Tuesday, February 18, 2020

San Diego Padres will not wear Swinging Friar caps with logo that resembles swastika during spring training

Less than a week after revealing a new spring training cap, the Padres have acquiesced to fan concerns and decided that the design will only be worn in limited circumstances. The design of the hat announced last Wednesday was in the brown and gold colors that featured a Swinging Friar with a digital-looking, interlocking SD that had lines which seem to resemble a swastika.

"Following our offseason uniform rebrand and the overwhelmingly positive response from Padres fans, we've decided to wear our regular season brown caps with the gold 'SD' for the majority of spring training," Wayne Partello, Padres chief marketing officer, said Tuesday per the San Diego Tribune.

Kevin Acee, the Padres beat writer for the Tribune, tweeted out on Tuesday that the team had switched to a cap with the traditional San Diego logo on it during spring training workouts.

The hats will still likely be worn at least once given that the team did actually sell and promote this merchandise to fans as on-field equipment. They are also part of a general series from Major League Baseball and New Era that combines the logo of each team with their letter logo. However, none of the other ones appeared to have accidental derogatory imagery.


The United Nations Once Again Proves Its Anti-Semitism

The U.N. Human Rights Council disproportionately focuses on Israel.

The depraved totalitarians, nefarious barbarians, two-bit gangsters, odious scoundrels, and bigoted scum who run the United Nations recently set up a new “database” to help anti-Semites around the world target Jewish businesses in the disputed territories of Judaea and Samaria — businesses that offer economic opportunities for Palestinians that pay higher than most other jobs in the West Bank.

In no other international dispute — and there are hundreds of them — does the United Nations target peaceful civilians or institutions. Certainly in no place do they work to destroy the businesses of noncombatants based on their ethnicity or religion. The 112 companies on the U.N.’s list are run and staffed, no doubt, by people with diverse viewpoints, at least some of whom likely support the creation of a Palestinian state. All of them create jobs, products, and services that foster cooperation.

None of this matters to the U.N. The “boycott, divestment, and sanctions” (BDS) campaign, now supported by the U.N., is a coordinated international effort committed to the elimination of the Jewish state, bringing together dictators, theocrats, terrorist organizations, Communists, the “international community,” and at least one of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s top surrogates. The movement targets Jews under the guise of anti-Zionism, which remains the predominant justification for violence, murder, and hatred against Jews in Europe and the Middle East.

The United Nations, of course, has long been ahead of the curve in this effort, from its infamous 1975 Resolution 3379, which declared that Zionism was a “form of racism and racial discrimination,” to its 2006 creation of the Human Rights Council (current members include such sparkling examples of tolerance as Afghanistan, Angola, Qatar, Somalia, and Bangladesh).

Even those with good-faith criticisms of Israel’s actions in the West Bank would probably concede that United Nations has shown the Jewish state a highly curious amount of special attention and opprobrium.

NOW WATCH: 'Abbas To Speak To UN Security Council About Trump's Middle East Peace Plan'

Since its unfortunate inception, the Human Rights Council has condemned Israel about as many times as it has every other country in the world combined. According to the Washington Post, Israel’s human-rights record is discussed at literally every meeting of the Human Rights Council.

In 2018, while the Bashar al-Assad regime was gassing its own women and children and thousands of civilians were dying in a vicious civil war, the Human Rights Council passed only two condemnations directed at the Syrian regime but five directed at the Jewish state. Incidentally, Israel was delivering aid to refugees of that conflict at the time.

The only other countries to receive even one condemnation in 2018 were South Sudan, Myanmar, Iran, and the slave state of North Korea. The United Nations has drafted so many anti-Israel resolutions that I’ve noticed people have given up on entering them into Wikipedia.

No other country that oversees a minority population — populations who often have far stronger cases for autonomy — is afforded even slither of the attention from the world. Not even the Communist Chinese, who have imprisoned upwards of a million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in internment camps for “reeducation,” will catch the attention of alleged human-rights champions at the United Nations.

Nor does the Palestinian Authority, which recently arrested the only Palestinian brave enough to attend the Trump administration’s international peace-seeking economic conference in Bahrain (he’s lucky the ending wasn’t more macabre), which subsidizes anti-Israeli terrorism with a “Martyrs’ Fund” and which doesn’t even bother having elections. Rather, it gets big checks from the international community — often underwritten by the United States — to prop up its corrupt regime.

What really irks the U.N., though, are Israeli efforts at economic cooperation. The U.N. deputy executive director for advocacy, Bruno Stagno Ugarte, says: “The long awaited release of the U.N. settlement business database should put all companies on notice: to do business with illegal settlements is to aid in the commission of war crimes.”

War crimes? Hiring talented Palestinians for software-engineer jobs at tech startups is aiding in the commission of war crimes? Allowing Palestinians to see Jews as coworkers rather than the enemy is aiding in the commission of war crimes? Offering Palestinians work rather than keeping them in a perpetual state of aggrievement and anger, as do the authoritarian leaders who reject one peace plan after the next from the comfort of their mansions, is aiding in the commission of war crimes? Allowing them to work for international companies such as Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, and Motorola is aiding in the commission of war crimes?

It’s a tragedy that those who work for the United Nations, people such as Stago, would rather that Palestinians remain victims in perpetuity than see a single Jewish person in the West Bank.

But it’s not surprising.


Monday, February 17, 2020

Pro-Life Protester Seeks Protection Order After Abortion Advocates Stalk, Threaten, and Even LICK Her

A pro-life woman who protests outside an abortion clinic in Bristol, Tenn., has faced harassment, stalking, and threats. Pro-abortion activists have bragged about their efforts to quash her free speech, physically blocking her sign with umbrellas, licking her arms, shouting obscenities at her, and pushing their bodies up against hers to prevent her message from reaching women as they go to the abortion clinic. The Thomas More Society has filed legal requests for a protection order to stop this harassment.

Erika Schanzenbach "has been terrorized while exercising her freedom to peacefully express her opinion," Thomas More Society Counsel Michael McHale said in a statement. "She has been stalked, threatened, and frightened, while attempting to share life-affirming alternatives with abortion-minded women – something that she is fully within her Constitutional rights to do. We expect the court to protect Ms. Schanzenbach to the full extent of the law."

When Schanzenbach protested at the abortion clinic, pro-abortion protesters mob her, even when she remains across the street from the clinic. McHale explained that "the offenders subject Schanzenbach to a variety of abuses, including surrounding her and blocking her from view with large, open umbrellas; licking her arms; following her very closely wherever she walks – even back to her vehicle hundreds of feet away from the abortion facility; stealing and destroying her leaflets; and hurling profanities, taunts, and obscene gestures directly in her face."

"These actions are blatantly illegal, and they are unacceptable in a civilized society," McHale added. "Everyone has the right to peacefully advocate their beliefs on public streets and sidewalks without being bullied into silence. While we continue to ask local authorities to stop this illegal abuse, we are eager to help Ms. Schanzenbach secure some measure of relief in civil court."

The abortion activists, Denise Skeen and her two adult daughters, Alethea and Rowan, have organized as "Pro-Choice Bristol." They posted a "Pink Manifesto" on Facebook, which states that they will "use any means necessary to physically block" pro-life speakers "from sight" and will do "anything at all not being enforced equally for the protection of patients whether demonstrably legal or not." In addition to the Skeens, the protection order request names Cheryl Hanzlik, who has blasted police siren sounds through a bullhorn directly into Schazenbach's face, allegedly aiming to cause permanent hearing damage.

The court held a hearing last month and will reconsider the cases in April. At that time, Schanzenbach's legal team will present video evidence and live witness testimony about the harassment.

While the pro-abortion protesters also have free speech rights to counter Schanzenbach's message, this physical harassment is entirely different.


Religious liberty under pressure

There is no more fundamental liberty than the right to respond to one’s creator. Belief in the transcendent obviously varies, which is good reason for the state to stand clear as people respond to something infinitely mysterious and powerful. When government seeks to impose someone else’s understanding of the world beyond, it is interfering with the essence of the human person. Attempting to suppress people’s deepest spiritual beliefs also guarantees social conflict, since no serious believer in God can obey self-serving politicians instead.

Alas, the Pew Research Center finds a significant increase in infringements of religious liberty over the decade from 2007 to 2017. Government restrictions on religion — laws, policies and actions by state officials that restrict religious beliefs and practices — increased markedly around the world. And social hostilities involving religion — including violence and harassment by private individuals, organization or groups — also have risen since 2007.

Pew’s work is notable since it addresses two aspects of the ongoing attack on religious faith. One is legal restriction, from modest civil limits to brutal criminal penalties, including death. The other is social hostility, ranging from religious discrimination to mob violence. The two phenomena sometimes merge, especially in Islamic nations. In other cases, governments act despite general social indifference, like in China. In contrast, state repression trailed social antagonism in the Central African Republic.

Unfortunately, both threats contribute to persecution and are on the rise. Put the two together, and religious liberty is likely to suffer greatly. Pew reported that over the decade covered, “52 governments — including some in very populous countries like China, Indonesia and Russia — impose either ‘high’ or ‘very high’ levels of restrictions on religions, up from 40 in 2007.” The comparable increase for states exhibiting significant degrees of social hostility was 39 to 56.

The news was not entirely bad. Both religious restrictions and hostility actually peaked in 2012. But they have since rebounded after dropping. While the future is unpredictable, there is no reason to expect attacks on religious faith to fall measurably in the near term, at least.

There is no more fundamental freedom than the right to seek spiritual fulfillment. There was a time when Christian majorities used the state to oppress those who believed differently. Today the oppression mostly comes from those of other faiths, especially Muslims and Hindus, but also atheists, who rely on government to impose their worldviews. The result is massive injustice worldwide.

It isn’t enough to press governments to stop targeting religious believers. States also must protect their citizens from private extortion and violence. And defending spiritual liberty should not be viewed as only the government’s domain. People of goodwill of all faiths should act and organize to expose and shame oppressors around the globe. Freedom of conscience benefits all of us.


Sunday, February 16, 2020

Dictionaries – like the English language – shouldn’t be made politically correct

An unusual argument is brewing among lexicographically-minded football fans in North London. The Oxford English Dictionary has for the first time included supporters and players of Tottenham Hotspur FC (who have a long history of being the objects of antisemitic abuse) in its definition of “yid”. 

The club describes the definition as “misleading”, and some Jewish voices have insisted that the dictionary make clear that it is “a term of abuse”. (For what it’s worth, it does.) Is it helpful – even as the club is labouring to stamp out the word’s usage in football chants – for this term of offense to be given the apparent imprimatur of the Oxford English Dictionary?

Well, those prone to blush might want to look away now. For in any comprehensive dictionary, these days you will find sober definitions for “yid” – as well as “wop”, “kike”, “spic”, “beaner” etc.


Mother-of-two who called a transgender woman a 'pig in a wig' is convicted of sending offensive tweets as free speech campaigners protest outside court

A mother-of-two who called a transgender woman a 'pig in a wig' has been convicted of sending offensive tweets as protestors assembled outside court.

Kate Scottow, 39, was today found guilty of persistently making use of a public communications network to cause annoyance, inconvenience, and anxiety to Stephanie Hayden, 48, between September 2018 and last May.

The 'radical feminist' was accused of deliberately 'misgendering' Ms Hayden by referring to her as 'he' or 'him' during a period of 'significant online abuse'.

Ms Scottow had been arrested by police officers last year at her home in Pirton near Hitchin, Hertfordshire, in front of her daughter, 10, and son, 20 months.

Though Ms Scottow's lawyer Diana Wilson claimed that Ms Hayden was a 'serial complainant' with past convictions, and had benefitted from an alleged police failure to investigate the case properly, the judge found Ms Scottow guilty.

District Judge Margaret Dodd told Ms Scottow that she made deliberate and persistent use of male pronouns, and had caused Ms Hayden 'needless anxiety'.

In a statement, Ms Hayden said: 'Today there are no winners. While I am satisfied with the outcome of the criminal prosecution, the fact remains that it should not have been necessary to ever complain to the police in the first place. 'Abusing and smearing transgender people online must stop.'

She added: 'Today's verdict demonstrates that such conduct has consequences that are potentially life-changing. I now wish to move on. 'With this in mind I wish Mrs Scottow all the best for the future and hope that she will learn from this experience.'

Her supporters today gathered outside St Albans Magistrates' Court to protest the verdict, chanting 'pig in a wig' and 'he's a man - go on prosecute me'.

Holding banners which read 'we love free speech', the mob tied scarves in the Suffragettes' purple, green, and white to lampposts outside the courthouse.

Ms Scottow was handed a two-year conditional discharge, and was ordered by the court to pay £1,000 compensation within six months.

It is understood that Ms Scottow is considering an appeal.


Friday, February 14, 2020

Language in a politically correct 2020

Valentina House

People fail to realize that those who are politically correct can be just as bigoted, if not more so, than those who aren’t. The real concern attached to political correctness is the lack of transparency. People may think one way and speak another.

In a creative writing class, I saw political correctness stunting creativity firsthand. My friend was eager to share a piece he had worked on for a long time. The piece, a romantic short story, centered around a heterosexual relationship. My professor spent the majority of class ripping my friend’s story apart because the female part didn’t have as many lines or vivacious characteristic traits as the male counterpart. He noted my friend’s piece fell into a trope and decided that was pretty much all there was to it.

In my final piece, my professor flagged the word “they” when referring to Mexicans, which he deemed insensitive and directed me to a list of politically incorrect terms. As a Mexican-American myself, it felt as though my intentions were being completely overlooked. It seemed that the words my friend and I chose were more important than what the story told — my friend’s overall story wasn’t sexist, nor was mine racist.

It is hard to be politically correct in a world where “they” can’t be used. Political correctness in general is subjective — some consider Black to be the appropriate term, while others deem it offensive, preferring African American. It is more fruitful to look beyond the terms to people’s underlying intentions.

Moreover, creative works can be good even if they aren’t progressive. The establishment of political correctness encourages uniform, progressive works. If an author can’t write a book without a progressive plot, we may end up with a lot of princess-and-princess fairytales but no way of knowing whether those authors actually supported homosexuality or just needed to check off a “politically correct” box.

Even though we may need more roles like these, they shouldn’t be placed by default because it may be blatant they were incorporated as an afterthought and weren’t uniquely developed. My professor would’ve liked if my friend added more female lines. If afterwards he did, however, it might suggest that dominant female roles are unnatural and therefore, have to be forced. Underneath the blanket of political correctness, there’s no way of knowing whether notions of equality and justice were actually realized or if they were forced into submission.

The end result of political correctness is always an approved form of speech (“speak right”) but not always a better set of actions. Free speech should be adamantly preserved if we want to progress as an equal and just society. The fear of being politically incorrect does nothing to shift people’s notions, but everything to silence true beliefs. The only way to combat ignorance is to let people speak freely and convince them of their ill-guided conceptions.


UC Berkeley Jewish Leaders Urge Action After Being ‘Harassed and Threatened’ at Two Student Gov’t Meetings

Jewish student leaders at the University of California, Berkeley, are calling for action after allegedly being “harassed and threatened” twice in less than a year during student government meetings.

The letter, published Monday and addressed to UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, accused the administration and the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC), an independent student association, of “continually” failing to protect Jewish students.

The signatories — who include the Hillel and Chabad student boards, two pro-Israel clubs, and Jewish ASUC senators Shelby Weiss and Milton Zerman — pointed to recent tensions surrounding a resolution condemning the anti-Zionist student group Bears for Palestine for displaying photos of Palestinians who were involved in hijackings and bombing attacks.

They include Fatima Bernawi, a Palestinian woman who planted an explosive in a Jerusalem cinema, as well as Rasmea Odeh and Leila Khaled, both members of the US-designated terrorist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which has carried out multiple suicide bombings targeting civilians.

The resolution was ultimately rejected by a 4-1 vote at an ASUC committee this Monday, with Weiss — the only member who supported the measure — saying she heard “a lot of rhetoric and discourse steeped in historic antisemitic tropes” during the meeting, and encouraged Jewish students to stay away. “There were two [Jewish] students who showed up who were told, ‘You feel so safe behind your camera, wait until we catch you outside,'” she told The Algemeiner on Tuesday. “It was very reflective of the kind of sentiments we heard last week,” Weiss added.


Thursday, February 13, 2020

Why Private Speech Doesn't Tell Us About a Person's Character
Very few things I have said have elicited as much negative attention as this: What people say in private tells little, if anything, about their character. Left-wing critics have had a field day mocking me (mockery is the left’s substitute for argument), but even some religious conservatives have taken issue with me (without the mockery) — don’t I know that it is precisely how we act in private that most clearly reveals our character?

This issue, of course, originally arose as a result of what then-reality TV host Donald Trump said in private to then-“Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush in 2005. I thought then, as I do now, that people greatly overstated the importance of the remarks — because they were made in private.

In order to understand why private remarks usually mean nothing, we need to make two critical distinctions: between private and public, and between speech and actions.

Here are the four categories:

1. Private speech.

2. Private actions.

3. Public speech.

4. Public actions.

The last three are very important and, therefore, reveal a person’s character. But what we say in private is not important. Why? Because it doesn’t necessarily affect anyone (except potentially the person hearing us).

This is so obvious that it is depressing that it needs to be spelled out. It shows how small a role reason, especially moral reasoning, plays in many people’s lives. We live at a time when what people feel substitutes for thought and reason. In the infamous “Access Hollywood” case, most people feel repulsed by what Trump said, and for most of them, that suffices to determine Trump’s character.

So, then, allow me to spell this out.

Does what you say to your therapist, which is obviously in private, reveal your character? No one believes so. If a faithful married man were to tell his psychiatrist that he often fantasizes about having sex with women other than his wife — and for that matter, wishes he could grab women by their genitalia — would that reveal what type of person he is? If a woman, after years of taking care of her elderly mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, were to tell her therapist or a close friend that sometimes she wishes her mother would die, would that tell us anything about the woman’s character?

Ironically, the answer is yes — but in a completely different way than most people think. If people say something ignoble in private but don’t act on what they say, that shows good character, not bad.

To cite another example, then-President Richard Nixon was taped making private comments about his dislike of many Jews. When this was revealed, people who hated Nixon used those tapes to label Nixon an anti-Semite. But it was Richard Nixon as president who Israeli leaders credited with saving Israel during the Jewish state’s 1973 war (the Yom Kippur War) with Egypt. Two years ago, Haaretz, Israel’s leading left-wing newspaper, wrote: “Nixon stands out among presidents for taking the boldest risk for Israel: a much-needed arms airlift during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. … Preoccupied by Watergate and mired in Vietnam, and against the advice of his Jewish adviser, Nixon risked a new war with the Soviets to save Israel. Nixon ‘made it possible for Israel to win, at some risk to his own reputation and at great risk to the American economy,’ historian Stephen Ambrose said.”

A similar situation existed regarding former President Harry Truman. According to biographers David McCullough and Merle Miller, in private, Truman often used the word “kike” when talking about Jews (for example, he referred to New York City as “kike town” in a letter to his wife). That is the Jewish equivalent of the N-word, a word he also often used in private. Yet it was Truman in 1948 who, against the pleas of the entire State Department, was the first world leader to recognize the new state of Israel, and who, as president, racially integrated the U.S. armed services.

Actions (and public speech) matter, not private speech.

Maybe Truman and Nixon didn’t like Jews. As a Jew, I don’t give damn what you think about Jews. I only care about how you treat Jews. Most evangelicals believe I cannot go to heaven because I do not accept Christ. But evangelicals are not only among my closest friends; they are, by far, the Jews’ best friends today. That’s what matters to me. I don’t judge people by their theology any more than I judge people by their private statements. Fools judge people by their theology and their private statements.

One more question for those who believe private speech tells us all we need to know about a person’s character: Do thoughts tell us all we need to know? And if not, why not?


Conservative Law Firm Threatens UW-River Falls With Lawsuit Over Free Speech Policies

A conservative, Christian law firm is warning the University of Wisconsin-River Falls it may sue if the campus doesn’t change policies it claims stifle students' free speech.

Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter Monday notifying UW-River Falls Chancellor Dean Van Galen that a student named Sofie Salmon had retained the advocacy group’s legal counsel in response to an incident on campus in September.

The letter states on Sept. 6, Salmon, a freshman at the time, and her friends were recruiting students for a conservative club on campus near the UW-River Falls student center. The group inflated a large beach ball for students to express their free speech rights by writing messages on it, according to the Alliance Defending Freedom.

A video, which appears to be recorded by one of Salmon’s friends and posted online by an organization called Campus Reform, shows a woman later identified as UW-River Falls Conference and Contract Services Manager Kristin Barstad telling the group that since they weren’t a recognized student organization they couldn’t assemble on the campus mall.

Barstad told the students the space in question was reservable but only for registered student organizations. Barstad said they could move to a city sidewalk running alongside campus.

WPR asked Salmon for comment on the matter, and she referred all media inquiries to Alliance Defending Freedom's public relations department.

The letter threatening a lawsuit states "limiting student speech to a select location on campus is unreasonable and violates the free speech rights of every student."

The letter also alleges students who are not part of a registered club are treated "the same as if they were not members of the university community" by the university.

Caleb Dalton, an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom, said the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees students' rights to assemble and speak.

"Free speech on campus is a real no-brainer. They shouldn’t have to go to an office and reserve a space or ask permission just to be able to talk to other students on the sidewalk," Dalton said. "So, it’s really ridiculous, clearly unconstitutional, policies, and we hope the university will consider revising them immediately."


Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Banned in Britain: Franklin Graham’s Tour Dates Canceled Over Christian Beliefs

Evangelist and missionary Franklin Graham’s seven-city tour of the United Kingdom is now a trial, as all seven venues have dropped him.

Graham’s canceled dates likely are due to an “an outcry over his homophobic and Islamophobic comments,” CNN reports.

Although I don’t agree with everything Graham has said by any means, it’s disheartening to see that the United Kingdom, once a beacon of free speech, now leads the way in “cancel culture.”

To be sure, Graham’s reputation has shifted over the years, and especially since President Donald Trump took office. Although it’s not unusual for Graham, son of the famous preacher Billy Graham, to venture into politics, he unabashedly has supported Trump, courting significant controversy.

Graham’s support of Trump never has wavered, even as the editorial board at Christianity Today said the president should be removed from office for unethical and immoral behavior.

Graham has been outspoken about other cultural issues, including gay rights and radical Islam, both hot topics in the U.K., where Islam is the fastest growing religion. Graham has said gays should go to “conversion therapy” to change, and once called Islam “evil.”

Interestingly, although multiple venues canceled Graham this year, this isn’t the first time the U.K. has had enough of the evangelist. In 2017, several members of Parliament moved to ban Graham from the U.K. for “hate speech” regarding gays and Muslims.

At the time, a “petition against Graham being granted a visa” had gathered 4,600 signatures. Nina Parker, pastor of Liberty Church in Blackpool, who organized the petition, said Graham’s presence would be “extremely destructive.”

Parker told The Guardian: “As a Christian and as a leader of a church that particularly welcomes LGBT people, I’m horrified that other local churches are inviting someone with this record of hate speech.”

Censorship of free speech, discourse, and individual autonomy in the United Kingdom has increased in the past several years.

British officials have cracked down on internet freedom. Even though several groups have pushed back against the government’s flagship internet regulation policy—which is so vague it covers nearly every kind of speech existent—it’s been an uphill battle.

In several dramatic cases, parents have lost their rights to their sick children as the U.K.’s court system usurped them and decided what care was best—typically, a removal of life support against the parents’ wishes.

Of course, any discourse offering a different perspective on LGBT groups or anything that might be seen as anti-transgender receives the most censorship—including being fired from one’s job, as J.K. Rowling bemoaned and I reported on recently.

The United Kingdom has become so intolerant of traditional views and determined to be a global leader in progressive ideology—especially if it quashes all other beliefs. Instead of greeting Graham’s traditional views on LGBT issues with robust debate, or even empty halls for his speeches, the venues outright canceled him without any pushback whatsoever.

Sure, a venue in England has the right to disinvite a pastor from America who is rabidly pro-Trump. But if everyone is so sure their views are correct, why are these groups simultaneously terrified of a preacher telling them what he thinks?

It’s unsettlingly Orwellian to watch the United Kingdom muzzle ideas, traditional beliefs, and viewpoints of Americans in favor of a unified groupthink that promotes only progressive concepts.

Not only is it unfortunate that certain strains of thought are promoted, but when other, more conservative or traditional ideas are censored, it leaves no room for originality or robust debate. This is something for which the United Kingdom used to be renowned.


UK: Why the Tories are right about free speech

By Marianne Taylor 

AS regular readers of this column will probably have gleaned, I am not a big fan of the Tory government. But that doesn’t mean I won’t say when it gets something right, hence my applause for Gavin Williamson’s recent commitment to protecting free speech at universities.

In a recent newspaper article the UK Education Secretary was impressively straightforward about his intentions: if universities in England don’t do more to defend and safeguard free speech, the Government will.

It seems strange and discombobulating that such a fundamental right, which is already etched in law, needs to be restated or protected, especially in our institutions of learning and research. After all, what are universities for if not to debate, scrutinise and test old, current and new ways of thinking?

But the chilling frequency and virulence of recent campaigns by students and activists seeking to completely shut down conversations around certain issues highlights the pressing need for action.

And we’re not just talking any more about the no-platforming of “offensive” thinkers and speakers at university union events. Over the last months around the UK we’ve seen increasing numbers of protests and petitions against members of teaching staff who are accused of holding offensive, upsetting and inappropriate views, accompanied by calls for them to be silenced or even sacked.

There have also been calls for entire areas of teaching and academic research to be withdrawn or have funding removed, for conferences to be cancelled, all because students deem them too upsetting and offensive. University managers have sometimes been too quick to bow to pressure, highlighting society’s increasing confusion and lack of confidence in dealing with issues of free speech.

Granted, the debates at the centre of current brouhahas are complex and controversial: Israel and Palestine, gender identity and women’s rights. They are also very important. But not as important as the wider need to protect our right to talk about them. Even if you couldn’t give a monkeys about the Gender Recognition Act, the things you care passionately about could be next on the list of views deemed offensive. You, too, could be cancelled.


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

High Court ruling restricts free speech for government employees in Australia

It has long been possible for people to give up their right to free speech for some purpose -- in this case to get a government job.  And in this case that was part of the employment contract that people sign to get a federal government job in Australia.  And Ms Banerji knew that, which is why she posted anonymously.

But there is no "out" for anonymous posting.  Ms Banerrji used knowledge she gained as part of her employment to criticize the government.  And that was a clear breach of her contract -- one which exposed the government to criticism.  The damage was done even though it was done sneakily.

One could argue that the government should be more open to criticism but we will undoubtedly wait a long time for that to happen.  Governments of both Left and Right like their secrecy. Confidentiality clauses are common in contracts for employment by private firms so the government is not doing anything unusual by insisting on confidentiality and penalizing breaches of it

This has no implications for free speech in general in Australia.  And even public servants have free speech as long as they keep their mouths shut about their job or matters to do with their job

The High Court has ruled that a public servant should have been sacked after making comments that were critical of the federal government on an anonymous social media account outside work hours.

Michaela Banerji was sacked from her job at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in 2013 when it was found she had been operating a Twitter account called @LaLegale that posted opinions criticising the government's immigration policies and treatment of asylum seekers.

Unofficial public comment tests limits of free speech
Even though Ms Banerji posted her opinions under a pseudonym and did so outside of work hours on her personal phone, the department said she had breached Australian Public Service Code of Conduct terms which aim to maintain an apolitical public service.

The public service argued she had breached guidelines on the use of social media and making public comments, even in an unofficial capacity.

Freedom of political communication and the right to free speech
Ms Banerji applied to Comcare for compensation for PTSD. The Administrative Appeals Tribunal found her sacking had impeded her implied right to freedom of political communication, contained in the Constitution, and ruled in her favour.

Comcare appealed to the High Court which ruled against Ms Banerji, saying the implied freedom of political communication is not a personal right of free speech and her dismissal was reasonable. (See Comcare v Banerji [2019] HCA 23, 7 August 2019.)

The High Court found that Ms Banerji had breached the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct, which was a condition of her employment, in that she had failed to uphold public service "values" and its "good reputation". The judges stated that a representative and responsible government must have an apolitical and professional public service.

The High Court decision is likely to have consequences beyond the Commonwealth public service.

With two million people employed in federal, state and local governments, the ruling will certainly impact their private out-of-work expression of political or social opinion.

It also throws into doubt the rights of everyone who is on a government payroll. Can teachers speak out about education policy? Can hospital workers complain of work conditions? Can scientists report flaws in climate change policy?

The implication of this ruling is that any employee who is critical of their employer's position on some political or social issue could risk being sacked. This is especially the case if a business has a policy against employees making comments regarding their workplace on social media.

The judgement may even have a bearing on cases like that of Israel Folau, who was sacked by the Australian Rugby Union for making homophobic comments on social media that breached his contract.

Following this ruling, does Australia have free speech?
After the Banerji sacking, the government tightened employment guidelines even further, stating that even liking or sharing a social media post could breach the rules.


This teacher was fired over something he wouldn’t say!

It’s been just over a year since Peter Vlaming was fired from his job teaching French at a Virginia high school.

Despite parents and students rallying in support of one of their community’s beloved teachers, the West Point School Board’s vote to terminate Peter was unanimous.

The decision was nothing short of shocking.

Peter was being punished for something he wouldn’t say. He was fired for having a belief that’s been nearly universal for most of human history!

That belief is simply that a person can’t change their sex. And the thing Peter wouldn’t say was to refer to a female student using male pronouns.

This is what it’s come to

There is a movement aimed at controlling your freedom to follow your conscience. What you believe. What you say. What you will and will not do.

Opponents of religious freedom demand complete submission to their views on issues like biological sex, marriage, and abortion.

People of faith who don’t fall in line are often targeted and punished—medical professionals, small business owners, churchgoers… and educators like Peter.
How Peter’s story began…

It all started when one of Peter’s female students began identifying as a boy.

Peter agreed to call this student by the student’s new preferred name. He cares for all of his students and wanted this student to feel welcomed and respected. In fact, he also allowed every student in his French class to choose new French names for the year, so that this student wouldn’t feel singled out for picking a new name.

But then the school demanded that Peter refer to this female student using male pronouns.

This was something Peter could not do.

As a French teacher, Peter knows that words and language carry meaning.

And as a Christian, Peter believes that God has created human beings in His image, as male or female. This is a biological reality. To call a man a woman or vice versa would be to endorse an ideology that denies the truth and that conflicts with his beliefs.

So Peter proposed a compromise.

He made it clear that he would accommodate the student by not using a pronoun the student found offensive. But at the same time, Peter stated that he can't use a pronoun that offends his conscience. He would simply avoid using pronouns altogether and use the student’s preferred name instead.

This wasn’t good enough for school administrators or the school board—so they fired him.

But public schools have no business forcing a teacher to choose between his beliefs and his career.

That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit representing Peter against the West Point School Board.

Peter’s religious convictions are sincere. He holds a belief about biological reality that was nearly universal only a few years ago. It’s a belief you probably share, John.

And Peter treated the student with kindness and dignity. He made a good faith effort to accommodate as much as his conscience would allow. He agreed to call the student by the name that student chose.

It wasn’t enough.

The truth is the school board didn’t care how well Peter treated this student. It was on a crusade to compel conformity.

A father with no job and five other mouths to feed can’t afford to mount a legal defense after being unjustly fired. Thankfully,  Peter is getting the strong legal defense he needs free of charge.


Monday, February 10, 2020

Prada’s racial re-education

The fashion world has been rocked in recent years by a series of scandals over ‘cultural appropriation’ and allegedly racially insensitive designs. There was the Gucci sweater that some felt resembled blackface, and the Zara skirt that some said featured an alt-right symbol. But the news that Prada has struck a deal with the New York City Commission on Human Rights over its allegedly racist products is a remarkable escalation in fashion’s woke wars.

As the New York Times reports, the commission – a law-enforcement agency of the municipal government that oversees human-rights laws – had been investigating Prada for over a year. It all stemmed from a social-media controversy sparked by Chinyere Ezie, a civil-rights lawyer, who spotted and posted about a Prada window display in downtown New York. It featured figurines that she and others felt resembled monkeys in blackface.

Now, as the NYT notes, Prada has agreed to a package of reforms including ‘internal re-education, engaging in financial and employment outreach with minority communities, and submitting to external monitoring of its progress for the next two years’. This will also include the appointment of a ‘diversity and inclusion officer’, the candidate for which must be approved by the commission, whose responsibilities will include ‘reviewing Prada’s designs before they are sold, advertised or promoted in any way in the United States’.

The famously aloof fashion industry may have committed a number of bizarre self-owns in recent years. Though it is hard to believe that many, if any, of the now numerous blackface-design scandals – who could forget Katy Perry’s shoes – were intentional, any sensible person might have seen these controversies coming. But whatever you think about these various Twitterstorms, the idea of a government agency mandating literal re-education and involving itself in the creative process to this degree is terrifying.


Is the Christian story antisemitic?

The Gospels make crystal clear that the Jewish leadership of the day were responsible for Christ's execution.  It is a sad day when that tale can no longer be told.  It is the central event of the Christian faith

To say that Jewish leaders of today are responsible in any way for their predecessors of 2000 years ago is simply childish but the current Jewish leadership in Australia seems to have heard that message in what is just another retelling of that 2000 year old tale

In an age of social media, when facts and interpretation are often melded into the same narrative, the result can become a nasty mixture, as Gerry Riviere, a chaplain at a Baptist school in Melbourne, has found.

Riviere had to apologise for his remarks in a Christmas school newsletter about the role of the Jewish elders in Jesus’ crucifixion.

The furious reaction of Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich, followed by an apology from the school, was based on a perception of anti-Semitism.

There are two separate issues here. First, whether Riviere’s remarks, published in this newspaper and online, were in fact anti-Semitic or simply based on an interpretation of a viewpoint that deemed it anti-Semitic.

Second, in a broader context, since we live in an age of outrage, due especially to social media, if any accusation, whether an alleged breach of standards or even a contrary view to current ideological “right-think”, is always a matter of guilty as charged.

This is part of what the unfortunate chaplain wrote of the Jewish leaders at the time of Jesus: “Whilst Rome was the dominant political power, the religious power within Judaism belonged to those in leadership. The leaders had misinterpreted who God was and what he was like, and so when the people looked to their religious leaders for some comfort and encouragement, they found neither.

“The religious leaders were intoxicated with the power their system afforded them. Thus, neither the political nor the religious systems gave the people any hope.

“Jesus entered that environment to bring a message of hope and love. “He challenged the thinking and actions of the religious leaders who, rather than accepting they were wrong, constantly challenged him, and finally, in an attempt to silence him, placed him upon a cross.”

When I read this I thought the reaction from Abramovich seemed puzzlingly over-the-top. Riviere’s statements were, he said, “beyond belief … inflammatory and outrageous” and, not willing to stop there, “full of classic anti-Semitic slurs”.

However, the most controversial element of the post that annoyed Jewish critics was the idea of Jewish responsibility for Jesus’ death, which in the past led to the idea of collective Jewish guilt

The story of Jesus’ passion and death with slight variations in the narrative depending on which of the gospels is used, is read and enacted with great drama in Catholic churches, every Passion (Palm) Sunday. Another version is read on Good Friday. It is harrowing, dramatic and very interesting too. In every gospel version the basic outline of the story is that the dominant Jewish elders in the council had been plotting against Jesus for some time and are the ones who deliver him to his ultimate death by the Roman civil authority.


Sunday, February 09, 2020

Barr Defends Religious Liberty Against Militant Secularists

"Militant secularists are trying to impose their values on religious people."

No man in America today is more hated by progressive secularists than President Donald J. Trump, but, arguably, no man is more feared by them than Trump’s attorney general, William Barr. Why? Because, after decades of attacks on religious freedom, progressives have an intelligent, articulate, determined foe in Barr.

Last October, Barr infuriated the secular Left when he called them out, asking, “Among the militant secularists are many so-called progressives. But where is the progress?”

Lack of progress is bad, but regression is worse. As Barr pointed out, “The secular project has itself become a religion, pursued with religious fervor. It is taking on all the trappings of religion, including inquisitions and excommunication. Those who defy the creed risk a figurative burning at the stake — social, educational, and professional ostracism and exclusion waged through lawsuits and savage social-media campaigns.”

But this is no accident, says Barr. Speaking to Cardinal Timothy Dolan last week, Barr argued, “Today, religion is being driven out of the marketplace of ideas and there’s an organized militant secular effort to drive religion out of our lives. … To me the problem today is not that religious people are trying to impose their views on nonreligious people; it’s the opposite. It’s that militant secularists are trying to impose their values on religious people and they’re not accommodating the freedom of religion of people of faith.”

That is undeniably true.

In a New York Times hit-piece on Barr, Katherine Stewart is furious that Barr is using the power of the Justice Department to restore equality under the law for churches and religious institutions. She complains about DOJ lawsuits over denial of federal funding for religious schools, even when providing the same services as secular schools receiving taxpayer funds — an unconstitutional discrimination against religion.

Like so many progressives, Stewart’s words drip with contempt and derision for people of faith. She uses scare quotes when referring to “religious liberty” and “religious freedom,” claiming those phrases are “rhetoric of today’s Christian nationalist movement.” Stewart references the First Amendment’s clause forbidding Congress from establishing a national religion, yet she completely omits the critical end of that clause, which states “…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

It has been popular in recent years for secular progressives to rewrite the religious history of the United States, claiming essentially that the Founders tolerated religion so long as it did not exercise any power or influence in the realm of government. Some even falsely paint the Founders as men who were mostly agnostic or even atheistic.

Such claims could not be further from the truth. Most of the Founders were men of deep Christian faith. Even the two men commonly noted as the least religious of the Founders, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, were highly laudatory of Christianity.

In June 1777, with the Constitutional Convention crumbling before his eyes, it was Franklin who gave a speech calling for daily prayers in the convention, for “God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without His notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid?” The following year, Franklin wrote to the French ministry, declaring, “Whoever shall introduce into public affairs the principals of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world.”

As for Jefferson, while rejecting what he saw as perversions of Christ’s doctrine by religious leaders, he created a book comprised solely of the words of Jesus from the Bible, declaring it the most “beautiful or precious morsel of ethics” he’d ever seen, and “a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.” Doctrinal debates aside, again, that is highly laudatory.

Attorney General Barr, in his speech, referenced a quote from another Founding Father, John Adams, who said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

It is no accident that freedom of religion was the very first of all liberties enumerated in the Bill of Rights. In coming to the defense of religious liberty against the attacks of the anti-religious, progressive secularists, AG Barr has joined the pantheon of America’s most noble leaders in securing the blessings of Liberty for ourselves and our posterity.


Free speech for Olympic athletes

Take the International Olympic Committee (IOC)'s Rule 50. It provides that no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.

A subset of this rule applies to medal presentations and prohibits demonstrations on the podium.

There is a perfectly simple explanation for such a rule, but in some quarters it has been harshly criticised as an unjustifiable incursion into the rights of free speech enjoyed by Olympic athletes.

Let's set a few facts in order.

1. The Olympic Games are an international event, now involving some 206 national Olympic committees (and, by extension, governments), approximately 40 international sports federations and, for the Summer Games, about 11,000 athletes.

There are a lot of moving parts, not to mention additional factors such as media, spectators and organisational officials.

2. There are many different and complex international tensions among the 206 countries whose athletes will participate.

3. The Olympic Games are, however, a special phenomenon during which, even if the world as a whole is not working well, there is an oasis at which the youth of the world can gather for peaceful competition, free from the tensions which their elders have created and with which they will be required to cope before and after the Games.

Of course, the Games "bubble" will not last, but each time the Olympic Games are celebrated, a small step is taken -- if the Games can work, even if only for 17 days (the 2020 Tokyo tournament runs from July 24-Aug 9), perhaps, some day, so might the world.

4. Can anyone in today's world provide a better example of international peace and goodwill on such a scale? With a reach and emotional bonding measured in billions of people?

Now, back to Rule 50 and the misguided furore surrounding it.

First, this is not a new rule and, second, it is one wholly consistent with the underlying context of the Olympic Games, during which politics, religion, race and sexual orientation are set aside.

The guidelines causing the furore were produced by athletes themselves, after extensive consultations. It is athletes who bear the risk of losing the moment they have trained for their whole lives by a protest on the podium.

Everyone has the right to political opinion and the freedom to express such opinions.

The IOC fully agrees with that principle and has made it absolutely clear that athletes remain free to express their opinions in press conferences, in media interviews and on social media.

But, in a free society, rights may come with certain limitations.

Rule 50 restricts the occasions and places for the exercise of such rights.

It does not impinge on the rights themselves.

Many other governmental and sporting organisations have similar rules restricting demonstrations.

Remember, too, that allowing protests on the podium means accepting all protests, not just those with which you may agree.

As is the case with countries, no organisation is perfect.

Some, however, including the IOC, are committed to principles and aspirational goals.

The IOC is committed to using sports to bring people together in peaceful circumstances, to using it as part of their overall development and to helping expose them to others from around the world.

The Olympic Games can demonstrate to the world that all things are, indeed, possible, if there is a will to make them happen, tempered by goodwill and mutual respect.

Rule 50 is a reminder that, at the Olympic Games, restraint is an element of that mutual respect.

It is entirely appropriate for the IOC, which created the Games, to establish rules that are consistent with the fundamental underlying principles.


Friday, February 07, 2020

Why the Owen Jones assault case is worrying

On 17 August last year, Guardian columnist Owen Jones was attacked while out celebrating his 35th birthday. He was attacked by James Healy, Charlie Ambrose and Liam Tracey outside the Lexington pub in Islington.

The men pleaded guilty to charges of affray. Healy also pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm. Healy denied that the attack was motivated by Jones’ homosexuality. This meant Healy had to face a hearing in front of a judge to decide whether or not that was his motivation.

Healy maintained that he ‘had the hump’ with Jones after Jones allegedly spilled drink over him. But the judge heard evidence that memorabilia was found at Healy’s home suggesting he had anti-left views. The memorabilia included a black flag bearing a Totenkopf death’s-head symbol.

The judge ruled last week that Healy was motivated both by homophobia and by antipathy to Jones’ ‘left-wing beliefs’. The three men will be sentenced next month. Healy will receive a longer sentence because of the ‘aggravating features’ of his offence, one of which will be that he targeted Jones on account of his sexuality and his political beliefs.

We should talk about this case. Of course, the actions of the three men deserve strong, unflinching condemnation. Everyone should offer solidarity to Jones. Journalists must be able to think and say whatever they like without fear of physical assault.

The Owen Jones case is different. Here, the motivation for the offence was identified as an aggravating feature even though there was no evidence – at least not in the reports about the case – that the motivation made the violence more serious.

Perhaps it could be said that violence of this kind has a wider social impact than impulsive violence targeted against one individual. By targeting Jones because of what he thinks, Healy arguably contributed to an atmosphere in which people become more afraid to say what they think.

But still, this feels like a case where a criminal is potentially going to be punished more severely because of what he thinks and believes. Surely the law must be applied impartially and in the same way to far-right nutters as it is to other people? By sentencing Healy more seriously for what was found in his home, this case creates a worrying precedent.

Healey et al’s attack on Jones was cowardly and outrageous. But punishing Healy more severely because of what he believes is a dangerous step. The law should be limited to punishing actions, not the politics behind those actions. Anything else feels too much like thoughtcrime.


The offencerati just got a book tour cancelled

Next time someone tells you ‘cancel culture’ is just a shtick people engage in on social media, point them in the direction of American Dirt. The new novel by American author Jeanine Cummins tells the story of a Mexican mother and her young son fleeing to the US border. It had already won plaudits, and was selected to be part of Oprah Winfrey’s book club, when it sparked the ire of the offencerati.

The book gained praise before its release, but was panned by Mexican American writers for its stereotypical depictions

‘As a Mexican immigrant, who was undocumented, I can say with authority that this book is a harmful, stereotypical, damaging representation of our experiences’, said Mexican-American author Julissa Arce Raya: ‘Please listen to us when we tell you, this book isn’t it.’ David Bowles, a Mexican-American author and translator, similarly wrote in a Medium post that Cummins was ‘erasing authentic voices to sell an inaccurate cultural appropriation for millions’.

Author Roxane Gay also waded in: ‘It’s frustrating to see a book like this elevated by Oprah because it legitimises and normalises flawed and patronising and wrong-minded thinking about the border and those who cross it.’ Actress Salma Hayek even apologised for originally promoting the book, admitting she hadn’t actually read it.

The general message of all this is that Cummins – who is of Irish and Puerto Rican descent – has botched her depiction of Mexican immigrants, and that her publisher, Flatiron Books, was insensitive and wrong to present it as a seminal book on the subject.

Now, citing safety concerns, Flatiron has cancelled the rest of Cummins’ tour. Instead, the Guardian reports, it will be putting on ‘town-hall style events, where the author will be joined by “some of the groups who have raised objections to the book”’ – as if she has committed some great wrong and needs to make amends with those she upset.

This is crackers. People are well within their right to call American Dirt crap or stereotypical or whatever (though one suspects it’s not half as morally suspect as people are making out). But to condemn it in the way that these other authors have is ridiculous. Plus, they knew what they were doing. The aim here was not to criticise this book, but to delegitimise it. Meanwhile, the publishers should have had the courage to press on as best they could, rather than give in to mob veto.


Thursday, February 06, 2020

French teen's anti-Islam rant revives debate on free speech

An outspoken French teenager has reignited a polarising debate over free speech in the country after an expletive-laden Instagram rant against Islam that has forced her to stay home from school on safety fears.

The case of 16-year-old Mila -- who has received a slew of death threats for calling Islam "a shitty religion" -- has come just over five years after a group of French cartoonists from the Charlie Hebdo magazine were gunned down by jihadist gunmen after poking fun at the Prophet Mohammed.

On Tuesday, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner announced that the teen, whose full name has been withheld by French media, and her family had been put under police protection.

Right-wing politicians have accused the government of failing to show enough support for the teen in the face of what they call "Islamist" threats over the last two weeks.

In a TV interview Monday, Mila said she did "not regret" her remarks and defended her right to "blaspheme".

Far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen responded by tweeting: "This young girl is braver than the whole political class in power over the past 30 years."

The Senate leader of the main opposition Republicans party, Bruno Retailleau, also issued a robust defence of Mila against "this political Islam which is trampling our values".

But some on the left, like former Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal, appeared torn between the desire to defend the unfettered free speech for which the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists died and reprimand the teen for her foul-mouthed outburst.

While defending Mila's "total" freedom to criticise a religion, Royal said she should have shown more "respect, manners and knowledge" and should not be made into "a paragon of freedom of expression."


Defending Free Speech on Campus Means Defending Student Journalists, Too

Free speech and a free press go hand in hand, and they face similar challenges on college campuses as in the world at large.

Advocates often discuss the “campus speech” problem as if it’s a challenge uniquely shouldered by universities. The reality is that cultural trends toward polarization and censorship are rippling through education.

A quarter of the general population want the president to have the power to shutter media outlets. Nearly a third think the First Amendment “goes too far.” It should not surprise us that echoes of those sentiments resound on campus. Nearly two-thirds of university students (61 percent) believe that the climate on their campus prevents some students from expressing their views.

The debate about how free the student press should be is an extension of the broader campus free-speech debate with the same First Amendment rights and competing demands for institutional censorship. Thankfully, universities are uniquely positioned to stem the cultural tide of censorship by renewing their mission of open inquiry, resisting censorship, and reminding a new generation of Americans of the benefits made possible by unfettered pursuit of truth.

Policymakers in Virginia and Nebraska are poised to help them do it.

Bills being considered by lawmakers in Richmond and Lincoln, based on a model from the Student Press Law Center, would limit administrative censorship of student media in public secondary schools, and colleges. The Nebraska bill cleared its first legislative hurdle by an overwhelming 27–5 vote, indicating there’s more agreement on campus speech than you may think. This continues a trend from just last year when bipartisan coalitions of state lawmakers passed positive campus expression policies in more states than ever before.

The goal of the Virginia and Nebraska measures is to guarantee that student journalists enjoy the full protection of the First Amendment — which should help to ensure that all students on those campuses graduate with awareness of what it means to be part of a free and independent press.

These state policies are necessary. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier in 1988 that public-school officials can stop student journalists from publishing material the administrators don’t approve of. Some lower courts in the years since have stretched the decision to permit university administrators to censor student journalists too.

But fully exercising that freedom is crucial to students learning how to navigate the rough-and-tumble world of modern media once college is over.


Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Warren's 'Disinformation' Plan vs. the First Amendment
She plans to create "disinformation" laws limiting Americans' right to free speech

Democrat presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren recently released her plan to fight against online disinformation. It’s the boogie man that Democrats have repeatedly — and without evidence — parroted as the determining factor that enabled Donald Trump to win the 2016 election. “Disinformation and online foreign interference erode our democracy, and Donald Trump has invited both,” Warren dubiously asserted. “Anyone who seeks to challenge and defeat Donald Trump in the 2020 election must be fully prepared to take this on — and I’ve got a plan to do it.”

And what is Warren’s plan to end what all American politicians have been infamous for engaging in since the time of our nation’s founding? “I will push for new laws that impose tough civil and criminal penalties for knowingly disseminating this kind of information, which has the explicit purpose of undermining the basic right to vote,” Warren claims.

So, the woman who lied about having Native American ancestry to further her own academic career, and who routinely lies about her biography on the campaign trail to boost her “street cred” now wants to play the role of national “fact checker”? What about that little thing called the First Amendment?

Warren’s plan sparked a fiery response from actor Rob Schneider, who has been outspoken about the Left’s attempts to silence speech. He hit the nail on the head, stating, “Thank YOU Warren for treating Americans like we are so completely f—— stupid that we can’t think for ourselves. Luckily we have leaders like YOU who can tell us what to believe & how to vote. You are right; the stakes are too high to trust the people to decide for themselves.”

Yet again, another Democrat who loudly clamors about the absurd notion that the American people’s election of Trump somehow equates to a threat to the nation’s democratic process. In reality it is politicians like Warren and their tyrannical instincts that present the real threat facing our republic and Liberty itself.


NYT Reporter Doxxes Brown University Football Coach for Criticizing Media in Private Message

When searching for the answer to "Who is the worst person on the planet today?" one should always look to the dinosaur media. Without fail, you'll find someone whose actions are so repulsive and jaw-droppingly reprehensible that even the Seven Princes of Hell would recoil in disgust and promptly hold a press conference to disavow any association. Today's example of evil masquerading as professionalism is New York Times reporter and MSNBC contributor Michael Schmidt.

Schmidt has a large following on twitter, over 200 thousand, and used his large platform to dox an offensive coordinator for the Brown University football team, Vince Marino, who has a much smaller following of around 5k people. Schmidt did this because Marino sent him a polite criticism through a private message, which Schmidt then sent out to the world while also exposing his workplace to his rabid followers. Somehow, this does not violate Twitter's policy of no "targeted harassment."

Marino wrote, "You work for the NY Times. Credibility is an issue. You just want to take down the President at all costs. If you wanted the truth you would investigate Joe Biden getting the Ukrainian prosecutor fired. That ACTUALLY happened. Shameful."

I couldn't have said it better myself. For the life of me, I can't see where the coach went wrong. But in the mind of a complicit member of the media, who does the Democrats' bidding for a living, Schmidt took the opportunity, not for some self-reflection on why he has ignored Biden admitting to getting Ukrainian prosecutor Shokin fired under very suspicious circumstances, but instead chose to tweet out Marino's message in an effort to cancel him.

(BTW, just like his co-worker Maggie Haberman, a known tool of the DNC as exposed by Wikileaks, Schmidt has also been awarded a Pulitzer for "journalism.")

The Twitter outrage mob Schmidt whipped up are already tweeting Brown University and demanding Marino's head for daring to criticize a member of the vaunted media.


Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Don't call your pet a pet: Animal rights charity chief says term is derogatory because it makes living things sound like a 'commodity' or 'decoration'

Cats and dogs seem perfectly happy to be fed, watered and cuddled by doting owners.

But whatever you do, don't call them pets, says the head of an animal rights organisation. Ingrid Newkirk, the president of PETA, said this is derogatory and suggests they are merely a 'commodity' or 'decoration'.

The group – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – has long called for owners to be renamed 'human carers' or guardians.

Yesterday, the animal rights activist, 70, from Surrey, compared calling animals pets to the treatment of women before feminism, when they were not allowed to own property or were patronisingly called 'sweetie' or 'honey' to make them seem 'less of a person'.

Miss Newkirk said: 'Animals are not pets – they are not your cheap burglar alarm, or something which allows you to go out for a walk. They are not ours as decorations or toys, they are living beings.

'A dog is a feeling, whole individual, with emotions and interests, not something you 'have'.'

Miss Newkirk, who once set fire to a car at a motor show and has stripped naked numerous times to publicise PETA's high-profile 'I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur' campaign, said the language used around animals is important.

She wants people to describe the animals they look after as 'companions', adding: 'How we say things governs how we think about them, so a tweak in our language when we talk about the animals in our homes is needed.

'A pet is a commodity but animals should not be things on shelves or in boxes, where people say, 'I like the look of that one, it matches my curtains or my sense of myself.'

'Hopefully the time is passing for that kind of attitude.'

Some ethicists have argued that people should not keep pets at all.


Chike Uzuegbunam goes to the Supreme Court

Chike Uzuegbunam never thought his time in college would lead him to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court. But that’s exactly where he finds himself after his alma mater, Georgia Gwinnett College, silenced his speech and forced him and Alliance Defending Freedom to file a lawsuit.

Today, Chike asked the Supreme Court to hear his case.

Chike’s legal journey began in 2016. He wasn’t doing anything that you would expect to be controversial. He was simply handing out pamphlets in a plaza on Gwinnett’s campus and talking about the Gospel with interested students as they passed.

It’s not unusual to see college students promoting their cause of choice, interacting with their peers, putting up flyers, or handing out pamphlets. That’s what makes the modern-day university a “marketplace of ideas”—where students are exposed to diverse opinions, encouraged to debate their positions, and form their worldviews. That’s the beauty of free speech in higher education.

But not, unfortunately, at Gwinnett.

College officials approached Chike and ordered him to stop handing out pamphlets and sharing his faith. According to these officials, Chike was not allowed to engage in these activities unless he reserved in advance a time block in the campus “speech zone.”

“Speech zones” on college campuses are peculiar for institutions that are supposedly designed to welcome diverse speech. They are small, designated, and often out-of-the-way areas of campus that students must reserve in advance to exercise their right to free speech.

Here are a few things you need to know about Chike’s case:

1. The college’s free speech zones were microscopically small.
In fact, to call them “tiny” would be an understatement. Combined, the two Gwinnett speech zones made up only 0.0015 percent of campus.

2. The college’s free speech zones were rarely open.
To use Gwinnett’s speech zone, a student had to make an advance reservation. But the zones were only open for student use 18 hours during the week and were closed on the weekends. That’s about 10 percent of the week!

3. Chike reserved time in the speech zone—but officials still silenced him.

Despite these unconstitutional restrictions, Chike tried to persevere and share his faith. He reserved a speech zone and began sharing the Gospel there during his reserved time. This time campus police ordered him to stop speaking because they had received complaints from other students that Chike’s message made those students feel uncomfortable.

4. According to Gwinnett, no one is free to share their faith on campus.

Under the Student Code of Conduct, Gwinnett officials classified Chike’s peaceful speech as “disorderly conduct,” defined as any speech “which disturbs the peace and/or comfort of person(s).”

And after Chike sued, Gwinnett argued that Chike’s speech—discussing the basic tenets of the Christian faith—“arguably rose to the level of ‘fighting words,’” a category of speech that the First Amendment does not protect.

Gwinnett’s position is disturbing. If sharing the Good News that Jesus died for our sins is “disorderly conduct” and “fighting words” on campus, it is the same off campus—even in your own church.

5. While the college eventually changed its speech zone policies – Chike never got the justice he deserved.
ADF tried to work with Gwinnett to enact lawful policies regarding free speech on campus. The college ignored the advice and unilaterally changed its policies in an effort to end the lawsuit.

Because of that change, and because Chike is no longer a student, a federal court dismissed his case. But that doesn’t change the fact that college officials violated Chike’s right to free speech by silencing him not just once, but twice.

That’s why this lawsuit continues. ADF is asking the Supreme Court to make clear that public universities cannot violate the First Amendment rights of their students and get off scot-free.

6. The federal government has voiced its support for Chike.
In September 2017, the United States Department of Justice filed a brief supporting Chike’s right to free speech on campus: “Colleges and universities must protect free speech and may not discriminate out of a concern that listeners might find the content of speech offensive or uncomfortable.” The federal government is correct, and we are hopeful the Supreme Court will agree.

“Free speech” is not free when a college requires a student to obtain advance permission, speak during certain hours, and do so in a microscopic portion of campus. And college officials should never classify speaking about the Bible as “disorderly conduct” or “fighting words.” The only permit a student should need to speak on his or her own campus is the First Amendment.


Monday, February 03, 2020

Sports talk is wrong?

Chartered Management Institute CEO Ann Francke believes workplaces should move to curtail “chat about football or cricket” as being divisive; excluding women, and “a gateway to more laddish behaviour.”  Francke does not want such behaviour banned — just ‘moderated.’ In corporate HR speak this is a meaningless distinction – why moderate when you can ban?

Further, does Francke think sports talk should be penalised? If she wants employers to ‘moderate’ such chat, if an avid football fan does not comply will there be consequences? And if so, what consequences are appropriate?

Perhaps employees should be provided  a pre-approved list of conversation topics. Although, if sports are an offensive gateway drug to debauched discussion it is hard to imagine what topics are appropriate.

We all appreciate feeling included in the workplace. But employees should not be forced to stop discussing topics they’re interested in because someone might feel excluded.


Mark Zuckerberg declares Facebook is going to 'stand up for free expression' and allow people to post what they want - but the CEO admits the new move will 'p**s off a lot of people'

This should be interesting

Mark Zuckerberg has declared that Facebook is 'going to stand up for free expression' in spite of the fact it will 'piss off a lot of people'.

The controversial CEO, 35, made the claim during a fiery appearance at the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit in Utah on Friday. Zuckerberg told the audience that Facebook had previously tried to resist moves that would be branded as 'too offensive' - but says he now believes he is being asked to partake in 'excessive censorship'.

'Increasingly we're getting called to censor a lot of different kinds of content that makes me really uncomfortable,' he claimed. 'We're going to take down the content that's really harmful, but the line needs to be held at some point'.

The Facebook founder went on to bemoan: 'It kind of feels like the list of things that you're not allowed to say socially keeps on growing, and I'm not really okay with that'.

He then declared: 'This is the new approach [free expression], and I think it's going to p**s off a lot of people. But frankly the old approach was p**sing off a lot of people too, so let's try something different'.

Zuckerberg has been in the hot seat in recent months for refusing to ban political ads from Facebook - despite the fact fellow social media giant Twitter declared that they would stop sharing political advertisements.


Sunday, February 02, 2020

Twitterstorm erupts after cyclist’s comments about female reporter’s top

A war of words erupted between a former pro cyclist and an Aussie journalist after he “publicly objectified” a young female reporter.

Belgian journalist and former pro cyclist Sven Spoormakers has caused outrage on social media after making a crude comment referring to a young female reporter covering the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina.

Spoormakers made reference to the reporter’s low cut top after taking a screenshot of her interviewing one of the riders for television, asking in Dutch: “Is it cool in Argentina?”

It led to numerous fans and pundits condemning him for allegedly sexually objectifying the young reporter.

Australian journalist Sophie Smith challenged Spoormakers on his remark, writing: “Seriously? Please tell me this is lost in translation and you did not just publicly objectify a young female reporter.

Spoormakers then responded: “Objectify, really? Come on. Don’t draw the feminist card on this one. She knows exactly what she’s wearing – or not wearing – and why. “If I would interview a female athlete with my balls out, you’d be joking about it too. Or calling it a disgrace.”


The shameful attack on Alastair Stewart

When a newsreader has to quit for quoting Shakespeare, you know wokeness has gone insane.

The tyranny of wokeness has reached a new low. Alastair Stewart has been ‘forced out’ by ITV News in part, it seems, because he tweeted a Shakespeare passage that contains the phrase ‘an angry ape’ at a black Twitter user.

Everyone – or at least everyone possessed of basic honesty and decency – knows full well that Stewart wasn’t calling the Twitter user an ape. ITV and ITN know it. Stewart’s online followers know it. Anyone who can read knows it.

And yet because offence was taken, because someone says their feelings were hurt, because we live in a hyper-racialised society in which people are incited to see racial hatred in every comment, every slight and every piece of culture, Stewart had to go. Cast out for quoting Shakespeare. Sent packing because someone wilfully misread his intention. This is how irrational the cult of identitarian censorship has become.

The Twitterspat was over the relationship between taxpayers and the Crown. In reply to Martin Shapland, the black gentleman with whom he was having the disagreement, Stewart quoted from Measure for Measure: ‘But man, proud man, Dress’d in a little brief authority, Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d – His glassy essence – like an angry ape.’

Mr Shapland instantly cried racism. ‘Just an ITV newsreader referring to me as an ape with the cover of Shakespeare’, he tweeted. There were just a few problems with this utterly cynical and narcissistic reading of racial hatred into Stewart’s invocation of Shakespeare.

First, Stewart has used that Shakespeare line before, in a spat with a white person. And secondly, are we seriously meant to believe Stewart loathes all black people? Despite there being no evidence whatsoever for this? Despite his never having expressed a single racist idea, including in this Twitter run-in, in which he was very clearly criticising Shapland’s ignorance, not his skin colour?

This episode captures the misanthropy that drives the modern-day obsession with racism, in which the worst is suspected of everyone; in which every white man is viewed as a race-hater in waiting; in which every tabloid-reader is considered to be one tub-thumping editorial away from becoming a moronic member of a racist pogrom; in which virtually the entire country is branded racist simply because it got sick and tired of Meghan Markle’s hypocritical, carbon-fuelled, hectoring woke nonsense.

This phoney anti-racism is the polar opposite of the great anti-racism of the past, in that it is not driven by a decent humanist urge to celebrate what people share in common, but rather by a suspicious, vengeful mindset that sees racist scumbags lurking in every street, on every social-media feed, in all institutions. It is identitarian paranoia and middle-class fear and loathing of mass society falsely dressed in the noble garb of anti-racism.


Friday, January 31, 2020

Ohio Senate *Unanimously* Votes to Protect Free Speech on Campuses!

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Senate just unanimously passed the CCV-backed FORUM (Forming Open and Robust University Minds) Act to protect free speech on college and university campuses.

"By passing SB 40, the Ohio Senate is sending the clear message that every student's voice matters," said Aaron Baer, president of Citizens for Community Values. "In recent years, we’ve witnessed university officials in Ohio and across America stifle the speech of pro-life and conservative groups. SB 40 will protect these students by creating a level playing field for ideas. It doesn't favor any viewpoint or ideology, but ensures all speech is equally protected."

In a 33-0 vote, the Ohio Senate just voted to:

Protect peaceful assemblies, protests, speakers, and displays on campus.

Prohibit “Free Speech Zones” on college campuses.

Prohibit shutting down events or other expression via a “Heckler’s Veto.”

Require colleges and universities to have a free speech policy, and report violations of free speech on campus to the General Assembly.

"We want to thank the bill sponsors Senator Andy Brenner and Senator Rob McColley, and the entire Senate Chamber for protecting the right of every student to have the opportunity to engage in open and honest discussion, no matter his or her political party.

The bill now moves to the Ohio House for consideration.

Email from Citizens for Community Values: ccvofohio@gmail.com

'We have free speech': Danish PM avoids direct response to China over flag controversy

Freedom to mock China!

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen cited freedom of speech in Danish society as she reacted for the first time to demands by the Chinese Embassy in Denmark for an apology over a satirical drawing of the Asian country’s flag.

China’s representation in Denmark has demanded that newspaper Jyllands-Posten apologize for a cartoon depicting each of the five yellow stars of the Chinese flag as a coronavirus. The drawing was published in Monday's edition of the newspaper.

Frederiksen commented briefly on the matter on Tuesday prior to a Social Democratic parliamentary party meeting, Jyllands-Posten reports.

“I have nothing else to say about it other than that we have a very, very strong tradition in Denmark, not only for free speech, but also for satirical drawings, and that will continue in the future as well. It is a well-known Danish position, and we won’t change that,” she said.

The PM did not respond directly to the Chinese calls for an apology.

“I just want to say from Denmark and the Danish government's side, all we have to say is that we have freedom of expression in Denmark -- also to draw,” Frederiksen said.


Thursday, January 30, 2020

Kmart blogger mum tearfully defends herself against racism accusations for saying 'white is right' in a post about a QUILT COVER

A woman has tearfully defended herself after she was accused of being a 'racist' for saying 'white is right' about her new doona quilt cover.

Claire, from Tasmania, has been creating lifestyle content for her popular Instagram account The Kmart Lover as a hobby.

With more than 100,000 followers, her well-established page focuses on affordable fashion and home styling such as d├ęcor, furniture and bedding.

But over the weekend, Claire came under attack by cruel trolls who labelled her a 'racist' and a 'white supremacist' after she shared her thoughts on her new king-size waffle quilt cover.

'I wasn't going to address this... but as you can probably tell, I'm sad, but that's not from the thing that happened last night. It's from my sister Krista's beautiful words and the outpouring of love and support that you guys have given me,' she said.

'I've got a bad headache, I put it down to the stress that's come from here. I'm not racist, I was purely talking about a bloody doona cover, and it does hurt, it hurts me.

'I put some time into my page, it's my page, I don't get paid to tell you where the item is from. I don't get paid to give you a swipe up link. I don't get paid to show you what it would match with and so many of you ask things like that and I give you my views on it.'

After speaking out, Claire hit back at the nasty trolls by sharing a snap of herself sitting on her white quilt cover in her white Kmart outfit.

Claire was left in tears after receiving nasty remarks for sharing her thoughts about a doona

'This is me. On my white waffle quilt cover in my white outfit... Just a girl on a bed in what she considers a cool outfit sharing her love for home styling and fashion,' she said.

'Unshowered, heavy eyes from a bad headache, no make-up. Nothing more, nothing less. This week I have been trolled as being racist for saying "white is right" about the depicted doona cover.

'I could stay quiet as some of you have suggested and not respond to any of these remarks but that is not me. I am strong. I am independent and I am taking a stance against this small minority of society that feel this behaviour is ok because it is not.'

Claire has since updated her caption to: 'Can you beat a white quilt cover for a relaxing entrance to a bedroom? I love it.'


Free speech wins as California DMV says Fulham soccer fan's 'Come on You Whites' vanity plate is OK

A soccer fan’s request for a personalized license plate celebrating his favorite team was granted Tuesday after scoring a free speech victory against the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which initially determined the slogan might be deemed offensive.

Jon Kotler, a lawyer and constitutional scholar at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, has been a devoted fan of the London-based soccer team Fulham Football Club. He wanted to show his support with a vanity plate of the team's slogan: “Come on You Whites.”

But he ran into a roadblock when the DMV rejected his request for the vanity plate using an acronym for the team’s slogan, “COYW,” claiming it could carry “racial overtones" and “connotations offensive to good taste and decency.”

The slogan is inspired by the white jerseys that Fulham soccer players wear. European soccer clubs are often referenced by their uniform colors: London club Chelsea F.C. is called The Blues, while Liverpool F.C. is nicknamed The Reds.

“The freedom to speak as one wishes in the face of government opposition to it is central to what it means to be an American,” Kotler said in a news release after the victory. “My only regret is that it took a lawsuit to force the state of California to do what the law required of it.”


Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Australia: When a government says a white man is black, dissenters have to be fired

WHAT a scandal. Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt now threatens to sack a whistleblower who called out "Aboriginal historian" Bruce Pascoe as a white.

The whistleblower in Wyatt's sights is Josephine Cashman, an Aboriginal businesswoman on his advisory council. That's because Cashman claimed Pascoe, author of the bestseller "Dark Emu" and star of an upcoming MSC series, is a fake Aborigine, and she says she has plenty of evidence.

Genealogical records on dark-emu-exposed.org suggest all of Pascoe's ancestors are of English descent, and Pascoe refuses to say which is actually Aboriginal.

Indeed, his story keeps changing. Once he identified as white, until a reviewer of his first novel said it would have been better had Pascoe been black.

Once he claimed that one of his mother's grandmothers was Aboriginal, before admitting she was English. Now he claims he's descended from several tribes, including the Boonwurrung of Victoria, Tasmanian Aborigines and the Yuin of NSW.

But his claims have been rejected by the Boonwunrung Land & Sea Council, the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania and members of the Yuin, and now even the Yolngu of Arnhem Land.

Elder Terry Yumbulul says his fellow Yolngu want Wyatt to investigate Pascoe's "claim to Aboriginal ancestry" and what he's gained from an identity "he has been unable to verify".

Yumbulul, like the Boonwurrung and the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania, also rejects Pascoe's claims — based on false citations and exaggerations — that Aborigines weren't hunter-gathers but farmers in "towns" of "1000 people".

"There is no evidence of it in our art, languages or songlines," says Yumbulul, who accuses Pascoe of causing "concerns about our ancient cultures, our ancient traditions, our precious stories".

So what's Wyatt's reaction? It's to defend white Pascoe and
seemingly threaten Aboriginal Cashman with the sack. Wyatt told the Guardian Australia that Pascoe's Aboriginality was "being played out publicly" when "we should deal with (it) within communities".

He said he could ask one of his advisers to quit "I have to think of the greater good of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people."

Really? Is truth to be sacrificed for the "greater good"? And where's this "greater good" when Aborigines are being stripped of their past and even their right to say who is of their tribe?

No Liberal MP should tolerate what Wyatt seems to have in mind. If Cashman goes, so should he.

From the Brisbane "Courier Mail" of 27 January, 2020