Thursday, November 15, 2018

GQ Woman of the Year cover sparks outrage as the magazine is slammed for using quotation marks around the word WOMAN

Serena Williams being named Woman of the Year by GQ should have led to nothing but celebration - but instead the tennis player has found herself at the center of a furious controversy after the publication released her cover with the word "woman" written in quotation marks.

The 37-year-old's cover shot was released on Monday alongside the three images for the Men of the Year - Michael B. Jordan, Henry Golding, and Jonah Hill - none of which featured quotation marks around the word men, a fact that has prompted serious upset online.

'Okay but why is woman in quotation marks?' one woman tweeted at GQ, while another person shared an image of last year's Woman of the Year cover - which featured Gal Gadot, and no quotation marks around the gender - alongside Serena's and simply wrote: 'Hmm.'

Another person blasted the move as 'inappropriate, dangerous, racist, and transphobic', while one person demanded that the publication issue an explanation for the controversial design decision.

Serena herself has not addressed the controversy, but nor has she shared the cover image on any of her social media accounts - which may well speak volumes in and of itself.

Some social media users rushed to defend GQ however, pointing out that the word woman was handwritten for Serena's cover by her close friend, Off-White designer Virgil Abloh, whose signature style is to use double quotation marks around basic words, something that he does on all of his clothing.

The designer was actually responsible for the Nike tutu dresses that Serena wore at this year's US Open - all of which featured the word "LOGO" in quotation marks above the signature Nike swoosh.


Should social media firms be prevented from censoring speech they dislike?

What makes it acceptable for Twitter to deplatform widely unpopular members, but wrong for the Department of Justice to jail those with dissident views? As it turns out, nothing makes it acceptable. As Princeton students grapple with questions of free speech, they should consider the effects of social media companies on that speech. Anyone who is committed to a substantive right to free speech against government intervention should support a similar principle in the context of corporations policing speech.

Think about why we limit the government’s ability to censor speech in the first place: the government is large, powerful, and has an interest in suppressing dissident opinions. If the government were so discerning and so inclined, it might manage to censor only the bad views. Yet, as much as you might trust an Obama to filter out only the hate speech, you wouldn’t want a Trump to be making the same sort of decision. The fact that we cannot know what political tides loom on the horizon compels us to deny government the power to censor, even if we would be comfortable with the present government having that power. In other words, government’s ability to police speech is limited in the good times to prevent abuse in the bad.

In all respects relevant to policing speech, social media giants are just like governments in that they are large and well-resourced relative to any individual. They have interests in suspending views critical of them. Worse, they are unaccountable, and certainly more so than governments. A government official trying to censor someone will likely be stopped by other members of government vested with the power and incentive to check their abuse. Indeed, this is as true of the President as it is of the lowest civil servant when it comes to free speech, which is codified in our laws and our Constitution. Our government is intentionally organized with a principle of decentralization and mutual checks on power.

When it comes to corporations, circumstances differ. Corporations are highly centralized, and there is no corporate governance principal of respecting free speech. If a handful of board members go rogue and decide they don’t like someone, that person can lose their right to speak on the only platforms that matter for being heard. What does Twitter have to compel your trust that the U.S government does not? A better vibe? A nicer logo?

Of course, corporations are accountable in certain ways: shareholders can relent, and no firm seeks a public relations disaster. But that is exactly the point. To the extent that they are accountable, corporations are accountable in the wrong way. Or, at the very least, they are accountable in a way that would never be accepted as a means of keeping governments in check when it comes to abrogating individual rights. Public relations incentives and shareholder votes are to corporations as voters in elections are to governments. But speech rights aren’t the sort of protection that can be voted away. That is the entire premise of rights. No majority can determine that a minority has ceded their rights. This is a central tenet of constitutional democracy. That a majority of shareholders or Twitter users don’t like someone cannot possibly be justification to strip them of their right to speak.

A right to speak without any chance of being heard renders that right nothing more than an empty promise. Appeals made to the fact that participation in social media is voluntary and that these companies are private hold little sway in light of this. Free speech is an outcome we strive to achieve rather than being regarded as mere adherence to some legal text. Free speech is central to having a free society, useful political discourse, and a feeling of inclusion in the political process. It helps us find truth as a society and participate in civic life as individuals. As a result, when corporations are allowed and encouraged to hollow out that promise, everyone suffers.

I don’t particularly like Alex Jones. But I worry more about what is to come if we rally behind his being banned from YouTube. The moral arc of a decade will often bend the wrong way (consider the 1980s in the U.S., or the 1930s in Germany). If today we allow Twitter to ban those who are despised, we may be building the guillotine for our own heads.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Photo of more than 60 boys in suits giving Nazi salute posted on social media

Hitler himelf gave a variety of salutes so identifying this one as Nazi may be risky.  They could be just waving someone off

A school district in Wisconsin is investigating a photo of a group of high-school boys giving what appears to be a Nazi salute.

Baraboo’s superintendent, Lori Mueller, said she became aware of the photo on Monday, after it was posted on social media.

Baraboo is a town of about 12,000 residents, about 115 miles north-west of Milwaukee. The photo of more than 60 male students dressed in suits, some wearing boutonnieres, shows many with their right arm extended upward while posed on the steps of the Sauk county courthouse.

Mueller did not say what occasion might have brought the students together, but said the photo appear to have been taken in the spring and was not taken at a school-sponsored event.

“The school district is investigating this situation and is working with parents, staff and local authorities,” Mueller wrote in a letter to parents and guardians. “If the gesture is what it appears to be, the district will pursue any and all available and appropriate actions, including legal, to address the issue.

The photo spread on Twitter with the hashtag #barabooproud, which is often used by the district to promote its activities and athletic programs.


Gender hate law sparks free speech fear

The Tasmanian Labor party want to make it illegal to say that trannies are not female

There are fears debate on transgender issues may be shut down in Tasmania by a proposed extensi­on of hate speech laws to protect gender identity, including ­“gender expression”.

A legal analysis of Anti-­Discrimination Act amendments proposed by Labor suggests they could prevent some women’s groups continuing to argue that biological males who self-identify as women should be denied ­access to femal­e-only services.

“Presenting the perspective from a women’s rights position, and not acknowledging that trans women are female, could be construed as inciting hatred (under the changes),” said Bronwyn Williams, a lawyer and spokeswoman for Women Speak Tasmania.

“It limits our ability to say: ‘Hang on a minute, you are a biological male, you’re not female.’

“They could say: ‘I am legally female, I have a female name, my personal preference is for a fema­le personal pronoun, you can’t discuss this, and if you do you are inciting hatred and ridicule.’ ”

Labor’s amendments would extend hate speech protections to include “gender identity or variations of sex characteristics”.

The act’s gender identity defin­ition would be expanded to include “gender expression”, describ­ed as “any personal physical expression, appearance, speech, mannerisms, behaviour patterns, names and personal references that manifest or express gender or gender identity”.

Ms Williams said the changes — likely to be supported by the Greens and to swing on the casting vote of the independent-minded Speaker — could see people accused of hate speech for referring to a trans person’s biological sex, former gender or previous honorific or name

The ALP, which backed down this week on the compulsory remov­al of sex from birth certificates, is standing firmly by its amendments.

Labor justice spokeswoman Ella Haddad said the changes were long overdue protections for transgender people, with no impact on free speech.

“In no way does the existing act or the changes I’m proposing seek to prevent people speaking about ­issues, debating issues in the public sphere,” Ms Haddad said.

“The gender identity defin­ition … in the act deals with how somebody identifies, as male or female or some other way. The new definition we’re adding … deals with how you display that expression physically.

“They strengthen the act in terms of protecting people from discrimin­ation, but it’s a furphy argument to say that this would stop people talking about those things.”

Liberal Attorney-General Elise Archer called on Labor to refer all its proposed amendments to the Tasmania Law Refor­m Institute for detailed analysis.


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"It benefits the American right to characterise campus culture wars as debates over “free speech”, when often they are not"

Excerpts below from an essay by nicely presented and experienced Leftist journalist SOPHIE MCBAIN, writing in the hoary Leftist organ "The New Statesman". I repeat her sub-headline above.

She grudgingly admits below that a lot of student activism has inhibited the expression of conservative ideas on campus -- but her sympathy with the student censors is clear. 

And her blinkered apology for them is that it is not really an issue of free speech.  Of course it is not.  It is a debate about political ideas, conservative ideas in particular.  The mention of free speech arises only when the expression of conservative ideas is censored in some way.  It is Leftists who force the debate into a debate over free speech.  That is not the doing of conservatives.  Conservatives invoke their right of free speech as a defensive strategy to protect themselves from the censors.  The issues are POLITICAL.  Issues of free speech are secondary to that.

She also says: "If students disagree with right-wing speakers, why should they not exercise their right to protest?"  In saying that she mischaracterizes the issue.  A right to peaceful public protest is well accepted.  But it is when protest degenerates into coercion that objections rightfully arise

She also says: "When speakers are de-platformed at universities they are not forced into political obscurity."   But, again, that is not the issue.  The issue is the Leftist monoculture on campus that leaves students with distorted impressions of conservative ideas.  The issue is educational.  Conservatives simply want to have at least some say in what ideas are presented on campus.

Ms McBain is a fluent writer and is particularly fluent in evasion.  She has to be. The inherent authoritarianism of Leftism cannot be admitted

In recent months, two of America’s most prestigious literary institutions have found themselves embroiled in heated debates over the boundaries of acceptable speech. In early September, the New Yorker announced that its editor David Remnick would interview Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, the far-right agitator Steve Bannon, on stage at the magazine’s annual festival. After facing harsh criticism from readers and several staff writers, Remnick quickly rescinded the invitation. A fortnight later, the editor of the New York Review of Books Ian Buruma was fired amid uproar over his publication of an essay by Jian Ghomeshi about how the former radio host’s career was destroyed by accusations of sexual harassment. Ghomeshi’s essay was an unedifying and unreflective exercise in self-pity in which he downplayed the nature of the accusations against him and mischaracterised his legal case.

It’s understandable that readers were perplexed by the editorial decisions made at both magazines. It was, after all, odd that of all the influential thinkers to headline its festival, the New Yorker chose Bannon, and that of all the under-represented voices that could write with intelligence and nuance about the #MeToo movement, the NYRB commissioned Ghomeshi. Yet both incidents also raised broader questions over how publications should respond to social media outrage over their coverage, and how America’s liberal establishment should handle politically unpalatable views. What is the best way to probe and challenge right-wing thinking, without over-amplifying marginal figures or normalising far-right rhetoric? How does the mainstream media determine what viewpoints are too extreme or offensive to be published? ...

There is evidence to suggest that younger people may be less tolerant than older generations of speech they consider offensive or otherwise harmful. In recent years, the number of speakers disinvited following campus protests has increased and critics say a culture of “safetyism” has emerged in academia, in which students angrily shut down the discussion of unsettling ideas.

If students disagree with right-wing speakers, why should they not exercise their right to protest? When speakers are de-platformed at universities they are not forced into political obscurity. Far from it. Figures such as Yiannopoulos like to portray themselves as free-speech warriors leading “dangerous” campaigns against a powerful liberal establishment, but they are hardly disempowered outsiders. America’s right-wing media and the white nationalist movement now have the ear of the White House, after all. One imagines it might entertain Bannon to watch the “globalist media” agonise over the best way to cover his nationalist populist perspective, when you can hardly imagine Breitbart or even Fox News worrying about whether they are giving liberal voices a fair hearing. Students are exposed to right-wing ideology, even if they do not welcome its proponents on campus.

Undoubtedly some of the case studies explored by Lukianoff and Haidt suggest that concepts such as microaggressions and trigger warnings are sometimes taken to ludicrous and damaging lengths by students. Some of the speakers who have recently been disinvited are hardly right-wing extremists: they include the IMF’s Christine Lagarde and a regional head of the American Civil Liberties Union. Despite this, I found myself admiring the confidence and fluency with which students are testing out arguments about power and privilege that I was merely dimly aware of as a student, only a decade ago.


Australian Attorney-General argues limits to public servant free speech justified

The Coalition government has fired the opening shots in a High Court clash over limits to free speech for public servants, telling judges that good government depends on bureaucrats keeping their political views private.

Attorney-General Christian Porter launched a defence of a government decision to sack an Immigration Department worker for anonymous tweets about Australia's asylum seeker policy, and sought to justify the burden it imposed on free expression.

In a case that could weaken or entrench the bureaucracy's limits on political commentary from public servants, lawyers for the Attorney-General told the court on Wednesday the restrictions protected and enhanced responsible and representative government.

The freedom of speech implied in Australia's constitution accommodated the need for an apolitical public service and rules enshrining the importance of the bureaucracy, Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue, arguing for the government, said.

These combined to suggest that "burdens on political communication by public servants may be more readily justified than similar burdens on other groups," he said.

"The imposition of such burdens on public servants promotes the functioning of the system of government for which the constitution provides."

Public servants work under rules requiring them to uphold the bureaucracy's integrity, impartiality and good reputation, and governments have limited their free political expression in Australia since before federation.

An appeals tribunal decision in April threw into question the federal public service's ability to enforce limits to free speech, finding the Immigration Department's 2013 dismissal of former bureaucrat Michaela Banerji was unlawful because it intruded on her right to free political expression.

Mr Donaghue denied the Australian Public Service prohibited its staff from holding or expressing opinions, but said rules designed to promote a professional bureaucracy, willing to serve governments of different political views, put justified limits on their free speech.

Public servants had to work in a detached manner, unaffected by their political beliefs, but they could still hold views. The limits to their expression extended as far as required by a code designed to keep their workplaces impartial and professional.

"The burden upon political communication arising from the code is not correctly identified as a prohibition on APS members expressing political opinions. The code is more nuanced," Mr Donaghue said.

He also rejected an Administrative Appeals Tribunal finding that guidelines stopping public servants from publicly criticising the government should not be applied to anonymous comments.

"While a communication that is critical of the APS may have more weight if known to have been made by a member of the APS, such statements may damage the 'good reputation' of the APS even if it is not known who made the relevant communications," he said.

Exempting anonymous comments from rules limiting bureaucrats' free political speech would raise problems for the government by creating an "area of immunity" for misconduct.

Mr Porter intervened in the case after Ms Banerji won an appeal against the federal workplace insurer's refusal to compensate her for the psychological condition that developed after she was sacked over tweets from a pseudonymous Twitter account with the handle @LaLegale.

He removed the government's Federal Court appeal against the finding and sent it to the High Court, flagging the case's potential to undermine the government's policy stopping public servants from expressing their political views on social media.

Ms Banerji was working in the Immigration Department when co-workers learnt she was behind tweets railing against the government's treatment of asylum seekers.

She lost a high-profile attempt to stop her dismissal in the Federal Circuit Court in 2013, a decision seen as likely to curtail other bureaucrats' use of social media when judge Warwick Neville found Australians had no "unfettered implied right (or freedom) of political expression".

Her tweets did not disclose confidential departmental information, but an internal Immigration Department investigation in 2012 found she had breached the code of conduct for government employees.

Lawyers for Ms Banerji are expected to respond to the Attorney-General's arguments in early December.


Monday, November 12, 2018

Victoria's Secret boss apologizes for saying transgender models aren't cast in their show because it's based on 'fantasy' and claims they WOULD but none have been good enough

Victoria's Secret's 70-year-old senior creative has apologized for his 'insensitive' comments about transgender people.

Ed Razek – who is the chief marketing officer of Creative Services for parent company Limited Brands – was criticized after saying transgender models were not used in their annual show because the presentation is 'fantasy'.

The 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show was held Thursday on at Pier 94 in New York City and wasn't representative of the demographic or of plus-sized people.

Razek told Vogue about past criticism: 'It's like, why doesn't your show do this? Shouldn't you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don't think we should. 'Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It's a 42-minute entertainment special. That's what it is.'

Razek went on the boast of how the show - which features the likes Of Kendall Jenner, Gigi and Bella Hadid and this year saw Adriana Lima walk her final catwalk in the event - is the 'only branded special in the world'.

He declared how it's 'seen in 190 countries, by 1 billion 6 million people' after stating Victoria's Secret abandoned the idea of also targeting a plus-sized audience because a TV special pitch on the subject flopped 18 years ago.


Setting caps on political spending strikes at the heart of free speech

With more than $5 billion spent on all races, the 2018 midterms were the most expensive in history. This had many on the left up in arms and promising reform. A group of 100 Democratic candidates signed a pledge promising new limits on campaign spending by “big donors” and “special interests” if elected. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, the new darling of the left, went even further. She called for a constitutional amendment to restrict the First Amendment and counteract the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission, which allowed large political action committees known as super PACs to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on independent political speech.

Ocasio Cortez is in many ways a fringe candidate, but Democrats of all stripes share her animus against Citizens United and super PACs. In fact, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders promised to nominate Supreme Court justices who would overturn Citizens United if elected. The obsession by people on the left with clearing the airwaves of campaign advertisements funded by super PACs is misguided. Super PACs are simply associations of individuals who think alike and want to engage in political speech independent of candidates and political parties.

Those seeking to quash them ignore the clear connection between the freedom of speech and the freedom to reach an audience, which in the modern media world costs money. This also rests on the misguided assumption that political speech funded by one set of corporations and individuals (the ones who donate to super PACs) is perverse while political speech funded by another set of corporations and individuals (the ones who own television stations and newspapers) is fine.

The dichotomy is obviously synthetic. Why should a puff piece on Beto O’Rourke in the Washington Post, owned by Amazon chief executive officer Jeff Bezos, be considered journalism, so no campaign finance rules apply, while a television spot praising Ted Cruz paid for by Texans Are, a super PAC funded by Cinemark chief executive officer Lee Roy Mitchell, is deemed an electioneering communication subject to federal law?

Why should an interview of Ocasio Cortez, elected to represent the 14th District of New York, on MSNBC, owned by Comcast and General Electric, be treated differently than a commercial run by the Congressional Leadership Fund, partially funded by AT&T and Microsoft, in support of John Faso, who lost in his race for the 19th District of New York?

If super PACs were eliminated, nothing would stop wealthy individuals and companies and from following Amazon and Comcast and buying their own media outlets. They could even start their own. Instead of Club for Growth Action, we could have Club for Growth News. Instead of the National Association of Realtors Fund, we could have the Realtor Times.

As law professors Samuel Issacharoff and Pamela Karlan wrote, it does not take someone like Albert Einstein to discern a “first law of political thermodynamics” that the “desire for political power cannot be destroyed” but rather at most channeled into different forms.


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Roger Scruton: thoughtcriminal?

Scruton has said there is an intolerance of conservative views – he’s just been proven right

Back in 1985, when Roger Scruton was caught smuggling blacklisted books into communist Czechoslovakia, he was expelled from the country and placed on the government’s Index of Undesirable Persons. In supposedly liberal Britain, in 2018, the renowned conservative philosopher has become ‘undesirable’ once more.

Buzzfeed News claims to have ‘uncovered’ comments which are ‘Islamophobic’, ‘homophobic’ and ‘anti-Semitic’ in Scruton’s articles, books and speeches. Theresa May is now under pressure to sack Scruton from his unpaid role as a chairman of the ‘Building Better, Building Beautiful’ commission, which advises the government on housing design.

Most of the comments deemed ‘controversial’ by Buzzfeed are simply an expression of his well-known conservative leanings. Those expecting a salacious Access Hollywood-style tape will be sorely disappointed. All are considered statements that he has made as a matter of public record. They include a Telegraph column from 2007 in which he opposed gay adoption; quotes from a Radio 4 programme, in which he disagreed that homosexuality is ‘innate and guiltless’; and a Spectator column in which he claimed that the authorities in Europe are ‘hiding the sexual crimes of Muslim immigrants’. He is also accused of being friends with Hungarian PM Viktor Orban.

One of his supposedly controversial comments unearthed by Buzzfeed is, ironically, about the marginalisation of conservative viewpoints. ‘In a society devoted to inclusion, the only “phobia” permitted is that of which conservatives are the target’, Scruton wrote, adding that conservatives are ‘frequently marginalised or even demonised as representatives of one of the forbidden “isms” or “phobias” of the day – racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, etc’.

Those calling for Scruton to be sacked are proving his point. You do not have to agree with a single thing he says to see that the intolerance towards his conservative views has been remarkable and alarming.


British police investigating alleged antisemitic hate crimes by Labour Party members

Police have launched an investigation into allegations of antisemitic hate crimes by Labour Party members.

The probe is understood to focus on an internal Labour dossier detailing 45 cases involving messages posted by members on social media.

The dossier, which was passed to the radio station LBC, was handed on to the Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick in September.

It has since been analysed by specialist officers who have concluded that a formal criminal investigation should be opened.

According to the broadcaster, the evidence in the dossier includes one entry that read: “We shall rid the Jews who are a cancer on us all.” Another referred to “a Zionist extremist MP . . . who hates civilised people, about to get a good kicking”.


Friday, November 09, 2018

Some REAL hate speech

The Palestinian Authority regularly demonizes Jews, Israelis, and those who they call “settlers” and accuse them of believing in precisely the hate ideologies the P.A. itself espouses to its own people.

While accusing Israelis of participating in a religious war, it is Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’s adviser who has called Israel “Satan’s project” and presented the war with Israel as a religious war to destroy Israel and Jews. The P.A. mufti, who is appointed by Abbas, has said extermination of Jews is a religious obligation and Islamic destiny.

In Israel, the isolated cases of Israeli terror against Palestinians are punished and condemned. It is the Palestinian Authority under direct instructions of Mahmoud Abbas that rewards murderers of Israelis with high salaries and calls terrorist murderers “stars in the sky of the Palestinian people.”

In this op-ed in the official P.A. daily, the writer projects the P.A.’s own hate ideologies onto what he refers to as Israeli “settlers.” They are demonized as inhuman murderers who kill Palestinians for their own pleasure and at the orders of the Israeli government.

Under the headline “The settlers are sacrificing the Palestinians’ blood as a sacrifice to Netanyahu,” regular columnist for the official P.A daily, Muwaffaq Matar, who is also a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council and hosts a TV program on Fatah-run Awdah TV, portrayed Israelis living beyond the Green Line as “mass murderers obsessed with bloodshed” who are “directed” and controlled by the Israeli army and government:

“Criminals, mass murderers, obsessed with bloodshed, wild unbridled foreigners, but also directed, these are the settlers, the colonialists, the pawns of the racist regime in Tel Aviv.”

Matar claimed that Israeli Jews believe that “murdering Palestinians” is a “religious ceremony” during which the “sacrifices” draw them “nearer to their great God: Netanyahu”:

“The occupiers and the settlers are criminals. They have gone beyond the natural bounds of wild animals, which kill only when they are hungry … while they [the occupiers and the settlers] kill only to satisfy their desires. According to their belief, by murdering Palestinians they are carrying out religious ceremonies, and through the sacrifices they are drawing nearer to their great God: Netanyahu.”


I am not a walking cervix or a menstruator. I am a W‑O‑M‑A‑N

naomi firsht

Do you have a cervix? Are you, like me, a menstruator? I think you know what I’m getting at. There’s really no need for me to spell it out for you, though if I did it would be spelled: w-o-m-x-n.

It began so gradually that I hardly noticed it: the erasure of the word “woman”. But the final straw came last week when a Guardian article about how period pain affected working women cited a survey taken of “538 menstruators”. Needless to say, it didn’t go down too well with a large number of “menstruators” if Twitter is anything to go by. (And the word was later removed from the article.)

Yet this is simply the latest in a long line of incidents which have turned “woman” into a kind of swear word.

Earlier this month, the Wellcome Collection in London made a huge error of judgment when it used the word “womxn” in promotion of a new event. Initially the museum defended the decision, claiming it signalled inclusivity before eventually apologising after a huge backlash on social media.

During the summer, Cancer Research launched a cervical cancer awareness campaign highlighting the need for women of a certain age to go for smear tests. Tweets promoting the campaign omitted the word “women” and instead encouraged “everyone aged 25-64 with a cervix” to go for a screening.

This follows last year’s advice from the British Medical Association, which encouraged staff to avoid calling pregnant women “expectant mothers” and to use the term “pregnant people” instead.

All of this tiptoeing around the “woman” and desire for inclusivity is done so as not to offend transgender people. As such, the term “womxn” is used because it supposedly includes trans-women in its definition; while any reference to the medical needs of women must be altered to ensure trans-men, who may have the same medical needs, do not feel offended.

Well I’m offended. In fact, I’m appalled. Have any of these organisations casually erasing women thought about how long it took women to fight for a voice in public life? Have any of them spared a moment to consider that women spent years demanding the right to be recognised as women, as a distinct group from, but of equal importance to men? Women fought to not be reduced to their biology. Yet in 2018 we must once again be reduced to menstruation, a cervix, a pregnant person.

And it isn’t happening to the men. No-one is replacing the word “men” with “mxn” in publicity campaigns, no medical organisations are raising awareness for “people with prostates”.

And so we find ourselves in a situation where a billboard bearing the Google definition of woman as “adult human female” in Liverpool is removed after a complaint that it “makes transgender people feel unsafe”.

Transgender people are, of course, entitled to live free from discrimination and with dignity, as we all must be. But somehow the rights and feelings of this group have been elevated above those of other people.

Today, workplaces are encouraged to use a transgender person’s preferred pronouns and be sensitive to how they want to be addressed. Yet, at the same time, use of the word “woman” in a publicity campaign is considered too controversial.

I am not keen on today’s identity politics which seeks to sub-categorise people into smaller and smaller groups, usually based on criteria you can do nothing about: race, religion, sexuality etc. I prefer instead to think of people in a universal sense, as all in the same category of human.

As such, I had never thought that much about what it means to be a woman. Until the word itself became a bone of contention. The fact is, being a man or a woman is an integral part of how most people define themselves.

Language is important. We use it to define ourselves and to express ourselves. To have to fight to use the word woman in 2018 is a worrying sign of a society that has lost its way. Women get periods. Women get pregnant. These should not be controversial statements.

When the quest for inclusivity means the erasure of half of the population, something has gone terribly, terribly wrong.

I am not a walking cervix. I’m a woman, W-O-M-A-N.


Thursday, November 08, 2018

‘Long Time, No See’ Is Considered Offensive, Non-Inclusive Language at Colorado State University

At Colorado State University (CSU), administrators have designated the common greeting "long time, no see" as non-inclusive language.

That's according to a student, Katrina Leibee, who writes for the campus paper, The Rocky Mountain Collegian. Leibee met with Zahra Al-Saloom, director of diversity and inclusion at CSU, who showed her a list of terms and phrases considered contrary to the university's mission of fostering inclusion.

"One of these phrases was 'long time, no see,' which is viewed as derogatory towards those of Asian descent," wrote Leibee.

Leibee also noted that administrators discouraged use of "you guys" in favor of "y'all," which is gender neutral (and ungrammatical, but this is apparently less of a concern). Her column does not claim that administrators force students to use the gender neutral terminology, just that such terminology is preferred.

The College Fix's Jennifer Kabbany sees this as an example of campus political correctness run amok, and I'm having a hard time disagreeing. I can't imagine anyone reading racial subtext into "long time, no see" unless they have already been instructed to look for it. The greeting's Wikipedia page raises the possibility that it is of Chinese or Native American origin, but an NPR article from 2014 says the phrase is so widespread that it's impossible to tell for sure.


Supreme Court Will Hear Case on Veterans’ Cross Memorial Atheists Oppose

The Supreme Court recently announced that it will hear an appeal for a case involving a memorial cross. This large cross stands in an open field in Bladensburg, Maryland, and commemorates the sacrifice of 49 local servicemen who gave their lives in World War I. We talk with Jeremy Dys of First Liberty, the organization that is defending the memorial against the American Humanist Association.

The following transcript has been edited for length and clarity. Jeremy Dys is the deputy general counsel for First Liberty, a law firm that defends religious freedom for all Americans, and is representing the American Legion in this veterans’ cross case.

Daniel Davis: Last year my colleague Jarrett and I went out to Bladensburg, Maryland, to see the memorial cross that your organization is now defending in court. And when we got there we saw a list of names on the monument, men who had given their lives in World War I, and it was sobering because we knew that if the court rules a certain way, it could soon be gone.

Can you give us some background here? Why is this memorial cross under threat?

Jeremy Dys: Well, a couple years ago the American Humanist Association decided that, for the first time in the 90-plus-year history of this memorial, it is violating the Constitution because it appears on public property. And the reason they say that it is violating the Constitution is that it is in the shape of a Celtic cross.

In fact, the Gold Star mothers who designed this memorial back in 1919, a hundred years ago now, they chose the shape that mimicked the markers that sat over the top of the graves of many of their sons over in Europe. Most of the men who died in World War I were buried under a Celtic cross. Teddy Roosevelt’s son, for instance, famously was buried under a Celtic cross in the European battlefields.

And so they knew that Americans would forget the sacrifice of their sons if they didn’t have something to visually remind them of that. So they decided to design this monument in the design of a Celtic cross. And then they built it.

The American Legion jumped in to help out, and by 1925 that monument was erected right there, right at the terminus of the National Defense Highway, which is itself a World War I memorial. It runs between D.C. and Annapolis, Maryland.

And it’s been standing there, perfectly innocently keeping watch over the memory of these 49 men from Prince George’s County, Maryland, just as their mothers had wanted nearly a hundred years now until the Humanist Association decided that they’d had enough, and that that could no longer be tolerated. And so they managed to get the 4th Circuit to agree and now we’re at the Supreme Court of the United States.


Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Laughable British "free" speech law

In his column for The Daily Telegraph, the former foreign secretary argues that the UK “needs a campaign for the right to make jokes and the right, within the law, to be satirical to the point of causing mild offence; because it is when you endlessly shush people up, and stifle debate, that extremism flourishes”.

What is the law on free speech?

Under Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998, “everyone has the right to freedom of expression” in the UK. But the law states that this freedom “may be subject to formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society”.

Those restrictions may be “in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary”.


Mosques want Geert Wilders banned from Twitter for hate speech

A federation representing more than 100 mosques in the Netherlands has called on Twitter to block the account of anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders. The group says it will take legal action if the platform fails to act.

The Turkish Islamic Cultural Federation (TICF) has sent a formal request to Twitter demanding that Dutch firebrand politician Geert Wilders be banned for inciting hatred.

Wilders, the leader of the far-right Freedom Party (PVV), has often courted controversy with his staunch anti-Islam views and derogatory statements about immigrants.

The TICF, which represents 144 Turkish mosques in the Netherlands, said some of Wilders' tweets breached the guidelines of the social media platform as well as laws in several countries, including Tunisia, Pakistan, Morocco and Indonesia.

"Twitter provides Wilders with a platform to spread his hatred worldwide," said Ejder Kose, TICF's lawyer. "This means that not only Wilders, but also Twitter, is punishable in those countries."

The TICF said it would launch legal action if the social network fails to respond within three weeks.

In a tweet in September 2017, Wilders called Prophet Muhammad a "pedophile, mass murderer, terrorist and madman."

The politician also attempted to organize a competition of cartoons depicting the prophet, before an outcry from Muslims around the world forced him to cancel it.

Physical depictions of the prophet are forbidden in Islam and are considered deeply offensive to Muslims.

Wilders took to Twitter on Monday to denounce the bid to block him from the platform, calling it "madness."


Tuesday, November 06, 2018

UK: Police revolt as senior officers defy push to focus on hate crime

Some sanity in Britain at last

Home Secretary Sajid Javid already faces increasing pressure over police funding

Sajid Javid is at the centre of a police revolt over moves to expand hate crimes as five chief constables warned it could prevent forces from solving violent crime and burglaries.

One revealed his force had decided against recording misogyny because of the danger of being swamped with bureaucracy. Another said forces were in crisis in face of rising crime and reduced resources.

The police chiefs weighed in behind a warning by Sara Thornton, head of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), that while logging and investigating complaints of misogynist abuse might be “desirable,” police did not have the time or resources.


Comedian mocks war veteran

SATURDAY Night Live comedian Pete Davidson is drawing fire for poking fun at an eye patch worn by a Republican war veteran running for congress.

“This guy’s kinda cool — Dan Crenshaw,” Davidson began during the show’s Weekend Update segment.

Apparently seeing where the bit was headed, show co-writer and segment host Michael Che groaned “Oh c’mon man” as Davidson continued.

“You may be surprised to learn he’s a congressional candidate from Texas and not a hitman in a porno movie,” Davidson said during the skit where he gave “first impressions” of electoral candidates.

“I’m sorry — I know he lost his eye in war or whatever,” he chuckled.

Conservatives pounced on the funnyman Sunday morning:

 Totally cheap, disgusting and classless of SNL to have Pete Davidson mock Dan Crenshaw for wearing an eye patch...then giggle that he was injured in the line of duty.@DanCrenshawTX is a Navy SEAL and hero who lost his eye in an IED attack in Afghanistan.

“Good rule in life: I try hard not to offend; I try harder not to be offended. That being said, I hope @nbcsnl recognises that vets don’t deserve to see their wounds used as punchlines for bad jokes,” tweeted Crenshaw, a retired Navy SEAL who lost his right eye when he was hit by an IED in Afghanistan in 2012.

He later called the joke “absolutely disgusting.”


Monday, November 05, 2018

Sex vs gender: down the slippery linguistic slope

Public discourse is filled with euphemistic language that can make difficult topics more palatable. However, euphemisms can also create more confusion than clarity when the meanings of words become blurred. A clear example of this is in the discussion on gender and sex.

Next month, the Tasmanian parliament will debate the Justice and Related Legislation (Marriage Amendments) Bill 2018. Several media reports have stated the proposed bill will, among other things, remove gender from birth certificates. The bill began as a push to remove an old law that required transgender people to divorce before changing their gender on legal documents; but amendments by the Greens have added in the potential for gender to be removed from birth certificates.

There is just one problem — Tasmanian birth certificates do not currently record the gender of a child. They record the sex. That is, they record the biologically immutable characteristics of males and females, developed at conception from the XY chromosomal determination system.

Prior to the mid 1950s, the term ‘gender’ pertained to language — where some nouns were masculine or feminine. Then psychologist Dr John Money decided that gender applied to human beings and coined the term ‘gender identity’ —  which refers to an individual’s personal view of their sex, without regard to their biological sex.

This is where things start to become a little tricky when we use gender and sex interchangeably. If gender is completely socially or personally constructed and does not bear any relationship to biological sex, what is recorded on a birth certificate should not matter because birth certificates record a biological fact — the sex of a child.

If sex and gender are interchangeable you can argue that gender is biologically determined and sex is social constructed or vice-versa — confusing, I know.

We would all be better served if people were strict in their use of the terms sex and gender and stopped using them interchangeably. This would at least help clarify debate around these issues, which are ill-served by muddying the dialogue.


Facebook censoring pro-life political ads, again

A pro-life group is crying foul after Facebook removed three of its paid campaign ads from the popular social media platform.

On Thursday, Facebook removed a pro-life ad supporting Tennessee Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn, the Susan B. Anthony List said in a statement. Prior to being pulled by Facebook, the ad had reached an estimated 90,000 voters, the national pro-life group added.

“After Twitter shamefully stifled Marsha Blackburn’s pro-life free speech last year, Sheryl Sandberg promised Facebook would never do the same, even if she personally disagreed with it. That’s proven to be an empty promise," said SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser.

She added, “SBA List has faced repeated censorship over the last few weeks and now our ad supporting Marsha Blackburn has been disapproved, even after more than 90,000 had viewed it. Facebook must immediately stop its censorship of pro-life speech. All the information presented in our ads has been factual, if surprising, to those unwilling to face the reality of pro-abortion extremism. Facebook is censoring the truth and political free speech.”

Blackburn’s campaign announcement video was indeed blocked in October 2017 by Twitter, which hid behind the farcical argument that her pro-life rhetoric was " inflammatory" and that it could "evoke a strong negative reaction." Last week, SBA List was told something very similar after Facebook removed two additional ads from its platform.

An ad titled “ Charlotte” was blocked last week by Facebook from running in Arizona. Another ad, titled “ Micah,” which was slated to run in Iowa, was also removed last week by Facebook. The social media giant explained in an email that it doesn’t allow ads “ that feature sensational or graphic content.” It's unclear how Facebook defines the words "graphic" and "sensational."


Sunday, November 04, 2018

Unusual name sparks hatred

I know that shop.  They sell good meat pies too

The owner of a fish and chip shop has hit back at 'abusive' anti-domestic violence campaigners who criticised her for calling her business The Battered Wife.

Ex-police officer Carolyn Kerr owns the shop in Wangan, a small town in far north Queensland, which carries the slogan 'The only battering anyone need know' on its window.

Ms Kerr has defended her business from critics, saying she is raising awareness of domestic violence by using the name.

'Originally it was suggested to me as a little bit of a joke, but it seemed like an interesting option with a bit of spark, something that could provoke questions, could provoke curiosity, but also the play on words for the shop itself, being a fish and chip shop,' she told The Today Show.

'I knew through my history there's a lot of things wrong with the system so to create such a controversial thing especially in today's sensitive world... I'm surprised it's got so much attention at all, that it's taken 15 months, really.'

Ms Kerr said in her former job she had dealt with the effects of domestic violence firsthand, and it was not something she condoned.

'There's a lot of beautiful, intelligent women out there in really bad situations, and to assume that I was making light of the subject, that I was promoting it... the way that it's been misconstrued, it's actually quite offensive.'

The shopowner said she has been subjected to threats and abuse since a photo of her business was shared 'like wildfire' on social media.

She refused to cave in to the pressure to change the shop's name.

'It's a fish and chip shop first and foremost, and I make good batter, and I'm married to my business ... (domestic violence) is a serious problem in our society and it needs help, no-one seems to be standing up for it, and this is my little way of digging my heels in and saying enough is enough.'


Comedian Hannah Gadsby's divides social media as she jokes she is 'dressing up as diabetes' for Halloween

She is known for her dry sense of humour. And Australian comedian was at it again this Halloween... but not everyone has agreed with her joke.

On Wednesday, the 40-year-old posted a picture of herself holding a giant red gummy bear to Instagram, joking in the caption, 'I'm dressing up as diabetes for Halloween.'

She also added the hashtags '#it'ssugar' and '#nos***', referring to the product label.

However, not everyone was impressed with Hannah's humour, with one social media user commenting: 'I'm a type 1 diabetic and "jokes" like this only create further confusion and make light of a disease that impacts every single second of my life. It's also incredibly insulting to people with type 2.'

Another added: ‘After 32 years as type 1 (Australian) diabetic I still don’t find diabetes jokes funny.’

Meanwhile, others who suffer from the disease saw the light in the post.

‘I’m T2 [type two diabetes] and thought your joke was sweet as could be,’ one user commented in defence of Hannah.

While another said: ‘As a type 1 diabetic I have myself thought of dressing up as diabetes in some form because there is this weird thing I enjoy doing of laughing at my own misfortune to help with the fact my pancreas died when I was eight.’

The Australian, who hails from Tasmania, recently shot to international fame following her comedy special Nanette airing on streaming service Netflix.


Diabetes mellitis is not necessarily a big deal.  Most times all you need to do is to eat less.  Some background here.  Which foods and how much of each a diabetic should eat is quite controversial.  Just cutting back generally seems to be as good a strategy as any.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Food magazine editor steps down after sarcastic comment about vegans

He made it TOO clear that he didn't like vegans

The editor of Waitrose Food magazine has stepped down over comments he made in an email to a freelance in which he proposed a series on “killing vegans” and force-feeding them meat.

Editor William Sitwell’s resignation comes a day after supermarket chain Waitrose said it would be “taking up” the comments with him.

Freelance food and travel writer Selene Nelson contacted Sitwell on 23 October with a pitch for a series on vegan cooking. Waitrose has recently expanded its range of vegan and vegetarian products.

Sitwell’s reply the same day, first reported by Buzzfeed News, read: “How about a series on killing vegans, one by one. Ways to trap them? How to interrogate them properly? “Exposing their hypocrisy? Force-feed them meat? Make them eat steak and drink red wine?”

Waitrose Food is a free monthly magazine with a distribution of just under 700,000 copies, according to ABC figures for the six months to the end of June this year. It is published by John Brown Media.

In a statement announcing Sitwell’s resignation, Waitrose said it had been informed by John Brown Media that he was “stepping down as editor of Waitrose and Partners Food magazine with immediate effect”.  

It added: “In the light of William’s recent email remarks, we’ve told John Brown Media that we believe this is the right and proper move – we will be working with them to appoint a new editor for the magazine.


Hong Kong’s new tourism ad slammed as ‘creepy’ amid calls for it to be removed

Advertising industry creatives sure come up with some odd stuff

A new tourism ad for Hong Kong featuring a young couple on an adventure of sorts has backfired, with viewers calling the romantic portrayal abusive.

The video titled “Treasures of the Heart” was directed by Chan Chi-fat and shared to Hong Kong’s official Twitter account earlier this month, Fox News reported.

The ad features a young couple in Hong Kong.
The ad features a young couple in Hong Kong.Source:Twitter

In it, a young woman is seen frantically searching for her passport a few hours before her scheduled flight.

She discovers a note left by her boyfriend saying that he took it because he doesn’t want her to leave.

He then sends her on a scavenger hunt around the city to locate the missing document.

Since being posted on October 10, the ad has received dozens of comments from angry viewers calling out the “terrible message,” pointing to the abusive and controlling nature of the couple’s relationship.

Many called for the ad to be removed, but it is still on the Hong Kong Twitter account.

Fox News has reached out to Discover Hong Kong, which runs the Twitter account, for comment.


Thursday, November 01, 2018

Leftist demonstrations to be restricted

If anti-abortion pickets are regarded as a nuisance to be kept out of the way, why not similar treatment for Leftist causes?

The National Mall in D.C. and the sidewalk in front of the White House have long been hallowed public forums. The mall has hosted some of the country’s most iconic protests, such as the Women’s March and the 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom, while demonstrations have been taking place in front of the White House at least since the Suffragette parades of the early 20th century. But if Trump’s National Park Service gets its way, demonstrations in the nation’s capital could get a lot more complicated—and, potentially, a lot more expensive.

In August, the National Park Service released proposed rules that would limit the ability of citizens to enact their First Amendment rights in the capital, including proposals to close most of the White House sidewalk to demonstration, remove the current regulation that requires park officials to respond to demonstration permit requests within 24 hours, establish new limits on how long permits can be held, and charge for demonstration permits. The rule closed for public comment October 15, at which point the Interior Department had received over 70,000 comments on the proposals. 

Civil liberties watchdogs and other public interest organizations warn that the new rules, if finalized, would hamper the ability of citizens to stage political protests in the nation’s capital. “We are concerned about this because Washington is a prime location, if not the prime location for people to exercise First Amendment rights in this country,” said Arthur Spitzer, legal director of the ACLU of the District of Columbia, who warned about the speed with which the proposal has been developed. “This isn’t something that the National Park Service was working on before the Trump administration. This wasn’t something with a long gestation period.”


Censorship that is invisible to the Left

In August, Vox cited data from Georgetown University and said that to call the state of free speech on campus a “crisis” is “more than a little overblown.” Others have expressed doubts, too. But to embrace that stance, one must ignore the last three raucous years’ worth of free speech-related incidents on campuses — ranging from the University of Missouri to Middlebury, Vermont, to Berkeley, the birthplace of the 1960s free-speech-on-campus movement.

Students and faculty across the ideological spectrum have found themselves at the center of various events involving campus censorship lately. Last October, just two hours down Interstate 64 at William & Mary, Black Lives Matter protesters shouted down Claire Guthrie GastaƱaga, an ACLU representative.

Officials at Evergreen State College in Washington State closed school and moved the 2017 graduation ceremonies after the avowedly progressive school splintered into factions. Students drove out a progressive professor who objected to a proposal that white students and professors stay off campus for a day. Ultimately, fear for his own safety and that of his family led them to go into hiding.

The lack of civil behavior on campus is turning heads, reducing applications for admission and closing alumni checkbooks. At an alumni event this April, students at Duke forced the school president off the stage and proceeded to issue a list of demands via bullhorn. It did not play well with the alums, who had come to pledge class gifts to the school. Undergrads at the University of Oregon’s gave their school president a similar treatment last fall.

Rutgers’ recent disinvitation of journalist Lisa Daftari is another more recent example. By caving in to the loudest group of “not-offended-yet-but-planning-to-be-hurt” petitioners, Rutgers’ administrators managed to deprive students of an extraordinary learning opportunity, to hear ideas that might challenge their assumptions. The university issued an apology for any “confusion” and suggested new dates, but the damage was done.

Ideas are powerful, and choosing to fear an idea instead of learning to understand it or overcome it with a better one is a poor life strategy. Things we disagree with won’t go away if we pretend they don’t exist.

North Carolina, Georgia, and Arizona are among the states that in recent years have enacted legislation to protect free speech on campus, and others are considering similar proposals.


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Father is forced to apologize after dressing his son as Hitler for a Halloween photo but only after defending his actions by saying 'we love history!'

"Goldbach" sounds like an Ashkenazi name!

A father from Kentucky has been forced to apologize after he dressed his son up as Adolf Hitler while he wore the costume of a Nazi soldier for a family photo to celebrate Halloween.

Brant Goldbach says that he regrets dressing his five-year-old son as the German demagogue for the family photo and initially attempted to justify the idea saying his son loved dressing as 'historical figures'

Goldbach posted photos of the Halloween costumes during a local trick or treat event on Thursday and condemned those who approached and threatened him and his son during the party.

'Tonight grown adults threatened a child over his costume. Threatened his mom and dad as well,' Goldbach wrote. 'Threatened to rip his outfit off of him screaming obscenities, scareing (sic) a small child.

'Anyone who knows us knows that we love history, and often dress the part of historical figures,' he wrote in a post that has since been deleted.

'Tonight as we walked we saw people dressed as murderers, devils, serial killers, blood and gore of all sorts. Nobody batted an eye. But my little (son) and I, dress as historical figures, and it merits people not only making snide remarks, but approaching us and threatening my little 5-year-old boy,' he wrote in the posting.  

Goldbach was publicly shamed as a 'child abuser,' 'racist,' and 'coward' on Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter.

Following the backlash, Goldbach who runs a jewelry store later apologized for his actions claiming he 'didnt realize the costume would 'stir so much controversy.'


Australia: Trad 'mock outrage' over 'racist' comment

Political correctness rejected for once

Queensland treasurer Jackie Trad has been accused of "mock outrage" after calling on the opposition's deputy leader to resign for his "racist" comparison of her to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's former propaganda chief.

Tim Mander likened Ms Trad, who is of Lebanese background, to "Comical Ali" while slamming her economic credentials at state parliament on Tuesday.

Comical Ali was the nickname of Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, the spokesman for the Hussein regime during the 2003 Iraq War who frequently claimed Iraq was winning as coalition forces won battles.

Ms Trad said Mr Mander's comments were "deeply alarming and personally offensive".

"There are so many other references Tim Mander could have chosen to make his point but he chose a racially-based reference in relation to my background," Ms Trad said.

She called on Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington to sack Mr Mander if he didn't stand down.

Ms Frecklington cancelled a scheduled press conference and a statement was issued on behalf of Mr Mander, saying he didn't believe Ms Trad's concern was genuine.

"Labor's mock outrage today at my statement about their economic incompetence shows how out of touch Annastacia Palaszczuk's government really is," he said.

It is not the first time Ms Trad has been the target of racially based slurs from the LNP.

Member for Oodgeroo Mark Robinson called her "Jihad Jackie" on social media earlier this year.

Mermaid Waters MP Ray Stevens also called Ms Trad "Jihad Jackie" a number of times while the LNP were in office between 2012 and 2015.


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Truth Not Covered by Free Speech, European Court Rules

Europe’s top human rights court has ruled that comments about Mohammed having pedophilic tendencies are not covered by the right to freedom of expression, agreeing with the assessment of courts in Austria that the remarks constituted “an abusive attack on the Prophet of Islam which could stir up prejudice and threaten religious peace.”

A seven-judge European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) panel in Strasbourg concluded that the Austrian courts had “carefully balanced the applicant’s right to freedom of expression with the rights of others to have their religious feelings protected, and to have religious peace preserved in Austrian society.”

Thursday’s decision came nine years after Elizabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, an Austrian political scientist and activist, held a seminar in Vienna where among things she criticized the treatment of women in Islam. The topic of Mohammed’s marriage to Aisha, the youngest of his dozen wives and concubines, came up.

According to Islamic texts, the 7th century Arabian who founded Islam was betrothed to Aisha when she was six, and the marriage was consummated when she was nine.

The court record quotes Sabaditsch-Wolff as having said that Mohammed “liked to do it with children,” (other translations of the German comment render it “had a thing for little girls”) and saying, “A 56-year-old and a six-year-old? … What do we call it, if it is not pedophilia?”

In 2011, Sabaditsch-Wolff was convicted under Austria’s penal code for “denigrating the teachings of a legally recognized religion” and fined 480 euros (about $546), plus costs. She was acquitted on a charge of incitement.

Sabaditsch-Wolff appealed the decision, but a higher court in Austria upheld it.

In June 2012 the case was lodged with the ECHR, which hears allegations of breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights. Sabaditsch-Wolff complained her freedom of expression rights under the convention had been violated.

She said the Austrian courts had failed to address the substance of the statements in question, in the light of her right to freedom of expression.

If they had done so, Sabaditsch-Wolff argued, they would have qualified that as value judgments based on facts, rather than as mere value judgments.

The ECHR judges disagreed.

They said although people must tolerate the denial by others of their religious beliefs, in cases where comments are “likely to incite religious intolerance” a state might legitimately consider them to be “incompatible with respect for the freedom of thought, conscience and religion and take proportionate restrictive measures.”


NPR Issues Absurd Warning Against Using ‘Racist’ Halloween Decorations

The left is on a warpath to be offended by everything — including spooky skeleton Halloween decorations.

The left-wing NPR published an article with a warning in their headline: “This Halloween: Be Careful How You ‘Hang’ Your Decorations.”

This time they are targeting hanging skeletons, if you couldn’t tell by their wordplay in the headline.

I’m not a horror fan or expert by any means, but it seems to be a common horror trope for skeletons to be hanging by a rope.

It’s one of the most generic and widely used Halloween decorations possible, just after jack-o’-lanterns and spiders — but apparently it’s now racist.

The author, Mayowa Aina, recalled growing up and seeing a lot of decorations but never realized how “racist” they are.

She probably never realized they were “racist” because they aren’t. The people who put up the decorations didn’t have racist intentions and the people viewing the decorations don’t perceive them as racist.


Monday, October 29, 2018

Censorship reaction to the recent shooting

There is only one guilty person but many are punished

The suspected gunman who opened fire on a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday morning, killing at least 11 people and injuring several others, has been named as 46-year-old Robert Bowers, a Trump-hating antisemite who regularly complained on social media about the president and 'the infestation of Jews.'

Little is known about him but he made no attempt to conceal his antisemitism on the social media website Gab, beloved by users because it promises never to censor them or hinder their free speech.

In response to the shooting, the online payment giant PayPal announced that it has banned Gab, according to The Verge.

Gab responded by releasing a statement on Medium condemning the shooting while denying that it encourages terrorism or violence.

'’s policy on terrorism and violence have always been very clear: we a have zero tolerance for it,' the company said.

'Gab unequivocally disavows and condemns all acts of terrorism and violence.'

Apple refuses to host Gab in its iOS store while Google banned the app from its Google Play store for violating the company's hate speech policy.

A post made on the site's Twitter account on Saturday appeared to revel in the attention prompted by the killings, saying 'We have been getting 1 million hits an hour all day.'

Bowers had an active gun license and has bought six firearms since 1996.


The Simpsons axes Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu after a backlash over the Indian character's racial stereotyping

People with foreign accents are a reality.  Why not "include" them?  Including everybody in everything is a Leftist mania

The Simpsons is set to axe Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu after a backlash over the Indian character's racial stereotyping. He's one of the shows most well-known characters but a documentary last year entitled The Problem with Apu sparked a fierce debate over his inclusion.

The film, made by comedian and film maker Hari Kondabolu, focused on how the Simpons might be stereotyping the South Asian community with the character.

And now it has been reported that Apu Nahasapeemapetilon might be removed from the long-running animated series entirely.

In an interview with IndieWire, producer Adi Shankar revealed that he's verified from 'multiple sources' the removal of Apu from the show. He said: 'They’re going to drop the Apu character altogether.

'They aren’t going to make a big deal out of it, or anything like that, but they’ll drop him altogether just to avoid the controversy.'

The news comes despite Shankar wanting to crowdfund a script that could have saved the character - by addressing the issues raised in The Problem with Apu and updating the character for a modern audience.

He believes axing the character entirely would be a big mistake and could be seen as avoiding the controversy entirely. He said: 'If you are a show about cultural commentary and you are too afraid to comment on the culture, especially when it’s a component of the culture you had a hand in creating, then you are a show about cowardice.

'It’s not a step forward, or step backwards, it’s just a massive step sideways. After having read all these wonderful scripts, I feel like sidestepping this issue doesn’t solve it when the whole purpose of art, I would argue, is to bring us together.' 

One of the main 'problems' with Apu is that the character is voiced by Hank Azaria, a white actor, who admitted his portrayal of Apu is actually a homage to white British actor Peter Sellers playing an Indian in the 1968 comedy The Party.


Sunday, October 28, 2018

Megyn Kelly Is Out At NBC Following ‘Blackface’ Gaffe

Multiple sources have confirmed to that Megyn Kelly is out at NBC.  This move comes just 48 hours after the embattled host made remarks in which she defended blackface on Today.

The Daily Mail reports,

Kelly tried to deal with the scandal by delivering a tearful apology on-air and welcoming two black panelists to discuss the fraught and horrifying history of the practice, but it did no good.

‘Megyn Kelly is done. She is not ever coming back,’ said an NBC executive with knowledge of the situation.

‘We are just working out timing of the announcement but mark my word – she is gone and will never be seen on NBC live again.’

The source then added: ‘Here’s the worst part – her deal is a non-break deal – so she walks away with all that money. It’s disgusting and heads should roll here because of it.’

A spokesperson for NBC declined to comment at this time.

And it looks like Kelly could be heading for a homecoming of sorts.

A network news insider tells that there are tentative conversations underway about Kelly returning to Fox News, whose viewers despise what they perceive as ‘political correctness’ and would likely welcome her back with open arms.


Leftist groups call for tech companies to crack down on what they call hate speech

Note that what they call hate speech are descriptions the Left commonly use for things that Trump says.  Trump, for instance, has a long record showing that he is in no way racist yet the Leftmedia commonly mislabel things he says or does as racist.  Just the mention of race can be racist to a Leftist.

The Leftist groups below would, via their usual hysterical mislabelling, silence all conservative speech if they got their way.  When you read the things they want banned you can see some point in it, but the Devil is in the details.  What they mean by those labels is widely at variance with common usage.  It's part of the deliberate deception which is the "modus operandi" of the Left

A group of civil rights organizations is pushing technology companies to create policies to more effectively address hate speech and extremist groups.

The six organizations, joined by 40 other organizations who echoed the call, wrote in a report that they want the platforms to take firmer stances against “racism, sexism, xenophobia, religious bigotry, homophobia and transphobia” and enforce policies against hate speech and extremist groups more strictly.

The groups, which include the Center for American Progress, Color of Change, Free Press, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the National Hispanic Media Coalition and the Southern Poverty Law Center, said that they plan to release report cards next year for how social media firms are handling the recommendations.


Friday, October 26, 2018

Incorrect hair

Vogue has been accused of cultural appropriation after styling Kendall Jenner, the American model, with big hair in a photoshoot inspired by the late 19th century.

One social media user wrote: “We used to have our hair burned . . . now they copy our afros but can’t use actual BLACK models.”

Vogue apologised but said that the look was, in fact, meant to be an update of sketches of the “Gibson girl”, an embodiment of the Edwardian feminine ideal, which showed young women with hair piled up in bouffants.


Must not appeal to history

NBC host Megyn Kelly raised more than a few eyebrows during her Tuesday morning show, when she suggested that wearing blackface on Halloween used to be an acceptable practice.

Kelly joined other panelists to discuss what constitutes a politically correct Halloween costume before she stepped into a heaping pile of controversy.

“I just feel like it’s so absurd, how — who comes up with these rules?” she asked.

The panel then discussed certain offensive costumes that would be frowned upon – examples included dressing up like Harvey Weinstein, or a couple going as the letters ‘F’ and ‘U.’

That’s when Kelly shifted gears and explained that dressing up in blackface used to be okay, even citing examples of why it’s okay to do so.

Decades ago, Kelly argued, going out on Halloween in a blackface costume was acceptable.

“That was okay, as long as you were dressing like a character,” she claimed.

“You do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween, or a black person that puts on whiteface for Halloween,” she admitted, prior to citing a specific example in which she felt it should be acceptable.

It wasn’t long before the backlash was in full swing and Kelly was forced to issue an apology.


Thursday, October 25, 2018

Switzerland Votes to Criminalize Homophobia and 'Hate Speech'

Switzerland has voted to make it illegal to be homophobic or discriminate against anyone in the LGBTQ community.

The National Council, which is the lower house in Switzerland's legislature, voted 118 - 60 in favor of a law that says anyone guilty of homophobia will face heavy fines or up to three years in prison.

"I tabled the motion after speaking to friends of mine who have personally been victims of verbal and physical homophobic violence," Mathias Reynard, a member of the Swiss Socialist Party told ShortList.

Reynard spearheaded the new law and called it a "great success for human rights."

The law criminalizes "physical violence" and "verbal violence" against LGBT people. Reynard never makes clear what "verbal violence" actually means, but says it's a crime punishable by law.

"Homophobia is not an opinion. It's a crime. One in five homosexuals attempted suicide, half before the age of 20. This victory sends a strong signal. I have already received hundreds of reactions," he said after the vote.

"And working on this law I found out that the Swiss case-law doesn't punish either hate speech or incitement to hatred towards LGBT+ people. During the last few years, this loophole in the law has been pointed out several times at an international level," he told ShortList. "To me, it is a matter of human rights and of living well together.


Big Tech Is Meddling with Free Speech… and Elections

Unfortunately, Big Tech monsters like Google and Facebook have become nothing less than incubators for far-left liberal ideologies and are doing everything they can to eradicate conservative ideas and their proponents from the internet.

Without any sort of public mandate beyond its own ideological predisposition, the Big Tech leviathan is silencing the silent majority. A leaked internal Google brief with the Orwellian title “The Good Censor” proves this point by laying out the search giant’s plan for controlling the internet.

Google begins the report by echoing the liberal contention that free speech is a “social, economic, and political weapon,” calling it a “utopian” idea that’s no longer practical because internet users are “behaving badly.”

The report portrays President Trump as one of those free speech offenders and labels him as a conspiracy theorist for pointing out — correctly — that Google manipulated search results to favor Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The company also argues that tech companies should distance themselves from the “American tradition” that “prioritizes free speech for democracy, not civility,” and in its place adopt the suppressive “European tradition” that “favors dignity over liberty and civility over freedom” to create “well-ordered spaces for safety and civility.”

Google wants to “police [the] tone” and provide so-called “positive guidelines” (read: don’t go against our views, or else) to create online safe spaces.

Not wanting to be outdone, Google’s sometime-rival, Facebook, just banned dozens of prominent conservative blogs and pro-Trump pages, including one with more than three million followers, less than a month before the midterm elections.

Facebook justified this purge of conservative voices by slapping them with another Orwellian label: “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” It’s unclear whether Facebook would apply that descriptor to its tech cousin Google for recently listing the ideology of the California Republican Party as “nazism.”

What is clear is that Facebook’s election-eve purge has been long in the making. Last year, reporters revealed that radical liberal activist groups have been working with Facebook to crush “propaganda and fake news,” which actually means deleting conservative accounts.

Even Facebook’s removal of 559 pages and 251 accounts wasn’t enough to satisfy its accomplices, who responded by demanding that the social media giant silence what it calls “far-right disinformation pages.” They are especially concerned about right-leaning “meme pages,” which they want purged from the online community simply because they are much more effective than the left-leaning equivalent.

Of course, the Palo Alto Mafia’s obsession with “authenticity,” “civility,” and emotional “safety” that I have called out doesn’t apply to liberal-leaning speech.

Last year, Google fired conservative engineer James Damore for challenging the company’s liberal echo chamber. Former colleagues harassed him, with one branding him a “misogynist” and a “terrible human being” before threatening that “I will keep hounding you until one of us is fired. F*ck you.”

Google’s HR department decided that Damore was the greater liability than his liberal tormentors.

Facebook had a similar in-house drama this year. In August, more than 100 conservative Facebook employees expressed their concerns to executives about the company’s left-wing “monoculture” and bias against conservatives. On Friday, that movement’s leader, engineer Brian Amerige, quit the company in protest against Facebook’s latest purge of conservative accounts.

The internet was once a safe haven for political dissenters. Social media platforms and Google’s predominance as a search engine enabled a digital public square where Americans could go to express their grievances, especially in more recent years. It’s where the silent majority had a voice.

But during the 2016 election, the forgotten men and women of America who turned to social media because they were sick and tired of the establishment swamp in Washington were inundated with pro-Clinton puff pieces when they were just searching for basic facts.

The real and underreported collusion scandal is actually Big Tech’s behind-the-scenes campaign to help Democrats win elections. Though that may not even be the most disturbing thing lurking beneath Silicon Valley’s glass and steel glitz and laid-back, all-organic cafeteria vibe.

Astonishingly, it was recently revealed that Google has also locked arms with China, an ideological soulmate of sorts, to create a censored search engine in the large Communist-controlled nation. Vice President Pence was right when he called on Google to stop aiding a tyrannical government that has killed and tortured dissidents with electric shock, rape, and brutal attacks.

Facebook, long-reluctant to deliver its service to China for fear of getting caught up in censorship and repression, now appears to be strongly considering joining Google in serving that market, too. No great surprise there.

Americans will no longer have a meaningful right to free speech if corporations — especially ones that cozy up to repressive regimes like China’s — are allowed to dictate what is and is not acceptable speech and expression on the internet.

This is an existential threat to our individual liberties as well as our system of government. Google and Facebook have shown that they will not hesitate to use their control over online content to suppress conservative thought and expression. Now, as we approach the midterm elections, they are clearly ramping up their purge of conservatives that first manifest in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Don’t listen to conservatives about this threat — read Google’s report and see the actions of Google and Facebook to recognize that when the freedoms of speech and expression are suppressed, impacting the digital public square as well as the outcome of elections, our civil society is at risk.


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Facebook Deletes Farrakhan ‘Hate Speech’ Video; Twitter Keeps It Up

Facebook took down a video posted to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan’s account that compared Jews to termites, calling it “Tier 1 hate speech,” The Wrap reported.

“The video was taken down because it violates our hate speech policies,” a Facebook representative told The Wrap.

In response to critics calling him an anti-Semite, Farrakhan, a leader of the Nation of Islam, said he is “anti-termite.”

“So when they talk about Farrakhan, call me a hater, call me anti-Semite. Stop it. I’m anti-termite,” he said in the video, which was taken at a major NOI convention in Detroit over the weekend.

Facebook identifies a Tier 1 violation as “violent” and “dehumanizing speech,” as well as an attack comparing a person or group of people to “animals that are culturally perceived as intellectually or physically inferior,” according to TheWrap.

Meanwhile, Twitter has not removed the video. The social media service un-verified Farrakhan in June after he posted a video clip titled “Thoroughly and completely unmasking the Satanic Jew and the Synagogue of Satan.” That video is still available on Twitter as well.


The Origins of ‘Hate Speech’

The concept of hate speech conflicts with many standards of justice

Intolerance and illiberalism, nakedly defined as abstractions or principles, are seldom if ever outwardly embraced by progressives.

None but the most extreme will argue that intolerance and censorship are good things in themselves. Normally the preferred course is more subtle.

Instead of openly arresting people who say the wrong things, the new purveyors of intolerance try to sublimate their prohibitions on speech, expression, and thought into more popularly accepted channels. Something must be done to make these prohibitions more palatable, because there is still a great deal of respect in America for freedom of thought, speech, and expression.

How to do that? The answer is quite simple: Change the subject. Shift the gaze away from the sanctity of speech to something more wholesome—to the feelings of minorities, for example, or to the supposed desire to live in more diverse communities.

One of the most popular strategies is to carve out a special category of speech that, in theory at least, leaves the rest of free speech alone. If this can be done, speech can be regulated and criminalized without involving a direct assault on the First Amendment.

A prime example of parsing good speech from bad is the notorious notion of “hate speech,” which involves designating certain kinds of remarks, gestures, expressions, and writings as intentionally hateful and thus worthy of regulation and even criminalization.

Attempts to prohibit hate speech and hate crimes have been around for years in the United States. Appropriate efforts to condemn symbolic acts of violence such as cross burnings by the Ku Klux Klan have expanded over the years to include all sorts of alleged speech and thought crimes.

Today a public statement against illegal immigration or same-sex marriage can be labeled hate speech. The Southern Poverty Law Center routinely includes pro-family groups in its list of “hate” groups based solely on their opposition to same-sex marriage.

By and large America’s upper courts have not looked favorably on campaigns to criminalize speech. When such cases have come before the Supreme Court, it has ruled in favor of free speech.

Nevertheless, proponents of hate speech restrictions are not giving up. The movement has grown in recent years, particularly as the values and ideologies of identity politics became acceptable to more Americans.

Legal Restrictions on Speech

There are two types of threatening or defamatory speech that can potentially be restricted by the law. One is any speech, gesture, or conduct that is intended to incite, and is likely to incite, imminent lawless action such as violence.

The second includes certain classes of speech, such as obscenity and libelous words, which can be limited. They were not considered to rise to the level of First Amendment protected speech.

Oliver Wendell Holmes added a twist to the theme of prohibited speech in 1919 when he argued in Schenck v. United States that “falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater” was prohibited. The circumstances for restricting speech were expanded somewhat, but the main purpose of preventing physical harm was retained.

Every attempt to curb free speech in America has run up against the First Amendment, which provides clearly that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press … .”

Yet the First Amendment is not the only obstacle. There is also the tendency in American jurisprudence to observe what is called the “strict scrutiny” test of the law. The least restrictive means available should be used to pursue a certain end. In addition, laws should be narrowly tailored to deal with conduct that pertains to a relevant end.

When it comes to connecting intentions and actions, the law should focus on what can clearly be discerned. It must also be very careful not to allow extraneous factors to cloud judgment about whether a crime was committed.

The Rise of ‘Hate Speech’ Rules

Criminal intent has always mattered in determining if a crime was premeditated. All this started to change with the rise of radical multiculturalism. Under its influence the ideas of hate speech and hate crimes were invented. Instead of worrying about the violent intent of individuals, hate speech advocates wanted to ban utterances, gestures, conduct, or writing that they deemed prejudicial against a protected individual or group.

They were most successful on college campuses, spawning a rash of new speech codes and other imaginative methods to control what people say and think. In the name of diversity certain classes of people—racial minorities, women, and homosexuals—were considered to need protection from offensive language.

The shift was not to some heightened awareness of persecution so much as a new focus on generalizing the causes of the persecution. Hate speech no longer focused on the acts of individuals but on whole classes of people who were supposedly to blame, regardless of what individuals in each class might say or believe.

Despite their success on campus, advocates for hate speech restrictions have been rebuffed repeatedly by the courts. One well-known case is the high court’s 1977 decision ruling that the City of Skokie, Illinois, violated the First Amendment when it passed a series of ordinances designed to prevent demonstrations by American Nazis without affording strict procedural safeguards.

Another case involved a St. Paul, Minnesota, teenager’s burning of a makeshift cross on an African-American neighbor’s lawn in 1990. He was convicted of violating St. Paul’s Bias-Motivated Crime Ordinance, but his conviction was overturned in a 1992 unanimous decision by the Supreme Court on free speech grounds.

As the courts closed the doors on hate speech laws, advocates sought other windows of opportunity.

The most successful has been to try to control speech through administrative regulation, such as enlisting the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the content of speech on radio, TV, and other broadcast media.

The first attempt was the so-called Fairness Doctrine of 1949, whereby political content on the airways would supposedly be balanced by regulation. The Fairness Doctrine has been overturned, but in 1992 Congress directed the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to examine the role of telecommunications in disseminating hate speech as an incitement to hatred and violence. In 1993 the National Telecommunications and Information Administration issued a report titled “The Role of Telecommunications in Hate Crime,” in which it argued that a “climate” of hate can be seen as an inducement to violence.

These attempts to regulate free speech directly have been no more successful than attempts to curtail speech through the courts. But that does not mean the hate speech movement has been a failure. Its most significant impact has been on public and political opinion—on expanding the acceptable boundaries for defining what free speech actually is.

By the time of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, the ground had already been prepared to bring hate speech norms and concepts into popular political discourse. It was then that President Bill Clinton tried to place blame for the Oklahoma attack on the “loud and angry voices of hate,” by which he was widely interpreted to mean conservatives and Republicans.

Under this new standard, people who had nothing to do with a crime could be held accountable for it, at least indirectly and politically. It was a subtle but important step toward blurring the lines between actions and speech, and between individual culpability and the social “climate” in which crimes are thought to take place.

Since the 1990s, under the influence of the radical multicultural movement, the definitions of hate speech have become far more elastic. In 2009, the National Hispanic Media Coalition outlined its definition in a report. It specified four areas as hate speech: false facts, flawed argumentation, divisive language, and dehumanizing metaphors.

Hate speech was no longer about the explicit words of individuals meant to incite violence, but a general atmosphere of public opinion that could be construed to encourage violence against certain kinds of people.

Seeing Speech as Harm

There are very serious problems with the concept of hate speech. For one thing, it fails to distinguish between legitimate political content, which is protected by the Constitution, and explicit intentions to commit violence, which are not.

Under the new rules, what may clearly be an expression of political opinion could be interpreted as offensive to anyone anywhere, and therefore arbitrarily deemed hateful. No direct threats of harm are even necessary. Certain ideas and opinions are now defined by their political content to be the moral equivalent of a threat to do violence and physical harm.

The motive of hatred is inferred not from actual words threatening violence but from, for example, what the National Hispanic Media Coalition deems “false facts, flawed argumentation, and divisive language.” No distinction is made between threatening someone with real violence and merely disagreeing with the facts and arguments. Nor is allowance made for the possibility that a disagreement over facts and logic may have nothing whatsoever to do with feelings of hatred.

Hating someone and criticizing their arguments or positions are not the same thing. A Christian, for example, may object to gay marriage on religious grounds, but that does not mean he hates any individual gay person any more than a gay person’s objection to the traditional definition of marriage means he hates straight people.

To assume that all disagreements are grounded in irrational fears is itself irrational. If it were otherwise, we might as well abolish not only our universities but our system of law: Both rely on the assumption that people are moral beings with the freedom to make choices. Without that assumption, people honestly could not be held accountable for anything.

If it were all about presumed ill motives, especially those mandated by vague social forces, we might as well not bother to learn the facts about anything. Our pursuit of knowledge and justice fundamentally depends on open and honest debate, and to sacrifice that standard is not only to return to pre-liberal standards of controlling knowledge but to slide over into authoritarian methods of thought control.

Losing Objectivity

Another serious flaw is that hate speech laws completely ignore a fundamental principle of American jurisprudence—namely, that a person convicted of a crime must have actual criminal intent.

It is ludicrous to argue that saying offensive words alone or simply disagreeing with someone in an argument shows criminal intent. Even in cases where maliciousness was clearly involved, such as the St. Paul case, the Supreme Court has ruled that freedom of speech trumps offensive speech when no physical harm is intended.

It also has ruled that criminal intent is required even in cases where violent language is aimed at a specific person. It is not enough, the high court ruled in the 2015 Facebook case of Anthony Elonis, to show that a “reasonable” person could detect a threat from someone’s postings. The mental state of the person making a threat must be considered to determine whether the real intent to commit violence existed.

Proponents of hate speech restrictions such as New York University Professor Jeremy Waldron believe that criminal intent to commit violence is irrelevant. All that is required for speech to be categorized as hate speech is that a person’s or group’s “dignity” is under threat.

Put aside the huge difference between offending someone and meaning them physical harm. The bigger problem is that it is left almost entirely to the accuser to determine and apply the standards for defining dignity and therefore establish what is offensive and what is not.

The rational give-and-take that one assumes should be part of such determinations—and which necessarily presumes some social consensus on how the speech affects the public good—is short-circuited by giving one side a decided advantage.

The problem is compounded by the fact that there can be legitimate disagreements over the political content of speech. Nor can the determination of hate speech be justified solely on the basis of whether doing so engenders “social peace,” as Waldron argues.

If this were an unassailable public good in and of itself, we could find any number of authoritarian ways to try to enforce it. But we would be considerably less free and democratic as a result.

Authoritarian rulers ban free speech to maintain public order, but even if this extreme case is not what Waldron and other defenders of hate speech have in mind, we must ask where to draw the line.

Should the people at the Council on American-Islamic Relations get to decide that any criticism of Sharia law is ipso facto “Islamophobia” and therefore make it legally prohibited?

Where is the threat to public order here? Surely it is not from people who object to the religious coercion demanded by Sharia law, but rather from those who use coercion (1) to maintain religious discipline among the faithful and (2) to muzzle those outside the faith who may have religious views of their own.

If peace is about justice, there is precious little justice in that.

Not since George Orwell’s “thoughtcrimes”—the author’s word for unapproved thoughts in his novel “1984”—has there been so little regard for the dangers of controlling free speech.

Not only has the bar been lowered from threatening physical violence to merely giving offense, it is now up to those who allege an offense to decide whether the offense was intended.

The presumption of guilt is built ideologically into the structure of the political narrative underlying the accusations: Only racial minorities can know what it is like to be discriminated against, so only they can know what hate speech is. Only Muslims get to decide what “Islamophobia” is and what it is not.

What is really in the heart of the accused is immaterial, because both meaning and intent are prejudged by a set of proscribed ideological positions and, in some cases, even by the race of the accused.

The Death of Freedom

Whatever this may be, it is not liberal. Liberalism of all kinds, including the more progressive variety adopted by the ACLU in the 20th century, always made freedom of expression and speech a constitutionally protected principle.

Not anymore. Today free speech is in progressive liberal circles clearly subordinated to other concerns. Lost are not only a sense of balance and proportion but the principle of mediation.

Liberalism has survived all these years because it was flexible. It accepted implicitly the idea that people had different interests as individuals, and that the only way to reconcile those differences was to assume the good faith of everyone equally as individuals.

Hate speech theory does not do that. It assumes bad faith on the part of people regardless of their stated intentions, essentially calling them liars if they defend themselves against the current orthodoxy.

Above all, hate speech theory obliterates the ethical responsibility of the individual. Liberal philosopher and lawyer Ronald Dworkin was quite right that, as obnoxious as some hateful speech can be, it is necessary to allow it for no other reason than that trying to ban it will undermine the moral case against discrimination.

Ultimately people—individual people—have to make their own moral judgments about how to treat each other with respect and dignity. Having this issue forced on them by law and coercion not only takes away the right of individuals to make that call on their own, it also undermines the moral authority of making the right decision.

As John Locke argued in his Letter Concerning Toleration (1689), coercion in matters of conscience can undercut the moral legitimacy of the oppressor’s cause. One must be free to decide; otherwise the decision is not ethical at all but simply a matter of submission as a way to avoid punishment.

Am I exaggerating the threat to free speech? Most Americans still cherish free speech. They will not give it up lightly. But the trends are not good.

Look at what is happening in other countries. Most European countries and Canada have had very strict hate speech laws for quite some time. Most of them are far more intrusive in criminalizing the content of speech and expression than we are used to in the United States.

For example, in Sweden a pastor arrested in 2003 was sentenced to one month in prison for delivering a sermon in church critical of homosexuality. The conviction was eventually overturned on free speech grounds, but what opened the door for the prosecution in the first place was a 2002 law that explicitly listed criticism of sexual orientation in church sermons as a criminal act.

The abuse happened because the law was written with little or no regard for religious liberty, which may not be surprising in a highly secular country like Sweden, but which should be a scandal in the United States.

One of the unique attributes of being American has been a passionate devotion to free speech. It is one characteristic that sets us apart from other Western countries, where the tradition is far less cherished.

As lines get blurred and free speech is cheapened as a mere social fiction by clever intellectuals, we could find ourselves losing one of the most precious birthrights of our historical fight for freedom—the liberty to believe and say what we please about the nature of our government, our politics, and our society.