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Category Archives: Free Speech

Committee approves bill addressing free speech in higher education –

Posted: March 7, 2020 at 5:42 am

SALT LAKE CITY A Senate committee voted in favor of legislation that differentiates between free speech and discriminatory harassment at Utahs colleges and universities.

HB132, sponsored by Rep. Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan, would make it so universities are unable to punish speech that doesnt fall under the the Supreme Courts definition of harassment outlined in the 1999 ruling Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education.

Coleman said theres been a lot of attention in recent years on campus free speech rights. She believes there are two sides to this issue: students who feel like their rights have been inappropriately violated and students (who) are expressing concerns about speech that may be offensive.

Colleges have been all over the place with their student speech rights, she said, and her legislation would codify the standard set by the Davis ruling so it is applies across the board.

Almost all of our public institutions of higher education have problematic policies ... I would say they violate students free speech rights, Coleman said.

The bill would define discriminatory harassment as student-on-student speech that is unwelcome, discriminates on the basis of a classification protected under federal or state law, and is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive to the point of distracting or undermining a students educational experience.

Coleman said courts have relied upon this as the standard in the education setting.

Over-broad, anti-harassment policies are the single most common way universities punish students for free speech that the Supreme Court has said is protected, said Joe Cohn, legislative and policy director for Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

According to Cohn, no Utah universities are in compliance with the Davis ruling.

If passed, Utah would joined the ranks of Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Oklahoma and Tennessee that have codified the Davis standard.

Thereve been a number of cases that show its worked for students on both sides of this coin cases where students successfully sued schools for violating their free speech rights because they jumped the gun, and cases where schools have been successfully sued by victims of harassment because their schools didnt act when it was appropriate too, Cohn said.

To address concerns raised by Utahs board of regents and some universities, the committee approved a substitute to the bill that would create a filter between students and the decision to file charges against a university for violating their free speech.

Instead of the students being able to file a lawsuit, they could go to the attorney generals office and make their complaints and then the attorney general could file the lawsuit, explained Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Wood Cross.

When asked what he thought of the change, Cohn said he believes its generally better to allow individuals to take their rights into their own hands, but having an attorney general remedy is vastly superior to having no remedy at all.

Geoffrey Landward, general counsel for regents, said he remains neutral on the bill but feels the attorney general having the right to action is an appropriate balance.

We have two obligations to our students, Landward said. We want to and cherish their right to free speech we think that an important part of higher education is the exchange and marketplace of ideas. The other thing we have is an obligation to keep our students free from harassment.

The committee passed the substituted version of the bill 4-0. It goes to the full Senate.

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Hugh Hefner Foundation to Honor First Amendment Defenders, Raise Awareness of Threats to Free Speech and Free Press During 40th Anniversary of Awards…

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Hugh M. Hefner Foundation Seeks Nominations, Announces Judges for First Amendment Awards

LOS ANGELES, March 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ --The Hugh M. Hefner Foundation is seeking nominations and announcing the independent panel of judges selected for the 2020 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The Hugh M. Hefner Awards are hosted annually to honor a group of individuals for their work to protect and enhance First Amendment freedoms for all Americans, and help educate and raise awareness of modern-day threats to free speech and free press in the U.S.

The nomination application form can be found here. The submission deadline for consideration in the 2020 First Amendment Awards is March 27, 2020.

The Awards were founded by Christie Hefner in 1979 and have honored over 150 individuals in journalism, education, law, book publishing, government and entertainment.

Christie Hefner said, "The First Amendment Awards remind us of the modern-day challenges to our First Amendment rights. Threats still exist, but our constitutional right to free speech and expression remain intact because of the brave individuals who have been honored over the past 40 years. During the Awards, we recognize and celebrate the work of these everyday American heroes high school students, lawyers, librarians, journalists and educators who took a bold stand against infringement on their rights or the rights of their fellow Americans to protect our basic American rights."

The awards ceremony will be held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. in summer 2020. Details about the event will be provided when the winners are announced in spring 2020.

The Hugh M. Hefner Awards JudgesWinners will be selected by a panel of independent judges. The 2020 judges are:

Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr.,Partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, and global Co-Chair of the firm's Litigation Group. Boutrous received the 2019 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award in the Law category for his work on behalf of CNN and Jim Acosta in connection with the restoration of Acosta's White House press credentials after the White House suspended Acosta's press access. Boutrous also received the 2020 Freedom of Press Award from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Distinguished Leadership Award by PEN America in 2019 for his leadership in advancing rights and protecting freedom of expression.

Kyle Pope, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review, a magazine for professional journalists that is published by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. The Columbia Journalism Review is referred to as "the voice of journalism." Pope previously served as deputy editor of Conde Nast's late Portfolio magazine, editor in chief of The New York Observer, and as a reporter, foreign correspondent, and editor during his decade career at The Wall Street Journal.

Allison Stanger, Russell Leng '60 Professor of International Politics and Economics at Middlebury College, and Author. Stranger recently authored a timely new book about the history of whistleblowers in the U.S. titled Whistleblowers: Honesty in America from Washington to Trump. Stanger received the 2018 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award in the Education category for her work defending the free exchange of ideas on college campuses after an incident at Middlebury College. Stanger, a liberal professor, helped promote a speaking event on campus featuring a conservative social scientist who was invited by a student group; she was injured during a violent confrontation after the event.

About the Hugh M. Hefner FoundationThe Hugh M. Hefner Foundation was established to work on behalf of individual rights in a democratic society. The primary focus of the foundation is to support organizations that advocate for and defend civil rights and civil liberties with special emphasis on First Amendment rightsand rational sex and drug policies. For a complete list of past winners and judges, please visit:

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Hugh Hefner Foundation to Honor First Amendment Defenders, Raise Awareness of Threats to Free Speech and Free Press During 40th Anniversary of Awards...

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The Right to Dignity in Free Speech Discourse and the Case of Omar Radi – Morocco World News

Posted: at 5:42 am

Luxembourg Earlier this year, media coverage in Morocco shifted focus from street violence and rape into issues of defamation, injury, and free speech involving both ordinary citizens and persons of public interest. It honestly felt like a relief from raw knife fight images and ruthless sexual assault stories.

We read about the rapper Gnawi versus law enforcement officers, Mol Kaskita and his Youtube videos, and later about journalist Omar Radi versus Judge Lahcen Talfi, among a handful of other speech cases.

Though the common thread among all these cases is that they compel us to rethink how we look at free speech and the rights of others, including those we most vehemently disagree with, Omar Radi and his prosecution for tweeting negatively about a Moroccan judge is particularly interesting.

Omar Radi is not a household name like others across the Moroccan media spectrum. But for the first time in a while, Moroccan society began engaging in meaningful questions around rights, obligations, and the rule of law.

Of course, the price has been hefty. Ahead of his court appearance, in an objectively harsh measure given the nature of the liability, Radi was arrested. The justice system then reversed course, sticking to the rule of law by not criminally prosecuting Radi and set him free as he awaits trial.

The journalist rightfully received much support from different media sources out of collegial solidarity and pride for the role journalism plays in free societies. His own employer, Medias24, released a statement.

Besides the brotherhood that unites us, Omar Radi was a journalist at Medias24 and was able to make himself loved and respected during this period. He has forged strong bonds of friendship and respect with the team. He has been professional and exemplary in his work at Medias24.

And yet the statement does not address the issue at its heart. How does being loved or friendly relate to the idea of freedom of speech and rights to dignity?

The statement also quoted Karim Tazi, ahighly respected intellectual and political activist: Our country cannot avoid a major challenge. Such moments of transition are obviously sensitive and necessarily lead to excesses. In my opinion, such transitions should be managed by drawing a clear dividing line between what falls within the scope of political dialogue and what deserves repression.

Tazi continued, It is urgent that this line should become the sole recourse to violence, and that everything else should be catalogued as freedom of opinion to be dealt with through the fruitful confrontation of ideas.

By diverting the argument from its legal and ethical dimension into an ode to his character, Omars colleagues were actually doing him a disservice and depriving his cause of genuine traction and wider support.

In line with Tazis statement, there are two options to respond to Radis tweet: Either 1) call Radi names and slap him with a conspiracy theory of supporting revolutionary ideas to overthrow the system or 2) respectfully challenge Radis views through the fruitful confrontation of ideas.

Karim Tazis standpoint is premised on the classic argument that the only restriction of speech should be on speech that incites violence. This theory says any other restrictions would kill the spirit of public debate, and our free societies would, consequently, go off course towards finding the truth.

American legal theory on freedom of speech is deeply rooted in this notion. English philosopher John Stuart Mills 1859 essay On Liberty is probably the most famous literary work advocating for free speech.

The essay argues the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.

Mill elaborates on his harm principle and free speech with a story about corn merchants. The claim Corn dealers are starvers of the poor! can be condoned if written in the press, but may be subject to restriction if said to an angry mob gathered outside the corn dealers house.

Mills harm principle oversimplifies free speech and its extent. The wording of Radis tweet is a denial of Judge Lahcens dignity, regardless of how flawed Lahcens rulings are.

Radi tweeted: Lahcen Talfi, judge of the Court of Appeal, executioner of our brothers, let us remember him well. In many regimes, small arms like him came back to beg afterwards, claiming to have carried out orders. No forgetting, no forgiveness for these officials with no dignity!

When I read Lets remember him, I hear a speech to an angry mob gathered around Lahcens personal and professional space. It could even put him in harms way.

Born and raised in the notorious J5 CYM neighborhood in the heart of Rabat, I know what remember means in this context. If someone says remember me, it is like serving somebody with a notice to watch out for their own safety, both hyperbolically and literally.

With such a tweet, Radi fails to hold himself accountable to Lahcen. His emotional and understandably staunch disagreement with the judges rulings cannot legitimize his harmful behavior.

As much as I would like to defend him, Omar Radi named and shamed a judge, a private citizen exercising a public service.

Was the judge doing a good job? It is definitely an open question, and everybody is entitled to participate in the debate on the efficiency of Moroccos legal system.

Some people might argue that the judge is the center of his court, and criticizing him is a critique of the court.

Here we need to set the record straight. We have to distinguish between a person of public interest and a private citizen. Judge Lahcen cannot, even remotely, be compared to the likes of former Head of Government Abdelilah Benkirane, agriculture minister Aziz Akhannouch or any similar public figure.

Those people made a choice to be publicly exposed. They do and say things subject to the rules of public debate. Such rules allow heated conversations, naming and shaming, hyperbolic accusations, etc., as part of democratically-open debates.

But those very rules do not apply when the same public figures leave politics or public space, once and for all.

A case in point was an incident involving Benkirane and a member of Rally of Independents (RNI) party led by Akhannouch.

We were all entertained by the sharp words, insults, and accusations against Benkirane. As far as I can tell, nobody was sued for defamation or injury, since Benkirane was fully aware that his job does not guarantee him a good name.

Likewise, then Government Spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi called RNI party members at a rally in Tangier mortazika, meaning scroungers, or people who seek to make money at the expense of others or by stealth. The members filed a defamation lawsuit against El Khalfi, asking for MAD 50,000 ($5,200) in damages per member at the rally.

The case did not gain any traction and was clearly a defensive nuisance lawsuit. The rhetoric came during the peak of politicking ahead of elections and was part of an electoral campaign run by public figures within the realm of politics.

Another case makes the distinction clearer. Shortly after Benkirane resigned as head of government, a protester insulted him through an SMS, comparing him to a mule, a despicably regarded animal within Moroccan society. The defendant received a three-month sentence, serving only two after the plaintiff pardoned him.

What is the catch? First, the defendant and the plaintiff were not political opponents having a debate, nor was Benkirane functioning as a public figure. He was a strictly private citizen, fully entitled to the rights of privacy and dignity.

Second, calling someone an animal is permissible only in the right context. Benkiranes most famous political punchline uses animal equivalencycrocodilesto describe his political opponents, and yet he has never been held accountable for that in a court of law, because the metaphor was hyperbolically used as permitted by the rules of public debate. The metaphor was meant to criticize, not to demean.

In his case, Radi could have aspired to protection by the rights society grants to journalists by upholding the standards of meaningful journalism. But his amateurish tweet does not mesh with an expectation to be treated as a journalist exercising his profession.

I assume Radi, as a journalist, has access to the court ruling. He could have challenged the content of it rather than insinuating an uncalled-for revolution, especially because journalists should reflect the truth that an ordinary citizen might not be able to see.

Free speech is a mixed bag, and saying all speech in that bag is protected can be misleading. When we have cases like Omar Radis, journalists are no longer the watchers of our problems. They become the problem.

The views expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News editorial views.

Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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YouTube Is Winning The Battle To Curb Free Speech | Screen Rant – Screen Rant

Posted: at 5:42 am

A recent court decision has determined YouTube does not qualify as a public forum and is therefore immune to free speech laws. This ruling sets a precedent for online free speech cases, as it has implications across all the web's social platforms.

The First Amendment debate has become especially intense in recent years as political arguments have intensified in online comments sections. Many people consider the internet a public place and attach the same notions to major sites like YouTube. Their concerns stem from the fear that if the largest video-sharing site in the world makes a choice to exclude one particular audience, it's effectively censoring millions of people.

Related:Notorious YouTuber Banned From EVERY EA Game and Online Service

Conservative media outlet PragerU pleaded this case in court after YouTube demonetized and restricted their videos, harming the channel's revenue generation in the process. A BBC report explains that San Francisco's Ninth Circuit court of appeals ruled against the popular right-wing channel, deciding that YouTube is not a public forum, and isn't required to promote free speech. PragerU's case argued that by denying some users access to their content, YouTube was deliberately silencing a conservative voice and continuing a trend of tech companies promoting a liberal bias.

A 2019 Supreme Court ruling referenced in this trial decided that "hosting speech by others is not a traditional, exclusive public function and does not alone transform private entities into state actors subject to First Amendment constraints."The logic behind this choice is that if every place that hosted public speech was subject to free speech laws, it would be impossible to moderate speech for a specific audience. On a platform with the ubiquity of YouTube, moderation is essential and it's easy to imagine other social platforms pointing to this ruling in defense of their own moderation efforts.

Despite the high profile nature of this case, it's unlikely that YouTube will adjust its stance here, considering the platform is open about its commitment to pleasing advertisers. Part of signing up for YouTube means agreeing to its terms that it can restrict or demonetize videos it doesn't consider "advertiser-friendly", to protect companies from running an ad before a video that may be unsuited to their brand. Other platforms have similar policies, so it could be argued that agreeing to such rules as part of joining an online service is an act of surrendering free speech rights by default.

It's worth noting that in addition to justifying the demonetization of certain videos based on terms of the site's policies, YouTube's restriction of PragerU's content is also less harsh than it may seem at first glance. The company revealed that less than 2% of its daily users log in as restricted, which means the vast majority of its audience still has access to such videos. To some, PragerU's argument that YouTube is promoting liberalism with its content moderation represents another example in the long history of right-wing media "crying wolf" about media exposure. At the same time, LGBTQ channels have been met with similar moderation, and have also pursued appeals. The battle for free speech on YouTube will certainly continue, but this decision will at least make it more clear that user-created content hosted on a publicly accessible forum is not subjected to free speech.

Next:Jim Sterling The YouTuber Standing Up To Game Industry Greed

Source: The BBC

Joker's New Girlfriend Punchline vs. Harley Quinn Confirmed

Hubert has been a journalist in spirit since age six, and can't see any good reasons to argue with that, so here we are. He spends most of his days working to leave the world a better place than it was when he showed up and trying to be better at Street Fighter.

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Author Adam Cohen on the Supreme Court 50-Year Battle Against Justice – Free Speech TV

Posted: at 5:42 am

The makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court has come under intense criticism in recent years after two Trump-nominated justices joined the bench.

Senate Republicans confirmed Neil Gorsuch in 2017 after having refused to consider President Barack Obamas nominee in his final year in office, and they confirmed Brett Kavanaugh a year later despite multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against the judge.

During the 2020 Democratic presidential contest, several candidates floated the idea of packing the court appointing more than nine justices in order to counter the courts rightward drift. But while the current Supreme Court often earns the ire of progressive lawmakers and activists.

DN's guest Adam Cohen says it has actually been a force for injustice for the last 50 years, despite what Americans are taught about the courts role in protecting the rights of marginalized people.

The Supreme Court which is an institution that we think of as the bastion of fairness, the advocate for the underdog has actually been a major driver of inequality, says Cohen. His new book is Supreme Inequality: The Supreme Courts Fifty-Year Battle for a More Unjust America.

Democracy Now! produces a daily, global, independent news hour hosted by award-winning journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzlez.

Our reporting includes breaking daily news headlines and in-depth interviews with people on the front lines of the worlds most pressing issues.

On DN!, youll hear a diversity of voices speaking for themselves, providing a unique and sometimes provocative perspective on global events.

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

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

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

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A Wake-Up Call for the Progressive Movement? – Free Speech TV

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David Pakman calls for a wake-up call to the progressive movement after the Super Tuesday 2020 results. With Joe Biden performing much better than polls, it suggests he has momentum. He was boosted by late dropouts before votes on Tuesday. Amy Klobuchar, Democratic Senator from Minnesota, and Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, both dropped out of the race and endorsed Biden. Beto O'Rourke also endorsed Biden ahead of Super Tuesday. Biden won 10 states on Tuesday, while Bernie Sanders only won 4 states. And now, Biden has received 1 million or 24 percent more votes in all of the primaries.

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

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

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

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

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Free speech and the library – Yellow Springs News

Posted: at 5:42 am

A local group organizing against Issue 12 the sales tax levy to fund the construction of a new jail for Greene County was turned away from Yellow Springs Community Librarys meeting room last week. Local library staff cited a portion of the librarys meeting room policy that prohibits political campaign meetings from occurring in the space.

While the group had met in the room on three prior occasions, it had been doing so in violation of policy, according to library staff, who canceled a reservation for a future meeting.

The group found an alternative meeting venue in Yellow Springs. But the instance prompted the News to more closely examine the librarys meeting room policy and the relationship between such public spaces and the First Amendment, which protects free speech and other basic rights.

Library meeting room policy

The Yellow Springs library is part of the Greene County Public Library system, a county district library formed under the Ohio Revised Code. There are seven libraries in the system, and a seven-member Board of Trustees drawn from different home libraries makes policy for the district.

The Board of Trustees meets monthly, the second Wednesday of the month, and its meetings are open to the public.

Five of the systems seven libraries provide meeting spaces that are free and open to non-library groups, by reservation and within certain guidelines. Those guidelines define what types of groups and uses are permitted, as well as specifying meeting room rules and procedures.

The same policy applies to all public libraries in Greene County. Posted to the Greene County Public Library, or GCPL, website, the policy reads, in part:

Community groups whose purposes are non-profit, civic, cultural, or educational are encouraged to use the various library meeting rooms for group meetings when the rooms are not being used for their primary purpose: library-related activities.

Meeting rooms may not be used for social activities; private parties; commercial purposes/endeavors or gatherings that advertise a product or service; or political campaign meetings.

The current library meeting room policy dates back to February 2009, when the library board unanimously passed several changes proposed by Greene County Prosecutors Office civil attorney Elizabeth Ellis, who acts as legal counsel to the library.

A key change was the addition of political campaign meetings to the list of prohibited uses of meeting rooms, Board of Trustee meeting minutes show. The policy had not previously mentioned political campaigns in connection with GCPL meeting rooms.

The stated impetus for the revision of the GCPL meeting room policy was a federal district court lawsuit involving a religious group denied access to a meeting room in the Upper Arlington Public Library, located outside Columbus. In October 2008, a couple of months after the court found in favor of the religious group, GCPL Executive Director Karl Coln recommended that the Greene County library system update its own meeting room policy. That was accomplished the following February, with the new language about political campaigns and other changes.

In fact, the Upper Arlington Public Library court decision was a turning point for libraries around the country, according to Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the American Library Associations Office for Intellectual Freedom.

Libraries thought for a long time that because of the establishment clause they could not favor religious groups by granting them access to their meeting rooms, Caldwell-Stone said in an interview with the News last week.

The establishment clause refers to the part of the First Amendment that prohibits Congress from making laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

At least a dozen appellate court decisions have followed essentially the same lines, upholding the right of religious groups to meet for various purposes in public library meeting rooms, according to Caldwell-Stone.

Similarly, anti-abortion groups and white supremacist groups have successfully sued libraries for access to meeting rooms, she said.

Reached by the News for comment about the 2009 change in the GCPL meeting room policy that bars political campaign meetings from being held there, library counsel Ellis referred to the Upper Arlington case.

I drafted it based on that, she said last week.

Probed regarding the relationship between religious use of the space and political campaign meetings, Ellis stated that the overall goal of the policy was to ensure that the library was a neutral place.

The library needs to be as neutral as possible, Ellis said.

Prohibiting political campaign meetings is a component of that neutrality, regardless of the specific issue or candidate focus of the group.

Its politics with a small p, she said of the encompassing nature of political campaign activity barred from Greene County libraries.

Ellis added that the revised meeting policy was supported by case law relevant to the First Amendment.

Library Bill of Rights perspective

But another view of the countys meeting room policy is suggested by the American Library Associations Library Bill of Rights.

That document consists of unambiguous statements of basic principles that should govern the service of all libraries, according to text accompanying the Library Bill of Rights on the American Library Association, or ALA, website.

The sixth of seven statements reads: Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

The ALA also offers several formal interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights, including an interpretation focused on meeting rooms. Under that interpretation, library meeting rooms open to the public are considered designated public forums, one of three types of public forums in which First Amendment free speech protections apply, within some limits.

Restrictions on meeting room use should not pertain to the content of a meeting or to the beliefs and affiliations of the sponsors, the interpretation states.

The interpretation also specifies that meeting room policies should be written in inclusive rather than exclusive terms. The interpretation continues, For example, if a library allows charities and sports clubs to discuss their activities in library meeting rooms, then the library should not exclude partisan political or religious groups from discussing their activities in the same facilities.

Another ALA interpretation focused on politics in the library makes a similar point.

If a library has designated a space for community use, it must make that space available to all community organizations and groups regardless of their views or affiliations, the interpretation states. The interpretation goes on to highlight the essential characteristic of American libraries in providing access to ideas and opinions.

Therefore, libraries should encourage political discourse as part of civic engagement in forums designated for that purpose. Libraries should not ignore or avoid political discourse for fear of causing offense or provoking controversy, the interpretation concludes.

Yet in reality, many public libraries do draw limits around who can and cannot use their meeting rooms, according to the ALAs Caldwell-Stone.

All library politics are local, she said, noting that a range of factors, including community values, state and local laws and the librarys defined mission, come into play when a library system crafts policies for meeting rooms and other aspects of its facilities.

Theres nothing inherently wrong with public meeting rooms being used to discuss politics, she said, following the interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights.

But library boards may be wary of controversy, she acknowledged.

Some library boards dont want to be seen as taking one side or another, Caldwell-Stone said.

While religious groups and others have sued libraries for access to their meeting rooms, groups denied access based on political activity have tended not to, according to Caldwell-Stone.

Theres no case law on this, she said.

Asked by the News whether the Library Bill of Rights was a binding document for libraries, she said it was not.

It offers aspirational best practices, she said.

However, many libraries adopt the Library Bill of Rights as part of their library policy, Caldwell-Stone added.

Asked by the News whether Greene County Public Library had done so, Executive Director Coln said last week that it had not.

And asked by the News whether library counsel had consulted the Library Bill of Rights while crafting the 2009 revision to the GCPL meeting rooom policy, Ellis replied that she wasnt familiar with the document by name, but had taken part in an ALA training prior to drafting the revision.

Describing the GCPL revised policy at the time of its creation in a report to library trustees, Coln wrote that it is suitably sensitive both to the First Amendment rights of all patrons and the GCPLs need to ensure the undisrupted flow of library services to all patrons.

Not an exact art

Managing competing priorities can be challenging for library systems, Caldwell-Stone acknowledged.

Its not an exact art, she said of libraries crafting and implementing policies that protect and promote the First Amendment within their particular community.

Coln last week offered his view that the political campaign meetings prohibition in the GCPL meeting room policy preserves the neutrality of the library for all community members.

The library is meant to be welcoming and open to everyone, he said.

Not all political activity is barred, just activity that involves advocacy, Coln clarified.

Political information is welcome, he said. The difference is in the advocacy piece when a group is saying vote for this or that.

In an email this week, he gave as an example the Beavercreek Matters series focused on local issues at the Beavercreek library meeting room. That forum is permitted because it includes a variety of viewpoints, he wrote.

Political groups that fall outside the librarys policy very, very rarely request use of the meeting room and thus are rarely turned away, according to Coln. The only other example from the past couple of years of a group denied GCPL meeting room access, aside from the recent instance in Yellow Springs, was the local chapter of Indivisible, a national progressive advocacy network, he said.

Yet the distinction between political information and advocacy may be subtle, as the ALA itself acknowledges. Another ALA statement on meeting rooms reads, An individual or group should not be denied access to the librarys meeting room because they intend to engage in political speech, to meet with constituents or to discuss partisan views. But it goes on to offer: Partisan campaign events may be inconsistent with the librarys mission and should be addressed in library policies.

Caldwell-Stone affirmed that libraries can place some limits on aspects of free speech within their spaces. But those limits have their own limits, she added.

Libraries do have obligations under the First Amendment that are binding, she said.

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How woke illiberalism is killing the academy – Spiked

Posted: at 5:42 am

From its founding in 1890, the University of Chicago has occupied a singular place among American universities. Lacking the ancient lineages and social cachet of the Ivy League schools (Chicago welcomed women and Jews at a time when Harvard, et al, excluded the former and imposed strict quotas on the latter), Chicago, which is consistently ranked among the worlds top 10 universities, has always been known for its fierce intellectualism. I think the one place where I have been that is most like ancient Athens, the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead once declared, is the University of Chicago. Indeed, whereas the Ivy League universities, Stanford and their ilk, admitted and continue to admit their undergraduates based on such qualities as athletic ability, family connections, and that vague attribute known as leadership, students came to Chicago because they prized what it still venerates as the life of the mind. (Chicagos students score on average higher on the SAT a national standardised test that assesses academic aptitude than do those at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford).

Given its devotion to rigorous inquiry to the belief that education should not be intended to make people comfortable; it is meant to make them think, as its former president Hanna Holborn Gray declared Chicago has been from its inception the most stalwart bastion of free expression in American higher education. Refusing to bow to political and popular pressure, Chicagos trustees and administration have insisted, from the Red Scare of the 1920s, through the McCarthy era and the politically tumultuous 1960s, that its faculty be unfettered to explore the most heterodox ideas and that its students be free to debate any topic and to invite the most unpopular speakers including, in 1932, William Z Foster, the presidential candidate and future general secretary of the Communist Party USA, and, in 1963, George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder and leader of the American Nazi Party. In 2015, discerning that free speech was under assault in American universities, Chicago reaffirmed its commitment to free, robust, and uninhibited debate and deliberation among all members of the universitys community. The subsequent statement of policy the so-called Chicago Principles is at once stirring and precise; it has been rightly praised as a full-throated (and much needed) defence of campus free expression. In addition to publishing the Chicago Principles, the University has repeatedly and unequivocally promulgated its commitment to free speech on its website and in statements by its president, provost, and deans.

Alas, however, although the University of Chicago is a unique institution of higher education, it nonetheless inhabits the ecosystem of higher education. So while its administration and most of its faculty and students remain devoted to what is characterised in the Chicago Principles as the spirit and promise of the University of Chicago, a woke illiberalism is subverting that spirit and promise from within. In January 2018, Steve Bannon, the former director of Donald Trumps presidential campaign and the former chief strategist in Trumps White House, accepted the invitation of Luigi Zingales, a University of Chicago professor, to debate at the university. In explaining why he invited Bannon, Zingales quite sensibly explained, Whether you like his [Bannons] views or not, he seems to have understood something about America that Im curious to learn more about. But surprisingly, given their universitys long-held commitment to free expression; unsurprisingly, given the climate within academe a minority of Chicago students and faculty members mounted a vociferous campaign demanding that the invitation to Bannon be rescinded. Opposing their universitys policies and principles on free expression and displaying an ignorance of its history of upholding them, a group of professors issued a statement, which took the form of a demand letter to Chicagos president and provost, calling for Bannon to be de-platformed. The professors proclaimed that the defence of freedom of expression cannot be taken to mean that views that the professors deem abhorrent must be afforded the rights [sic] and opportunity to be aired on a university campus. Although Chicago didnt heed the protesters demands, two years later Bannon has yet to speak at the university for reasons that cannot be discerned so its unclear what part, if any, the student and faculty appeals to withdraw Bannons invitation have played in his non-appearance.

University of Chicago students participate in a walk-out to protest President-elect Donald Trump, 15 November 2016.

Although the 87 professors who demanded that the invitation to Bannon be revoked asserted that they represented the breadth of the Universitys intellectual community, in fact 36 of them nearly one-third teach at either the school of social work (20) or in the English department (16). Indeed, the English department has carved out for itself a role as the chief critic of Chicagos policies on free speech, and has since 2017 promulgated an alternative to the Chicago Principles on its official web pages pages that are, themselves, part of the universitys official website. Reserving a permanent and prominent place on its web pages for a proclamation in the form of an open letter signed by 40 of its faculty members, the department has classified this three-year-old proclamation as the only item of Departmental News worthy of publication. While the proclamation genuflects to the principles of free expression, it proceeds to undermine those principles with the assertions that follow:

our academic pursuits do not exist in isolation from the hate, racism, and violence that continue to play a powerful role in US politics and in the social and legal arrangements that endanger the safety and wellbeing of people of colour throughout the country. We wish to reaffirm that our role as scholars and educators centrally includes the fostering of a culture of inclusiveness and mutual respect that prizes our diversity rather than seeing it as a threat. Such a culture depends on a willingness to listen carefully to other viewpoints, and to engage critically with them, in ways that respect norms of reasoned argument and the use of evidence. Particularly in the context of emotionally and politically charged issues, it is crucial to respect the right to freely express and argue for ones views, especially when they are controversial or run counter to popular opinion. But when disagreement takes such forms as bullying, racially charged attacks, and the glorification of violence against those with whom one differs, then speech is no longer primarily a matter of the expression of ideas, viewpoints, or opinions, and an invocation of the right to free speech is a distraction from the real issue. There is a crucial difference between speech that makes claims and articulates ideas, and speech that demeans, intimidates, or harms others. Such hostility has no place in academic life. It is our responsibility as scholars not only to condemn and repudiate hatred expressed in speech and other forms of action, but to model forms of discussion that manage criticality in a spirit of open inquiry, committed to acknowledging and thinking through the difficult histories and difficult present in which we are all embedded.

As an example of the muddled and insidious thinking that characterise woke assaults on campus free speech, the English departments proclamation which expresses not just the signatories opinion but their perception of their academic responsibility and their intent to fulfill that responsibility should be subjected to the same kind of rigorous inquiry that is, or was, the hallmark of the University of Chicago.

Although the US News and World Report rankings (Americas most famous academic league table) place the University of Chicagos English department as the best in the US, the departments arguments and assertions evince sloppy writing and thinking. Who is to decide what constitutes bullying or racially charged attacks? Who determines if and how speech demeans, intimidates, or harms others? Who deems what speech has no place in academic life? Would any individual who feels demeaned or harmed by speech have the power to exclude that speech from academic life? Is the English department proposing itself as the star chamber? The open letter states that bullying and racially charged attacks are just some of the forms of disagreement that are illegitimate and therefore deserving of expulsion from the academy (when disagreement takes such forms as, emphasis added). Who will decide what other forms of disagreement are considered worthy of banishment from campus? The department states that the invocation of the right of free speech is illegitimate when speech is no longer primarily a matter of the expression of ideas, viewpoints, or opinions and that only speech that makes claims and articulates ideas is legitimate. Who is to determine what speech pursues these aims and falls under these categories? If the open letters signatories condemn and repudiate certain on-campus expression or activities, what form will that condemnation and repudiation take? The Chicago Principles guarantee all members of the university community the broadest possible latitude of expression, but the English department seeks the opposite goal not free speech, but licensed speech.

Moreover, the position articulated in the departments proclamation is contradictory and therefore ambiguous. Speech that any person or group might construe, or misconstrue, as bullying, racially charged, glorif[ying] violence, demean[ing], or harm[ful] forms of expression that the English department states should be expunged from campus could simultaneously be a matter of the expression of ideas, viewpoints, or opinions and constitute speech that makes claims and articulates ideas that is, forms of speech that the department deems permissible. Thus the position advocated in the proclamation, and any policies that might derive from that position, are irredeemably flawed. Furthermore, if the proclamations precepts are followed, any persons who feel that they have been harm[ed] or demeane[d] or that the content or manner of debate is bullying, racially charged, or glori[fies]violence can, in fact, ought to, shut down the offending debate or discussion. The departments position would thus squelch free inquiry and potentially require any member of the university to be condemn[ed] and repudiate[d] (by the English department?) for articulating an argument because some unspecified party judges that argument to be offensive.

Too many critics of free speech fail to grasp that championing free speech does not imply endorsement of the content of the speech to be protected

Furthermore, the department broadens the forms of speech proscribed by the Chicago Principles. There the categories of expression that should be barred from academic life were confined to what the university calls the narrow exceptions of the criminal and the defamatory. Certainly, direct threats, incitement to imminent violent action, and defamatory speech are not protected forms of expression: the criminal courts punish the first two and the civil courts provide remedies for those injured by the third. The English departments proclamation substantially and dangerously extends those categories, proposing to condemn and to exclude (and to punish?) forms of expression that are neither illegal nor actionable.

The English department asserts that there is a crucial difference between speech that makes claims and articulates ideas, and speech that demeans, intimidates, or harms others. But inevitably and unavoidably, expression that makes claims and articulates ideas will be found by some and in quite a few cases by nearly everyone to be demeaning, hurtful and even intimidating. The Chicago Principles emphatically recognise this very point: It is not the proper role of the university to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive [C]oncerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community. The Chicago Principles go on to declare unambiguously that debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the university community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed. In this way, too, the department holds a position incompatible with the principles of the university that houses and governs it.

Because the English departments categories of proscribed speech, and the criteria by which the speech would be deemed illegitimate, are wholly dependent on the attitudes, political outlook, and emotional state and personal views of the recipient of the speech, those categories and criteria could not withstand judicial scrutiny. Of course, in nearly all instances the kind of speech the department would condemn would not be a matter for adjudication in the courts, but it is at the very least troubling that the English department is comfortable establishing what amounts to a speech code that so clearly ignores the acuity and accumulated wisdom that First Amendment jurisprudence provides.

The English department affirms that all speech that can be interpreted as the glorification of violence against those with whom one differs, or as hatred expressed in speech, should be condemned and excluded from academic life. This blanket condemnation and exclusion would necessarily embrace within its ambit many important political statements and arguments. Will those who would approvingly cite the dictum from the river to the sea Palestine will be free (a statement many believe advocates a genocidal programme against Israels Jews) be expelled from academic life? What about those who express Maos idea that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun? And what about those who invoke Thomas Jeffersons idea that the tree of liberty must be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants? Or consider the following statements:

The dictatorship of the proletariat [can only be achieved by] revolutionary terror.

The next world war will result in the disappearance from the face of the earth not only of reactionary classes and dynasties, but also of entire reactionary peoples. And that, too, is a step forward.

A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon if the victorious party does not want to have fought in vain, it must maintain this rule by means of the terror

Far from opposing the so-called excesses instances of popular vengeance against hated individuals the workers party must not only tolerate these actions but must even give them direction.

Surely invoking or subscribing to these statements by Marx and Engels whose writings are, rightly, required reading at Chicago would fall under the English departments categories of illegitimate hatred expressed in speech and expression that is the glorification of violence against those with whom one disagrees. The English department blithely ignores the reasoning behind Justice Oliver Wendell Holmess famous injunction that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death. Chicago is rightfully proud of resolutely holding, even in the darkest days of the Red Scare and of McCarthyism, that Communist speech should be permitted on its campus. Had the open letter of the English departments sweeping and imprecise criteria been applied at that time, such speech would necessarily have been banned from the university. In todays political climate, one could assume that the department might, in fact, exempt Communist rhetoric (and perhaps Palestinian liberation rhetoric) from its condemnation and expulsion, but such an exemption would necessarily suggest that the department believes that some forms of speech that embrace violence against those with whom one differs, and that represent hatred expressed in speech, are more legitimate and worthy of protection than are others.

Perhaps most perniciously, the department proclaims that the invocation of the right to free speech is not legitimate when it is a distraction from the real issue. Who is to determine what the real issue is, and who judges when an invocation of free speech is not to be credited because it is merely a supposed smokescreen? It is particularly disturbing that the English department holds that the invocation of the right to free speech the foundational precept of democracy and of rigorous inquiry should ever be regarded as politically suspect. That the underlying motivations of those who invoke free-speech arguments should be sussed out smacks of McCarthyism. The English department, like other critics of free speech, fails to grasp that championing free speech does not imply endorsement of the content of the speech to be protected. After all, the past courageous work of the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of free expression, for example, did not mean that the ACLU was (contrary to the claims of its critics) pro-Communist, pro-Nazi, or pro-Ku Klux Klan.

University of Chicago students protest a visit by Corey Lewandowski, Trump's former campaign manager, 15 February 2017.

What is clear from its proclamation is the English departments lack of faith in debate and rigorous inquiry, the very qualities that historically defined the University of Chicago. The departments faculty and those others who called for de-platforming Bannon have plainly forgotten that their university has been a haven for untrammeled discourse. In such a place, the proper, indeed the only, response to speech deemed racist or otherwise wrong is fiercely exacting argument based on evidence, logic and reason.

Of all universities, the University of Chicago has historically been the most vigorous defender of academic freedom that is, of the right of faculty members to pursue and expound on any views in or outside the classroom. Clearly, then, individual professors or a group of professors are free to proclaim any opinions whatsoever, even if those opinions contradict the positions and policy of the university. But a departments web pages are a place for departmental matters and for defining the nature and purpose of the departments academic function, not for expounding the incidental private opinions of the departments members. Had a collection of English professors published this proclamation on the limits to free expression in the campus newspaper or in the New York Times, then the proclamation would be merely a collective expression of private opinion. But by publishing it on its web pages, and by reserving for it a permanent and prominent position there, the English department is clearly giving the proclamation its imprimatur and conveying that its contents are of defining importance to the department. Plainly, the department does not make its web pages available as an open forum to any and every faculty member for the airing of any and every personal opinion. So why is this particular statement published on the departments web pages? Such publication clearly connotes endorsement.

Im perhaps particularly exercised by the English departments position because my son will be entering the University of Chicago in the fall. He had hoped to study English, but now feels compelled to change his plans because he takes the departments statement to mean that, were he to be an English major, he would have to exercise a vigilance in his response to literature that he would find incompatible with fruitful academic pursuit. Although Im disappointed with his conclusion, I cannot say that I find it unreasonable.

In his four years at his New England prep school, my son who, though Im loath to point out such things, considers himself on the political left has not infrequently observed that teachers have taken upon themselves the role of arbiters of what constitutes views or interpretations that are (to quote the vocabulary in the English departments proclamation) racially charged or offensive. Such proscribed views have included the defensible if debatable propositions that identity politics can be a distraction from a class-based politics and can therefore have the effect of exacerbating economic injustice; that being colour-blind is a worthy personal goal; and that racist statements written by members of racial minority groups are still racist. Some teachers have judged those views as insufficiently sensitive to the hate, racism, and violence that continue to play a powerful role in US politics and in the social and legal arrangements that endanger the safety and wellbeing of people of colour throughout the country (again, to quote Chicagos English department). Because these teachers believe that those views fail to take into account the experiences of others, these teachers have judged that expressing them demeans [and] harms others, and therefore have determined that their responsibility is to condemn and repudiate those views. This approach obviously exercises a chilling effect on academic discourse; these teachers have effectively excluded those views from debate and discussion in the classroom and assembly hall, and have effectively ruled that those views have no place in academic life.

Id like to tell my son that this could never happen in an English class at the University of Chicago, but the sweeping avowals in the English departments proclamation suggest otherwise. For his part, my son is dismayed that the department that he had planned to make his academic home has taken a position so contrary to that which attracted him to the University of Chicago in the first place.

Benjamin Schwarz is the former national editor and literary editor of the Atlantic.

All pictures by: Getty Images.

To enquire about republishing spikeds content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

How woke illiberalism is killing the academy - Spiked

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The Left would shamefully rather silence women than allow free speech on trans issues –

Posted: at 5:42 am

In both cases the solution trans activists and their supporters have in mind is to have these women cancelled sacked, no-platformed, shunned and, most important of all, silenced. The ruin of an academic or journalist is a small price to pay for trans activists not to have to listen to opposing views that might upset them.

But in order for them to achieve their ends, two vital elements are necessary. The first is that language must be altered and manipulated so that words no longer mean what they used to mean. And so transphobe, which used to mean fear or hatred of trans people, now means anyone who believes in sex-based rights. If you believe in the biological fact of sex, that sex is not assigned at birth but is an inescapable physiological fact, then you are a transphobe.

Similarly, the term hate speech used to mean expressing views that encouraged violence against others, usually minorities. No longer. Feminists and others who question trans ideology but who do so while expressing solidarity with trans people and insist that they should never face discrimination in their professional or private lives, are guilty of hate crime because they believe that sex is more than a state of mind.

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Freedom of Speech – HISTORY

Posted: February 27, 2020 at 1:11 am


Freedom of speechthe right to express opinions without government restraintis a democratic ideal that dates back to ancient Greece. In the United States, the First Amendment guarantees free speech, though the United States, like all modern democracies, places limits on this freedom. In a series of landmark cases, the U.S. Supreme Court over the years has helped to define what types of speech areand arentprotected under U.S. law.

The ancient Greeks pioneered free speech as a democratic principle. The ancient Greek word parrhesia means free speech, or to speak candidly. The term first appeared in Greek literature around the end of the fifth century B.C.

During the classical period, parrhesia became a fundamental part of the democracy of Athens. Leaders, philosophers, playwrights and everyday Athenians were free to openly discuss politics and religion and to criticize the government in some settings.

In the United States, the First Amendment protects freedom of speech.

The First Amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791 as part of the Bill of Rightsthe first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. The Bill of Rights provides constitutional protection for certain individual liberties, including freedoms of speech, assembly and worship.

The First Amendment doesnt specify what exactly is meant by freedom of speech. Defining what types of speech should and shouldnt be protected by law has fallen largely to the courts.

In general, the First Amendment guarantees the right to express ideas and information. On a basic level, it means that people can express an opinion (even an unpopular or unsavory one) without fear of government censorship.

It protects all forms of communication, from speeches to art and other media.

While freedom of speech pertains mostly to the spoken or written word, it also protects some forms of symbolic speech. Symbolic speech is an action that expresses an idea.

Flag burning is an example of symbolic speech that is protected under the First Amendment. Gregory Lee Johnson, a youth communist, burned a flag during the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas to protest the Reagan administration.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in 1990, reversed a Texas courts conviction that Johnson broke the law by desecrating the flag. Texas v. Johnson invalidated statutes in Texas and 47 other states prohibiting flag burning.

Not all speech is protected under the First Amendment.

Forms of speech that arent protected include:

Speech inciting illegal actions or soliciting others to commit crimes arent protected under the First Amendment, either.

The Supreme Court decided a series of cases in 1919 that helped to define the limitations of free speech. Congress passed the Espionage Act of 1917, shortly after the United States entered into World War I. The law prohibited interference in military operations or recruitment.

Socialist Party activist Charles Schenck was arrested under the Espionage Act after he distributed fliers urging young men to dodge the draft. The Supreme Court upheld his conviction by creating the clear and present danger standard, explaining when the government is allowed to limit free speech. In this case, they viewed draft resistant as dangerous to national security.

American labor leader and Socialist Party activist Eugene Debs also was arrested under the Espionage Act after giving a speech in 1918 encouraging others not to join the military. Debs argued that he was exercising his right to free speech and that the Espionage Act of 1917 was unconstitutional. In Debs v. United States the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Espionage Act.

The Supreme Court has interpreted artistic freedom broadly as a form of free speech.

In most cases, freedom of expression may be restricted only if it will cause direct and imminent harm. Shouting fire! in a crowded theater and causing a stampede would be an example of direct and imminent harm.

In deciding cases involving artistic freedom of expression the Supreme Court leans on a principle called content neutrality. Content neutrality means the government cant censor or restrict expression just because some segment of the population finds the content offensive.

In 1965, students at a public high school in Des Moines, Iowa, organized a silent protest against the Vietnam War by wearing black armbands to protest the fighting. The students were suspended from school. The principal argued that the armbands were a distraction and could possibly lead to danger for the students.

The Supreme Court didnt bitethey ruled in favor of the students right to wear the armbands as a form of free speech in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District. The case set the standard for free speech in schools. However, First Amendment rights typically dont apply in private schools.

What does free speech mean?; United States Courts.Tinker v. Des Moines; United States Courts.Freedom of expression in the arts and entertainment; ACLU.

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Freedom of Speech - HISTORY

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