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Wars Are Bad For Free SpeechThe Coronavirus War Will Be No Exception – The National Interest

Theprominent legal scholar Geoffrey Stonereminds us that war is aperilous time for freedom of speech. The struggle with COVID-19 seems like awar. Some have evoked executive authorities created for, and justified by, wartime exigency.Unity will be needed to defeat this invisible enemy. How is free speech doing in this difficult time?

Speech may be restricted by public or private authorities. Public officials have strong incentives to censor or restrict speech perhaps especially during acrisis; hence, the First Amendment limits their powers over the freedom of speech. Content moderators also may restrict speech. Their powers in this regard are limited largely by their own commitments to free speech and consumer choices.

Somesaber rattling by local police departmentsaside, the government has done little to limit dissent or adiversity of views. Yesterday, the Democratic leadershipproposed astimulus bill that imposed additional disclosures and banned lobbying by companies receiving aid. This proposal has little chance of becoming law, though it bears watching.

Social media platforms have been active in both advancing and suppressing speech.Most tech companies are providing their users with expert information about COVID-19. Facebook isactively trying to steer [users] toward authoritative sourcesabout the pandemic.By their own accounts they are also suppressing alot of misinformation.Facebook has also devoted an extra million dollars to fact checking claims on its platform, though much of its emergency moderation effort has been focused on the less politically salient, though more immediately harmful threat of mental health crises fostered by isolation. Suppression can be legitimate as arecent case shows.

Shortly after the realities of the Coronavirus pandemic took hold in the United States, ayoung Californian technologist named Aaron Ginnwrote apaper arguing that the governments response to the virus was overblown and costly. He posted the essay to Medium, an online platform specializing in hosting such writings.Less than aday later, the moderators at Medium removed the Ginn essay. The Ginn essay attracted extensive criticism on Twitterfrom Carl T. Bergstrom, aprofessor of biology at the University of Washington who noted that the paper was getting too much traction here and even in traditional media.After the removal from Medium, the Ginn paper then was uploaded to at least two sites, one of which was Zerohedge, awebsite that sometimes pushes conspiracy theories. The venue of republication has some effect on readers perception of the article, just as the articles presence on Medium might impact Mediums reputation. Republication by Zerohedge may be reputationally poisonous, while an archive.org link, as Ihave used above, merely indicates that the content in question is no longer available at its original source. The extent to which the perceived reputational effects of hosting and deplatforming drive the politics of content moderation is underappreciated.

From alibertarian perspective, everything seems in order at this point. Aperson expressed acontroversial opinion and published it online via apopular blogging platform. Acting within its rights, the moderators of the platform took down the essay. They may have done so to avoid being associated with controversial and perhaps harmful speech. (To his credit,Ginn himself would later affirm that Medium and other platforms are free to associate with whom they want.) Meanwhile, the essay had prompted speech by Bergstrom countering its claims about the pandemic. The suppression of the essay related only to Medium. Everyone had aright to download the essay when it was on Medium, or from archive.org after its removal. Readers had no legal obligation to refrain from reposting the essay elsewhere. Ginns article was available, counter speech sought to expose its shortcomings, and everyone retained the responsibility to make up their own minds about Ginns arguments.

Does speech misinforming people about the pandemic incite akind of violence? Speech that misinforms people thereby convincing them to spread the COVID-19 which in turn infects some initially unidentified people who die or incur health care costs. Ido not think such incitement meets the legal test for justifying criminalizing speech. The speech in question does not intentionally bring about imminent harm. But that incitement test applies to public not private authorities. Tech companies believe they are suppressing speech to halt the spread of the virus and attendant harms, fulfilling apublic responsibility.In other words, they are balancing the value of some speech against the probability of it doing harm in the general population. In current circumstances, the platforms antipathy to hoaxes and conspiracy theories seems justified. But doesnt advocating areturn of economic life by Easter pose acertain probability of doing harm to some people? How much speech threatens harm in current circumstances andbeyond?

Finally the potential costs of false positives by content moderators. Lets imagine almost all the speech removed from the biggest platforms does threaten to harm some people. Yet inevitably content moderators will make mistakes especially if moderation by algorithm matters more in coming weeks. Imagine also that acontrarian offers an unexpected insight about the pandemic, onethat could save lives. Once shared on social media, his idea might seem not just contrarian but dangerous. Moderators might then removehispost. It mightthen turn up almost immediately on afringe site where the idea goes unnoticed and unconsidered. Will many people be saying in late July if we had only known! about the contrarian insight that would have saved lives?

Well, yes, they might be saying that later this year. But notice the contrarian idea was not suppressed. It appeared elsewhere; anyone could consider its arguments though most would stay clear of its marginal host. No system of social choice is perfect. But private content moderation beats public censorship even when the former suppresses speech that has great value. The nature of the internet means such suppression is never complete. Under aregime of piecemeal private moderation, its still possible that the valuable speech will be heard and heeded. Because platforms are open by default, and moderation occurs postpublication, even fringe ideas can get an initial hearing. Censorship seeks to make sure the relevant speech is neither heard nor heeded.

Our current crisis will not be good for free speech. Classical liberals may regret anyone suppressing speech even when justified. However, private moderators can legitimately suppress speech on social media.Indeed, leaders of the companies may feel they have alarger responsibility to suppress some speech during apandemic. We should keep in mind that the suppressed speech will be removed from one platform and not the internet. It may also be stigmatized. That outcome will be better for speechthan being censored and forgotten. We still might wonder how slippery the slope may be in defining harmful speech and how costly the moderators errors will turn out to be. Giving acceptable answers to those questions are also apart of the responsibility tech companies have to the larger public in this crisis and beyond.

This article by John Samples first appeared at CATO.

Image:Schoolmediadepartment staff are editing online classes, following the outbreak of thecoronavirusdisease (COVID-19) in the holy city of Karbala, Iraq March 26, 2020. REUTERS/Abdullah Dhiaa Al-Deen

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Wars Are Bad For Free SpeechThe Coronavirus War Will Be No Exception - The National Interest

Forging the Four Freedoms Initiative for prosperity and peace in the Balkans – Atlantic Council

European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen walk with leaders of the Western Balkans; Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, Chairman of Bosnia and Herzogovina Zeljko Komsic, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, North Macedonia's Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucicj and Montenegro's President Milo Dukanovic, prior to a group photo at an EU-Western Balkans meeting at the Europa building in Brussels, Belgium February 16, 2020. Virginia Mayo /Pool via REUTERS

As World War II raged in Europe and Asia, former US PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt used his now famous 1941 State of the Unionaddress to describe the Four Freedoms Americans should expect from theirpolitical and economic system: the freedom of speech, freedom of worship,freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

He argued that American society should provide equality ofopportunity for youth and others; jobs for those who can work; security forthose who need it; the ending of special privilege for the few; thepreservation of civil liberties for all; the enjoyment of the fruits ofscientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.

Almost eighty years after Roosevelt proposed his FourFreedoms, leaders in the Western Balkans have initiated their own new dealfor the regions economic integration: a Western Balkans Four FreedomsInitiative, which aims to satisfy the same universal rights and accelerate theregions accession to the European Union (EU).

In the 1990s, the former Yugoslavia collapsed in a series oftragic conflicts that involved almost every country in the Western Balkans inone way or another. Twenty years later, the countries of the Western Balkanshave come to a joint position that regional economic integration can help themmore effectively meet their citizens demands and expectations for betterliving standards, as well as meet the collective desire of all countries in theWestern Balkans to join the EU.

To demonstrate their readiness to fulfill theresponsibilities associated with full-fledged membership in the worlds largestcommon market, the countries of the region launched the Western Balkans FourFreedoms Initiative to bring down barriers to intra-regional trade, travel, andlabor movement. While not identical to Roosevelts plans, this project seeks toensure the same outcome of peace and prosperity through liberty, opportunity,and growth.

The initiative was launched in October 2019 as a commonplatform for three Western Balkans countriesAlbania, Serbia, and NorthMacedoniato expand the free movement of people, goods, capital, and services.The remaining countries of the Western Balkans regionMontenegro,Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Kosovohave been invited to join, which is vital forthe project to be truly successful.

The regions chambers of commerce, representing 350,000companies throughout the Western Balkans, have been advocating and promoting aregional economic integration framework for years. In 2017, the chambers ofcommerce established the Western Balkans 6Chamber Investment Forum, bringing together all six chambers of commerceand creating a platform to speak on behalf of the regions business communitywith one voice.

Each individual economy in the region is too small tosucceed on its own in a highly competitive global marketSerbia, the largestmarket, is only 7 million people. Improving collaboration and forgingpartnerships within the region and in third markets will result in growth,improved rule of law, more responsive governmental institutions, and greatertransparency. It will simultaneously help the countries of the region fulfillthe EUs formal accession criteria, especially regarding good-neighborlyrelations, and position the Western Balkans as one of the fastest-growing andmost dynamic areas of the world.

All the countries of the Western Balkans face virtually thesame challenges. They must improve education, advance health reform, boostemployment, reverse the brain drain, and develop basic infrastructure. Theseshared challenges require shared solutions that can only be appliedsuccessfully if the entire region acts in unison. While a number of disputespersist in the Western Balkans, namely the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue and theinternal tensions within Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is nonetheless far morethat connects us in the region than which sets us apart.

The creation of a common market will amplify and expandthese connections, commonalities, and shared interests. But for this commonmarket to be successful in the global economy, direct investment is needed byboth large multinational companies, as well as regional and domestic actors.Moreover, in addition to improving the business climate, it will be necessaryfor the Western Balkans common market to strategically approach the developmentof economies of scale by raising the quality of production capacities and humancapital within individual economies.

The business communities in the Western Balkans arecollaborating to forge a de facto covenant with political leaders about sharingresponsibility for the future of the region and the delivery of tangibleresults to improve the lives of citizens. But the Western Balkans economicintegration process cannot fully succeed and maximize its potential basedsolely on the support of local governments and business leaders. Rather, theinternational community, led by the United States and the EU, must providepolitical, economic, technical, and general support to the Four FreedomsInitiative that complements other numerous efforts in the region, mainly led bythe EU or EU-funded institutions.

The Four Freedoms Initiative showcases the maturity ofpolitical leaders in the Western Balkans and their ability to rise above thenational level and create policies that will advance the wellbeing of theircitizens. If pursued in an inclusive way to encompass the entire region, and ifsupported by the United States and the EU, this initiative will help cementlong-lasting prosperity and peace in the Western Balkans.

As Roosevelt concluded in his Four Freedoms speech: Ourstrength is in our unity of purpose, and this unity of purpose is what willenable peace and prosperity for the nations of the Western Balkans.

Marko ade is president of the Western Balkans 6 Chamber Investment Forum, which represents the chambers of commerce and industry from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.

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Thu, Mar 26, 2020

The decision by the EU foreign ministers to open accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania comes at a time when Europe is battling a major public health crisis and is bracing for its economic aftershocks, Dimitar Bechev says. Keeping enlargement alive speaks volumes about the unions ability to muddle through.

New AtlanticistbyJrn Fleck

Wed, Feb 5, 2020

Despite continued delays in the opening of accession negotiations with the European Union, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said that his country remains committed to pursuing EU membership because there is no alternative. Speaking at the Atlantic Council on February 5, Rama reported that Albania is continuing with its planned reforms as European leaders debate the proper time to begin the membership process for Albania and its neighbor North Macedonia. We are not sitting and crying, Rama said. Albania is not waiting for some miracle to happen.

New AtlanticistbyDavid A. Wemer

Mon, Jul 22, 2019

Macrons trip may yet be remembered as a turning point for French involvement in the Balkans. The payoff could be big for France, but it must first decide if it is willing to prove that the Balkans truly belong in Europe.

New AtlanticistbyPetrit Selimi

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Forging the Four Freedoms Initiative for prosperity and peace in the Balkans - Atlantic Council

Beyond Originalism – The Atlantic

Read: How the pandemic will end

Alternatives to originalism have always existed on the right, loosely defined. One is libertarian (or classical liberal) constitutionalism, which emphasizes principles of individual freedom that are often in uneasy tension with the Constitutions original meaning and the founding generations norms. The founding era was hardly libertarian on a number of fronts that loom large today, such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion; consider that in 1811, the New York courts, in an opinion written by the influential early jurist Chancellor James Kent, upheld a conviction for blasphemy against Jesus Christ as an offense against the public peace and morals. Another alternative is Burkean traditionalism, which tries to slow the pace of legal innovation. Here, too, the difference with originalism is clear, because originalism is sometimes revolutionary; consider the Courts originalist opinion declaring a constitutional right to own guns, a startling break with the Courts long-standing precedents.

These alternatives still have scattered adherents, but originalism has prevailed, mainly because it has met the political and rhetorical needs of legal conservatives struggling against an overwhelmingly left-liberal legal culture. The theory of originalism, initially developed in the 1970s and 80s, enjoyed its initial growth because it helped legal conservatives survive and even flourish in a hostile environment, all without fundamentally challenging the premises of the legal liberalism that dominated both the courts and the academy. It enabled conservatives to oppose constitutional innovations by the Warren and Burger Courts, appealing over the heads of the justices to the putative true meaning of the Constitution itself. When, in recent years, legal conservatism has won the upper hand in the Court and then in the judiciary generally, originalism was the natural coordinating point for a creed, something to which potential nominees could pledge fidelity.

But circumstances have now changed. The hostile environment that made originalism a useful rhetorical and political expedient is now gone. Outside the legal academy, at least, legal conservatism is no longer besieged. If President Donald Trump is reelected, some version of legal conservatism will become the laws animating spirit for a generation or more; and even if he is not, the reconstruction of the judiciary has proceeded far enough that legal conservatism will remain a potent force, not a beleaguered and eccentric view.

Assured of this, conservatives ought to turn their attention to developing new and more robust alternatives to both originalism and left-liberal constitutionalism. It is now possible to imagine a substantive moral constitutionalism that, although not enslaved to the original meaning of the Constitution, is also liberated from the left-liberals overarching sacramental narrative, the relentless expansion of individualistic autonomy. Alternatively, in a formulation I prefer, one can imagine an illiberal legalism that is not conservative at all, insofar as standard conservatism is content to play defensively within the procedural rules of the liberal order.

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Beyond Originalism - The Atlantic

Devoleena Bhattacharjee: Cyber bullies are misusing their right to freedom of speech – Times of India

Cyber bullying is rampant these days, and more often than not, celebs find themselves at its receiving end. Television actress Devoleena Bhattacharjee, who was last seen in 'Bigg Boss 13', is the latest victim of cyber bullies and she is determined to take a stand against the issue. She has lodged a complaint at the Cyber Crime Cell against a person, who posted a filthy audio clip targeting her and her mother on social media. According to Devoleena, the offender is a fan of Shehnaaz Gill, her fellow contestant on the reality show. It all started a couple of days ago, when Devoleena went live on Twitter and commented that there was zilch chemistry between Sidharth Shukla and Shenaaz in the recently-released single, 'Bhula Dunga'. Soon, SidNazs fans started trolling her, and one of them posted the obscene audio clip. Devoleena told BT, I usually ignore trolls, but this person has crossed all limits. Cyber bullies are taking advantage of their right to freedom of speech. So, I lodged a complaint on Tuesday and also sent a mail to the authorities concerned, requesting them to take action the following day. We are close to finding out who the offender is; it is not easy to track the person, if it is someone living abroad. My action is a warning to all cyber bullies, who stoop low to support their favourite celebs. So, has she contacted Shehnaaz regarding this? I have sent the clip to Shenaazs brother Shehbaz Badesha, but he hasnt responded yet, the actress replied. When asked why she commented on SidNazs lack of chemistry, Devoleena said, I have felt that way from day one. Shenaaz has always been vocal about her feelings, but Sidharth has made it clear that she is just a friend. There was no chemistry in the song and I commented just as a viewer. I have nothing against anyone.

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Devoleena Bhattacharjee: Cyber bullies are misusing their right to freedom of speech - Times of India

Coronavirus: Hungarys right-wing leader given unlimited powers that could curb free speech – Mirror Online

Hungarys national assembly has passed a bill giving practically unlimited power to its right wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban as countries across the world take increasingly drastic actions to tackle coronavirus.

Measures could include locking people up for up to five years if the government decides someone has spread false information - including journalists - in a chilling threat to freedom of speech.

Emergency measures could also mean those breaking coronavirus quarantine could face up to eight years in prison.

But while the UK has placed a time limit on such powers, requiring parliament to vote on the emergency measures every six months, the Hungarian national assembly has passed a bill granting prime minister Viktor Orban indefinite rule by decree.

This allows him extra powers to bypass the national assembly and pass whatever decrees he wants to handle the crisis indefinitely.

The lack of timeframe on the legislation, as the state of emergency lasts indefinitely, has led to warnings he could be allowed to lead the country unendingly by ruling out the possibility of new elections.

UN human rights spokesmen Rupert Culville, told a news conference in Geneva on Friday that the bill appears to give the government practically unlimited powers to rule by decree and bypass parliamentary scrutiny with no clear cut-off date.

One part of the legislation which has attracted particular criticism is the ability to impose prison sentences of up to five years on people spreading false information about the crisis.

Critics have argued that the scope of these powers allow the government to decide which information is false, and therefore could imprison critics of the government.

It could negatively affect the legitimate work of journalists and have a potentially chilling effect on freedom of expression in Hungary, Mr Culville said.

However, justice minister Judit Varga dismissed criticism of the bill as trying to bypass the national assembly or extend government powers as very damaging fake news.

The bill was passed by a national assembly dominated by Orbans party, Fidesz, and Orban himself has been a long outspoken critique of liberal democracy,

The Council of Europe, a leading human rights organisation, wrote a letter to Orban, urging him to ensure his emergency actions comply with both national constitutions and international standards, and observe the very essence of democratic principles.

Adding: An indefinite and uncontrolled state of emergency cannot guarantee that the basic principles of democracy will be observed.

A spokesperson for the Hungarian foreign office said the indefinite time frame was so the national assembly dominated by Orbans party could grant, and take away the powers.

They said: The legislation will enable the government to take all necessary extraordinary measures. The proposed bill is justified as it may happen that due to the pandemic, the session of the Hungarian National Assembly maybe temporarily suspended.

Qualified majority is necessary for the approval of the cardinal bill, any change requires the same proportion.

Nothing in the proposed law suggests punishment for critical reporting, of which there is plenty everyday in the Hungarian media.

The criminal sanctions proposed are clearly targeted at spreading false information or distortions that could interfere with or thwart efforts to protect the population from the spread of the virus.

False claims of a power grab in Hungary are just that. Such insinuations are not only incorrect but defamatory, and impede the governments efforts in slowing down the spread of the coronavirus.

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Coronavirus: Hungarys right-wing leader given unlimited powers that could curb free speech - Mirror Online

The Centre Is Back to Using the Bogey of ‘Fake News’ to Try and Suppress Press Freedom – The Wire

In a recent public interest litigation (Alakh Alok Srivastava vs Union of India), the Centre sought a direction from the Supreme Court that no electronic / print media / web portal or social media shall print / publish or telecast anything without first ascertaining the true factual position from the separate mechanism provided by the central government.

This direction has been sought in a status report submitted by the state detailing the steps it has taken thus far to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Such a direction has been sought on the basis of the claim that, Any deliberate or unintended fake or inaccurate reporting either in electronic, print or social media and, particularly, in web portals has a serious and inevitable potential of causing panic in large sections of the society. Considering the very nature of this infectious disease which the world is struggling with, any panic reaction by any section of the society based on such reporting would not only be harmful for such section but harmful for the entire nation.

A direction of this nature, to be constitutionally protected, must be reasonable and covered within the ambit of Article 19(2) of the constitution. In order for government action against the media to be protected under Article 19(2), there has to be a proximate relationship between the speech/expression that is sought to be curtailed and the parameters set out in Article 19(2). This relationship must not be remote, fanciful or far-fetched and should be based on material evidence that demonstrably proves the states claim.

Also read: Coronavirus v. Free Speech: Modi Government Opens New Battlefront in Supreme Court

It has been amply documented in various reports that adequate steps were not immediately taken to provide migrant workers with basic and humane living conditions after the lockdown was announced. In this vacuum, migrant workers and their families were left with no alternative but to leave for their villages. The images of migrant workers walking helplessly on highways, putting their lives and that of their young children at peril, is testament to the failure of the government in effectively protecting these workers.

At present, there are no credible studies or reports that argue, let alone establish, the migration of workers was motivated by anything other than the announcement of the lockdown measures. Even the status report filed by the Centre does not cite any data that could back the claim that the migration was due to the dissemination of fake news. This suggests that the states claim evidently made orally by the solicitor general and noted in the courts order that workers migrated because of fake news is at best based on conjecture or surmise, and at worst is a blatant attempt to deflect responsibility and accountability.

We live in an age where the collection, dissemination and consumption of information has defined the realisation of and access to human rights. The cornerstone of efficient and democratic policy making is to incorporate public debate and criticism within its fold. To see public debate and the critique of state action as adversarial is to misconceive its indispensable role in democratic nation building.

The Supreme Court in a catena of judgments, ever since the landmark Sakal Papers case in 1962, has consistently held that the right to circulate ones views is an integral part of the right to freedom of speech and expression. The Supreme Court also ruled that the freedom of the press cannot be curtailed in the interest of the general public. Any restriction to the freedom of press must thus fall in line with the stipulations enumerated in Article 19(2) of the constitution:

Nothing in sub clause (a) of clause ( 1 ) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

The freedoms enshrined in Article 19 also include the peoples right to know. During a public health crisis, like the one faced by the world today, the value of the right to be informed is undeniable. Given the dynamic nature of the crisis, and the evolving responses to it coming from various scientific and medical experts, there can be no singular source of information that encompasses all strands of research and expert opinion.

The WHO, in its operational guidelines, highlights the vital role played by media houses in disseminating information, which is arguably one of the most important steps towards fighting a disease of mammoth proportions. It is pertinent to acknowledge the ability of the free media to unearth vital information which may still be unknown even to the state. This makes the media not only a source of constant critique but also an independent ally for better governance.

The Centres demand, if eventually conceded, will effectively act as a gag on the free flow and circulation of information which may not always be palatable to the government. Such a step will inevitably also have a chilling effect on robust and uncompromised journalism.

The law with regard to prior restraint of media is well settled and the Supreme Court has consistently held that it would not be in consonance with the constitutional scheme to prevent the publication of news. As recently as 2017, in a petition filed by Common Cause, a bench comprising the then Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud noted that prior restraint on the publication of news is not the job of the court or administrative authorities, and that all grievances should be dealt with in accordance with the law of the land only after its publication.

Also read: UP Police FIR Against The Wire an Attack on Freedom of the Press

The court had said, We cannot ask them (Centre) to monitor the content of channels. How can we do that? You can approach us or the authority concerned after telecast or airing of objectionable contents only. If something happens and you find them obnoxious, then we will certainly deal with them. Generally speaking, we cannot interfere with it and do content regulation.

While quashing an order which had restrained Cobrapost from publishing an expos on media houses, Justice S.R. Bhat of the Delhi high court had also in 2018 noted that despite the challenges posed by the new age media, especially the electronic media and internet posts, it cannot per se dilute the valuable right of free speech, which the court stated is the lifeblood of democracy.

The state has time and again utilised the rhetoric and bogey of fake news, just as it does claims of national security and/or national interest, to justify the whittling down of the right to freedom of speech and expression.

In Jammu and Kashmir, the fear of fake news was used to justify severe restrictions on free speech and media rights by curtailing access to the internet, after the Centre read down Article 370. The same fear is now being cited to seek pre-publication screening of media reports. In the race between civil liberties and state control, ground is usually lost bit by bit, and one has to be extremely vigilant to keep pace with the increasing dilution of civil liberties.

Devika Tulsiani is a student of law in New Delhi. Soutik Banerjee is a Delhi-based advocate.

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The Centre Is Back to Using the Bogey of 'Fake News' to Try and Suppress Press Freedom - The Wire

Scholars Call for Limits on Freedom of Speech – The Heartland Institute

Speakers at an academic conference at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) criticized freedom of speech and called for tighter limitations on public discourse.

The National Communication Association, an organization of communications professors, and UNCGs Department of Communication Studies sponsored the meeting titled Finding Expression in Contested Public Spaces, held October 24 and 25. Seven panels of academics discussed free speech, racism, and groups of people marginalized by society.

Free speech is elevated by claims that it is a viewpoint-neutral concept, but it empowers hate speech, Marina Lambrinou, a teacher at UNC-Greensboro, told the audience ata panel titled Pedagogy and the 1st Amendment.

Our work is predicated upon understanding free speech as a form of oppression, Lambrinou said in her remarks. Free speech is weaponized to spread hate, elevate white supremacy, and incite acts of violence. However, free speech is also legitimated by the protections it is afforded and by the position it occupies in popular discourse as a race- and disparity-neutral construct.

Implicated in Racism

The conference was designed to affirm principles of free speech, states a notice on UNCGs website. During the opening keynote speech, however, Eric King Watts, an associate professor of communication studies at UNC-Chapel Hill, spoke in opposition to free speech in his address titled Tribalism, Voicelessness, and the Problem of Free Speech.

The concept of free speech developed in a slaveholding culture that did not recognize the rights of non-Europeans, Watts told the conference audience.

In particular, freedom of speech is conceptualized and found in documents as a universal human capacity and right requiring legislative and judicial protections, Watts told the audience. But this late 18th-century idealism obscures the manner in which freedom of speech is always already implicated in racism.

It is particularly dangerous to allow todays Republican Party freedom to speak, Watts told the audience.

Over the last two decades, the GOP has mutated from a traditional conservative party into an insurgent force that threatens the norms and institutions of American democracy, Watts said.

Put bluntly, the Left is not really intolerant of conservative values, Watts said. Indeed, many of us here probably wish for the good old days when we just had to deal with the neocons. Rather, the Left is intolerant of racism, homophobism, xenophobism, and misogyny.

Calls for Censorship

The allegedly negative consequences of free speech could require additional regulation, Lisbeth Lipari, a professor at Denison University who participated in a session titled Academic Freedom & Campus Free Speech, told the audience.

[In regard] to whether or not we should restrict free speech in some new ways: possibly, Lipari said.

A European model of speech that would move society from a forum of free speech to one with the duty to listen, was discussed by Lambrinou and Yacine Kout of the University of North Georgia.

Not everyones perspective needs a place to be listened to, Kout said.

Single-Minded Diversity

A UNCG student noted the one-sidedness of the conference during a question and answer session.

[You all] talked a lot about power dynamics and oppression, but Ive only seen examples coming from one point of view, the student commented to the presenters.

Other viewpoints should be considered, but the expression of some ideas could be harmful, Mark Congdon Jr. of the College of Saint Rose said in response to the student.

Yes, [diversity of opinion] is important when we talk about how do we incorporate these other voices, Congdon said. But then understanding ... how free speech can also be used to oppressand it gets at power and authorityin terms of how you might be using your free speech to silence and harm others. And thats not okay, regardless of anyones political views.

Says Minorities Benefit Most

Free speech protects minority voices, says Robert Shibley, executive director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

The idea that protecting free speech for everyone ends up benefiting the powerful over the powerless is both ahistoricalour nation's movements for abolition and civil rights attest to thatand nonsensical, Shibley told School Reform News. After all, powerful majorities can rely on that power to ensure their right to be heard. It is those who are marginalized who need free speech the most.

Academics should acknowledge the importance of contesting viewpoints, says Jenna A. Robinson, president of the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

Its disappointing that communications scholars are so skeptical of the value of free speech, Robinson said. Id like to see more support among professors for open debate, free inquiry, and the marketplace of ideas.

Branson Inscore (branson.inscore@jwpf.org)is a Blundell Fellow at the John William Pope Foundation. An earlier version of this article was published by the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. Adapted and reprinted with permission.

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Scholars Call for Limits on Freedom of Speech - The Heartland Institute

Opinion | Have hope – alreporter.com

Healthcare professionals and scientists seem to indicate that we are closer to the beginning of the COVID-19 calamity than at the middle or the end.

But even in times of real human crisis, hope isnt dead but remains a vital thread in the fabric of what we know as the human spirit.

In his eighth State of the Union address in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.

This is part of the message Roosevelt relayed to the American people as he prepared the nation to enter World War II.

Across the nation and here in Alabama, everyone is experiencing disruption to daily life.

Worry, doubt and fear is everywhere as minute-by-minute bad news rolls in like a spring deluge.

Hope Springs Eternal, is a phrase from the Alexander Pope poem An Essay on Man in which he wrote:

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;

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Man never Is, but always To be blest.

The soul, uneasy, and confind from home,

Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

Hope is, of course, the belief one holds during difficult circumstances that things will get better, writes Saul Levine M.D., Professor Emeritus in Psychiatry at the University of California at San Diego in Psychology Today. It is unique to our species because it requires words and thoughts to contemplate possible future events.

Dr. Levine concludes that hope is the very nature of the optimism that drives us to work toward overcoming.

It has religious meaning for believers in God, who through prayer trust that their future will be protected by their Deity, said Levine. But the presence of hope is secular and universal, and serves as a personal beacon, much like a lighthouse beckoning us during periods of darkness and stormy seas.

There is a reason for alarm as the governments response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been uneven, ineffectual and at times bordering on dereliction of its duty.

For years, there has been a movement to shrink government to a size where it can be drowned in a bathtub. The response by the federal government to the COVID-19 outbreak is a manifestation of that thinking.

Except for Gov. Kay Ivey, most state officials have remained near mute or totally silent during the crisis. Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth has offered encouragement. Still, others seem to be in hiding except for a few Republicans who have sought to politicize the moment by criticizing U.S. Sen. Doug Jones and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

These times call for decisive leadership, frank words about the realities facing our State but not political pandering.

Diseases like COVID-19 are not partisan, seeing neither Democrat or Republican. The States political leadersthe real onesneed to offer solutions, not partisan finger pointing.

Gov. Kay Ivey and her staff are doing their best, Press Secretary Gina Maiola is keeping the press informed almost hourly, likewise Communications Director Leah Garner is guiding the governors message so that the public is informed. Health officer, Dr. Scott Harris, briefings are realistic, sobering and needed. Iveys chief of staff, Jo Bonner, is a steady hand quietly and methodically aiding the governor and the various agencies who need support.

There have been missteps and blunders, but the governors office is meeting a Herculean challenge with calm and efficiency.

If good intentions and best efforts are worth anything, if giving it ones all is the best any of us can do, then Gov. Ivey and her staff deserve appreciation.

The situations in the State will worsen before it is better.

No one knows how long COVID-19 will plague our State, but be assured that hope and faith beat worry and fear every time.

In what has become known as the Four Freedoms Speech, FDR also had a message for the world. Men of every creed and every race, wherever they lived in the world are entitled to Four Freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

Our present danger will pass and we will once again need to work to preserve the four freedoms that FDR spoke about so many years ago.

Hope is one of our greatest assets in times like these. Please remain safe, have courage and believe that better days are ahead.

Originally posted here:

Opinion | Have hope - alreporter.com

Dissent in a time of Covid – Spiked

Two nasty ailments have gripped Britain in recent days. The first is Covid-19. The second is intolerance of dissent. The authoritarian instincts of the chattering classes have been on full display in this crisis. You can see it in their daily pleas for Boris Johnson to turn the UK into a police state. You can see it in their sneering at people who visit parks or take a walk on a beachfront. And you can see it most disturbingly in their implacable rage against anyone who deviates from the Covid-19 script and asks if shutting down society really is the right thing to do. Like medieval scolds, they brand such people dangerous, insane, a virus, accessories to manslaughter. Shut them down!, they cry, thinking they are signalling their concern for the publics health when really they are advertising their profound contempt for freedom of thought and critical debate.

In an emergency, freedom of speech doesnt stop being important. It becomes more important. The vast majority of people accept there will be restrictions on their everyday freedoms in the next few months. They know they wont be able to socialise very much and will have to stay indoors for long periods of time. We accept this because, in contradiction of the anti-masses hatred coming from the media class at the moment, who are fuming over photographs of what they view as thick, ignorant scum walking in parks, people actually have a strong sense of social solidarity. They are concerned for the health of their friends, families, community and society. They accept restrictions to that end. But even in a moment like this there should be not a single restriction on freedom of speech. The right to dissent from the middle-class apocalypticism enveloping the Covid-19 crisis is the most important liberty right now.

And its a liberty under threat. The speed and intensity with which questioning extreme responses to Covid-19 has become tantamount to a speechcrime is alarming. I had a taste of it this weekend, when I found myself in the eye of a storm over a Spectator piece I wrote questioning the wisdom of closing pubs. Peter Hitchens did too, after he wrote a Mail on Sunday piece questioning the Covid shutdown of society. Others who have wondered out loud if the freezing of social and economic life is the right response to this novel new virus have been hounded, shamed, reported to the Silicon Valley authorities. David Lammy calls us insane and dangerous and says our words should be unpublished. Unpersoning will be next. Questioning the lockdown will see you blacklisted from polite society.

How swiftly we become McCarthyites. How naturally intolerance comes to that section of society that thinks it knows best. Partly, of course, this is always its default mode. As we know from the past couple of decades of social shaming, No Platforming and outright state assaults against people who are deemed to hold hateful or wrongthink views, the new elites are not exactly friends of freedom of speech. But the rising tide of Covid-19 censoriousness also suggests that these people think that when things get serious, when society faces a genuine threat, then freedom of speech becomes a negotiable commodity. Words potentially become dangerous. Bad ideas can lead to loss of life. So police speech, shame the dissenters, silence the virus of incorrect thought. This is as wrong as it is possible for someone to be. It is precisely moments like this that show why freedom of speech is the most important value in a civilised, democratic society.

Right now, our societies are doing something historically unprecedented. They are asking us to change our lives in ways that would have been unimaginable just a couple of weeks ago. Some European societies have completely shut down. This week the UK will likely introduce a Coronavirus Bill that will give our government extraordinary power over individuals and public space. The right to question this is essential, for two reasons. First, because we should never feel comfortable with restrictions on freedom. Even if we accept them as short-term measures in a mass act of social solidarity to protect life, they should still make us bristle and balk and constantly ask questions: Why is this necessary? When will it end? When will the Coronavirus Bill be repealed?

And the second reason freedom of speech becomes even more important in a crisis is because of one of the key things that freedom of speech does it encourages intellectual humility. Freedom of speech is the means through which all of us entertain the possibility that we are wrong. The great service of freedom of speech is that it helps us question ourselves. The unfettered existence of all kinds of interesting, challenging, strange and offensive views is the great and essential guard against our own tendencies to dogma. It invites rethinking, re-evaluation. It gives us that great liberty: the liberty to change our minds.

Dogma, in contrast, does the opposite. Dogma emerges where people shield themselves, normally courtesy of censorship, from the thoughts and questions and criticisms of others. Forcefielding oneself and ones ideas from criticism gives rise to lazy, sclerotic thinking. It nurtures orthodoxies and blind beliefs, ideologies that are cleaved to not because their worth and substance have been properly tested through rigorous public debate but because we just know they are right. Doing that in normal times is bad enough. Doing that in a time of unprecedented crisis is lethal. It means this: society might go down a route that is wrong. Im not saying it is wrong. But shouldnt we entertain the possibility that it is? Shouldnt we nurture the conditions of freedom in which the potential wrongness of what we are doing could be exposed? Shouldnt we be humble rather than dogmatic about the overhaul of modern life, and open to the possibility that it is a mistake?

I want to hear from dissenters who think that what we are doing is wrong. Their voices are immeasurably important right now. They will protect us from the disease of dogma. I want to hear from people like David L Katz, founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, who says the lockdown might be a mistake; that this near total meltdown of normal life schools and businesses closed, gatherings banned [might be] long-lasting and calamitous, possibly graver than the direct toll of the virus itself. I want to hear from those, like Katz, who are asking if the lockdown itself could actually help to spread the disease, for example by closing colleges and schools and sending young people of indeterminate infectious status to huddle with their families.

I want to hear from people like Professor Michael T Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, who says a national lockdown is no cure. Who says we must urgently consider the effect of shutting down offices, schools, transportation systems, restaurants, hotels, stores, theatres, concert halls, sporting events and other venues indefinitely and leaving all of their workers unemployed and on the public dole. The likely result, he says, would be not just a depression but a complete economic breakdown.

I want to hear from people like Gerd Gigerenzer, director of the Harding Center for Risk Literacy at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, who reminds us that apocalyptic predictions were made about earlier viral diseases and they did not come true. Who reminds us that the UK government predicted that 65,000 Brits would die from swine flu in 2009, but actually fewer than 500 died. Who says there are dangers both to underreaction and overreaction to Covid-19 and that our society must learn to live with this uncertainty.

I want to hear from these voices because they can help to hold at bay the desire for unflinching certainty and dogmatic responses in the face of Covid-19, neither of which are helpful, and both of which could end up causing as much harm to society and our wellbeing as the disease itself. The instinct to demonise and shut down anyone who says we are overreacting to Covid-19 is not only irritatingly censorious and anti-intellectual it is potentially dangerous, too, since it will erase those opinions that are holding out the possibility that what we are doing is wrong. Am I wrong? has never been a more important question to ask ourselves. And freedom of speech is the thing that makes that question possible, makes it meaningful, and gives it the extraordinary power to protect society from good intentions that might have terrible consequences.

Brendan ONeill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan ONeill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

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How to win the campus free-speech wars – Spiked

I became a university lecturer almost 50 years ago, in 1974. At that time in British higher education, there were occasional attempts to shut down discussion and limit freedom of speech. But the vast majority of academics and students were relatively open-minded, and serious clashes of views were a regular feature of campus life.

In the decades since, I have witnessed a significant change. Universities have become increasingly intolerant, and academics and students no longer think free speech is a big deal. Incredibly, the cultural climate that prevails within British higher education is now far less tolerant than in the world outside.

In recent weeks, we have seen the No Platforming of Selina Todd, an Oxford University professor who was prevented from speaking at an event at the Oxford International Womens Festival because of her views on transgender issues. And former home secretary Amber Rudd was disinvited from an Oxford University student-society event, following pressure from other student groups over her links to the Windrush scandal.

As such brazen displays of intolerance have become more widespread, parliamentarians have begun to discuss the possibility of introducing a law, or new procedures, to strengthen the right to free speech in universities. It has been reported that the government is considering bringing forward an 11-clause bill, drafted within the Department for Education, that would make good on the Tory partys 2019 manifesto pledge to strengthen academic freedom and free speech in universities.

This is not the first time that a Conservative government has raised concerns about the fragile state of free speech in universities. Back in 2017, the then universities minister, Jo Johnson, insisted that universities must pledge to protect free speech or face being fined or even deregistered by the newly created Office for Students (OfS). He wanted to make the protection of free speech a statutory duty, and a condition of registration with the OfS. The aim of this policy was to hold university authorities to account for the illiberal behaviour of students unions.

But so far, no new legislation requiring universities to protect freedom of speech has been passed. Moreover, there is no clear evidence it would make any difference even if new laws were passed. The 1986 Education Act, enacted after several Tory politicians were No Platformed during the early 1980s, already requires universities to uphold freedom of speech. And yet, ever since, we have seen a rise in campus intolerance, not a decline.

I am not surprised by the failure of the law to uphold free speech in universities. No government can enforce freedom if a substantial number of people are against it.

The enactment of new laws is an inappropriate and clumsy way of challenging illiberal practices on campuses. Illiberalism and intolerance are deeply entrenched in academic culture. Indeed, the problem begins early, when schoolchildren are told that there are some things they cant say. By the time young people arrive at university, they have already learned that speech acts that offend ought to be shut down, and perpetrators of offence are legitimate targets of censorship.

Unless children are fortunate enough to encounter a non-conforming teacher, willing to challenge the culture of offence and the politicisation of identity, they will have heard very little about the moral and intellectual significance of freedom. Typically, a cohort of new undergraduates arrives on campus with a meagre understanding of what freedom means in practice, and an ignorance of why the pursuit of the truth depends on a willingness to be exposed to challenging, and even disturbing, ideas.

Campus culture today regards free speech and academic freedom with suspicion. Many student activists, and quite a few academics, assert that only those on the right are interested in free speech. They then dismiss talk of a free-speech crisis on campus as the paranoid fantasy of old, white, heterosexual men.

As it happens, active supporters of intolerance are still a minority within the campus community. The problem is that instead of challenging this minority, most academics and students prefer an easy life. So they are reluctant to challenge the identity entrepreneurs who see offence and bigotry everywhere and who call for language to be policed. Instead, students and academics often self-censor so as to avoid being hassled by the intolerant minority. It means that the culture war now being waged on campuses by identitarians, rarely meets with serious resistance.

Relying on the law to alter the political climate on campuses is a folly. Free speech cannot be enforced by government decree without ceasing to be, well, free. People have to be convinced of the importance of free speech through a battle of ideas. Laws dont convince. They coerce.

This battle of ideas, this battle for hearts and minds, can only be conducted effectively from within education. It will be a long, protracted battle, which will necessarily begin at school.

If a government is genuinely interested in protecting the culture of freedom within and without academia, there are four practical steps it can take.

First, it can desist from promoting the politicisation of identity and the policing of speech. Recent UK governments, Labour and Tory alike, have encouraged the policing of speech by expanding the meaning of hate crime. They have also promoted identity politics especially the agenda of trans activists and have acquiesced to its censorious claims. Government needs to remove laws and procedures that criminalise speech, except in circumstances where words are clearly used to incite acts of violence.

Second, students union membership should be made an entirely voluntary act. Students unions, like any voluntary organisations, should be funded by their members, not publicly subsidised. Such steps would make students unions more accountable, and would reduce the resources available for the promotion of anti-democratic activities.

Third, university students and academics should have recourse to legal assistance if they face politically motivated charges, bans and other forms of administrative punishment for their behaviour. Experience shows that if victims of intolerance rely on internal university procedures, they are far less likely to receive justice than if they were able to appeal to due process.

Fourth, the government should examine increasing funding to higher education with a view to encouraging the establishment of new institutions that are genuinely committed to democratic humanist values and which take freedom seriously. As an initial step, policymakers should encourage the establishment of new institutions designed to train teachers. In this way, countering the influence of illiberal pedagogy could have an important influence on the outlook of a new generation of teachers.

These four proposals are designed to change campus culture for the better. Not through government diktat, but through the provision of resources and support for individuals prepared to challenge the forces of intolerance and illiberalism within British universities.

Frank Furedi is a sociologist and commentator. His book Whats Happened To The University?: A Sociological Exploration of its Infantilisation, is published by Routledge. (Buy this book from Amazon(UK).)

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University free speech society told it is a ‘red risk’ and needs to have all external speakers vetted – Telegraph.co.uk

Sheffield Universitys free speech society was told that it is a red risk and needs to have all external speakers vetted and approved.

The free speech society was informed that it must submit an application to the students union at least three weeks in advance each time it invites a speaker, and that full and final approval would be needed in order for the talk to go ahead.

Ewan Somerville, a third year politics and international relations student at Sheffield said he wanted to set up a free speech society as a reaction to "creeping censorship he feels on campus.

Last year, Sheffield students were urged not to wear sombreros as they are told to ensure Hallowe'en costumes are not "sexist, racist, ableist or transphobic".

In January, it emerged that the university is rolling out training for students on micro-aggressions such as asking Japanese students about sushi and confusing banana with plantain.

Mr Somerville said: We have these student union officers and even the university bosses who are projecting their own narrow world view on to the rest of the students. Most are too afraid to speak out.

He said he is hoping to invite speakers who are perfectly legitimate tut are currently deemed too offensive and anti woke such as the veteran feminist Julie Bindle and the journalist Toby Young.

Thomas Woollard, a third-year history student and vice-President of the free speech society, said he believed the university is becoming a "hostile environment".

"The only line that you can say is whatever the student unionbelieve is correct and anything else is considered wrong," he said.

"We are taking them to task over the hostility that they are causing to students in Sheffield who feel silenced by theirattitudes towards freedom of speech".

Sheffield is the latest university to set up a free speech society in recent years, following Bristol, Sussex, Buckingham and Aberdeen.

Ministers are now considering increasing the powers of the university regulator to ensure it has the authority to censor student bodies which fail to protect free speech.

The Education Secretary said that it isunacceptable that two speakers were no-platformed at events in Oxford last week.

One Oxford college launched an investigation into how a female historian was barred from a feminist event.

Jake Verity, president of Sheffields student union, said that their 'risk' classification for student societies is based on how much staff resource will be required to support them.

Sheffield Students Union has a number of red risk student groups spanning media, sport, cooking, arts, and campaigning, he said.

The Free Speech Society stated that their activity would involve regularly hosting events with high profile external speakers.

Since the students union requires all events with an external speaker to be risk assessed, the society will require greater staff resource, he added.

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University free speech society told it is a 'red risk' and needs to have all external speakers vetted - Telegraph.co.uk

Why Toby Young and other robust white men are using free speech to whip universities – The Guardian

It has been a glorious couple of weeks for defenders of freedom of speech. Now theres even a union to join, led by father of the chapel Toby Young. You can imagine it: robust white men brandishing copies of John Stuart Mills On Liberty and bellowing ideas must fight it out in the marketplace of ideas.

But why, and why now? It seems to be part of a backlash against supposed censorship and political correctness, to say nothing of leftwing bias, bleeding over the university sector like a cheap red sock in a hot white wash. Policy Exchange, the rightwing thinktank, has just published a report, Universities at the Crossroads, intimating that the sector has lost the trust of the entire nation. Oops. That was careless of us.

They accuse: Following a very vocal and at times highly partisan participation in the Brexit debate, as well as an increasing number of unnecessary rows over freedom of speech, there is a growing risk that some on the right may begin to see the sector as actively and irredeemably opposed to conservative and British values.

Freedom of speech on campus, they say, has been pushed into the background by high-profile culture wars, and its time to reverse the trend. Limiting speech on campus isnt a good look. Mill, notoriously, argued if an idea is wholly or partially true, then cutting it off will obstruct progress. But even false ideas should be given voice. Otherwise truths will be become dead dogmas and we will lose our ability to defend them. Conclusion: never obstruct free speech. Yet others, sotto voce, intone: Its all a bit more complicated than that.

Mill himself, like many thinkers, distinguishes freedom of thought from freedom of expression, which, he argues, can be restricted if it is likely to cause serious harm, such as immediate violence. Hence the prohibition of hate speech and the offence of inciting racial hatred.

The question, then, is not whether there should be limits, but where they fall. This is the frontline in the culture war, where speakers have been subject to protest and boycott because opponents believe their views are akin to hate speech. The line will always be contested, and those pulling out a point of principle often use it to mask a political programme.

Policy Exchange is not the first to attempt to whip up the idea that universities are rotten with reprehensible leftwing, anti-British values, try to indoctrinate students, and pursue a woke agenda. If so, we are doing a spectacularly bad job, given recent election results. In my experience, students typically leave university with their political views unscathed, albeit a little better defended.

Nevertheless, it is in the interests of those in power to send a chill through higher education. Policy Exchange is right that many academics see their role as holding government to account. But we dont discriminate. Whoever is in power gets the same treatment. It is just that we havent had a chance to discomfit a Labour administration for a while.

Some criticisms of universities are well made and too often we enter a defensive mode rather unfitting to institutions of the higher mind. But other attacks have an ulterior purpose: to put universities on notice that they are being watched.

Universities are implicitly warned: stay in your lane, and look both ways before you cross us. Dare academics, and especially their leaders, criticise authoritarian government policy and identify dogma-driven stupidities? Before you open your mouth, keep half an eye on the next funding round, and the law around security of employment.

Darkness has not quite fallen. But ultimately speech and power cannot be detached. Who has the power to speak, who has the power to stop others speaking? And power works in multiple ways. It can be exercised by threat, overt or implicit. But most damaging of all, it can seep inside and make us self-censors. Iron has entered the soul of universities in many other countries. It mustnt happen here.

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Why Toby Young and other robust white men are using free speech to whip universities - The Guardian

Behind the SECs War on Freedom of Speech – Yahoo Finance

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Modern investors have diversified portfolios with stakes in hundreds sometimes thousands of companies. Proxy advisory firms provide these investors with objective, unbiased recommendations about how they should exercise the voting rights tied to their shares.

The largest proxy advisory firms generally side with the management of the companies. But they will take an opposing side if company directors are not fulfilling their oversight responsibilities or if the managers try to entrench themselves in their jobs by adopting scorched-earth anti-takeover devices.

A number of corporate managers are enraged when proxy advisory firms call them to account for acting against the interests of the companys shareholders. What is surprising is that the Securities and Exchange Commission has chosen to favor management and undermine shareholders rights and interests.

The SEC is proposing new regulations that both stifle the ability of proxy advisory firms to criticize management and provide management with an inappropriate power to influence the advisory firms recommendations. Proxy advisory firms do much-needed research on issues like whether incumbent directors should be re-elected; whether a company should have a board whose directors are elected to staggered terms; and whether a company should enter into a merger that might involve reductions in the headcount at corporate headquarters, but would be wealth-creating for shareholders. The advisory firms also are an important voice for linking executive compensation more closely to corporate performance.

Corporate managers have the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce representing and lobbying for them in the halls of Congress and in the backrooms of the federal bureaucracies. These groups object to anyone advising shareholders to vote to rein in the self-interested proclivities of corporate executives.

The SECs move to regulate proxy advisory firms is a naked political gambit. It offers a solution to a problem that does not exist. There has been no significant episode on record of a proxy advisory firm making a material false statement about a company. Moreover, a mechanism is already in place for independent proxy advisers to correct any errors brought to their attention.

The politics behind this proposal has been ugly. In an apparent astroturfing campaign that was described by Bloomberg News, the SEC received ghost-written letters in support of the proposed regulations that were fraudulently represented as letters from ordinary investors. The SEC apparently relied on these fake letters in measuring public support for its proposed regulations and is now said to be investigating this scheme to subvert the agencys rulemaking process.

Nevertheless, at the behest of corporate interest groups, the SEC is fast-tracking a proposal that would give every corporation the right to review a proxy advisory firms recommendations as much as five days before the proposals are delivered to shareholders, who are the firms actual clients.

These companies are allowed to provide feedback on these proposals. While proxy advisory firms would not be compelled to accept revisions suggested by corporate managers, any advisory firm that does not accept this input exposes itself to the very real danger of being named as a defendant in a securities fraud suit brought by the company on the grounds that it knowingly countenanced the distribution of a misleading proxy.

Worse, the SEC proposes that companies also be allowed to prepare a written response to be included as a hyperlink along with the advisers report.

If companies dont like the proxy providers findings, they can even see to it that the shareholders dont have access to these opinions. Under current legal standards, a proxy advisory firm is subject to sanction if it knowingly publishes a false statement. One of the SECs proposed rules would subject an advisory firm to civil or even criminal penalties for vague, inadvertent transgressions such as publishing statements that later are deemed to be misleading. Proxy advisory firms under the proposed rules would even be subject to penalties for relatively minor errors such as failing to cite studies that produce different results from any studies cited by the firms.

Story continues

It is indeed strange that the SEC, whose mission is to protect investors, is putting its thumb forcefully on the scale in favor of companies and against investors. Its proposal would land a one-two punch against corporate democracy and freedom of speech. Not only is the commission demonstrating a deep hostility for the value of dissent. It is also abandoning the idea that the free and open exchange of competing views will result in the triumph of good investment policies over inferior ones.

To contact the author of this story: Jonathan Macey at jonathan.macey@yale.edu

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Katy Roberts at kroberts29@bloomberg.net

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Jonathan Macey is a professor at Yale Law School and the Yale School of Management.

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion

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Behind the SECs War on Freedom of Speech - Yahoo Finance

NRB Resolves that Religious Liberty & Freedom of Speech Must Prevail – MissionsBox

NASHVILLE, TN On the last Friday of February, the Resolutions Committee of the National Association of Religious Broadcasters (NRB) published six significant resolutions in conjunction with its annual convention in Nashville.The sixth and final resolution applies to the preservation of certain inalienable rights recognized by the United States Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.The Resolution Urging the Supreme Court to Uphold Religious Liberty as a Primary and not Secondary Right was drafted in response to the case of Obergefell v. Hodges in which the SCOTUS ruled in favor of the legality of same-sex marriages. That decision, carried by a vote of 5-4, requires that states must license same-sex marriages and recognize such licenses issued by other states.

The Supreme Court Ruling

The Family Research Council rightly concluded that the court had no jurisdiction that would permit it to take on the role of a social policymaker. Rather than ruling on a constitution issue, the court became an arbiter of flawed human reasoning.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in his dissenting opinion that:

With each decision that is unabashedly based not on law, but on the reasoned judgment of a bare majority of this Court we move one step closer to being reminded of our impotence.

Justice Clarence Thomas also dissented, saying,

The [courts] decision (has) potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.

Samuel Alito struck a similar chord warning that:

Those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.

The NRB Resolution

Recognizing the onset of potentially ruinous consequences foreseen by Justice Thomas, the NRB resolution noted, in part, that:

Lawsuits are arising across the nation where state or local laws that provide protection for sexual orientation and gender identity are colliding with the Free Exercise of Religion and Free Speech rights of Christian ministries, and Christian business people who find that aspects of such laws are a substantial burden on their rights of conscience and freedom of religion as well as freedom of speech.

Therefore, the NRB urged the United States Supreme Court to:

Resolve this tension that exists between recently created laws intended to protect the categories of sexual orientation and gender identity on the one hand and the historic and fundamental rights of free exercise of religions and freedom of speech on the other hand, by determining that religious freedom and freedom of speech are primary and not subservient liberties, and in the event of a conflict between those laws and such fundamental rights, that religious liberty and freedom of speech must prevail.

Being a Christian and being an American are two distinctly different things. To live in America as a Christian is a blessing which, if not fully recognized, could have a tranquilizing effect on us such that we lose it by taking it for granted.

Justice Alito summed it up when he said, upon rendering his dissent,

Most Americans understandably will cheer or lament todays decision because of their views on the issue of same-sex marriage. But all Americans, whatever their thinking on that issue, should worry about what the [court] majoritys claim of power portends.

Thank you to the board of the NRB for standing up to be heard on behalf of the faithful Christ-followers in America.

To read more news on Religious Liberty on Missions Box, go here.

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NRB Resolves that Religious Liberty & Freedom of Speech Must Prevail - MissionsBox

10 Chinese Readers Share Their Stories of the Coronavirus Crisis – The New York Times

The coronavirus outbreak has radiated to at least 77 countries, killing more than 3,200 people and infecting more than 93,000. It has paralyzed cities and towns, disrupted business, travel and schools. But no place has seen more devastation than China, where the overwhelming majority of deaths and infections have occurred.

The New York Times asked Chinese readers all over the world to share their views on how the country responded to the coronavirus outbreak, which originated in Hubei Province in central China. We heard from readers in Europe, Australia, China and the United States. One was living just miles from the market in Wuhan that is considered by many experts to be ground zero for the virus.

Most expressed serious disappointment in how the Chinese government has handled the crisis. But others argued China, as a developing nation, has responded effectively. Here are some of their stories, edited and condensed for clarity.

When the outbreak occurred, I was living about three miles north of the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan. I must have been one of the first people to have seen and been alarmed by Dr. Li Wenliangs screenshots on WeChat. That day I immediately ordered masks and disinfectant online for my family, and asked them not to leave our building complex unless there was something urgent. But then because the government dispelled the so-called rumors over and over again and blocked information, almost everyone began to let their guard down, and I was no exception.

No freedom of speech and the misconduct of government officials are the main culprits that brought about this disaster, and made everyone so angry.

Liang Yi, Tianmen, Hubei Province

I came to the United States with my husband, whos studying here. Now hes got a job, but I have to stay at home because of a visa issue.

Earlier this year, my husband and I had a serious discussion about our future. He has always felt that the systemic risks in China are too high, so we should not go back. But Ive felt that for a more comfortable and exciting life there, Im willing to sacrifice some things, like freedom of speech and internet freedoms. Whats more, I have felt life is short, and in todays peaceful era, the probability of suffering from systemic risks is so low.

I didnt expect that two weeks later, an epidemic would break out in China. All the management problems and human-rights issues that have been exposed make me sad and angry. For the first time I realized how important free speech is. This outbreak was like a slap in the face. It totally woke me up and it makes me very sad. I feel that I am growing farther and farther apart from my homeland.

Su Min, San Francisco

Before the outbreak worsened, my friends and I all thought that China was a digital totalitarian state that was invulnerable to attack. But all these halos were smashed because of the Chinese governments chaotic response to the pneumonia in Wuhan.

For me, this crisis exposed the cowardice and recklessness of the bureaucracy of the Chinese government. At the same time, it demonstrated that, in the absence of the bureaucracy, the Chinese people retain strong capabilities to self-govern and self-organize on the grass-roots level. This leads me to believe that contemporary China still has the conditions for a democratic revolution.

Wang Sheng-fan, Adelaide, Australia

As the Chinese Communist Party continuously uses authoritarian means to deal with matters, a humanitarian disaster is happening. I decided to drop everything and escape as soon as possible. But my parents are deeply brainwashed by Chinese Communist Party propaganda. They said that if they are going to die they would rather die here in this land, and live or die with the motherland.

I felt frustrated by this, but at the same time I knew thats probably what the majority of Chinese people also think.

I bought plane tickets and decided to leave with my 9-year-old daughter. My wifes passport is valid for less than six months, and the entry-exit department told us that theyve suspended all immigration services for Chinese citizens for the time being. So for now its just me and my daughter here in Thailand.

This epidemic made me sense deeply the split within my family. This division derives from our different views of the C.C.P.

Gao Enzhou, Bangkok

Im currently a university student in London. I went to Singapore for a job interview. Upon coming back, I developed symptoms associated with Covid-19. As a result, I was tested by the National Health Service and ordered to stay at home. The test results came back negative.

The outbreak has confirmed my belief that when looking at China, one must give it a fair assessment. I believe the critique of China during this outbreak is rather unfair.

When critically analyzing the situation, one must keep in mind, despite all of the development since Chinas economic miracle, China is still a developing nation. For a developing country, it has responded quite well. The mobilization of resources in response to the outbreak was only possible in a very centralized government. An infectious disease outbreak, combined with the largest annual human migration, spells a disaster for any country. While critiques of the early handling of the epidemic may be valid, it distorts the picture; no government has ever done so much to contain an outbreak.

Arthur Chan, London

Early last year, my wife got accepted to a Ph.D. program at the University of Washington, Seattle. She was pregnant, so she postponed her enrollment from September to March of this year. If it wasnt for the epidemic, we would have flown to Seattle with our daughter to begin our new life on March 1.

But now because of the ban on travel to the United States, and worries about traveling with our baby, we dont want to take the risk of going to another country and being quarantined for 14 days. We can only stay home and wish that things improve. Were facing a dilemma.

Mo Weicheng, Foshan, Guangdong Province

Im a student from Wuhan, studying in Ireland. Ireland isnt a mainstream destination for Chinese students. There are only two people from Wuhan in this city.

Over Christmas I went back to Wuhan. I returned to Ireland before the epidemic broke out. One week after I came back, Zhong Nanshan announced that there had been human-to-human transmission of the virus. That was right before the Lunar New Year. The Spring Festival gala organized by my schools Chinese Students and Scholars Association was scheduled for two weeks after I returned. I was a volunteer, and I wasnt sure if I should go. I sent a message to the chairman of the association, who reassured me. He said I should come since my quarantine period was over. But during the event, I could still sense murmurings of concern. It is human nature to feel afraid, but this still made me feel lonely and sad to be in a foreign land.

Zhang Yuqin, Galway, Ireland

I live in the city of Huizhou, in Guangdong Province. But Im currently in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I had planned to take the Graduate Management Admissions Test in February in Shenzhen. But the test was canceled because of the epidemic. So my wife and I decided to go to Hong Kong so I could take the test. I signed up to take the test in Hong Kong, but two days later I was informed that the test was canceled there, too.

We searched for the nearest test site and found it was in Thailand. After our visas were approved, we flew to Chiang Mai. I have taken the test in Chiang Mai, but my wife and I plan to stay here for now. This is not the most disappointing thing, there will always be greater disappointments.

If one soldier is a failure, its just one soldier. But if the general is a failure, its the whole army. The top leadership of China bears direct responsibility for losing control over the outbreak.

Zhang Zhida, Chiang Mai, Thailand

I came to Munich from Spain in mid-October last year to continue my studies. Before the outbreak of the coronavirus, I always felt that I was a Spanish resident and emotionally depended on that. After the outbreak occurred, I got a message from my German landlord on the morning of the fourth day of the Lunar New Year. She hoped that I could move out within five days, because her husband was afraid of the novel coronavirus. This was ridiculous. The last time Id been back to China was last August, and my hometown was not the center of the outbreak. I dont know how they could connect me to a virus that originated thousands of miles away.

Li Xiang, Munich

I am currently going to medical school on Long Island, where I am a third-year medical student doing rotation at a hospital. Ever since the coronavirus outbreak, I have heard hospital staff joking about pandemics. They taunt about the foods people eat in China, as if all Chinese people are barbarians. They make statements about how Huoshenshan Hospital is actually a concentration camp incapable of taking care of patients. They ignore the Chinese governments efforts to respond to the outbreak.

As a Chinese international student, I feel extremely uncomfortable about these false and arrogant comments, and I have personally stood up to one of the nurses, to educate them about what is actually going on.

Media in the United States are not committed to presenting the truth. They usually twist stories in a way that misleads Americans who want to believe China is a horrible place and all Asians have the Chinese virus.

I worry from time to time that my patients will refuse to let me examine them just because I am Asian and they think I am carrying the coronavirus.

Yujie Jiang, Long Island, New York City

Compiled by Emily Chan and Sue Tong

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10 Chinese Readers Share Their Stories of the Coronavirus Crisis - The New York Times

No platforming nowhere near as productive as debate or conversation – The Badger Herald

Feb. 11, the Wisconsin State Assembly approved a bill that protects free speech on all University of Wisconsin campuses. Under the bill, students who disrupt free speech on UW campuses twice will be suspended for a semester. If students disrupt a third time, they will be expelled.

The Assembly has attempted to pass similar bills in the past, but they have never made it through the Senate. The UW System Regents previously adopted a policy identical to the one passed in the Assembly.

Wisconsin Assembly Democrats have come out in opposition to the bill, stating that cementing this policy in state statute is redundant and unnecessary. They argue it shows a distrust for university administration, and its a possible danger to students who decide to use their constitutional right of protest.

Board of Regents protection of free speech actually does exact oppositeFree speech is a right promised to all Americans through the Constitution and is an integral part of democracy which Read

Republican Lawmakers released a memo addressing the necessity for this legislation.

Campuses across the country have erupted in protest, including violent riots, as the growing debate over who has the right to speak threatens our nations First Amendment, the memo said. Invited speakers have been taunted, harassed, and even assaulted, leading many universities to cancel events. This is true for campuses here in Wisconsin where several UW System institutions including UW-Madison, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Stout, and UW-Stevens Point have had free speech related issues.

Assembly Democrats might disagree with the legislation, but the fact that there has been a pattern of silencing conservative speakers on campuses cannot be disputed. The drafting of the first iteration of this bill was in response to conservative political commentator, Ben Shapiro, being shouted down by protesters while speaking at UW-Madison in the fall of 2016.

During Shapiros lecture, protesters sitting in the audience frequently interrupted Shapiros speech with shouting. Eventually, demonstrators joined together and walked down to the stage where Shapiro was lecturing, all while continuing to shout and prevent the conservative commentator from speaking. Despite efforts from Shapiro, the protesters refused to engage in a productive conversation to discuss their disagreements instead opting to continue with the disruption. For a crowd of over 500, with expected protests, the university only assigned three officers to police the event. Needless to say, they could not keep the crowd in control.

Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon experience for conservative speakers coming to college campuses around the country.

March 2017, conservative commentator Charles Murray was shouted down at Middlebury College. Protesters went as far as to jump on Murrays car while he was in it. A professor who endorsed his visit to the college was injured during the protest. She was put into a neck brace at a local hospital.

Point Counterpoint: Democrats should focus on their own problems instead of impeachment proceedingsAs we approach Nov. 3, 2020, Democrats are becoming increasingly obsessed with preventing President Trump from winning reelection. Instead of Read

April 2019, conservative commentator Michael Knowles was repeatedly shouted down during a lecture at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Protesters stood up during the lecture, screaming profanities at Knowles. One protester ran at Knowles with a squirt gun and shot soap at him. The demonstrator was arrested.

November 2019, Presidential Medal of Freedom winner and acclaimed economist Arthur Laffer was shouted down at Binghamton University. The topic of the speech was free enterprise and limited government. Protestors stood on tables in the lecture hall and heckled Laffer.

When conservative students bring speakers on campus, who are they supposed to look to for protection? For many students, when they bring a speaker to campus, its the only conservative lecture they hear all year.

The Econ Journal Watch conducted a study of faculty voter registrations at 40 of the leading universities in the U.S. Their research showed out of 7,243 professors, only 314 were registered Republicans. This means that at 40 of the leading universities, Democrat professors outnumber Republican professors at a ratio of 12 to 1.

Point Counterpoint: Accountability vital when faced with lawlessnessI would like you to do us a favor. If you want to understand President Trumps corruption, this quote tells Read

Conservatives on college campuses arent under constant attack from their professors and their peers. But conservatives on college campuses sit in a sometimes-isolating minority. It can be beneficial for conservatives to continually be around people with differing views, as this affirms or challenges our own. But dont deny them and the speakers they bring on campus the right of free speech.

Some might say this bill doesnt protect freedom of speech, it infringes on the right of protest. But it doesnt infringe on the right to protest. No restriction in this bill prevents anyone from protesting any speaker. Everyone has a right to protest, but no one has a right to create disruption.

The criticism of this bill is understandable, but it does not outweigh the necessity for this bill to be cemented in state statute. Conservatives must look to policy to protect their first amendment rights, which are subject to assault when speakers come on campus.

Realistically, this bill will die on Tony Evers desk. When Evers was a regent, he was the only vote against the initial policy adoption. Before Evers vetoes this bill, he should at the very least engage in conversation with conservative groups on campus to create a deterrent against speakers being shouted down in the future.

Tripp Grebe ([emailprotected]) is a freshman studying political science.

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No platforming nowhere near as productive as debate or conversation - The Badger Herald

Bitcoin Is the Technology of Dissent That Secures Individual Liberties – Bitcoin Magazine

The U.K. hearing of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assanges U.S. extradition on the week of February 24, 2020, presented a test of Western liberal democracy. The indictment of Assange under the Espionage Act for publishing classified documents which exposed U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan is recognized by free speech groups as an unprecedented attack on the First Amendment.

With the governments criminalization of journalism, we are seeing a deepening crisis of legitimacy that had begun to unravel a decade ago. Bitcoin emerged during the 2008 financial meltdown as a response to bank bailouts and a cycle of austerity. Over its 10 years of existence, the technology has steadily maintained its fundamentals of censorship resistance and permissionless usage. Now, more than ever, Bitcoin shows these defining features as its value proposition.

As the government becomes more authoritarian, those who speak truth to power are being punished more harshly. Bitcoin as a technology of dissent provides alternative forms of resistance that are much more peaceful and joyous. It offers an avenue for people around the world to express their opposition against their government without directly confronting with power; instead it is simply creating a new world that makes the old system obsolete.

The invention of Bitcoin didnt happen overnight. It was built on cumulative efforts of the past. The development of this technology of dissent can be traced back in the history of peoples liberation from the arbitrary power of the king and despotic government. In the United States, after the victory of the Revolutionary War, the Founding Fathers rejected the rule of British monarchy. In the Declaration of Independence, the premise was given for unalienable rights of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, expressed in the words of Thomas Jefferson that is to be applied equally to all people.

In establishing the U.S. constitutional republic, these premises remained no more than ideals and they were constantly threatened. The original Constitution ratified in 1787 lacked the guarantee to secure individual liberties that inherently belong to all people.

The proponents of the Bill of Rights demanded a safeguard against the government. They articulated the protection of essential parts of unalienable rights in the First Amendment to the Constitution as a freedom of expression; freedom of speech, religion, assembly, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Erosion of civil rights took place through a loophole in the security within the Constitution. While a wall of separation between church and state is placed in the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, separation of money and state was not. Under the First Amendment, individuals right to create, choose their own money and transact freely was not recognized as a part of freedom of expression that needs to be protected.

The central control over money production faced a major security breach. Attorney Ellen Brown explains how most people think money is issued by fiat, declared to be legal tender by the government, but the creation of money has been taken over by private corporations like the Federal Reserve.

Privatized national and corporate currencies, created out of thin air around the world, came to function as a medium of control, allowing big business to create market monopolies. This began to debase the intrinsic value of the natural rights of a person evidenced in the nations founding document. By transforming those inalienable rights into a permissioned form of legal rights that can be infringed upon by the government, corporations and private banks began to steal individual liberties. Freedom of expression became further stifled through economic censorship and financial blockage enacted by payment processing companies like Visa and MasterCard.

As the states assault on civil liberty has increased, rebellion came from the internet. On February 8, 1996, when Congress enacted the Telecommunications Reform Act that enabled media consolidation and monopoly of flow of information, John Perry Barlow, internet pioneer, wrote a Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace. Addressing it to governments of the Industrial World, he called for a creation of a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.

Those who revolted against the arbitrary power of the national government became dissidents in the new frontier of cyberspace. They found each other and formed an association that came to be known as cypherpunks: loosely tied online activists who advocate social change by the use of strong cryptography.

Tim May, one of the influential cypherpunks and the author of The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto recognized money as speech. At the Computer Freedom and Privacy Conference in 1997, he described how Digital Cash = Speech. He then noted how untraceable digital cash is indistinguishable from speech and explained how any laws intended to control it will almost certainly impinge on speech in general. Cypherpunks began envisioning a stateless digital form of money that is uncensorable and their collaborative pursuit created a movement for a new Enlightenment.

Philosophers in the Enlightenment era advocated for conceptions of democratic rights based on natural law. In his seminal work The Spirit of Laws published in 1748, Montesquieu wrote,

Laws in their broadest sense, are the necessary relations which are derived from the nature of things: Once free from the yoke of religion, we should still be subject to the rule of Justice Law, like mathematics has its objective structure, which no arbitrary whim can alter, before there were any enacted laws, just relations were possible.

Cypherpunks understood that while alienable rights that are bestowed by law can be taken away by legislation, inalienable rights are not to be created but can be discoverable by reason. Thus, laws that secure inalienable rights cannot be created by man but can be found in nature.

Like Enlightenment thinkers who tried to explain the laws of society and human nature through scientific methods, the anonymous creator of Bitcoin instigated a scientific process of discovering a way to restore money in its original form as an enshrinement of an unalienable right.

Bitcoin is free software that gives the user full control of the program. Anyone can observe, share knowledge and contribute to the development of protocol through participating in reviewing, testing and experimentation.

Here, principles of nature that were discovered were applied to create a decentralized digital currency and a market that is free from the control of the government. They included breakthroughs in computer science that led to the invention of a consensus algorithm, the laws of thermodynamics (study of science concerning heat, temperature and their relation to energy), and three natural laws of economics (self interest, competition, and supply and demand) that were identified by Adam Smith, a father of modern economics.

In Bitcoin, based on the principle of game theory to create fairness, miners engage in a broadcast math competition. Aligning self-interests of all in a network, with a careful balance of risk and rewards, rules are enforced without applying any external pressure. Bitcoin regulates itself through the spontaneous force of nature, flourishing healthy price discovery and competition in the best interest of everyone.

As the British court wrapped up its fake judicial process in the deliberation of the U.S. extradition request for the persecuted and tortured journalist, Julian Assange, Western democracy shows its final decline. This irreparable system continues to suck people into an electoral arena trying to keep them under its control. While many engage in protest or petitioning, busying themselves with cheering on their favorite candidates in political contests, Bitcoin provides a formidable tool for dissent, allowing people to simply opt out altogether from this corrupted system.

The bureaucratic system of the modern nation-state, administered by central banks, magistrates, presidents and prime ministers, has alienated us from the harmonious state of the world we belong to, depriving us of our innate rights and liberties. Now, imagination from computer science inspires us to rediscover intrinsic value within ourselves the wisdom of nature that governs our behavior and our rights to express ourselves freely and create our own life.

We, Bitcoiners, are all dissidents in the Old World of trusted third parties. We defy the rules of empire states in order to trust our ability to become our own authority. Laws of nature that are higher than man-made laws, being enforced by mathematics, have begun to reorganize a society. The frictionless flow of bitcoin allows us to diverge from the mainstream of national currency that keeps us in a debt spiral; it allows us to transcend borders and bypass checkpoints. Voluntary association formed through this free speech money is creating a new economy, fueling innovations and opportunities for jobs.

Every 10 minutes, the heart of Bitcoin beats, setting computers around the world in motion. From developers to miners and users running full nodes that relay and validate transactions, together, all engage in computing as an act of civil disobedience, keeping the network decentralized. As we collectively dissent, the wealth of the network rises, securing equality and liberty as unalienable universal rights for all people.

This is an op ed contribution by Nozomi Hayase. Views expressed are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of Bitcoin Magazine or BTC Inc.

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Bitcoin Is the Technology of Dissent That Secures Individual Liberties - Bitcoin Magazine

Fighting corruption can unite the American people – The Fulcrum

Asher-Koenig, a fiction writer and retired psychotherapist, is a communications volunteer at Wolf-PAC, which advocates for a constitutional amendment to permit more regulation of money in politics.

Regardless of our differences, and despite the ever-widening rift between the left and the right, one thing remains true: Our leaders have not been responsive to the voice of the average American voter.

According to Martin Gilens, professor of public policy at UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs, "economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence." While this has been an issue in American politics since the inception of our democracy, this reality has been exacerbated in recent years by a gradual loosening of restrictions on election financing.

Tight controls on campaign financing, enacted to protect the integrity of our democratic process, date back to the Tillman Act of 1907. The corruption of campaign financing began its slow but steady incursion into our politics in 1976, when the Supreme Court held in Buckley v. Valeo that political spending was a function of freedom of speech, and that restriction on such spending was a violation of the First Amendment.

In the Supreme Court's landmark 2010 decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the court held that the free speech clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent expenditures for political communications by corporations, including nonprofits, labor unions and other associations. This opened the door to a series of legislative decisions that have led to the out-of-control corruption we face today.

Now, we need to seriously address the impact of this corruption on our democracy.

Corruption in election financing refers to political spending by nonprofit or 501(c) organizations in the guise of social welfare organizations, unions and trade association groups. These types of organizations are not required to disclose their donors and can receive unlimited donations from corporations, individuals and unions. In this way, their donors can spend funds to influence elections, without voters knowing where the money came from, opening the door to a kind of corruption previously unknown in the United States.

Currently, numerous groups are free to spend unrestricted funds to advocate the election or defeat of candidates. They contend they're not required to register with the Federal Election Commission, because their primary purpose is something other than electoral politics.

Maurice Cunningham, an associate professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, has studied corruption in political finance for years.

According to Cunningham, a 2016 ballot measure in Massachusetts regarding charter school financing was funded by a nonprofit called Families for Excellent Schools, in the amount of $25 million. This organization has no family members and appears to be nothing more than a conduit for secret money donations, according to Cunningham. When the donors were eventually disclosed, months after the election, they included members of the Walmart conglomerate in Arkansas, who had contributed as much as $5 million of the funding.

According to the New York Times, the 2014 midterm election was influenced by "the greatest wave of secret, special-interest money ever raised in a congressional election." And the Center for Responsive Politics reports that spending by organizations that do not disclose their donors increased from less than $338 million in 2008 to well north of $1.4 billion in 2016.

With the continuation of these secret donations in politics, it doesn't matter if you're a progressive or a conservative, it's the billionaires and giant corporations that will decide what bills get passed and what budgets are approved. Though we continue to go through the democratic process, it's never been more apparent that our votes just don't count. Because, even if our candidate wins the election, as long as our legislators are beholden to corporate interests, the will of the people remains immaterial.

In any election, I'm not going to be happy if the other side prevails, but I'll accept it as part of the push and pull of a political dialogue. I'm willing to lose, so long as we're engaged in a fair and equal fight. What I'm unwilling to accept is the abuse of power that's creeped up on us for the last four decades, the malignancy that essentially cheats all of us out of a real choice. The addition of a so-called 28th amendment to the Constitution of the United States would eliminate corrupt election financing for good and will protect the United States from future abuses of power that threaten to destroy the freedoms of our democracy our right to free and fair elections.

And, most important, this remains a nonpartisan issue that affects us all progressive, centrist and conservative. A recent poll by ALG Research/GS Strategy Group shows a majority of voters, Democrats and Republicans, rate "corruption in the political system" the most serious problem facing the country. Those polled say that the money spent by special interests impacts their lives in negative ways.

That's why Wolf-PAC is leading more than 50,000 Americans in working to add the 28th amendment to the Constitution, to end corruption and restore our representative democracy.

Knowing the game is no longer rigged may prove to be the key to mending the fear and animosity among us. Using the power of our Constitution to fix the corruption of money in politics, we can unite to rebuild a democratic process that acknowledges and honors the needs of every American.

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The Guardian is not a fan of Toby Young or free speech – The Post Millennial

The line between freedom of speech and the freedom to incite violence is one of the hardest distinctions to put into practice. Toby Young, however, who has recently created the Free Speech Union, may have a better idea than most.

Two years ago, when Theresa May was still the prime minister of the United Kingdom, the Conservative Party appointed Toby Young as a member of the Board of the Office for Students. Despite it being an unpaid position, Young quickly accepted it, and yet within a few days, he had not only lost that job but four others.

Young suffered from the sordid affliction of conservatism, and because of this, his qualifications were overlooked. Almost as soon as he was appointed, legions of offence archaeologists began to excavate through decades of articlesinevitably digging up artifacts that would soon cost him his livelihood.

They dug up some stuff, took it out of context, and portrayed me as a bigot, said Young. It was trial by social media: guilty until proven innocent and, by the way, youre not going to have a chance to defend yourself. I ended up not only having to step down from the regulator, but also from four other positions, including my day job running an education charity. It was brutalI lost two stone.

By appointing Youngwho perhaps was even an overqualified candidatethe British Conservative Party had committed the unpardonable sin. They had appointed someone with the exact virtues needed for the position: industry knowledge, a public profile, and, most importantly, outspoken and lucid principles. And yet, it was precisely these qualities that led to Youngs downfall.

Within hours, the platoons of the progressives had trudged through decades of articles and social media posts. At one point, all ten of the Spectators most viewed articles in their archive, which dates back to 1828, were authored by Young. As the editor of Spectator noted, Youngs army of detractors were hard at work.

Youngs ordeal is not as remote as it may seem. These tacticsowing in part to their efficacyhave begun to seep into democracy itself. Take, for instance, Justin Trudeaus tactics in the 2019 election, where the Liberal apparatus took the form of a constant barrage of oppo research deployed against Conservative candidates.

Mercifully enough for the Conservatives, the state-funded offence excavator, indulgent in its smugness, was retired after Justin Trudeaus penchant for blackface emerged. Nevertheless, within a few weeks, the Liberal Party had time to craft and exhibit the online transgressions of six separate opposition candidates.

All this has sent an unequivocal message to Conservatives: If you dare oppose the prevailing orthodoxy of the dayor in the case of those Conservative candidates, dare oppose Canadas natural governing partyyou will suffer first public humiliation and then unemployment.

Free speech has never been in more peril across the Anglosphere than at any time since the Second World War, said Young. Why? Because the regressive Left has launched a ferocious attack on free speech and the progressive Left doesnt have the intestinal fortitude to defend it.

As a result of this, Young has launched the first major revolt against those who no longer value free-speech or ideological diversity. With a group of internationally recognized academics, public intellectuals, and journalists, Young has created the Free Speech Union,aimed at defending those who have exercised their right to free speech. I want to stop the same thing happening to other people, which is why Ive set up the union, said Young.

The Free Speech Union is perhaps the only available means to defend yourself against the tactics of the far-left. If you are a member, the union will mobilize an army of supporters to defend you against outrage mobs. They will also launch counter-petitions, defend you in the media, and provide legal assistance whenever it is reasonably possible.

We will challenge outrage mobs in a variety of ways, said Young. If bullies come after one of our members on social media, well go after them. If the woke witch-finders start a petition demanding that one of our members is fired, well start a counter-petition. If one of our British-based members faces a disciplinary processor is firedwell give them access to legal advice and, if necessary, help them crowd-fund to pay their costs. The enemies of free speech hunt in packs; its defenders need to band together too.

Speaking to The Post Millennial, the prolific Canadian editor of Quillette Jonathan Kay commended the ambition of the union. I hope it works, he said. Kay, however, did express caution over the capability of the union: the problem is that if somebody really wants to cancel someone, the pressure points come from within their own professional milieus. The cancellers dont care if youre in some kind of free speech union. It would only work if thousands and thousands of people joined it.

The good news is that the Free Speech Union is well on its way to garnering this support. Speaking about the reception the Union has received, Young said that it has been very well received by conservatives and by some members of the progressive left.

One example of this is the Conservative leadership candidate Erin OToole, who told The Post Millennial that free speech is the foundation of a free and democratic society. Conservatives need to stand united against the threat posed by cancel culture. The left is trying to intimidate into silence conservativesand even those on the left who question the most extreme views. This is a real threat that we need to take seriously.

The Free Speech Union has suffered some criticism from the usual candidates. The regressive Left, for instance, have done their best to portray it as an organization thats been set up to protect male, pale and stale conservatives like me from the consequences of hate speech.

This attempted portrayal may be a difficult task for Youngs army of detractors. So far, the five-person Board of Directors includes a gay man and a woman of colour, making the Free Speech Union, as Young said, more diverse, in every sense, than the BBC.

Speaking on the necessity for free speech, Young paraphrased Ira Glasser, the former head of the ACLU: speech restrictions are like poison gas. They seem like a great weapon when youve got your target in sight. But then the wind shifts.

Combative metaphors aside, it would be more constructive for the regressive left to join the union, or at least not work against it. After all, Youngs detractors proclaim themselves to be liberals. Shouldnt they commit to a cause that defends the central tenet of liberalism: free speech? To silence any voice is to impoverish the world and our decision-making capacity. The free speech Young is trying to protect is our individual liberty: we negate it at our cost.

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