Friday, November 29, 2019

It Can’t Happen Here? Muslim Organization Wants International Law Criminalizing Criticism of Islam

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which is made up of 56 nations plus the Palestinian Authority, met Thursday in Jeddah and called for the adoption of an international law criminalizing criticism of Islam. But that kind of law could never be adopted in the United States, could it? Think again.

The OIC’s secretary-general, Dr. Yousef al-Othaimeen, called upon the nations of the world, both Muslim and non-Muslim, to crack down on speech that was “insulting religions or prophets.” It was clear, however, that al-Othaimeen couldn’t have cared less about speech insulting Christianity or Judaism or Hinduism or Buddhism or any of the revered figures of those religions. He cared only about criticism of Islam.

“There are laws against anti-Semitism and racism,” said al-Othaimeen. “So we request a law against mocking religions.” He didn’t explain why laws against racism should lead to laws against criticizing belief systems, since, after all, contrary to the assumptions of Rachel Dolezal, Shaun King, and Elizabeth Warren, one cannot change one’s race, but one can change one’s beliefs, including religious beliefs. Al-Othaimeen likely knows this, but cited racism because he knows how to pull the right strings to get the Western intelligentsia to do what he wants.

“Islamophobia,” he continued, “is a sentiment of excessive fear against Islam that is transformed into acts of intolerance and discriminations against Muslims and even violent crimes against people with Islamic attires.”

No one should discriminate against Muslims or anyone, and genuine intolerance, when it shades over into illegal activity, and violent crime should always be prosecuted. But the OIC wants to go much farther than that, and get Western societies to criminalize criticism of Islam altogether.

Al-Othaimeen added: “These issues are of great importance, to be worked on in collaboration not only with governments, but also with people and non-profit organizations, to prove to everyone that Islam is the voice of mercy, moderation and coexistence with Muslims and non-Muslims.”

Yes, everyone who remembers 9/11, and the Fort Hood jihad massacre, and the Boston Marathon bombings, and a host of other jihad attacks, all carried out in accord with Islamic teachings, knows all about Islam’s “voice of mercy, moderation and coexistence with Muslims and non-Muslims.”

But this muzzling of criticism of Islam could never happen in America, right? Wrong. In fact, this is a lot closer to happening than most people realize. In October 2009, the Obama administration joined Egypt in supporting a resolution in the U.N.’s Human Rights Council to recognize exceptions to the freedom of speech for “any negative racial and religious stereotyping” (a highly subjective category). Approved by the U.N. Human Rights Council, the resolution called on states to condemn and criminalize “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.” Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton affirmed the Obama administration’s support for this on July 15, 2011, when she gave an address on the freedom of speech at an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conference on Combating Religious Intolerance. “Together," she said, “we have begun to overcome the false divide that pits religious sensitivities against freedom of expression and we are pursuing a new approach. These are fundamental freedoms that belong to all people in all places and they are certainly essential to democracy.”

But how could both religious sensitivities and freedom of expression be protected?

Clinton had a First Amendment to deal with, and so in place of legal restrictions on criminalization of Islam, she suggested “old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming, so that people don’t feel that they have the support to do what we abhor.” She held a lengthy closed-door meeting with OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu in December 2011 to facilitate the adoption of measures that would advance the OIC’s anti-free speech campaign. But what agreements she and Ihsanoglu made, if any, have never been disclosed. Still, the specter of an American Secretary of State conferring with a foreign official about how to restrict the freedom of speech in order to stifle communications deemed offensive to Muslims was, at the very least, chilling.

Nor was that a singular case. In July 2012, Thomas Perez — then the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, was asked by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.):

Will you tell us here today that this administration’s Department of Justice will never entertain or advance a proposal that criminalizes speech against any religion?
Perez could have simply answered yes, and maybe even cited the First Amendment. Instead, Perez refused to answer the question directly. Franks persisted, ultimately asking it four times. Perez at one point responded that it was a “hard question.” He simply refused to affirm that the Obama Justice Department would not attempt to criminalize criticism of Islam.

This is today’s Democratic Party. If a Democrat wins the presidency in 2020 or thereafter, will that president advance the Left’s assault on the freedom of speech and move to implement Sharia restrictions on criticism of Islam in the United States? You can bet on it.

In that eventuality, I hope some of y’all will visit me in prison.


Piers Morgan backs Irish bar that posted jokey 'snowflake' job ad for 'self-entitled, over sensitive individual who can take offence from the most innocuous things', but then had to say sorry after snowflakes complained

Piers Morgan has applauded a Dublin bar that advertised for a 'full-time snowflake' to join their team - but was left exasperated by those who complained about it.

Oscars cafe bar in the Irish capital posted a joke advert for the role on social media last week.

Staff said they would only be accepting 'self-entitled, over sensitive' people who 'take offense from the most innocuous things imaginable'.

Praising the stunt today on Good Morning Britain, host Piers said: 'Next time I'm in Dublin, one of my favourite cities, I will go to the Oscars café bar.

'And I urge all like-minded souls who believe in free speech and who are anti-snowflake to go and support them through this difficult time.'

But Oscars was forced to remove parts of the joke advert after members of the LGBT+ community complained about the section on gender pronouns.

The original social media post read: 'Typing skills are essential as this role will involve ALOT of typing such as leaving one star reviews on Tripadvisor because the server in the Restaurant did not address you with the correct pronoun.'

Commenters were outraged with one saying: 'Wow. It just gets worse as you read. We all love a joke about people's pronouns...'

Owner Ronan Flood said he regretted the reference to pronouns and has always supported the LGBT+ community, hosting events for Dublin's Pride festival. He told The Sun: 'The reference to pronouns was an ill judged inclusion which I regret.

But Piers said the 'world has gone nuts' and lamented that the 'snowflakes' forced an apology out of the bar.


Thursday, November 28, 2019

Academic at prestigious Sydney university is accused of harassing HERSELF after reporting 'fake threatening letters to police'

That's happened many times in America

A UTS lecturer has been charged after allegedly faking a harassment campaign against herself.

The academic, 49, claimed she was getting threatening letters and that her clothes were being stolen from her backyard.

But police arrested her on campus two weeks ago after allegedly discovering she was faking the whole thing.

The saga began in May when the woman told police she had received threatening letters about the cancellation of a university course.

Police launched 'significant' security measures to protect her as they investigated.

Between May and August, the woman claimed she had got four threatening letters.

The woman was arrested on 15 November and taken to Day Street Police Station.

She was charged with dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception, give false information person/property in danger, and false representation resulting in police investigation.

Police will allege in court that the woman sent the threatening letters to herself.


Trump Under Fire for Using Male Pronouns to Describe Conan the Hero Dog

Forget the alleged quid pro quo with Ukraine, Trump has a new controversy on his hands which might actually succeed in getting him impeached: referring to the hero dog Conan, who took part in and was injured during the al-Baghdadi raid, with male pronouns.

Conan, a Belgian Malinois, was at the White House for a ceremony honoring her role in last month's raid when Trump made the unforgivable error.

Naturally, the mix-up launched a lot of social media buzz, with people posting photos of Conan and noting the situation on the dog's underside.

As comforting as it is that people are acknowledging the biological reality of the presence of certain sex organs and how that correlates to gender, the amount of digital ink and time spent on this rather simple mistake seems excessive.

For starters, I was originally shocked to learn the name of the dog was Conan because Conan is a male name—or at least generally it is. Of course, in my experience, people generally assume dogs to be boys.

I have a beagle-bulldog mix named Zuzu, and people who meet her have been incorrectly referring to her as a boy for eight years. "What his name?" "How old is he?" "What breed is he?" etc. etc. Even people who have known her for years occasionally slip and use male pronouns.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Video: How the Left Weaponized Language

Andrew Klavan explains that the Left understands that language is a weapon.


Canadian man sues parliament after claiming bubblers made him feel like a ‘second-class citizen’

A French-speaking Canadian is a richer today after claiming water bubblers in his country’s parliament building made him feel like a “second-class citizen”.

Montreal man Michael Thibodeau took the Senate to court earlier this year, claiming the English-labelled drinking fountains — with the word “push” embossed into the metal button — had violated his language rights.

Canada’s Federal Court ordered the Senate to pay Mr Thibodeau $C1500 ($A1659) as compensation and his court costs — $C700 ($A774).

In his judgment delivered last week, Federal Court Justice Luc Martineau ruled Canada’s parliament had “failed to meet its obligations” under the country’s Official Languages Act, CTV News reported.

Other bubblers in Canada’s Parliament Hill precinct had been embossed with braille for blind people but none had the word “poussez” — French for push — on them.

Mr Thibodeau, who is well-known for claiming his language rights have been violated in court, initially filed a complaint with the Senate in September 2016 after working in the buildings as a public servant since 1997.

In response to Mr Thibodeau’s initial complaint, the Senate quickly installed bilingual signs above the bubblers that read, “to activate the water fountain, please push the button”, in both English and French.


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

63% Support Religious Freedom at Work, Survey Finds

Most Americans support a broad definition of religious freedom and accommodation of minority religious beliefs in the workplace, despite a growing sense of polarization in the public square, according to a new study.

The Religious Freedom Index reports that 63% of those surveyed said they support someone else’s freedom to practice religion at work or elsewhere in life “even if it creates an imposition or inconvenience for others.”

The findings of the study, from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, underscore widespread consensus in favor of accepting and accommodating cultural and religious differences in a variety of contexts, even as national polls report that religiosity in general is declining in America.

“Most Americans recognize that the freedom to live and work according to our beliefs is an unalienable human right,” Emilie Kao, director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, said in an email to The Daily Signal. “All Americans lose when the government is empowered to punish citizens for living out their deeply held religious beliefs in the public square.”

The Becket report says the willingness of a majority of Americans to accommodate religion in the workplace extends to expressions of minority faith practices, such as not eating pork (81%). It found that 74% of those surveyed said they support co-workers who decline to work on the Sabbath or who express their faith by wearing clothing such as a hijab, turban, or kippah.

The study says its findings contradict the perceptions of many Americans. Of those surveyed, for example, 71% overestimated the level of religious discrimination faced by people of faith, with only about 1 in 3 saying that society as a whole is accepting of religion.

When asked to estimate how often people of faith are discriminated against, the percentage of respondents who said “a few times a year/all the time” was double what people of faith actually reported to Becket.

In yet another surprising twist on common media narratives, 7 in 10 respondents said they support a hands-off government approach to religion in the workplace.

Amid headlines about florists or bakers facing lawsuits and government infractions for refusing to compromise on their faith, the Becket report shows that most Americans are in favor of business owners running their organization according to religious beliefs and of faith-based groups making employment decisions without government interference.

The Religious Freedom Index surveyed a representative sample of 1,000 Americans age 18 and older using an online annual poll. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.1%.

The findings come amid reports that Christianity is declining in America. In a recent Pew Research Center survey, 65% of those surveyed described themselves as Christians, down 12 points since 2009. The percentage of self-identified religiously unaffiliated people, by contrast, rose by nine points during the same period.

The Becket study finds that despite this decline in religiosity, support for religious freedom as a fundamental right remains strong—with a majority willing to accommodate beliefs they personally find offensive.

“The freedom to disagree with the government,” Kao said, “ensures that our diversity does not become divisive and that our pluralism is peaceful.”


A Catholic nun who was told she could stay in a retirement home in France only if she stopped wearing religious clothing was wronged

PARIS — A Catholic nun who was told she could stay in a retirement home in France only if she stopped wearing religious clothing was wronged, French officials say, in a case that they say misinterpreted the country’s laws prohibiting religious attire in some public spaces.

The nun, who is older than 70 and has not been publicly identified, had been living in a convent in southeastern France when she decided to retire in Haute-Saône, her native region farther north.

Her application to live in a unit in a publicly funded retirement home in Vesoul, a town about 55 miles northeast of Dijon, was accepted in July. But the home, which is run by the local authorities, specified that she would have to accommodate the other residents by not wearing her religious habit or veil.

In a letter sent to the nun, and seen last week by the news outlet Agence France-Presse, the retirement home told her that “all ostentatious signs of belonging to a religious community cannot be accepted in order to guarantee everyone’s serenity.” “Religion is a private matter and must remain so,” the letter said.

The nun did not agree to go without her habit, and the local parish helped her rent a private apartment instead.

Officials now say that the retirement home wrongly applied France’s secularism laws, and Alain Chrétien, the mayor of Vesoul, apologized in a statement Tuesday.

“This error of judgment is very regrettable,” Chrétien said, adding that he was “personally” committed to finding the nun a spot in a public retirement home if she so wished.

France has faced numerous heated debates over the place of religion in society in recent years, centered on the concept of laïcité, a policy of state secularism that first emerged during the French Revolution and took form in the 19th century, culminating in a landmark 1905 law on the separation of church and state.

A cultural aversion to public expressions of all faiths still holds strong, but in recent years, it has focused on Muslim attire, especially women wearing head scarves. Recently, a local politician asked a Muslim mother on a school trip in Dijon to remove her hijab, igniting weeks of vitriolic nationwide debate.

The nun’s case had gone unnoticed until last week, when the Rev. Florent Belin, the parish priest in Vesoul, mentioned her in his monthly newsletter, lamenting that she had been forced to find her own apartment.

“People harp on with principles of laïcité that are not understood,” Belin wrote. “Old demons, mismanaged fears are blocking situations.”

Last week, Claude Ferry, the head of the public organization that manages the retirement home, told France Bleu, a network of local radio stations, that the nun had declined the spot in the home because she “did not want to accept the rules, which are the same for everyone.”

But French officials say those rules are a misguided use of France’s national policy.

Nicolas Cadène, a senior member of the Observatory of Secularism, an agency that helps the government enforce laïcité, said that France’s religious neutrality restrictions applied only to state employees and other public servants on the job, not to the general public.

Cadène said in a telephone interview that the nun’s case was “the very demonstration” of a “wrong interpretation of laïcité.”

“Under the rule of law, you don’t ban something because it displeases this or that individual. You only ban it if it is objectively disturbing public order,” he said. “And that is obviously not the case when you have simple citizens who are wearing religious attire and who don’t represent any public administrations.”

Chrétien, the mayor of Vesoul, said in an interview published by the magazine Le Point on Wednesday that the retirement home’s staff had committed a “big blunder” but that state employees were sometimes “paralyzed” when dealing with the “inflammable” issue of secularism. “The topic is not consensual, because everyone has their own definition,” he said.

For Cadène, that is partly because debates over Muslims in France have led to a “great confusion” about secularism laws and have shifted public discourse toward a stricter understanding of laïcité.

“By constantly trying to extend neutrality, first by targeting a specific religion, it always winds up extending to other religions and beliefs,” he said. “It’s a real danger.”


Monday, November 25, 2019

Kamala Harris Says, 'In the Year of Our Lord' in the Debate. Twitter Loses Its Mind

During the Democratic Debate on Wednesday, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Flailing) spoke about the gender pay gap "in the year of our Lord 2019." People on Twitter noticed it, and didn't know how to respond.

Charles Lane, a Washington Post opinion writer, suggested the phrase — a reference to the system of dating years in relation to the birth of Jesus Christ — is "colonialist."

"'The Year of our Lord 2019' is a colonialist concept isn't it?" Lane tweeted.

Author Caroline Moss thought it was a joke. Then she said it was "so embarrassing!!!!!"

"I use Year of Our Lord as a joke all the time, but I'm an atheist," Robyn Pennacchia, a writer for Wonkette and Patheos's Friendly Atheist blog, chimed in.

Matt Lewis, a senior columnist at the Daily Beast and political commentator for CNN, noted that Harris said "the year of our Lord" instead of "Common Era." He asked, "What happened to the party that booed God?"

Roman Catholic New Yorker Ryan James Girdusky tweeted, "Thank you [Kamala Harris], but that's not going to win you the religious black vote."


UK: Putting the thought police on trial

A legal challenge against the police’s Orwellian attacks on free speech is long overdue.

In January this year, Harry Miller, a 53-year-old docker [longshoreman] and former police officer, was investigated by Humberside Police for retweeting a supposedly transphobic poem. Speaking to a police officer on the phone, Miller asked whether he had committed a crime, to which came the ominous response: ‘We need to check your thinking.’

His retweet had been reported as a ‘non-crime hate incident’ – essentially offensive speech or behaviour which police often investigate and record in cases where no crime has been committed.

Previously unaware that Kafka and Orwell had written training manuals for police officers, Miller decided to bring a court case against the College of Policing, whose Hate Crime Operational Guidance (HCOG), issued in 2014, forms the basis of current practice. As Miller has argued at the High Court this week, ‘the idea that a law-abiding citizen can have their name recorded against a hate incident on a crime report when there was neither hate nor crime undermines principles of justice, free expression, democracy and common sense’.

This action is long overdue. The HCOG instructs officers to record hateful incidents ‘irrespective of whether there is any evidence to identify the hate element’. The government’s website on hate crime also includes an overview of ‘hate incidents’, which are described as ‘behaviour which isn’t a crime but which is perceived by the victim, or anybody else, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on the five protected characteristics’ (race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity and disability). Note the use of the word ‘victim’ rather than ‘complainant’ – the presumption of innocence so casually dismissed through rhetorical sleight-of-hand.

This is, in part, the legacy of Keir Starmer’s tenure as Director of Public Prosecutions (from 2008 to 2013) and the subsequent politicisation of the Crown Prosecution Service. The presumption of guilt and the pressure to convict people for political reasons has been particularly corrosive in rape cases. Police and prosecutors have withheld evidence that would exonerate innocent suspects. The presumption of guilt was also the reasoning behind the disastrous Operation Midland, which wasted millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money pursuing fabricated stories of child murder and sexual abuse at the heart of Westminster. Investigators judged the fantasies of the accuser, Carl Beech, to be ‘credible and true’ without a shred of evidence.

While the recording of so-called non-crime hate incidents in cases like Miller’s does not lead to criminal prosecution, it nevertheless reflects this broader trend towards the politicisation of our criminal-justice system.

When the police fail to act in a politically neutral manner, they inevitably veer into authoritarianism. We saw this last March with the conviction of Markus Meechan (the YouTuber known as ‘Count Dankula’) for his ‘Nazi pug’ joke. In fact, over 3,000 people are arrested each year in the UK for offensive comments posted online. Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 criminalises online speech that can be deemed ‘grossly offensive’ by the courts (without any requirement for a prosecutor to prove that there was any intention to cause offence). It is a grotesque infringement on civil liberties.

It sometimes seems as if police departments are engaged in a competition to see who can behave in the most menacing manner on social media. ‘Think before you post or you may receive a visit from us this weekend’, tweeted Greater Glasgow Police in 2016. Not to be outdone, South Yorkshire Police called on the public last year to ‘report non-crime hate incidents, which can include things like offensive or insulting comments’.

Such a sinister approach to police work suggests that the divisive and illiberal ideology of ‘social justice’ has infected our law-enforcement agencies. The investigating officer in the Harry Miller case, for instance, made a startling statement when he spoke to Miller on the phone in January. ‘I’ve been on a course’, he explained, ‘and what you need to understand is that you can have a fetus with a female brain that grows male body parts and that’s what a transgender person is’. Since when is it the role of the police to uphold such pseudo-scientific belief systems?

This is one of the more incoherent aspects of the extreme wings of gender ideology. On the one hand, we are told not to question the biologically essentialist view that trans people are born with a brain that is gendered in a way counter to their anatomy. And on the other, we are told that gender is entirely socially constructed. This week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stated that: ‘Men who get their periods are men. Men who get pregnant and give birth are men.’ The dogmatic tone suggests a reluctance to engage in any kind of debate on this most contentious of issues. The vast majority of people understand that gender is, in reality, a complicated relationship between biological and social factors. In making such bold assertions, the ACLU is mistaking its own arguments for proof.

The chilling of public discussion on these matters is counterproductive for all concerned, not least for the majority of trans people who have little in common with the more pugnacious activists who claim to speak on their behalf. Matters can hardly be expected to improve with the police involving themselves in such a high-handed and partisan way. In October last year, comedy writer Graham Linehan was given a verbal warning by police for failing to use a trans activist’s preferred pronouns on Twitter. In February, Kate Scottow was arrested and locked in a cell for the crime of ‘deadnaming’ (referring to a trans person by the name he or she used before transitioning). In this kind of climate, how is anyone ever likely to be persuaded one way or the other?

This is why Harry Miller’s case against the College of Policing is so important. It should go without saying that the police have absolutely no business investigating citizens for ‘non-crimes’, yet there seems to be little appetite among our politicians to do anything about it. In a sense this is understandable. To stand up for the principle of free speech takes real bravery. It means defending the rights of bad people to express their bad ideas. As Mr Justice Knowles, the judge in the Miller case, has pointed out: ‘Freedom-of-expression laws are not there to protect statements such as “kittens are cute” – but they are there to protect unpleasant things.’

We need to repeal all legislation that criminalises speech, whether it is public-order laws, communications laws or hate speech-laws. And we need to throw out the police’s ludicrous guidance on hate incidents. In a liberal society, citizens should be free to express themselves however they see fit. The consequences of offensive or abusive speech should be criticism, protest, counter-argument and ridicule. To investigate, arrest and prosecute people simply for speaking their minds is the behaviour of a police state.


Sunday, November 24, 2019

UK: Primary school backs down after atheist parents claimed daily prayers breached children’s human rights

A primary school has backed down in a fight with atheist parents who claimed that holding daily prayers breached their children’s human rights.

Lee Harris and his wife Lizanne bought a judicial review against Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust (ODST) after arguing that Burford Primary School is acting “unlawfully”.

They alleged that since ODST took over the running of the community school in 2015, they noticed “harmful aspects of evangelism spreading into assembly” and other parts of their pupils' education.

In the first case of its kind, they argued that this interferes with their children's right to receive an education “free from religious interference”.

ODST is a multi-academy trust that runs 33 schools, all of which are Church of England bar four, including  Burford Primary, which are designated as non-religious “community schools”. 

The trust says on its website that it “operates within the family of the Diocese of Oxford” adding: “We are motivated by our Christian values to serve our local communities, but we do not impose those values”.

This week, ODST reached a settlement with Mr and Mrs Harris and made a series of concessions including  that they will provide “age-appropriate inclusive materials/activities” to the children as an alternative to “collective worship”.

Mr and Mrs Harris said they are “delighted that the school has backed down and agreed to provide our children with an alternative, inclusive assembly of equal educational worth”.


Cambridge University students cry fowl over 17th century painting that upsets vegetarians

It is a rather unpleasant painting

Some Cambridge University students might consider it a privilege to eat beneath a 17th century oil painting. But not if the students are vegetarian or vegan, and the work features animals bound for the dinner table.

The Fowl Market, from the studio of the 16th century Flemish artist Frans Snyders, has been removed from the dining room of Hughes Hall following complaints that it was putting non-meat-eaters off their food.

The painting features a collection of dead animals, including a swan, a boar, a deer and various game birds.

It had been on long-term loan from the university’s Fitzwilliam Museum. After its return in December last year, it underwent conservation treatment and is about to go on display as part of a new exhibition, Fast & Fast: The Art of Food in Europe, 1500-1800.

A museum spokeswoman explained: “Some diners felt unable to eat because it was on the wall. People who don’t eat meat found it slightly repulsive. They asked for it to come down.

“This exhibition makes the points that the debate about vegetarianism, about veganism, is nothing new. It dates back to the 1500s.”


Friday, November 22, 2019

Northwestern Administrators Slap Down Left-Wing Activists Following Sessions/Journalism Firestorm

If you missed this firestorm over student journalists at Northwestern University apologizing for their journalistic acts covering Jeff Sessions' recent on-campus speech, in the face of heavy pressure from left-wing student activists, go back and read this piece

At the tail end of my original post, I linked to a relatively strong and clear-headed statement released by the Dean of the journalism school, which systematically dismantled the Daily editors' groveling and upbraided the woke mob for their bullying. A taste of what he wrote:

"Let me be perfectly clear, the coverage by The Daily Northwestern of the protests stemming from the recent appearance on campus by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in no way beyond the bounds of fair, responsible journalism...

I am deeply troubled by the vicious bullying and badgering that the students responsible for that coverage have endured for the “sin” of doing journalism...

I have also offered that it is naïve, not to mention wrong-headed, to declare, as many of our student activists have, that The Daily staff and other student journalists had somehow violated the personal space of the protestors by reporting on the proceedings, which were conducted in the open and were designed, ostensibly, to garner attention...

I patently reject the notion that our students have no right to report on communities other than those from which they hail, and I will never affirm that students who do not come from marginalized communities cannot understand or accurately convey the struggles of those populations.

[The editors were beaten] into submission by the vitriol and relentless public shaming they have been subjected to since the Sessions stories appeared. I think it is a testament to their sensitivity and sense of community responsibility that they convinced themselves that an apology would effect a measure of community healing...

I might offer, however, that their well-intentioned gesture sends a chilling message about journalism and its role in society. It suggests that we are not independent authors of the community narrative, but are prone to bowing to the loudest and most influential voices in our orbit. To be sure, journalism has often bowed to the whim and will of the rich and powerful, so some might argue that it is only fair that those who feel dispossessed and disenfranchised have their turn at calling the journalistic shots. But that is not the solution...

waging war on our students on social media—threatening them both physically and emotionally—is beyond the pale."

The Dean also appeared in a CNN segment over the weekend in which he stressed the difference between journalism and activism -- conceding that many students arrive at the Medill school with the mentality of journalism as activism:

Many of our students, when they start, think of journalism as advocacy as well, and we quickly try to disabuse them of that notion

I appreciate this message, though recent events suggest that the 'disabusing' process he mentions may need to become more rigorous and urgent than it currently is. I also believe that journalism schools, in general, need to better equip and prepare their students to withstand attacks on their work, particularly from the powerful campus Left and other extreme groups.

I also appreciate the response from university president Morton Schapiro (with whom I've had my occasional disagreements) to a ludicrous open letter signed by dozens of woke young alumni in the aftermath of this controversy. Here is a portion of their melodramatic tantrum:

"We are writing this open letter to express our extreme shock and dismay at the university’s violent and repressive response to last Tuesday evening’s student protest of Northwestern University College Republicans’ (NUCR) Jeff Sessions event. Namely, we are appalled at the ways in which NUPD officers brutalized multiple student protestors in defense of Sessions and the fascist ideologies for which he stands. We write as alumni, as former student activists, and as those in community with the students brave enough to directly challenge the vitriolic hatred of the right wing, even in the face of the university’s intense suppression...we know that NUPD officers forcefully grabbed and shoved students, and multiple students were pushed onto the ground...

Northwestern’s administration has historically cited freedom of expression and academic thought as rationale behind allowing dangerous entities to be present on campus, including ICE, [and] a string of right wing political pundits and figures...However, we believe it is irresponsible and dangerous for you, Mr. Schapiro and Mr. Lewis, to prioritize such freedoms over the lives and safety of marginalized students. In doing so, the university has consistently posited the humanity of marginalized students as an intellectual playground or site of political debate. In allowing these same students to be physically punished by police, Northwestern has sent a loud and clear message: speech is free, but only for the powerful.  The violently racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, and homophobic hatred that Jeff Sessions spews has real-life deadly consequences for marginalized communities."

Cartoonishly ridiculous. Fortunately, it was tersely dismissed as such by Schapiro:

Crucial to breaking the fever of mind-coddling 'social justice' insanity on campuses is adults asserting their adulthood and authority. More of this, please.


Are hate crimes up or down? The government has no idea

by Jeff Jacoby

ON TUESDAY, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released its annual report on hate crimes in the United States. The total number of such crimes tabulated by the bureau in 2018 was down from the year before — it dropped from 7,175 to 7,120 — so you might have thought the report would be covered as a good-news story. But hate crime statistics are invariably spun as evidence that things are getting worse, and the headlines fit the usual pattern:

New York Times: "Hate-crime violence hits 16-year high, FBI reports"

Los Angeles Times: "Latinos and transgender people see big increases in hate crimes, FBI reports"

CNN: "Hate crimes remain at heightened levels, FBI report finds"

New York Daily News: "Anti-LGBTQ violence in U.S. is rising, according to FBI's hate crime report"

The headlines aren't wrong. The FBI tally does show that crimes against individuals (as opposed to property-related crimes, such as vandalism or arson) rose to 4,571 in 2018, an 11.8 percent increase from 2017. The number of reported offenses targeting Latinos did increase from 427 to 485. Hate crimes motivated by sexual-orientation bias were up, accounting for nearly 19 percent of the total.

But do those statistics actually tell us anything reliable about hate crimes in America? Arguably not.

To begin with, all of the crimes included in the FBI report amount to less than a rounding error in US crime statistics. In 2018, according to the bureau's overall report on crime in America, there were more than 1.2 million violent crimes and nearly 7.2 million property crimes. All of the hate crimes in the new FBI report taken together constitute only 0.08 percent, or eight of every 10,000 crimes, nationwide. Murder alone accounted for more than 16,200 of the nation's violent crimes in 2018. But only 24 murders are included in the hate crime survey.

That survey, moreover, is notoriously incomplete. The annual hate crime numbers are drawn from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting program, which compiles data submitted voluntarily by state and local enforcement agencies: police departments, sheriff's offices, public safety bureaus, highway patrols, and so on. There are more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide, of which 16,039 sent data to the FBI for 2018. But the overwhelming majority of those agencies, more than 14,000 of them, "reported that no hate crimes occurred in their jurisdictions in 2018," according to the new FBI document. In at least two states, Alabama and Wyoming, no agency reported even a single crime motivated by bias.

With so few local agencies contributing hate-crime information to the FBI, even a tiny shift in the number of participating police departments can sharply change the bottom line. Dozens of large cities — including Newark, N.J., St. Petersburg, Fla., and Laredo, Tex. — either shared no data at all with the FBI or reported zero hate crimes for 2018. If only a handful of those cities provide more complete information for 2019, next year's report will likely show a jump in the prevalence of hate crime, even though the underlying reality may be unchanged. "We know less about this topic than we imagine," writes legal scholar Walter Olson.

Adding to the dubiousness of the hate crime report is the Justice Department's annual National Crime Victimization Survey. Unlike the FBI reports, the victimization survey is produced by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which annually interviews residents of about 95,000 households. Based on those interviews, the federal government estimates that 250,000 hate crimes occur in America each year — a difference of two orders of magnitude from the FBI report. And whereas the FBI's yearly hate crime statistics show significant fluctuations in the types of offenses or groups experiencing attacks, the national victimization survey's estimate has held steady for years.

That isn't all.

The FBI's definition of hate crimes has changed over time, making it harder to identify real changes or trends in crimes motivated by bigotry. In the last few years, new categories of bias were added, the elements of rape were broadened, and the separate listings for race and ethnicity were combined.

But perhaps the most serious problem of all is with treating "hate crime" as a definable term in the first place.

Violent crimes motivated by bigotry against a victim's race, religion, or sexual orientation are unquestionably repugnant. But aren't violent crimes motivated by other kinds of bigotry or hatred just as repugnant? Is it worse if predators brutally assault people for being Asian or Muslim or disabled — categories of bias covered by the FBI report — than if they attack people with equal brutality because they are homeless or prolife, or anti-Nazi protesters, categories that are not recognized under the Hate Crime Statistics Act? Is it more terrible to open fire in a synagogue because you hate Jews than to do the exact same thing because you get a thrill from killing innocent people?

Meanwhile, how many ordinary offenses get reported as hate crimes merely because of an insult or slur yelled in the heat of an argument?

"This appears to have actually happened, perhaps many times," writes law professor Gail Heriot in a report published Wednesday by the US Commission on Civil Rights. She cites a case from Santa Monica, Calif., in which "an African-American woman parked her car in two spaces and an 80-year-old white man got into an argument with her. The argument boiled over when the man began engaging in childish name-calling and kicking. . . . While the man used a well-known racial epithet, there was no evidence that he harbored actual ill feelings toward African-Americans as a group. The 'group' he really had a beef with was people who take up two spaces with one car. But Santa Monica College police took him into custody (rightly, since he committed a battery) and the act was classified as a hate crime (without more facts, perhaps wrongly)."

Singling out and adding up hate crimes is a subjective task, one the FBI has never managed to pull off successfully. Maybe it's time the government stopped trying to draw such distinctions at all, and left the analysis of hate crimes to scholars and private organizations. The focus of law enforcement should be on criminals' evil deeds, not on the evil thoughts behind them.


Thursday, November 21, 2019

Free speech for therapists threatened -- and beaten

The story begins in 2018, when the New York City government passed a law that determined what types of conversations therapists can have with their patients.

The news came as a shock to Dr. Dovid Schwartz. Dr. Schwartz has been a licensed psychotherapist for more than 50 years. He has served thousands of patients during that time with great success.

But New York City’s law threatened to change all that. Put simply, the law made it illegal for Dr. Schwartz to help patients address unwanted same-sex attractions or confusion over gender identity in a manner consistent with his faith—and theirs.

Dr. Schwartz is a member of the Lubavitcher Orthodox Jewish Community in Brooklyn. Most of his patients share his Jewish faith.

Dr. Schwartz walks his patients through all kinds of struggles, from addiction to anger to family issues. Most of them are looking for help to live more consistently with the teachings of their Orthodox Jewish faith. By simply having a conversation with his patients—and offering some suggestions—Dr. Schwartz has helped a number of them pursue and achieve their personal goals.

But because of the New York City law, if any of these individuals came to Dr. Schwartz asking him to help them move away from same-sex attraction or feel more comfortable with their biological sex, he would have had to either turn them away or face fines up to $10,000—per patient!

The law was blatantly unconstitutional. It violated Dr. Schwartz’s freedom of speech and threatened the religious freedom of his patients who were seeking to live consistently with their religious beliefs.

Dr. Schwartz knew he could not stand by and tell his patients that he couldn’t help them, or that there was no hope. So he reached out to Alliance Defending Freedom.  We were able to help Dr. Schwartz challenge this unconstitutional law in court.

And in an amazing turn of events, Dr. Schwartz’s lawsuit triggered the New York City council to repeal the law. What a win for freedom!

Via email from ADF

Bonds's racy new Christmas campaign showing same-sex couple sharing a kiss is slammed as 'inappropriate' and 'disgusting' with some critics calling for a boycott

It would put me right off buying a Bonds product -- JR

Australian retailer Bonds has sparked debate for featuring a same-sex couple embracing in a passionate kiss in its new Christmas campaign.

The playful ad, titled 'It's the Bonds that make the season', shows a real-life couple sharing an intimate moment in the kitchen while sporting the brand's briefs.

The advertising campaign was posted on Instagram and Facebook on Monday, with the caption: 'It's the little moments that make the Christmas season so special.'

While many fans praised the underwear brand for promoting 'love is love', others described the ad as 'inappropriate' and 'disgusting'.

Some people questioned whether it was 'necessary' to show 'sexualised behaviour'.

'Unnecessary... Why do they need to be so sexual? Before anyone gets tingles in their pants and jumps down my throat I would be saying the same if it was a man and a woman. I don't see why they need to have their tongues intertwined,' Mel said.

Kelley said: 'If it was a man and woman making out it would be flagged inappropriate and too much, but the double standard of it being deemed appropriate because they're gay... it's too much.'

Others even threatened to 'boycott' or 'unfollow' the brand on social media.

'Why Bonds? Would have been just as horrified if this was a straight couple. Unfollowing,' Melanie said.

An Ad Standards spokesperson confirmed to Daily Mail Australia it 'received less than five complaints about the campaign which are currently being assessed'.


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Academics are now being fired for using the n-word in an entirely educational way

It’s no longer surprising but still has the capacity to shock: an attorney for a state university in Texas lost her job because she quoted a verboten word during a discussion of free speech. In a doomed effort to explain that language widely considered hateful is constitutionally protected, she said: ‘It’s impossible to talk about the First Amendment without saying horrible things. “You’re just a dumb nigger and I hate you.” That alone, that’s protected speech.’

She was out of a job in less than 24 hours, despite immediately offering an abject apology: ‘I just want to sincerely apologise. I did not mean by any means [to] offend anyone. I wish I had censored that word, it came out without thought. I sincerely apologise. I literally have never said that word in a public setting before… I did not mean to, I was trying to be real.’

Still the university president condemned her language and the student government association president demanded her resignation as a demonstration of the school’s commitment to anti-racism.

But refusing to distinguish between using an epithet and merely quoting one, especially during a discussion of free speech, is not anti-racism – it’s anti-reason, denoting a gross failure of critical thinking. Discussing racist speech is simply not the equivalent of trafficking in it. That used to be obvious, even to left-wing critical-race theorists who helped initiate the current crusade against free speech some 30 years ago. Back in 1993, law professor Mari Matsuda, who advocated banning bigoted speech, suggested making exceptions for people who quoted it for purposes other than ‘hate-mongering’, like ‘news reporters who repeat racist speech in reporting the news of its utterance [or] law professors who repeat racist words in hypotheticals for class discussion of the First Amendment’.

That was then. Today, language phobias abound, making the mere sound of certain words presumptively traumatic, regardless of meaning or context. Is this assertion of extreme emotional fragility sincere or simply a power pose – a tactic framing censorship as an act of virtue, not a self-serving assault on individual rights? Perhaps it’s both. I suspect that many have been convinced by woke culture of the damage done by the mere utterance of certain syllables, but that they also recognise the power of their presumptive fragility. From the always aggrieved Donald Trump to the denizens of woke culture, the self-proclaimed harassed and oppressed effectively employ the political uses of victimhood.

So, today, people who quote verboten words, in any context and for any purpose, instead of referencing them by their initials, are routinely vilified. Five years ago I was accused of committing an act of racial violence for quoting the racist language of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn during an academic discussion of free speech, literature and law. I was also condemned for quoting the word ‘cunt’ instead of referencing ‘the c-word’, (which, from my perspective, is ‘censorship’). I exacerbated my sin by defending it, instead of apologising.

But if we’re not allowed ever to utter words deemed racist, sexist or homophobic, even to condemn their use or explain free-speech law, why should we be able to say ‘c-word’ or ‘n-word’, calling the unspoken words to the minds of our listeners, effectively asking them to traumatise themselves? Soon, progressive censors may condemn and cancel us for making any coded references to verboten words. Given their speech phobias, and the power those phobias confer, why shouldn’t they?


Is God punishing Australia with drought and bushfires?

As an atheist, I cannot agree with that.  But in Australia you are allowed to say that, despite much condemnation. See Israel Folau's words below.  His beliefs are part of a resilient Christian tradition that sees God's hands in earthly events.  Many Christians do, for instance, see God's protective hand in their own lives.  And that is a great source of comfort and reassurance to them.

And seeing Bible passages as prophetic of world events is also common.  Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists have been doing so for well over hundred years -- and there is always some fervent Christian somewhere doing it. Seeing the book of Daniel as prophetic is particularly common.  So what Folau is saying is simply one part of the Christian tradition, a part that is evidence of a fervent Christian committment.

Even Jesus did it. His words in Matthew 24 are usually seen by Christians as prophetic of the Roman invasion of Jerusalem

Sacked Wallabies star Israel Folau’s claim the bushfires that have devastated Australia and left six dead are God’s punishment for legalising abortion and same-sex marriage has sparked a furious reaction.

Dumped by Rugby Australia after warning homosexuals and other sinners they will go to hell unless they repent, Folau has doubled down on the stance in a video sermon posted to the Truth of Jesus Christ Church Sydney.

During the 10-minute recording, the 30-year-old says the timing of the bushfire crisis is no coincidence but only a taste of God’s judgment should nothing change.

“I’ve been looking around at the events that’s been happening in Australia, this past couple of weeks, with all the natural disasters, the bushfires and the droughts,” he says.

He then reads from the Book of Isaiah in the Bible: “The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.”

“The events that have happened here in Australia, in the last couple of years – God’s word says for a man and a woman to be together … they’ve come and changed this law,” he says.

“Abortion, it’s OK now to murder, kill infants, unborn children.”

Folau says he believes the scripture is talking to Australia. “Look how rapid these bushfires these droughts, all these things have come in a short period of time. Do you think it’s a coincidence or not?

“God is speaking to you guys. Australia you need to repent and take these laws and turn it back to what is right.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has weighed in and quickly denounced the comments from Folau. “I thought these were appallingly insensitive comments,” Morrison said.

“They were appalling comments and he is a free citizen, he can say whatever he likes. But that doesn’t mean he can’t have regard to the grievous offence this would have caused to people whose homes have been burnt down.

Folau says he is sharing the message “out of love” but he stirred up a hornet’s nest as his comments were picked up by news outlets across the world.

Anglican minister Peter Kurti said Folau was wrong. “If God really was going to punish us for changing the law on abortion (and) changing the law on marriage, it’s the Parliament House in Macquarie St and the Parliament House in Canberra that should have been the target of God’s wrath — not the mid-north coast and south Queendland,” he told Sky News. “If God was angry, God’s aim was off.

“These are outrageous views and they are up there with the religious fanaticism of the Greens. But … we live in a free country and if this is what Israel Folau believes — and he’s not a politician, he’s not voting resources … he’s a preacher talking to his congregation — surely in Australia we want to defend his right to do so even though we can think the views he expresses are completely wrong and offensive.”


Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Google 'DOES blacklist sites, has targeted conservative news sites and changes its algorithms to favor big businesses,' claims new report - despite the tech giant's denials

Google is secretly blacklisting certain sites to prevent them appearing in search results - despite publicly denying doing so - according to an investigation.

The Wall Street Journal report claims that the search giant has been blacklisting certain spam sites since the early 2000s, as well as those featuring child abuse or copyright infringement, to prevent them appearing in search results.

The newspaper also reported that conservative publications have been blacklisted in Google News, and said that it had seen documents to support this claim, fuelling cries of political bias.

Right-wing websites The Gateway Pundit and The United West included on a list of hundreds of websites that wouldn't appear in Google News or featured products - although they could appear in organic search results, it said.

A Google spokesperson said the company does 'not manually determine the order of any search result.' However, she said sites that don't adhere to Google News 'inclusion policies' are 'not eligible to appear on news surfaces or in information boxes in Search.'

Google has said repeatedly it doesn't make decisions based on politics, and has previously said in congressional testimony that it doesn't use blacklists. And former employees claim there is no political bias involved in decisions.

In a 2018 hearing whether the company had ever blacklisted a 'company, group, individual or outlet…for political reasons,' Karan Bhatia, Google's vice president of public policy, responded: 'No, ma'am, we don't use blacklists/whitelists to influence our search results,' according to the transcript.

According to a the draft policy document from August 2018 seen by the WSJ, the purpose of the blacklist is 'to bar the sites from surfacing in any Search feature or news product sites'.

The policy instructs engineers, known as 'maintainers', to focus on sites that actively aim to mislead - such as 'a publisher misrepresenting their ownership or web properties' and having 'deceptive content' - rather than those that have inaccurate content.

Any changes or additions to the blacklist must be made by at least two people - one to make the change and another to approve it - according to the person familiar with the matter.

The WSJ report also claims that Google made algorithmic changes to its search results that favour big businesses over smaller ones, and in at least one case made changes on behalf of eBay, which is a major advertiser.

The company also boosts some major websites, such as Amazon and Facebook in search results, according to people familiar with the matter.

Google's engineers have also created blacklists to weed out more-incendiary suggestions in auto-complete, the feature that predicts search terms as the user types a query - particularly those relating to controversial subjects such as abortion or immigration.

The WSJ compared Duckduckgo and Google autocomplete results in Joe Biden, and found that 'creepy' was suggested every time by the former but never by Google.

In response to the report, a Google spokesperson told Mail Online: 'We have been very public and transparent around the topics covered in this article, such as our Search rater guidelines, our policies for special features in Search like Autocomplete and valid legal removals, our work to combat misinformation through Project Owl, and the fact that the changes we make to Search are aimed at benefiting users, not commercial relationships.

'This article contains a number of old, incomplete anecdotes, many of which not only predated our current processes and policies but also give a very inaccurate impression of how we approach building and improving Search.

'We take a responsible and principled approach to making changes, including a rigorous evaluation process before launching any change -- something we started implementing more than a decade ago.

'Listening to feedback from the public is a critical part of making Search better, and we continue to welcome the feedback.' -- Google spokesperson


SPLC Targets Franklin Graham for 'Hate Group' Speech

Few evangelical Christians are as well-known or as influential as Franklin Graham, son of the late evangelist Billy Graham, and head of both the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the international charity Samaritan's Purse. Yet the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) ventured to attack this mainstream Christian evangelist for a speech he gave to a Christian organization the organization smears as a "hate group" — for pushing back against transgender activism.

"Influential evangelical leader Franklin Graham has continued his anti-LGBTQ associations by speaking to a hate group that brands 'trans' activists as guilty of harming children," the SPLC's "Hatewatch" blog reported.

The evangelist spoke at the Illinois Family Institute's "Faith, Family, and Freedom" annual fall banquet and defended President Donald Trump amid the Democrats' impeachment effort.

The SPLC gained its reputation by suing the Ku Klux Klan and affiliated hate groups into bankruptcy. The group's co-founder, Morris Dees, pioneered the KKK attacks as a successful fundraising strategy, and SPLC staff actually resigned in protest because they thought the KKK lawsuits were distracting from more important legal work helping the less fortunate. As the KKK largely vanished, the SPLC expanded the "hate group" fundraising, demonizing conservative and Christian organizations by accusing them of being "hate groups" on par with the KKK.

The SPLC has accused both the Illinois Family Institute (IFI) and American Family Association (AFA) — of which IFI is an independent state affiliate — of being "anti-LGBTQ hate groups." The liberal group justified this smear by citing IFI's statements that homosexual activity is "medically, emotionally and spiritually unhealthy" and its warnings against the "ravenous, pro-'trans' behemoth." IFI warned that transgender activists are "propagandizing, grooming, and mutilating children."

"The Illinois Family Institute holds theologically orthodox, historical Christian views on volitional homosexual activity, marriage, and cross-sex identification," Laurie Higgins, IFI's cultural affairs writer, told PJ Media. "We also hold theologically orthodox views on love, which is inseparable from truth. We believe genuine love--as opposed to what passes for love today--entails seeking for others that which is true and good. Genuine love as demonstrated by Christ does not entail affirming all the feelings, beliefs, and volitional acts of others."

Traditional Christianity, based on Jesus' teachings in the Bible, holds that sexual activity outside of marriage — one man, one woman, for life — is sinful, and that God made human beings male and female. Christianity also teaches that sinners can be redeemed — every Christian is a redeemed sinner.

For these and other reasons, IFI opposes LGBT activism and especially the idea that children who may be confused about gender should be subjected to experimental hormones and "puberty blockers."

"If these ideologies are false, then denying them is the antithesis of hatred," Higgins said. "Believing an assumption is wrong, or believing a volitional sexual act is immoral does not constitute hatred of persons who believe differently and act in accordance with their beliefs." There is a world of difference between saying that homosexual activity is a sin and encouraging harassment or violence against LGBT people, which IFI does not do.

"Perhaps SPLC hatewatchers hate everyone who holds different beliefs and moral precepts than they do, but they ought not impute their habits of mind to others," she quipped. "We at IFI, like many other people, are fully capable of loving those who believe differently and act in accordance with their beliefs--even false and destructive beliefs. And we will express our beliefs with the boldness and clarity that the sanctimonious deceivers at the SPLC express theirs."

The SPLC went on to attack Franklin Graham's statements on LGBT issues. The liberal group contrasted these comments:

“I just believe as a Christian, we are to show love; we are to show compassion to people, not to point the finger, not to do this, but to do this  – to love them, to welcome them, to embrace them.”

"So I want the gay and lesbian people to know that if they repent and turn from those sins, God will forgive them and heal their hearts. But I'm not going to accept it and say what they're doing is fine. It's not fine. It's not fine with God and they'll stand before him one day."

Hatewatch suggested that the expression of Christian love stood "in stark contrast" to the remarks about repentance. This misunderstanding underscores the reason why the SPLC and other groups interpret conservative Christianity as hateful. Jesus teaches that all human beings are sinful and therefore must repent in order to be reconciled to God. Yet because Jesus died on the cross, He paid the penalty for sin, making redemption possible.

Meanwhile, LGBT people have indeed faced harassment and violence. Christians should and do condemn this — all people are made in the image of God and Jesus commanded His disciples to love their enemies. Yet activists claim that the only way to prevent harassment and violence is to embrace LGBT identities and behavior, to celebrate "pride." Orthodox Christians cannot do this, because they do not want to encourage people to sin. Hate has nothing to do with it.

Samaritan's Purse, which Graham runs, is often first on the scene after a hurricane or other natural disaster. The charity also sends shoeboxes packed with Christmas gifts to impoverished children across the world. The SPLC did mention some of this work, but warned that "the charity has faced criticism for using its Operation Christmas Child donation program to try to convert children in majority-Muslim countries to Christianity."

Rather than condemning Franklin Graham for speaking to a Christian organization, the SPLC should take this opportunity to reconsider whether its "hate group" accusation against IFI is correct. If this organization's smears lead it to attack such a man, perhaps the problem is the SPLC's bias, not the Christian views it demonizes as "hate."

Then again, if the SPLC reconsidered its "hate group" smears against mainstream conservative and Christian organizations, it would escape many of the defamation lawsuits it now faces. One such lawsuit cost the organization $3.375 million. Maybe the SPLC likes the controversy.


Monday, November 18, 2019

Racism row protests break out in the Netherlands as St Nicholas' blacked-up sidekick 'Black Pete' arrives for annual pre-Christmas parade

Leftists are gradually shutting down a Dutch Christmas tradition on the pretence that it is "racist"

The Dutch version of St. Nicholas arrived Saturday in the Netherlands in an annual children's party that has become the backdrop for increasingly acrimonious confrontations between supporters and opponents of his sidekick, Black Pete.

White people often don blackface makeup to play the character in parades across the country.

Opponents say such depictions promote racist stereotypes, while supporters defend the helper of Sinterklaas, the white-bearded, red-robed Dutch version of St. Nicholas, as a traditional children's character.

Though the two sides faced off along the route of parades in a number of towns, there were no reports of serious violence. Police presence was high in towns where demonstrations were organized.

The nationally televised arrival parade happened amid tight security, in the central city of Apeldoorn. Thousands of children and their parents cheered as an actor playing Sinterklaas arrived. His helpers handed out candy and high fives.

 Those portraying Zwarte Piet typically put on blackface make-up and colourful Renaissance attire, in addition to curly wigs, red lipstick, and earrings.

For the first time, there were no Petes in full blackface at the official arrival. Organizers instead put smears on their faces to represent soot from chimneys they climb down to deliver gifts to children. The 'soot' ranged from light to dark dustings.

Hundreds of anti-Black Pete protesters gathered in a park in The Hague, where blackface Petes formed part of the official parade, for a peaceful demonstration.

Some Dutch cities, including the capital, Amsterdam, have stopped using blackface makeup in their Sinterklaas parades

But the changes anger some.

Overnight in The Hague, supporters of the traditional version of the character put up hundreds of posters that superimposed the face of the leader of anti-Pete activists on a blackface depiction of Pete.


Twitter Suspends Pro-Trump Accounts

According to BuzzFeed News, Twitter suspended several accounts that tweeted the pro-Trump message "I hired Donald Trump to fire people like Yovanovitch." "Yovanovitch" refers to former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who testified at the House impeachment hearings yesterday. Her testimony is considered by some to be damaging to the president.

The phrase began trending on the platform and Twitter immediately suspected a fake influence campaign aided by bots.

BuzzFeed News reports that "The way the phrase has spread does not appear to be completely authentic. At least 7,320 tweets (including retweets) were posted that included the words posted in the first 45 minutes, according to an analysis conducted by BuzzFeed News. Within that time period, 83 accounts tweeted or retweeted the phrase over 10 times each."

In fact, some of those accounts were definitely suspicious:

Of the biggest amplifiers, the five most prolific accounts tweeted the phrase every 4 to 33 seconds

A representative for Twitter said the company was looking into whether the activity was coordinated. Later in the day, several accounts in BuzzFeed News’ data set were suspended.

Twitter subsequently told BuzzFeed News that its initial investigations had not found evidence of bot activity amplifying the phrase.

Indeed, both Twitter and BuzzFeed News appear to have jumped to conclusions:

Although the tweet may have been amplified by automated activity, it does not appear to have originated in an inauthentic way. The first account to post “I hired Donald Trump to fire people like Yovanovitch" was a real person — Cari Kelemen, a pro-Trump influencer — whose  tweet was retweeted by Jack Posobiec, a far-right activist and host on One America News Network.

Was the only reason the phrase was targeted for enforcement was that some tweeters of it appeared to be inauthentic? Or was political bias involved in Twitter's decision?  I sympathize with Twitter's dilemma in this instance, but we're talking about political speech on a very political issue. Don't you think they could have been more careful before suspending some accounts?


Sunday, November 17, 2019

Australia: Worker sacked over comparing boss to Hitler

The Left worldwide seems to think it is OK to call Republican Presidents Hitler so calling people Hitler must be OK, I thought

A man is fighting for his right to jokingly mock his employer with a Hitler meme, saying he was “taking the mickey”.

An employee of BP has been sacked after he shared a meme online comparing his employer to Adolf Hitler. Now, he’s fighting the decision.

The former employee of BP has appealed the Fair Work Commission’s decision that his sacking was “not harsh, unjust or unreasonable”, after he earlier lodged an unfair dismissal claim this year.

Scott Tracey was sacked after his employer became aware of a video he shared in a private Facebook group, where he used a meme with a likeness of Hitler to mock the oil company’s bosses.

In the September decision, Fair Work commission deputy president Melanie Binet dismissed Mr Tracey’s original claims he was “taking the mickey” and trying to “use absurdity to make a light point”.

Ms Binet compared the case to previous cases, where a man had carved a swastika, and the words, “Welcome to hell” into an ice block, as part of a protest for having to work inside in a freezer. That man had been dismissed from his job.

But in appealing the decision, Mr Farouque argued the commission had erred in its decision, in both whether the meme itself was worth sacking someone over, and whether the sacking was overly harsh.

The final judgment for Mr Tracey’s appeal has been delayed.


Facebook won't take down fake posts about two prominent Australian Leftists

Facebook has rebuffed an appeal by the ACTU to take down fake tweets purporting to be from Sally McManus and Bill Shorten, arguing the content doesn’t violate the social media giant’s community guidelines.

Screenshots of the fake tweets, one from McManus saying the Labor conference had endorsed an inheritance tax, and another from Shorten saying “immigration of people from the Middle East is the future Australia needs”, are posted on the Facebook pages Respect Australia Rally – National and I’ll Stand by Tony Abbott.

The fake McManus tweet declaring Labor’s support for an inheritance tax first appeared on 21 April, and the ACTU secretary disavowed it immediately.

The Respect Australia Rally – National Facebook page posted a screenshot of the tweet later in April. The post acknowledges there is debate about whether the tweet is authentic, but says it doesn’t matter. “Just because Labor says it’s a fake doesn’t make it a fake, so share it far and wide,” the post says.

According to correspondence seen by Guardian Australia, the ACTU told Facebook this represented the “deliberate dissemination of false news”, but a response from a client support analyst said while “we understand that the content was upsetting and we’re sorry you had to experience this” the content “doesn’t violate our community guidelines”.

Facebook revealed in October it removed two instances of “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” on its platform during the May federal election. But the company has said repeatedly it does not want to be the arbiter of truth, or to “referee political debates”.

It told the joint standing committee on electoral matters in a submission: “Facebook does not believe that it’s an appropriate role for us to be the arbiter of truth over content shared by ordinary Australians or to referee political debates and prevent a politician’s speech from reaching its audience and being subject to public debate and scrutiny.”


Friday, November 15, 2019

Survey: Only 2% of Hispanics Prefer the Politically Correct Term 'Latinx'

"Latinx," the progressive, gender-neutral alternative to Latino/Latina, is a favorite of campus activists and ethnic studies departments. But among the broader population of Hispanic people, it's wildly unpopular: Just 2 percent of respondents to a nationwide poll chose it as their preferred term.

So says Mario Carrasco of the market research agency Think Now. Although his group is "progressive on social issues," he writes, "as researchers, we have to put aside our personal biases and render advice based on the best available empirical evidence." And the evidence shows that practically nobody wants to be called Latinx:

"We went into it with the hypothesis that awareness was going to be lower than social media makes it seem," said Carrasco. "We didn't think it was going to be as low as it is. We also thought that it was going to be significantly more popular among young people, and it's not. There's no significant difference there."


UK: Tax expert who lost her job for 'transphobic' tweet takes case to employment tribunal

A tax expert who lost her job for tweeting that transgender women are not women yesterday took her case to an employment tribunal arguing that her dismissal amounted to discrimination against her beliefs.

Maya Forstater, 45, lost her job from the Centre for Global Development (CGD) in March this year after she was accused of publishing offensive tweets questioning government proposals to allow people to self-identify as the opposite sex.

The unprecedented legal dispute will act as an important test case in the UK on whether having ‘gender critical’ beliefs - the view that one’s sex is a biological fact which cannot be changed - is a protected belief under the Equality Act 2010.

“If we can establish this point in law it would help people who are currently afraid to speak up for fear of losing their jobs or being treated differently by their employer,” Ms Forstater wrote in a blog post.

“It would also help people facing discrimination outside of work. For example political parties and membership organisations that suspend people for expressing such beliefs, venues that refuse to host public meetings and social media platforms that discriminate against gender critical feminists would need to re-think their policies or they too would face claims for discrimination.

“I am perfectly happy to use preferred pronouns and accept everyone’s humanity and right to free expression. Transwomen are transwomen. That’s great. But enforcing the dogma that transwomen are women is totalitarian.”

Ms Forstater raised £66,000 through a crowdfunding campaign online to help pay for her legal fees for the case.

She is also backed by Index on Censorship, whose director, Jodie Ginsberg, said: “From what I have read of her writing, I cannot see that Maya has done anything wrong other than express an opinion that many feminists share — that there should be a public and open debate about the distinction between sex and gender.”


Thursday, November 14, 2019

Triggered: Users Ask Twitter to Remove Scott Walker Christmas Tree Tweet

On Saturday, former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced that Twitter had sent him an official warning after users flagged one of his tweets sharing a Christmas tree.

"This morning I got an email from [Twitter] saying they received complaints from this tweet. Merry Christmas," Walker tweeted.

The tweet in question involved the image of a Christmas tree with the text, "This is a Christmas Tree that is used by people celebrating Christmas. This is not a holiday tree."

Twitter gives users the ability to "report" messages on Twitter, alerting the social media platform that the message in question is: "suspicious or spam," "abusive or harmful, "expressive of "intentions of self-harm or suicide," or simply not interesting to the user in question.

When Twitter sent Walker the email, the platform was likely notifying the former governor that users had marked his tweet to be spam or "abusive or harmful," a category that includes "hate speech."

It seems likely Twitter users accused Walker of "hate speech." A few users attacked his message as a way to justify hate.

Many non-Christians celebrate Christmas, including Muslims, non-Orthodox Jews, and those who do not affiliate with any particular religion.


ABC Spiked Epstein Story to Help Clinton

ABC News isn’t the first network to spike a story for political reasons, but this one’s a doozy. The network admitted sitting on a 2016 interview with Virginia Robert Giuffre, who had accused the late Jeffrey Epstein of sexual assault. But it was the connections to Bill Clinton, Great Britain’s Prince Andrew, and Epstein attorney Alan Dershowitz that sent the interview to the dustbin.

ABC anchor Amy Robach complained on a secretly recorded video that the network would not air her interview with the accuser:

I’ve had the story for three years. I’ve had this interview with Virginia Roberts. We would not put it on the air. First of all, I was told, “Who’s Jeffrey Epstein? No one knows who that is. This is a stupid story.” Then the [British royal] Palace found out that we had her whole allegations about Prince Andrew and threatened us a million different ways. We were so afraid we wouldn’t be able to interview Kate [Middleton] and [Prince] Will — that also quashed the story. And then Alan Dershowitz was also implicated in it because of [Epstein’s] planes. She told me everything. She had pictures; she had everything. She was in hiding for 12 years. We convinced her to come out. We convinced her to talk to us. It was unbelievable what we had. Clinton — we had everything.

According to National Review, “Roberts has alleged that she was forced to perform sex acts on Prince Andrew … when she was seventeen.” The same goes for Dershowitz, who vehemently denies the allegations. It’s unclear what ABC had on Clinton, though he flew on Epstein’s infamous plane 27 times, and there were underage girls on the flights most of the time.

Of course, ABC claimed in a statement, “At the time, not all of our reporting met our standards to air, but we have never stopped investigating the story. Ever since we’ve had a team on this investigation and substantial resources dedicated to it. That work has led to a two-hour documentary and 6-part podcast that will air in the new year.”

And Robach insists she was never told to stop investigating Epstein, explaining, “As the Epstein story continued to unfold last summer, I was caught in a private moment of frustration. I was upset that an important interview I had conducted with Virginia Roberts didn’t air because we could not obtain sufficient corroborating evidence to meet ABC’s editorial standards about her allegations.”

If only ABC had editorial standards for all its stories. When it came to ridiculous, uncorroborated, and ultimately disproven allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, ABC — along with every other Leftmedia propaganda outlet — ran nonstop coverage of his accusers in service to the Democrat agenda of destroying him. According to the Washington Examiner, “Some of the allegations published by ABC were so outlandish that the FBI and the Senate Judiciary Committee didn’t even consider them.”

But damage Bill Clinton with an Epstein story? Suddenly there are editorial standards.


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Unlikely Birth of Free Speech in America

For all the horrors that marked 1919 in America — the race riots, the terrorist attacks, the labor unrest — there was one unquestionably positive development. On Nov. 10, a hundred years ago Sunday, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes issued a remarkable opinion that gave birth to our modern understanding of free speech.

It was a complicated delivery. Despite its centrality to our culture today, the First Amendment in the early 20th century was largely a dead letter. The Supreme Court had never upheld a free speech claim, and lower courts had approved the censorship of books and films, the prohibition of street-corner speeches and bans on labor protests and profanity. Even criticism of the government could be punished, the courts had ruled, if it threatened public order and morality.

Federal prosecutors vigorously enforced these acts, bringing nearly 2,000 indictments, many on the thinnest of pretexts. One person was convicted for forwarding a chain letter that called for an immediate end to the war. Another was jailed for asserting that the war benefited capitalists. And the courts largely acquiesced, ruling that the First Amendment offered no protection for speech with a “bad tendency” — essentially, any speech the government disliked.

It was in the midst of this hysteria that Holmes breathed new life into the First Amendment. He was an unlikely midwife. Holmes, 78 at the time, was descended from one of the oldest families in America. He was a graduate of Harvard Law School, a veteran of the Civil War and a member of the intellectual aristocracy that his father, a famous author, had labeled the “Brahmin caste of New England.” More to the point, he had done as much as any judge to render free speech meaningless.

As a state court judge in Massachusetts, he had ruled that there is no right to speak on public property or while working as a public employee. And after joining the United States Supreme Court, in 1902, he had embraced the cramped English view that free speech protects only against prior censorship but places no limits on the government’s power to punish speakers after the fact.

But the events of 1919 changed Holmes. A contrarian with a love of books and a fondness for debate, he was troubled by the wave of persecution that swept the country once the dangers of war had passed. He was especially troubled when that wave threatened to engulf two of his own friends, a legal scholar named Felix Frankfurter and a British political theorist named Harold Laski.

So when the two men came under attack for their “radical” views — Frankfurter for his support of labor unions, Laski for his socialist leanings — Holmes sprang to their defense. He wrote to the president of Harvard, where both men taught, and sought help from the Harvard Law School alumni association.

He also began to rethink his stance on the First Amendment, an endeavor his young friends encouraged. For more than a year, they waged an intense behind-the-scenes campaign to strengthen Holmes’s appreciation for free speech. They fed him books on political liberalism, wrote him long letters on the value of tolerance and engaged him in impassioned debates. At one point, Laski even arranged a meeting at his summer bungalow between Holmes and Zechariah Chafee, a Harvard law professor who had written an article criticizing the justice’s views. “You won’t forget that you are coming down on Saturday for the week-end,” Laski wrote Chafee. “Holmes is coming to tea, and I want you to arrive in good time. For I have given him your article and we must fight on it.”

Holmes did not change his mind all at once. In March 1919, he wrote three opinions for the court upholding the convictions of socialists for criticizing the war. These opinions hinted at an internal struggle. Holmes retreated from his earlier belief that free speech protects only against prior restraints. And he rejected the “bad tendency” test, writing that speech can be punished only if it poses a “clear and present danger.” But he failed to explain how the defendants’ speech met that test, falling back instead on his commitment to majority rule and judicial restraint.

Eight months later, when the court heard another case under the Espionage and Sedition acts, Holmes’s conversion was complete. By this point, Laski was in serious trouble, having spoken out in support of a labor strike by Boston police officers. The strike was a disaster; with no officers on duty, the city descended into chaos, and the soldiers who were brought in to restore order killed eight people. Laski’s support for the strike thus won him the enmity of the entire New England establishment. The press denounced him as an “boudoir Bolshevist,” while the Harvard Board of Overseers opened an investigation to determine whether he was fit to teach.

It was against this backdrop that Holmes wrote his famous defense of free speech. A majority of the court voted to uphold the latest convictions under the Espionage and Sedition acts. But Holmes, joined by his close friend Justice Louis Brandeis, dissented. Acknowledging the appeal of persecution, which he had once himself embraced, he now offered a powerful rebuttal:

"But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out."

With those words, Holmes provided a justification for free speech that fit with his conception of democracy. We should protect speech not to promote the liberty of the individual over the interests of the majority. We should protect speech because doing so promotes the collective interest — in other words, the interests of us all.

Although Holmes was in the minority, the power of his words and the force of his personality gave his opinion an authority beyond the usual judicial dissent. Civil libertarians soon embraced it as an article of faith, and ultimately the rest of the country did, too.

That didn’t happen overnight — the second Red Scare and McCarthyism were still to come. And Holmes was not the only person responsible for the development; Brandeis wrote several eloquent opinions defending free speech, and the contributions of lawyers and scholars such as Chafee were invaluable. But it was the figure of Holmes, the old soldier and enlightened aristocrat, who gave the movement its legitimacy and inspiration. And by the late 1960s, his tribute to “free trade in ideas,” along with his insistence that speech can be punished only if it poses a “clear and present danger,” had become not only cultural catchphrases but the law of the land.


Winning over Vassar

By Bill Jacobson, founder and publisher of "Legal Insurrection" as well as a clinical professor of law and director of the Securities Law Clinic at Cornell Law School

I was invited to speak at Vassar College on the issue of hate speech and free speech. I’d spoken there several years earlier against the academic boycott of Israel, and I was invited at that time by the Vassar Conservative Libertarian Union, which was like nine students on the campus. So a couple of them were either still there, and so I was invited to speak about free speech.

And Charlottesville had just happened, and I said, “My concern is that people are going to try to use that to clamp down on free speech on campuses.” People who want to clamp down on free speech anyway would do that. And so they schedule it and I said, “Why don’t we title it, ‘Hate Speech’ Is Still Free Speech Even After Charlottesville”? I felt that would get attention and would really focus the issue.

When they put up the posters, whatever it was, two weeks before, three weeks before, the campus completely melted down. When I say completely melted down, they had two campus-wide meetings attended, according to reports, by hundreds of students, faculty, and administrators about what to do with me coming to campus to talk about this.

The rumors were spread … not just rumors, emails, including from the student government that I was a white supremacist coming to campus with my white nationalist followers to target minorities.

The student government executive board sent a letter to the president demanding they terminate my appearance. And I’m sure you have many lawyers who listen. They had a great line in there which I loved. They said, “We demand that you breach the contract for him to appear.”

… I think she could have done better, but she didn’t. And so I appeared and they had me escorted onto campus. I had to meet at campus security off campus, very tight security, bags checked, all that sort of things. They had protesters show up dressed like Antifa in protest.

So we were in what I think is the largest classroom there, lecture hall. If it’s not the largest, it’s one of them. I think capacity was over 200. It was over capacity, students overflowing into the hallways. So we probably had close to 300 students, and as soon as I started speaking, they realized, I think, they’d been had, that I was not who I was portrayed to be.

I spent 45 minutes with a basic lecture about the First Amendment, the history, why it’s important, why historically it’s actually protected left-wing speech, that the anti-war movement and the other movements could not have developed if not for the protections.

And then I went through the rest of the Bill of Rights and I went through each of the rights of the Bill of Rights and I said, “While they may not technically apply here on campus, I’m sure you don’t want the college administration to take your stuff without some process by which you could contest it, some due process.” I said, “You don’t want to give up that right here.”

And I said, “Certainly you don’t want the dean … ” And the dean was sitting there. He’d been at my speech four years earlier. And I said, “I’m sure you don’t want the dean to come and just search you because he feels like it without some probable cause to believe that you’ve done something wrong.”

And I went through a bunch of other things. I went through my favorite one, which is the Third Amendment, which nobody seems to know, which is you cannot quarter a soldier in a private home in time of peace. I said, “You don’t want the administration quartering security to sleep in your room.”

I went through all of these and I said, “Why is it you want all of these rights in the Bill of Rights on this campus, even if it technically doesn’t apply, but the one right you’re so willing and eager to give up are your free speech rights?” I said, “Why is that?” I said, “Maybe it’s because on this campus, you have power and therefore your speech is not going to be stifled. But go outside those gates and guess what? That’s Trump country, and you wonder why the nation—or at least half the nation—voted that way even though you don’t know anybody who voted for him.”

I said, “So if you give up First Amendment rights on this campus and you are willing to suppress speech on this campus, you have no right to complain if somebody does it to you beyond the fence and beyond the gate.”

It was a great 45 minutes, no interruptions, although they came ready for a fight.

No interruptions, and then we had question-and-answer. [An] hour and 15 minutes, the students lined up to ask [questions], including someone dressed in black. There were mostly good questions. I mean, I think questions that reflected that they’d never really had to think about these things before, but they were, let’s say, good-faith questions.

One thing it taught me is that there is a hunger out there on behalf of students to learn about what you would think are basic civic lessons that they’ve never had. And they’ve never had anybody explain it to them, and why it’s important, and why even allowing speech you consider offensive is really important.