Friday, January 17, 2020

Students have Charter-protected free-expression rights on campus, Alberta appeal court rules

EDMONTON — Alberta’s top court has concluded that students have Charter-protected free expression rights on campus, in a ruling related to a $17,500 security fee a student group would have had to pay to hold an anti-abortion rally at the University of Alberta.

“There has long been confusion about the status of universities — specifically, whether they count as ‘government’ for the purpose of the Charter — and (Monday’s) decision helps push this issue in the proper direction, at least in the free-expression context,” said Emmett Macfarlane, a constitutional law expert at the University of Waterloo, in an email.

Macfarlane said the court’s decision “also serves as a warning to universities across Canada that it may be unacceptable to use ‘security costs’ as cover to dodge these ‘free-speech controversies.’ Although the appellants did not receive a meaningful remedy for this breach, other universities should now be put on alert that they may have constitutional rights obligations in the free-speech context and that shutting down expressive activity by using potential security costs as an excuse may not fly.”


Free Speech Club takes UBC to court for cancellation of Andy Ngo event

The UBC Free Speech Club (FSC) and The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) are filing a lawsuit against UBC for cancelling an FSC event due to safety concerns.

Andy Ngo, an editor-at-large of right-wing media website The Post Millenial, was scheduled to give a talk entitled “Understanding Antifa (Anti-fascist) Violence” at UBC Robson Campus on January 29. But the university cancelled the event because of unspecified safety and security concerns.

Shortly after receiving word of the cancellation, the FSC and Ngo collaborated with JCCF to write a letter to UBC on December 31 that said they will take legal action if UBC does not revoke the cancellation by January 10.

On January 13, the JCCF and FSC followed up with statements on social media and the JCCF website saying they will be taking legal action.

“I am deeply disappointed in the direction UBC has taken. By not reinstating our event, they are telling the world that free speech doesn’t matter,” said FSC Director Angelo Isidorou in the JCCF statement. “… As is demonstrated over-and-over elsewhere, appeasing Antifa ideologues only emboldens them to make more demands. Their goal is to silence opposition through intimidation and violence.”


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Conservative commentator’s appearance canceled, triggering free speech fight

The decision to cancel a conservative columnist’s appearance at an event hosted by the University of Maine College Republicans has drawn criticism on social media as infringing on free speech rights.

Michelle Malkin – a former Fox News contributor, conservative columnist and author who has expressed anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim views – was scheduled to speak at the Portland Sheraton at Sable Oaks in South Portland Friday.

“Mission accomplished, cowardly free speech hater,” Malkin tweeted Tuesday in response to a tweet urging people to call the hotel and ask them to cancel the event. “I hear you got an assist from Univ. of Maine officials, too. Taxpayers should know their $ is being used for cancel culture campaigns against #AmericaFirst students and speakers.”

Blair Mathisen, the front desk supervisor at the hotel, said the event was canceled, but he couldn’t comment further on why or who made the decision.

Jeremiah Childs, a student at the University of Maine and organizer of the event, said in an email Tuesday that the university “called and threatened the hotel we were hosting.”

He said he is working on finding a new venue and the event “will happen no matter what.”

The university said in a statement that it did not pressure the hotel into canceling the talk.

“The freedom of expression, assembly, and the free exchange of ideas are rights that are protected in university policy for all UMaine students,” Dan Demeritt, a spokesman for the university, said in the statement.

He said the University of Maine College Republicans is no longer an official student group as its account was deactivated last fall after the group lost its faculty adviser.

“As a result any event hosted by these students would not be an official university function,” Demeritt said. “The university communicated that status in response to questions about an event that had been scheduled by UMaine students at the Portland Sheraton at Sable Oaks, but did not suggest that the event be canceled.”

In a telephone interview Tuesday night, Malkin said she was told by hotel management that a university official was among those who called to try and convince them to cancel the event.

In October the university condemned recent posts on the group’s private Facebook page, including a Columbus Day post that said indigenous societies discovered by Christopher Columbus “were corrupted by rampant ritual sacrifice and cannibalism.”


Australia: Qld. move towards taxpayer-supported election campaigns  threatens free speech

Not-for-profits warn laws will end public debate

Background: Queensland will impose Australian-first election campaign spending limits and laws to block large political donations among a suite of integrity reforms announced on Tuesday. Although controversial, many integrity experts argue tipping the balance towards taxpayer-funded elections increases transparency and reduces the influence of large donors. The laws would restrict third-party organisations, including unions, political action groups like GetUp and industry bodies, to spend $87,000 in a single electorate, with an overall cap of $1m. The government would increase payments to candidates from $1.57 a vote to $3 a vote, with the eligibility threshold lowered from 6% of the first-preference vote to 4%.

CHARITIES have warned they will be "silenced" by a Queensland Government crackdown on election spending that could crimp their ability to fundraise and stifle public debate.

In free-speech backlash, not-for-profit groups warned that planned laws will discourage them from advocating on a wide range of issues because they risk being hit with caps on donations and spending.

Unions including the Nurses Union and Together argued that the planned laws could restrict them from campaigning on policy issues that affect their members.

As part of the Palaszczuk Government's plan to limit election spending, groups that spend more than $1000 in a bid to "directly or indirectly" influence votes up to a year before an election would be forced to register as a third party with the Electoral Commission.

These groups would have to disclose donations, face caps of $4000 per donor for political matters every four years and limit their spending to $1 million or $87,000 per electorate. Queensland Law Society president Luke Murphy said the law would have a "chilling effect" on public debate. Many charities backed the plan to restrict election spending by parties, but argued that they should not be caught by the rules.

Queensland Council of Social Service chief Mark Henley warned that the laws could "stifle public advocacy from not-for-profits, including small community groups and charities". The spending limit could include amounts spent on research, polling and staff, as well as advertising, he said.

Greenpeace Australia's Terry O'Donnell said that an ad about "the impact of climate change on the bushfires" would be caught by the laws "even if it does not mention a party or candidate".

Australian Conservation Foundation chief Anthony Moore said that the planned laws would "make Queensland elections more inequitable, by silencing community voices, while letting the largest third party actors — corporations and industry groups — off the hook".

A government spokesman said that they would consider recommendations from a parliamentary committee that is examining the laws.

From the Brisbane "Courier Mail" of 13 January, 2020

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Fast-food outlet accused of crossing the line for using D-word in meatless burger advert

The conservative group One Million Moms is accusing Burger King of “crossing the line” over an Impossible Whopper commercial that uses the “D-word”.

“Burger King is airing a commercial that uses profanity to advertise its Impossible Whopper – a burger made from plants instead of beef,” the group’s website reads. “The language in the commercial is offensive, and it’s sad that this once family restaurant has made yet another deliberate decision to produce a controversial advertisement instead of a wholesome one.”
, which is a division of the American Family Association, called out a commercial that documents the reactions of taste tests of the now-popular meatless burger.

One man, completely stunned by the Impossible Whopper’s tastiness says: “Damn, that’s good.”

Apparently the use of the “D-word” went too far for One Million Moms.

“One Million Moms finds this highly inappropriate. When responding to the taste test, he didn’t have to curse,” the group said. “Or if, in fact, it was a real and unscripted interview in which the man was not an actor, then Burger King could have simply chosen to edit the profanity out of the commercial.”

The group called the ad “irresponsible and tasteless”.


President Trump signs order that may limit free speech at campuses

The writer below is worried that the new regulations will limit criticism of Israel by BDS and others -- but as long as the criticism does not spill over into antisemitism they have nothing to fear.  But BDS operatives are often blatantly anti-Jewish so may rightly be caught

On Dec. 9, 2019, President Trump signed an executive order that would protect Jews from hate crimes at all U.S. universities and colleges. The order would apply Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to Jews.

Acts of anti-Semitism, such as the 2018 shooting at a Pittsburgh Synagogue and hate crimes at universities have spurred the president to sign this order, according to the White House’s Official Statement released on Dec. 11, 2019.

“Anti-Semitic incidents have increased in America since 2013, particularly in schools and on college campuses,” the statement said.

The executive order shows Title VI’s terms of discrimination based on race, color and national origin. The order will extend to anti-Semitism as well, as defined by The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, or IHRA.

“Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities,” the IHRA said.

If a university or college were to violate this order, it would have federal funds cut from it. Suspected crimes have to be reported to the Department of Justice, where they are to be investigated and reviewed, according to Title VI.

This ban on Jewish discrimination would stifle supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, or BDS. This organization opposes the occupation of Israel in the land that they believe rightfully belongs to Palestine, according to its website. The movement focuses on non-violence and does not promote anti-Semitism. The BDS National Committee’s members, for example, include the Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine.

BDS has an active campaign called Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel that has been active since April of 2004. The campaign aims to sever ties in academia with Israel, such as American universities abroad studies in Israel.


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

While conservative speaker draws protest, ‘black radical thought’ welcomed at Bucknell

A few months ago a visit by conservative scholar Heather Mac Donald at Bucknell University prompted massive unrest among the campus community — including a picket line protest of her speech and discussions of blacklisting those on campus who supported her guest lecture.

Yet an upcoming visit by celebrated yet controversial poet and Virginia Tech English Professor Nikki Giovanni, whose body of work includes violent vocabulary regarding race, appears to be largely welcomed at Bucknell.

It’s a contradiction not lost on Bucknell University sociology Professor Alexander Riley, a faculty member affiliated with the Bucknell Program for American Leadership and Citizenship, also known as BPALC, which aims to support free speech and foster viewpoint diversity but has been targeted with aggressive protests on campus, most recently for hosting Mac Donald.

Riley said BPALC is often accused of being “agents of hate,” while progressive invitees brought to Bucknell by leftist campus groups are largely celebrated. He cited as examples the decision to bring Antifa scholar Mark Bray, known for advocating political violence, for a guest lecture in September on the eve of 9/11, as well as the upcoming visit by Giovanni.


2019 was not a good year for freedom of speech

Toby Young

‘Crisis? What crisis?’ That’s often the response of complacent academics when people like me draw attention to the erosion of free speech on campus. For instance, Lee C. Bollinger, the president of Columbia University, wrote an essay for the Atlantic last June entitled ‘Free Speech on Campus is Doing Just Fine, Thank You.’

But is everything rosy in the groves of academe? I thought I’d take this opportunity to look back on the year gone by and see if 2019 was a good or bad one for intellectual freedom in American higher education.

In the Atlantic, Bollinger points out that the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a campaign group that stands up for free speech in universities, found only 11 instances of speakers being prevented from addressing college audiences in 2018. ‘This is a minuscule fraction of the universe of speakers who express their views annually on American campuses,’ he writes. Unfortunately, in 2019 FIRE found the number had grown to 17, an increase of 65 percent. Another thing to note is that ten of these disinvitations were at the behest of left-wing students and only two of right-wing activists.

Still, just 17 instances of no-platforming doesn’t look too bad. And FIRE has some other good news. It maintains a database of campus speech codes in more than 400 of America’s top colleges and universities, giving them each a red, yellow or green light. The number of institutions earning a red light last year — meaning they have at least one policy that clearly and substantially restricts free speech — fell to 28.9 percent, from 32.3 percent in 2018. By contrast, the number of institutions earning a green light — no policies that seriously imperil free speech — rose to 42, up from 35. So even though a quarter of the best schools in the US maintain codes that restrict free speech — and the majority still get a yellow light — at least things are heading in the right direction.

And we should be thankful that the federal government has finally woken up to the fact that there’s a problem, with Donald Trump signing an executive order last March threatening to withhold federal grant funding from those colleges and universities that fail to uphold free speech. Then again, the British government made a similar commitment in 2017, pledging to rescind English universities’ degree-awarding status if they don’t respect intellectual freedom. To date, it’s done nothing to enforce that edict.

But though there was some good news last year, the general outlook remains bleak. Other, more insidious forms of censorship took place that weren’t recorded by FIRE. For example, Portland State University refused to accord ‘permanent status’ to a course taught by Bruce Gilley on conservative thought because it fails to comply with the university’s ‘diversity standard’. That is, in the eyes of the higher-ups, Gilley’s course doesn’t do enough to promote ‘diversity, equity and inclusion’. At Portland State, apparently, ‘diversity’ doesn’t mean diversity of viewpoints and ‘inclusion’ doesn’t extend to teaching students about anyone to the right of Noam Chomsky.

Another sinister incident at Portland State — which is, admittedly, located in the woke capital of America — was the ‘disciplinary investigation’ of Peter Boghossian, an assistant professor of philosophy, for failing to gain the consent of his human subjects in what became known as the ‘grievance studies hoax’. Boghossian and two colleagues had sent spoof academic papers to journals with names like Gender, Place & Culture to demonstrate that these would publish complete gobbledygook provided the right postmodernist jargon was scattered throughout. They succeeded in getting four papers published, including a monograph accusing dogs of engaging in ‘rape culture’, another suggesting men could reduce their ‘transphobia’ by anally penetrating themselves with sex toys, and a rewriting of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, transforming it into a feminist tract. Of course, it’s nonsense to criticize Boghossian for failing to secure the ‘consent’ of the journal editors in question — the clue is in the word ‘hoax’. Nevertheless the professor was given the thumb-screw treatment by a star chamber of left-wing inquisitors.

More prestigious universities were no less guilty of punishing faculty members who dissented from progressive orthodoxy. At Harvard, Ronald Sullivan’s tenure as dean of Winthrop House was cut short after left-wing students protested about his decision to join Harvey Weinstein’s defense team. Another African American professor, Roland Fryer, was suspended without pay for two years after being accused of making flirtatious remarks to colleagues and creating a ‘hostile work environment’. Many of his colleagues suspect the real reason for his defenestration was that he’d published peer-reviewed research showing that blacks and Hispanics are no more likely to be shot by police officers than whites, rubbishing the inflammatory rhetoric of Black Lives Matter activists.

Then there was the appalling treatment meted out to Amy Wax, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, for having the temerity to argue for a more restrictive immigration policy at the National Conservatism Conference. More than 1,000 students, groups and faculty members signed a petition accusing her of being a ‘racist’ and demanding she be relieved of all teaching duties. Instead of defending Wax’s right to free speech, the dean of Penn Law, Ted Ruger, described her views as ‘repugnant’. ‘I know these statements by Professor Wax have caused pain and outrage to many in the Penn community,’ he wrote in an open letter to the protesters. ‘My colleagues and I pledge to work with you so that together we can heal, and learn from this experience and each other.’

All told, 2019 was not a vintage year for free speech on US campuses. Let’s hope things improve in 2020.


Monday, January 13, 2020

Professor fired for Facebook post suggesting Iran should tweet out list of American cultural sites to threaten

A professor at Babson College was fired Thursday after sharing a Facebook post that suggested that Iran should make a list of American cultural sites to bomb.

The Massachusetts college announced the termination of adjunct professor Asheen Phansey Thursday. He shared a post allegedly mocking President Trump's tweets that threatened to target 52 unnamed Iranian sites, including some that are culturally significant.

Trump tweets came after Tehran threatened to retaliate for the killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani last week.

Phansey joked on Facebook that, “In retaliation, Ayatollah Khomenei [sic] should tweet a list of 52 sites of beloved American cultural heritage that he would bomb,” Phansey wrote in the since-deleted post. “Um… Mall of America? Kardashian residence?" USA Today reported.

In a Thursday statement, the school confirmed that the professor was no longer an employee, sharing “Babson College conducted a prompt and thorough investigation related to a post shared on a staff member’s personal Facebook page that does not represent the values and culture of the College. Based on the results of the investigation, the staff member is no longer a Babson College employee.  As we have previously stated, Babson College condemns any type of threatening words and/or actions condoning violence and/or hate.”

Phansey criticized the move in local media reports, saying that he is “disappointed and saddened that Babson has decided to abruptly terminate my 15-year relationship with the college just because people willfully misinterpreted a joke I made to my friends on Facebook.”


PC Specialist ad banned for perpetuating harmful gender stereotypes

An advert for a bespoke PC retailer was banned for perpetuating harmful gender stereotypes of women.

The TV ad for UK retailer PC Specialist, begins with a computer exploding, then shows three men getting excited over using a PC Specialist PC for gaming, making music and coding.

There's a male voiceover throughout: "It's the beginning of the end," he says. "The end of following. It's the start of freedom, individuality, choice. It's an uprising. An insurgence. For the players, the gamers, the 'I'll sleep laters', the creators, the editors, the music makers. The techies, the coders, the illustrators. Bespoke, customised, like no other. From the specialists for the specialists. PC Specialist."

The Advertising Standards Authority received eight complaints from people who said the ad perpetuated harmful gender stereotypes by depicting men in roles that were stereotypically male, and implied it was only men who were interested in technology and computers.

PC Specialist responded to the watchdog to say its customer base was 87.5 per cent male, aged between 15 and 35 years, and "their product, branding and service had been developed for and aimed at that target audience and the characters in the ad therefore represented a cross-section of the PC Specialist core customer base".

Despite this, the ASA upheld the complaint, saying the ad broke new rules introduced last June that mean companies can no longer promote gender stereotypes with their commercials.

"... the ad repeatedly cut to images of only men, who were both prominent and central to the ad's message of opportunity and excellence across multiple desirable career paths," the ASA concluded.

"We therefore considered that the ad implied that excellence in those roles and fields would be seen as the preserve of men. Because of that, we considered that the ad went further than just featuring a cross-section of the advertiser's core customer base and implied that only men could excel in those roles."

PC Specialist has now pulled the advert.


Sunday, January 12, 2020

Brazilian judge orders Netflix to remove comedy depicting gay Jesus

A Brazilian judge on Wednesday ordered Netflix to stop showing a Christmas special that some called blasphemous for depicting Jesus as a gay man and which prompted a gasoline bomb attack on the satirists behind the program.

The ruling by Rio de Janeiro judge Benedicto Abicair responded to a petition by a Brazilian Catholic organization that argued the "honor of millions of Catholics" was hurt by the airing of "The First Temptation of Christ." The special was produced by the Rio-based film company Porta dos Fundos, whose headquarters was targeted in the Christmas Eve attack.

Netflix told The Associated Press it would not comment on the ruling.

Porta dos Fundos also declined to comment on the judge's decision, which contradicted an earlier decision rejecting censorship of the program. The ruling is valid until another court orders otherwise.

Abicair said the program's withdrawal "is beneficial not only to the Christian community, but to Brazilian society which is mostly Christian."

The ruling comes at a time when some civil groups say far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is waging a "cultural war," cutting funding for arts projects that challenge "Christian values" and inveighing against flamboyant carnival celebrations.


University of Connecticut Student Narrowly Avoids Jail For Using the N-Word

Jarred Karal was arrested after he was filmed walking through a parking lot and shouting the word “n*gger.” He was with two other individuals, one of whom was also arrested.

The students claimed they were playing a game centered around screaming vulgar words, but were charged under CGS 53-37, “ridicule on account of creed, religion, color, denomination, nationality or race.”

Karal was originally facing up to 30 days in jail, but a judge accepted Karal’s plea for accelerated rehabilitation, under which he will spend 6 months on probation while completing 20 hours of community service.

The student will also be forced to under go “diversity and bias” training.

At the time of his arrest, some observers noted that the treatment of Karal was at odds with the First Amendment.

University of California at Los Angeles law professor Eugene Volokh slammed the Connecticut state statute under which Karal was charged, labeling it “obviously unconstitutional, because it suppresses speech based on its content (and viewpoint), and because there’s no First Amendment exception for speech that insults based on race or religion.”


Friday, January 10, 2020

From FIRE, Good News on Campus Free Speech

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is out now with a new report. It’s their yearly analysis of speech codes.

While not dealing with our issues specifically, FIRE champions free speech in general for university students across the U.S. in accordance with the First Amendment. Improved academic freedom and free speech overall are of course a boon for objectivity in origins science.

FIRE ranks university speech codes as “red light” for very restrictive, “yellow light” for somewhat restrictive, and “green light” for policies that “do not seriously threaten protected expression.” In the recent report, they note that there has been a drop in the number of universities with red-light policies each year for the past twelve years. That is good news.

They also note, “Sixty-eight university administrations or faculty bodies have now adopted policy statements in support of free speech modeled after the ‘Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression’ at the University of Chicago (the ‘Chicago Statement’), released in January 2015. (Since this year’s report was written, two more institutions have adopted a version of the Chicago Statement, bringing the total to 70.)” That’s no small number! I wrote about the University of Chicago’s stance on free speech back in 2016. Dean of Students Jay Ellison’s letter on the subject is quite stirring.


Australia: Fresh charges laid against University science dean Dianne Jolley over ‘fake’ harassment allegation

Hoaxes such as this in America have often been documented here

A Sydney professor charged for allegedly orchestrating a fake harassment campaign against herself and costing her university more than $157,000 in security measures has opted to remain behind bars rather than apply for bail after being taken into custody on fresh charges on Wednesday.

UTS Dean of Science Professor Dianne Jolley was on bail after her arrest in November for allegedly sending fake threats to herself after the university announced in June it was going to cancel its traditional Chinese medicine course.

On Wednesday, NSW Police revoked the 49-year-old’s bail after charging her with a fresh offence, alleging she had sent another nine letters after her arrest, providing false and misleading information that could make her UTS colleagues “fear for their safety”.

NSW Police said two of those letters were received by UTS on November 27, the same day Jolley appeared at Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on charges of causing financial disadvantage by deception, giving false information about a person or property in danger and making a false representation resulting in a police investigation.

Jolley did not apply for bail at Sutherland Local Court on Thursday. The court heard she had decided to wait until her solicitor was available to represent her at a bail application hearing at Sydney’s Central Local Court on January 21.

Police allege Jolley launched her fake harassment campaign in July when she made her first report to police about letters she claimed to have received about the closure of the course.

In September, Jolley filed another police complaint claiming a threatening letter and several items of clothing stolen from her home had been left on her car in Sydney’s south.

After a lengthy investigation, police charged Jolley in November, alleging she had been sending the threatening letters to herself.

Jolley pleaded not guilty to the charges in November, her lawyer Aaron Kernaghan telling the media at the time his client had instructed him the harassment campaign was genuine.

“She’s loyal to her university, she’s concerned for her students, she’s looking forward to returning to there,” he said.

Jolley — who specialises in environmental chemistry and toxicology — joined UTS in late 2018.

She remains on paid leave with the university.


Thursday, January 09, 2020

CNN Settles in Covington Lawsuit

Some ill-considered words are coming back to bite them big-time

CNN has reportedly elected to settle its lawsuit with Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann.

Per Fox19, Sandmann originally sought $800 million from CNN, The Washington Post and NBC in total; the dates for the latter lawsuits have not yet been determined. CNN reportedly settled 275 million. The multitude of lawsuits were filed in response to an alleged January 2019 incident at the annual March for Life rally. Nick Sandmann traveled to D.C., along with many of his classmates, for the annual pro-life gathering.

Sandmann garnered the attention of mainstream media outlets when a video that gave the illusion that he was ridiculing Nathan Phillips, a Native American man present at the Indigenous People’s March, which occurred at the same time as the March for Life. Phillips stood in front of Sandmann, who was wearing a Make America Great Again hat, chanting and beating a drum.

Of course, as the full video shows, Sandmann did not harass Phillips in any way. As is typical of the March for Life, these attendees were peaceful. The mainstream media took this video out of context in the interest of defaming a conservative teenager. Mainstream media outlets, which were all widely respected at one time, jumped at the chance to create a racial hoax around an innocent teenager. CNN commentator Reza Aslan even went as far as to say that Sandmann has a punchable face:

The mainstream media's actions in this case were despicable, and set an awful precedent for potential incidents in the future. Nick Sandmann and his family deserve justice to the fullest extent, and the outlets that pushed this blatantly false narrative must be held accountable.


Atheists demand U.S. town remove cross from mural

An organization of atheists and others who oppose religion in public life is demanding that an Illinois town remove a cross from a mural memorializing a famous white 9/11 cross.

But the non-profit First Liberty Institute is advising officials in Effingham, Illinois, to ignore the complaint by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, because the image is protected by U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

The Washington Examiner reported the Wisconsin-based FFRF urged Effingham officials to erase a cross depicted in a mural on an overpass near the town's high school. The image also includes an American flag.

The atheist group complained that a mural "that depicts nothing except a Latin cross alongside the American flag sends a clear message: that patriotism and religiosity are interrelated."


I have received the following email from Amanda Mustafic:

An Illinois community is fighting back against the removal of a cross from a town’s tunnel mural - over 21,000 have signed a viral petition asking Effingham City Council to leave the cross alone. The mural, which is painted on public property, became the center of controversy after the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter Dec. 18 to Mayor Mike Schutzbach, saying that a resident of this area had contacted the group about the mural on the Raney Street overpass, near the Effingham High School football field, according to a piece by The Effingham Daily News.

Jarrett Jones, of Effingham, Illinois, says on the petition, “As a member of the Effingham community I am proud of our heritage. The cross has been a symbol for Effingham as long as I can remember. The tunnel is owned by the city therefor it is not a school religious symbol. It represents the people of Effingham and should be left up to show our pride of the city.” He also worries, “Next they will try to take the giant cross that stands over our great city,” referring to America’s Largest Cross, a roadside attraction which also stands in Effingham.

For real-time signature count on the petition, please visit here

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

UK: Wassailing Morris men defend black face paint against racism claims

Morris dancers have defended blacking their faces to take part in a wassailing ceremony as they insist that the practice is part of their tradition and is not racist. 

Hundreds of people gathered in Westons Cider Mill in Much Marcle in Herefordshire this weekend to take part in the ancient tradition which is thought to bring luck to the apple orchards and ward off evil spirits. 

The Silurian Border Morrismen entertained the crowns with dancing and music and controversially some wore a full face of black paint as part of the ceremony.

But the troupe has defended themselves against criticism, writing on their website:  “Despite modern attempts to imply otherwise, the blackened face has no known racist origins.”

The wassail ceremony has its roots in paganism, the word coming from the Old English greeting wæs hæl, meaning “Be healthy” or “Your good health”.

The ceremony involves placing a cider-soaked piece of cake on the branches of an apple tree, pouring cider over the roots, dancing and singing the Wassail Song.

Accounts of the wassailing of fruit trees were recorded in St Albans in 1486 and Kent in 1586, while the 17th-century diarist John Aubrey wrote of the practice of toast being placed in trees.  Professional wassailers travelled from farm to farm and were usually paid in food and cider.

But there has been growing controversy over the black face paint which Morris dancers have been wearing since the 16th Century.

The Silurian Border Morrismen say that the “true origins of the blackened face are lost in the mists of time, but are widely believed to be simply a form of disguise, possibly to overcome the oppressive anti-begging laws of the 17th century, and the timeless embarrassment of being a morris man.”


Royal Navy adjusts rules to allow Rastafarians to keep their long hair and beards as head of new association calls for end of drug-taking stereotype

The navy must be desperate

The Royal Navy has changed its rules to allow Rastafarians to keep their long hair and beards as the head of a new association has called for the end of the drug-taking stereotype.

The Co-chair of the Defence Rastafarian Network has said work is still required to break the myths around drug use and ethnicity regarding the religious and cultural movement, saying stereotypes must be challenged.

Lieutenant Shabaka Kenyatta, 38, an officer in the Royal Navy, believes many people associate Rastafarians with “the things that people see on TV” such as marijuana and drug taking.

However, Lt Kenyatta, a marine engineer, said there is “zero tolerance for drugs” in the armed forces.

“One of the biggest myths is that all Rastafarians smoke weed. That was one we had to shut down quickly,” he said.

He said another myth is that Rastafarians all have to be black.

“We have to be there to increase awareness that it is not about being black or white,” he told the Telegraph. “It’s open to anyone and everyone, it’s a way of life to follow.”

“You have bald-headed rastas [and] don’t necessarily have to have dread[locks] to be a rasta, you don’t have to be from the Caribbean, Africa or Ethiopia”.

The Defence Rastafarian Network (DRN) was set up in 2017 and comprises almost 300 members from all three services and the MoD civil service. Most come from the army.

Rastafarianism is based on Christianity and can trace a lineage back to the bible.  It developed as a religion and social movement in Jamaica during the 1930s and has no central authority, although Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974, remains a key figure in Rastafari ideology. It was formally recognised as a religion and culture by the MoD about five years ago and is the fastest growing faith in the armed forces.

The DRN seeks to support members and counter what it sees as  “incorrect information on the internet”. It helps the established military welfare organisations and chain of command by providing advice and awareness around the Rastafarian religion and culture.

Having a formal network has allowed the group to speak with a single voice and represent Rastafarian concerns to senior officers. 

Leading Supply Chain Kevin Joseph, 35, a member of the ship’s company on  HMS Prince of Wales, the second of Britain's two new aircraft carriers, said Rastafarianism is: “more about how you live your life; being humble and more down to earth.”

“It’s more a way of life for me than a religion."

He said the military has made changes to accommodate his culture, particularly regarding beards and long hair, and allows Rastafarians to wear turbans.

Relating how he trimmed his beard sufficiently to get an adequate seal on his face mask during his fire fighting course, he said: “The rules say you should be clean shaven (to get a satisfactory seal) so I worked with the instructor. The end result was that he got what he wanted and I got what I wanted.”

Lt Kenyatta, a veteran of numerous operational deployments on both ships and submarines and the first Rastafarian to serve in the Royal Navy, acknowledged his own hair is over a foot long.

He said: “It is not a case of trying to break the rules, it is a tenet of the faith that Rastafarians do not shave and we grow our hair. Your hair is a sign of solidarity and strength.”

He was quick to point out that observing Rastafarian culture has to work alongside operational duties and be safe when operating military equipment. “To some people that stereotype doesn’t really work,” he said.

Leading Supply Chain Joseph said the military is a welcoming place for Rastafarians and the message is slowly getting around regarding their service. “It’s important that we get ourselves out there the right way, so people can see us.

“There’s a lot of people who are willing to join the military but they want to practice their faith and they don’t know that they can join. So that’s why we get ourselves out there.”

Lt Kenyatta says other nations are looking at how the British have incorporated Rastafarianism into military life.

“We have international services looking at us now and by us leading from the front we are influencing policy in different countries.

“To see a minority actually succeeding in something like this it makes a massive difference to some people.”


Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Model banned on Instagram after raising $500k for bushfire appeal with nude selfies

Kaylen Ward, 20, recently announced on Twitter she would send a naked photo of herself to those who could prove they had donated $10 or more to organisations assisting with the catastrophic fires.

The Los Angeles-based influencer and online sex worker, who calls herself the Naked Philanthropist on social media, explained she was motivated to help in any way she could after seeing her social media feeds filled with concerned messages.

“I’m sending nudes to every person who donates at least $10 to any one of these fundraisers for the wildfires in Australia,” Ms Ward tweeted on January 3.

“Every $10 you donate = one nude picture from me to your DM. You must send me confirmation that you donated.”

Ms Ward, who makes a living selling nude photos of herself online, told Buzzfeed she had no idea the tweet would “blow up”.

“I was expecting to raise maybe $1000 but the tweet blew up,” she told the publication.

The model has estimated since Saturday her campaign to raise funds to assist those in catastrophic conditions has raised more than $500000.

Despite having raised a significant sum, Ms Ward has revealed her Instagram page since has been shut down after her tweet was shared to the photo-sharing site.

Ms Ward, who has 50,000 followers on Instagram, claimed her account had been suspended because she had violated guidelines.

The 20-year-old shared a screenshot to Twitter that revealed her page had been disabled because she broke the rules by posting “sexually aggressive content”.

As well as having to deal with her Instagram account being deleted, and a wake of fake accounts popping up capitalising on her notoriety, she has copped backlash from family and friends.

Yesterday she shared a tweet saying both her family had “disowned her” and her boyfriend wasn’t “talking to her”.

Regardless, she said she stood by her decision to help. “My IG got deactivated, my family disowned me, and the guy I like won’t talk to me all because of that tweet. But f**k it, save the koalas,” she wrote.


Influencer's slammed over 'offensive' photos

A professional make-up artist and beauty influencer has been criticised after she shared photos and a video that followers accused of containing “blackface”.

Ghadeer Sultan has more than two million followers on Instagram who have been left shocked by the video, which she uploaded to her page on New Year’s Eve.

The Kuwaiti woman is lip-synching to We Are the World 25 for Haiti sporting a variety of different coloured wigs and skin tones, from light to dark.

“No matter where you are from or what you believe in, we are all children of this world, and we all share it together equally,” she captioned the video.

“Beauty comes in all shapes and colours, so let’s love each other and celebrate our unity. I love u all, happy new year #happynewyear #happy_new_year #2020.”

However, not many people were impressed by Ghadeer’s efforts and shared their outrage at her choice to darken her face.

“Darkening your face, regardless of the context or the circumstances, is always unacceptable because of the racist history of blackface,” one wrote.

“Black face really??? I am disgusted,” another said.

“This is just a straight up black face, which is very offensive and as an educated make-up artist you should know better about that, you want to show your abilities or talent on black skin USE A BLACK MODEL !!! Period,” another stated.


Monday, January 06, 2020

UK: MPs question Labour Deputy leader candidate's suitability to hold high office after claiming 'Zionism is the enemy of peace'

Richard Burgon, the MP for Leeds East,  who announced his bid for deputy leadership on New Years Eve, has come under fire for comments he made about Israel at a Labour meeting in 2014.

Footage of Mr Burgon, who became an MP the following year, recorded at the time shows him declare that “Zionism is the enemy of peace”.

“The enemy of the Palestinian people is not the Jewish people. The enemy of the Palestinian people are Zionists and Zionism is the enemy of peace and the enemy of the Palestinan people," he said.

The lamebrain himself


UBC threatened with legal action over free speech concerns after cancelling event

The University of British Columbia has been threatened with legal action for cancelling a planned speaking event featuring a right-wing U.S. journalist who was expected to discuss leftist extremism.

The event set for Jan. 29 that included Andy Ngo, editor-at-large for the Post Millennial, was cancelled after the Vancouver university says the “safety and security of UBC students, faculty, staff and infrastructure was at risk” over repeated threats of violence.

Ngo and his supporters have contended the threats have come from local Antifa groups — the very groups Ngo was set to discuss.

UBC Free Speech Club executive director Angelo Isidorou, who booked the event, says the university’s decision is troubling.

“It’s just emboldening these groups,” he said. “I think the school is now taking a new direction that we feel is unconstitutional and unethical.”

Isidorou says the contract signed between the Free Speech Club and Ngo was approved by the university in November, and a deposit to book the room at Robson Square was also paid.

But in late December, Isidorou says he got a call from UBC’s chief safety officer Ron Holton, who said the university executive team had decided to cancel the event.

“[He said] they think this is too controversial, the risk is too high, they’ve gotten threats, so they’re going to cancel the event,” he said.

“They just said, ‘that’s that. We don’t know how to handle these protests, and our hope is that by cancelling these controversial events, things will simmer down with these groups and they won’t do it anymore.’ And our reaction to that was negative.”

Isidorou says he’s not aware of any threats towards the university, but the Free Speech Club has received various threats from anonymous accounts.

He argues that’s not enough justification to cancel the event, especially since security for the Ngo event was never discussed.

“I’m always ready for that call where UBC says, ‘we need to bring in guards because it’s going to be dangerous, so we invoice you X amount,'” he said, pointing to past events where the club has paid thousands of dollars for security.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) sent a letter to UBC president Santa Ono on Dec. 31 threatening legal action for breach of contract if the university does not reinstate the event.

In the letter, the JCCF quotes UBC’s provost and vice president academic Andrew Szeri, who states the university “must be an open forum where members of the university have the freedom ‘to engage in full and unrestricted consideration of any opinion’” in a statement featured on the UBC website.

“Concerns for safety and security must be addressed in accordance with Canada’s rule of law as a free and democratic society,” Marty Moore with the JCCF writes in the letter. “Freedom must not be sacrificed to fear.”


Sunday, January 05, 2020

Appeals Court Says Film Investor’s Suit Targets Free Speech

This seems a stretch

Bassel Ojjeh is a Syrian-American tech executive from Silicon Valley. In 2016, he met Steve Brown, a director who had made several documentaries, including one about Burning Man.

Ojjeh agreed to give $180,000 to help make a documentary about the Syrian refugee crisis. But in April 2018, he sued Brown, accusing him of misappropriating the money and failing to make progress on the film.

So far, it was fairly garden variety business dispute. But Brown found an unusual way to fight back. His attorneys filed a motion to strike the complaint under California’s anti-SLAPP statute, which protects free speech on matters of public interest from frivolous litigation. In effect, they argued that by filing suit, Ojjeh was trying to stifle discussion of Syrian refugees.

“We’ve been working on a very important film on a very important topic,” Brown told Variety. “We put our heart into it. The effect of a lawsuit is to halt the progress, and prevent distribution, and prevent it from getting out there.”

Ojjeh’s lawyers argued that he wasn’t trying to prevent Brown from speaking about Syria. Instead, Ojjeh was suing him because he hadn’t.

“Basically the guy took the money and ran,” says Mark Figueiredo, who represented Ojjeh. “We should have some legal recourse… The gist of the (anti-SLAPP) claim has to concern the speech. This concerns the absence of speech.”

The anti-SLAPP law is generally deployed to defeat defamation and libel lawsuits, and the trial judge rejected Brown’s attempt to apply it to a business dispute.

But Brown appealed, and on Tuesday a three-judge panel of the First Appellate District overruled the trial court, ruling that Brown’s conduct should enjoy free speech protection.

“Defendants’ solicitation of investments from plaintiff and their performance of allegedly unsatisfactory work on the uncompleted documentary constituted activity in furtherance of their right of free speech in connection with an issue of public interest,” wrote Justice Carin T. Fujisaki, for a unanimous court. “The order denying the anti-SLAPP motion is reversed.”

The case was sent back to the trial court for further litigation of the anti-SLAPP motion.

The ruling expands what is considered “speech” for anti-SLAPP purposes, and could create a helpful precedent for defendants in investor fraud suits.

“Investor beware,” Figueiredo says. “If word gets out, no one is going to invest in documentaries anymore.”

The appeals court noted that the Syrian refugee crisis is obvious a subject of public concern, but in a footnote suggested that the ruling could apply to all sorts of films or other “expressive works.”


Free Speech Group Sues University for Banning Sidewalk Chalking, Election-Related Emails
Iowa State University is facing a First Amendment lawsuit over some of the public school’s speech-restrictive policies.

The lawsuit was filed Jan. 2 by Speech First, a non-profit organization that focuses on promoting free speech on college campuses. The group claims that Iowa State University (ISU) violates its students’ constitutional rights by implementing rules and regulations “designed to restrain, deter, suppress, and punish speech concerning political and social issues of public concern.”

The three ISU policies in question are a ban on writing messages on campus sidewalks with chalk, a rule that prohibits students from using school email to communicate about campaigns and elections, and Campus Climate Response System (CCRS), a bias reporting system that is allegedly mostly used to punish students with conservative views.

“Iowa State University maintains a series of policies that have both the purpose and the effect of chilling student speech,” Nicole Neily, president and founder of Speech First, wrote in a statement. “One month out from a major political primary, students have been significantly—and unconstitutionally—burdened from participating in the political process.”

The restriction on sidewalk chalking, according to an ISU statement, was initiated in November 2019 following “the escalating volume of chalking on campus.” The university’s student newspaper Iowa State Daily reported several occasions when students with opposing political views erased and altered each other’s arguments written on campus sidewalks. These events include chalk writings denouncing Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) being crossed out in favor of writings supporting King, and anti-abortion messages being replaced by pro-abortion ones.

In the complaint (pdf), Speech First argues that ISU’s chalking policy, along with the prohibition of using school emails for election campaigns, bans core political speech, including support or opposition to state legislative or presidential primary candidates.

The complaint also includes several accounts of current ISU students, who claim that they refrain from expressing their pro-Trump, anti-socialism, and anti-abortion opinions out of fears someone may deem their speech as a “bias incident” and report them to the CCRS.


Friday, January 03, 2020

Calling someone a 'nerd' or 'smarty-pants' is the last taboo and should be made a hate crime says psychotherapy lecturer

I don't agree with her call for censorship but she does have a point.  I was once a State Secretary of Mensa for some years so I am well aware of the issue. I have in fact personally experienced a certain degree of shunning due to people seeing me as different

But on the other hand, being bright should enable you to cope with most things without too much trouble.  I certainly had no grief about having a high IQ.  But I do know some others who have a strong wish to be "normal".  "You haven't got a hope", I tell them.  But they try.

And we tend to have the last laugh anyway.  We do very well in most of life's challenges.  We tend to get rich and we even live longer

Branding someone a 'nerd' or 'smarty-pants' should be made a hate crime, an academic has claimed.  

Psychology lecturer and psychotherapist Dr Sonja Falck says 'divisive and humiliating' anti-IQ insults can have negative effects that last a lifetime.

She wants people with the highest IQs in the country, who make up two per cent of the population, to be protected by the same hate crime laws as ethnic, religious and sexual minority groups.

The University of East London lecturer and Harley Street psychotherapist is also calling for the insults 'braniac', 'know-it-all', smart-a***', 'dweeb' and 'brain box' to be covered by hate crime legislation.   

Her views are based on eight years of research, which was spent speaking to dozens of high-ability children, parents, and adults about their own experiences.

She clams victims of anti-IQ slurs often experience the same level of distress and isolation as other minority groups at the receiving end of verbal abuse.

Extending legislation to include these words would, she claims, help stamp out the 'archaic' victimisation of more than one million Britons with a 'gifted' IQ score of 132 or over, she added.

Dr Falck has just launched a new book called 'Extreme Intelligence', a study of discrimination against those with especially high IQs.

Dr Falck is herself a member of high-IQ society Mensa, and has given presentations for the organisation as well as the US-based institution SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted).

John Stevenage, chief executive of Mensa, said: 'Very high-IQ individuals often experience isolation or bullying from people around them because they are perceived as being different from the majority.

'Mensa as an organisation gives people with very high IQ a community which is non-judgemental and inclusive of difference. Put simply, everybody is different, so no-one is.'


Free speech limits in Northern Ireland

Clerics who speak out against the introduction of same sex marriage in Northern Ireland could face arrest, a Christian organisation has warned.

The Christian Institute expressed concern after commissioning a legal expert to examine what free speech protections are currently on offer to ministers who criticise the landmark move.

Public law specialist Ivan Hare QC said the threshold for prosecuting an individual for incitement to hatred offences in Northern Ireland was “substantially lower” than in England and Wales.

He said the result meant free speech in the region was “more vulnerable to infringement”.

The institution has forwarded the legal opinion it secured from Mr Hare to Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith.

Regulations to permit same sex marriage in the region are due to be introduced later this month as a consequence of legislation passed by Westminster MPs last year in the ongoing absence of a Stormont executive.

But Mr Hare said there was a “very real risk” of free speech on the same sex marriage debate being “suppressed”.

The institute has called for the Government to beef up free speech protections in Northern Ireland to ensure the legal position reflects changes made in England and Wales when same sex marriage was introduced there.

The organisation warned Mr Smith that he may face legal action if he failed to implement such protections.

The institute’s deputy director Simon Calvert said: “I am extremely concerned that Northern Ireland’s unique public order law could get in the way of free speech and debate about gay marriage.

“In the run up to same-sex marriage coming into law, I’d expect lots of churches to be preaching in support of traditional marriage and against same-sex marriage.

“We don’t want the police using public order law to try to punish ministers for preaching the bible and arrest them for what they say from the pulpit.

“People will speak plainly on both sides of this issue. It must be a free debate and a free-flowing exchange of ideas, not a spectacle involving people being arrested.

“Even if these arrests never lead to a prosecution, the chilling effect would be huge.

“So we need clear protections for free speech written into public order law in Northern Ireland – just like they were in England and Wales before gay marriage was introduced there.”

A spokeswoman for the Government said protections had been examined in a public consultation on the law change, the results of which were being prepared for publication.


Thursday, January 02, 2020

Aggressive speech now a no-no

An email from reader predrjon:

Here in America, many are worried about the constant attack on expression of thoughts that aren't "politically correct" and acceptable by leftists.

Here's an example from last night;

I was listening to the Chicago Police on the scanner frequency,   ( site,

This was my email when telling like-minded friends what I had just heard):

Chicago police have a call from an Uber driver whose passenger is "speaking aggressively about African-Americans".

What does "aggressively" mean?  The complaining driver didn't say "threatening".

Police are on their way .

Apparently it is now a police matter to speak aggressively about African-Americans.

Of course I was not able to record this alert from the police dispatcher to officers. 

Speaking "aggressively" needed to be defined but as I said, but there were no threats mentioned.    Evidently the complainant did not like the "aggressive" speech.

I did not hear a disposition of the incident, only the initial call.

Police officer stands down after faking a message on a McDonald’s coffee cup

A cop who accused staff at Macca’s of writing a vile note has stood down after it was revealed he made up the message himself.

An investigation into the matter revealed the fast-food restaurant had nothing to do with writing the obscenity on the officer’s coffee cup, reports KSNT.

In a statement, Police chief Brian Hornaday said the note was “fabricated by a police officer no longer employed with the agency”.

“Now, this is absolutely a black eye on law enforcement,” Hornaday said.

When news of the incident broke, officer claimed he had visited a drive-through in Junction City, Kansas, on his way to work on Saturday when he received the insulting note.

A photo showing the coffee cup and offensive missive, which read “F***ing Pig”, was then posted to Facebook by Chief Hornaday where it was then shared more than 4500 times.

In the wake of allegations against McDonald’s in Junction City, owner Dana Cook released statement defending staff.

Cook said a review of security footage from “every angle” inside the restaurant showed message was not scrawled by employees.


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Holy Cross College makes a travesty of free speech

Worcester, Massachusetts

In yet another suppression of free speech and diversity of thought in academia, Heather Mac Donald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, was shouted down by student protestors who disrupted a recent talk she was giving as a guest lecturer at Holy Cross.

The Manhattan Institute isn’t some kind of lunatic-fringe “hate group.” It’s a long-standing. respected and respectable think tank and public policy center in New York City with a free market, mainstream conservative agenda. Heather Mac Donald, a graduate of Yale, Cambridge University and the Stanford University Law School, is an author, essayist and political commentator. She’s not a radical or a firebrand. She’s a brilliant intellectual who presents her ideas in a reasoned, articulate manner. Open-minded Holy Cross students would have much to learn from her, even those who disagree.

Just fifteen minutes into Mac Donald’s presentation, a majority of the audience in a packed auditorium rose and began chanting. They shouted that she and her “sexism, racism and homophobia” weren’t welcome on campus. They then drowned out her response and slowly walked out the hall while loudly repeating their attack slogans. Their pre-planned disruption included filling as many seats as they could in the auditorium in order to keep other students from hearing Mac Donald.

Mac Donald has been targeted at other schools by disruptive student activists employing similar tactics. She noted that, “After the Holy Cross protest, the co-president of the Black Student Union, which organized the walkout with an assist from the student government, told the campus newspaper: ‘The fact that we pulled this off is actually amazing. I feel so empowered now, and this is just the beginning.'”

Presumably, the beginning of suppressing any and all diversity of thought and dissent from leftist orthodoxy at Holy Cross. And that’s something to celebrate?

Perhaps the most disturbing element of this affair was the response of Michele Murray, PhD., the Dean of Students at Holy Cross. Dean Murray falsely claimed that “The subtext of (Mac Donald’s) talk was that discrimination no longer exists, or at least that we should not be bothered by it.”

Murray’s deceitful use of the term “subtext” enabled her to reprehensibly misrepresent Mac Donald’s message, which was that students at American colleges like Holy Cross should “seize their boundless opportunities for learning with joy and gratitude.”

Mac Donald explains that American universities are, today, arguably the least discriminatory venues in our nation, where students regardless of race, ethnicity or gender orientation are accepted and shielded by sympathetic faculty and administrators who provide them with a safe and welcoming sanctuary. Ironically, it’s conservative students who are subject to repression if they offend hypersensitive progressive dogma.

While agreeing with Mac Donald, that “American undergraduates are among the most privileged individuals in history by virtue of their unfettered access to knowledge,” Murray then proceeded to justify the behavior of the student radicals who disrupted Mac Donald’s lecture with this preposterous rationalization:

“At Holy Cross, students learn to use that privilege to make the world a better place. That education requires them to wrestle with a wide range of ideas, which sometimes means engaging speakers with controversial messages, as with Ms. MacDonald. And sometimes, it means making use of their own free speech to combat objectionable ideas.”

This is sophistry on steroids. Apparently, in Murrayspeak, “engaging” is a euphemism for shouting down someone whose viewpoint you disagree with and denying others the right to hear that viewpoint.

An honest definition of “engaging,” in this context on a college campus, would be a civil discussion or debate. Your right to free speech doesn’t override the right of others to speak freely. And another’s viewpoint isn’t objectively “objectionable” just because you don’t like it. Perhaps it’s your subjective viewpoint that’s unreasonably objectionable.


Free speech experts slam Long Island University for policy requiring “respect for authority”

Stalin demanded the same

A student at Long Island University Post was gearing up for his May graduation when he found himself under investigation for alleged possession and distribution of forbidden flyers that broke a rule against “respect for authority.” The case has now caught the attention of free speech advocates who say the policy violates its students' rights to free expression.

Student Jake Gutowitz was called to a meeting with Associate Director of LIU Promise Nicole Thomas, who claimed the flyers went against the LIU Ethos Statements regarding “respect for authority” and were a violation of LIU Post Code of Conduct.

The flyers were part of a series labeled “Common Sense” and appeared on campus throughout the school year. The series featured satire and criticism of University President Kimberly Cline, as well as complaints regarding administration, mold in buildings, high administration salaries, poor campus food quality, and restrictions on freedom of speech. LIU Spokesman Gordon Tepper called the flyers, “sexist trash” that “speak[] to a disturbed individual.

Gutowitz says he was aware of the flyers but did not have anything to do with their creation or distribution.

Upon meeting with Thomas and Assistant Dean of Students Jean Anne Smith, Gutowitz was told that the meeting had been called after a report from “anonymous student” that Gutowitz was behind the fliers. The administrators informed Gutowitz that the meeting was part of the standard process after receiving such a complaint, and that that he would receive a letter at a later date informing him of the results of their investigation.

Gutowitz indeed went on to graduate without ever having received a formal resolution from LIU Post. Now, The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is calling on the university to address the open-ended investigation and it says chilled the speech of an innocent student as he approached his graduation.

“First, the allegations against Gutowitz were unfounded and concerned conduct that occurred months before he was accused. LIU Post’s choice to investigate this alleged conduct only months later, and when nearing the eve of his graduation, had a serious chilling effect on his speech. Gutowitz himself was rightly concerned the investigation could affect his ability to graduate,” wrote FIRE.

FIRE explains that while there is no evidence that Gotowitz created the fliers, that the existence of the investigation itself threatens free expression on campus as, “Administrators obviously found some of the flyers offensive, but punishing subjectively offensive expression is antithetical to LIU Post’s promises of free expression”

LIU Post did not respond to FIRE’s letter, and there is still continued concern that the pattern of recent violations will continue.

Gutowitz suspects he was targetted due to his frequent, public, and non-anonymous criticism of administration “After the editor of the newspaper was berated by administrators, we wrote a letter and published it in the newspaper demanding an apology from administration,” Gutowitz told Campus Reform.

“After that, the administration did their best to come after us. It[investigation] alleged that five months before then, in December of 2018, a student claimed to see me handing out the pamphlets,” Gutowitz explained, adding that he “proved that I wasn’t even on campus the day the student claimed to see [him].”

“They told me I’d have a response by the end of the day. To this day, I’ve never gotten a response,” said Gutowitz.

Nicole Neily, President of student free speech organization Speech First, told Campus Reform that investigations like this should cause major concern for the state of free speech on campus. “It’s deeply disappointing that LIU Post would actively work to chill student speech. The school’s actions sent a message not only to Mr. Gutowitz, but to the entire student body: criticize us at your peril,” said Neily.

“This is the first time I’ve ever heard of a ‘respect for authority’ provision in a student code, and I find it absolutely absurd,” Neily added. “Universities are places where students are supposed to not only get a degree, but to learn how to function in society- and holding officials accountable by speaking truth to power (particularly when an administration seems to merit criticism!) is an attribute that more citizens should hone.”

Like FIRE, Neily pointed out apparent hypocrisy between LIU Post’s purported support for free speech “while failing to uphold that value in practice,” adding that this is “something that high school seniors who might be considering attending the school should take into consideration.”

LIU did not respond to request for comment.


Monday, December 30, 2019

Double Standards on Free Speech

By Hans Bader

If you are a progressive professor, your university will let you keep teaching, even if you say things that reflect extreme hostility to members of a particular race and gender. You can say we should “kill and castrate all white men, and feed their corpses to pigs,” call for the death of Republican senators and engage in full-blown doxxing. Such remarks will be defended as academic freedom, and no one will seriously expect you to lose your job for them.

Yet it is considered controversial for a university to allow a conservative professor to keep teaching after making far milder remarks that draw criticism. That is what recently happened at Indiana University over remarks by a professor at its business school, Eric Rasmusen. His remarks about racial and sexual issues on social media — such as saying that most geniuses are men — were denounced by his university provost, who announced restrictions on his teaching and grading, but refused to fire him. The provost’s refusal to fire the professor was then widely denounced by progressives.

The provost recognized that the First Amendment forebade firing Professor Rasmusen for his speech, and quite sensibly did not attempt to fire him:

We cannot, nor would we, fire Professor Rasmusen for his posts as a private citizen, as vile and stupid as they are, because the First Amendment of the United States Constitution forbids us to do so. That is not a close call.

Instead, the University took other steps to discipline Rasmusen. Specifically, the Provost announced that he will be removed from any required classes, and his classes will be graded blindly, to prevent any possible bias against minorities or women:

No student will be forced to take a class from Professor Rasmusen. The Kelley School will provide alternatives to Professor Rasmusen’s classes;
Professor Rasmusen will use double-blind grading on assignments; if there are components of grading that cannot be subject to a double-blind procedure, the Kelley School will have another faculty member ensure that the grades are not subject to Professor Rasmusen’s prejudices.
But these restrictions on Rasmusen appear to violate the First Amendment, although far less than firing him would. They single him out for tangible negative consequences based on his speech. And they do so without any evidence that he has ever discriminated against students in his classes or in grading.

As law professor Josh Blackman observes, “There are no allegations (as far as I can tell) that students in Rasmusen’s classes complained about his behavior in the classroom. Furthermore, the fairness of Rasmusen’s grading was never called into question.”

Thus, it looks as if Rasmusen’s free-speech rights have been violated by the restrictions on his teaching imposed in response to his speech.

Far more offensive speech by professors has been ruled protected by the First Amendment — and the professors involved were protected not just against being fired, but also against having their teaching singled out for special restrictions because of their speech.

For example, a professor’s racially derogatory speech was ruled protected by a federal appeals court in Levin v. Harleston (1992). A professor at the City University of New York published “denigrating comments concerning the intelligence and social characteristics of blacks.” In response, CUNY “created an ‘alternative’ section of Philosophy 101 for those of Levin’s students who might want to transfer out of his class.” The judges found that the creation of this “shadow” class violated the First Amendment.

Those who want Rasmusen fired claim he is “unsuited for academia” because of his odd beliefs on certain issues, even though those issues aren’t the focus of his teaching and publications. But Rasmusen is a productive scholar whose publications have been found useful by both academics and scholars. Law professors, economists, and think-tank employees have cited his publications many times, in discussing economics and the law. For example, when I was a lawyer at a Washington think-tank, I cited his writings in a scholarly paper, a blog post, and a court brief, in discussing lawsuit abuse, how to make legal services more affordable, abuses of power by state attorneys general, and state regulation of the practice of law.

The usefulness of Professor Rasmusen’s writings contrasts sharply with the uselessness of the typical academic article. The typical “scholarly” article by an academic is read by only ten people, and cited by absolutely no one. Many “scholarly” articles just regurgitate left-wing talking points or even dangerous, debunked myths. Some “scholarly” articles imbue nonsensical jargon with an air of false authority through a process of “idea laundering.”

The uselessness and obscurity of most academic articles speak ill of our universities because it is not difficult to write an article that other people find interesting and useful. When I worked at a think-tank, I had less time for scholarly pursuits than the typical academic. That’s because I had to devote time to things like arguing court cases. One example was when I obtained a federal appeals court ruling declaring that agency records are subject to the Freedom of Information Act even when they are stored in a private email account.

But I still had enough time left over to write articles that contributed insights to the scholarly community. For example, my law review article about the Supreme Court’s Bong Hits 4 Jesus decision has been cited dozens of times in law reviews, by leading law professors and other academics. The reason most academic articles are not similarly cited is that they contribute no new ideas and virtually nothing to the store of human knowledge.


When asking for donations to charity is wrong

If you are a Bible-observant church

An 85-year-old man who has raised over $100,000 for the Salvation Army has been banned from collecting donations outside a Seattle Nordstrom.

The ban comes amid outcry from the left that the Salvation Army isn’t pro-LGBT enough.

Dick Clarke had been collecting donations outside the store for 18 years without any problems. This year, however, the retired teacher and principal was met with absolute grinches.

“The best thing I like about Thanksgiving is the next day I go to work,” Clarke said of his efforts to give back.

Instead of supporting his noble efforts, Nordstrom informed Clarke that he would no longer be allowed to fundraise by their doors.

“Nordstrom spokeswoman Jennifer Tice Walker did not answer questions about the change. But Clarke said he was told in a meeting last week with head of stores Jamie Nordstrom that LGBTQ employees said The Salvation Army’s presence made them uncomfortable,” the Seattle Times reports.

The disdain for the Christian charity isn’t just affecting bell ringers. Just before Christmas, a fleet of Salvation Army vans in Kansas City were sabotaged, leaving them unable to deliver holiday meals and toys for under privileged children.

Despite the obvious need for this type of charity, the Salvation Army has been under attack in recent months after Democrat Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg was photographed ringing a bell for them and the woke mob decided that they were bad for being religious.

“Pete Buttigieg Volunteered for the Homophobic Salvation Army,” a headline in the gay magazine Out read.

The left also bullied Chik-fil-A into stopping their donations to the organization.

“The city of Seattle, which like King County contracts with The Salvation Army to provide homeless shelters, will next month begin an ‘equity audit’ in response to ‘concerns expressed by the community that Salvation Army is not a safe place for LBGTQ persons experiencing homelessness,’ wrote Jason Johnson, acting director of the city’s Human Services Department, in a letter to Salvation Army officials in early December,” the Seattle Times report continues.


Sunday, December 29, 2019

Facebook Excuses Won't Work in 2019 as More Conservatives Are Banned on Social Media
By Diamond & Silk

Facebook’s excuses for banning conservatives are so 2018. With the latest scandalous round of conservative expulsions from the social media giant and other platforms, circa 2019, Americans can no longer accept Mark Zuckerberg’s explanations for banning conservatives online.

   In our own case, when Facebook banned some of our posts in 2017, calling us “unsafe,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg told senators it was just “an error in enforcement."

At the time, far-left, Trump-hating "reporters” rushed out to call us liars, saying basically that the popularity of our social media pages “debunked” the idea that Big Tech is censoring Trump supporters and conservatives.

That lame argument won’t be enough to excuse the way Facebook, Twitter, and the rest of the Silicon Valley liberal oligopoly have been acting lately, though. There’s nothing “debunked” about this latest round of censorship.

Last week, Facebook took down a whole wishlist of pages representing some of the Democrats’ top targets and scapegoats, even threatening to ban regular users who share content from those accounts. Facebook can swear up and down that it’s about “stopping hate” or “fake news” or whatever, but we know the real reason: more free speech on social media is bad for Democrats.

Even banning Louis Farrakhan, the Jew-hating “minister” and chum of Barack Obama and Keith Ellison, serves the Democrat Party’s interests. He was becoming too much of a problem for Democrats every time Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube banned conservatives. People could just say “what about Farrakhan calling Jewish people ‘termites?’” and we were once again reminded about that inconvenient history of prominent Democrats inviting Farrakhan’s hateful butt to hang out.

Somehow, Facebook even got the liberal media to call Farrakhan a “far-right” leader. He has been a hero of leftist radicals for 45 years for preaching about white people being devils. It’s like they expect us to believe that Farrakhan was a MAGA hat-wearing Trump supporter, even after the co-founder of the anti-Trump hate group known as the “Women’s March” called him “the greatest of all time."

Give us a break!

Twitter is getting in on the action, too, snuffing out a clearly labeled parody account with around 85,000 followers that poked fun at socialist Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the grounds that it was "fake."

Twitter used its data collection to identify the owner — an orthodox Jewish man named Mike Morrison — and handed him a permanent ban, not just of his AOC parody account, but of his 50,000-follower personal account, as well.

It just goes to show that if you make Democrats look silly on social media, their friends in Silicon Valley will be sure to put a stop to it.

Meanwhile, some jerk Democrat state representative in Philadelphia is using Twitter to mock and harass an old lady and some underage girls who were peacefully praying and respectfully protesting outside a planned parenthood clinic in his district. State Representative Brian Sims offered to pay his supporters to identify the anti-abortion activists so they can get more hate. Sims is still allowed on the platform, even though Twitter has a very specific rule against "targeted harassment."

Why? Because Sims is a Democrat, and the women he targeted for harassment are pro-life Christians.

Big Tech’s support for the liberal agenda is not just a one-way street, of course.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Mazie Hirono have both gone out of their way to defend Big Tech censorship lately, for instance. Is it any wonder, therefore, that Nadler’s top corporate donor is Google’s parent company Alphabet, or that both he and Hirono take big bucks from Facebook?

In response to the latest batch of bans, Democrat Senator Ron Wyden took steps to defend Big Tech, anticipating that Republicans will try to take corrective action against the social media companies. The easiest way conservatives could get a little protection from all this censorship is by revising Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a special set of privileges for internet companies.

As President Trump pointed out just the other day, "Social Media & Fake News Media, together with their partner, the Democrat Party, have no idea the problems they are causing for themselves."

Wyden helped write the Communications Decency Act 23 years ago. Now he’s claiming it’s all about allowing Facebook to "weed out hate."

Really, Senator? Because when you got the chance to explain why you wrote the law, in its preamble, you didn’t say a word about "hate.” What you did say is that “interactive online services” should get special protections because they “offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse."

But as soon as prominent conservatives start suggesting that maybe the law should be changed because Facebook clearly hasn’t been living up to its end of the deal, suddenly that "diversity of political discourse” stuff is forgotten in favor of “weeding out hate."

Did we mention that Wyden gets ten of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Facebook and Alphabet, too?

The anti-conservative censorship that Big Tech practices on behalf of its Democratic bedfellows is no "error.” The only “error” they made was in being so blatant about it. It’s no longer 2018, and Big Tech’s outdated excuses won’t work on the American people anymore.


San Diego universities criticized for ambiguous free speech policies

Three San Diego County universities have been flagged by a free speech advocacy group, which warned that the campuses had policies too subjective and ambiguous to meet 1st Amendment standards.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a Philadelphia-based group commonly referred to as FIRE, gave public universities San Diego State, UC San Diego and Cal State San Marcos “yellow light” ratings, meaning the institutions have “at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application,” according to the organization’s website.

FIRE assessed the speech policies of 471 U.S. colleges, finding 64% deserved “yellow light” ratings of warning; 25% received the lowest rating, a “red light”; and 11% were considered OK, with “green light” ratings.

Although none of the San Diego area schools explicitly prohibit free speech, their policies are too subjective to earn a “green light” rating, said FIRE Senior Program Manager Laura Beltz.

She said many schools didn’t know their policies were problematic. “We’re looking for these policies to be revised so they can meet those 1st Amendment standards,” Beltz said. “A lot of these schools don’t even know these policies are out there.”

For instance, UC San Diego and the others had problems with policies designed to curb harassment on campus, she said.

UC San Diego’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination was flagged for a portion of its Frequently Asked Questions web page. The section includes examples of things that would be considered harassment, such as “anti-Semitic or Islamophobic graffiti” or “repeatedly sending unwelcome emails, text messages or photos of a sexual nature.”

Beltz said these examples might not meet the U.S. Constitutional standard for harassment on their own. The Constitution states harassment must be “severe, pervasive and objectively offensive,” she said.

Belz said UC San Diego should clarify its policy. She said the policy lacked the “objectively offensive” component that the Constitution uses to classify harassment. She also said the university’s use of the phrase “and/or” in “severe and/or pervasive” in its policy would be incorrect because harassment must be severe and pervasive, not one or the other.

Although the policy is only off by two words, institutions can never be too careful, said David Loy, legal director of the San Diego American Civil Liberties Union.

Misapplication of ambiguous policies is a real issue, he said, where vagueness in policy wording gives administrators too much leeway to use campus policies to prohibit protected forms of speech.

“The problem is having something on paper that people who are not lawyers wouldn’t understand,” Loy said.

SDSU had seven policies flagged, most of which pertain to student conduct and sexual harassment.

One of those SDSU policies prohibits “abusive physical and verbal behavior, and threats of physical abuse,” within campus residence halls.

Beltz said the issue had to do with the term “abusive,” which has been ruled by the Supreme Court as being too vague and potentially encompassing protected speech. The 1972 case, Gooding vs. Wilson, ruled a Georgia statue prohibiting “abusive language” was too broad to meet 1st Amendment standards.

“Obviously, colleges need to have harassment policies and they need to respond to the harassment of students,” Beltz said. “It’s that this policy is written so broadly that it restricts protected speech.”


Saturday, December 28, 2019

Free Speech Is Not 'Killing Us'

Uncivil speech is not the threat some make it. But we could all use the Golden Rule.

Since our nation’s inception, Americans have understood it better than most: With rights come responsibilities. This sentiment has seldom been as apparent as it is in the realm of free speech, where one edgy performance deemed offensive, or one tasteless social-media post that skewers the wrong segment of society, can be a career-breaker. Just ask Shane Gillis about the “Saturday Night Live” gig he lost, or maybe ask Roseanne Barr about the cancellation of her popular rebooted “Roseanne” show after just a few episodes. There are numerous others. Despite apologies and pleas for forgiveness, their career doors were slammed shut for the crime of having said what they wished to say at the time.

Yet a recent New York Times op-ed claiming “Free Speech Is Killing Us” from author Andrew Marantz, a contributor to The New Yorker, has upped the ante on this debate. Intoning the relatively recent atrocities in El Paso, Christchurch, and Charlottesville, Marantz makes the case that something needs to be done, and the best entity to do it is the federal government.

“I am not calling for repealing the First Amendment, or even for banning speech I find offensive on private platforms,” he writes. “What I’m arguing against is paralysis. We can protect unpopular speech from government interference while also admitting that unchecked speech can expose us to real risks. And we can take steps to mitigate those risks. The Constitution prevents the government from using sticks, but it says nothing about carrots.” Among the carrots Marantz would dangle: a government-backed competitor to Google and Facebook.

Marantz is wrong in a number of respects. Our nation isn’t becoming more dangerous in terms of crime, as Reason’s Robby Soave points out, nor are providers of content neglecting the idea of policing themselves, as John Samples of the CATO Institute opines. Gabriella Hoffman at The Resurgent also reminds us of the basic truth that sunlight is the best disinfectant for hateful speech.

That last approach has always worked rather well. Now, we can disagree as to whether Gillis stepped over the line to offend in his live performances, or Barr was out of bounds when she tweeted about former Barack Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. But these situations were dealt with by private entities that took action against the offenders, rather than via a government edict against thought crimes. (Which sounds like something this guy would do.)

However, in some respects Marantz is getting his wish, as Congress has chipped away at longstanding speech protections on the Internet and is threatening to erode them even further in the name of combating human trafficking and what the National Association of Attorneys General called “black market opioid sales, ID theft, deep fakes, election meddling, and foreign intrusion.” Notably, these First Amendment assaults are coming from both sides of the political aisle, for differing reasons.

Ours is not a nation in which speech is utterly unfettered and unlimited, but to the extent that we have safeguards already in place, we seem to be mostly getting along just fine. The solution to unpopular, hateful speech is to counter it with other speech or simply ignore it and — to borrow a phrase made popular by the Left — to move on.

There’s still something to be said for being civil, for respecting for one another, and for simply abiding by the Golden Rule.


Leftist hate speech

Leftists call all sorts  of things hate speech but that is projection. They are the real haters. Their constant finding fault with normality shows that clearly.  They are obsessive fault-finders

Nick Cater

Few things lift the human spirit like the triumph of the underdog. Which is why we must welcome the dispiriting news that the hitherto undistinguished personal pronoun “they” has been named word of the year by the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

We are told that the number of people looking up they has risen by 313 per cent this year, which is a surprising statistic since practically no one had thought of looking it up before.

Seven centuries after it entered the English language from the Norse, the personal pronoun’s plurality has transitioned to singular. It is deemed to be less hurtful than he or she by those who care more for political correctness than correct grammar.

If the inclusivity police get their way, kids in the future will encounter gender-normative personal pronouns only in Shakespeare, and then presumably only under supervision.

The use of they was made compulsory this year by the American Psychological Association when clients refer to themselves as they. The APA instructs members to scan their written work for bias just as they once checked for spelling. It offers a helpful style guide designating expressions as problematic or preferred.

Males and females are in the problematic column. An array of unproblematic alternatives is listed in the column marked preferred: “Cisgender men, cis men, cisgender women, cis women, cis people, cis allies, transgender men, trans men, transgender women, trans women, transgender people, trans people, gender-fluid people, gender-nonconforming people, gender-expansive people, gender-creative people, agender people, bi-gender people, genderqueer people”. If in doubt, the authors suggest, use the word humans.

With a resource such as this so easily to hand, it is disappointing that the scriptwriters of the popular BBC television comedy show Gavin and Stacey chose to use the word “faggot” in this year’s Christmas special.

In their defence, the six-letter F-word is in the lyrics of a song about an argument between drunk people by the Pogues, sung by members of the cast in the ironic tone in which it was first performed.

The offence seekers will have none of it. Last week Alex Dyke, a DJ at BBC Radio Solent and therefore a minor Southampton celebrity, said he was no longer comfortable playing the song. He took to Twitter to condemn it as “an offensive pile of down-market chav bilge”.

Apparently, “chav”, a derogatory term used by snobs to describe the ill-bred, is not problematic.

Rock stars once regarded offending people as an essential part of the job. Indeed, for a glorious period in the late 1970s after the arrival of the Sex Pistols, the imperative to scandalise ranked above the requirement to learn an instrument.

Today, however, any artist with a career that began more than 10 minutes ago is liable to fall victim to “cancel culture”, which happens to be the Macquarie Dictionary’s 2019 word of the year. To suggest that it is two words would be an unwarranted cultural presupposition. The rise of cancel culture explains why you won’t be hearing the Rolling Stones’ Brown Sugar or Under My Thumb on an FM radio station any time soon.

The cancel culture’s objection to “faggot” explains why Dire Straits’ Money for Nothing has been banned by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.

Homophobic hate speech also would rule out Taylor Swift’s Picture to Burn and Katy Perry’s Ur So Gay.

Lou Reed’s borderline-transphobic Walk on the Wild Side wouldn’t get a look-in.

Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder’s anthem to racial equality, Ebony and Ivory, has been promoted from mildly irritating to highly problematic. The contemporary zeitgeist favours rappers such as Noname who refuses to dance on stage for white people. On the plus side, the avoidance of racial stereotypes and cultural appropriation means we may never again have to listen to Carl Douglas’s 1974 hit Kung Fu Fighting.

You can’t be too careful these days. Actor Benedict Cumberbatch has yet to recover after he referred to “coloured actors” in an American TV interview four years ago. What he should have said, of course, was “actors of colour”.

American commentator David Roberts must have thought he was on safe ground when he compared “refugees who have walked thousands of miles to escape oppression” with “sedentary, heart-diseased, fast-food gobbling, car-addicted suburbanites” who cast judgment on them.

Yet this unfortunate example of fat-shaming enraged the grievance-mongers on social media who laid into him for being “only half-woke”. Fat people, one presumes, should now be referred to as people of girth.

One hesitates to refer to religion in these judgmental times, even at Christmas.

Yet we cannot but reflect that cancel culture is yet another of the birth pains of a new religion, ugly and badly formed, conceived to take the place of the old religion from which many of us drew our moral compass as recently as five minutes ago.

Cancel culture was what once drove the Catholic Church to excommunicate heretics, pull out their fingernails and burn them at the stake. Cancel culture motivates the Exclusive Brethren to avoid contact with apostates, drawing authority from St Paul in his Letter to the Thessalonians “that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us”.

The new religion, like the old one, requires us to wrestle with seeming contradictions. Why in the name of the they-hood of humankind are people so readily excluded in the cause of inclusivity? Why does their God, if they have one, appear to care more for the suffering of some minority groups than others?

How does their declared love of global humanity fit with their contempt for their neighbours?

In the end we are drawn back to the great insoluble, the hidden wisdom known only unto the faithful that leaves the rest of us stumped.

Who appointed this new priesthood and why do they spend so much time on Twitter?