with you an important life-lesson I experienced decades ago. What will the words we express today afford us or others five years in the future? This is how I learned then the virtue of good teaching and how I’ve come to realize in the strife of much of today’s discourse that sowing discord is the antithesis of prosperity.
In my case it was a simple lesson that had a profound outcome.
Midwestern State University in Texas Professor Nathan Jun has triggered a free speech fight in Texas after a series of unhinged, hateful statements on social media. Wearing an Antifa teeshirt on social media, Jun has lashed out at police, capitalists, and politicians. His views are extreme and offensive. They are also, in my view, entirely protected. Much like the banning of Louis Farrakhan discussed yesterday, Jun is the test of our true commitment to free speech. By supporting this right to speak, we support the right of everyone, including the vast majority who view Jun’s comments as deeply unsettling and obnoxious. Continue reading “Texas Professor Triggers Free Speech Fight After Calling For The Death Of All Police By Strangulation with the “Intestines of the Last Capitalist””
Police in Michigan are looking for the person responsible for a booby-trapped Trump-Pence sign that cut a worker who was removing it because it was too close to the road. The worker required 13 stitches. In torts, we cover a long line of cases involving “snare guns” and “man traps” going back centuries. This case presents an ironic twist under that precedent. Continue reading “A Sign of Our Times: Police Search For Culprit In Booby Trapped Trump Sign”