Brazils Top Culture Official Fired Over Speech Evoking Nazi Propaganda – The New York Times

RIO DE JANEIRO President Jair Bolsonaros top culture official was dismissed on Friday over an address in which he used phrases and ideas from an infamous Nazi propaganda speech while playing an opera that Adolf Hitler regarded as a favorite.

The address by Roberto Alvim, the culture secretary, set off an outcry across the political spectrum as Brazilians reacted with exasperation and incredulity.

It was the latest flash point in a broader debate over freedom of speech and culture in the Bolsonaro era. The president campaigned on a promised course correction after an era of rule by leftist leaders, whom he accused of trying to impose cultural Marxism.

Critics say that he and his allies are taking a dogmatic approach to the arts, the public education system and to sexuality and reproductive rights.

Mr. Alvims speech, which was posted on the culture secretariats Twitter account Thursday evening, shows Mr. Alvim speaking sternly sitting at a desk. Behind him is a framed photograph of Mr. Bolsonaro. A large wooden cross on his desk is featured prominently.

Careful observers were aghast after noticing that a few minutes into the address, Mr. Alvim uttered a few phrases that are remarkably similar to an infamous speech by Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Germany propaganda minister.

Goebbelss speech, delivered in 1933, was one of several in which he called on artists to back the Nazi vision. Art, he said, needed to be a tool free of sentimentalism that served the states aims, according to a biography of Goebbels written by the German historian Peter Longerich.

Mr. Alvims address included verbatim some phrases from Goebbelss, including an exhortation to make art in the next decade heroic. It also includes the warning that Goebbels gave that if art doesnt rise to the national moment, it will cease to exist.

In the background, Richard Wagners opera Lohengrin is playing, a work Hitler described in his autobiography as one that had been decisive in his life, according to the newspaper Folha de So Paulo.

Announcing a $4.8 million investment in the countrys national arts grant program, Mr. Alvim, a veteran theater director, made clear the government would fund works that hew to Mr. Bolsonaros worldview, works that pay homage to historical figures and emphasize conservative values.

The arts grants would support operas, theater productions, painting and sculpture exhibitions, works of literature and music compositions.

Mr. Alvim said Brazil needed a culture that doesnt destroy, but one that will save our youth.

When culture is sickened, people become sick as well, he said in a video recorded alongside the president, which was broadcast before the one that drew controversy.

By Friday morning, Goebbels and Nazi were trending topics on Twitter in Brazil as users shared news stories and memes expressing horror.

Mr. Alvim initially dismissed the criticism, accusing leftists of reading too much into his words, and saying in a radio interview that his aides chose the passages from Goebbelss speech when he asked them to search on Google for speeches about nationalism and art.

But later he apologized to the Jewish community for what he called an involuntary mistake.

Mr. Bolsonaro said on Friday afternoon in a statement that despite Mr. Alvins apology, he decided that keeping him in the job was unsustainable. He added that the government repudiates totalitarian and genocidal ideologies.

Several politicians, including the speaker of the House, had called for Mr. Alvims immediate ouster while some prominent figures close to Mr. Bolsonaro questioned his sanity.

Jos Antonio Dias Toffoli, the president of the Supreme Court, said in a statement that Mr. Alvims remarks deserved to be repudiated with vehemence, adding that they were offensive to Brazilian people, especially the Jewish community.

Olavo de Carvalho, a Virginia-based writer and YouTuber from Brazil who is known for peddling conspiracy theories and informing Mr. Bolsonaros thinking on societal and intellectual matters, was also critical of Mr. Alvim.

It may be early to judge, he wrote on Facebook. But Roberto Alvim may not be of sound mind. Well see.

Germanys embassy in Brazil condemned the speech in a post on Twitter, saying that it opposed any attempt to banalize or glorify an era that brought infinite suffering for humanity.

Letcia Casado contributed reporting from Braslia.

Read more:

Brazils Top Culture Official Fired Over Speech Evoking Nazi Propaganda - The New York Times

Quillen Op-Ed: ‘How to Protect Free Speech in the Age of Mass Shootings’ – Davidson News

Quillen explores how the world might look to college studentsand its not always pretty. Instantaneous access to information has raised the stakes of expression, creating a world in which free speech can mutate into violence in the blink of an eye.

For young people who have known no world but this one, the line between speech that invites violence and violent criminal acts seems paper thin, she writes.

If we want to engage our students, rather than belittle them, we might consider changing the subject from free speech per se to how words lead to action in the world.

Quillen asks readers to focus on our collective vulnerability to tribalism and how technology has made us less likely to connect directly.

Such a change of subject would invite all of us to pose timely political and ethical questions, as many college professors nationwide are doing she writes. In fact, freedom of speech has a better chance of flourishing if weon the left and the rightwould lay down our arms and listen.

The op-ed is available in its entirety at The Hill

Continued here:

Quillen Op-Ed: 'How to Protect Free Speech in the Age of Mass Shootings' - Davidson News

Franklin Republican wants to make it a crime to burn symbol of liberty – The Union Leader

CONCORD A state senator said its time to ask New Hampshire voters whether they want to make flag burning an unlawful expression of free speech.

Sen. Harold French, R-Franklin, presented to the Senate Election Laws and Municipal Affairs Committee Thursday a proposed amendment to the New Hampshire Constitution (CACR 19) to make it illegal to burn a flag except as a respectable means of disposing of a worn or damaged one.

People had the right to express themselves, but as I got older I realized it was not just the flag; it was a symbol of unity. As all of us look at that flag, we see the same thing and that is the unity the flag brings to us, French said.

There are other instances that we prohibit things which could be considered freedom of speech. This is just one other I would like to add to that.

Jeanne Hruska, political director for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, said even if adopted by voters, the law would last as long as it took a judge to examine it and conclude it violated the U.S. Constitution.

This amendment is very much about speech and protest, including peaceful protest, since incitement to violence is already illegal, Hruska said. Burning the flag may be offensive speech to many, but it is the kind of speech that is most important to protect if free speech is to retain its meaning.

The first flag protection amendment was passed by Congress in 1968 in response to protests against the Vietnam War.

Over time, 48 of the 50 states adopted their own flag protection laws, but the U.S. Supreme Court in 1989 struck them all down as unconstitutional in a 5-4 ruling.

When Congress adopted another law in response, the court voted 5-4 to knock that one down, too.

Congress then spent nearly the next decade trying to get the necessary two-thirds vote to amend the U.S. Constitution. The movement passed the U.S. House but finally died in the U.S. Senate by a single vote in 2006.

Freedom of speech is a fundamental right enjoyed by citizens in this country, said liberal activist Nancy Brennan of Weare.

Although I have no desire to burn the American flag, I do understand why some people may feel so disenfranchised, so angry about something that they burned or desecrated the flag.

The hearing was sparsely attended, though six senators have signed on to the amendment, including first-term Sen. Jon Morgan, D-Brentwood.

The hearing featured some spirited debate.

I have to say I feel the Supreme Court was wrong-headed in that decision, said Sen. Regina Birdsell, R-Hampstead and a Coast Guard veteran.

We have had numerous people who died under the flag. Its a desecration to them that others are allowed to burn the flag.

Sen. Tom Sherman, D-Rye, said many in his family fought against the Nazis in World War II, including an uncle whom he never met.

I find it absolutely abhorrent to burn the American flag. My family has been here since the origins of the nation. Can I put in a constitutional amendment next year to end hate speech? What is going to stop us from stopping this kind of speech? Sherman asked rhetorically.

Sen. Melanie Levesque, D-Brookline, tried to stay in the political median for now.

Our freedom of speech is also very important. Without weighing in here I can understand both sides, Levesque said.

Amendments to the State Constitution require at least a three-fifths majority vote in the House of Representatives and the State Senate.

Then,without the governors involvement, the question automatically would be placed on the November 2020 ballot, requiring a two-thirds vote to be adopted.

See more here:

Franklin Republican wants to make it a crime to burn symbol of liberty - The Union Leader

Experts warn of foreign disinformation in 2020 election that could ‘annihilate truth’ – The Daily World

By Rick Rouan

The Columbus Dispatch

COLUMBUS, Ohio Government reports agree that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 election, using sophisticated troll farms and disinformation campaigns to meddle in the selection of the next U.S. president.

But a full election cycle later, regulators, legal scholars and security experts are still trying to figure out how to fight it and where it will originate.

If you arent terrified, you arent paying attention, said Ellen Weintraub, a commissioner on the Federal Election Commission. The question is what, if anything, we can do about it.

Modern propaganda distributed across social media seeks to exhaust critical thinking and annihilate truth, Weintraub said during a panel discussion Friday at Ohio State Universitys Moritz College of Law.

In 2020, it wont just come from Russia, she said, noting that intelligence officials are expecting attacks from China, North Korea and others.

Stopping it from happening, though, is complicated, panelists said, because it pits the First Amendment against the need for regulations that would stop erosion of confidence in elections.

The dilemma we face is that any measures we take to counter disinformation have negative consequences for the freedom of speech said Yasmin Dawood, a law professor at the University of Toronto who has studied Canadas approach to combating disinformation.

In 2018, Canada adopted regulations that prohibit publishing misleading information about the countrys elections administration arm and false information about candidates, party leaders and other public figures.

Those restrictions were narrow, though, Dawood said. For example, regulations on distributing false information about individuals were limited to their involvement in a crime, their citizenship, membership in a group and other factors.

If social media platforms adopted their own limitations, that would negate any concerns about government limiting free speech, Weintraub said. So far, though, they have taken little action to stop the disinformation that ran rampant during the 2016 presidential election cycle.

Leaving regulation to the private sector is unlikely to be enough, though, said William Marshall, law professor at the University of North Carolina.

Disinformation has real consequences in elections, he said, and that could be enough to swing the argument for government regulation. For example, distributing false information about the date of the election could suppress voter turnout; lies about a candidate could swing votes entirely.

I think all this false information just normalizes lies. We live in a world many people call post-truth that just accepts it, he said.

If confronted with stronger laws, Weintraub said, she does not believe the Supreme Court would block them while foreign actors are trying to get their tentacles into our political system.

I believe that the Supreme Court would uphold those laws. I dont believe that they would say that the Constitution is a suicide pact, she said.

Excerpt from:

Experts warn of foreign disinformation in 2020 election that could 'annihilate truth' - The Daily World

Editorial: NH House should reject bill that violates freedom of the press – Seacoastonline.com

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Free speech and Liberty of the press are essential to the security of Freedom in a State: They ought, therefore, to be inviolably preserved.

Article 22, New Hampshire Constitution.

On Wednesday, Jan. 15, the New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee will hold the first hearing on HB 1157: An Act relative to liability of New Hampshire news media for failure to update stories on criminal proceedings.

While we agree that it is fair journalistic practice to update stories about criminal proceedings, the bill clearly violates the United States and New Hampshire constitutions and should therefore be rejected.

To our knowledge, the vast majority of professional news outlets in New Hampshire, including Seacoast Media Group, already voluntarily do what this bill seeks to compel through use of government force.

If a news outlet reports criminal charges against an individual and is then notified in writing that those charges were dropped, dismissed, resulted in a finding of not guilty or were subsequently annulled, every outlet in the state already either updates the full story or, in the case of police logs, attaches a note updating the cases disposition.

HB 1157 seeks to compel the news media to take these actions and, if they fail to do so shall result in the liability of the New Hampshire news media organization for any damages incurred by the person caused by such failure.

Having conceded that news outlets should report the dispositions of criminal cases after reporting the initial charges, we strongly oppose this bill on the grounds that it violates constitutional press freedoms upheld time and again by the U.S. Supreme Court as well as state courts.

Controlling the press allows a government to control a people by allowing them to know only what the government wants them to know and preventing them from knowing what the government doesnt want them to know. There is a reason why Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and thousands of other internet sites have been blocked by the so-called Great Firewall of China.

The founders of our state and nation explicitly included strong constitutional press protections. Having just thrown off the repressive yoke of Great Britain and its monarchy, they wanted to prevent the rise of a new tyrant and felt a free press was the best protection because an informed public would have the information it needed to hold government accountable. For this reason, Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1787: were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

A First Amendment case relevant to HB 1157, brought to the attention of the New Hampshire Press Association by Matthew Saldaa from the law firm Bernstein and Shur, is Miami Herald Pub. Co. v. Tornillo, 1974, in which the Supreme Court ruled a Florida law mandating that newspapers provide every political candidate a right to reply to negative articles in the paper, violated the First Amendment.

In the decision, Associate Justice Byron White wrote: the balance struck by the First Amendment with respect to the press is that society must take the risk that occasionally debate on vital issues will not be comprehensive and that all viewpoints may not be expressed. The press would be unlicensesd because, in Jeffersons words, (w)here the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe. Any other accommodation any other system that would supplant private control of the press with the heavy hand of government intrusion would make the government the censor of what the people may read and know.

While we agree that media outlets should voluntarily report on the final disposition of crime stories they have published, we do not believe the remedy is for the New Hampshire House to pass an unconstitutional law. The remedy is for publishers to do what is fair and right and for readers to hold them accountable when they fail to do so.

Read the rest here:

Editorial: NH House should reject bill that violates freedom of the press - Seacoastonline.com

Montclair State Univ. Sued for ‘Unconstitutional’ Speech Policy and Favoring One Student Group Over Another Based on Their Beliefs – CBN News

Montclair State University in New Jersey was hit with a lawsuit Wednesday challenging its policies regulating speech on campus.

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) says the university's speech and permit policies stifle the free expression of ideas and unconstitutionally classifies campus student organizations based on viewpoint.

The lawsuit stems from an incident last September. Three students affiliated with Young Americans for Liberty dressed in orange prisoner-like jumpsuits and held up signs expressing support for gun-free zones. As pretend criminals, their message was clear that gun-free zones only aid lawbreakers, and harm law-abiding citizens.According to a press release on the lawsuit, the ADF says the students were peacefully expressing their ideas in a common outdoor area of the campus when a campus police officer forced them to stop. They were told if they wanted to speak on campus they had first to obtain permission at least two weeks in advance and that the dean's office would assign them a time and place to speak.

The lawsuit alleges "this two-week requirement imposes an unconstitutional prior restraint on all students throughout the entire campus," and allows the university to deny or delay a student's request for a permit for any reason.

"A public university is supposed to be a marketplace of ideas, but that marketplace can't function if officials impose burdensome restraints on speech or if they can selectively enforce those restraints against disfavored groups," said ADF Legal Counsel Michael Ross.

In an e-mailed statementto northjersey.com, University President Susan Cole said Montclair State "is absolutely and unequivocally committed to freedom of speech" and the exchange of ideas. But, she wrote, that must be balanced with "the right of all members of the university community to be able to engage without disruption" in school activities.

"No member of the university community is subject to any limitation or penalty for demonstrating or assembling with others for the expression of his/her viewpoint," Cole wrote.

ADF counsel Ross disagrees. "Policing peaceful student expression that the university doesn't favor is blatantly unconstitutional and directly opposed to the mission of public universities to encourage and allow the discussion of ideas," Ross said.

The lawsuit takes aim at two other campus policies it says violates students' rights.

One policy gives the university's Student Government Association (SGA) complete discretion to rank student organizations into "classes." Young Americans for Liberty is ranked as a Class IV group, which means it is considered "entry-level," and unlike higher-ranked groups it can not request funding from the student fees its members and all students are required to pay unless it raises outside matching funds. The Student Government Association has sole discretion to determine if a student group is entry-level or "meets the needs of a very specific and unique interest of the campus community." This, the lawsuit alleges, is a criterion based on viewpoint and content of speech and is, therefore, unconstitutional. Young Americans for Liberty is still designated as "entry-level" even though it's been registered as a group since 2018.

In a statement to northjersey.com, the SGA says its policies and procedures for student organizations are "viewpoint neutral," and that the lawsuit "mischaracterizes" them.

The second school policy involves the university's Bias Education Response Taskforce. The lawsuit quotes the University as saying the Taskforce exists "to provide a well-coordinated and comprehensive response to incidents of intolerance and bias with respect to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, and national origin." It also has various sanctions against students whose speech it determines intolerant.

The lawsuit alleges the Taskforce guidelines for determining bias and prejudice are "vague and overbroad," and the fear of violating some vague standard stifles the expression of speech protected by the US Constitution. The ADF says the purpose of the Taskforce "is to suppress speech that may make others uncomfortable."

ADF attorneys filed the complaint called Young Americans for Liberty at Montclair State University v. The Trustees of Montclair State University with the US District Court for the District of New Jersey on Wednesday.


Montclair State Univ. Sued for 'Unconstitutional' Speech Policy and Favoring One Student Group Over Another Based on Their Beliefs - CBN News

Sheffield Arena urged to cancel event by ‘homophobic’ Trump ally – The Guardian

LGBTQ+ leaders in Sheffield have called for the cancellation of an upcoming UK tour by Donald Trumps most prominent evangelical ally, claiming he promotes homophobic views.

Franklin Graham, the influential son of the late American preacher Billy Graham, has previously said he believes gay marriage is a sin.

Graham is currently on a tour of Florida which has attracted protests from thousands of other Christians and is to tour eight UK cities later this year. He is due to visit Sheffield Arena in June as part of his tour, which is not open to the public.

Sheffield City Trust, which runs the venue, has said it does not endorse Grahams views but supports the right to free speech.

But LGBT+ campaigners have written to the trust calling for the visit to be cancelled.

The letter, signed by 22 representatives of the citys LGBTQ+ community, says: Franklin Graham has repeatedly publicly promoted his homophobic beliefs, including but not limited to branding homosexuality a sin

We believe that these statements far exceed freedom of speech and are direct hate speech and incitement to violence against LGBTQ+ communities and individuals, which should not be welcomed in our city or anywhere else.

David Grey, chairman of the trust, said he had met faith groups from the city and taken advice from South Yorkshire police regarding the visit but supported the right to free speech and freedom of expression whilst promoting equality and freedom from hatred and abuse.

He agreed there was a potential conflict between these two moral stances, but added that the event was not open to the public and if individuals or groups arent breaking the law then their right to speak freely should be respected.

Heather Paterson, LGBT+ chair at the Equality Hub Network in the city and one of the signatories to the letter, said: While Sheffield City Trust defend their position on the grounds of free speech, hate speech is not free speech. Grahams rhetoric demonising some of our most vulnerable communities, referring to us as the enemies of civilisation and advocating for the harmful and abusive practice of conversion therapy inspires and encourages these attacks. As a community we stand together to reject his attempts to spread further hatred and division in our city.

A demonstration against Grahams appearance, Sheffield Against Hate Demo: Say No To Franklin Graham, is being held on 25 January at the Forge International Sports Centre in the city.

Earlier this month councillors wrote a cross-party letter to organisers of Grahams event warning that the visit could lead to protests.

And in November the bishop of Sheffield, Pete Wilcox, said Grahams rhetoric was inflammatory and represented a risk to the social cohesion of Sheffield.

Grey added: The Franklin Graham event is part of a series of closed events across the country. These events are not open to the public. Other religious groups hire the arena for similar closed events and we are happy to accommodate them as long as the law isnt being broken.

As an organisation, we take matters such as this immensely seriously. We are aware of views from some of our citys councillors and understand their concerns. [But] it is the view of the board of trustees that freedom of speech, and the ability to disagree with someones beliefs, are to be encouraged. If individuals or groups arent breaking the law then their right to speak freely should be respected.

The tour during May and June will also include venues in Glasgow, Newcastle, Milton Keynes, Liverpool, Cardiff, Birmingham and London.

Graham said: Im not coming to Sheffield to preach against anyone. Im coming to tell everyone about a God who loves them.

The gospels life-saving truth and power applies to everyone in this great city.

Read the original post:

Sheffield Arena urged to cancel event by 'homophobic' Trump ally - The Guardian

Free Speech Left for Space as Professor Fired Over a Political Joke – Ask the Truth

This post was last updated on January 14th, 2020 at 12:41 pm

For a universal fact, when two fight, only one wins. In a conflict with freedom of speech, nationalism won in the United States, when an adjunct professor was fired from a Massachusetts college over a Facebook post, where he sarcastically suggested Iran to pick sites in the US to bomb.

The Babson College professor, Asheen Phansey described the post on his personal Facebook page a joke, in which he wrote that the Iranian supreme leader should tweet a list of 52 sites of beloved American cultural heritage that he would bomb. A spokeswoman for him, Judy Rakowsky stated that he suggested the Mall of America in Minnesota and a Kardashian residence as targets.

Phanseys post came in response to President Donald Trumps threat to target Iranian cultural sites, warning it of a retaliation against America for killing their General Qassem Soleimani. However, the idea was ward off by the Pentagon because of the laws of armed conflict.

The Babson professor deleted the post later, but after it was captured in a screenshot and spread across the social media with the colleges contact details tagged along.

One most shared tweet stated, Why does @Babson College have an America-hating terrorist supporter on their payroll. Ask them!

The remarks were soon learned by the college, which later suspended Phansey. Based on the results of the investigation, the staff member is no longer a Babson College employee, the school said.

In a statement issued, the college said it condemned any type of threatening words and actions condoning violence.

This particular post from a staff member on his personal Facebook page clearly does not represent the values and culture of Babson College, it added.

Professor Phansey stated that he regretted his bad attempt at humor.

As an American, born and raised, I was trying to juxtapose our cultural sites with ancient Iranian churches and mosques, he said, adding that he was opposed to violence. I am sorry that my sloppy humor was read as a threat.

Asheen Phansey expressed his disappointment over the colleges decision to fire him just because people willfully misinterpreted a joke I made to friends on Facebook. The professor received his masters degree in business administration in 2008 from the same college, which is a private business school in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Phansey said he expected that his college would have defended and supported my right to free speech. He continued, Beyond my own situation, I am really concerned about what this portends for our ability as Americans to engage in political discourse without presuming the worst about each other.

It does appear to a terrible decision sending a critical message to academics and staff members across the US, of misinterpreting a joke and curbing free speech.

Post Views: 112

Read this article:

Free Speech Left for Space as Professor Fired Over a Political Joke - Ask the Truth

Join the Inquisition or lose your job: wasn’t Hong Kong meant to give peace a chance? – Hong Kong Free Press

It is difficult to take seriously the governments claim that it respects Hongkongers fundamental rights and freedoms, when officials find it so difficult to talk honestly, or even accurately, about them.

Consider a story the other day which started like this: Education Secretary Kevin Yeung has denied infringing upon teachers freedom of speech by penalising them for what are regarded as inappropriate comments on social media.

Kevin Yeung. Photo: RTHK Screenshot.

This paragraph was entirely borne out by the ensuing story, and indicates a truly shocking state of denial or ignorance.

Now watch closely Kevin: inappropriate comment + penalty = infringement of right to comment. It may be a justified infringement, a lawful infringement, or a trivial infringement, but infringement it is. Denying this fundamental feature of the situation suggests that we have a Secretary for Education who should not be teaching in a kindergarten.

And of course this is true. Reputable educators are strangely reluctant to join what its leaders laughably call the government team. Mr Yeung joined the ranks of the political and (supposedly) accountable secretariat after a blameless career in the full-time civil service.

He was announcing a rather sordid exercise in which the Education Bureau is pressuring school principals to take action against teachers with political views which the government disapproves of. That is not, of course, quite how they put it.

Principals are required to investigate complaints about teachers, whether they concern the teachers work or not. And then?

Yeung said that if a school believed the teacher did nothing wrong the bureau may consider the attitude and stance of the school and principal to be problematic. If we believe a principal is unfit to discharge their duties, we can dismiss them as principals. Every principal is appointed by thePermanent Secretary for Education. We have the legal power to do so, but we will be very careful to exercise this power, he said.If the situation is serious to the extent we believe the principal cannot even be a teacher, we can cancel their teacher qualifications, he said.

Photo: GovHK.

In other words, dear principal, if you are an insufficiently enthusiastic participant in the Inquisition, you will not only lose your job as a school principal, but will be disqualified from teaching of any kind.

It is appalling that the education officials are prepared to make such spectacular sacrifices on the altar of political correctness. Hunting for inappropriate verbiage on teachers social media feeds is a very minor part of a principals job. Good principals are hard to find and removing one is disruptive. Have we no sense of proportion?

In his latest defence of this policy Mr Yeung seemed to be offering a sort of way out. He told the Legislative Council that schools must provide a reason if they dont investigate complaints against teachers who are accused of being unprofessional over their activities linked to the ongoing anti-government protests.

So let us see if we can provide some helpful suggestions. Teachers who post things on-line outside office hours are still citizens of Hong Kong and enjoy the right of freedom of speech as provided in the Basic Law and the Bill of Rights Ordinance. Both these instruments provide that restrictions must be provided by law. They do not make exceptions for teachers, or any other professional groups.

So the fact that some members of the public think a comment is inappropriate, or that the Education Bureau agrees with them, is not relevant. The complainant should be told that if he or she believes the offending comment is illegal it should be referred to the police. If it is believed to be unprofessional it can be referred to the relevant professional council.

If it is in neither of those two categories then it is an exercise of the constitutional right to free speech which principals, like the rest of us, are supposed to protect.

The Education Bureau. File Photo: Apple Daily.

No doubt this will result in no action being taken about some postings with which many of us would profoundly disagree. This is a bearable outcome. The idea that children who can barely be persuaded by bribes or threats to crack a textbook are voluntarily spending their free time looking at their teachers social media posts is outlandish.

It seems most of the complaints are about social media posts, but some are of inappropriate teaching materials. Now clearly the principal is perfectly entitled to take an interest in what is going on in his or her classrooms. It is his responsibility to ensure that teachers are fulfilling reasonable expectations of teaching content and methods.

Principals will, one hopes, be more aware of the difficulties facing teachers in the current atmosphere than the complainants are. Students are expected and encouraged to take an interest in current events, to read newspapers and to discuss their contents.

Teachers will, of course, be well aware that this is not an opportunity to impose their views on students or even, indeed, to expound them. One tries to stick to the facts. But sooner or later someone is going to raise a hand and say Sir, what do you think?

At this point almost anything the teacher says will offend someone, if accurately reported, and if inaccurately reported as is quite likely may offend a lot of people. But we would not, I hope, expect him to lie.

Photo: Kevin Cheng/United Social Press.

The depressing thing about all this is that the government has clearly succumbed to the bombardment of complaints from the pro-Beijing corner that all our recent travails are a result of the failings of the Hong Kong education system.

In the more lurid versions of this, which you can find in the English-language version of the China Daily, it is traced right back to kindergarten where, a recent op-ed writer complained, children had been told that in China the rivers were polluted and in America, they were not.

Similar nutty stuff proliferates. One charming suggestion was that the local universities could be closed. All existing students should be sent to mainland universities where they would be straightened out.

By an interesting coincidence, the Economist reported only last week on a piece of research which set out to test the theory that educated people in America tend to be democrats because of their exposure to four years in liberal-infested universities.

Not so. Students political views were carefully tracked over the four years and did not change a bit. Nor is this surprising. Most university courses offer no opportunities for political indoctrination even if the teacher is so unscrupulous as to attempt it.

This lump of scientific evidence will, of course, have no effect on people who wish to believe that the absence of national education is the root of all evils. But this sort of rhetorical overkill threatens to turn a civic dispute into a civil war.

Photo: Apple Daily.

The most distressing recent story was of a young lady who barred her father from her own wedding because he was a policeman. It may be that the gentleman concerned is a tactless martinet who was, as they say, asking for it. Still, it seemed to me that this was the sort of decision which might lead to bitter regret in a year or twos time.

Some of the published comments from the other side also look like a prolific cause for retrospective embarrassment. It seems that if the level of violence is declining the level of verbal abuse ought to subside a bit too.

The other night I caught a government ad or Announcement of Public Interest as they call it for peace and quiet. It started by appropriating the oldCampaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) symbol. This was an error: the CND logo incorporates the semaphore signals for ND, meaning nuclear disarmament, which is hardly relevant here.

The ad went on to say Say no to violence, a bit rich from people who are so generous with tear gas and other chemicals. When governments say no to violence they are merely seeking to preserve their monopoly of it.

Then we had Give peace a chance, in what I fear is not quite the sort of context which John Lennon intended when he penned thephrase. But still, a worthy sentiment.

Mr Yeung needs to get with the programme. If the government is losing on the streets then opening a new front in local classrooms is not the way to peace, only to conflict of a different kind.

Read the original here:

Join the Inquisition or lose your job: wasn't Hong Kong meant to give peace a chance? - Hong Kong Free Press

Appeals Court reverses conviction in freedom of speech case – Whidbey News-Times

In a case testing free speech restrictions, the state Court of Appeals recently reversed the convictions of a man accused of trying to intimidate two city of Oak Harbor employees in 2017.

The ruling was filed Dec. 30 as a published opinion, which means it established precedent and can be cited in the future.

A jury in Island County Superior Court found Jeremy Dawley guilty of two counts of intimidating a public servant, but the appeals court ruled the statute is constitutionally overbroad because it restricts a substantial amount of free speech. The justices noted that a law that restricts free speech is subject to strict scrutiny and must be narrowly tailored to serve compelling interests of the government.

No matter the motive behind an individuals attempt to influence a public servants vote, opinion, decision or other official action as a public servant, the opinion states, such pure political speech is at the core of the First Amendment and necessarily subject to heightened protection.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington filed an amicus brief in support of Dawley, arguing that the statute for intimidating a public servant criminalizes political speech.

Criticism of public officials is a fundamental exercise of political speech rights protected by the First Amendment and by the Washington Constitution, the brief states.

Dawley, who had been discharged from the Navy after suffering a brain injury, had a history of being antagonistic toward police officers and acting strangely. He was preoccupied with traffic complaints, making 144 calls to the emergency dispatch center in a three-week period, and became upset when officers practiced discretion in enforcement.

In rambling conversations with police officers and the city attorney, Dawley made comments about using Green Beret tactics and owning a sniper rifle. He told the police chief he would give out the Oak Harbor city attorneys personal information to rapists and violent offenders.

Dawley was then arrested after he made public records requests for information about sexual and violent offenders, then went to the city attorneys office.

In arguments at the appeals court, Chief Criminal Deputy Eric Ohme with the Island County Prosecutors Office conceded that Dawley did not make a true threat, which is one of the few categories of speech not protected by the First Amendment. State law has 10 definitions for what constitutes a threat, but a true threat is about violence; its a statement meant to frighten or intimidate someone into believing they will be seriously harmed.

Ohme argued that the statute was constitutional because it doesnt criminalize pure speech, but that it contains two requirements that must be met for convictions, namely a threat and the intent to influence a government employees action.

In addition, he argued that the phone calls made to city staff should be considered private speech, which is subject to less constitutional scrutiny than speech in the public domain, that the law affects only a narrow class of people and the government has a compelling interest in limiting speech meant to intimidate public employees.

In the opinion, the justices found that the intimidating a public servant statute can be saved with a jury instruction that limits it to true threats alone.

The appeals court decision means Dawleys conviction is overturned, though he has already served a jail sentence and moved to Eastern Washington. Court records indicate that he has been arrested this year in two felony cases. In one case, he faces charges that include second-degree assault, assault of a law enforcement officer and attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle; the other involves malicious mischief charges.

A judge ordered that Dawley receive a competency evaluation from a mental health provider, court documents indicate.

The rest is here:

Appeals Court reverses conviction in freedom of speech case - Whidbey News-Times

Ricky Gervais: ‘Offense is the collateral damage of free speech’ – Washington Times

British comedian Ricky Gervais stressed the importance of free speech in a new interview Thursday, saying that while he strives to make his jokes bulletproof, he also believes that offending people is collateral damage in comedy.

Mr. Gervais, who is hosting the Golden Globe Awards for the fifth time on Sunday, told The Hollywood Reporter that he has no plans of watering down his material for the politically correct masses.

People like the idea of freedom of speech until they hear something they dont like, he said. So theres still a pressure, but that doesnt mean Im going to water it down or back down and not say what I want. Its just another form of what weve been through many, many times it used to be called P.C. I think those things start off with very good intention and then theyre mugged.

Its a good thing to not be racist and sexist and homophobic, but its not a good thing to not be allowed to make jokes about those things, because you can tell a joke about race without being racist, he continued. Im happy to play by the rules. Its just that the 200 million people watching have different rules. Thats the plight. When people say, He crossed the line, I say, I didnt draw a line, you did. Its relative. Its subjective.

Mr. Gervais came under fire for his 2016 performance at the Globes after he cracked a joke using Caitlyn Jenners former name, Bruce, and mocked Jenners driving in reference to a fatal crash in which the former Olympian was involved. Mr. Gervais said Thursday that he is not transphobic and that his joke was misunderstood.

I can justify the jokes, but I get it, he said. Some people, when you deal with contentious issues or taboo subjects, the very mention of them is the sacrilege. Thats why they stay taboo. People straight away, particularly with a comedian, if youre joking about a subject, they think youre anti it as opposed to pro it. Ive tried to explain this in [the Netflix special] Humanity. Its an occupational hazard of being outspoken.

I think offense is the collateral damage of free speech, and its no reason not to have free speech, he added. Thats what Id say its the lesser of two evils. Having free speech and some people getting upset by it is the lesser of two evils because not having free speech is horrendous.

Mr. Gervais said hes trying to write bulletproof material for this years Globes so that it can stand the test of time 10 years from now.

Kevin Hart [lost] his job [as Oscars host] for 10-year-old tweets that he said he was sorry about and deleted at the time, he noted. So theres more pressure on making [the jokes bulletproof]. Its the world [watching]. This isnt me in a comedy club.

Read the original here:

Ricky Gervais: 'Offense is the collateral damage of free speech' - Washington Times

Non-profit sues Iowa State University on grounds of free speech infringement – Local 5 – weareiowa.com

AMES Iowa State University is under legal fire, as accusations of infringement on students freedom of speech have brought on a lawsuit.

Speech First, a non-profit working to to fight restrictions on free speech at colleges and universities across the U.S., filed a lawsuit against Iowa State Thursday. The organization says Iowa State has created an elaborate investigative and enforcement regime designed to chill speech concerning political and social issues of public concern.

Speech First is asking the court to rule three policies Iowa State has as unconstitutional: a ban on chalking, a prohibition on student emails related to campaigns and elections, and a Campus Climate Reporting System.

Iowa State gave a statement to Local 5 on the lawsuit at hand, saying freedom of speech is an important aspect of the universitys character.

As a public institution, Iowa State University fully embraces its role as a First Amendment campus and is deeply committed to constitutional protections of free expression, a university spokesperson told Local 5.

The protections afforded by the First Amendment and similar provisions in the Iowa Constitution are core values of the university and are foundational to the universitys mission to create, share, and apply knowledge to make Iowa and the world a better place. Constitutional free speech provisions are designed to establish and protect the free marketplace of ideas that is a fundamental characteristic of university life.

Go here to read the rest:

Non-profit sues Iowa State University on grounds of free speech infringement - Local 5 - weareiowa.com

‘Anne with an E’ Season 3 Episode 7 Review: Free speech crusade makes it one of the best episodes on TV – MEAWW

Major spoilers for Season 3 Episode 7 of 'Anne with an E' ahead

"Freedom of speech is a human right." This the unifying theme of 'A Strong Effort of the Spirit of Good', which marks Season 3 Episode 7 of 'Anne with an E', and it is hard to not feel empowered by this particular story.

In the previous Episode 6 of the series, we saw how Josie (Miranda McKeon) was harassed by her beau Billy (Christian Martyn), who then went on to tarnish her reputation in town. Anne (Amybeth McNulty), who quickly caught on with what was going on, stood up to Billy but ended up stepping on the wrong foot of everyone gathered at the dance floor after the County Fair. She also unwittingly embarrassed Josie, who ran out almost immediately.

Further, Anne decides that the only way to convey how Josie has been wronged is to write an Op-ed about the incident, wherein she made a bold claim that women are full beings on their own, as opposed to being complete only with a man by her side. Unfortunately, the Town Council was not forgiving of this claim and went on to demand that the school paper be shut down or run exclusively by the standards they have set, but in doing so they exposed the whole town to their prejudice and their chauvinism.

The whole school is angry with Anne, but for a few friends, including Gilbert (Lucas Jade Zumann), who convince the rest of the class to stand up for her. She leads a protest march, which also sees the adults joining in, including Marilla (Geraldine James).

The students demand that their voices be heard, and declare that "freedom of speech is a human right." Gilbert also tore the list of suggestions that the Town Council had for them. It is clear that these voices of dissent shook them because the episode closes with a bunch of men taking the printing machine out of the school, while one man using his cigarette to set the whole school on fire.

The episode is definitely one of the most inspiring ones on TV and has many teachable moments, especially when Anne chose to stand up for her biggest bully Josie. Even though they have a complicated friendship - with Josie even slapping her - Anne chose to focus on the bigger issue, a crime that is being committed against an entire gender. Josie standing up for herself, even though she had the option of making it all go away, was another great moment to watch.

'A Strong Effort of the Spirit of Good' also juxtaposes educated and uneducated men responding to harassment and feminism. While the Town Council, which consists of a group of influential men, continuously talked over their fellow member Rachel (Corrine Koslo) and is condescending towards her, Matthew (R. H. Thomson), who dropped out of school, said, "I reckon you've heard from about enough men on this topic," when asked his opinion by Marilla.

There is much to be learned from and enjoyed in this episode, and you can do it right away because all the episodes of 'Anne with an E' Season 3 have been added to Netflix.

See the original post here:

'Anne with an E' Season 3 Episode 7 Review: Free speech crusade makes it one of the best episodes on TV - MEAWW

How I Learned to Love Free Speech – The Good Men Project

When I was in high school, my boyfriend was black. His father was a Baptist pastor at a local church and worked as a park ranger at Valley Forge National Park. Mr. Jones* was a kind but tough man, who wouldnt let you get away with anything. I was intimidated by him, especially as someone who had actively renounced the church, but I also deeply respected him.

One fall, we got word that the KKK would be hosting a rally at Valley Forge. Valley Forge is a sprawling park of grass and forests filled with history, deer, and monuments to the founding of the United States. In the winter of 177778 George Washingtons rebel army camped out Valley Forge, awaiting attack from the British occupying Philadelphia across the river. Hundreds of soldiers died that winter in Valley Forge, but when the rebel army left the encampment in June of 1778, they were stronger and more prepared than when they entered. The rebels defeated the British under Lord Cornwallis at the Battle of Monmouth, and went on to win the fight for American independence.

Two-hundred and thirty years later, the Ku Klux Klan was using this very land to promote their hatred and Mr. Jones, a black man who they would rather see dead, was in charge of providing their protection detail. I was appalled. I asked Mr. Jones, How can you protect them when they want to kill you?

Mr. Jones was quiet for a minute and thought. Then he replied, Because this is what Washingtons men died here for.

Freedom of speech is a uniquely American concept. Even other European countries with whom we are closely allied lack the same protections that our First Amendment provides us. For many on the left, this fundamental freedom often brushes up against our desire to protect the most vulnerable among us. The desire to shut down speech we disagree with feels justified when the speech is hateful and only causes harm.

I asked Mr. Jones why he didnt ask to switch shifts with someone that day so he didnt have to protect the Klan. He told me that he wanted to be there, he wanted Klansmen to see him, a black man, defending their rights. He had specifically asked to be on their detail.

The First Amendment protects us from retaliation from the government for our speech, this is why the KKK was able to host a rally in the National Park because it is government land and the government can not discriminate based on the content of your speech. Today, most speech does not happen in government-controlled forums, though. Most speech happens in forums controlled by corporations, who do not have the same First Amendment requirements.

Its probably a good thing that companies can make their own decisions about what speech to allow or not. Forcing a platform to host content they disagree with and would rather not host is a form of compelled speech in and of itself. However, some companies are so big as to function essentially as public forums. Yet, they are still able to choose which speech to allow or not based solely on the content. Twitter, Facebook, and Google, for example, are spaces where the general public congregates for discussion, yet certain viewpoints are systemically discriminated against. Most of the time, I disagree with the views that are being silenced and am glad to see them gone. But what happens when your views fall out of public favor?

When I was heavily involved in animal rights, I participated in illegal speech. Despite the First Amendment, animal agriculture corporate lobbyists have succeeded in making certain speech illegal. In many states, these Ag-Gag laws have not been struck down as unconstitutional. My goal was to dismantle the entire animal agriculture industry one of the most powerful industries on the planet and to create a world of total animal liberation. I knew then how important free speech was. While my friends and comrades were being thrown in jail for their activism, it was not hard to imagine a future where all speech calling for animal liberation was banned on Twitter for Facebook after all, these companies make major ad revenue from the animal agriculture industry.

Ten years after that KKK rally in valley forge, I was starting to really understand Mr. Jones lesson. If I wanted free speech for myself and my activism, I needed to support free speech for all. People were already calling my organization terrorists, violent, and hateful for trying to liberate animals. What if they started saying animal liberation was hate speech? What if the government didnt let us hold rallies and protests? What if Twitter was able to prevent us from getting our message out? How would we ever save those billions of innocent lives?

A few years later, and I find myself in this exact position. Defending womens rights is now seen as hate speech on major platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Women are being silenced, banned, and de-platformed for defending their rights. In countries where there is less freedom of speech, cops are knocking on the doors of feminists. There are relatively few online spaces where people are allowed to express dissent any more, as major corporations keep a tight leash on public discourse. While treating public forums like Twitter and Facebook as such and requiring them to become a nationalized utility would go a long way to creating spaces for free speech, this is unlikely to happen. Creating privately-controlled places which allow dissent and unpopular opinions, in the spirit of free speech, will become more and more vital to maintaining anything resembling a free nation.

Speech that is pushing up against corporate interests and the status quo needs to be protected no matter what side it is coming from.

Washingtons soldiers did not freeze and starve to death in Valley Forge so that corporations could control our speech. Mr. Jones knew that protecting the rights of the KKK on that September afternoon meant protecting the rights of all Americans, including activists like myself. Now, as I find myself defending the values of free speech to well-meaning progressives, Ive been thinking a lot about Mr. Jones. I think he would be proud.

*Name changed

A version of this post was previously published on Medium and is republished here with permission from the author.

All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.

Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.

Photo credit: istockphoto

View original post here:

How I Learned to Love Free Speech - The Good Men Project

2019 was the year ‘cancel culture’ took on a gorgeously messy life of its own – Mashable

To celebrate reaching the end of this year, we asked our reporters to look back on 2019 and pick one thing they thought stood out from the rest of the cultural chaos and cursed images. You can find the complete selection of our choices here.

2019 was the year "cancel culture" lost all meaning.

Though the various scandals this year influencer drama, blatant racism, botched makeup launches ended in countless Notes App apologies and comment sections filled with fancams, few had lasting consequences. Sure, 2019 gifted us with plenty of public outrage, but in the end it's the cancel culture discourse that's more memorable than any canceling itself.

The word "cancel" has been been around since late Middle English, but but became a call to stop supporting public figures as the #MeToo movement started gaining traction. Merriam-Webster credits black Twitter users with creating and popularizing the word's new meaning, defining someone cancel-worthy when the person in question expresses an "objectionable opinion" or has "conducted themselves in a way that is unacceptable." To continue supporting them, Merriam-Webster wrote in a "Words We're Watching" post this July, "leaves a bitter taste."

Canceling someone goes beyond public shaming at its core, the act of canceling is an attempt to take away someone's power and influence.

While earnest, canceling rarely has real world consequences, and the action of canceling tends to be a bit performative. The phrase "cancel culture" the internet-wide affinity for declaring an individual problematic has been likened to a digital witch hunt.

Ronan Farrow, the journalist who helped expose Harvey Weinstein for abusing his influence to assault women in the film industry, dismissed cancel culture as "by and large quite silly." During the Obama Foundation summit, President Barack Obama called out call out culture, calling it "not activism." When comedian Shane Gillis was fired from Saturday Night Live after a video of him using racial and homophobic slurs emerged, presidential candidate Andrew Yang denounced his canceling as life altering.

Searches for the phrase "cancel culture" surged in 2019, Google Trends shows. They rose in May, when YouTubers James Charles and Tati Westbrook publicly ended their friendship over a brand deal, and again when the video of Gillis resurfaced. And then they skyrocketed when Obama came out with his unfortunate boomer take on cancel culture.

The notion of canceling is so pervasive, that when the House of Representatives impeached Donald Trump in a historic vote, Twitter users joked he'd been canceled.

"Cancel culture" was this year's Macquarie Dictionary's Word of the Year. Last week, Los Angeles comedian Zach Broussard amended his annual Top 1000 Comedians of the Year with an option to "cancel" anyone on the list in an effort to make it "100 percent creep free, asshole free, and weirdo free."

As Andrew Yang told The Hill "Cancel culture has really become sort of a source of fear for many Americans where we live in a culture that you are somehow afraid that if you say the wrong thing that your life could be changed forever." He added, "To me, it's vital that we humanize each other. We humanize the consequences of some of these impulses not just in terms of who hears the expression but who is losing a livelihood as a result."

Yang has a point: Many are afraid of saying the wrong thing. But shouldn't we all be more aware of our words, given the increasingly public nature of the internet? Public figures might as well save themselves the headache and watch their mouths.

Critics of "cancel culture" claim to defend free speech comedian Dave Chapelle claimed the First Amendment is a "first for a reason" while accepting the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. It's ironic, since nobody is stopping public figures from saying and doing anything problematic, but at the same time, freedom of speech doesn't guarantee freedom from backlash. As the Washington Post wrote earlier this year, cancel culture is democracy at its finest. Yes, the First Amendment protects your right to be a dumbass, but it also protects the right of others to call you a dumbass.

Whether cancel culture really works is debatable Gillis didn't get the SNL gig, but he's still performing. James Charles lost a few million subscribers but has regained them since the feud. Lizzo, who was lightly canceled for including a Postmates employee's first name and last initial in a complaint on Twitter, was awarded Time's Entertainer of the Year. "Strange Planet" comic creator Nathan Pyle was entangled in a canceling for being pro-life but his book still has rave reviews. Tana Mongeau, the YouTuber who planned an anti-VidCon that ended in Fyre Fest-levels of disaster, was invited to VidCon as a Featured Creator and won the Streamy Creator of the Year award this year.

The parameters for what's cancel-worthy remain fuzzy, which is what makes cancel culture both so hard to define and so persistently controversial.

The example that perhaps sums it all up best is that all 1,000 comedians on Broussard's list were canceled just two hours after the list went live. All 2,000 comedians slated to take their spots in the event of any cancellations were canceled, too. Broussard ended up adding the option to uncancel anyone on the list who had been previously canceled. The list is dynamic, constantly fluctuating between adding comics to the canceled list and then putting them back on the original list when they've been uncanceled.

Getting canceled, uncanceled, and then canceled again is really the most fitting way to close out this decade. 2019 was the year cancel culture took on a gorgeously messy life of its own.


2019 was the year 'cancel culture' took on a gorgeously messy life of its own - Mashable

Rugby League: Toronto Wolfpack say Sonny Bill Williams has ‘right to freedom of speech’ after Uighur tweet – Newshub

Up to two million Uighurs have been rounded up en masse in the past two years and put in detention camps in the northwestern region of Xinjiang for crimes as minor as teaching Islam or downloading messaging apps.

Many have detailed torture and brainwashing in the camps, with recent reports saying mass rape is being committed against Uighur women.

But the Toronto Wolfpack, who Williams has signed with for the 2020 season, said in a statement the team doesn't take a political stance.

"While the Toronto Wolfpack will never take a stance on political issues, our players will always have a right to freedom of speech," the spokesperson said.

In his tweet on Monday, Williams echoed Arsenal playmaker Ozil - also a practising Muslim - that more countries should speak out against China's policy of detaining Uighurs in re-education camps.

"It's a sad time when we choose economic benefits over humanity #Uyghurs," Williams wrote, accompanied by an image illustrating oppression against the Muslim minority group.

Read more:

Rugby League: Toronto Wolfpack say Sonny Bill Williams has 'right to freedom of speech' after Uighur tweet - Newshub

From the Age of Persuasion to the Age of Offense – lareviewofbooks

DECEMBER 23, 2019

WHEN IT COMES to chroniclers of the United Statess political decline, readers today are spoiled for choice. But none brings quite the same background to the job as does David Bromwich, in whose bibliography early titles like A Choice of Inheritance: Self and Community from Edmund Burke to Robert Frost (1989) and Hazlitt: The Mind of a Critic (1983) have given way to, most recently, American Breakdown: The Trump Years and How They Befell Us (2019). An eminent scholar of, among other things, 18th-century poetry, criticism, and philosophy, Bromwich has in recent years turned up every few months in left-leaning publications like The New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books to offer commentary on American politics. That he takes a dim view of Donald Trump is no surprise, but his view of the intellectual fashions of the left so volubly opposed to Trump is even dimmer, and more incisive for it.

American Breakdown, Bromwichs second book this year, closely follows How Words Make Things Happen, an infinitely less topical-sounding text that would seem to belong more to the roster of Bromwich the distinguished English professor than Bromwich the political commentator. But it does clarify that the author looks upon politician and poet alike with the same critical eye or rather, that he listens with the same critical ear. That goes for the political speechwriters as well. He was the first man of the right to leaven his moralism with jokes, Bromwich writes in a damning piece published shortly after the death of William Safire and later collected in the volume Moral Imagination (2014). With fun and pace, with plenty of euphemisms, and with calculated self-depreciation, he did more than anyone else to legitimate a reactionary president, Ronald Reagan, as a new kind of centrist.

One might expect a man of the left to condemn a figure who connects the political style of McCarthy with that of Rush Limbaugh. But Bromwich doesnt go easy either on the likes of Barack Obama, who, as he summed up in a 2014 LRB piece, watches the world as its most important spectator. The headline of an earlier essay in that same publication delivers a plainer assessment: A Bad President. What sets Bromwich off about both Safire and Obama is their abuse of language, and not the kind of syntactical misfires on which critics of George W. Bush fixated, and critics of Trump now fixate, with such righteous glee. In Bromwichs view, Safire used words to stoke the flames of the Vietnam War, and later to press forward the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Obama used words first to make promises closing Guantanamo Bay, restraining domestic surveillance and then to retroactively convince his supporters of the obvious impossibility of keeping those promises.

Acts such as ordering drone strikes bother Bromwich at least as much as they bother Obamas other critics on the left, but those other critics have seldom looked past Obamas famously soaring eloquence to the emptiness of his words. Bromwich indicts Obama as well as other members of his party for failing to sell their cause to the American public with speech equal to the task, or even speech equal in force to that used with such seeming carelessness by the opposition.

The Democrats have a language problem, writes Bromwich in a piece published in the LRB this past spring.

They refer to Trump in clinical jargon as a narcissistic personality, toss about Greek words like homophobic and misogynistic, transphobic and xenophobic, and actually made themselves believe that Trump calling Hillary Clinton a nasty woman was shocking, when in most peoples minds it was another forgettable piece of bad manners vulgar, yes, but we knew that. The elevation of abstract language with no salt or savour, and no traction in common speech, the anathemas that come across as finger-wagging, the antiseptic prudery that runs in a pipeline from campuses to center-left journalism and finally to the Democratic Party: these misjudgments form a pattern with a history.

In this historical pattern Bromwich detects an entrenched complacency which few in the academic-corporate-political-digital elite are ever made aware of, one that has driven American liberals into positions whose untenability is made clear by the strained language used to justify them. Bromwich draws a notable example from Brett Kavanaughs Supreme Court confirmation hearing, when the phrase believe all survivors took on the expanded meaning treat all accusations seriously, even when most Americans still believe that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty, and it would be a moral disaster for Democrats to discard the principle as the condemned property of right-wing libertarians.

The presumption of innocence isnt the only principle Bromwich sees as in danger of abandonment by the left. In the fall of 2016, he published a 10,000-word LRB essay on free speech, a concept that, during the first decades of the 21st century, has become rather the worse for wear. The very words free speech now call to mind an ignoble modern dichotomy: on one side the anonymous internet troublemakers disingenuously defending their compulsion to launch scattershot personal attacks, and on the other the targets of those attacks (or their self-proclaimed champions) defending their calls for vengeance against the attackers by insisting that, because the First Amendment only prohibits punishment by the government, no form of private sanction social ostracism, termination of employment, de-platforming can even theoretically violate their free speech.

The point is true but trivial: when one individual demands the silencing of another, those who accuse the demander of infringing on free speech are claiming the violation not of a written law but of a cultural principle. The demanders protests that he hasnt violated the former only underscore his violation of the latter, a distinction not everyone readily acknowledges. Asked in a late interview how he fell away from his belief in Catholic doctrine, Graham Greene said he had been converted by arguments and he had forgotten the arguments, Bromwich writes in What Are We Allowed to Say? Something like this has happened to left liberals where freedom of speech is concerned. The last two generations were brought to see its value by arguments, and they have forgotten the arguments.

Born in 1951, Bromwich falls squarely into the generation of professors now watching in astonishment as their students, most of whom grew up in the 2000s and 2010s, blithely dismiss and even display undisguised contempt for what once seemed like the settled values of liberal democratic society. He ascribes this state of affairs to several recent developments; one of the most important and least surprising is the soft despotism of social media, that distinctively 21st-century technology almost as enthusiastically resented as it is adopted. Bromwich, who has no social media presence of his own, seems not to engage with it at all, but his description of its customs and expectations will sound discomfitingly familiar to those of us who do:

[A] new keenness of censorious distrust has come from a built-in suspicion of the outliers in public discussion. Social media refer to these people as trolls and sometimes as stalkers; any flicker of curiosity about their ideas is pre-empted by a question that is not a question: Whats wrong with them? Meanwhile, those inside a given group have their settled audience of friends and followers, to adopt the revealing jargon of Facebook and Twitter: a self-sufficient collectivity and happy to stay that way. To be friended in the Facebook world is to be safe walled-up and wadded-in by chosen and familiar connections. An unsafe space is a space where, if they knew you were there, they might unfriend you.

Outside, all is uncertain, obscure, and apt to bring on sensations of fragility. Adversarial stimuli are to be ignored where possible and prohibited where necessary. Inside, a provocative and half-disagreeable remark amounts to a declaration of the intention to defect. To someone who has grown up in such a setting, the older protections of individual speech are an irrelevance.

Facebook began at Harvard before it spread across the world; teaching at a university, and especially an Ivy League school, offers a vantage on the attitudes of the young before they become the attitudes of the majority. Bromwich teaches at Yale, where not long ago a diversity administrator sent out an email urging students to mind that their [Halloween] costumes didnt cause offence or encroach on sensibilities of gender, race, or culture. An associate master of a residential college followed up with a message of her own, saying (as Bromwich summarizes) that Halloween was a time for a lark and everyone should lighten up. Not long ago, both the cautionary letter and the reply would have seemed hilarious for their condescension and paternalism, but in 2015 the reply led to an immediate demand by some residents of the college that the associate master be sacked.

An undergraduate subsequently wrote a telling testimony in a student newspaper, claiming (again, in Bromwichs summary) that the permission granted to culturally appropriative and possibly insulting costumes had deprived her of a safe space; after reading the wretched email, she found herself unable to eat, sleep, or do homework in a building where authority had been ceded to the person who wrote it. On the issue of free speech, the divide between Bromwichs generation and this students comes down to the question of whether the harm done by words belongs in a category or on a spectrum with the harm done by physical violence. But even some of Bromwichs contemporaries profess views on the matter that have more common currency among the young. Take the director of Bristol Universitys Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship, Tariq Modood (born 1952), whom Bromwich quotes as writing, The group which feels hurt is the ultimate arbiter of whether a hurt has taken place.

To experience the feeling is to suffer the injury, Bromwich paraphrases, and how seriously one can take the idea reflects ones position on free speech in this cultural and political moment. The same goes for any of the labels now routinely applied to allegedly hurtful forms of expression hurtful included. We have such labels today, of course, quite a lot of them, from the all-purpose inappropriate to the dreaded divisive, writes venture capitalist Paul Graham in What You Cant Say, an essay published just before the rise of social media as we know it in 2004. In any period, it should be easy to figure out what such labels are, simply by looking at what people call ideas they disagree with besides untrue. Why identify those labels? Because if a statement is false, thats the worst thing you can say about it. You dont need to say that its heretical. And if it isnt false, it shouldnt be suppressed.

Graham urges us to pay especially close attention whenever an idea is being suppressed. Web filters for children and employees often ban sites containing pornography, violence, and hate speech. What counts as pornography and violence? And what, exactly, is hate speech? This sounds like a phrase out of 1984. Bromwich affirms, in the preface to Moral Imagination, that he casts his vote with the Orwell of 1984 against those who assent to the theory that a bond exists that is more humanly compelling than the moral duties of men and women toward each other in the light of our shared condition on earth that is to say, with humanity itself over and above any of its subgroups, especially those founded on ideologies. Ideology is religion that has not built its church, and religion is ideology grown lofty and distinguished. This was the common view of the educated in liberal societies half a century ago. If it remains so today, we who hold the belief have lost our voice.

Proposed sanctions against hate speech now rest on the idea that insult, carried by words alone in the absence of physical menace or a threat to livelihood, tends to impair the self-esteem of individuals. This assumption Bromwich blames on [t]he fiction of cultural identity, a phrase at which some readers, not all of them undergraduates, may bristle. But Bromwich rejects the notion that every human being belongs first to a culture, a group that confers the primary pigment of individual identity on the persons it comprehends. Calls for suppression of negative speech about such groups presume, to Bromwichs mind incorrectly, that vulnerable persons have always already delegated their identity, their morale, and their empirical consciousness to the named identity of the group. But those who see in group identity a necessary shelter from the tidal force of the mass culture and a place for affirmation and resilience protection, that is, from harm threatened in part by words find it natural to embrace a form of censorship.

For those in favor of such censorship, its mechanisms of enforcement and exclusion eventually produce a fortunate and economical result: self-censorship. We stay out of trouble by gagging ourselves, and we do so in order to avoid accusations unchallengeable when the group which feels hurt is the ultimate arbiter of whether a hurt has taken place of having inflicted harm with our speech. One such harm is microaggression, which Bromwich defines as occurring when, in an encounter between a member of the dominant culture and anyone not identified with that culture, the former by word or gesture betrays an assumption that there is something unusual about the latter. How should such an offense be punished? By re-education, it has been suggested, in the form of additional diversity training and sensitivity training. Persuaded by this concept and by a therapeutic literature and practice that cater to it, young people of more than one race have come to think themselves uniquely delicate and exposed.

When individuals and groups fear for their safety even in a pure war of words, cogent argument and debate becomes impossible. Safety in argument or debate is of course an unintelligible demand, Bromwich writes,

but the trouble with those who think they want it isnt that they are incapable of giving reasons backed by evidence. Rather, they have had no practice in using words to influence people unlike themselves. That is an art that can be lost. It depends on a quantum of accidental communication that is missing in a life of organized contacts.

How Words Make Things Happen ends with a lightly revised version of his free speech essay, and the lost or at least vanishing art of persuasion constitutes the common thread between that essay and books preceding chapters. Originally delivered as the University of Oxfords Clarendon Lectures, those chapters deal with whether and how the use of words to make others believe something they were not disposed to believe occurs through the use of language alone.

To make his case, Bromwich draws from the work of Burke and Orwell, as well as that of prose writers like Henry James and Walter Bagehot, poets like Shakespeare and Yeats, and philosophers like Aristotle and John Stuart Mill. The books partial inspiration and half-namesake, J. L. Austins How to Do Things with Words, deals with what that linguistic philosopher calls the cases and senses [] in which to say something is to do something; or in which by saying or in saying something we are doing something. (Examples include I take this woman to be my lawfully wedded wife and I name this ship the Queen Elizabeth.) Bromwich sets Austins definition of such performative utterances in opposition to W. H. Audens seemingly offhand pronouncement, in his elegy for Yeats, that poetry makes nothing happen.

Bromwichs interest here lies not in poetry exactly, but in the half-metaphorical, half-literal usages that mark a boundary between rhetoric and poetry, or between the persuasive and the imaginative uses of words, and in what about an attempted act of persuasion makes it so hard for us say for sure whether the words are fanciful or accurate, fictional or matter-of-fact, plainly false or manifestly true. Burke believes in the persuasive superiority of words to images, because words leave more to the imagination; they are better suited to feeding the passions for the very reason that they have a harder time approaching clarity and truth. But the passions of the listener dont necessarily conform to the intention of the speaker, and Cicero seems aware of the danger when in De Oratore he cites Demosthenes on the most important parts of an oration: delivery, delivery, and delivery meaning that you can always make the same words mean different things.

Argue with nothing but a well-ordered troop of reasons and you will convert only people who live by reason and logic. And they are few. This is advice Bromwich has tried to publicly convey to Democratic politicians and their speechwriters, as yet to little noticeable effect. What actually persuades is not reason but the semblance of reason, whether employing true or false logical sequences based on well-attested evidence or specious evidence. The processes involved in convincing others are not essentially different from those we employ in convincing ourselves, a powerful dramatization of which Bromwich finds in Julius Caesar: Brutus convinces himself that the assassination of Caesar is a necessary act, politically considered. But he wants very much to think that it is also right, and so in a soliloquy treats himself as a typical citizen who looks to be sure that his motive as well as his image is untarnished.

The Satan of Paradise Lost also convinces himself, and in so doing displays both an instinct for improvisation which tracks and assimilates the motives of his audience and a restless desire to spread the nets of his own mind and prevent any doubt from escaping. He drops one argument and takes up another as a matter not just of persuasion but almost of self-preservation, demonstrating the usual character of excited speech when it aims to convert a chosen audience, especially political discourse and the rhetoric of self-justification as we still hear it today. Henry James, by contrast, asks us to imagine speech that defies interpretation, a language appropriate to a perceptive mind that sees and tells the truth about people without wanting to have any power over them. Mastery of such a language the language of a world in which the devices of persuasion dissolve in the sheer activity of thought and feeling would begin with a vow of separation between knowing and doing, the kind of vow Isabel Archer nearly makes in The Portrait of a Lady.

In our world, even potentially effective persuasion requires that we have feelings about beliefs: in other words, no tears in the speaker, no tears in the listener. Hence the store we set not just by sympathy but also by empathy, an arcane word revived to prove how thoroughly we are impressed by the sympathetic imperative. Burke describes sympathy as a sort of substitution by which we are put into the place of another man, and affected in many respects as he is affected, a facility demonstrated in his speeches of the 1780s on the plight of the distant colonists in America and the subjects of British India. In his House Divided speech, Abraham Lincoln blends the language of objective forces and that of human actors who are bearers of sentiments, beliefs, and expectations, betting that this unusual combination of evoked authorities would plant a conviction about how to act in a consequential matter of right and wrong. Hence the importance of saying we are against slavery and the importance of hearing ourselves say it: speaking the words of conviction hardens us for the conversion of words into deeds.

Statesmen like Burke and Lincoln had specific goals they wished to achieve with their speech, but what about poets like Yeats and Auden? In their cases, Bromwich frames persuasion as a kind of dreaming aloud, which the dreamer asks other people to listen to and be somehow affected by. How responsible is the dreamer for the real-world consequences, if any, of those dreams? Over the course of his life, Yeats went from an aestheticism that shunned in principle the rhetorical aim of changing the minds of readers or affecting their practical lives in any way to writing poems that came close to propaganda for aristocratic society. Auden found his early fame as the self-conscious leader of a poetic movement dedicated to political reform and possibly to revolution and ended up claiming an exemplary civic function for art, a function that deliberately excluded any notion of pragmatic effect. But Orwell, by the time of his critical commentaries on both poets in the 1930s and 1940s, had come to believe that serious literature could not escape having a political motive. Nor could it inoculate itself against having a persuasive effect.

Writing on Yeats, Orwell notes that by and large the best writers of our time have been reactionary in tendency, on his way to the conclusion that a writers political and religious beliefs are not excrescences to be laughed away, but something that will leave their mark even on the smallest detail of his work. Audens line, in In Memory of W. B. Yeats, about poetry making nothing happen reads as if written in anticipation of such a charge, but Bromwich also detects in the elegy a hope that words, engendered by poetic imagination, may somehow be exempt from the burden of moral responsibility, because they do not mean to persuade. And there is a self-protective defense against the fear that sometimes words may actually make things happen. But, for Bromwich, words do make things happen, if only uncontrollably, unspecifiably. And in the presence of great writing, for that reason, it is appropriate for us to fear as well as admire even those words whose greatness we recognize.

In academia, that fear has lately taken forms of which Bromwich would surely disapprove, beginning with the expectation of trigger warnings before classroom discussion of any work with the potential to remind students of their own traumatic experiences. People should have the right to know and consent to what theyre putting into their minds, just as they have the right to know and consent to what theyre putting into their bodies, a former Oberlin student who campaigned for the application of such warnings to Antigone told The New Yorkers Nathan Heller in 2016. Bromwichs response to that line of thinking goes back to Milton, who in his anti-censorship polemic Areopagitica argues that the

good and evil we know in the field of this world grow up together almost inseparably; and the knowledge of good is so involved and interwoven with the knowledge of evil, and in so many cunning resemblances hardly to be discerned, that those confused seeds which were imposed on Psyche as an incessant labor to cull out and sort asunder, were not more intermixed.

Thus, as Bromwich puts it,

to try to purify ourselves by renouncing all exposure to dangerous words is to legislate for the preservation of our innocence; but Milton doubts that this can be done. The censor holds a very different view: impurity invades or insinuates from outside, it is a kind of pollution, and the duty of moral guardians is to secure and deliver us.

But [i]mpurity, after all, springs from us, among others. Any law devised to winnow out the noxious materials can only weaken the very people it protects. The zeal of todays aspiring moral guardians looks like the natural progression of what Bromwich describes in a 2001 essay as our

therapeutic culture with its glamorous, garish, and finally abject dogma that in every life there are wounds that need healing; that the unhappiness of life comes down to an avoidable trauma or series of events to investigate and anatomize; and that experience may be reduced to experiences on the understanding that bad experiences often happen early and always occur as side effects rather than as signs of inveterate character.

Bromwich sees social media as having ensured, in the years since, that [o]ur verbal surroundings online are created by affinity; and each day a hundred small choices close the circle more tightly. You dont say wrong things the sort of things that will startle your friends. (Though not a social media user, Bromwich himself has described the trouble he got into with left-liberal friends for writing the Bad President piece.) In a description of the implications for free speech bundled with a critique of one of his btes noires, Americas tendency to blunder into foreign interventions he looks, as others have, to Orwells Nineteen Eighty-Four:

Doublethink, Orwell wrote apropos of life in Oceania, was the mental technique that allowed one to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them. The process found its consummation in the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word doublethink involved the use of doublethink. It is like that with freedom of speech and self-censorship in the West. We must spread freedom of speech in order to make the world free. And to do the job well, we must watch what we say.

But Bromwich sees the freedom to speak ones mind as a physical necessity, not a political and intellectual piece of good luck; to a thinking person, the need seems to be almost as natural as breathing. He quotes E. M. Forster asking, How do I know what I think till I see what I say? a question that applies not just to writing but to friendly or unfriendly conversation, or a muttered soliloquy. Yet the good of free speech has seldom been a common intuition, and it is not a universal experience. It matters to a few, much of the time, and to others at unpredictable times.

We live, fair to say, in unpredictable times. In his recent writings on politics, Bromwich has attempted to make sense of what brought about not just the chaotic Trump presidency but also the delusion and irresponsibility of those, in the Democratic establishment and elsewhere, who claim to want to bring it down. Faced with the constitutional changes masterminded by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, Obamas timidity and misjudgment, and the better and more fluent liar now occupying the White House, Bromwich diagnoses a near-autistic breakdown of political speech in America. This has resulted in a public conversation rendered incoherent by demands: demands for special treatment, for the charged redefinition of common terms, and for not just the silencing of but the extraction of public apologies from opposing voices apologies that, when delivered, possess the moral stature of hush money.

In an environment like this, who can hope to change another mind with words alone? The failure of persuasion extends to the debate over free speech itself: thanks to avoidance of all but the most perfunctory interaction with the other side, advocates for restricting free speech and advocates for unrestricted free speech alike wrongly see their own cases as inherently convincing. Few can execute even the most basic techniques of persuasion, such as first showing others that they already agree with themselves and that we agree with them more than they think, presenting the preferred conclusion in such a way that it falls in with their already existing beliefs and shapes a connected narrative of their interests over time. Self-persuasion, however, remains strongly in evidence, not least in Americas grand act of Brutus- or Satan-like conviction, condemned increasingly often by Bromwich, of the value of spreading democracy by force and commerce.

In his own cautioning against restrictions on free speech, Bromwich draws from no less a philosophical pillar of liberalism than Mills On Liberty. If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind, Mill writes. But Bromwich sees Mill as having lost a great deal of his persuasive force since 1859: Quote this passage to a roomful of academics today, withhold the name of Mill, and not one in three will credit that any intelligent person could ever think something so improbable. The philosopher opposes the affixing of any penalty at all to dissent from what the majority supposes are the components of a better world, not a fashionable view by the standard of the 2010s. But he does so because he believes in certain liberties owed to all persons simply because they are persons: freedom from subordination because of ones sex or sect, for example, but equally freedom to know your mind by speaking your mind to another person.

And if in speaking your mind you offend another person, should your speech then be ruled out of bounds? Much might be said on the impossibility of fixing where these supposed bounds are to be placed, writes Mill, for if the test be offence to those whose opinion is attacked, I think experience testifies that this offence is given whenever the attack is telling and powerful. Or, as Graham puts it, writing in a 21st-century society inexorably re-sensitizing itself to verbal offense:

No one gets in trouble for saying that 2 + 2 is 5, or that people in Pittsburgh are ten feet tall. Such obviously false statements might be treated as jokes, or at worst as evidence of insanity, but they are not likely to make anyone mad. The statements that make people mad are the ones they worry might be believed. I suspect the statements that make people maddest are those they worry might be true.

By this logic, a disinterested truth-seeker in the United States of the 2010s could do worse than to take most seriously the beliefs that provoke the angriest responses and widest-spread calls for suppression. In and of themselves, reactions of that character reveal a basic faith in the power of words, a perhaps surprising discovery when words in public have never been spoken in greater quantity, nor, seemingly, with greater carelessness (not least by the president of the United States). A society that restricts speech, or desires to, is a society that believes words make things happen. The harsher the consequences for speech, the greater the power imputed to speech. The kinds of speech that remain most free that is, most free from potential consequences are consequently the least powerful. Poetry may not make anything happen right now, but as Clive James has quipped, the best way to make it relevant again would be to ban it.

But even poets can now be extorted for apologies, as demonstrated last year by the case of Anders Carson-Wee, who dared to appear to be writing in the vernacular of a culture not his own. With the joint arrival of multicultural etiquette and globalization, we have come to dwell increasingly on hidden injuries that threaten the norms and civilities desirable for people everywhere, writes Bromwich near the end of his free speech essay. For as much as has changed since Miltons day, legislation for the preservation of our innocence holds out no more promise now than it did then. We correct one another publicly, aggressively, with great moral righteousness and in highest dudgeon, but that doesnt mean we know ourselves well enough to be sure that our corrections are correct. To Bromwich, this behavior shows that the narcissism of humanity remains as conspicuous as ever at a moment when we can least afford the indulgence words he published before any of us ever had to speak the words President Trump.

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes about cities and culture.He writes theLARBKorea Blogand is currently at work on the bookThe Stateless City: A Walk Through 21st-Century Los Angeles.

Read the rest here:

From the Age of Persuasion to the Age of Offense - lareviewofbooks

California Freelancers Sue To Stop Law That’s Destroying Their Jobs. Pol Says Those ‘Were Never Good Jobs’ Anyway. – Reason

A nonprofit legal foundation is suing California on behalf of freelance workers who say the state's recently passed Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) will destroy their livelihoods. Set to take effect on January 1, 2020, AB5 will make it illegal for contractors who reside in California to create more than 35 pieces of content in a year for a single company, unless the outlet hires them as an employee.

"By enforcing the 35-submission limit, Defendant, acting under color of state law, unconstitutionally deprives Plaintiffs' members of their freedom of speech as protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution," states the lawsuit, which was filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation.

The bill's pending implementation has wreaked havoc on publications that rely heavily on California freelancers. Just last week, Vox Media announced itwill not be renewing the contracts of around 200 journalists who write for the sports website SB Nation. Instead, the company will replace many of those contractors with 20 part-time and full-time employees. Rev, which provides transcription services, and Scripted, which connects freelance copywriters with people who need their services, also notified their California contractors that they would no longer give them work.

"Companies can simply blacklist California writers and work with writers in other states, and that's exactly what's happening," Alisha Grauso, an entertainment journalist and the co-leader of California Freelance Writers United (CAFWU), tells Reason. "I don't blame them."

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), the architect of AB5, has heard these stories. "I'm sure some legit freelancers lost substantial income," she tweeted in the wake of Vox's announcement, "and I empathize with that especially this time of year. But Vox is a vulture."

"These were never good jobs," Gonzalez said earlier this month. "No one has ever suggested that, even freelancers."

But many of the freelance journalists, writers, and content creators who now have to navigate the disastrous consequences of Gonzalez's legislation beg to differ.

"I've been able to earn nearly three times the amount I did working a day job, doing what I absolutely love, and having more to volunteer and spend time with loved ones," wrote Jackie Lam, a financial journalist. Kelly Butler, a freelance copywriter, echoed those sentiments. "Thousands of CA female freelancer writers, single moms, minorities, stand to lose their livelihood due to this bill," she said. "I was told by a client because I live in CA they can't use me. I made $20K from them this year."

Grauso says that CAFWU, the group fighting against AB5, is composed primarily of the people that Gonzalez claimed the bill would help. It is currently 72.3 percent women, which, according to Grauso, is no coincidence.

"The reality is it still falls primarily on women to be the caretakers and caregivers of their families, and freelancing allows women to be stay-at-home mothers or to care for an aging parent," Grauso notes. "Being made employees kills their flexibility and ability to be home when needed. I cannot stress enough how anti-women this bill is."

The 35-piece per publication limit comes out to less than one piece per week. Anyone who writes a weekly column, for instance, is likely out of a job if their publisher cannot hire them as an employee. The bill also penalizes freelancers who create content in non-traditional formats such as blog posts, transcriptions, and listicles, the latter of which are often requested in bulk and take only "about 20 minutes to compile," writes another freelancer.

"[AB5] was drafted by a lawmaker who had the outdated mindset that most writers work within the old, traditional newspaper and print model," explains Grauso. "But the vast majority of writers are in the digital media space, which operates completely differently."

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Gonzalez initially set the annual limit at 26 pieces, but later changed it to 35 after a backlash. "Was it a little arbitrary? Yeah," Gonzalez told the Reporter. "Writing bills with numbers like that are a little bit arbitrary."

The assemblywoman recently tweeted that unemployment trending lower is "useless" because "people have to work 2-3 jobs or a side hustle" to make ends meet. "Now is the time to demand more," she said.

According to the most recent Census data, only 8.3 percent of workers have more than one job; of that number, only 6.9 percent have more than two jobs.But Gonzalez doesn't seem to care about the data, and has made it pretty clear that she does not want to listen to her constituents.

"[Freelancers] shouldn't fucking have to [work 2-3 jobs]," the assemblywoman, addressing a detractor, said in a Twitter exchange last week. "And until you or anyone else that wants to bitch about AB5 puts out cognizant policy proposals to curb this chaos, you can keep your criticism anonymous."

Continued here:

California Freelancers Sue To Stop Law That's Destroying Their Jobs. Pol Says Those 'Were Never Good Jobs' Anyway. - Reason

LeBron James angers Hong Kong protesters with free speech comments – PBS NewsHour

HONG KONG (AP) When the ball smashed into a photo of LeBron James face stuck above the hoop and dropped into the basket, the Hong Kong protesters cheered.

They also trampled on jerseys bearing his name and gathered in a semicircle to watch one burn.

James standing among basketball fans in Hong Kong took a hit because of comments the NBA star made about free speech. Fans gathered on courts amid Hong Kongs high-rise buildings Tuesday to vent their anger.

The player for the Los Angeles Lakers touched a nerve among protesters for suggesting that free speech can have negative consequences. They have been protesting for months in defense of the same freedom that James said can carry a lot of negative.

READ MORE: NBA says it supports freedom of speech after Hong Kong tweet

The protesters chanted support for Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, something of a hero among demonstrators in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory for having tweeted on Oct. 4 in support of their struggle, infuriating authorities in China.

What the crowd of approximately 200 people chanted about James wasnt printable.

People are angry, said James Lo, a web designer who runs a Hong Kong basketball fan page on Facebook. He said hes already received a video from a protester that showed him burning a No. 23 jersey bearing James name.

He expects more, given the backlash from protesters whove been regularly hitting the streets of Hong Kong and battling police because of concerns that the international business hub is slowly losing its freedoms, which are unique in China.

Students, they come out like every weekend. Theyve got tear gassed and then they got gun-shot, like every weekend. Police beating students and then innocent people, like every day. And then he (James) just comes up with something (like) that. We just cant accept that.

James made his comments in response to a question about whether Morey should be punished for his tweet that reverberated in China and had consequences for the NBA.

Yes, we do have freedom of speech, James said. But at times, there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when youre not thinking about others, when you only think about yourself.

READ MORE: In Chinas film industry, the Communist Party is in the directors chair

He added: So many people could have been harmed, not only financially but physically, emotionally, spiritually. So just be careful what we tweet and what we say and what we do. Even though yes, we do have freedom of speech, it can be a lot of negative that comes with it.

NBA players werent made available before or after games in China, which CCTV didnt broadcast, and several companies and state-run offices reportedly severed their ties with the NBA over Moreys tweet and the leagues response to it.

Protesters said James comments smacked of a double-standard, because hes used his clout as a sports headliner to press for social causes in the United States.

Please remember, all NBA players, what you said before: Black lives matter. Hong Kong lives also matter! one of the protesters, 36-year-old office worker William Mok, said in addressing the applauding crowd.

Others said LeBrons comments made it seem that hes more worried about money than people.

James was trying, you know, to take a side, on the China side, which is like ridiculous, said Aaron Lee, a 36-year-old marketing director. He was being honest, financially. Financial is money. Simple as that. LeBron James stands for money. Period.

Read the original:

LeBron James angers Hong Kong protesters with free speech comments - PBS NewsHour