Thursday, October 31, 2019

Former Obama Official, Journalist Calls for 'Guardrails' on Free Speech
Richard Stengel, a former editor of Time and Obama State Department undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, used free speech and the press... to attack free speech and the press in a truly pathetic op-ed published in the Washington Post Tuesday.

Stengel wrote he noticed in his travels that the U.S. is an "outlier" and other countries don’t have our First Amendment freedoms but, instead of thinking they should, he wants us to lower ourselves to their standards. He cited “the most sophisticated Arab diplomats” not understanding why it’s legal for someone to burn the Koran and he apparently wasn’t unable to articulate an explanation. I’d be interested to hear more of these Arab diplomats’ thoughts on our laws allowing gay marriage, abortion, and women going out in skimpy outfits.

He, of course, brought up the Russia boogeyman, as if dank memes that only a handful of people saw or retweets on social media are what turned the election, and blamed the U.S. media for repeating Putin’s lies in their reports. Little does he know, weakening our free speech laws would only make our media more Pravda-like.

I never thought I’d see the day when the same arguments for getting rid of the Second Amendment – the Founders lived in a different time, they never could have imagined the powerful, modern technology in our country today – were used to overturn the First. Stengel said: “[T]he intellectual underpinning of the First Amendment was engineered for a simpler era” and “in the age of social media, that landscape is neither level nor fair.”

He thinks because teens can’t distinguish between real stories, ads, and fake sites, we need to protect everyone from the latter two. Where does this leave comedy and sarcasm? The satirical conservative site The Babylon Bee has already been caught up in fact-checkers’ attempts to police articles numerous times. I suppose he wants to ban the tabloids in the supermarkets as well. How else are we supposed to know that Bigfoot isn’t real and Elvis isn’t still alive?

He claimed hate speech is “nearly as damaging” as violence:

It diminishes tolerance. It enables discrimination. Isn’t that, by definition, speech that undermines the values that the First Amendment was designed to protect: fairness, due process, equality before the law? Why shouldn’t the states experiment with their own version of hate speech statutes to penalize speech that deliberately insults people based on religion, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation?

Suddenly federalism and allowing states to be “laboratories of democracy” is popular on the left! But I’m not sure Hollywood would be so happy to be punished for all the hatred they espouse towards Christians. And how would this apply to historical works, like speeches by Adolf Hitler or even Louis Farrakhan?

“[W]here truth cannot drive out lies, we must add new guardrails,” Stengel proposed. But who decides what is “the truth” and who decides what counts as “guardrails?” If it’s the government, then it’s Trump’s Administration, is Stengel really ok with that?


Speech First and University settle lawsuit over free speech

The University of Michigan and Speech First, an organization dedicated to promoting and upholding freedom of speech on college campuses, agreed to settle an ongoing lawsuit related to freedom of speech and the University’s Bias Response Team. The agreement to settle, which effectively dismissed the lawsuit, was reached between Oct. 24 and 25.

Since May 8, 2018, the University and Speech First have been engaged in a dispute over whether the University’s Bias Response Team stifled freedom of speech on campus and violated the First Amendment. The University created the Bias Response Team during the 2010-2011 academic year to investigate claims of racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination put forth anonymously by students, faculty and staff. Speech First declared the team unconstitutional.

According to the settlement agreement, the University replaced the Bias Response Team with Campus Climate Support beginning in the 2019-2020 school year with no plans to reinstate the Bias Response Team in the future.


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The False Hope of the Transgender Language Police

Always, a brand of period pads, recently announced it will take the Venus symbol off its products. Always is “committed to diversity and inclusion and are on a continual journey to understand the needs of all of our consumers,” the brand noted in a statement.

Because in 2019, it’s apparently controversial to say that only women get periods.

For years, woke activists have been pushing for language to shift on the issues of periods and pregnancy. Thinx, a brand of underwear designed to be worn during periods, apologized during “Transgender Awareness Week” in 2015 for focusing too much on women.

“We feel it is our responsibility to send a reminder that menstruation is not a trait of, nor a defining factor of, a specific gender. It is something that can occur amongst all people,” the brand wrote at the time. 

Two years later, Glamour magazine approvingly covered the open-mindedness of new menstruation products company Aunt Flow: “There’s also the recognition that it’s not just cisgender women who get periods: Trans men and people who don’t identify as one gender get them too, so the company has eliminated the gendered pronouns of her and she from their materials.”

In 2016, the Twitter hashtag #IfMenHadPeriods was controversial—for suggesting that men didn’t have periods.

So now if you wear a kimono or don a Native American headdress—no matter how respectfully—that’s cultural appropriation and inappropriate if you are not Japanese or Native American.

But if you want to label a female experience—one that is dependent on having female body parts at birth—as being gender-neutral, that’s A-OK.

So at least for today, ethnic appropriation gets you hurled into cancel culture. But gender appropriation gets you celebrated.

How is that fair?

Transgender people should be treated with respect and love, just like everyone else. But that does not mean all of society—from companies to individuals—should be forced to kowtow and affirm their preferred version of reality.

There are differences between men and women, and menstruating is one of them.


Word police roundup

The word police strike in the US, Poppy Noor, The Guardian Australia website, Thursday:

Imagine if the word bitch was banned … Could this become reality? Perhaps in Massachusetts where … a Democratic state representative is trying to ban the word. Many are denouncing the “bitch bill” as a sincere example of the left gone too far in its bid to curtail free speech.

Disorderly wordage, Mary Markoc, Boston Herald, October 21:

A bill to criminalise the B-word — the term for a female dog that is commonly used to slander women — is up for a hearing on Beacon Hill in what one critic calls “patently unconstitutional” and the latest political correctness push from the “word police”. The legislation states: “A person who uses the word bitch directed at another person to accost, annoy, degrade or demean the other person shall be considered to be a disorderly person.”

Ellise Shafer, Billboard, June 26:

Lizzo’s Truth Hurts is an anthem for female empowerment. Its danceable beat and no-bullshit lyricism (“I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100 per cent that bitch”) turned Lizzo into a star, and her debut album, Cuz I Love You, met critical acclaim.

Mind your language, Josh Barrie iNews website, October 21:

A British drill rapper has been banned (by a court) from using specific slang words in songs … Rico Racks will no longer be able to rap the words bandoe, trapping, booj, connect, shotting, whipping, and Kitty. All are colloquial words relating to drug dealing.

Ellen Peirson-Hagger, The New Statesman, October 22:

It’s hard to imagine that — had the law been in place at the time — the Beatles would have been banned from singing Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, which glamorises the use of hallucinogenic drugs, or Bob Dylan from sharing his incantation of injecting heroin in From a Buick 6: “Well, when the pipeline gets broken and I’m lost on the river bridge / I’m cracked up on the highway and on the water’s edge / She comes down the thruway ready to sew me up with thread.”

Man-made laws, Madeline Holcombe, CNN, July 18:

Soon, there will be no more manholes in Berkeley, California. There will also be no chairmen, no manpower, no ­policemen or policewomen … Words that imply a gender preference will be removed from the city’s codes and replaced with gender-neutral terms … manhole and manpower (become) maintenance hole and human effort.”

No more mere et pere? Ally Foster,, February 19:

A change to a law in France will see schools unable to refer to a child’s parents as their mother or father on school documents, instead the titles will be replaced with “parent 1” and “parent 2”. The amendment was passed as part of the country’s law and aims to reduce the discrimination faced by same-sex parents.

Ricky Zipp, Vox website, February 27, 2018:

Days after the Chinese Communist Party announced that presidential term limits could be abolished, opening the door for President Xi Jinping to continue his rule indefinitely, censors issued an extensive list of newly banned words … My emperor and lifelong control were banned along with references to George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984, which describe worlds where authoritarian leaders control the population … And in perhaps the most blatant example of curbing free speech, the word disagree is now illegal to post on Weibo.


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

When a terrorist butcher became an ‘austere religious scholar’

The Left are sometimes so extreme as to make of themselves a laughing stock. In apparent mourning over the execution of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Washington Post (sister publication of the NYT) described him as an “austere religious scholar” in one of its headlines:

The obituary, written by The Post’s National Security reporter Joby Warrick, followed confirmation of al-Baghdadi’s death in a US military operation in Syria on Saturday night.

It detailed al-Baghdadi’s rise to the terrorist group’s shadow leader from what the paper described as his origins as a “religious scholar with wireframe glasses”.

The headline read, “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48”.

The story first appeared to run under a headline that referred to al-Baghdadi as the “Islamic State’s ‘terrorist-in-chief’”. It was unclear why or who decided to change the “terrorist” label to “austere religious scholar”.

The Post then changed the headline again, settling on “extremist leader of Islamic State”.

The Washington Post vice president of communications Kristine Coratti Kelly told Fox News, “Regarding our al-Baghdadi obituary, the headline should never have read that way and we changed it quickly.”

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted that she had “no words” regarding the Post headline.

Former press secretary Sean Spicer also responded, writing, “Stop, read this & think about it: last night a ruthless, brutal terrorist who threatened our country & is responsible for the death of American citizens was killed in a successful operation by US military & @washingtonpost described #Albagdadi as an ‘austere religious scholar’.”


There is no doubt this will become a source of mockery.  All sorts of bad guys will in future be decribed as "austere religious scholars".

The whole thing reminded me of the way Leftists tried to save bloodthirsty gangster Tookie Williams from execution in 2005.  They were all concerned about Tookie, with no apparent concern about the innocents he killed.  They even had the muscleman photographed wearing spectacles. Are spectacles a sign of holiness to Leftists?

Sydney University academics free to criticise under free speech charter

Sydney University intends to protect the right of staff to criticise the institution as part of its response to a national review of free speech in higher education.

The university's academic board will next month consider reforms to the Charter of Academic Freedom that would bring it into line with a free speech code proposed by former chief justice Robert French.

The reforms include clarifying that professional staff were free to express their "lawful opinions" about the university, and there were no restrictions on staff making public comment on any issue in their personal capacity.

It also recommends free protest should be permitted on university land, but should not be exercised in a way that prevents the free speech of others, causes property damage or physical risk to others.

The univeristy's report, written by academics in consultation with staff and student unions, also recommends the charter be renamed the Charter of Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom.

Sydney University was the stage for one of the controversies that prompted the Morrison government to launch the review, when protesters tried to stop commentator Bettina Arndt from speaking at a campus event.

Another was a furore over James Cook University's decision to sack marine physicist Peter Ridd after he criticised colleagues, including a coral researcher at his own university, who he described as having no "clue about the weather".


Monday, October 28, 2019

UK: 'Snowflake' police can opt out of training sessions with swearing and offensive language because it might upset them

For most police officers, facing a barrage of four-letter words from abusive suspects is an everyday occurrence.

But chiefs at one force are warning officers that they may be upset by ‘swearing’ and ‘offensive language’ in training exercises – and that they should contact their supervisor if they find it all too much.

The move – part of a trend for so-called trigger warnings normally associated with ‘snowflake’ university students – has been met with derision from hard- bitten cops.

One officer joked on Twitter: ‘If this language is not acceptable to you please go directly to the safe space where the duty inspector will bring you a nice snuggle blanket and a cup of tea ... after that hand in your warrant card as you’re no ******* good to us.’

The language warning comes as part of an online exercise devised by Hampshire Police and aimed at both officers and civilian staff. Before a section on hate crime begins, an alert flashes up on screen saying: ‘Warning!’ in large letters.

It then says: ‘Please be aware that this package uses real life examples and, as a result, has offensive language and views in it. ‘Swear words are spelt out in full. Swear words are spoken in full in the audio files.

‘If you feel that this language is not acceptable to you, please close the package down and speak with your supervisor about how to proceed with completing the training.’

It is understood the warning was issued following a complaint by a distressed junior officer.

Boris Johnson has pledged to introduce an extra 20,000 officers over the next three years, but a recent Home Office report suggested forces were struggling to recruit because so many young people are ‘wrapped in cotton wool’ and unprepared for the harsh realities of the world.

Frank Furedi, emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent, said: ‘This is very worrying. It is one thing for fragile 19-year-old sociology students to be easily offended, but when you have policemen and women maintaining law and order getting distressed by harsh language then you have a big problem.’


LGBT Activists Demand Businesses Cut Ties With Church After Sermon on Transgender Issues

The Crossing Church from Columbia, Missouri, has been in the news recently—and for all the right reasons.

Just last month, the church garnered national attention when it helped members of its community pay off unpaid medical bills. Through partnership with RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit organization that helps people pay off outstanding medical debt, church members donated more than $430,000, which was used to pay off more than $43 million of medical debt by negotiating with debt collectors.

Today, the Missouri church is in the news for something else: Its pastor preached a sermon on Oct. 13 titled “Male and Female. Ancient Text. Modern Debate.”

Using Genesis 1:27 as his text, Simon preached on God’s design for sexuality and transgenderism. Displaying pastoral sensitivity, Simon walked through the Bible’s teaching on gender and reflected on how Christians can minister to those who identify as transgender.

With love and compassion, the pastor explained how men and women are created in God’s image and how the transgender movement does not align with the Bible’s teaching on sex and gender complementarity.

But despite Simon’s efforts to discuss the topic from a loving, biblically informed perspective, local LGBT activists immediately cried foul, launching a petition and demanding local businesses cut ties with the church.

Last Thursday, Sager Braudis Gallery, a local art gallery, was the first to cave to activist pressure. Although the church had financially sponsored the gallery for five years, the gallery said it was severing ties to show “solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community” and to register its protest “against institutions who perpetuate and use their powerful platforms for content of this nature.”

While skirmishes over marriage and human sexuality have become commonplace, this latest incident reveals an alarming level of intolerance among progressive activists.

An honest observer would be hard pressed to find anything in the sermon that could be construed as vindictive or hateful. In fact, Pastor Simon went out of his way to avoid politics, at one point saying, “We’re not talking about partisan politics or the culture wars.” Instead, Simon wanted to show what Jesus taught on these contentious issues, regardless of the current cultural moment.


Sunday, October 27, 2019

'We sincerely apologise': Kmart REMOVES a $6 bridal costume for children from shelves after angry mums accuse the store of 'promoting child marriage'

Little girls LOVE dressing up. This would have been an indulgence for one

Kmart Australia has pulled a $6 wedding dress costume for children from the shelves after public outcry over the 'inappropriate' Halloween costume.

The retailer was bombarded with angry messages on Tuesday when Melbourne mother Shannon Barbone pointed out how distasteful she found the ensemble and started an online petition to have it banned.

As a result Kmart has 'sincerely apologised' and will no longer be stocking the dress.

'Kmart Australia regrets the decision to range the bride costume (ages 4-6 years), it was not intended to cause offence and we sincerely apologise,' a spokesperson told FEMAIL.

'We have made the decision to withdraw this product and we encourage customers who have product concerns or feedback, to please get in contact with our Kmart Customer Service team.'  

Shannon was shopping for a Halloween outfit for her young daughter when she came across the white gown nestled between the fairy and unicorn costumes.

Outraged by what she saw as a promotion of 'child marriage', Shannon started a petition on to see the dress removed completely from stores. 'A child bride costume currently exists on Kmart shelves in children's sizes,' she wrote on the petition, which has been signed by 179 people.

'Tell Kmart this is beyond inappropriate and offensive and that they have a social responsibility to pull this item off their shelves immediately.'

The dress, which has a hemline down to the knees and includes a veil and sweetheart neckline, is targeted for girls aged between four and six.

But others found her anger over the costume ridiculous and said this doesn't equate to actual child brides.


Must not defend Trump admin at Harvard

The leaders of Harvard University’s student newspaper defended a basic tenet of journalism Tuesday amid a swirl of controversy on campus.

After reporters for The Crimson attended a Sept. 12 protest on campus that called for the abolition of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, they reached out to ICE to allow the government agency to respond to the criticism.

ICE didn’t respond to the inquiry, and the reporters included a sentence noting that in their report published the next day.

In the weeks since, members of the student-led immigration advocacy group that organized the protest, Act on a Dream, have expressed their disagreement with the student journalists’ decision to seek comment from ICE and have started a petition to demand The Crimson not contact ICE for comment in its future reporting.

“We are extremely disappointed in the cultural insensitivity displayed by The Crimson’s policy to reach out to ICE, a government agency with a long history of surveilling and retaliating against those who speak out against them,” says the petition, which had collected more than 670 signatures by Wednesday morning. “In this political climate, a request for comment is virtually the same as tipping them off, regardless of how they are contacted.”

The petition calls for a policy change, an apology, and a declaration of The Crimson’s “commitment to protecting undocumented students on campus.”

Kristine E. Guillaume, The Crimson’s president, and Angela N. Fu, its managing editor, responded with a note to readers Tuesday defending the reporters’ request for comment from ICE and explaining that it is standard practice across the journalism profession to allow people and organizations that are criticized a chance to respond.

Guillaume and Fu defended the right of journalists to seek comment from any relevant party and said The Crimson’s practices have been reviewed and affirmed by the Student Press Law Center and the Society of Professional Journalists.


Friday, October 25, 2019

Outrage over ‘condescending’ Michael Leunig cartoon

One of Australia’s most loved cartoonists Michael Leunig has been slammed for a mummy-shaming drawing published on Wednesday.

The cartoon, published in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers, showed a woman pushing a pram while looking at her mobile phone. Behind her a baby lies on the ground. It was accompanied by a poem that read:

“Mummy was busy on Instagram

When beautiful bubby fell out of the pram

And lay on the path unseen and alone

Wishing that he was loved like a phone.”

The cartoon has attracted criticism and anger on social media, with some describing it as “sad” and an example of “trite egoism and male frailty rolled into one”.

Feminist witer Clementine Ford slammed Leunig as a “f***ing gronk” on Twitter.

“I bet you never spent hours walking babies around in a pram, feeling isolated and alone and terrified. F*** you and your condescending judgement”.

Another Twitter user commented: “young parents have enough anxiety without this boomer bull***t”.

Some also retailated with their own poems.


Blackface pumpkins!

In a bold move which will forever remove from mankind the stain of racism -- and probably also cure poverty, disease, and war -- home retailer Bed Bath & Beyond has pulled certain jack-o'-lanterns off its store shelves. Reports don't make it quite clear whether the move was nationwide or just at the one particular location, but your Friendly Neighborhood VodkaPundit was unable to find them for sale on the company's website.

See, these particular jack-o'-lanterns are painted black on the outside, in order to better contrast and show off a very cool orange glow from the inside when lit. And since we live in a deeply stupid age, someone decided that the glowing fake pumpkin carvings must be racist. This is an easy mistake to make if you happen to be brain damaged, or are a perennially pissed-off progressive permanently on the lookout for something to be peeved about. But I repeat myself.

The whole ball of stupid got rolling in Nyack, New York, where someone from a local law firm picked up a few of the nasty-evil-vile-racist-hater plastic pumpkins for office Halloween decorations. Local Westchester News 12 reported that "the jack-o'-lanterns upset some community members," and so the law firm of Feerick, Nugent, MacCartney got rid of them. Then, following a vital news investigation into this horrific act of pure ... [checks notes] holiday charm... Bed Bath & Beyond decided to stop selling them.

News 12 also reports, "Though they have been removed, both attorneys say they wonder why the decorations didn’t raise flags at Bed Bath & Beyond." I dunno, because there's nothing possibly racist about pretend light-up gourds?

Local NAACP Director Wilbur Aldridge, apparently never one to let a crisis go to waste, claimed that the brightly lit pumpkins showed an "extreme lack of sensitivity." To what, law firms that didn't try and cheer up the place during the depths of autumn?


Thursday, October 24, 2019

Australia's top academics call for Murdoch University to drop case against whistleblower
An investigation earlier this year by ABC’s Four Corners (Australia's leading investigative journalism program), found Murdoch University was one of a number of Australian universities lowering academic standards for lucrative international students.

An Associate Professor in Mathematics and Statistics, Gerd Schroeder-Turk, was one of three Murdoch University academics who spoke on Four Corners, having previously raised their concerns through internal channels. Murdoch University’s response was to deny the allegations.

This is an old, old issue.  The University of Newcastle in 2003 was doing the same thing:  Giving Asian students degrees even though they had not mastered the work -- and refusing to "fess up".  Very short-sighted.  Sending incompetents back to Asia just ruins your reputation

An open letter published today from 57 professors to Murdoch University vice-chancellor Professor Eeva Leinonen stated they believe the court action sets a "dangerous precedent for all Australian universities".

The signatories are all recipients of the prestigious Australian Research Council's Laureate Fellowship, and come from 15 universities across the sector in disciplines including arts, humanities, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Quotes from the letter:

"It is a long-established principle of academic freedom that academics must be able to criticise university governance. This right is especially important where aspects of university governance might compromise the integrity of teaching and research."

"The claim for damages is highly intimidatory to all Australian academics and therefore risks the capacity of Murdoch University and all Australian universities to pursue excellence in research and teaching."

"We urge you to withdraw the claim, to settle any dispute without punitive measures, and to affirm the commitment of Murdoch University to academic freedom as an essential university value."

The letter comes after the Australian Institute of Physics and a coalition of 23 international academics issued public statements condemning the university's actions.

One of the letter's signatories, distinguished Professor Michael Bird from James Cook University, told the ABC that academics have been disturbed by the case against Dr Schroder-Turk.

"It appears to be more intimidatory than anything else. I'm a humble scientist. I don't ordinarily feel I should be doing this sort of thing, this was an exceptional case and and we felt that it required an exceptional response," he said.

Professor Bird said the group of academics don't know Dr Schroder-Turk personally but felt compelled to act after reading about the case. "I do not understand how a university could think this was an appropriate action to take," he said

"Academic freedom gives people the right to query decisions that have been made and that's for the good of democracy in the same way that press freedom is there for the good of democracy ultimately.

"If that is eroded, that is not conducive to a healthy democracy and it really needs to be called out whenever it happens."


No free speech at UConn?

Two University of Connecticut students were arrested Monday after video allegedly showed them using racial slurs. The school confirmed to Campus Reform that the men were charged under a Connecticut statute that makes it a crime to "ridicule" certain people.

The incident occurred on Oct. 11 in the parking lot of an off-campus apartment complex. In the video, there are three men walking through the lot. An individual took the video from the window of an apartment building, according to local media reports.

The video prompted the UConn NAACP chapter to pen a letter to the editor of the campus newspaper, The Daily Campus, calling on officials "to fully investigate this incident and apply the proper justice."

Following those calls, the university confirmed to Campus Reform Monday that two of the three men allegedly seen in the video were arrested under a Connecticut state statute that makes it a crime to "ridicule" certain persons.

"Any person who, by his advertisement, ridicules or holds up to contempt any person or class of persons, on account of the creed, religion, color, denomination, nationality or race of such person or class of persons, shall be guilty of a class D misdemeanor," the statute states.

UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz confirmed in a statement to Campus Reform the arrests of the men who were "heard shouting a racial slur."

"The two students both were charged under CGS 53-37, ridicule on account of creed, religion, color, denomination, nationality or race," Reitz said. "A third person had accompanied them as they walked outside of the apartments, but the police investigation determined that individual had not participated in the behavior."

The two men arrested were identified in a police report obtained by Campus Reform as Ryan Mucaj and Jarred Karal, both 21. The police report states that Mucaj and Karal "played a game in which they yelled vulgar words" after leaving an area business.

Mucaj and Karal are scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 30. If convicted, they could face fines of up to $50, up to 30 days in jail, or both.

In a 2018 column for Reason, University of California at Los Angeles law professor Eugene Volokh called the statute under which the men were charged "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."


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Free Speech Documentary Aims to Get Wider Release

Atlas Distribution — whose film 'No Safe Spaces' features multiple scenes that decry censorship in China — says it is booking hundreds more theaters.

Capitalizing on the controversy swirling around China, which censors the internet and Hollywood movies, a documentary film from comedian Adam Carolla and talk show host Dennis Prager that tackles free speech is beefing up its theatrical distribution plans.

On Monday, The Hollywood Reporter obtained two exclusive clips from the movie, called No Safe Spaces, that directly take on China. They are a couple of risky scenes, given China-owned AMC Entertainment is set to exhibit the film in several of its theaters early in the film’s distribution pattern.

“Free speech is unique to the United States; in Russia and China you go to jail if you say anything nice about gay people,” Carolla says in one clip. In another, a cartoon character dubbed Firsty sings, “I’m the First Amendment. / Without me you’d be living in China,” in a scene meant to invoke images of a protester who stood down a tank in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

No Safe Spaces was to screen a couple of times at Harkins Theatres in Phoenix on Oct. 25 then slowly roll out from there, but Harkins added several screenings and the distributor, Atlas Distribution, says it has been scrambling to go wide more quickly by booking hundreds more theaters, including many owned by AMC. Dalian Wanda Group purchased AMC for $2.6 billion in 2012, making China’s largest private company also the worldwide leader in theater chains.


The curious case of Alfie Perkins

Another teenage tweeter has been criminalised for being an idiot online.

On 10 March this year, Birmingham teenager Alfie Perkins – reportedly nine pints deep and full of football-inspired anger – sent some very, very stupid tweets.

The Salford University student tweeted about Aston Villa footballer Jack Grealish, soon after he scored against Birmingham City. He made a series of jokes about Grealish’s deceased brother. These abhorrent tweets (written in all-caps, no less) were clearly intended to rile up and anger their audience.

It worked. Six hours and 8,000 replies later, Perkins was the most hated person in England. Death threats, angry local-news stories in the Birmingham Mail and a police investigation all soon followed. And everyone was falling over themselves to prove just how righteous they were in opposition to his internet nastiness. Attacking Perkins was the key to a few serotonin-releasing retweets, and soon half the site was on the case.

The Perkins affairs was a classic example of Twitter’s tendency to launch into full-blown medieval mob justice.

But what started as some Twitterati policing soon evolved into actual criminal justice. Just a few days after the match and his tweets, Perkins was arrested and charged with three counts of sending grossly offensive communications.

This week, he was found guilty of all three counts and, after avoiding a jail sentence, was ordered to pay a fine of £350.

This is unacceptable. Perkins said some incredibly stupid and nasty things, but being stupid and nasty on the internet should not be a matter for the courts. The police, judges and juries should not be brought in to punish an unthinking teenager, desperate for what they were bound to give him: attention.

Football fans are one of the press’s easiest targets. All too often columnists and commentators jump at the opportunity to tarnish them with all sorts of bigoted, unfair accusations. This quickly leads to a ‘something must be done’ panic, which lawmakers – ever-keen to solve problems that don’t exist – quickly latch on to.

The online and judicial reaction to the Perkins affair shows why we get awful laws like the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act, an appalling piece of kneejerk legislation that tried to arrest nasty chants out of the terraces in Scotland. Thankfully, this law was repealed last year after a sorry six years on the books. But the sorts of laws used to punish Perkins have maintained their authoritarian presence in Britain – most notably, Section 127 of the Communications Act, which criminalises ‘grossly offensive’ online communications.

It has been revised and put through revisions and public consultations in order to help ‘strike a balance’ between freedom of speech and criminality. But with something as subjective as offensiveness – gross or otherwise – that balance will always be impossible to strike.

Perkins has been banned from Birmingham City for life. Lots of people will forever despise him for his bout of tweeting under the influence. Apparently he now occasionally attends Manchester City matches. This, it seems to me, is punishment enough. There is no need to punish him for the ‘crime’ of being rude on the internet.


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Sweeping attack on political speech in Canada

Trudeau's new “fake news” election law can land you 5 years in prison

Twitter Bans Gay Man For Telling Inconvenient Truths About Transgender People

Mikey Harlow, outspoken gay writer and model, has been banned from Twitter permanently for dubious reasons. It all started when he posted these few tweets about inconvenient truths that Twitter must not want you to see.

"Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people want to be treated the same as everyone else. Radical alphabet people want to be treated differently. That is a key distinction. And that is why sane LGBT individuals take such exception to the latter category," he wrote.

He continued poking the beast by announcing, "Good news! There is NOT an epidemic of trans people being murdered. 5 out of 100k Americans are the victims of homicide. 1.1 out of every 100k trans people are victims of homicide. About 20-25 trans people killed each year. 51 Americans are struck by lightning every year."

These statstics fly in the face of the popular LGBTQWTF claims that trans people are at higher risk of violence than anyone else. It's simply not true. But posting true things on Twitter won't stop you from being banned today when feelings trump facts.

Maybe it was this next post that did him in.

Everyone knows you're not allowed to challenge the new gender theology. "These are both me. Sometimes I like looking like an  androgynous emaciated albino space vampire. Sometimes I like looking like a strung out 90's computer hacker. Sometimes I feel more gay vampire, sometimes I feel more sk8r boi. Guess what? That doesn't make me my own special gender."

But if I had to bet, I'd say that some over-caffeinated soy boy on the Twitter team took one look at this next one and needed smelling salts to revive xim just in time to reach for the ban hammer. "0.3-0.6% of the population is transgender. The vast majority of whom just want to be seen as a man or woman. 'Non binaries' cannot account for more than 0.1% at most. Yet we need to alter the English language and change how we speak to appease less than 0.1% of radicals. No.

Facts simply can't exist in a world of feelings, so Twitter abruptly shut down Mikey Harlow's account with several conflicting reasons that are pretty comical. Harlow has received multiple excuses from Twitter.

First they said that he was suspended for trying to "evade permanent suspension," which Harlow claims he doesn't understand. "How could I be 'avoiding suspension'? I don't even know what that is!" Harlow told PJ Media. Twitter then sent him an update to his suspension and changed their story, claiming that Harlow had operated multiple accounts. "That's ridiculous," Harlow said. "I have only ever had one account. I do not have, nor have I ever had multiple accounts." But that wasn't the last story Twitter would pull out of thin air.

Harlow contested the suspension and received another notice from Twitter now claiming that his suspension will be permanent because he engaged in "targeted harassment." To illustrate this harassment, Twitter presented a months-old Harlow tweet mocking the people criticizing Ivanka Trump for posting cute pictures of her children.

This wasn’t the algorithm. Some shameful @twitter employee banned @MikeytheHarlow for ideological reasons & then tried to find some reason after the fact. Coming up empty handed, they tried to use this. How embarrassing for them. This is an abuse of their job & power.

Twitter refuses to ban people who regularly spew actual death threats against the president and his family, like Tom Arnold, but they will suspend a guy for sticking up for a Trump. This is a good time to remind everyone that Louis Farrakhan, who called Jews "termites" still has his account.


Monday, October 21, 2019

3 Big Wins for Religious Liberty Indicate Tide Is Turning

Air Force Col. Leland Bohannon, a combat veteran, was close to retirement when he entered an unexpected fight—one to preserve his two-decade military career.

“There always will be a pending opportunity for you to stand for what God has said in his word as the differences between where society is going and where God has always been become greater and greater,” the retired colonel said Friday during a panel on religious freedom at the Values Voter Summit in Washington.

In May 2017, Bohannon’s superiors tried to suspend him for not signing a “certificate of appreciation” for a same-sex spouse of a retiring service member under his command.

At the time, Bohannon had his own supervisor sign the certificate. He requested a formal religious exemption and consulted with both a command chaplain and staff judge advocate.

A year later, in April 2018, the Air Force Review Boards Agency determined that Bohannon had the constitutional right to exercise his religion and that he acted appropriately without discrimination.

Joined by others on the stage that had similar experiences and victories, Bohannon warned those in the audience to be faithful regardless of the outcome.

“If cases [were] lost and our efforts had failed, would we be bitter? How does that impact our witness and our continued witness to our neighbors, to the Americna public, and really to the world?” the retired colonel said, adding:

We can take some lessons from our brothers and sisters in China and take some lessons from our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, who are suffering far greater than we can even imagine. Here, we live in a nation where things are succeeding and perhaps the tide is turning somewhat. That might not always be the case.

Will we continue with a spirit of generosity and outreach? Or will we turn inward and become bitter just because we didn’t get what we wanted?

Other panelists spoke about their own victories for religious freedom against attempts to interfere by federal and local governments.

When the federal government essentially tried to close his meatpacking plant in Michigan because he displayed an article with a Christian theme on a breakroom table, Don Vander Boon said, he was faced with a tough choice.

“That was part of the decision of whether to push back or not, the fear of loss, the fear of what’s going to happen,” Vander Boon, the owner of West Michigan Beef in Hudsonville, Michigan, said. “At a certain point, my wife, we sat down and I said, ‘Are we prepared to lose everything?’ It seemed like pretty much a hopeless cause.”

In 2015, U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors threatened to cease conducting inspections of the plant, effectively putting Vander Boon out of business, unless he removed the religious tract that made a scripturally based argument against same-sex marriage.

The inspectors cited an expanded agency definition of “harassment” of USDA employees who inspect sites. Under laws regulating meat, a plant must be open to USDA inspectors in order to operate legally.

In 2017, under the new Trump administration, the Agriculture Department changed the policy to respect religious freedom. But, Vander Boon said, he didn’t realize this when he entered a risky fray.

“We decided it was bigger than us,” he said. “It’s something worth fighting for. People have fought and died for these freedoms. I’ve read so many stories and aspired to them, and here it is. It’s my turn. So, we hardly lost a thing. The Lord prospered our business through it.”

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled recently that the city of Phoenix cannot use a local nondiscrimination ordinance to force owners of an art studio to creating wedding invitations that violate their religious beliefs.

Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, owners of Brush & Nib Studio in Phoenix, brought the lawsuit. “Freedom won in Arizona,” Duka told the audience, to cheers.

“We received messages from people who said they disagreed maybe with our view of marriage, but said, ‘You are fighting for my freedom also and I stand with you,’” she added. “I am grateful for that.”


Zuckerberg doubles down on free speech—the Facebook way

Even though he has censored the whole of one of my sites, I have some sympathy for Zuckerberg.  I think he is confronted with an impossible task. The basic problem for him and for us all is that he is constantly URGED to censor things. He is told to censor "hate speech".

But it cannot be done -- for the simplest of reasons: One man's hate-speech is another man's fair comment, or even part of his religion. 

So Zuckerberg inherits the problem of deciding what is hate speech. He seems to decide that on what the loudest voices say and the big complainers are Leftists.

But that is probably the best he can do.  There is no agreed definition of hate speech nor could there be, probably.  So the only fair way to treat Facebook content would be to delete NOTHING.  But that would be unpopular too. It would infuriate the Left.

So the acceptable censorship of social media sites is an impossible task.  All we can hope for is some compromise that is not wholly unreasonable.

I think we can do that.  I think we can regulate it in a way that avoids political bigotry.  And we do it by taking the whole censorship task away from Zuckerberg, which could well please him.

What I propose is a variant on the ancient Roman Tribunus plebis.  A tribune is someone appointed to safeguard the interests of a particular group.  I think social media platforms  should appoint two tribunes -- one for the Left and one for the Right.  And NO content should be deleted without the approval of BOTH tribunes.  Each tribune would need a substantial staff and he should be free to choose and train  his own staff.  The tribune himself (or herself) should be appointed by the head of the relevant party in the Federal Senate

That should do the trick

Mark Zuckerberg came to Washington, DC, on Thursday to claim the mantle of Martin Luther King and the Founding Fathers as a champion of free speech. Standing in the stately Gaston Hall auditorium at Georgetown University—which has hosted the likes of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Bono—the Facebook CEO declared, “I’m here today because I believe we must continue to stand for free expression.”

And a city full of regulation-hungry politicians and foes of Big Tech undoubtedly thought: How’s that working out?

Zuckerberg’s highly promoted speech introduced no new Facebook features or initiatives, but was a defiant reply to critics of Facebook’s destructive effects on global society—manipulating voters, fomenting division, and even aiding genocide. He doubled down on Facebook’s handling of the treacherous business of implementing free expression at an unprecedented global scale. Despite considerable evidence that the approach has often fallen short, Zuckerberg still professes optimism: Giving people a voice and connecting the world, he believes, are transformationally positive actions. Essentially, he’s saying—as he always has—that Facebook is essentially positive.

What’s more, he was claiming high ground for Facebook’s values. If you disagree with him on speech, he implied, you’re siding with the forces of censorship and elitism. He described a “countertrend … to pull back on free expression.” His foes, he implied, are the same kind of people who wanted Eugene Debs in prison, who wanted Vietnam protesters stopped. But the people whose Facebook presence is more disturbing include the likes of Alex Jones (whom Facebook ultimately banned) or … Donald Trump. The speech didn’t really take on those kinds of choices.
Furthermore, rejecting his point of view will align you with the oppressive overlords of China! He pointedly noted that his dreams of taking Facebook to that country have been stalemated by that country’s demands on data and censorship. While Facebook’s encrypted WhatsApp service is a boon to protesters, he says, the Chinese TikTok app censors mentions of protests even for users in the US.

Zuckerberg clearly believed in what he was saying: Though his presentation was sometimes halting (maybe reflecting that he was tinkering with the speech until his deadline), his voice grew stronger when invoking Facebook as an instrument of empowerment. He spoke for almost 40 minutes, which is what happens when senators aren’t interrupting you.

But while he constantly described Facebook as giving voice to everyday people and underrepresented groups, he gave short shrift to the way that powerful forces are using his platform to manipulate people. In the past two years, Zuckerberg and his leadership team have admitted that they were late to recognize the downside of free expression: political extremism, intentional misinformation, and political ads that baldly lie.

At every turn, the company has avoided becoming an arbiter of what is news and what political utterances are destructive. “I don’t think it’s right for a private company to censor politicians or the news in a democracy,” he said, a sentiment he often expresses. But neither does that mean that a private company has to promote outright lies and divisive content. It would have been interesting if he’d grappled with that concept more in his Georgetown address.

Maybe the most powerful part of the speech was when he said, “I’m not going to be around forever,” and so he thinks it essential to deeply embed free speech values into Facebook so the company continues giving voice to people long after he’s gone.

Zuckerberg’s foray into the belly of the Beltway to deliver a message of free speech was, in a sense, a daring gambit. It’s hard to disagree with the First Amendment, and even less attractive to align with censors. But his critics—and a lot of people who are simply unhappy with Facebook—are asking for more. Boosting speech at global scale is a tricky and unprecedented practice. Though Zuckerberg constantly cites the army he now employs in matters of security and safety (up to 35,000), it’s not clear that a “community” of almost 3 billion people can be purged of truly destructive content. Facebook is a huge experiment that constantly tests Zuckerberg’s deeply felt claim that connecting the world will yield a net positive. The results are far from settled.

After the speech, Zuckerberg took a few questions from Georgetown students in the audience (which were submitted in writing, not offered spontaneously). One questioned whether Facebook was favoring conservatives with its green light to misinformation in political ads. Zuckerberg agreed with Georgetown’s moderator that liberals are angry, too. “Right now, we’re doing a very good job of making everyone angry at us,” he said.

No one seemed to disagree with that. And things won’t change after Zuckerberg’s Tom Paine moment.


Sunday, October 20, 2019

The war over words

We are living in an era of verbal purification, where certain words and ideas are not allowed.


The issue of language is becoming more and more acrimonious and controversial. Politicians are attacked not so much for their views and policies as for the words they use. And this new policing of language is not confined to politically motivated censors. Even the actual police have become involved in the unfolding cultural conflict over language.

There is little doubt that the language used in public and political life has become debased. Political rhetoric often lacks substance these days. It can be bombastic and evasive. It is rarely about encouraging engagement. Indeed, politicians now use words in such a way that they self-consciously avoid communicating a clear outlook. So, yes, it is legitimate to be concerned about the quality of the language used by politicians, on both sides of the Atlantic.

However, the key motivation behind today’s controversies over political language is not a concern with the quality of the language – it is a desire to limit what may be said in public debate. Recent controversies in the UK illustrate this well. Attacks on the ‘toxic’ or ‘vitriolic’ language used by politicians are often accompanied by a censorious demand that certain words should not be used, and certain ideas should not be expressed.

Last month, former prime minister John Major laid into pro-Brexit members of parliament and current prime minister Boris Johnson for using the language of ‘hate’. Major was very precise in his outline of what words should not be used in public debate. He said that words like ‘saboteur’, ‘traitor’, ‘enemy’, ‘surrender’ and betrayal’, had ‘no place’ in the Conservative Party, in ‘our politics’, or in ‘our society’.

Numerous opponents of Brexit share Major’s view that certain words should be expunged from the political vocabulary. In particular, they take exception to the term ‘surrender’, which politicians in the Leave camp have used to describe the behaviour and policies of the pro-EU lobby. Remainer MPs claim that using the word ‘surrender’ could incite violence on the streets of the UK.

Throughout September, the campaign against the supposed toxic language of Brexiteers was widely covered in the media.

Typically, the denunciation of Brexiteers’ language would be followed by a demand for linguistic policing. Even the police got involved. Senior police officers warned about the effect of using highly charged language to discuss Brexit. Charlie Hall, the chief constable of Hertfordshire Police, who heads Brexit operations planning for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, linked the tone of the political debate with an alleged rise in hate crime. ‘In the past few weeks… we did see a couple of spikes that seemed to coincide with some of the debates that have taken place’, he said.

It is a sign of the times that the intervention of the police in the debate about political language was not viewed as unusual by media commentators. Thankfully, Britain is not a police state, so it is still rare for the police to lecture parliamentarians about the language they use and the ideas they express. And yet no one asked the question, ‘When did the police assume responsibility for telling politicians what they should and should not say?’. Nor was the supposed link between the tone of political debate and hate crime seriously interrogated. Indeed, many in the media treated this new, literal policing of political language as a welcome development.

The principal objective of the new policing of words is not to moderate political language but to control what can be said

Also, very few questions have been asked about the one-sided character of this campaign against ‘toxic’ speech. So, the tendency to hurl loaded words like xenophobe, fascist and racist at supporters of Brexit is rarely questioned by the crusaders against hateful language. The casual manner in which anti-Brexiteers use words like fascist to describe their opponents suggests they are not really interested in linguistic moderation.

But leaving aside Remainers’ clear double standards, the real issue here is not people’s rhetorical tone but rather the insidious growth of linguistic policing. For if Brexiteers really must avoid using the word ‘surrender’, then how are they meant to draw attention to what they perceive as the willingness of some politicians to kowtow to the EU? They could use the word ‘capitulate’ or ‘yield’, I suppose – but it is likely that these terms would be denounced as toxic, too.

The principal objective of the new policing of words is not to moderate political language but to control what can be said. Because if words like traitor, surrender or betrayal cannot be used in political discourse, then it actually becomes very difficult to express a particular idea — that certain forms of behaviour seem, to some people, to contradict Britain’s national and democratic interests. The elimination of these words would diminish the ideas that could be expressed in public life, especially in relation to Brexit. The call to modify public language is motivated by a desire to achieve a political aim.

This is what Orwell meant when he said that those who control language are able to determine what is considered to be true, what we are allowed to think.

One of the key features of the language wars is to make a link between certain words and the rise of hate crimes. This is done through labelling certain words and ideas as forms of ‘hate speech’. Once a word is rebranded as an act of hate, it can be discredited on the basis that it encourages violence.

It isn’t only anti-Brexit ideologues who use the label ‘hate speech’ to delegitimise certain forms of expression and certain views. Anyone who questions the views promoted by trans activists risks being accused of ‘transphobia’ and denounced as a hate-speaker.

Recently, Zayna Ratty, the chair of Oxford Pride, said that stickers dotted around Oxford city centre were ‘inducing hate crime’. The stickers merely expressed the dictionary definition of the word woman. They said: ‘Woman: noun. Adult human female.’ Other stickers said, ‘Women don’t have penises’. The Thames Valley Police joined the fray and warned that those responsible for putting the stickers on lampposts could be charged with public-order offences. In this instance, the police and groups of trans activists merged together to eliminate the right of people to say something that would have been considered completely uncontroversial for thousands of years. The attempt to criminalise the view that women do not have penises logically leads to the next step in this cultural conflict – the attempt to alter the way people think about issues of sex and biology, and about what is a man and what is a woman.

The growing efforts to eliminate certain words and ideas from public life represent a form of verbal purification. Through turning words like ‘surrender’ or even ‘woman’ into taboo words, this verbal purification creates a climate in which certain ideas come to be marginalised. This demonstrates that the war on words is fundamentally an attempt to re-engineer thought itself and transform how individuals look at the world.

Outside of totalitarian settings – such as Stalinist Russia – the goal of verbal purification was first introduced in Anglo-American societies, especially in higher education, in the 1980s. Over the past three decades, the practice of ‘watching your words’ has been internalised by many academics and students on campuses across the US and the UK.

One of the consequences of verbal purification is to change the meaning of words. Consider the word ‘controversial’ itself. In recent years, campus culture warriors have turned this into a negative word. Why? Because genuine controversy provokes serious debates, and the outcome of a serious debate cannot be controlled in advance by censorious moral entrepreneurs. Rather than welcoming controversy, the new linguistic police think it is best avoided. Numerous universities have introduced rules to vet so-called controversial speakers. The transformation of the word ‘controversial’ into a negative euphemism highlights the ability of verbal purifiers to influence people’s thoughts.

By turning words like ‘surrender’ or even ‘woman’ into taboo words, this verbal purification creates a climate in which certain ideas come to be marginalised

Fundamentally, the goal of verbal purification is to develop conventions about what can and what cannot be said and thought. Right now, this desire to overhaul language is most systematically expressed by the advocates of trans culture. Almost overnight, they won the support of officialdom for the introduction of laws and rules to govern the language around sex and gender. The elimination of binary language in relation to sex, and the introduction of an ever-growing range of pronouns, is a testimony to the influence of language purification.

In their book, Forbidden Words: Taboo and the Censoring of Language, Keith Allan and Kate Burridge argued that, unlike normal censoring activities, which are aimed at the maintenance of the status quo, the culture of political correctness sought to promote actual political and social change. In other words, changing the way people speak became an instrument for achieving a political objective. In the case of PC, the attempt to change language was motivated by the aim of altering how people behave and how they identify themselves. It was also about changing the process of socialisation itself in relation to young people.

For example, in 1995 the day-care centre at La Trobe University in Australia banned the use of around 20 words, including the gender-related terms of girl and boy (1). It did this in order to promote its social-engineering mission of altering traditional sex roles. Anyone who violated this code was ‘made to pay a fine into a kind of swear box for using a dirty word’. And that was in 1995! Today, far more than 20 words have been banned. The practice of gender-neutral socialising and parenting has become increasingly entrenched in certain sections of society and the establishment.

The language wars have acquired their most insidious form in nurseries. In principle, politicians can kick back when they are accused of using toxic words. Such an option is not open to children who have become the targets of today’s social-engineering zeal. In Sweden, in 2012, the gender-neutral pronoun ‘hen’ was introduced. This word and others have been widely adopted throughout Swedish society. Children are explicitly indoctrinated into a worldview in which girls and boys, and men and women, are seen as the same thing. The aim of this pedagogy of gender-neutrality is to challenge ‘traditional gender roles and gender patterns’. In their place, they want to introduce a new non-traditional ideology – one in which all boys and girls, and men and women, think of themselves as ‘hen’.

The campaign to police language has undoubtedly had a significant impact on attitudes and behaviour in Western societies. As Allan and Burridge observed, it has ‘been extremely successful in getting people to change their linguistic behaviour’. Society has become increasingly sensitive and hesitant about which words are appropriate, and which are not.

One of the consequences of the language wars is that many people who do not share the social-engineering outlook often struggle to give voice to their views. It is increasingly common to encounter people who say, ‘I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say this’… In the current climate, where there is little cultural support for the robust exchange of competing views, many people self-censor and allow the language police to intimidate them. That is a dangerous development; people who self-censor may soon forget the beliefs and sentiments that they held in the first place.

The stakes are high in the culture war over words. Those who take their freedom seriously must refuse to yield to the policing of language. History shows that the attempt to control citizens’ language inevitably leads to a diminishing of democracy itself.


Oak Park Trustee to White Colleague: 'You Shouldn't Have an Opinion... You Have Been White from Birth'

In the most racist incident to happen in all of 2019, look to Oak Park, Ill., trustee Susan Buchanan, who was caught on tape berating her fellow board members for being white and male.

Arguing to adopt a new equity statement for the city of Oak Park, Buchanan lost her marbles and started telling the white men on the board they have no right to an opinion.

"I don't want to hear what you have to say!" she yelled. "Why do you have an opinion on equity? You have been white from birth...why are you arguing 'what is a system of oppression?' You've never experienced one. Just stop Dan. Stop Dino. You are not oppressed...You stop it. You are a white male."

Then she turned to a non-white male of Middle Eastern descent, Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb and said, "Your skin is white enough." Luckily for all of us, white woman Susan Buchanan is qualified, somehow, to decide whose skin color is light enough to make their opinions void.

According to this elected official, white male elected board members don't get to speak on behalf of their constituents based on the color of their skin, and nothing else. She, however, a white female board member, does.

Protests haven't happened. No one is calling for her resignation. This is the state of American politics now: open, blatant racism with no censure. Not only that, but Buchanan got her way and Oak Park, by a unanimous vote (including by the white guys who don't matter) passed their equity statement that is full of Marxist, feminist garbage.

We acknowledge intersectionality and the compounding effect of multiple forms of discrimination that many in our community experience. We affirm all people as members of the human family. Our goal is for people of widely differing backgrounds to do more than live next to one another. Through intentional interaction and fair treatment, we can respect our differences while fostering unity and developing a shared, intersectional vision for the future.
You can read the whole thing here. It's positively Orwellian.

Prediction: This will mainly be used to put biological boys in the girls' locker room and on girls' sports teams, erasing women and setting women's rights back 100 years. Forward!


Friday, October 18, 2019

An Open Letter to Sergey Brin (co-founder of Google)


Fifty years ago this week, when I was a 21-year-old college senior, I was in the Soviet Union, sent by the government of Israel to smuggle in Jewish religious items and smuggle out names of Jews who wanted to escape the Soviet Union and could then be issued a formal invitation to Israel.

I was chosen because I was a committed Jew and because I knew Hebrew and Russian. I was no hero, but the trip did entail risk. The Soviets did not appreciate people smuggling out names of Soviet citizens who sought to emigrate, information the Israeli government and activist groups in America used to advocate on their behalf.

My four weeks in the USSR were, of course, life-changing. This young American, lucky beyond belief to have spent his entire life in the freest country in the world, experienced what it was like to live in a totalitarian police state. People feared merely being seen speaking with a Westerner, lest the KGB arrest and interrogate them. People arranged to meet me at a certain tree in a certain park and only spoke to me while walking to avoid eavesdroppers. I met with Jewish engineers, doctors and professors who could find no work because they were known to the government to be "otkazniki," or "refuseniks" -- Jews who had applied for exit visas to leave the Soviet Union and been refused permission. I'm sure you know of them from your parents.

I left the Soviet Union angry and grateful -- angry there are people who have the audacity to tell other people what they could and could not say, and grateful beyond measure to have been born in America, where no one could tell anyone what they could say. From that day to this, I have never taken freedom, especially freedom of speech, for granted.

Why I am writing to you about this?

Because, beyond my wildest dreams, two things are happening in America.

One is that for the first time in America's history, free speech is seriously threatened.

In 1977, when Nazis sought to march in Skokie, Illinois -- those terrible human beings chose Skokie because it was home to many Jewish Holocaust survivors -- virtually every liberal and conservative organization, including Jewish organizations, defended the Nazis' right to march. Because in America -- and only in America -- it was understood that even if the most loathsome speech was not protected, all speech was at risk.

That has changed.

Today, decent people -- people who abhor Nazism and every other form of evil, left or right; people like Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro and Ayaan Hirsi Ali -- are shouted down, threatened, disinvited or never invited to speak at America's universities.

The other thing that is happening is even more frightening. The company that you co-founded, Google, the greatest conduit of speech in world history, is also suppressing speech. I have asked myself over and over: How could the company founded by a man whose parents fled the Soviet Union do this?

It so boggles the mind that I have to hope you are simply not fully aware of what your company is doing.

So, in a nutshell, let me tell you what Google has done to one organization, Prager University (better known as PragerU). Every week, PragerU releases a five-minute video on virtually every subject outside of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Some of the finest minds in the world have presented these videos -- including professors from Harvard, Stanford and MIT; four Pulitzer Prize winners; three former prime ministers; liberals; conservatives; Democrats; Republicans (including never-Trumpers); gays; and, of course, many women and members of ethnic and racial minorities.

Yet YouTube, which Google owns, has placed hundreds of our videos on its restricted list. In addition to the inherent smear of being labeled "inappropriate for children," this means no family that filters out pornography and graphic violence, no school and no library can see those videos. Among those restricted videos is one during which former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper defends Israel. Had someone told me 50 years ago that a company led by the son of Soviet Jewish refuseniks would suppress a video by a world leader defending the Jewish state, I would have told them they were out of their mind. That's one reason I can only assume, or at least hope, that you are not fully aware of what your company is doing.

Or how about a video series I present on the Ten Commandments? YouTube is suppressing a number of those, too. When Sen. Ted Cruz asked a Google official why Google restricted one of my videos on the Ten Commandments, the official responded (it's on YouTube) that it was because the video "contains references to murder."

In fact, PragerU has repeatedly asked Google over the past several years why any of our videos are on the restricted list, and we have received either a runaround or silence. We have never received a substantive explanation. We have no desire to see government intervene in private business to protect free speech. But your company has availed itself of protections under law that shield it from liability for defamation, copyright infringement, etc. Your company's arrogance is such that a vast number of Americans -- liberals as well as conservatives -- are worried that the major conduit of speech in the Free World doesn't care about free speech.

Mr. Brin, along with millions of other Americans, I fought to bring your parents from a land with no freedom to the Land of the Free. None of us has ever asked for anything in return. It was our honor to work for liberty in general and for Soviet Jewry specifically.

What Americans most want from immigrants is that they help keep America free. I never had any doubt that those leaving the Soviet Union would fulfill that mission.

Until now.

Freedom of speech is the most fundamental of all freedoms. It's what your parents yearned for and bequeathed to you. Please don't help take it away from those who made it possible -- the people of America.


How the Left is Banning Conservatives From the Internet: A three-pronged attack on freedom of speech

“Free Speech is Killing Us,” is the title of the latest New York Times op-ed arguing that speech is dangerous. Previous entries included, “When Speech is Violence” which made the same argument.

Free speech has surpassed global warming, the ladies’ room, the criminal justice system, plastic straws, the border patrol, saying, “you guys”, and vaping, as the greatest threat to the ‘right side of history’.

The great conspiracy theory of our time is that President Trump was illegitimately elected because some people, maybe Russians, were saying stuff on Facebook, as part of a conspiracy that eventually pulled in the Russians, the Ukrainians, a British former intel agent, a guy who tried to frame Dan Quayle as a drug addict, FBI agents having an illicit affair, Bernie Sanders’ top strategist, the brother of Hillary’s campaign chair, and a confused former FBI director named Bob who was supposed to bust the case wide open.

But it all began with the claim that President Trump only won because of “disinformation” and “fake news” on social media. The original problem was free speech.

At Harry Reid’s retirement, Hillary claimed that the “malicious threat of fake news and false propaganda” is an urgent danger. At her forum on democracy, she argued that people couldn’t be trusted to make up their minds about the political content that they see on social media.

“Facebook’s answer was, ‘well we’re going to let people decide for themselves,’” she insisted. “How can you decide for yourself when what is presented is blatantly false and manufactured?” 

Probably the same way people decided that she hadn’t been named after Sir Edmund Hillary, hadn’t come under fire at an airport in Bosnia, and hadn’t negotiated peace in Northern Ireland.

The conclusion to Hillary’s sad career suggests that people actually know a lie when they hear one.

But, if people can’t be trusted to determine their political opinions, how can they be trusted to vote?

Obviously, they can’t.

After the 2016 election, the claim that free speech had gone too far and needed to be controlled became widely accepted, first in the media, and then among the big dot coms who coordinated a censorship campaign with media fact checkers. The stated goal was to stamp out ‘disinformation’. And ‘disinformation’ was defined as any viewpoint that media lefties disagreed with or found disagreeable.

Fact checkers were embedded into Facebook and Google’s operations. Conservative content was censored, deranked, and pushed under corporate media content. The ‘disinformation’ pretext, which was supposed to describe foreign propaganda, was extended to apply to nearly any conservative view.

Earlier this year, Pinterest, banned Live Action, a pro-life group, accusing it of “misinformation”.

This push to suppress conservative content on Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media companies is an attack on indexing. People find posts, articles, and videos through search engines, these days largely a Google monopoly, and peer feeds on social media. The indexing attack has been successful with conservative sites losing traffic, and conservatives being banned on social media

But indexing is just one prong of the attack. The others are advertising and payments.

If you’re a leftist, you don’t want people finding conservative content. Going after indexing means that the people who aren’t specifically looking for conservative content won’t find it. The idea is to turn conservative media into a ghetto. The impact on elections and national debates is obvious.

The next stage would be bringing down those sites entirely by ensuring that they can’t find hosting, and that no company will provide them with the services necessary to keep a site running. That’s in the works, but, unlike search, social, advertising and payments, there are a lot of companies and options.

So, for now, there’s been less action on that front.

Instead, the Poynter Institute, whose subset is the International Fact-Checking Network, has promoted efforts by the Global Disinformation Index to cut off advertising to conservative sites. The GDI report claimed that lots of ads are being run on sites condemned by Poynter and its fact checkers.

GDI, whose co-founder led the transition of a Soros group to independent status, never mentions conservatives, but its ‘disinformation’ screenshots feature conservative headlines such as, "Barack Obama is to blame for inflaming racial tensions as first black president", and "Ted Cruz likens Bernie Sanders to another genocidal maniac bent on controlling the population". Two of the disinformation examples feature Ted Cruz, and one is an attack on the Mueller investigation.

While GDI claims that these are examples of "misinformation" or "disinformation", they are opinion pieces. Twitchy quotes a Ted Cruz tweet comparing Bernie Sanders to Thanos for agreeing that population control was part of the solution to global warming. No 'fact check' site seems to have fact checked this and how would you fact check a comparison of Bernie Sanders to a comic book villain?

There are no counterpart lefty headlines and articles accusing President Trump of being a Russian agent.

That’s not “disinformation”. That’s the media’s “information”.

What is clear is GDI’s agenda which calls for “going after the sources of disinformation funding”.

That means removing ads on Twitchy and other conservative sites. GDI claims to be “developing a ratings tool that gives ad tech firms a reliable and unbiased indicator of site risk, enabling them to direct money away from domains that have a higher risk of carrying disinformation.” That’s an elaborate way of saying that the organization is developing an extremely biased blacklist of conservative sites.

Meanwhile GDI will "help to direct more ad monies to low-risk, better quality news domains." Examples of these include a variety of left-wing media sites. Poynter notes that, "Google served about 70% of the websites sampled. It also provided about 37%, or $86 million annually, of their revenue." Get Google to pull the plug and a lot of conservative sites won't be able to pay their bills. Meanwhile the ad money will move from financing conservative content to financing left-wing media content.

The leap from social media censorship to attacks on funding mechanisms for conservative sites makes it clear that this is not just about fighting ‘disinformation’ on social media, but eliminating the opposition.

The attacks on indexing and advertising are conducted under the guise of preventing people, innocent Wisconsin voters who might have otherwise voted for Hillary if it wasn’t for the Russian brainwashing, and companies unknowingly advertising their products to the filthy unwashed MAGA hordes instead of progressive sexually confused fair trade latte drinkers, but the attack on payments kills that pretext.

Even if a conservative site is suppressed on social media and banned from ad networks, its supporters could still donate to keep it going. The attack on payments sets out to make sure that won’t happen.

The Freedom Center briefly lost the ability to accept payments from the Visa/MasterCard duopoly as the result of a pressure campaign sourced from the Southern Poverty Law Center. Beyond going after digital payments, House Democrats have participated in a push to cut off the non-profit status of conservative organizations. Donor-advised funds have also been targeted in a bid to cut off conservative funding.

These are not varying approaches in response to different problems, but a common agenda.

The agenda is to turn back the clock to a corporate media monopoly and silence the political opposition. GDI’s report is fairly blatant in its endgame even as it is disingenuous about its political goals. The endgame in which big tech companies, indexers, payment processors and ad networks function as a cartel, denying access to conservatives, under the guidance of the media and its non-profit allies.

"It's a whole-of-industry problem that needs a whole-of-industry solution," GDI's program director Craig Fagan said.

A whole-of-industry solution would be a political cartel by a collection of illegal dot com monopolies.

What’s the problem that needs solving? Fagan accused the technical director of Google Cloud of a "conflict of interest" while retweeting claims of his alleged links to the Drudge Report and Breitbart. 

“Disinformation” or “misinformation” are euphemisms for content from the political opposition.

The campaign against them is really a program to eliminate the political opposition. That, not “disinformation”, is a real threat to democracy, and that, not the vicissitudes of net neutrality, embraced as an urgent crusade by many of the dot com censors, is the threat to freedom on the internet.

America and the internet were both born as experiments in free speech. But free speech is endangered.

The threat doesn’t just come from hysterical social justice children crying about their campus safe spaces. While conservatives have taken shots at easy targets, a growing alliance between the media, dot com monopolies, and lefty non-profits is contriving to transform the internet into one giant safe space.

Much like the Chinese internet, their vision is of a unipolar community where only one point of view is acceptable and all others are treated as a crime. But, unlike the People’s Republic, they don’t seek to keep the rest of the world out with a Great Firewall, but to force the opposition off the internet with a comprehensive program of political censorship, transforming social media itself into a social credit scheme, and cutting off traffic and funds to conservatives by redefining speech as “disinformation”.

“Free Speech is Killing Us,” the new lefty paradigm insists. But it wasn’t speech that killed millions of people under Communism and Nazis. It was totalitarian socialist regimes determined to stamp out free speech. A system may start out by banning words, books, sites, tweets and newspapers, but it rarely ends there.

Words are written and spoken by people. Those who set out to ban speech are really out to criminalize the men and women who speak them.

The detached terms that the new censorship is hiding behind, like ‘fighting disinformation’, are Orwellian euphemisms. Speech isn’t a bodiless abstraction. Disinformation implies an objective source of information. Nobody fights disinformation, they silence some people and empower others. They create authorities over speech and use that authority to perpetuate their own power structures.

The power to define “disinformation” is also the authority to define what “information” is.

The campaign to ban conservatives from the internet isn’t just about banishing them, but eliminating any opposition to the power of the governments, corporations and non-profits doing the banning.


Thursday, October 17, 2019

No more lunatics in Britain

People suffering mental ill health face being let down and stigmatised by “outdated” laws that still describe them as “lunatics,” says the Director of Public Prosecutions.

In an exclusive article for The Telegraph, Max Hill, QC, says criminal justice has lagged behind the rest of society in how it handles mental health even though research by his officials found one in five victims, witnesses or defendants has a mental health condition.

He said its failure to modernise meant there were examples of cases where two people with similar mental health issues could conceivably receive very different criminal justice outcomes which was unfair whether they were victims or defendants.


Airline ditches ‘ladies and gentlemen’ in favour of more politically correct term

It’s a standard greeting that’s been used airlines across the world for decades, but Air Canada crew will part with tradition by no longer using “ladies and gentlemen” when greeting passengers on the aircraft.

In a major change to the airline’s on-board protocol, passengers will no longer be referred to as “ladies and gentlemen” or the French “mesdames et messieurs”.

Instead, crew will use gender-neutral greetings such as “good morning everybody” in a bid to be more conscious of gender fluid passengers.

“We will be amending our on-board announcements to modernise them and remove specific references to gender,” an airline spokesperson said, according to CTV News Montreal.

The change in language will be adopted by gate agents, flight attendants and pilots.


Politeness falls victim to preoccupation with sexual abnormality

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

China isn’t the only country trying to stifle our free speech

A bunch of foreigners are deciding what we Americans can read online. Outrageous. Who do those Austrians think they are, anyway?

No, I didn’t get the country wrong. I’m talking about Austria, a liberal democracy and member of the European Union. Earlier this month, one of its politicians won a court case that ought to alarm all free-speaking Americans.

The ruling arose out of an incident in 2016, when someone on Facebook wrote that Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek, head of the Austrian Green Party, was a “lousy traitor” and a “corrupt bumpkin” who belonged to a “fascist party.” That kind of babble happens in the United States every day and barely merits a shrug, or maybe just a holla-back — “I’m no traitor! You’re a traitor!” But in Austria, such words may be sanctioned as illegal defamation.

Glawischnig-Piesczek sued in an Austrian court and won an order that Facebook must take down the offending words. But the court wasn’t content with riding herd on the reading habits of people in Austria. It held that Facebook had to take the message down around the world, so that absolutely nobody could read it.

In 2016, France fined Google for refusing to delete disputed information beyond the EU. After all, someone in France could still access that information, simply by going to the American version at instead of the French edition at But in September, the EU’s supreme court disagreed, ruling that Europe’s “right to be forgotten” can be enforced only against Google’s European sites.

Case closed? Not so fast.

On Oct. 3, the same court, ruling in the Glawischnig-Piesczek case, said that if the message in question is defamatory, the ban can be enforced worldwide. Facebook has to delete the disputed insults against her from its entire network, or it could face sanctions in the European Union, where the company generated about $14 billion in revenue last year. Worse yet, the court ruled that Facebook must also take down “equivalent content” — in other words, posts that say essentially the same thing.

Now, how to enforce such a ruling? Automate the process, the EU court says. Surely Facebook’s computers can ferret out every instance of the insults in question. That might work for exact copies of the original post. But Facebook must also ban messages that say roughly the same thing. But what if the words are used in a message that supports Glawischnig-Piesczek, or a news story that merely describes the affair?

Facebook must sort it all out on a global scale, every time an EU court demands a new takedown. That will never work. Either insults will seep through, or the filters will be so strict that even modest criticisms are barred, and free speech is smothered.

It’s unlikely this ruling will lead to a torrent of censorship requests, as unhappy Europeans will have to first win a defamation case. And while the EU nations may impose more limits on free speech than the US, they at least recognize the principle.


In Britain, even the dictionary is incorrect

A police force has been accused of “incredible irresponsibility” for treating the display of transphobic stickers around Oxford as a “serious crime”.

Some of the stickers, which have been dotted around the city centre, state: “Woman: noun. Adult human female” and “Women don’t have penises”.

Thames Valley Police has announced that those responsible could be charged with a public order offence and has appealed for witnesses.

It said: “Officers are investigating a large number of offensive stickers that have been placed across Oxford city centre containing transphobic comments.

"It is believed they started appearing in March within the High Street, Catte Street and Parks Road area.”

PC Rebecca Nightingale, the investigating officer, added: "Behaviour like this is not acceptable and we take incidents of this nature very seriously.”

Michael Biggs, Associate Professor in Sociology at the University of Oxford, suggested that the police had overreacted. “This is literally the Oxford English definition of what a woman is,” he said.

“I can’t believe that needs any stance at all. To say that a dictionary definition is a terrible hate crime is extraordinary. The police is being incredibly irresponsible."

Hundreds, or even thousands, of the stickers have been put up around Oxford since March, the police have said.

Others responded to the police response with disbelief. One resident wrote on Twitter: “You don’t see many officers in our area because they are busy dealing with this tosh.”

Another wrote: Oh no crime wave of stickers stating biological fact , sending prayers to the people of Oxford at this difficult time.”


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

'Woke' NBA Bows to Communist Tyrants

But Chinese influence over the decisions of American companies is growing.  

The Hong Kong protests have inspired people around the world and especially here at home. Some Americans have even taken to social media to voice their support, including Daryl Morey, general manager of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, who tweeted what he probably thought was a harmless show of support for freedom and democracy. After all, who among us could take issue with such a quintessentially American statement as “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong”?

Freedom-loving Americans, meet the “woke” NBA and its communist-sympathizing speech suppressors.

Morey was pressured to retract his statement by the NBA brass, which is bending over backwards to keep from offending Chinese President Xi Jinping and his despotic comrades. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who hates Donald Trump but loves the Black Lives Matter movement, thoroughly disgraced himself by apologizing to the ChiComs while all the world was watching.

This is what happens when American companies sell out in the blind pursuit of profits: They side with monstrous regimes that harvest the organs of their political prisoners. And that’s just one of the current abuses. Don’t forget the tens of millions slaughtered by previous ChiCom regimes.

It’s easy to find the hypocrisy in the NBA’s supplication to China. Suddenly, the league has decided to crack down on certain kinds of political expression while at the same time encouraging its players’ support of domestic “progressive” causes.

Remember, this is the same NBA that pulled its 2017 All Star Game out of Charlotte, North Carolina, after that state’s Republican governor signed a biological-sex “bathroom bill” into law. (One wonders whether the NBA has any clue as to how homosexual and transgender people are treated in China.)

ESPN’s social-justice warriors have been equally craven, as revealed in a leaked internal memo forbidding its on-air “talent” from even discussing Hong Kong or Chinese politics. This is the same ESPN whose president, Jimmy Pitarro, last year explained that whenever there is an intersection of sports and politics, “ESPN is the place of record. Of course, when you tune into ESPN … we need to be covering those stories, if there is a connection to sports.”

But when a nascent democracy movement makes the news? Crickets.

Here’s more: A CNN news reporter who questioned an NBA player about the controversy was shut down this week; Nike’s anti-Betsy Ross battalions are pulling Houston Rockets products from the shelves of Chinese stores; and Apple just removed from its App Store an app that helped the people of Hong Kong monitor police movements.

Remember, this is all the result of a seven-word pro-democracy tweet. If only Daryl Morey had tweeted, “Fight for Freedom. Impeach Donald Trump.”

Jarrett Stepman writes at The Daily Signal, “Political dialogue is great unless the gravy train from an authoritarian state is cut off, it seems. Celebrating the Betsy Ross flag is beyond the pale, but we don’t dare in any way contradict the whims of a brutal, police state regime that puts Muslims in concentration camps, forces women to have abortions, and throws citizens in prison for exercising their God-given right to free speech, among other atrocities.”

As the editors at the Washington Examiner explain, “Terrified of losing out on potential future profits from 1.4 billion Chinese consumers, Hollywood and Silicon Valley have bowed again and again to Chinese censors.”

If the Chinese were only interested in silencing a basketball league or a sports network, we might not have much to worry about, but their influence is growing more pervasive. They’re practically calling the shots in Hollywood and have already established nearly 90 Confucius Institutes in colleges and universities across America to indoctrinate our debt-ridden students with Chinese propaganda.

“These are the times that try men’s souls,” said Thomas Paine. Sadly, the NBA and many other American entities have already sold theirs. Perhaps we American consumers should begin to make buying decisions that reflect our displeasure.