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Category Archives: Freedom of Speech

The Right Constitutional Philosophy for This Moment – The Atlantic

Posted: March 31, 2020 at 6:16 am

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

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

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

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

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Lebanese Activists Fear Hezbollah-led Government Is Using Coronavirus to Solidify Power – VOA News

Posted: at 6:16 am

Lebanese activists and journalists say they fear the Hezbollah-led Cabinet could be using the COVID-19 pandemic as justification to further consolidate its power through targeting dissent.

A state of emergency announced March 15 introduced strict restrictions on citizens. Activists deemed the step a "security plan that lacks regard for public health. They say the government could use its expanded powers to imprison activists who were involved in organizing protests last October.

The government activated criminal laws to arrest and charge people at a time that it did not stop flights from [coronavirus] epicenters like Iran and ignored taking necessary measures to protect the people, Jad Yateem, an activist and founding member of LiquaaTeshrin, told VOA.

LiquaaTeshrin is a group formed by Lebanese activists who demand government reform. The group last week called on the Lebanese government to change its state of emergency in the face the spread of the virus in the country. It said the government needed more effective measures to safeguard societys health and livelihood.

Lebanon has registered at least 333 coronavirus cases, and the number is growing, particularly in Beirut.

Since the announcement of the state of emergency, the government has shut public institutions and private businesses, closed ports and borders, and ordered its citizens to stay home unless they had an extreme need to get out. Activists see all of this as an unprecedented effort to increase the powers of the army and police without providing people with alternatives to secure their daily needs.

There is no transparency in revealing the readiness of the health sectors ability in Lebanon to deal with this issue, because this might uncover the amount of corruption, Yateem said, adding that many Lebanese families are unable to obtain essential needs during the lockdown.

Now this crisis is being used as a cover-up for former mistakes and to pass more political and economic gains by the ruling elite, he said.

Financial crisis

The epidemic comes as the country is facing its worst financial crisis in decades. Human Rights Watch said in a report last Tuesday that the virus spread had placed an additional strain on the deteriorating health sector marked by a scarcity of medical supplies.

The watchdog group in a separate report this month accused the government of pursuing a spate of prosecutions against journalists and activists critical of alleged government. The campaign was threatening free speech in the country, whose constitution says everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression, it said.

Lebanons criminal defamation laws are being instrumentalized by the powerful to silence many of the activists involved in the nationwide protest movement, the HRW report said.

Protests in Lebanon erupted in October after the government decided to increase taxes and gasoline prices. The demands of the protesters evolved to include combating alleged corruption and mismanagement by the ruling class. The widening protests later that month forced Saad Hariri to resign as prime minister.

Hezbollah influence

Many Lebanese politicians opposing the new Cabinet, led by Prime Minister Hassan Diab, say it is made up of Hezbollah and its allies. The new government, they argue, is excluding the mainstream Sunni bloc led by Hariris Future Party.

Some Lebanese experts say the economic and health crises, along with a growing discontent among the population, could take the country to the brink of collapse. The countrys officials say they are doing their best to salvage the economy, but the government's US $80 billion debt and increased instability are slowing their progress.

People dont trust in this government and they dont really know if they stopped the flights from Iran despite the governments announcement that they did close the airport, Hanin Ghaddar, a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute, told VOA.

Hezbollah is a Shiite radical group founded in 1982 and supported by Irans Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The United States considers the group a terrorist organization that aims to advance Irans agenda in the Middle East.

When Iran became the first country in the region to record cases of coronavirus, the Lebanese government came under intense criticism from the opposition groups who said the government was unwilling to suspend flights with Iran because of Tehrans influence. To add to their frustrations, Lebanons first confirmed case of the virus was a woman who had returned from Iran.

The Hezbollah-led government initially rejected any reports about the outbreak, threatening to arrest journalists who reported on the case. Ghaddar of the Washington Institute said the governments initial denial and attacks on freedom of speech have only deepened the mistrust of the people.

With Hezbollah being in power today, if everything goes bad it will backlash against its government, because by the end of the day, they will be held accountable as the authority before the Lebanese people, she added.

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Improving decision-making in the face of growing misinformation – Ecofin Agency: Economic information from Africa

Posted: at 6:16 am

(GVG) - In times of uncertainty, data is certainly one of the levers to press. Over the past weeks, as a result of this unprecedented global pandemic, nations are making strategic decisions to protect their citizens, strengthen their health systems resource allocation and ensure security, in the face of this severe menace.

As a result, real-time, accurate data plays a key role to make urgent and necessary decisions backed by true numbers. In the developed world, the access to digital measurement platforms to track resources and movements is widespreading. In spite of the fact that leaders, in these technologically evolved nations, do count on trustworthy data sources, they are still struggling in this race against time to make the best and most appropriate decisions every day.

We can all imagine the huge pressure faced by developing nations, when in parallel to the challenges purely posed by this unheard of global situation, they lack the right tools to accurately track crucial data in which to back their decisions. At Global Voice Group, we are certain that access to real information is more than ever decisive for leaders and decision-makers to make the right choices, or at least the most reasoned ones. Especially when the spread of fake news is reaching new peaks.

Misinformation can surely have devastating effects. Not only can it generate unrest among the citizens, specially at a time when quarantines are spreading across the nations at the same pace as the virus, but it also misleads crucial decision-making processes which can have even more dramatic effects. Fighting misinformation is a task that should be carried out with the utmost rigour: tracking and erasing misleading contents should by all means be done without any interference over freedom of expression.

The spread of misinformation has actually been going on long before the existing sanitary crisis. The efforts to erase these detrimental contents are requiring social media platforms to strengthen their resources in order to remove these contents. What is crucial is for States and communications companies to only perform this exercise under the umbrella of transparency and norms. These shall be drafted, as a first step, in order to create a sustainable framework in which to secure freedom of speech and leave not a single space for censorship practices, of any sort.

Over the past weeks, the definition of this harmful content has broadened its scope for leading social media channels like Twitter and it now explains fake content in the following terms, the one which goes directly against guidance from authoritative sources of global and local public health information. This is an essential step towards ensuring a healthy digital news ecosystem, even for a self-designated free speech wing of the free speech party platform.

Countering misinformation through real-time, accurate data proves to be the most effective means to fight against the devastating impact of fake news that sometimes reach the highest decision-making levels. For instance, in the UK, the government had already put together a new counter disinformation unit, even before the virus outbreak, to jointly work with social media companies in the context of fighting against fake contents.

A same wave of regulatory efforts against disinformation has also hit South Africa, through its criminalization. The regulations were published in the Government Gazette under the 2002 Disaster Management Act and carry penalties including fines, imprisonment, or both. The key is for these procedures to be transparent and aligned with all other specific norms to fight against this growing phenomenon, but always preserving individual rights.

Different States are putting in place similar strategies to properly monitor and identify fake contents, struggling to keep only officially reliable sources of medical information on air and erase all other none cross-checked, fake information. While the risks of this threat, as well as the virus itself, affect all States, measures towards firm regulation to fight against misinformation are just beginning to be put in place.

This battle eventually goes way beyond the existing context and should be understood as a long-term problem which poses a threat towards decision-making and therefore good governance worldwide. In addition, it places the focus on the need for data centralization and cooperation at State level to promote sustainable decision-making and policy drafting, exclusively driven by data and avoiding all misinformation for the sake of societies well-being.

James Claude, CEO of Global Voice Group

Improving decision-making in the face of growing misinformation - Ecofin Agency: Economic information from Africa

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Ming Pao row: If we learn anything from the virus outbreak, it should be the importance of free speech – Hong Kong Free Press

Posted: at 6:16 am

If we learn anything from the spread of COVID-19 around the world, it should be the importance of freedom of speech.

The Chinese Communist Partys decision to silence discussion of the emerging disease and punish doctors who raised the alarm created an ideal environment for this virus to spread throughout Wuhan, then across China, and eventually around the world.

File photo: GovHK.

As this virus continues to spread, infecting hundreds of thousands and killing tens of thousands, why would there be pressure in Hong Kong and beyond to silence discussion of this disease and punish doctors who are raising the alarm about its origins?

we will inevitably face SARS 3.0

On March 18,Mingpaopublished an opinion piece entitled This pandemic originated in Wuhan, the lessons of seventeen years ago have been completely forgotten. The authors Dr. Kwok-Yung Yuen and Dr. David Lung are unrivalled experts in their field. Dr. Yuen is a microbiologist whose SARS study group discovered the role of the coronavirus in the SARS epidemic in early 2003. Dr. Lung is also a microbiologist who has recently published on the detection of COVID-19 via saliva samples.

In their article, the authors offer practical advice on understanding the virus for the general reader. First, they explain how the World Health Organization and the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses name viruses, while also acknowledging that the colloquial use of Wuhan pneumonia is understandably more straightforward than COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 and thus does not need to be condemned.

Second, Yuen and Lung explain that genetic sequencing has shown the virus likely originated in horseshoe bats before spreading to an intermediate host in the Wuhan Seafood Market (most likely endangered pangolin), which then served as an amplification epicentre spreading from animals to humans, before mutating to enable human-to-human transmission.

Yuen Kwok-yung. File Photo: TVB screenshot.

Third, the authors point out that Chinas state-sponsored conspiracy theory tracing the origins of the virus the United States is completely baseless. The real source of this virus is Chinas wildlife trade, which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) failed to halt seventeen years after SARS spread from civet cats to humans. If this trade continues, the authors assert, in another decade or so, we will inevitably face SARS 3.0.

A frank discussion of the origins of this virus and the need to prevent another pandemic, written by two experts in microbiology who have been on the frontlines in researching and battling both SARS and COVID-19: this would appear to be precisely the type of opinion piece that we need at this moment.

Yet Yuen and Lungs article produced a storm of angry controversy on Chinese social media. Within a day, the authors had publicly retracted their piece. Yuen and Lung did not explain what pressures led them to this decision, but anyone who cares about increasingly fragile academic freedoms in Hong Kong should be deeply concerned by such developments.

Two types of stigma

The third section of Yuen and Lungs article discussing Chinas wildlife trade is undoubtedly the most controversial. The authors assert: the Wuhan coronavirus is a product of the poor culture of the Chinese people, recklessly capturing and eating wild game, treating animals inhumanely, disrespecting life, and continuing even today to eat wild game to satisfy their desires. The Chinese peoples deep-rooted bad habits are the source of this virus. If this remains unchanged, in another decade or so, we will inevitably face SARS 3.0.

File photo: GovHK.

It would be unfair, of course, to stigmatise the people of China as a whole for Chinas wet markets. It would also be unfair to denounce Chinese culture as a whole on account of the wildlife trade. This is not, however, what Lung and Yuen are doing.

It is not only fair, but indeed necessary, to stigmatise the wildlife trade and wet markets in China that have now produced two major illnesses (SARS and COVID-19) that have killed tens of thousands around the world.

It is not only fair, but indeed necessary, to stigmatise unscientific practices in Traditional Chinese Medicine that encourage the consumption of civet cats to nourish yourqior pangolin scales to treat male impotence. These are not, we must note, the beginning and the end of Chinese culinary or medicinal culture, but they are indeed components of these cultures that need to be confronted for the sake of global health.

It is not only fair, but also necessary, to stigmatise the political culture that has enabled the perpetuation of this wildlife trade despite obvious evidence of the risks involved. The CCP exercises extensive monitoring and control over so many aspects of life in China today, to the point that it can imprison civilians for random comments in private chats. Yet despite this power and control, the CCP has proactively chosen not to act against the wildlife trade for nearly two decades after SARS, facilitating the emergence of Covid-19.

Intra- and Inter-species Transmission of Coronaviruses. Source: Su et al. (June 2016). Epidemiology, Genetic Recombination, and Pathogenesis of Coronaviruses. Trends in Microbiology 24(6), 490-502.

It is also fair, and indeed necessary, to stigmatise the political culture of secrecy and suppression of bad news that has facilitated the spread of both SARS and COVID-19. The decision to reprimand Dr. Li Wenliang for comments on COVID-19 in a private chat among doctors shows both the Party-states reach and its horrid misuse of this reach.

These trends do not, of course, represent Chinese culture as a whole: there are other possibilities. These trends are, however, real components of the political culture in the Peoples Republic of China today which, just like the viruses they have covered over, cannot be simply denied away.

Political correctness facilitating political regression

If this story had ended with Lung and Yuens retraction of their article, this affair would have been just one more sad sign of CCP orthodoxies exerting pressure on academic freedom in Hong Kong. Yet on March 20th, Professor Jon Solomon of the Universit Jean Moulin in Lyon launched a petition onchange.orgaddressed to Zhang Xiang, the current vice-chancellor of the University of Hong Kong, pressuring Zhang to fire Kwok-yung Yuen. There is a counter-letter here.

Photo: Facebook.

In this petition, Solomon claims that Yuen and Lungs article resurrect[s] the vocabulary of historical racism and has done grave damage to the University of Hong as well as Hong Kong and global civil society. He then asks Zhang to provide a public explanation of the universitys support for Yuen. He calls for a panel to investigate the living history of colonial racism at the University of Hong Kong, and pending further investigation, asks that the university reconsider its appointment of Dr. Yuen.

In Solomons curious eagerness to draw attention to the colonial legacies behind the University of Hong Kong, legacies of which all are aware, he ignores two far more relevant legacies.

The first is the legacy of critical intellectual work which extends, despite a parallel legacy of repression, from the origins of political writing in China to the present. While Solomon undoubtedly envisions himself as a valiant warrior struggling against Orientalism, it is in fact oddly Orientalizing to assume that a critical discussion of cultural practices must be rooted in colonial racism, as if the people of China were simply sitting around for a few millennia failing to recognize the potential for critical reflection, and as if any critical discussion of culture since then is shaped by colonial racism.

Jon Solomon. Photo: The Jean Moulin University Lyon 3.

This spectre of the colonising white devil who haunts cultural critique, however, serves a crucial role in this narrative by recasting Solomon as white savior. Yet we must ask, from what exactly is Solomon rescuing the people of China: an article inMingpaothat called on people to be honest about the origins of the virus? One hundred years after the May Fourth Movement, is eating pangolin now off-limits for critical discussion?

The second legacy that Solomon ignores yet also ironically enables is the CCPs increasingly obvious deployment of political correctness to protect its own political regression. With its typical essentialism, the Party is redeploying vigilance against stigmatising people as a protection against the urgently necessary stigmatisation of dangerous practices and political secrecy. The laudatory ideal of protecting people from stigmatisation then ironically serves the purpose of protecting from criticism the powers and practices that put the Chinese people and the entire world at the greatest risk.

If Solomon disagreed with Yuen and Lungs article, there is no clear reason why he could not write an article inMingpaoarticulating his disagreement and explaining his own understanding of the emergence of COVID-19. To instead publicly write to one of the authors vice-chancellors demanding an explanation and reconsider[eration] of his appointment is a clear threat to academic freedom, operating on the level of the thugs who have repeatedly rallied for the University of Hong Kong to fire Benny Tai.

Pro-Beijing demonstrators at a rally calling for Benny Tai to be sacked from HKU. Photo: Apple Daily.

What actual benefit would there be for Hong Kong if Yuen was in any way reprimanded for his reflections? And what real risks could there be for the world if Hong Kongs leading specialists in coronavirus research grow afraid to speak frankly?

Such suppression of academic freedom would be worthy of condemnation in any context. In the context of Hong Kong today, where both academic freedom and freedom of speech are under increasingly grave threat from a Party-state pushing the same line as Solomon, such suppression is doubly deserving of condemnation. And when such suppression of free speech got us into this mess twice and is likely to do so again, repeating this mistake is nothing short of dangerous.

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Freedom of speech ‘is the property of the left of politics’ – Sky News Australia

Posted: at 6:16 am

Freedom of speech is the property of the left in Australia, while those on the other side of politics are vilified, demonised and intimidated in order to be silenced, according to Sky News host Alan Jones. I suppose it's no use saying that, as a nation, we must protect freedom of speech if you don't practice it, Mr Jones said. He said those on the left of politics can say whatever they like about you and get away with it. Mr Jones was critical of NSW Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane for his recent praise of Chinas President Xi Jinping.Mr Moselmane had praised Preisdent Xis unswerving leadership in his attempts to handle the deadly coronavirus pandemic. Most knowledgeable people would say instead that China has betrayed the world, Mr Jones said.It did not notify the world that a crisis was upon us, he said. It seems the ideological enemy in this country is alive and well, some of them are well paid members of our parliament. Image: AP

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No one is safe from the puritanical poison of wokeness says SIR JOHN HAYES – Express

Posted: at 6:16 am

After all, student high jinx is par for the course. Yet in fact, the decision to exclude a former Cabinet Minister is part of a dark mission to destroy the essence of democracy freedom of speech.The sinister missionaries hand was evident again in the suspension of Trevor Phillips by the Labour Party and in a campaign by Guardian newspaper staff against their own columnist Suzanne Moore. In both these cases the targeted individuals appear to be guilty of nothing more than stating what to most of us is glaringly obvious. In Phillips' case his crime was to draw attention to the fact that members of vile paedophile gangs in Northern cities were of Pakistani Muslim origin, in the case of Moore she simply pointed out that being a woman is a biological fact, not a lifestyle choice. That Phillips, a brave crusader against racism as founding Chairman of the Equalities Commission, can be branded an Islamaphobe and Moore, a leading feminist writer, as transphobic should be a warning to us all - no one is safe from the puritanical poison of politically correct wokeness.

Too many leading institutions have, in effect, been taken over by an intolerant left wing elite who regard any viewpoint other than their own as unacceptable. Once, most academics put aside their personal political views to provide students with a balanced education. Today, much of academia has become the most narrow-minded branch of the liberal establishment. Consequently, it is increasingly difficult for academics with anything other than liberal left views to survive. A survey at the time of the 2017 election found that just 7 percent of university staff intended to vote Conservative. My friend, the late, great political philosopher Sir Roger Scruton recalled that when he taught at Birkbeck College, he was the only conservative there, apart from the lady who served meals in the Senior Common Room. Sir Roger was for years denied the recognition he deserved by the academic establishment.

Much of the student body is affected too, with young minds dulled by the simplistic dictums of political correctness. Which is why many student societies have become vehicles of cultural oppression, at best marginalising and at worst vilifying views that offend snowflake undergraduates. Presumably, university authorities are either complicit or complacent.

The dominance of the liberal establishment is aided and abetted by the echo-camber of social media, which has spawned a new form of ugly discourse where everything is understood through the prism of identity. It has become commonplace for someone to preface a statement with qualifications like as a member of a certain ethnic group, as a gay man or transgender female. As such statements are so ubiquitous we have become numb to just how disturbing they really are. Identity has become the ultimate arbiter of opinion. This is the triumph of relativism; of the ego over discussion, of opinion over knowledge. We live in an era where the national conversation is so degraded that, for wokes, it is acceptable to deny a speaker a platform simply on the grounds that what they have to say, even when evidentially based, might possibly make someone in the audience feel uncomfortable.

For most of us, busy with work and family lives, such issues may appear marginal. But in practice, the way debate is increasingly shut down, with speakers no platformed and books denied publication, should worry us all. It represents the ruthless exercise of power by the few over the many. Although the result of the General Election last December demonstrates that most people reject the woke agenda of the left, it does not mean that the culture war is won. Far from it, the liberal left elite are in control of almost all our leading cultural institutions, including the BBC, and are using their power to influence how people think. Even television adaptations of Agatha Christie mysteries now routinely come with an unsavory dose of political correctness and liberal moralizing. No element of our culture is safe.

The announcement that the government is considering legislation to strengthen free speech in universities is a welcome start, but no more than a beginning. Whilst institutions can be legally forced to allow certain speakers, legislation alone will not weaken the dominance of an ideology that vilifies those who dare to think for themselves. The only way lasting change can be made is by redistributing the power of the liberal establishment. The Government must proactively ensure that all appointments made to cultural bodies play a part in bringing about a greater range of views more in keeping with the sentiments of hard-working patriots. Perhaps communal panels of workers supported by worthy local organisations could vet applicants. Such an approach would leave the left up-in-arms because they know that it would give a voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless.

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

Posted: March 5, 2020 at 6:59 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ASG introduces three resolutions, votes on advocacy committee – The Daily Northwestern

Posted: at 6:59 pm

Photo by Owen Stidman

ASGs weekly session. Senators heard two bills and voted on an emergency resolution and a previous weeks bill, passing both.

Associated Student Government Senate introduced three resolutions Wednesday regarding the census count, protection of students freedom of speech and the widespread release of a task force report that details institutional actions supporting genderqueer, non-binary and transgender students at NU.

They also passed a bill, introduced by ASG parliamentarian and Weinberg sophomore Elizabeth Sperti in a Feb. 26 session, that proposed the creation of an ad hoc committee to consider establishing a one-stop advocacy office for all student concerns.

Wednesdays session marked the Senates penultimate meeting of Winter Quarter. ASG officials were eager to roll out resolutions before the end of the term and elections season, which officially starts in the spring.

Weinberg junior James Crisafulli introduced a bill, supported by four Senate members, to affirm that ASG will commit to acknowledging and increasing outreach efforts toward collecting accurate information on Northwestern students for the 2020 census. It also says ASG will help students fill out census forms and fight miscommunication.

Our biggest goal with the resolution is just that people on ASG are sort of so tapped into off-campus life and student body and different organizations, Crisafulli said, that we just want them to be more aware of (census collection) as an issue and being able to spread awareness about the census coming up.

The census is a constitutionally mandated count of U.S. residents that occurs every ten years. It is particularly important for political representation of college students, because there is a misconception that they will be counted by their households, when in fact, off-campus students are responsible for counting themselves, he said.

Another resolution, authored by ASG chief of staff Henry Molnar and SESP senator Daniel Rodriguez, Bienen senator Megan Radcliffe and SESP senator Jenn Beardsley, proposes that the University establish concrete protection of freedom of speech. The lengthy set of proposals, which have been crafted by a Senate committee entitled FreeSpeechNU, chronicled recent campus incidents concerning free speech, such as the anonymous demonstration at The Rock and protests against Jeff Sessions visit to campus, which both occurred in Fall Quarter.

Its basically a really comprehensive (bill) looking at a bunch of different free speech policies at Northwestern and trying to expand those, Molnar said.

The resolution condemns the Universitys repainting of The Rock and issuance of citations, which were later dropped, to student protestors at the Sessions speech.

The bill proposed the University extend free speech policies to apply to The Rock. It added that the University should amend its demonstration and advertising policies to remove limitations on political expression as well as set clear policies on students and University employees conduct during a protest.

The final bill of the meeting concerned the Universitys release of the report by Gender Queer, Non-binary and Transgender Task Force, which was released last month. The 82-page report details key requests, action items, desired outcomes and deadlines to improve conditions of life for GQNBT individuals at Northwestern.

Co-authored by ASG vice president Adam Davies, Rainbow Alliance senator Alyssa Peterson and three other Senate members, the resolution proposes the administration disseminate the report through a University-wide email and that it clearly states the transgender and cis-gender leads of the task force, cementing its commitment to advancing GQNBT causes.

Peterson said even though the findings in the report were important and relevant to students at NU, it was listed as the third item of the University newsletter. The University should take responsibility and take the forefront in promoting its results, Peterson said.

Normally, a report of this scale would have been given a campus-wide all-scale email of its own separate from the newsletter, Peterson said. As Northwestern has demonstrated in the past, they continue to skirt from the experiences of the genderqueer nonbinary and trans student body under the rug.

As it is an emergency resolution, which according to ASGs laws, means that it is voted on during the same session it was introduced, the bill was passed.

The other two resolutions, which are on census collection and freedom of speech protection, will be put to a vote at the final meeting of Winter Quarter.

Isabelle Sarraf contributed reporting.

Email: yunkyokim2022@u.northwestern.eduTwitter: @yunkyomoonk

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A Slap in the Face: Chinese Readers Share Their Coronavirus Stories – The New York Times

Posted: at 6:59 pm

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

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

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

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

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

Liang Yi, Tianmen, Hubei Province

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

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

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

Su Min, San Francisco

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

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

Wang Sheng-fan, Adelaide, Australia

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

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

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

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

Gao Enzhou, Bangkok

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

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

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

Arthur Chan, London

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

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

Mo Weicheng, Foshan, Guangdong Province

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

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

Zhang Yuqin, Galway, Ireland

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

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

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

Zhang Zhida, Chiang Mai, Thailand

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

Li Xiang, Munich

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

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

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

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

Yujie Jiang, Long Island

Compiled by Emily Chan and Sue Tong

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Opposition to Ted Nugent – Villages-News

Posted: at 6:59 pm

To the Editor:

Im going to assume that the writer of the first letter against Ted Nugent appearing here in The Villages, is from a Democrat. Thats fine an certainly within his/her rights. But theres a more serious issue here that sadly has been in evidence for some time now. Im referring to Freedom of Speech. Our very 1st Amendment!The left in general has changed the meaning of 1A. Their interpretation is that free speech is free and desirable if and only if it agrees with their views! We see this over and over again whether it applies to a conservative speaker at a university forum or a journalist being severely beaten by members of ANTIFA. As I said, the writer had a perfect right to voice his opinion on Ted Nugent. More importantly he can show his opposition by not attending whatever venue Nugent is appearing at. Thats the beauty of our Bill of Rights. Its important to remember that ones freedoms extend only up to the point where they interfere with anothers freedoms.

Gary MoscowitzVillage of LaBelle North

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