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[RECAP] Free Speech and Black Lives on Campus – PEN America

NEW YORKOn June 17, PEN America hosted Free Speech and Black Lives on Campus, a roundtable webinar organized in response to the recent protests that have galvanized a national call to conscience regarding the persistent challenges of racism and anti-Black violence in the United States. Panelists discussed how these events have reverberated throughout college and university communities, surfacing a series of urgent issues pertaining to racism in higher education and the actions university administrators must take to address these issues.

Moderated by PEN America Director of Campus Free Speech Jonathan Friedman, panelists included Neijma Celestine-Donnor (Director of Bias Incident Support Services, University of Maryland), Shard M. Davis (professor at the University of Connecticut, and cofounder of #BlackintheIvory), Jael Kerandi (Undergraduate Student Body President, University of Minnesota), Dinaw Mengestu (award-winning author and Professor of Written Arts, Bard College, and PEN America Trustee), and Joy Melody Woods (Ph.D. student, University of Texas at Austin, and cofounder of #BlackintheIvory). These excerpts from the conversation have been edited for clarity.

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JONATHAN FRIEDMAN: The hashtag #BlackInTheIvory has released a floodgate of information. Can you talk us through some of the stories that youre hearingis it surprising? Is it not surprising? Is it what you expected?

SHARD M. DAVIS: The stories really run the gamut from physical assault against Black graduate studentsinvasion of their space, touching their hair without permissionto racial microaggressions, which are unfortunately very covert in nature. So, its really difficult for you to be able to identify and then articulate those microaggressions to an aggressor that what they are doing and saying is problematic. To be honest, Im not surprised. Just like many other #BlackInTheIvory truth-tellers, I see myself in almost every story.

JOY MELODY WOODS: My own experiences with higher education have not lived up to the expectations of an equitable, inclusive community. I think the equitable and inclusive things have been anomalies. This didnt go against my expectations. Ive been to multiple institutions, and Im not walking through the world with rose-colored glasses. I come into places with the thought process that this is possible; it could happen; it has happened before.

The stories really run the gamut from physical assault against Black graduate studentsinvasion of their space, touching their hair without permissionto racial microaggressions, which are unfortunately very covert in nature. . . Just like many other #BlackInTheIvory truth-tellers, I see myself in almost every story.Shard M. Davis

FRIEDMAN: People have conceived of higher education as a place that is apart from societya place for progress, openness, equity, offering an opportunity for people to get ahead in life. Have these institutions or schools in general gotten better at fighting racism since you were a child?

DINAW MENGESTU: I would say that the idea that these institutions are these seemingly idyllic bastions of liberal good values has been an idea that a lot of people are skeptical of if you were ever a minority college student. I dont think you ever forget those experiences. Faculty members arent able to convince you that the world is significantly better or has changed. So, Ive never had that delusional idea that entering academia would somehow wash away any racial problems. What is interesting, though, is how academic institutions see themselves as being forces for good or on the forefront of social change. However, this idea of what they are makes it that much harder for academic institutions to realize how far they fall short of living up to those ideals. So when youre inside of these institutions, to be able to sort of say, I know you may believe youre as good as you think you are, but in fact, theres this yawning or extremely wide gap between those ideas and whats actually practiced by the part of the faculty, the students, and all the people going into the maintenance of the institution.

Its my everyday life. Its walking down the street. Its going to the store. . . It is those instances that perpetuate this idea that everything is okay, or that we are operating in this normative that is appropriate or fair to Black students.Jael Kerandi

FRIEDMAN: One of the biggest issues is the way speech and hateful speech can have significant harms. Overtly racist and hateful acts really do disrupt and destabilize Black students lives. Could you speak to your own views of that and how youve tried to address it?

NEIJMA CELESTINE-DONNOR: My literal job is to respond to hate/bias incidents on campus. What I see that a lot of people dont always see is the impact, and the significant harm that it causes to students of color and other marginalized folks. We see that even in instances where something may happen to the person who did the particular action or caused the particular harm, theres lifelong harm that continues to sit with the people who have been impacted. Harm from slurs, harm from all of these microaggressions. . . and what were doing is trying to support folks putting their lives back together. One of the things we try to preach and emphasize is that the legality of an action has nothing to do with its harm.

JAEL KERANDI: Its my everyday life. Its walking down the street. Its going to the store. Its taking a walk. Its going on a run. Its making sure my brother gets home. Its making sure that when my dad leaves in the middle of the night, that he makes it back home. It is those instances that perpetuate this idea that everything is okay, or that we are operating in this normative that is appropriate or fair to Black students. At the end of the day, we are tuition-paying students. Education is a service. We are paying money into these institutions, and we deserve to hold them accountable to the values that they say on their websites.

Until we look at the foundations of these institutions that kept us out, and we had to fight to be here to get an education, we are going to keep having these conversations.Joy Melody Woods

FRIEDMAN: When we rewind the clock and we think about how society visualizes discrimination in, lets say, the 1950s, its very clear there is discriminationthe horrific videos and efforts to desegregate schools was very visceral and visible. However, racism that manifests today can be more invisible, so theres a disconnect between what we think of as racismsomething left in the pastand everyday racism now.

WOODS: Thinking of the 1950sand for some reason, people have this disconnect in thinking that it was so long agosome of these people who have these visceral, vile reactions to desegregation are parents and professors. Sure, we arent blocking Black and Brown bodies from coming into the institution, but those people are still in power and have created these systems. Until we look at the foundations of these institutions that kept us out, and we had to fight to be here to get an education, we are going to keep having these conversations. We need to look at the names of thingsbuildings, stadiums, benches, scholarshipsnames mean things. Until we look at that, we are going to continue around that mountain of how this invisibility is happening. Its very visible, but the system is set up to make it seem invisible.

KERANDI: I think people have thought that the blatant segregation has lost its effect or our schools are integrated and now were okay. In reality, when we look back at the 1930s when redlining was birthed by President Roosevelt and look at how it put students into different neighborhoods, we see that those families stayed in those neighborhoods and built communities, but the schools that were built around these communities were not ready to prepare these students for college or not given the resources to provide a good education. This perpetuates, and those students go to these high schools and middle schools that are underfunded, under-resourced weve been defunding education for yearsand they go on to college and dont feel as career-ready. Its cyclical. Segregation and redlining, we still see them having an effect on our communities todaytheyre still present. That impact is still very heavy today. Theyre very systemic things in our cities and states and local officials are still doing to perpetuate this forward. I think we also have to recognize that its still very inherent in our systems. You can still find deeds that still say white-only. People need to recognize that its everywhere, and it moves and it pushes unless we say right now that were going to pivot history. It cannot just be Black people saying, This is what we feel. Weve gone far beyond acknowledgements. If you refuse to acknowledge, you are simply choosing to ignore facts at this point. And thats when telling institutions that acknowledgement statements are not actions. . . We need to move beyond that. Action has to be made.

You cannot have a discussion on free speech without a discussion about power. The way free speech works on campus is that those that hold power have more access to free speech and more resources to engage in free speech.Neijma Celestine-Donnor

FRIEDMAN: What does it mean in even the ivory towers of forethought and social progress that these vestiges of racism could be so deeply visible?

WOODS: I think of the names of some of the buildings on campus here. Theyre there because someone gave them money, and if we change that name, are we losing money? Were looking at people afraid to lose money, which they have shown us that they are more afraid to lose money than they do our bodies. That was seen with the Ohio State football players today signing theyre accepting any risk of getting COVID so they can play. I dont know those players, but its really scary that were asking people to even sign something like that, and it all goes down to money. Until we have an ethical and moral repositioning which goes to getting people out of power, we will still be looking at these things that are so visible.

CELESTINE-DONNOR: I feel like these folks putting out statements and changing their products are very performative. I dont know if these people care about our lives and our bodies. Weve been talking about these things being problematic for years and for months, so for people to be doing it at this timein this moment where all eyes are on youmakes me think that this is very performative. I wonder what is going to happen moving forward, when the eyes are no longer on you.

DAVIS: It is absolutely performative. In this day and age, in the era of cancel culture, no one wants to be deemed as the racist or to lose dollars or endorsements or sponsors by having racist symbols that are attached to their company. No president wants their university in the national news because they didnt make a statement or acknowledge anti-Blackness rhetoric or they didnt acknowledge some racist event that happened on campus, so it is performative. I think that it is a performance because people want to make sure that they keep their pockets lined. They can still move forward in whatever business that they have.

Oftentimes, when youre being critical of the way that free speech is employed. . . that isnt because youre trying to necessarily take away free speech, but youre acknowledging an inherent power difference. Were not coming to free speech with a level playing field. We need a representation of values on campusthe values of Black academics and Black studentsand ensure that those ideas and those experiences are valued to the same degree.Dinaw Mengestu

FRIEDMAN: As Black members of academic communities on campus, do you feel that free speech as a concept has been something that has been an ally to this cause? Has it been equitably upheld?

CELESTINE-DONNOR: You cannot have a discussion on free speech without a discussion about power. The way free speech works on campus is that those that hold power have more access to free speech and more resources to engage in free speech. I think that, while free speech can be an ally to marginalized folks, when marginalized folks engage in counter-speech, they arent seen as exercising their own free speech. Instead, they are seen as attacking free speech. I think the ways we see free speech are deeply rooted in anti-Blackness and white supremacy. If it wasnt, free speech could be an ally, and when marginalized folks use their voices, it would not be seen as an attack on free speech. When the First Amendment was created, it was not created for people who look like us.

MENGESTU: Oftentimes, when youre being critical of the way that free speech is employed or say that youre using free speech in order to attack or threaten or minimize somebodys existence, is to acknowledge that isnt because youre trying to necessarily take away from free speech, but youre acknowledging an inherent power difference. Were not coming to free speech with a level playing field. We need a representation of values on campusthe values of Black academics and Black studentsand ensure that those ideas and those experiences are valued to the same degree. When we get to that point, then we can argue more about what free speech can actually look like.

FRIEDMAN: When so much hateful and denigrating expression is protected speech by the First Amendment, particularly at a public university, how can universities confront it in ways that dont infringe on peoples right to free speech but also acknowledge the harm that speech has on other students?

CELESTINE-DONNOR: You can acknowledge someone has the right to free speech but engage in moral leadership and denounce the concepts. What I see happening is that there is this fear that if I speak out against this hateful action, then Im speaking out against this persons right of free speech, and I actually think that is sort of cowardly. I want leaders of our institutions to engage in moral leadership and stop acting as though there are two sides. When we consider both sides, we are saying that these ideas can be equal on their merits. But theres no two sides when it comes to murder, or anti-Black racism.

MENGESTU: One of the challenges to how we respond to hateful speech is that it constantly evolves. Sometimes, hate speech announces itself very clearly, but other times it will happen in quiet ways. The question isnt to restrict speech, but how you make sure that people that are actually affected by it actually can acknowledge it and address it and speak to it in a way that doesnt actually leave them silent. My recognition and anger at hateful speech should not be seen as a threat to speech, but as a rightful and righteous response to that type of language. Im exercising my same right.

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[RECAP] Free Speech and Black Lives on Campus - PEN America

A Deeply Provincial View of Free Speech – The Atlantic

The letter in Harpers vaguely alludes to instances of alleged silencing that sparked complicated discussions, very often about institutional racism. Whatever the arguments around each particular incident, the letter concludes, the result has been to steadily narrow the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal. (At least two of the signatories have since distanced themselves from the statement, and on Friday another group of writers and academics published a lengthy counterletter that originated in a Slack channel called Journalists of Color.)

That the signatories of a letter denouncing a perceived constriction of public speech are among their industries highest-paid and most widely published figures is a large and obvious irony. Many of the writers who signed their name have been employed or commissioned by outlets including The New Yorker, The New York Times, Vox, The Washington Post, and this magazine. Several have received lucrative book deals; otherslike Rowling, Salman Rushdie, and Wynton Marsalisare global icons. The educators on the list are affiliated with universities including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Columbia.

Theres something darkly comical about the fretfulness of these elite petitioners. Its telling that the censoriousness they identify as a national plague isnt the racism that keeps Black journalists from reporting on political issues, or the transphobia that threatens their colleagues lives. The letter denounces the restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, strategically blurring the line between these two forces. But the letters chief concern is not journalists living under hostile governments, despite the fact that countries around the world impose draconian limits on press freedom.

Across the globe, the challenge facing journalists and intellectuals is not the pain of Twitter scorn; the Committee to Protect Journalists estimates that at least 250 journalists were imprisoned worldwide last year for their reporting. In the U.S., the Trump administration continues to threaten reporters safety and undermine the belief that journalists play a valuable role in a democracy. The country is moving deeper into an economic recession, decimating industries including journalism and academia. And yet the suddenly unemployed people the Harpers statement references clearly lost their jobs not because of a pandemic or government pressure, but for actions criticized as potentially harming marginalized groups. This small group includes James Bennet, the former opinions editor of The New York Times (and a former editor in chief of this magazine), who was forced to resign after the op-ed page he supervised published an article by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton that endorsed state violence.

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A Deeply Provincial View of Free Speech - The Atlantic

Goya Foods CEO says the boycott over his praise of Trump is a suppression of speech – Vox.com

Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue said on Friday that a growing boycott of his company in response to his recent praise of President Donald Trump amounts to a suppression of speech, tapping into the presidents ongoing narrative that liberals are proponents of an oppressive cancel culture that punishes those who exercise their right to free speech.

Calls for a boycott emerged after Unanue said that Trump was an incredible builder and that the US was blessed to have him as president at a White House event on Thursday meant to highlight a new advisory commission on creating economic opportunities for Latinx Americans. The praise elicited criticism from progressives, and a boycott campaign of Goya Foods backed by prominent political and cultural leaders like Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Hamilton creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda rapidly spread across social media.

In an interview on Fox & Friends, Unanue argued that the online campaign revealed a double standard, pointing to the fact that he attended a healthy eating initiative at the invitation of former president Barack Obama and and first lady Michelle Obama in 2012.

So youre allowed to talk good or to praise one president, but youre not allowed, when I was called to be part of this commission to aid in economic and educational prosperity and you make a positive comment, all of a sudden thats not acceptable, Unanue said.

So, you know, Im not apologizing for saying and especially if youre called by the president of the United States, youre going to say, No, Im sorry, Im busy. No thank you. I didnt say that to the Obamas, and I didnt say that to President Trump, he added.

Conservative politicians and pundits have leaped on the boycott, popularized online as the #Goyaway campaign, as another sign of the existence of an extremist left seeking to obliterate discourse and to enact punitive measures against those they disagree with.

The Left is trying to cancel Hispanic culture and silence free speech. #BuyGoya, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) tweeted on Friday. Fox News contributor and former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee tweeted: Cancel-culture leftists dont need beans. Their speeches & whining already produce all the gas the planet can take.

But while Unanue and his supporters on the right are decrying the boycott as an attack on his right to speech, in reality, its simply criticism of his political gestures.

Buycotting is not suppressing speech. In fact, it is the opposite, Jaime Settle, a scholar of American political behavior at the College of William and Mary, told me. Corporate leaders have a choice: If they choose to publicly disclose their political views, they should expect people to respond by expressing their own, even if the public channels that speech through consumer habit.

Unanues right and capacity to express his ideas about the president or any other matter remain intact even if profit margins at Goya, a multibillion-dollar company, take a hit due to pushback from boycott campaigns. Instead of free speech, the core issue is the social consequences that accompany taking a political position in a highly polarized political climate.

Unanue, the head of the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the US, appeared at the White House on Thursday to announce that Goya Foods would be donating 1 million cans of chickpeas as well as 1 million pounds of food to food banks as part of the Hispanic Prosperity Initiative, a new advisory commission created by Trump tasked with increasing Hispanic access to economic and educational opportunities.

When Unanue spoke at the Rose Garden event at a podium just feet away from Trump, he did not just announce his donation but also offered praise of the president, likening him to his own grandfather, a Spanish immigrant who founded Goya in 1936.

Were all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder, he said. And so we have an incredible builder. And we pray. We pray for our leadership, our president, and we pray for our country, that we will continue to prosper and to grow.

Unanues decision to laud the president resulted in sharp blowback among Latinx progressives, who argued that Unanues celebration of the Trump presidency marked a betrayal of the Latinx community that buys his companys products.

@GoyaFoods has been a staple of so many Latino households for generations. Now their CEO, Bob Unanue, is praising a president who villainizes and maliciously attacks Latinos for political gain, tweeted former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julin Castro. Americans should think twice before buying their products.

Miranda, the creator of Hamilton, tweeted, We learned to bake bread in this pandemic, we can learn to make our own adobo con pimienta. Bye.

United We Dream, an immigrant youth-led organization, created a petition slamming Unanue for aligning with Trump and calling for a boycott of the company; #Goyaway and #BoycottGoya trended on Twitter after the remarks.

Commentators on the right responded to the boycott campaign with their own hashtag: #BuyGoya. Conservative pundits and politicians described the boycott as an attack on Unanues freedom of speech, and advocated for pushing back by stocking up on Goya products.

Amid the blowback, Unanue decided to appear on Fox News and Fox Business on Friday.

On Fox & Friends one of Trumps favorite television shows and a bastion of far-right thinking Unanue began the interview by saying, Its good to be with some friends. During the interview, he said the boycott constituted a suppression of speech; that he would not apologize for his remarks; and that the reaction to his praise of Trump revealed a double standard since his appearance at the Obama White House in 2012 garnered no controversy.

Later on Fox Business during an interview he began by telling the host that he was doing a great job he said the boycott was a reflection, I believe, of the division that exists today in our country ... this great divide is killing our nation were tearing down statues of Jesus Christ.

Abraham Lincoln had the great quote, A house divided against itself cannot stand. And this can be the destruction of our nation, we are at that point, he said.

In adopting this language, Unanue and his supporters have framed the boycotts as the latest example of an overzealous left that seeks to suppress the expression of everything it doesnt like. Unanues comment about statues of Jesus being attacked evokes Trumps talk of statue-toppling as a sign of a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children.

Trump has, in recent months, portrayed efforts by anti-racist protesters to pull down or criticize memorials commemorating historical figures who supported slavery, white supremacy, or colonialism as an attack on American values. (There are no signs that statues of Jesus are generally being targeted by protests, but there has been criticism of Eurocentric depictions of his image.) While protesters see these symbols as inappropriate celebrations of Americas history of white supremacy, Trump has tried to argue in highly racialized and nativist language that efforts to remove them represent a totalitarian crackdown on expression of identity.

But this language obscures the issue at hand. Anti-racist protesters arent disputing the right of people to discuss Confederate leaders; theyre protesting their celebration. And similarly, Unanue is not having his views suppressed hes receiving criticism for signaling support for policies that boycotters see as unjust.

Freedom of speech as defined by the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights refers to restrictions on state action (specifically Congresss ability to make laws) on the freedom of the public and the press to express their views. Boycotts led by consumers, experts say, fall under protected speech.

Calls for economic boycotts are clearly speech, not the suppression of speech. Consumers have long tied politics to purchasing, and advocating business boycotts is undoubtedly protected speech, Timothy Zick, a professor of government and citizenship at the College of William and Mary Law School, told me. Mr. Unanue runs a large corporation, so it rings hollow to suggest that individual consumers are in any way suppressing his speech.

One relevant precedent here is a 1982 Supreme Court ruling that an NAACP boycott of white merchants in Mississippi seeking to secure compliance by both civic and business leaders with a lengthy list of demands for equality and racial justice, was protected by the First Amendment.

Given that the boycott does not represent an infringement on his First Amendment rights, Unanues more substantive grievance might then appear to be that its unfair for his company to be penalized for his appearing at a presidential event, something hes done before. But this line of thinking is flawed for a number of reasons.

The political climate is vastly different than the last time Unanue appeared at a presidential event: Trump has successfully worked to dramatically polarize American politics for the entirety of his presidency even turning a public health emergency into a partisan war and thus voluntary affiliation with his administration is rarely, if ever, perceived as neutral.

That polarization has been accomplished in part through Trumps denigration of the USs Latinx community, from the moment he kicked off his first presidential campaign by calling Mexicans rapists and criminals to his recent inability to address record-high Latinx unemployment. And Trumps immigration policy has targeted Latinx people in particular featuring, for example, harsh detainment policies like child separation that violate international human rights standards.

This is only one small chapter in a much wider problem of polarization over a host of issues, Mugambi Jouet, a professor who specializes in polarization at McGill University, told me, noting that the fundamental issues at play here are the question of immigration and xenophobic discourse and agenda of the Trump administration.

Unanue has chosen to jump into the political fray at every juncture of this episode. Crucially, he chose not only to affiliate with Trump, but also praised the president in strong terms. And then Unanue went on to do two distinctly chummy interviews on Fox News where he said people criticizing him were the real source of division in the country.

The speed and intensity at which the backlash came is a function of this polarization after three years of the Trump administration, very few Americans have ambivalent feelings about the president but the boycotts themselves are an outgrowth of anger at the policies and behavior Jouet outlined.

Gustavo Arellano, author of Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, told the New York Times that Unanues comments were a betrayal for many in the Latinx community who see Trump as the antithesis of Latinos, in fact, as the enemy.

For Unanue the leader of a brand that represents nurture and community and family and most importantly the kitchen for Latinx Americans, according to Arellano to endorse a president who has caused that community, and other communities of color, so much pain brings many a great deal of distress. Not only because Unanue said Trump himself was incredible, but because with his praise, Unanue seemed to endorse the presidents damaging policies.

Also of concern to those boycotting Goya are Unanues actions not just his willingness to seek the friendly confines of Fox News, but his financial contributions to lawmakers who have enacted right-wing policies. Per CNNs David Goldman:

Unanue has donated to Republicans in recent years, including $6,000 to the Republican National Committee and $1,000 to former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in 2017 when he was running for president, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Unanue also gave $2,300 to New Jerseys Democratic Senator Robert Menendez in 2010.

Roberts brother Peter, who serves as Goyas executive vice president, gave $100,000 to the anti-abortion National Right to Life Victory fund in 2012. And other Unanue family members who are shareholders of Goya have given thousands of dollars to other, mostly Republican candidates and politicians, including Trump.

Unanue remains free to express his political opinions. He took advantage of this freedom at the White House, and again on Fox News. What hes witnessing with a boycott is not an agenda to prevent him from speaking his mind, but a rejection among a vocal set of fellow citizens of the ideas and endorsements hes chosen to align himself with.

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Goya Foods CEO says the boycott over his praise of Trump is a suppression of speech - Vox.com

Free speech is under threat and other commentary – New York Post

Conservative: Will the Backlash Kill Joes Bid?

When the hard-left theorist Noam Chomsky thinks bedrock American principles like free speech are under threat, Matthew Continetti observes in The Washington Free Beacon, it is a sign that ... things have gotten out of control Joe Biden better be paying attention. The wokesters are going too far: Social media has become a system of surveillance, policing and stigma, news media the vehicle for an attack on the American Founding. This could all spell doom for Bidens presidential bid. There is only so much self-abasement a nation can take. And when the winds of woke start to blow, millions of Americans find that there is one way left for them to oppose political correctness: pulling the lever for the man in the White House.

As street violence spikes in big cities across America, writes The Chicago Tribunes John Koss, its becoming clear that Black Lives Matter is a mere political and fundraising arm of the Democratic Party, not the civil-rights movement it claims to be, and its largely young, white and woke supporters cant work up much concern about black children being slaughtered in big-city gang wars. Indeed, even while protesters are shouting loudly and passionately about defunding or abolishing the police, they arent saying a word to pressure big-city Democratic mayors to do anything about the spiking urban violence probably because they live several degrees removed from the killings and see no political advantage for the November elections in drawing attention to them. Thats not cynicism, sadly. Thats reality.

Much of modern social protest is psychological and spiritual need dressed up as revolution, Mark Judge argues at The Stream. Because many young people dont have a grounding principle like religious faith in their lives, theyre easy prey for toxic ideologies, such as Marxism. Thats nothing new: For many believers, Communism became like a father, providing both love and acceptance and a totalizing solution to all the worlds (and each persons) problems. And like their 1960s predecessors, many antifa rioters are really out there looking for their fathers after coming from broken homes. All of these broken souls share the same distant, soulless nihilism and rather than taking up the difficult task of making themselves more whole, they latch on to radical movements.

Kanye Wests recent pledge to remove extraneous chemicals from deodorant makes me like Americas last rock star even more than I did before he announced last Saturday that he was going ahead with his presidential campaign, half-jokes The Weeks Matthew Walther. Would anyone really expect, much less want, Kanye to run on lower taxes and block-granting Medicare to the states? Kudos, too, for his unabashed pro-life stance: At a time when social conservatism is mostly an unedifying series of non-debates about the flag and kneeling, the rapper sounds like Pat Buchanan in 1992, arguing for prayer in public schools and insisting that We have to stop doing things that make God mad. And he sounds more genuine than more conventional conservatives. Whats not to like?

With COVID resurging, warns Dr. Joel Zinberg at City Journal, we must acknowledge data showing that lockdowns themselves contributed to the death toll. If we dont learn from this, doctors will need a new cause of death on death certificates public policy. Economic recession led to increased drug and alcohol abuse and increases in domestic abuse and suicides. Meanwhile, inpatient admissions in Veterans Administration hospitals were down 42 percent for six emergency conditions, including stroke, heart failure and appendicitis, during one six-week period during the pandemic, a change not seen last year. These and deaths from chronic conditions increased because people had to shelter in place, were too scared to go to the doctor or were unable to obtain care. Bottom line: Public-health experts cant go on pretending lockdowns dont kill.

Compiled by The Post Editorial Board

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Free speech is under threat and other commentary - New York Post

Writers warn in open letter against threat to free speech – The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) Dozens of artists, writers and academics have signed an open letter decrying the weakening of public debate and warning that the free exchange of information and ideas is in jeopardy amid a rise in what they call illiberalism.

J.K. Rowling, Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood are among dozens of writers, artists and academics to argue against ideological conformity in an open letter in Harpers Magazine. The letter comes amid a debate over so-called cancel culture where prominent people face attack for sharing controversial opinions.

The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy, the letter said. But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercionwhich right-wing demagogues are already exploiting. The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.

Rowling, for example, has attracted criticism over her views on transgender issues, which have angered many activists. In a series of tweets, Rowling said she supported transgender rights but did not believe in erasing the concept of biological sex.

The comments prompted Daniel Radcliffe and other cast members of the Potter films to publicly disagree with her. Rowling was unmoved, but was attacked for weeks online.

The letter criticized the state of public debate and the swift and severe retribution dealt out to any perceived wrongs. It decried an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.

The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away, the letter said. We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other.

Other signatories included Noam Chomsky, Gloria Steinem and Malcolm Gladwell.

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Writers warn in open letter against threat to free speech - The Associated Press

EDITORIAL: Protecting your freedom of speech – The Cherokee One Feather – Cherokee One Feather

Cherokee One Feather Editorial Board

Tribal Council heard the Cherokee One Feather Editorial Board on an ordinance change on Thursday, July 9 that will further protect the rights of free speech and free press.

The Board proposed that the One Feather Editor position answer directly to the Executive Committee administratively. Regarding termination or transfer of an Editor, the Principal Chief, Vice Chief, and two-thirds of the Editorial Board would have to concur before any action could be taken against the Editor.

At first glance, this does not seem like very much of a change, but it will further protect the Cherokee One Feather and staff from any potential future political pressure. This change will give the staff the confidence necessary to continue to report truthfully and fully to the community regardless of the intentions of future politicians.

One of the issues hindering the Cherokee Code is the lack of substantive protections or repercussions for violating the Code. In earlier legislation, the One Feather asked and received amendments to eliminate vagueness and codify a course of action to address political violations of the Free Press Act.

The legislation passed by Council on Thursday will permit the Editor of the newspaper, who is charged with approving story assignments and final copy, to use the Society of Professional Journalist Code of Ethics, the mandate of Chapter 75 of the Cherokee Code, and the policies set forth by the Editorial Board, to follow his best judgement in his or her duties without fear of termination or transfer.

The One Feather has enjoyed an unprecedented period of support by both the legislative and executive branch for free speech and press. This legislation provides guidance for the future, for such a time when government has conflict with the ideas of free speech.

The legislation simply codifies what is already happening between the government and the One Feather.

We, at the One Feather, appreciate the support of the Executive Office and the Tribal Council, and the incredible readers and tribal community who find value in the paper that we produce. We were amazed as we reduced our print presence over the course of the ongoing pandemic, how the community, locally and nationally, shifted to the electronic edition and readership continued to grow exponentially. We feel that it is your confidence in us that has brought us to this very important milestone in the newspapers history.

This change will not affect the way we do business. In fact, it provides guarantees that we may continue to provide honest, unbiased, true reporting to our community and to the thousands of readers that we serve. When tribal members are doing historical research a century into the future, we want them to come to the One Feather archives and see them as the most factual documentation of Cherokee history available. Those are our vision and mission statements. It is our commitment to you.

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EDITORIAL: Protecting your freedom of speech - The Cherokee One Feather - Cherokee One Feather

The Threat to Civil Liberties Goes Way Beyond Cancel Culture – Jacobin magazine

In recent years, there has been a marked and disquieting increase in the willingness of a raft of actors left, center, and right, both in government and in civil society, to engage in a practice and attitude of censorship and to abandon due process, presumption of innocence, and other core civil liberties.

There have been some attempts from different quarters at a pushback against this, but the most recent such effort at a course correction is an open letter decrying the phenomenon appearing in Harpers magazine. The letter, signed by some 150 public intellectuals, writers, and academics including figures like Noam Chomsky, Margaret Atwood, and Salman Rushdie, has provoked a polarizing response.

Current Affairs editor Nathan Robinson, for example, argues that all this is a right-wing myth, slander against the Left, that those perpetrating the alleged acts of censorship are in fact relatively powerless, and that when incidents of alleged cancel-culture censorship are investigated, one finds that the targets are doing just fine after all.

Because the Harpers letter was fairly anodyne and declined to mention any specific incidents, Robinson cherry-picks a small sample of occurrences that he imagines must be what the signatories are talking about and tries to demonstrate that these incidents were really nothing-burgers of no consequence, distracting us from real issues.

What is true is that to limit this discussion to the acts of the extremely online mob, to, say, British author Jon Ronsons concerns about Twitter public shaming, or to the ill-defined term cancel culture entirely misses the far wider atmosphere of an aggressive and accelerating threat to civil liberties.

It is understandable that a brief open letter would not offer a catalog of episodes, but this is nevertheless unfortunate, as it allows Robinson and others to maintain a nothing to see here, please move along stance.

When we do in fact consider such a catalog, we find that to deny that this is happening, or to diminish it as inconsequential is untenable. There are simply too many examples.

Consider efforts to ban Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) activists, other opponents of the current Israeli government, and critics of Zionism tout court from campuses. Since 2016, the Ontario legislature has been the site of multiple efforts to condemn or criminalize BDS activity and pressing campus administrations to cancel Israeli Apartheid Weeks.

In 2014, the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign withdrew an offer of employment to English professor Steven Salaita after some faculty, students, and donors asserted that his tweets critical of the Netanyahu administration during the Gaza war were antisemitic. Due to the controversy, hes been driven out of academic employment and now works as a bus driver. Political scientist Norman Finkelstein, another critic of the Israeli occupation, was denied tenure at DePaul University in 2007 after a successful campaign by the Anti-Defamation League and lawyer Alan Dershowitz. He likewise has difficulty finding employment and says he struggles to pay the rent.

When appeals to academic freedom and due process are raised in all these cases, the response from the pro-Likudnik right has echoed the no platform rhetoric from the Left, arguing that criticism of the Israeli government is hate speech and thus should not be protected (and indeed, in Canada, unlike in the United States, hate speech is not constitutionally protected). They also copy the liberal-lefts demand for stay in your lane identitarian deference (in which only the oppressed group concerned may speak to an issue), asserting that non-Jews cannot comprehend Jewish suffering and so must shut up and listen.

Despite his cancellation, Salaita does not support the Harpers letter. This is perhaps understandable given that English professor Cary Nelson is a signatory but was also among those who led the charge against hiring Salaita. It must be equally galling to him that New York Times opinion writer Bari Weiss, another Harpers signatory, spent her Columbia University days campaigning against pro-Palestinian professors for alleged intimidation of Jewish students under the Orwellian guise of Columbians for Academic Freedom.

But while Nelson and Weiss may be guilty of egregious hypocrisy, hypocrisy does not undermine the letters argument for freedom of speech. Despite Finkelsteins cancellation, or indeed precisely because he knows his cancellation to be a breach of academic freedom, he remains an adamant defender of freedom of speech. He knows that the solution to his own censorship comes not from censorship of those who censor him, but from an end to censorship entirely.

The upturning of lives and livelihoods comes not just in the arena of the Israel-Palestine conflict with respect to Salaita and Finkelstein. In some cases, the religious rights efforts to de-platform is actively defended by the Left, such as when Iranian feminist Maryam Namazie was shouted down in 2015 by Islamic conservatives at Goldsmiths University and the universitys feminist society defended their use of the hecklers veto.

There are those who deny that the current chilly climate amounts to censorship, as censorship is only something that can be imposed by the state. Some concede that it is also something that elites can impose. But both positions deny that censorship is something that the crowd can impose. Yet there are many cases that involve independent schools, so this plainly cannot be the action of a state, even as this is quite clearly censorship. And the Islamic conservatives at Goldsmiths could in no way be described as elites. So to suggest that ordinary people cannot participate in censorship or inculcation of an illiberal environment is to be blind to the ways that such attitudes can operate at multiple levels in society.

Campuses are in any case far from the only sites of struggle. Over the past two decades, conservative governments such as those of George W. Bush, Canadas Stephen Harper, Australias Tony Abbott, and now Donald Trump have repeatedly muzzled climate scientists and other earth science and conservation biology researchers.

Conservatives who historically tended to oppose free speech and held the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as chief in its pantheon of villains have suddenly rebranded themselves as free expressions greatest defenders. But while they were happy to defend alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopouloss right to express xenophobic and misogynist comments, when he began talking about the messy complications of the age of consent among gay men, they threw him under the bus.

Donald Trump has worked to clamp down on trade unions salting workplaces, that is, the century-old practice of getting a trade-union-friendly person hired at a workplace that is targeted for unionization. And perhaps most notoriously, the same man who at Mount Rushmore denounced a far-left fascist [sic] cultural revolution, calling for free and open debate instead, only weeks before used the National Guard to teargas and clear nonviolent protesters from the streets of Washington for the sake of a cheap photo-op.

One might expect the liberal-left to be among the strongest defenders of free speech at work, and of the right of workers to say what they wish, but too many have enthusiastically called upon employers to fire workers for alleged reactionary speech outside of the workplace, in effect cheering on at-will termination of employment, and embraced the multibillion-dollar human resources departmentorganized and employer-supervised sensitivity training industry, imposing top-down workshops, where workers are petrified they might say the wrong thing.

How this enhancement of the semifeudal powers of bosses to deliver 24/7 monitoring of workers speech is going to advance the trade union movement is a mystery. Instead, they should join efforts to organize unions both as the greatest bulwark against workplace censorship and the greatest weapon we have in delivering sexual, racial, and economic equality, and, if anything, pushing for the extension of First Amendment protection to the workplace.

Authoritarian governments such as the Islamic conservative administration of Turkeys Recep Tayyip Erdoan have demanded that comedians who make fun of them be censored by other governments. Germany acceded to the request for prosecution. In a similar fashion, China has convinced tech giants and even the NBA to censor discussion of human rights domestically and overseas. Hollywood is no less acquiescent, deleting from movies anything that Beijing objects to, from references to torture by Chinese police to appearances of Winnie-the-Pooh (a symbol of democratic opposition).

Meanwhile, too many on the liberal-left, like turkeys voting for Christmas, urge ever-greater de-platforming of hate speech from these tech companies, only to discover how easily their own expression gets categorized as hate speech and taken down (as when various left-wing groups were kicked off Reddit along with pro-Trump ones).

Liberal governments have been little better. Former president Barack Obama may have given a salutary address criticizing cancel culture, but he also used the 1917 Espionage Act to prosecute more leakers and whistleblowers such as Chelsea Manning and Ed Snowden than all previous administrations combined.

Secularists in France and Quebec have produced a raft of laws banning burkas or the veil in various forms, thus engaging in the same practice of telling women what they can and cannot wear as those who elsewhere force women to wear burkas or the veil.

Similarly, the French government of center-left President Franois Hollande marched alongside millions in the streets in defense of free speech after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, but then proceeded to prosecute school students for expressing their sympathy for the attackers.

Libertarian groups, to their credit, have criticized much of this, but when it comes to censorship by the likes of Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter, and Reddit, there is a sudden quiescence. Despite such social media platforms becoming a de facto public square, these are private companies, note libertarians. This is simply the workings of the market. Their stance is simply, If you dont like what they are doing, then dont sign their Terms of Service agreements.

The galloping advance of censorship and restriction of civil liberties is not restricted to high politics and Silicon Valley. Local conservative politicians in some two-thirds of European Union member state Poland have declared their regions LGBT-free zones and tried to ban Pride parades as far-right thugs violently attack them. In the UK there have been regular efforts by municipalities of every political flavor, police, and private security firms to restrict leafleting by NGOs, campaigners, arts groups, and businesses, as well as ever stricter constraints on busking, homeless people begging, ball games, inappropriate dress, and other annoyances under such vehicles as Public Space Protection Orders and antisocial behavior laws. And whenever there are major international meetings, cities now regularly restrict protests to designated free speech zones.

And as any journalists rights organization such as Reporters Sans Frontires or the Committee to Protect Journalists will tell you, there has been a radical change in the terrain of war in the last couple of decades where both state and non-state actors increasingly view journalists as legitimate targets, from Western bombing of TV stations in Iraq through Turkish imprisonment of reporters to Russian arrest of those exposing Kremlin autocracy to Mexican cartels silencing news crews investigating missing women. Trump meanwhile takes every opportunity to attack the media as an enemy of the people, even encouraging physical assaults on reporters by his supporters. Some activists on our side seem to be of a similar opinion that the media are fair game, too.

In short, there is an epidemic of censorship and a retreat from an ethos of civil liberties across the board, in almost every country, by those of almost every political persuasion, and at all levels of society. And if the liberal-left denies that illiberalism is occurring when we are the ones perpetrating it, as Robinson does, then we have no leg to stand on when it comes to all these other, innumerable examples. Civil liberties are for everyone, and above all for those we oppose.

Some of these examples are plainly worse than others, but we do not win or lose our right to free speech at the advent of the most extreme and obvious cases of censorship. It is already lost with the smallest of infringements, at the edge cases, and the ones where all reasonable people would agree that the speech is indeed hateful.

David Goldberger, the Jewish ACLU lawyer so committed to free speech that he represented a group of Chicago Nazis in court in 1977 to defend their right to march through Skokie, Illinois, recognized that it was even or rather precisely in these sort of cases where the struggle for liberty is won or lost.

It is a particular shame when it comes to the Left, historically the first champion of civil liberties. Many progressives today are not aware that the struggle for free speech was a central project of the Left and something that was historically resisted by the Right. We know of Thomas Paines and John Stuart Mills pioneering articulation of these freedoms, but Karl Marxs entire philosophy grew in part out of his fury at Prussian official press censorship as a young man; Frederick Douglass recognized that there could be no struggle for abolition without a defense of freedom of speech, and that abridgment of that freedom is a double wrong, for it violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker; Eugene Debs was tried and convicted for sedition, and his trial and those of his comrades would set in play the crystallization of American free speech legal protections that are the envy of the world entire; and the New Left and counterculture of the Sixties that in many ways gave birth to the current left began with the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley in 1964 under the leadership of giants like Mario Savio.

As a result, too many modern progressives, particularly younger ones, have become indifferent to free speech, or, worse, come to view the defense of free speech as something foreign to the Left and a weapon of oppression.

This is a historic disaster. Throughout the twentieth century, from Stalins purges to the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the Killing Fields of Cambodia, it was precisely when the Left abandoned civil liberties and embraced groupthink supposedly in the service of some greater evil, that those who claimed the mantle of emancipation perpetrated their greatest evils.

Robinson decries such comparisons to Maoism or what Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi has critiqued as Twitter Robespierres, saying that it requires guns and concentration camps for something to count as totalitarianism. Yet if you read the heartrending personal accounts of those such as Victor Serge who experienced the purges and the show trials, or Gao Yuan who participated in the struggle sessions of the Red Guards, or Dith Pran who experienced the collective indoctrination of the Khmer Rouge, you notice a pattern of pathological interpersonal relations that repeats itself over and over: a fear of speaking out, peer pressure, status-seeking through denunciation, a rush to denounce before one can be denounced oneself, self-criticism, public humiliation, a hunt for heretics, ostentatious displays of piety, and assertions that certain identities (petty bourgeois, kulaks, those who wear glasses, etc.) are inherently epistemically untrustworthy. These terrors of the past of course required material, economic conditions for them to emerge, but they were also built upon a foundation of morbid intragroup psychological dynamics.

The executions, torture, and imprisonment of these events were not simply the product of an external, alien force imposed upon its victims as in the case of an invasion by a foreign army or a coup, but perhaps even more terrifyingly, they were also a horizontal process that involved a breakdown of trust between friends, old comrades, coworkers, students and teachers, husbands and wives, even between parents and children.

Of course, intragroup illiberalism is something common to all humans rather than unique to the Left. We also see similar group dynamics when we explore historical events not directed by our political camp. The witch hunts of sixteenth-century Salem was another notorious instance of intragroup terror, the dynamics of which were famously dramatized by Arthur Miller as an allegory for McCarthyism and the associated blacklist. Here again we might note, contra the arguments that non-state actors cannot engage in censorship or illiberalism, that neither Hollywood studios that fired or no longer hired left-wing actors, screenwriters, and directors, nor the trade union bureaucracy that purged alleged Communists as part of that process, were agents of the state.

Yet because the Left is the cradle of civil liberties, we have a special responsibility to guard against illiberalism. After the experiences of the twentieth century, we will forever have a solemn task to constantly be on our guard against any recurrence of the morbid group dynamics that helped give rise to them, and within our own movements before anywhere else.

There is a need to let progressives who support free speech know that they are not alone and to give them confidence to speak out against censorship and illiberalism on their campuses, in their organizations, in their communities, or wherever someone imposes it, whether this comes from the right, center, or left, from the state or civil society.

But beyond the need for the Left to recognize that freedom of speech and civil liberties are the prerequisite for our own ability to organize, we cannot leave the discussion at the level of liberal principle.

As necessary as liberal freedoms are, socialists have always known that they cannot be fully realized within a class society. Liberalism contradicted itself by insisting on free markets and the right to own property, which undermine the equal exercise of all other liberal freedoms. Neither a poor man nor a rich man in liberal society have any legal restriction on the ownership of a printing press, but only one of these men materially has the ability, the freedom, to make use of that press. There is no true equality before the law so long as there remains class inequality outside the law.

In Karl Marxs first printed article, published in 1842, a report on the debates on freedom of the press in the Rhenish Diet, he attacks censorship of the press and then also the defenders of the bourgeois conception of freedom of the press as suffering from pseudo-liberalism and half-liberalism:

The French press is not too free; it is not free enough. It is not under an intellectual censorship, to be sure, but it is under a material censorship Therefore the French press is concentrated in a few places; and if material power concentrated in few places has a diabolical effect, how can it be otherwise with intellectual power?

That is, as mid-twentieth century democratic socialist and Berkeley Free Speech Movement militant Hal Draper explains in his 1977 exposition of what pushed Marx to go beyond the radical liberal conceptions of his youth: Tying the exercise of a freedom, then, to possession of enough money to operate it is a form of censorship too, and not to be borne.

Put another way, civil liberties may be the necessary condition for the Left to be able to argue for and to organize the building of an egalitarian society, but the building of an egalitarian society is the necessary condition for the realization of civil liberties.

Thus the limitations of the Harpers letter are certainly not that it decries censorship, or that it is anodyne liberal centrism, but that it does not take its professed values seriously enough. In the fight for civil liberties, Marx was right: neither censorship nor half-liberalism will do.

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The Threat to Civil Liberties Goes Way Beyond Cancel Culture - Jacobin magazine

The Harper’s ‘letter’ proves we need to have a serious talk about free speech – Business Insider – Business Insider

On Tuesday, Harper's published what has become known as "the letter," a document cosigned by more than 150 artists, writers, and academics defending the broad principle of "the free exchange of information and ideas," which they refer to as "the lifeblood of a liberal society." It has sparked both praise and ridicule.

But more than anything, it's demonstrated why an honest debate, even a fight, over the value of free speech needs to be had.

The letter, a vaguely written, even anodyne statement that reads as if it's been stepped on by too many writers, opens with a message of support for the recent protests and "wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society." It then laments the "swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought" that the cosigners argue is taking place in institutions ranging from academia to media to everyday workplaces. Its main thesis appears to be "We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences."

There are those who see free speech as a concept that benefits only the powerful, and then there are those staunch free-speech advocates myself among them who view free speech as the most effective tool available for marginalized voices; no meaningful positive social change could occur without it.

It took millennia to establish the norm that you can piss people off, especially the powerful, with your speech and it should generally be tolerated. If it's jettisoned in the name of a certain definition of justice, what happens at the next injustice? You can't use free speech to fight it anymore.

For some critics, the focus was on the letter's signatories who included the feminist icon Gloria Steinem, the socialist academic Noam Chomsky, and the jazz legend Wynton Marsalis and was spearheaded by the Black writer Thomas Chatterton Williams. Despite being cosigned by people who are diverse in race, gender, religion, sexuality, age, and politics, the number of wealthy, older, white cosigners nullified the letter's message for many.

Others pointed to certain signatories such as JK Rowling, the "Harry Potter" author who has recently made polarizing statements about transgender people, and the writer Jesse Singal, whose choice to write about people who stopped identifying as trans was vilified by some on the left. For some critics, the inclusion of such people automatically rendered the letter a moot point.

One signatory, the writer Jenny Boylan, apologized for having her name listed beside certain people (though she didn't name anyone). The Black writer Malcolm Gladwell tweeted in response: "I signed the Harpers letter because there were lots of people who also signed the Harpers letter whose views I disagreed with. I thought that was the point of the Harpers letter."

The most interesting criticism I came across was from Ken White, the civil-libertarian lawyer who also blogs and tweets as "Popehat." White is often my go-to legal-splainer on First Amendment issues, so when he criticized the letter, my ears perked up.

I spoke with White about the concept of the "preferred first speaker" conundrum. Put simply, it's the idea that there should be few limits on speech but substantial limits on the response to such speech.

"Sometimes I feel that criticisms of 'cancel culture' amount to an attempt to impose civility codes on the marketplace of ideas, sometimes by the same people who otherwise would be objecting to such civility codes applied to the first speaker," White told me.

He added: "Calling a group of people a 'mob' is a way to avoid addressing their argument. It deprives them of agency, assumes they are taking their position out of groupthink or rage rather than because of values, and implicitly suggests that their proposition is less credible because too many people are sharing it."

The socialist writer Freddie deBoer wrote Tuesday of some of the progressive responses to the letter: "You want to argue that free speech is bad, fine. You want to adopt a dominance politics that (you imagine) will result in you being the censor, fine. But just do that. Own that."

I'd agree. If you think that free speech has lost its value and we've reached the pinnacle of all human understanding and that the correct parameters of what may be said are now perfectly understood and must be locked in place for all time let's have that argument.

And for those who are free-speech absolutists, the right of free association remains a tenet of the value. That's a sometimes difficult circle to square, so specificity is necessary. Perhaps the argument is of course you CAN fire someone because they said something that offended a colleague, but don't make that an action of first resort or treat every instance of offense the same. After all, there are certainly people in workplaces offended by progressive speech, and no progressive would argue that the reflexive response should be that their job must be placed in jeopardy.

Take one the thorniest of political issues: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On one side a person can claim to feel unsafe by a colleague's support of a brutal occupier state. On the other, a person can claim to feel unsafe by a colleague's support of the anti-Semitic theocracy Hamas.

If this seems ridiculous, it's not.

Just last month, David Shor, a progressive election data analyst, tweeted a link to a Black Princeton University professor's study that theorized rioting helped Republicans win elections. Shor was promptly dismissed from his job at Civis Analytics after colleagues expressed their offense at the tweet.

The company has every right to fire an at-will employee, especially if they'd rather not deal with the hassle. But what justice was served by Shor's firing? The only lesson to be gleaned is that data analysts need to be very careful about what data they tweet. Incidents like this are part of what inspired the Harper's letter.

To those who presume that denying a culture of open debate and free expression will lead to a permanent entrenchment of correct ideas, I'd like to know who sets the rules. Who is pure enough to have lived a life with no problematic associations or regrettable past expressions of speech?

Because if you want to make the case that free speech has outlived its use, let's be clear about the society you envision after it's been done away with.

For many of the letter's signatories, the concept of censorship is not in the abstract.

Steinem spent her life protesting and agitating in the fight for women's rights. She knows what it is to express deeply unpopular speech and to have it censored by authorities. Chomsky, whose left-wing social-justice credibility is hard to seriously challenge, is a longtime critic of both government and corporate censorship, and he's been a victim of both.

Garry Kasparov, the chess champion and Russian dissident, offended the political orthodoxy of his country and now lives under permanent threat of assassination. So does the celebrated author Salman Rushdie, because he wrote a book that angered a theocracy over three decades ago.

Jonathan Rauch, a gay writer who was a signatory of the letter, wrote in 2014 of a US Army Map Service astronomer named Frank Kameny, who was fired from his government job in the 1950s explicitly because he was gay.

Raugh wrote: "As of 1954, homosexuals not only lived in constant fear of being fired, shamed, and beaten or killed; we were also prevented by our government from making our case. To practice same-sex love was a crime; but even to praise it was 'cheap pornography.' Something else I often find called on to emphasize to young people, at a time when college speech codes are usually justified as protecting minority rights, is that turnabout is not fair play. The problem is not that the bad guys were in charge of the speech rules in 1954, whereas the good guys are in charge now. The problem is that majorities, politicians and bureaucrats are very unreliable judges of minorities' interests."

Kameny fought the government over his firing all the way to the Supreme Court, and ultimately lost. But beginning a decade before the Stonewall riots and for the rest of his life, he challenged the government through his writing and activism, which was possible only because of the First Amendment, and the right to cause offense through speech. In 2009, late in his life, the Obama administration officially apologized for his firing. Four years after his death, same-sex marriage was legalized by the Supreme Court.

If the presidency of Donald Trump has taught us anything, it's that certain liberal norms must be defended, if only to keep people with tyrannical instincts like him from determining what should and shouldn't be acceptable forms of expression. If the worst could happen and it always could the right to express unpopular opinions is the best weapon available to beat back the tyrant.

This doesn't mean speech shouldn't come without consequences, or that criticism is necessarily "censorship," or that anyone is entitled to a job even if they've become more trouble to their employer than they are worth.

But for the unconvinced, I would ask for some consideration that the principles of open debate and free expression are not outdated reactionary platitudes.

And for those who believe free speech has outlived its purpose, I would ask for an upfront conversation about what comes next.

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The Harper's 'letter' proves we need to have a serious talk about free speech - Business Insider - Business Insider

The Senate’s twin threats to online speech and security – Brookings Institution

This is a cruel summer. The COVID-19 toll increases daily. Millions are out of work and risk losing their homes. The senseless loss of Black lives continues despite weeks of mass protests. Behind it all lurks the climate crisis. Amid these pressing issues, members of the Senate have decided to spend their time creating their own threat to Americans: legislation that would make Americans less safe, while simultaneously harming online speech, privacy, and encryption.

This threat comes in the form of two bills: the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act, which the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to advance out of committee last week; and the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act, which was introduced the prior week by Sen. Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican, who is also a co-sponsor of EARN IT. The EARN IT Act is described as an attempt to crack down on child sexual abuse material online but ends up drastically undermining user security and privacy in the process. The LAED Act, meanwhile, represents an attempt to outright ban strong encryption technology.

Taken together, the two measures represent a serious threat to online security, and the LAED Acts outlandishness, timing, and lack of bipartisan support have been interpreted to mean that it is a go-nowhere bill intended to make EARN IT look reasonable by comparison. Thats no excuse. The LAED Act doesnt make the EARN IT Act OK. Both of these bills threaten core freedoms online, and moving an attack on encryption from one bill to another is not progress.

LAED is no less than a nuclear assault on encryption in the United States, and, by extension, on security, privacy, and speech online. By modifying the legal framework for search warrants and electronic surveillance, LAED would make encryption backdoors mandatory. It would ban providers in the U.S. from offering end-to-end encryption, encrypted devices that cannot be unlocked for law enforcement, and indeed any encryption that does not build in a means of decrypting data for the police. Security researchers and civil-rights advocates have long feared the introduction of such a radical bill, and now its finally here.

But the hard-line approach of the LAED Act is no reason to endorse the EARN IT Act, which could result in many of the same consequences as the LAED Act, if in a more roundabout way.

The EARN IT Act targets Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which makes online platforms largely immune from liability for the actions of their users and bars most state criminal charges and civil lawsuits (but not federal criminal law enforcement). It was designed to give platforms a free hand in moderating user content by shielding their decisions about what to leave up and what to take down. The law thus protects free speech online by removing the incentive to suppress users speech in response to all-too-common false accusations or threats of litigation.

By narrowing the scope of Section 230 immunity to no longer include child sexual abuse material (CSAM) uploaded by users, EARN IT incentivizes platforms to quash legal user speech in the hopes of avoiding lawsuits. Thats what happened after Congress passed the FOSTA statute in 2018, which carved out sex trafficking offenses from Section 230 immunity. When FOSTA became law, websites such as Craigslist immediately shut down parts of their services, purging large swaths of innocuous content (such as online personals) just in case something in there could get the platform accused of facilitating sex trafficking. Its like a library burning all its romance novels and medical textbooks lest one be deemed obscene. This chilling effect on online speech is why FOSTA is currently being challenged in court for violating the First Amendment.

Its important to fight horrific images and videos of child abuse online, which is why federal law already requires platforms to report it when they find out about it. But EARN IT would expose platforms to liability even for content they dont know about, by excepting a wide array of civil and criminal claims under state laws, some of which impose liability for reckless or negligent behaviora lower bar than the federal reporting laws actual knowledge standard. That carve-out is broader than FOSTAs exception for sex trafficking.

EARN IT recently passed out of committee following major revisions, but those changes, including an amendment by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), may make EARN IT a more dangerous bill. The managers amendment of EARN IT, coupled with Leahys amendment, responded to concerns that the bill had constitutional defects, would effectively ban strong encryption, and would force platforms to weaken their user privacy and security protections. Instead of solving those issues, however, the revised bill still has immense practical and constitutional problems.

Like FOSTA, EARN IT has a fundamental First Amendment problem. But EARN ITs problem is worse: By exposing platforms to liability under a patchwork of state CSAM laws, EARN IT would let the most aggressive states set the rules for the entire Internet. To avoid incurring liability under those laws, platforms would (as with FOSTA) take down large amounts of legal user content lest some illegal CSAM sneak through. CSAM is a persistent, complex challenge for platforms. While they report it millions of times a year, they have still been accused of not doing enough to combat it, and EARN ITs stated goal is to incentivize them to do more. But scaring platforms into censoring lots of protected speech is an unconstitutional way for Congress to achieve that goal.

Whats more, EARN IT raises serious concerns under the Fourth Amendment and risks undermining prosecution of real-world predators and purveyors of CSAM. The state laws unleashed by EARN IT may, explicitly or implicitly, force platforms to scan all user content for CSAM. When done voluntarily (as many platforms already do), this is permissible. If done at government behest, however, the platform becomes an arm of the state, rendering those scans warrantless searches that violate the Fourth Amendmentmeaning any CSAM evidence they turn up will be inadmissible in court. This was a clear problem in the original bill thanks to a carrot-and-stick incentive structure that has now been removed. Now, the bill punts the liability question to the statesand if some of them require scanning all content to avoid liability, or if platforms can only avoid charges of negligence or recklessness by scanning, then compliance still risks turning providers into agents of the state.

The potential stakes are high. Exclusion of evidence in CSAM prosecutions would make it harder to obtain a conviction for a hideous crime. If the senators who unanimously voted this bill out of committee care so much about online child safety, why are they willing to roll the dice on whether the bill will backfire and result in accused CSAM offenders going free?

The Leahy amendment attempts to neutralize concerns about EARN ITs impact on encryption and cybersecurity by preserving immunity from CSAM claims based on the platforms use of encryption. This does not go far enough. The amendment has been called a fig leaf that will merely tie up platforms in litigation. It could also lead platforms to either encrypt everything they can, making detection of CSAM more difficult, or else collect much more private information from their users. Plus, platforms could still be held liable for other measures besides encryption that they take to protect users security (or for refusing to implement measures that would undermine it).

LAED, however, renders Leahys effort superfluous. By outlawing platforms from giving users strong encryption, LAED would swallow Leahys EARN IT amendment. And the LAED bill applies even more broadly than EARN IT, encompassing everything from websites and social media platforms, to apps, email, messaging and chat, videoconferencing and voice calling apps, cloud storage, operating systems, and any electronic device with at least 1 gigabyte of storagea very low bar in 2020.

Any provider of encrypted devices or services that is moderately popularmeaning 1 million or more U.S. customerswould have to redesign its encryption to add a law enforcement backdoor. For smaller providers, the U.S. attorney general (a position currently occupied by the notoriously anti-encryption Bill Barr) would get the power to command them to add in a decryption capability.

The rationale for mandating backdoors is so that if an entity receives legal process requiring it to decrypt data for law enforcement, it will be able to comply. But a backdoor is just a hole by another name. What Graham is proposing isnt merely to make law enforcements job easier. Its to mandate security vulnerabilities in the devices and services we rely on to keep our electronic data and communications private and secure.

The problem with backdoors is that they cant be limited to just the good guys. Theyll also be found and exploited by the bad guys: nation-states, hackers, cybercriminals, organized crime. Under Grahams bill, we wouldnt know who might be exploiting those intentional vulnerabilities to snoop through our electronic data and listen in on our conversations. That has ramifications for free speech, not just privacy. Fear of surveillance chills how people express themselves online. Thats why millions of people, including members of Congress and their staff, use end-to-end encrypted apps such as Signal and WhatsApp to communicate for perfectly legitimate, law-abiding purposes: They feel safer speaking their thoughts when they can be sure no uninvited guests are listening in.

By mandating backdoors that will be used by good guys and bad guys alike, the LAED Act is a grave threat not only to privacy, free speech, and cybersecurity, but also to the economy and national security. A backdoor mandate is a gift to the foreign adversaries that are constantly attacking Americas cyber defenses. Strong encryption was crucial to Americas and Americans security before, and it is even more so now, with COVID-19 shifting much of our lives online.

Its time for lawmakers to stop making ill-conceived threats against Americans cybersecurity, privacy, and online speech rightsespecially with proposals that will create grave new harms themselves. Graham and his Senate colleagues are merely exacerbating the multiple crises ravaging the country, including the silent killer that has taken over 130,000 American lives so far this year. Congress should spend the balance of this legislative session focusing on those towering infernos and stop throwing more fuel on the fire.

Riana Pfefferkorn is the associate director of surveillance and cybersecurity at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society.

See the article here:

The Senate's twin threats to online speech and security - Brookings Institution

Free-speech hypocrites, unscandalous scandals, and endless heat got you down? Here’s how to survive the summer of madness – Toronto Star

We are living through a summer of madness. I cannot recall a time of greater rage, unhingement, outbursting, cruelty, silliness, and above all, humourlessness.

Truly, this pitchfork summer has been ruled by the narcissism of small differences. Never have I seen people so unwilling to let things go, especially when the confluence of horrors is so intense. We are all a lit match.

I find it calming to think of Greenland sharks, the longest-living creatures on Earth, some of them 500 years old, moving through deep Arctic waters while far away and above, hot little humans squabbled and slaughtered each other and Shakespeare wrote his plays. Take the long view. The Greenland shark certainly does.

The first prong in the pitchfork: we are enduring the hottest year in history. Thats a grand claim that morally condemns us as a species, yes, but what it really boils down to is this. In June, Calgary was hammered by hail the size of canned hams. This week, a sudden huge rainstorm killed power across much of Toronto, which killed air conditioning which kills sanity.

It only takes one more thing could be stink bugs, could be a Harpers.org letter defending American free speech and suddenly everyones hair is in flames. Opponents want free speech for themselves, not for those who signed the letter, and now everyone has third-degree burns.

I just watched Jaws I sense a mordant fish theme here which holds up remarkably well, and it strikes me that on social media, everyone thinks theyre Chief Brody and regards everyone else as the great white shark. But the shark is the only blameless creature on the boat, doing what sharks do.

Take the most recent Ottawa scandal failing to grip the nation. Reporters tell us with glee that aside from paid work by the PMs brother and long-famous mother, the WE charity the one no longer running a hasty cross-country student COVID jobs plan had paid Sophie Grgoire Trudeau $1,400 for a speech in 2012.

My reaction was anguished. Why are Canadian scandals always so quaint? Why cant we do big shameless American crimes? Crime better, Canada.

Second prong: we are in early- or mid-pandemic. Although people are carefully trying to edge back into work with its lovely pay, few jobs are worth the risk of painful death alone in a hospital room, spatchcocked by a tube. So were at home, which breeds paranoia. We love our co-workers, who are probably out to get us.

The third prong is destitution, and if not that, heart-clutching financial worry. Pinned to the wall this summer, good people have gone off their nut.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said that a white gunmans failed invasion of Rideau Hall proved that the RCMP was racist, since a mentally ill Mississauga man of colour, Ejaz Choudry, and others, had been shot to death by police recently.

This person showed up with weapons, publicly, at the residence of the prime minister of Canada and was arrested without being killed, Singh said. So hes saying a nonracist RCMP would have shot Corey Hurren out of a sense of fairness. Singh did not regard the gunmans survival as a police success, which it is.

He then said Trump had done more to check police violence than had Trudeau. Sound of Canadians dropping their groceries.

If Singh has a point, and I dont think he has, its in questionable taste. But public discourse is like that now, weird, self-centred, hurtful. The Conservatives wanted Parliament reopened and then had the worst attendance record of any party at COVID-19 committee meetings.

Conservative party house-sitter Andrew Scheer, seen maskless and smirking in Pearson airport, was talking to Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, who later apologized for having briefly de-masked. (Another dollar-store scandal.) Scheer didnt apologize, taking his cue from Donald Trump, who now says he wants to build a monument to statues.

The Liberals face no credible opposition in Parliament, not by design but by opposition panic and confusion. Right now the Conservative party emblem is the bright little face of Erin OToole, an ex-soldier who wants to send every Canadian to basic training.

He wants us shipshape and military-style, hes talking gun rights and bouncing loonies off our beds. We dont need this level of strange right now.

Never miss the latest news from the Star, including up-to-date coronavirus coverage, with our email newsletters

In a pitchfork summer, back to those Greenland sharks swimming quietly, their massive cartilaginous bodies bending in black water. I find it comforting that the shark has always been there, while humans were crabs, pairs of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas, temporary scavengers out of our collective minds in 2020.

Emulate the shark. Move slowly. Think before you attack. Let nothing faze you. Try not to take offence at small things, just as the shark doesnt mind the long dangling parasites attached to its corneas.

We will all be judged on how we behaved in the summer of the pitchfork.

Link:

Free-speech hypocrites, unscandalous scandals, and endless heat got you down? Here's how to survive the summer of madness - Toronto Star

Mississippi Commissioner Furious That "The Blacks" Plan to Vote – Free Speech TV

Mississippi election commissioner Gail Harrison Welch, from Jones County, said on her Facebook page that she is concerned that "the blacks" are registering to vote and planning to vote in Mississippi.

The David Pakman Show is a news and political talk program, known for its controversial interviews with political and religious extremists, liberal and conservative politicians, and other guests.

Missed an episode? Check out TDPS on FSTV VOD anytime or visit the show page for the latest clips.

#FreeSpeechTV is one of the last standing national, independent news networks committed to advancing progressive social change.

#FSTV is available on Dish, DirectTV, AppleTV, Roku, Sling and online at freespeech.org

Commissioner David Pakman Gail Harrison Welch Jones County Mississippi The David Pakman Show Voting

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Mississippi Commissioner Furious That "The Blacks" Plan to Vote - Free Speech TV

Readers’ Views: Column a refreshing take on issue of free speech – The Mercury

Thank you for publishing Its time to start resisting the crusade to erase history.

This column by Christine Flowers reflects the opinion of many, and it comes at a time when many in positions of influence are afraid to express it.

Were told that violence is peaceful, the flag is racist, our anthem is racist, everything must be erased from history, police deliberately look to kill blacks, politicians suck up to thugs and vandals and the list of absurdities goes on. And politicians and people with influence embrace it. The media reports all this in a favorable light, so it is refreshing to see an article with some sanity.

I am grateful to Flowers for writing it, and I urge her to continue to write on the anti-Orwellian philosophy she expressed. I hope we see more of this.

Joe Kolenda,

Amity Township

Go here to read the rest:

Readers' Views: Column a refreshing take on issue of free speech - The Mercury

Police Raids Against Free Speech in Hong Kong Have Already Begun – VICE

A pro-democracy group involved in selecting candidates for upcoming local elections was raided by police just hours after it published a poll showing that over 60% of residents no longer believe Hong Kong is a free city.

The offices of the Public Opinion Research Institute (PORI) in Wong Chuk Hang were raided on Friday night, hours before pro-democracy primaries are scheduled to take place and which PORI is helping to organize.

A live stream of the incident showed police officers entering the offices with a warrant and after searching the office and seizing computers. No arrests were made.

However, the organization was charged with the dishonest use of a computer, a piece of legislation that was originally conceived to apply to cyber fraud and hacking but has been broadened by the Hong Kong government to become a catchall.

It carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

The police told reporters that the raid was sparked by a complaint from a member of the public who claimed PORI was the source of a recent leak of personal information relating to police officers, Stand New reported.

But many pro-democracy activists on social media linked the raid to the draconian national security law that came into force last week and which gives the police sweeping new powers to crack down on those who undermine Beijings rule.

Hours before the raid, PORI had published a survey on peoples opinions of Hong Kong since the new law came into force. The results show that 61% of residents believe Hong Kong is no longer a free city, while just 32% believe it still is.

The raid also comes 24-hours after Hong Kongs constitutional affairs minister warned that the upcoming primary election may violate the new national security law. Those who have organized, planned, or participated in the primary election should be wary and avoid carelessly violating the law, Erick Tsang said.

PORI is set to be a co-organizer of this weekends primaries which are designed to select pro-democracy candidates to run in Septembers legislative election.

Following the raid, PORI's deputy head emphasizes that the pro-democracy primary will still go ahead as planned and the police raid should not affect PORI's technical ability to carry out the vote.

Beijing has repeatedly warned about the threat posed by pro-democracy candidates winning over 50% of the seats in Septembers elections, a warning given added impetus when pro-democracy candidates won over 80% of seats in last Novembers District Council elections.

Following the raid, another organizer of this weekends ballot, Benny Tai, said that Friday nights incidents show that the primaries were now more important than ever.

In a time when people are accused of violating the national security law for holding blank pieces of paper, we must not be intimidated but insist on living in reality, Tai said in a statement on Facebook according to a translation from activist Kong Tsung Gan As long as there are many people who are not intimidated and insist on using the referendum to refute lies, we can still see a little light in this dark age and continue the spirit of resistance.

Cover: Police officers walk past a plaque outside the Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region after its official inauguration on July 8, 2020 in Hong Kong, China. China opened their new office to supervise and guide the local government's enforcement of the new national security law. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

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Continue reading here:

Police Raids Against Free Speech in Hong Kong Have Already Begun - VICE

Letter: Column a refreshing take on issue of free speech – The Mercury

Editor:

Thank you for publishing Its time to start resisting the crusade to erase history (June 20).

This column by Christine Flowers reflects the opinion of many, and it comes at a time when many in positions of influence are afraid to express it.

Were told that violence is peaceful, the flag is racist, our anthem is racist, everything must be erased from history, police deliberately look to kill blacks, politicians suck up to thugs and vandals and the list of absurdities goes on. And politicians and people with influence embrace it. The media reports all this in a favorable light, so it is refreshing to see an article with some sanity.

I am grateful to Flowers for writing it, and I urge her to continue to write on the anti-Orwellian philosophy she expressed. I hope we see more of this.

Joe Kolenda

Amity Township

See original here:

Letter: Column a refreshing take on issue of free speech - The Mercury

Free-speech hypocrites, unscandalous scandals, and endless heat got you down? Here’s how to survive the summer of madness – Toronto Star

We are living through a summer of madness. I cannot recall a time of greater rage, unhingement, outbursting, cruelty, silliness, and above all, humourlessness.

Truly, this pitchfork summer has been ruled by the narcissism of small differences. Never have I seen people so unwilling to let things go, especially when the confluence of horrors is so intense. We are all a lit match.

I find it calming to think of Greenland sharks, the longest-living creatures on Earth, some of them 500 years old, moving through deep Arctic waters while far away and above, hot little humans squabbled and slaughtered each other and Shakespeare wrote his plays. Take the long view. The Greenland shark certainly does.

The first prong in the pitchfork: we are enduring the hottest year in history. Thats a grand claim that morally condemns us as a species, yes, but what it really boils down to is this. In June, Calgary was hammered by hail the size of canned hams. This week, a sudden huge rainstorm killed power across much of Toronto, which killed air conditioning which kills sanity.

It only takes one more thing could be stink bugs, could be a Harpers.org letter defending American free speech and suddenly everyones hair is in flames. Opponents want free speech for themselves, not for those who signed the letter, and now everyone has third-degree burns.

I just watched Jaws I sense a mordant fish theme here which holds up remarkably well, and it strikes me that on social media, everyone thinks theyre Chief Brody and regards everyone else as the great white shark. But the shark is the only blameless creature on the boat, doing what sharks do.

Take the most recent Ottawa scandal failing to grip the nation. Reporters tell us with glee that aside from paid work by the PMs brother and long-famous mother, the WE charity the one no longer running a hasty cross-country student COVID jobs plan had paid Sophie Grgoire Trudeau $1,400 for a speech in 2012.

My reaction was anguished. Why are Canadian scandals always so quaint? Why cant we do big shameless American crimes? Crime better, Canada.

Second prong: we are in early- or mid-pandemic. Although people are carefully trying to edge back into work with its lovely pay, few jobs are worth the risk of painful death alone in a hospital room, spatchcocked by a tube. So were at home, which breeds paranoia. We love our co-workers, who are probably out to get us.

The third prong is destitution, and if not that, heart-clutching financial worry. Pinned to the wall this summer, good people have gone off their nut.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said that a white gunmans failed invasion of Rideau Hall proved that the RCMP was racist, since a mentally ill Mississauga man of colour, Ejaz Choudry, and others, had been shot to death by police recently.

This person showed up with weapons, publicly, at the residence of the prime minister of Canada and was arrested without being killed, Singh said. So hes saying a nonracist RCMP would have shot Corey Hurren out of a sense of fairness. Singh did not regard the gunmans survival as a police success, which it is.

He then said Trump had done more to check police violence than had Trudeau. Sound of Canadians dropping their groceries.

If Singh has a point, and I dont think he has, its in questionable taste. But public discourse is like that now, weird, self-centred, hurtful. The Conservatives wanted Parliament reopened and then had the worst attendance record of any party at COVID-19 committee meetings.

Conservative party house-sitter Andrew Scheer, seen maskless and smirking in Pearson airport, was talking to Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, who later apologized for having briefly de-masked. (Another dollar-store scandal.) Scheer didnt apologize, taking his cue from Donald Trump, who now says he wants to build a monument to statues.

The Liberals face no credible opposition in Parliament, not by design but by opposition panic and confusion. Right now the Conservative party emblem is the bright little face of Erin OToole, an ex-soldier who wants to send every Canadian to basic training.

He wants us shipshape and military-style, hes talking gun rights and bouncing loonies off our beds. We dont need this level of strange right now.

Never miss the latest news from the Star, including up-to-date coronavirus coverage, with our email newsletters

In a pitchfork summer, back to those Greenland sharks swimming quietly, their massive cartilaginous bodies bending in black water. I find it comforting that the shark has always been there, while humans were crabs, pairs of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas, temporary scavengers out of our collective minds in 2020.

Emulate the shark. Move slowly. Think before you attack. Let nothing faze you. Try not to take offence at small things, just as the shark doesnt mind the long dangling parasites attached to its corneas.

We will all be judged on how we behaved in the summer of the pitchfork.

Go here to read the rest:

Free-speech hypocrites, unscandalous scandals, and endless heat got you down? Here's how to survive the summer of madness - Toronto Star

Social media promised the world free speech but now stands accused of not doing enough to stop the spread of hate – The West Australian

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Continued here:

Social media promised the world free speech but now stands accused of not doing enough to stop the spread of hate - The West Australian

Writers warn in open letter against threat to free speech – The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) Dozens of artists, writers and academics have signed an open letter decrying the weakening of public debate and warning that the free exchange of information and ideas is in jeopardy amid a rise in what they call illiberalism.

J.K. Rowling, Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood are among dozens of writers, artists and academics to argue against ideological conformity in an open letter in Harpers Magazine. The letter comes amid a debate over so-called cancel culture where prominent people face attack for sharing controversial opinions.

The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy, the letter said. But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercionwhich right-wing demagogues are already exploiting. The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.

Rowling, for example, has attracted criticism over her views on transgender issues, which have angered many activists. In a series of tweets, Rowling said she supported transgender rights but did not believe in erasing the concept of biological sex.

The comments prompted Daniel Radcliffe and other cast members of the Potter films to publicly disagree with her. Rowling was unmoved, but was attacked for weeks online.

The letter criticized the state of public debate and the swift and severe retribution dealt out to any perceived wrongs. It decried an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.

The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away, the letter said. We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other.

Other signatories included Noam Chomsky, Gloria Steinem and Malcolm Gladwell.

Read more from the original source:

Writers warn in open letter against threat to free speech - The Associated Press

Exercising Free Speech Through Social Media and Assembly While Also Protecting Your Immigration Plans – JD Supra

Living in a society plagued by racism and injustice, many people across the world have taken to social media and their communities, protesting to voice their opinions of violence and injustices being committed.

Although freedom of speech and assembly is granted to all in the United States Constitution, there are things non-citizens should be aware of as they advocate for a better society to protect themselves against unintended immigration consequences.

Today, our lives and beliefs are on display for all to see, nearly everyone owns a smartphone and information is often shared through Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms. For those afforded the privilege of U.S. citizenship, clicking post or share will not impact their status as citizens. However, for non-citizens, pressing a button could potentially jeopardize their immigration plans.

Since March 31, 2019, the Department of State has requested additional information about the social media accounts of both immigrant and non-immigrant visa applicants, including the applicants username on numerous social medial platforms. It has become increasingly important for non-citizens to responsibly manage their social media presence.

So, what does responsibly manage their social media presence mean? Generally, just keep in mind that social media accounts may be reviewed by US government officials for visa applications or before granting immigration benefits.

For example, a non-citizen alluding to marijuana use in an Instagram post, even in a state in which marijuana is legal, could face inadmissibility issues, as previously discussed by my colleague, Elizabeth Van Arkel. This does not mean that non-citizens should refrain from using social media, as even the lack of social media presence may raise flags with immigration officers, but it is important to remember that social media content will be subject to review by immigration officers who hold immense discretion in adjudicating most visa applications.

If you have questions or concerns about whether your social media content poses immigration concerns, contact an immigration attorney.

While the right to assemble is also protected by the Constitution, in the last week, protestors have still been subject to arrests. Whether or not the arrest is supported by evidence or the law, and regardless of whether an arrest results in a conviction, non-citizens can face severe immigration consequences. Non-citizens without any immigration status, meaning they are undocumented, could be placed in removal proceedings, potentially leading to deportation. Even for those with some type of immigration status, including lawful permanent residents, arrest and/or criminal charges can create serious immigration consequences.

If you are arrested while protesting and charged criminally, you should ask to speak to a criminal defense attorney and discuss your immigration status with them or ask that they contact an immigration attorney. If you are arrested, even if you are not charged, you should also speak to an immigration attorney. You are not required to discuss your immigration status with anyone other than your attorney.

At Davis Brown, we advocate for equity and denounce racism. We support and encourage the expression of free speech and the freedom of assembly rights afforded by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. We recognize and champion immigrants who advocate for the betterment of a county that has not yet accepted them as its own. And we want to help our clients achieve their immigration goals.

Excerpt from:

Exercising Free Speech Through Social Media and Assembly While Also Protecting Your Immigration Plans - JD Supra

Hate speech is not free speech on campus The Temple News – Temple News

We, as the independent, student-run newspaper of Temple University, well know the importance of First Amendment rights in our campus community. In the Bill of Rights, our right to free speech is listed alongside our right to a free press.

In the aftermath of George Floyds murder on May 25 and the protests following it, weve seen Temple respond to at least a dozen instances of current and incoming students seen on social media using hateful, racist language.

On June 4, Temple tweeted a response to these events saying that each one was reported to the Dean of Students and the university will take action as warranted.

Then, on June 5, Temple tweeted a clarification on the universitys disciplinary policy for offensive speech, stating the university respects the First Amendment rights of all, including those that express unpopular and even hateful speech that is antithetical to the universitys mission.

Temple also referenced the universitys Student Conduct Code, stating it is in accord with the First Amendment and students are not disciplined solely for speech unless circumstances indicate there is a violation under the Code.

The universitys Student Conduct Code does not include any reference to hateful speech or racism. Instead, it asks students to respect all university and local community members regardless of race.

That same day, Temple also tweeted that recognizing everyones First Amendment rights does not mean that Temple tolerates racism.

Earlier this week, we wrote about the importance of uplifting the Black Lives Matter movement in our community in the wake of Floyds murder. Since then, weve seen Black Lives Matter protests expand to our own campus and one of our own students, Evan Gorski, beaten by a now-charged Philadelphia Police Inspector for exercising First Amendment rights in protesting for racial justice.

Temple released a statement in the wake of Floyds murder opposing racial oppression. The university has not released any details on disciplining students involved in racist social media posting or commented on Gorski.

In the past few weeks, weve come to know the weight of the phrase silence is violence as it pertains to actively speaking out against racial injustice, and we want to be clear: on our campus, hate speech is not free speech.

The university has an obligation to students to create a welcoming and safe campus for students to learn, live and socialize between many groups of people. Temple cannot condone racist and hateful speech, especially when this threatens the physical and emotional security of its students, faculty and staff.

While we encourage students to express their political and ideological viewpoints in healthy discourse, we do not welcome hateful or racist speech in these conversations. Hate speech can create a hostile academic environment that is disruptive to the learning process for people of color.

Therefore, the Editorial Board believes that in the Temple community, racism in hateful speech needs to be actively fought against, denounced and barred. Not condemning hate speech is tolerating it.

The universitys inability to protect the First Amendment rights of a student speaking out against racism while simultaneously permitting other students to express racist speech puts the entire Temple community students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members in danger.

The Student Conduct Code states Temple recognizes ignorance and violence have no place on campus, values diversity and strives to understand all cultures and experiences of students. It also states that only when the universitys interests as an academic community are substantially involved should the special authority of the university be asserted.

With the university stating hateful speech is antithetical to the universitys mission, the Editorial Board strongly believes that the universitys interests as an academic community are threatened by the use of this hateful speech by students. As such, we insist the university recognizes the violent nature of hate speech and acknowledges the responsibility to assert special authority and take action to protect the community. Otherwise, by respecting hate speech that is antithetical to the universitys mission, the university is antithetical in failing to upkeep its mission.

The Editorial Board first and foremost calls on the university to denounce and expel students involved in racist acts or in sharing racist language and to publicize the disciplinary actions taken in handling these incidents.

Second, the Editorial Board calls on the university to publicly acknowledge and defend Gorski who, despite now being released, was wrongfully charged and jailed after a violent incident with a Philadelphia Police Inspector.

Finally, the Editorial Board demands the university reevaluates and reconsiders language in the Student Conduct Code to actively speak out against racism, racist speech and racist acts in the Temple community. This will allow the university to address and punish hateful speech, thereby demonstrating the universitys adherence to its own mission.

We also encourage the university to consult with multicultural student groups and community members when amending its Student Conduct Code to ensure the changes more adequately service the needs of the Temple community.

Pointing to language that ineffectively protects or safeguards members of the community as a defense for hateful speech is inexcusable. If the Student Conduct Code is failing to uphold and institute the universitys ethics and needs to be changed, then change it.

Editors Note: Colin Evans, Digital Managing Editor, contributed reporting to the accompanying news story. He played no part in this editorial.

See the original post:

Hate speech is not free speech on campus The Temple News - Temple News

Is the Future of Freedom of Speech in Jeopardy? – Reason

Whatever the written Constitution says, whatever precedent says, constitutional rights mean little if there is no public or (especially) elite support behind them. Judges are not immune from the intellectual headwinds nor from their sense of public support for their rulings, and a right that lacks support in public and elite opinion is not worth the paper its written on.

Our president has done his part to undermine free speech norms with his consistent (though so far empty) threats to retaliate against the hostile mainstream media. The threats themselves do not violate the Constitution, but they do undermine support for freedom of the press in his base.

Meanwhile over at the New York Times, a pretty good bellwether of mainstream elite progressive opinion, James Bennett was forced to resign for publishing an op-ed by a sitting Senator, taking the position supported by 58% of the American public that the president should consider using the military restore order to cities plagued by riots to "disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers," because it offended members of the Times' staff.

Katie Kingsbury, the new acting op-ed editors, has told staff, "Anyone who sees any piece of Opinion journalism, headlines,social posts, photosyou name itthat gives you the slightest pause, please call or text me immediately."

Of course the Times is a private entity and can have whatever op-ed policies it chooses. But the notion that the Times has to be ever on the alert about publishing anything in its *Opinion* pages that may offend even the most sensitive member of its staff, something that Times editors would have laughed at a decade ago, suggests a very troubling decline in the *attitudes* needed to support freedom of speech in the constitutional context.

If these trends continue on left and right, in the long-run the freedom of speech under the First Amendment is in big trouble.

UPDATE: I don't whether to laugh or cry, but the Times' story on the Bennett resignation says, "the Op-Ed, by Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, had 'Send In the Troops' as its headline."

Now, you'd think the link would go to the op-ed, so that interested readers could see what all the fuss is about.

Nope. It goes to an article discussing staffers' complaints about the op-ed. Apparently, New York Times' writers and editors now fear that merely linking to the offending op-ed will get them punished.

See the original post:

Is the Future of Freedom of Speech in Jeopardy? - Reason


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