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Category Archives: Freedom of Speech
Posted: November 26, 2019 at 12:47 pm
Appleton school board signs off on policy that some say endangers free speech, others see as a constitutional safeguard – Post-Crescent
Posted: at 12:47 pm
Mardia Adams recieves her diploma during the 2019 Appleton North High School commencement ceremony on Thursday, June 6, 2019, in Appleton, Wis.Wm. Glasheen/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.(Photo: William Glasheen, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)
APPLETON - The Appleton Area School District's Board of Education gave its blessing Monday to new guidelines that give the superintendent broad authority to oversee the content of speeches at major district events.
The board voted5-2 against a motion to replace the administrative guidelines, which require speakers to submit their speeches ahead of time and swear under oath to stay on script, with a school board-created policy, as called for by critics who said the new guidelines are unconstitutional and give the superintendent too much power.
The board's decision comes nearly six months after the Rev. Alvin Dupree, a school board member, delivered what some decried as a Christian-themed speech at North High School's graduation ceremony. The speech provoked community debate over freedom of speech and what kinds of messages about religion are appropriate in a public school setting.
In his speech, Dupree, founder and minister of Family First Ministries,said his source of strength is his faith and relationship with Jesus Christ and invited fellow Christians to applaud in agreement.
Dupree also told students to"never succumb to the pressure of being politically correct" or "another man's norm," led a moment of silence for a student who died before graduating with the class and closed his speech by changing the district's prepared statement of "best wishes" to "God bless."
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Madison-based national nonprofit that seeks to preserve the constitutional separation of church and state, and a group of 29 Appleton North graduates and students wrote letters to the district in objection ofDupree's speech.
In setting the new guidelines, the district administration worked with its attorney, Kirk Strang, who has expertise in educational and constitutional law, to develop a set of guidelines for future speakers at major district-sponsored events.
Strang said that "there is no conclusion whatsoever" in the guidelines that Dupree's comments in June were constitutional or unconstitutional, and that the intent is to "prevent surprises" with future speeches.
The guidelines, as the students and FFRF requested, require speeches to be written and submitted to the superintendent at least two weeks in advance. Speakers also must disclose whether they intend to wear jewelry, clothing or accessoriesthat could be understood to communicate a message to the audience.
Speakers must swear in writing, with a notary, and under oath that they will deliver the speech as they wrote it and not wear materials that hadn't previously been approved.
Though the guidelines are not a mandate enforcing them is at the full discretion of the superintendent. The superintendent may "take remedial action, in his/her discretion, to address any behavior exhibited by a speaker during his/her speech, as the Superintendent deems necessary or appropriate" if a speaker refuses or fails to deliver a speech as written, according to the document.
Deb Truyman andDupree voted to create a new school board policy for speech review, citing concerns over how limiting the guidelines seem, as well as thelevel of discretion and authority they give the superintendent.
"I trust the superintendent to make the decisions," Truyman said,"but it just seems so very, very restricting (to speakers)."
But other board members disagreed, emphasizing they can supervise the superintendent's use of the speaker guidelines and that the guidelines are needed to prevent the district from becoming involved in costly litigation that would fall on Appleton taxpayers' dime.
Leah Olson(Photo: Courtesy of Leah Olson)
"The superintendent is an employee of the board and, in a way, you could see us as employees of the citizens of Appleton because they vote for us," said school board member Leah Olson. "There's always a level of oversight in public schools."
While some thought Dupree's graduation speech violated the Constitution's Establishment Clause, which prohibits the establishment of religion by a governmental body, others believe the new guidelines may violatefreedom of speech.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, a Milwaukee-based conservative law firm, called the guidelines "troubling" and said it may lead to "unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination" in a previous interview with The Post-Crescent.
Several community members expressed concerns over the policy on Monday, including Polly Olsen, a Green Bay woman who came to the attention of President Donald Trump this year after she filed a lawsuit against Northeast Wisconsin Technical College for violating the First Amendment when its officials ordered her to stop handing out Valentine's Day cards containing messages from the Bible, including "Jesus Loves You!" and "God is Love!"
A federal judge ruled that the college had violated the First Amendment when it prevented her from handing out the cards.
"The policy that I sued my school over is very similar to the one that was brought to attention today," Olsen told the board. "According to my court case, this (policy) is unconstitutional."
Judy Baseman(Photo: Courtesy of the Appleton Area School District, Courtesy of the Appleton Area School District)
Appleton schools Superintendent Judy Baseman said, above all, the guidelines are intended to protect and respect the constitutional rights of all district students, faculty and staff, as well as the general public. And, Baseman said, the guidelines have"provided a good resource" to the administrative team since they were implemented three months ago.
"We have never applied them in vacuum," Baseman told the board. "We have consulted attorneys when appropriate; we have not had any issues with using these appropriately.Having the ability to analyze each situation is critical to allowing us to follow constitutional law."
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Dupree said he willspeak and be who he isregardless of guidelines. He said he's always been transparent about who he is, noting that his name on the school board ballot was "Pastor Alvin Dupree."
"The only thing Im apologetic about was the longevity of my speech 10 minutes. Too long," he said. "Ive made it clear: You get me,you also get my black skin andyou get my love for Jesus Christ."
Contact Samantha West at 920-996-7207 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @BySamanthaWest.
Posted: at 12:47 pm
Endless war. A $23 trillion national debt. Intrusive regulation. Criminal injustice. Presidents who don't think the Constitution limits their powers.It's easy to point to troubling aspects of modern America, and I spend a lot of time doing that. But whena journalist asked me what freedoms we take for granted in America, I found it a good opportunity to step back and consider how America is different from much of world history and why immigrants still flock here.
If we ask how life in the United States is different from life in most of the history of the world and still different from much of the world a few key elements come to mind.
Rule of law. Perhaps the greatest achievement in history is the subordination of power to law. That is, in modern America we have created structures that limit and control the arbitrary power of government. No longer can one man a king, a priest, a communist party boss take another persons life or property at the rulers whim. Citizens can go about their business, generally confident that they wont be dragged off the streets to disappear forever, and confident that their hard-earned property wont be confiscated without warning. We may take the rule of law for granted, but immigrants from China, Haiti, Syria, and other parts of the world know how rare it is.
Equality. For most of history people were firmly assigned to a particular status clergy, nobility, and peasants. Kings and lords and serfs. Brahmins, other castes, and untouchables in India. If your father was a noble or a peasant, so would you be. The American Revolution swept away such distinctions. In America all men were created equal -- or at least that was our promise and our aspiration. Thomas Jefferson declared that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. In America some people may be smarter, richer, stronger, or more beautiful than others, but Im as good as you is our national creed. We are all citizens, equal before the law, free to rise as far as our talents will take us.
Equality for women. Throughout much of history women were the property of their fathers or their husbands. They were often barred from owning property, testifying in court, signing contracts, or participating in government. Equality for women took longer than equality for men, but today in America and other civilized parts of the world women have the same legal rights as men.
Self-government. The Declaration of Independence proclaims that governments are instituted to secure the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that those governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Early governments were often formed in the conquest of one people by another, and the right of the rulers to rule was attributed to Gods will and passed along from father to son. In a few places Athens, Rome, medieval Germany there were fitful attempts to create a democratic government. Now, after Americas example, we take it for granted in civilized countries that governments stand or fall on popular consent.
Freedom of speech. In a world of Fox and MSNBC, Facebook and Twitter, its hard to imagine just how new and how rare free speech is. Lots of people died for the right to say what they believed. In China, Russia,Africa, and the Arab world, they still do. Fortunately, weve realized that while free speech may irritate each of us at some point, were all better off for it.
Freedom of religion. Church and state have been bound together since time immemorial. The state claimed divine sanction, the church got money and power, the combination left little room for freedom. As late as the 17th century, Europe was wracked by religious wars. England, Sweden, and other countries still have an established church, though their citizens are free to worship elsewhere. Many people used to think that a country could only survive if everyone worshipped the one true God in the one true way. The American Founders established religious freedom.
Property and contract. We owe our unprecedented standard of living to the capitalist freedoms of private property and free markets. When people are able to own property and make contracts, they create wealth. Free markets and the legal institutions to enforce contracts make possible vast economic undertakings from the design and construction of airplanes to Bitcoin and Venmo. But to appreciate the benefits of free markets, we dont have to marvel at skyscrapers while listening to music onour iPhones. We can just give thanks for enough food to live on, and central heating, and the medical care that has lowered the infant mortality rate from about 20 percent to less than 1 percent.
A Kenyan boy who managed to get to the United States told a reporter for Womans World magazine that America is heaven. Compared to countries that lack the rule of law, equality, property rights, free markets, and freedom of speech and worship, it certainly is. A good point to keep in mind this Thanksgiving Day.
A version of thisarticlewas publishedin 2004 and was included in my book The Politics of Freedom.
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What to Be Thankful For | Cato @ Liberty - Cato Institute
Posted: at 12:47 pm
In a country where multiculturalism has a reverent following and criticism of protected minorities has essentially been criminalized as hate speech, it is more than ironic that on some Canadian campuses radical students have taken it upon themselves to target one group, Jewish students, with a hatred that is nominally forbidden for any others. And with a recent incident that took place on November 20th, York University, in particular, has now revealed a troubling pattern of tolerating physical and emotional assaults by pro-Palestinian radicals against Jewish students and others who dare to demonstrate any support for Israel or question the tactics of Islamists in their efforts to destroy the Jewish state.
Herut Canada, a Zionist movement dedicated to social justice, the unity of the Jewish people, and the territorial integrity of the Land of Israel, was sponsoring an on-campus event featuring Reservists on Duty, former IDF soldiers who would be discussing BDS and the particular challenges facing the IDF in its interaction with terrorism. But Yorks perennially-radical group, Students Against Israeli Apartheid at York University (SAIA York), was having no part of the visit and, joined by off-campus members of the equally radical Antifa organization, disrupted the event with some 600 activists heckling, chanting through bull horns, and even physical assaulting other studentsall aimed at shutting down the event and preventing attendees from hearing what the guests from the IDF had to say about negotiating for peace.
What was particularly revealing, and chilling, about the hate-filled protest (or riot, more accurately) was the virulence of the chants and messages on the placards, much of it seeming to suggest that more sinister hatreds and feelingsover and above concern for Israeli military operationswere simmering slightly below the surface. Many of the furious protestors, for instance, shrieked out, Viva, Viva Intifada and Long live the Intifada, a grotesque and murderous reference to the Second Intifada, during which Arab terrorists murdered some 1000 Israelis and wounded more than 14,000 others.
That pro-Palestinian student activists, those who purport to be motivated by a desire to bring justice to the Middle East, could publicly call for the renewed slaughter of Jews in the name of Palestinian self-determination demonstrates quite clearly how ideologically debased the human rights movement has become. Activists on and off U.S. campuses, who never have to face a physical threat more serious than getting jostled while waiting in line for a latte at Starbucks, are quick to denounce Israels very real existential threats and the necessity of the Jewish state to take countermeasures to thwart terrorism. And quick to label the killing of Hamas terrorists by the IDF as genocide, these well-meaning but morally-blind individuals see no contradiction in their calls for the renewed murder of Jews for their own sanctimonious cause, not to mention the irony of the protestors decrying the very presence and alleged barbarity of the IDF at York while simultaneously calling for the continued murder of Jews in the name of Palestinian self-determination.
Other protestors were less overt in their angry chants, carrying signs and shouting out the oft-heard slogan, Free, Free Palestine, or, as they eventually screamed out, Viva, viva Palestina! That phrase suggests the same situation that a rekindled Intifada would help bring about, namely that if the fictive nation of Palestine is liberated, is free, there will, of course, be no Israel between the Jordan River and Mediterraneanand no Jews.
Another deadly chorus emanated from protestors during the rally: Resistance is justified when people are occupied! That is an oft-repeated, but disingenuous and false notion that stateless terrorists have some recognized human right to murder civilians whose government has purportedly occupied their territory. It may be comforting for Israels ideological foes to rationalize the murder of Jews by claiming some international right to do it with impunity and a sense of righteousness. Unfortunately, however, as legal experts have inconveniently pointed out, the rally participants and their terror-appeasing apologists elsewhere are completely wrong about the legitimacy of murder as part of resistance to an occupying force.
Something is clearly amiss on North American campuses, and the York incident is emblematic of a much larger problem endemic to universities today, that anti-Israel activists have hijacked the dialogue of the Israeli/Palestinian conversation and have decided that they, and they alone, should and will decide whose views will be heard and whose will not, something that supporters of Israel have been experiencing for more than a decade already. Anti-Israel campus activists have conducted an ongoing campaign to delegitimize and libel Israel, and their tactics include a concerted attempt to shut down dialogue and debateanything that will help to normalize Zionism, permit pro-Israel views to be aired, or generate support for the Jewish state.
The tendentious, virtue-signaling brownshirts at York who attempted to suppress the speech of pro-Israel speakers whose views they had predetermined could not even be uttered on campus share a common set of characteristics with groups like the radical Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) who have led the assault against Israel and Jewish students who support it: it is they, and they alone, who know what it acceptable speech, what ideas are appropriate and allowed, which groups are victims of oppression and should, therefore, receive special accommodation for their behavior and speech, which views are progressive (and therefore virtuous) and which views are regressive (and therefore hateful), which cause is worthy of support and which is, because of its perceived moral defects, worthy of opprobrium.
Leading up to the York event, protestors had put up posters that read, All Out. No Israeli Soldiers on Our Campus. To help further reinforce the malignancy of the IDF, the posters included a photograph of a grotesque Jewish soldier brandishing an automatic weapon over a cowering Arab child. As other anti-Israel groups have expressed with chants and posters calling for Zionists Off Our Campus and similar messages targeting Jews and other supporters of Israel, the York posters reveal a very dangerous trend on campuses in which self-righteous, morally-preening brats take it upon themselves to speak for entire universities in deciding which views will be tolerated and which must be suppressed. That York administrators, and officials at many other universities as well, regularly allow this represents a failure by academia to live up to its oft-professed goal of encouraging free and open expression and debate.
York administrators may be cautious about curbing the speech of SAIA York, particularly because its members are perceived to be a protected minority group, but the issue here is not about speech but about behavior. In fact, Yorks own student code of conduct specifically prohibits threats of harm, or actual harm, to a persons physical or mental wellbeing, including verbal and non-verbal aggression verbal abuse; intimidation; [and] harassment all of which were clearly violated by the demonstrators physically intimidating protests. Yorks Community Standards for Student Conduct specifically prohibits: disruption of, or interference with, University activities, such as: causing a substantial disorder . . ; creating dangerous situations (intentional or not); making or causing excessive noise; disrupting classes, events or examinations . . ; [and] blocking exit routesall of which regulations were violated by the rioters at the November 20th event.
More importantly, the notion that a vocal minority of self-important ideologues can determine what views may or may not be expressed on a particular campus is not only antithetical to the purpose of a university, but is vaguely fascistic by relinquishing power to a few to decide what can be said and what speech is allowed and what must be suppressed; it is what former Yale University president Bartlett Giamatti characterized as the tyranny of group self-righteousness.
The sententious activists fueling this ideological bullying may well feel that they have access to all the truth and facts, but even if this were truewhich it demonstrably and regularly is notit certainly does not empower them with the right to have the only voice and to disrupt, shout down, or totally eliminate competing opinions in political or academic debates. No one individual or group has the moral authority or intellectual might to decide what may and may not be discussed, and especially young, sanctimonious studentswhose expertise and knowledge about the Middle East, in particular, is frequently characterized by distortions, lies, lack of context, corrosive bias against Israel, and errors in history and fact.
University officials regularly proclaim that they have a commitment to the principles of freedom of inquiry, freedom of speech and freedom of association. But that empty exhortation has shown itself, repeatedly, to be, at best, disingenuous, and, at worst, a masking of the true intention of campus radicals: enabling favored victim groups to utter vitriol and libel against Israel and Jews, with the pretense that they have somehow encouraged intellectual debate and productive political discussion. This is not rigorous debate and dialogue at all; it is Jew-hatred dressed up in academic clothes.
There is no other explanation for why educated, well-intentioned and humane individuals, experiencing paroxysms of moral self-righteousness in which they are compelled to speak out for the perennial victim, can loudly and publicly advocate for the murder of Jewswho already have created and live in a viable sovereign stateon behalf of a group of genocidal enemies of Israel whose tragic condition may well be their own doing, and, at any rate, is the not the sole fault of Israels. That these activists are willing, and ready, to sacrifice the Jewish state, and Jewish lives, in the name of social justice and a specious campaign of self-determination by Palestinian Arabs, shows how morally corrupt and deadly the conversation about human rights has become.
And its lethal nature and intent should frighten us all.
Posted: at 12:47 pm
Dennis Prager and Adam Carolla spend many of the early moments of their new documentary highlighting what makes them different, not what brings them together. Prager, a conservative radio icon, details his upbringing in an Orthodox Jewish family and his work in the Soviet Union where, as the documentary stresses, free speech was nonexistent. Carolla traces his roots from growing up in a middle-class California family to his success as an influential podcast host and comedian.
What unites the two is a belief in the value of freedom of speech in American society. Their new documentary, No Safe Spaces, features interviews with major figures from a wide variety of political backgrounds including former Obama administration adviser Van Jones, bestselling author Jordan Peterson, and activist Dave Rubin. Prager said he aims to bring the message of free and open speech to the places where it is most threatened: the college campus.
"That is truly my dream. To show this at every campus. This is the best possible thing we could do," Prager said during a Q&A session after the screening of the film at the Uptown Theater in Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.
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The film, which opened in a limited release on Oct. 25 and will open nationally on Dec. 6, contains several examples of noteworthy incidents of student protest or violence on college campuses over the past five years.
Bret Weinstein, a former biology professor at Evergreen State College, is interviewed about his decision to stay on campus during a so-called Day of Absence, a move that sparked significant protest and several encounters between Weinstein and student activists. The schools president ordered police to stand down during the protests. Weinstein eventually resigned and received a $500,000 settlement after filing a lawsuit against the school. The documentary points out that Evergreens enrollment suffered in the wake of the controversy.
Weinstein speaks about his confusion over how to handle the situation without any administrative support. He found that attempts to engage directly with students were not productive.
The film also recalls a 2015 scandal at Yale University where an email regarding Halloween costumes resulted in the resignation of lecturer Erika Christakis. A video of Christakiss husband, Dr. Nicholas Christakis, confronting students went viral. The video showed students calling Christakis "disgusting" and yelling at him to step down from his position due to his disagreement with the idea of creating a "safe space" on campus.
A third example involves a student senator at UC Berkeley, the birthplace of the free speech movement in the 1960s. Isabella Chow abstained from a vote on a bill condemning a Trump administration proposal to recognize gender as determined by an individuals sex at birth, not by an individuals decisions concerning his or her identity. Chow cited her religious beliefs for her abstention, saying voting for the bill would have forced her to violate her values. More than 1,000 people signed an online petition demanding her resignation. Students also stormed a school Senate meeting to call for her exile from the student government. Chow tells the filmmakers she was ostracized from all of her student organizations for standing up for her religious beliefs.
Prager criticizes campus administrators for enabling an environment that is hostile toward open inquiry and free speech. He is not alone in this frustration. In a July study published by the Pew Research Center, just 33 percent of Republican respondents said they believe colleges and universities have a positive effect on the country, compared with 67 percent of Democrat respondents.
"I tell people that if you give to your alma mater, if you give $1 million, you have not merely wasted money. I dont care if you waste your money. I care if you use your money to hurt the society," Prager said. "If you flush the million dollars down the toilet, you would be wasting a million dollars, but you would not be harming society. If you give a million dollars to 99 percent of universities, you are harming society."
Prager also ripped tech companies for encroaching on free speech. He mentioned his lawsuit against YouTube for restricting certain videos on his "Prager University" page. He expressed confidence in the lawsuits success, despite a series of setbacks. He also mentioned a leaked email from inside of the streaming giant's parent company, Google. An employee refers to Peterson, conservative pundit andDaily Wire editor in chief Ben Shapiro, and Prager University as Nazis, according to the message.
"What theyve done on the Left, among other horrible things, is they have cheapened all evil. Nazi means nothing anymore. Racist means nothing anymore. All evil terms mean nothing anymore because of the Left," Prager said.
The documentary has proven divisive among critics and audiences, but has registeredfar more positiveopinions, according to critic aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. The movie comes in the wake of aDecember 2018 survey from the Knight Foundation examining how free speech views among high school students have changed over the past 15 years. The report found that students who took a class on the First Amendment were more supportive of free speech rights than students who did not. Prager said civic education is needed to reverse alarming trends among young adults, who are more likely than any other age group to demand changes to the First Amendment.
Guests that Carolla and Prager feature in the film fall all across the political spectrum but are united in their belief in free speech. A moment toward the end of the film shows former president Barack Obama speaking about the importance of free speech, offering optimism for bipartisan support for the First Amendment. But as the documentary indicates, free speech is a nuanced and divisive issue bound to continue to be a source of controversy, particularly on campus.
Graham is a media analyst at the Free Beacon. He graduated from Georgetown University in 2018 and was a staff reporter for the College Fix. Follow him on Twitter at @graham_piro or reach him at email@example.com.
See the original post:
Documentary Takes Aim At Higher Eds Free Speech Violations - Washington Free Beacon
Should the First Amendment protect language deemed to be hate speech? – The Vector: NJIT’s Student Newspaper
Posted: at 12:47 pm
The following two tabs change content below.Daniil Ivanov
Senior Staff Writer
The First Amendment has been interpreted by the Supreme Court clearly and regularly over the years and they have been very consistent in their rulings. Hateful and offensive speech is clearly protected by the Constitution, and the government has no right to restrict it simply because it offends people.
However, free speech is already curtailed in our society. We are not allowed to shout fire in a crowded room. False accusations against someone can be libelous or otherwise criminal. In addition, the court has also consistently ruled that speech which is an incitement to violence is also not protected speech.
None of this describes simple offensive comments or words. There is no legal justification for curtailing peoples rights to say such things. However, free speech does not guarantee a platform, and just because something is legal and allowed does not mean we have to accept it or condone it in practice.
Hateful ideologies often hide behind free speech to decry others attempts to silence them. However, just because people have a right to say things does not mean we have to let them do it without consequence or limit on their reach. This is why deplatforming and protesting promoters of hate speech and hateful ideologies are essential in maintaining a healthy public discourse, and its why everyday allies need to stand up for marginalized communities who are victims of the majority of hateful speech.
Legally curtailing free speech has many unpleasant implications, as it puts the power into the hands of the state to define and suppress speech which it may deem as hateful. This strips us of our essential freedom of expression. However, because the state cannot be the ones to enforce speech norms, we must take it upon ourselves to do so more seriously than ever.
Keep an eye on local hate groups and see when they march or demonstrate. Urge any organization giving them platforms to revoke them, and protest them whenever possible, with whatever means necessary. We all need to do our part to police the hate among us, and we should have no tolerance for hate speech and hateful ideologies.
The First Amendment protects speech as a whole, but in the last 200 years American legislature has agreed that certain types of speech are not permissible.
Defamation law, for example, protects people harmed by the effects of misinformation. Laws also offer punishments for those who commit a hate crimea crime against someone in a protected class specifically because of a prejudice.
Combining the two ideas of protection from certain types of speech and hateful action has been proposed. Creating legal protections from hate speech, or speech against a protected class, has been offered as a way to squash prejudices and keep harmful ideas out of the public eye.
One issue I see here is how such language will be qualified and then monitored. Would a racy or edgy joke that shares all qualities of hate speech but has a markedly different tone be considered hate speech? What about sarcasm?
There also comes the major issue of effectiveness: would banning hate speech actually stop hate? I would argue that the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups most likely do not get their membership from public protests and displays of hatred, but rather from interpersonal relationships and spending time around likeminded people. Though banning a rally might seem like a good way to promote peace, it would likely solve nothing and do more to infuriate people and make them feel that their rights are being taken away.
Banning words based offan arbitrary list of who should or should not be protected by the government is in no way effective. Banning hate speech is fundamentally unmanageable and a poor solution to a more complicated issue.
Hate is erased from a society through opportunities in schools and the workplace. Having a diverse neighborhood, a multicultural school system and a mixed workplace works to negate stereotypes and supports a peaceful environment. Anti-segregation, hate crime and workplace discrimination laws have created the foundation for peace and understanding, and we should be more focused on proper implementation and effectiveness of those laws rather than attacking the right to free speech.
To put it bluntly, of course, the First Amendment should protect language deemed to be hate speech. In an interview done last year regarding free speech, Jordan Peterson, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto and a controversial critic of political correctness, was asked Why should your right to freedom of speech trump a trans persons right not to be offended, a question to which he promptly replies, Because in order to be able to think you have to risk being offensive.
This interaction best encapsulates the problem with the lefts logic in their new fight to broaden the definition of hate speech. Instead of taking the standard that the American people have held for years, they have opted to instead use a standard that incentivizes oversensitivity to everything in order to silence people that disagree with them.
This oversensitivity has reverberated onto many college campuses. For example, two years ago when the notable white nationalist Richard Spencer was invited to speak at the University of Florida by a group of students, the university asked the Governor to declare a state of emergency, an action which is usually reserved for hurricanes. They were preparing for riots in the streets, but the speech had very low attendance and the university elevated the popularity of a person who clearly has a terrible world view by attributing hurricane-level importance to him.
The problem is that the left will then put mainstream conservatives like Ben Shapiro and Allen West in the same boat as Spencer to castigate their beliefs as evil. DePaul University even went so far as to threaten to arrest Shapiro if he were to step foot on campus. When you juxtapose DePauls reaction with UC Berkeley, the latter being a public school that had to spend $600,000 on security because of violent reactionary protests from the left, you can see how the oversensitivity to purported hate speech can potentially lead to violence.
More speech is better than less speech; allowing people to speak even if theyre supporting ideas that you vehemently disagree with allows for their ideas to be challenged in the court of public opinion. Regulating speech through the lens of people who are clearly not in favor of free speech is a slippery slope that will lead to the end of polite argument and conversation.
Posted: at 12:47 pm
To the Editor,
As a graduate of North Surry, I was appalled to read the recent news about a sheriffs office investigation being prompted by a joke in an improv skit. There is no crime here. A threat to the president would be handled by the FBI. So, obviously, this is just a matter of someone being offended. This is a waste of law enforcement time and resources.
Our Constitution guarantees freedom of speech. Be that as it may, schools have chosen to ban certain clothing items that incited conflict and I suppose, if there were a rule in place, a joke about Trump, obviously, could incite a riot in a highly Republican county. I was happy that the students were interested in politics and world news rather than just the minutiae of teenage socialization.
I ran into a similar problem in Alamance County when my daughter wrote a political editorial for the school newspaper and, after it was printed, it was pulled and destroyed.
Our children have brains. We are supposed to be preparing them to be contributing adults. Stifling their creativity, political thought, and speech (as long as it is not hateful) seems to work counter to this goal.
Of course, this matter has now landed us in the national news media again for a less than flattering reason. I would ask that all of us step back and remember when we were kids. What did we say among our friends? What was amusing to us? Would it have been acceptable at school? Maybe not. But just like this, it wouldnt warrant a law enforcement investigation.
Read more here:
Improv joke reaction: What about free speech? - Mount Airy News
Posted: at 12:47 pm
One of the reasons I switched my degree from International Relations to a joint honours degree with Art History is because I did not personally believe that the University could protect my right to freedom of speech.
After years of being silenced in tutorials for having opinions that differed from my tutors and classmates, I sought clarification from my advisor: if I was to continue to explore particularly edgy topics in International Relations, would my grades be impacted? Would I see a similar pattern to what Ive already seen? Essentially: would I be punished for an opinion that goes against the mainstream? I cant possibly answer, he replied. Why not just say yes if thats clearly what youre saying? I switched my degree that afternoon.
I simply could not have my entire degree in the hands of people who would rather ruin it than entertain different opinions. Of course, this is not the case for the entire department, nor the University. My current International Relations tutor is incredibly fair. But what my own experience, my friends experiences, and now research tells me is that the toxicity of academic groupthink (that has already infected universities back in my home country of Australia, and especially in the United States) seems to be making its way to the United Kingdom, where bullying those with different opinions is masked as enlightenment.
At Sydney University in 2017, a screening of Red Pill Movie a documentary by former feminist Cassie Jaye critiquing the feminist movement was defunded by the student union, as they claimed the film promoted violence against women. Anyone who has actually seen the film would know this is not true. Similarly, free speech used to be a hallmark of university life at the University of California, Berkeley. The Free Speech Movement originated there, with students holding mass protests against limitations on academic freedom and free speech on university campuses US-wide. But todays UC Berkeley? It has become a cariacature of itself. In recent years, its students have attacked and banned controversial speakers instead of debating them. Attacked! Banned! Hardly what the Free Speech Movement fought for.
This probably wont be news to many. Weve been reading for years about how free speech rights at universities are rapidly diminishing in Australia and the US. Its one of the reasons I chose to come to the UK instead of staying at home its the birthplace of human rights philosophy and one of the last stands for free speech in academia.
But last week I read that this may no longer be the case. Policy Exchange released a study called Academic Freedom in the UK which found that students seemed to approve of the banning of speakers whose views go against the mainstream. 41% of students polled agreed with Cambridge Universitys decision to rescind Canadian commentator and psychologist Jordan Petersons offer of a fellowship, while only 31% disagreed. When asked whether Cardiff University should have overruled protestors to allow feminist Germaine Greer to speak, 44% disagreed, with only 35% taking the free speech position. The rest were undecided or didnt know.
The paper also suggested a culture of intimidation towards students who support leaving the European Union was occurring in British classrooms: 89% of those who voted to remain in the EU said that they felt comfortable saying their views in class, with only 39% of those who voted to leave thinking similarly. I certainly know I dont feel comfortable expressing my opinions in tutorials. I feel I need to stay silent if I want to be, you know, liked.
So instead of exercising my right to freedom of expression, and participating in healthy academic discourse as I should be doing at University, catch me in the back politely giving my preferred pronouns when asked, nodding along to anti-Trump, anti-Tory and anti-capitalism jokes (Haha! How fresh and original! Well said!), and desperately searching my handbag for any pen that doesnt have #BACKBORIS on it to hand to the new exchange student from Maine.
Im envious of those whose views are mainstream enough that they can have loud, bright stickers on their laptops advertising their wokeness to everyone. It must be nice to know youve intimidated anyone who disagrees with you into staying silent, meaning you are, by forfeit, the winner of any debate.
But this is not right. If an opinion any opinion is truly wrong, then it would be proved as such in a debate. Our universitys responsibility is to ensure such debates occur, which falls into the hands of the academics and the students to create environments for healthy academic discourse. I would hate to see St Andrews go the way of Oxford University, which is severely restricting free speech according to the Free Speech University Rankings.
Were already beating them in university rankings. Lets make sure they never overtake our freedom, either. So to those in class with me, Im going to be speaking up a bit more now if I disagree with you. Sorry. But if we can have a civil debate about it, I swear we can still be friends remember when I lent you that pen?
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Fight to protect your freedom of speech - The Saint
Posted: November 17, 2019 at 2:11 pm
President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Official testifies that Bolton had 'one-on-one meeting' with Trump over Ukraine aid Louisiana governor wins re-election MORE on Friday defended his tweet earlier in the day attacking former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie YovanovitchMarie Yovanovitch'Saturday Night Live' presents Trump impeachment hearings with 'pizzazz' of soap opera Trump makes social media player in impeachment White House official arrives to testify in impeachment probe MORE in the middle of her public testimony in the House impeachment hearing, insisting he has the right tospeakout.
"I have the right to speak. I have freedom of speech just like other people do,"Trump told reporters at the White House after making remarks on a health care initiative, adding that he's "allowed to speak up" if others are speaking about him.
Pressed on whether his words can be intimidating, as Yovanovitch and Democrats have said, Trump said no.
I dont think so at all," he said.
The remarks were Trump's first public commentsof the day, which has largely been dominated by testimony from Yovanovitch.Asthe former ambassador testified about a smear campaign by Trump's allies to oust her from her post in Kyiv, the president took aim at her on Twitter.
Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him," Trump tweeted. "It is a U.S. Presidents absolute right to appoint ambassadors.
In a stunning moment, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy READ: Top NSC aide Tim Morrison's closed-door impeachment inquiry testimony Top NSC aide puts Sondland at front lines of Ukraine campaign, speaking for Trump MORE (D-Calif.) interrupted questioning from his staff counsel to read the presidents tweet aloud to Yovanovitch and asked for her reaction.
I dont think I have such powers, Yovanovitch said with a slight laugh. Not in Mogadishu, Somalia, not in other places.
Asked what effect Trumps tweet might have on future witnesses facing pressure from the White House not to testify, Yovanovitch described it as very intimidating.
Democrats on the committee and elsewhere in the House equated Trump's tweet to witness intimidation and suggested that it could be considered when mulling articles of impeachment later in the process.
The White House on Friday morning issued a statement that Trump would not be watching Yovanovitch's testimony beyond opening statements. But Trump himself said that he had tuned in.
"I watched a little bit of it today. I wasn't able to yesterday because we had the president of Turkey here, and I wasnt able to watch much," Trump said. "I watched some of it this morning and I thought it was a disgrace."
Trump complained that Republicans were not given a fair shake, referencing an instance where Schiff stopped Rep. Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikFive takeaways from ex-ambassador's dramatic testimony Trump defends Yovanovitch attack: 'I have freedom of speech' Live coverage: Ex-Ukraine ambassador testifies in public impeachment hearing MORE (R-N.Y.) from questioning Yovanovitch because the rules stipulated that only the ranking member or Republican counsel could ask questions during that period.
"Its a disgrace and its an embarrassment to our nation," Trump said.
Yovanovitch is the third witness to testify publicly in the House impeachment inquiry. Several other current and former administration officials are scheduled to give public testimony next week.
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Trump defends Yovanovitch attack: 'I have freedom of speech' | TheHill - The Hill
Posted: at 2:11 pm
If I am part of a human chain participating in an act of civil disobedience where no one was harmed, could I spend six years in prison and be forced to pay a $10,000 fine? If an aggressive anti-protest bill that is making its way through the Republican-controlled Legislature becomes law in Wisconsin, the answer very well could be yes. AB 426 seeks to silence activists with the threat of felony charges for protesting at critical infrastructure facilities.
In 2015, Wisconsin passed a law making it a felony to interrupt or impair services provided by WE Energies (WEC Energy Group, Inc.). The newly proposed bill would expand upon those provisions to specifically include companies that operate a gas, oil, petroleum, refined petroleum product, renewable fuel or chemical generation facility. While advertised as an effort to protect Wisconsins infrastructure, the real impact of the bill would be to criminalize peaceful protesters and suppress the freedom of speech.
Here in Wisconsin and across the country, climate protesterswho are often members of Native American tribeshave been exercising their constitutional right to protest the impending damage to their lands, homes and livelihoods. This proposal would put these demonstrators at risk of being criminally prosecuted for engaging in peaceful, nonviolent civil disobediencelike staging a march that interferes with a tanker truck delivery or blocking a roadway into a refinery.
Equally problematic is the bills ambiguous language, which fails to adequately describe what speech or conduct could subject protesters and organizations to criminal penalties. As a result, the bill would have a chilling effect on expressive activity and lead to self-censorship for fear of criminal prosecution.
Our country has a proud tradition of protestfrom the Boston Tea Party to the Million Man March to the Water Protectors at Standing Rockand as long as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has existed, it has been defending the rights of protesters to speak their minds and assemble together. The ACLU believes that dissent is a form of patriotism, all people have the right to free speech and the freedom to stand up for what they believe in, and when people are able to speak out against injustice, it strengthens American democracy for every citizen.
Unfortunately, it increasingly looks as if this anti-protest bill will pass the Wisconsin Legislature. However, this gives Gov. Tony Evers the opportunity to do the right thing by vetoing the bill and ensuring the people of Wisconsin maintain their right to peacefully protest.
Importantly, this is not a partisan issue. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, vetoed an anti-protest bill in 2017, noting the proposal was vague, overbroad and will have the effect of restricting both free speech and the right to assemble. The right to join with fellow citizens in protest or peaceful assembly is at the very core of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Threatening criminal charges against those who participate in exercising these rights would be a critical blow to our functioning democracy.
Chris Ott is the executive director of the ACLU of Wisconsin.