Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Holy Cross College makes a travesty of free speech

Worcester, Massachusetts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Stalin demanded the same

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LIU did not respond to request for comment.


Monday, December 30, 2019

Double Standards on Free Speech

By Hans Bader

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


When asking for donations to charity is wrong

If you are a Bible-observant church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, December 29, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Give us a break!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


San Diego universities criticized for ambiguous free speech policies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, December 28, 2019

Free Speech Is Not 'Killing Us'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Leftist hate speech

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

Nick Cater

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, December 27, 2019

Sir Alan Moses: Free speech means freedom to offend, press watchdog insists

There is no right not to be offended, the outgoing chairman of Britain’s leading press regulator has told campaigners.

Sir Alan Moses, a former lord justice of appeal, defended freedom of speech, though he acknowledged that it could have “the most unpleasant” effect on victims.

He said that state licensing of newspapers would be “fundamentally dangerous” and recalled the murder of a journalist in Malta to show the importance of a free press.

Sir Alan, 74, told The Times that the media must be allowed to discuss sensitive subjects such as religion. He described offence complaints as one of the most challenging issues in press regulation, but said that the feelings of individuals could not automatically trump the right to free expression.

“If you’re the victim of something that is deeply offensive, it is the most unpleasant, uncomfortable thing that you can imagine. But what we have to acknowledge is that, in striking the right balance in this country, there is no right not to be offended.”

The former judge has led the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), which regulates most newspapers, since its foundation in 2014.

He said a vibrant press was essential for democracy, citing the 2017 killing of the Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia as a reminder of what was lost when media freedoms were violated.

In 2016 Ipso rejected a complaint against Kelvin MacKenzie over a Sun column asking whether the Channel 4 newsreader Fatima Manji should have worn a hijab when covering the Nice terrorist attacks. It ruled that his views were “undoubtedly offensive” to Manji but he was entitled to express them, as the piece did not make pejorative references to her on the grounds of religion.


Report: 6.4 million students denied free speech by top American colleges

More than half a million students at the top 471 U.S. colleges must find a “free speech zone” to exercise their First Amendment Right to freedom of expression, according to a new report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

Limiting free speech on Texas college and university campuses became illegal Sept. 1, 2019. However, many Texas institutions evaluated by FIRE are violating the law.

The new report, “Spotlight on Speech Codes 2020: The State of Free Speech on Our Nation’s Campuses,” reviewed the written policies of 471 top U.S. colleges and universities and found that 89 percent “maintain policies that restrict – or could too easily be applied to restrict – student expression.”

FIRE rates schools according to stoplight colors of “red light,” which is the worst, “yellow light,” and “green light,” which is the best, to indicate how restrictive school’s speech policies are.

In 2019, 25 percent of U.S. colleges analyzed received a “red light” rating indicating their policies “clearly and substantially” restrict freedom of speech.

Texas schools making the most speech restrictive list include the University of Houston, the University of North Texas, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas at Dallas.

The majority of the schools analyzed nationwide fell in the middle, with 64 percent receiving a “Yellow light” ranking.

Texas schools making that distinction include Sam Houston State University, the University of Texas at Arlington, the University of Texas at El Paso, the University of Texas at San Antonio, the University of Texas at Tyler, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Texas Southern University, Texas State University – San Marcos, and Texas Tech University.

Eleven percent of U.S. colleges and universities received a “green light” rating. The only Texas school to make the list was Texas A&M University.

Arizona and Mississippi are the only states whose colleges and universities are all green light ranked, FIRE notes.

“Many college administrators are scrubbing the most egregious policies from the books, but they’re increasingly crafting subtler policies that still limit student expression,” said FIRE Senior Program Officer Laura Beltz, the lead author of the study. “Yellow light policies aren’t good enough – they still restrict protected speech. Colleges must go green or go back to the drawing board.”

To date, 68 administrations or faculty bodies have adopted statements in support of free speech modeled after a University of Chicago declaration adopted in January 2015.


Thursday, December 26, 2019

Greenie downplays the Holocaust

The LSESU Debate Society have withdrawn their invitation to a Fabian Series debate from Roger Hallam, ex-KCL PhD student and co-founder of the environmental organisation Extinction Rebellion.

Last Wednesday Hallam was quoted in an interview in Der Spiegel calling the Holocaust “almost a normal event…just another fuckery in human history”.

Hallam was set to speak in the Centre Building on 5 December. He has been replaced with Dr Emily Grossman, Jewish science communicator and XR representative. The motion to be debated at the event is titled: “This House Believes Extinction Rebellion has done more harm than good in the fight against climate change.” Also attending is Green Party MEP Dr Ellie Chowns.

Extinction Rebellion UK is reported to have distanced itself from Hallam as a result. They have stated: “We stand in solidarity with XR Germany, with Jewish communities, and with all those affected by the Holocaust, both in the past and in our times.” What this means for the ‘leadership’ and public face of Extinction Rebellion is uncertain.


As a New Parent, I Want to Give My Son Everything — Except a 'Free-Speech Zone'
A few weeks ago, my husband Josh and I welcomed our first baby into the world, and it has been a whirlwind. In the first weeks home, all I could think about was making him as happy as possible. And it got me thinking:

I know I will always be protective of my son — it’s kind of my job. But when he gets older, I want to give him the gift of being at ease while feeling intellectually uncomfortable – of knowing how to handle these difficult situation without suffering a complete meltdown, like we see with too many students on college campuses these days.

Interacting, working, and perhaps disagreeing with people who see the world differently than you takes courage. Agreeing to disagree while maintaining relationships takes confidence. Unfortunately, our higher education system has taught the next generation of America’s leaders the exact opposite, and, as a result, our free speech is under attack.

What began as a leftist movement to censor “hate speech” has morphed into a demand to censor any kind of speech with which you disagree. This dangerous mob rule is highlighted by the documentary "No Safe Spaces,“ which examines the far-left culture of political correctness that has invaded college campuses and society at large.

We need this documentary now more than ever. The United States was founded on the belief in free speech. This isn’t a partisan value but rather a fundamentally American value. We have fought wars to earn and protect the right to express ourselves freely without fear of reprisal.

As a new parent, I want to give my son everything but a "free-speech zone.” I desire for him to grow up in a society where the First Amendment is protected and celebrated — imbuing him with the confidence to hold and share his beliefs. I want him to engage in healthy civil discourse and gain a well-rounded perspective of the world.

When his ideas are challenged, I don’t want him to view the challenger as the enemy. He needs to understand that disagreement is not assault and does not make him a victim of any kind. This is what my husband and I will teach our children — and judging by how well the documentary is performing, we are not alone in this.

According to Fox News, the “No Safe Spaces” documentary opened with “the second-highest ever box office gross for a documentary playing on just one screen.” It is being shown in theaters nationwide, and radical progressive activists are already trying to shut it down — ironically, by using the same tactics of intimidation demonstrated by far-left campus activists in the movie.

At a California showing, two masked men barged into the theater to intimidate viewers into leaving. One moviegoer described the men as “two thugs sporting hoodies, masks, sunglasses and carrying huge duffel bags [who] ran, not walked, up the aisle and sat at the back of the theater right behind us. They looked like bank robbers, home invasion criminals … they were trying to act scary.”

Unfortunately, it worked. Some moviegoers left with their children because of the risk posed by these men. They suspected the masked men were bluffing, but were not willing to bet their children’s lives on it. Who can blame them?

I do not know all the future holds for my son. Regardless of his chosen career or the requirement of a bachelor or post-graduate degree from a college or university, I know at some point in his life he will be intellectually challenged by someone. When it happens, I can only hope that I have raised him to embrace the polite (or impolite) discourse.


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

SantaGate: Microsoft Removes Santa Hat Icon After a Single User Complained It Was 'Pushing Religion'

There was a huge dust-up in the IT community this week after Microsoft caved to a developer who complained about a festive Santa hat embedded in the code, saying the "religious" symbol was "offensive."

The drama played out on GitHub, the leading open-source code repository, which hosts Microsoft's open-source projects, including the popular developer tool VSCode.

Earlier this week, a user named Christian-Schiffer opened an "issue" on the platform complaining that someone at Microsoft had inserted an "Easter egg" into the code, displaying a Santa hat to users. "Santa Hat on vscode insiders and pushing of religion is very offensive to me," he wrote in the subject line.

"Additionally xmas has cost millions of Jews their lives over the centuries, yet even if that was not the case, pushing religious symbols as part of a product update is completely unacceptable," he went on to say. "Please remove it immediately and make it your top priority. To me this is almost equally offensive as a swastika."

Yeah, right. Exactly like a swastika. I mean, who doesn't remember the jackbooted Santas storming the Warsaw Ghetto?
Let's take a moment, shall we, to appreciate the irony, not to mention the cognitive dissonance and hubris, of a user with the name "Christian" complaining about a Santa hat as a "religious  symbol." (We'll get back to him in a moment.)

Christian-Schiffer included a screenshot of the itty bitty Santa hat that had offended his fragile sensibilities.

Yes, that's it. That microscopic little Santa hat is what has caused our Grinch so much consternation.

That should have been the end of it, but because it's 2019 and the snowflakes must never be made to cast their gaze upon anything they disagree with, Microsoft stepped in to save our hero.

Kai Maetzel, whose LinkedIn profile describes him as a "Partner Software Engineering Manager" for Microsoft, responded with: "@Christian-Schiffer we're sorry we hurt your and other's feelings. We'll remove the Santa Hat."

And that's just what Microsoft did. The company removed the Santa hat, which has nothing to do with the Christian holiday Christmas, to appease the developer whose heart is three sizes too small.

Mission accomplished. Christian-Schiffer was elated.

"Thank you Microsoft, I am very pleased with that decision," he wrote. "I understand many find this strange, therefor [sic] I would like to add an article about how offensive xmas is to many so you understand why." He linked to an article about the Jewish view of Christmas and went on to complain about people who "did not understand the offence, I am very surprised and in fact shocked about that." Poor dear.

Blowback over the decision came fast and hard, with developers in user forums blasting Microsoft for caving in to one lone complainer.

"Removing the Santa Hat on vscode insiders is very offensive to me," wrote LibraryFormid. "Getting offended by one person is against my atheist religion. Bowing before SJW's as part of a product update is completely unacceptable. Please readd [sic] it immediately and make it your top priority. To me this is almost equally offensive as censorship."

And there were more. Lots more. Here are just a few of the (unedited) comments, culled from the VSCode user forum and Reddit:

"Comparing my religion to nazi germany is incredibly hateful, and I don't think this is a story microsoft wants getting to the news."

"I mean.. at a certain point someone is just looking to be offended and will continue to be offended no matter how many times you capitulate."

"The funny thing is that santa hats barely have anything to do with modern religion. It's not like Santa is a biblical figure."

"His angle seems to be 'now that I have your attention I need you to all stop this Christmas thing because it makes ME uncomfortable.' I'm not even religious but holy hell he can take a long walk off a short pier."

"It's a hat. It's a red stocking hat with a white (furry?) hem. Santa is NOT a religious symbol. That's like saying the 'ok' hand gesture is a white supremacist symbol."

"If that's true, then literally everything is offensive. Some people may be offended that most code is written in a form of English, which is clearly a case of Anglo/European/Western imperialism!"

Most of this garbage originates on the Left Coast, but the rank and file in the tech community are fighting back. Talk to some devs who frequent these online forums and they'll tell you they're sick and tired of having their creativity and ingenuity stifled by SJWs who show up to cause problems and insert politics into their profession.

As a user on Reddit pointed out, "The biggest problem with nonsense like this is it never ends."

Giving in to these miscreants just emboldens them and they always come back for more. One can never be woke enough to please them, and we're all just a misstep (or mis-tweet) away from having our lives blown up over some imagined offense.


The Rainbow Mafia's Hallmark Card

The Hallmark Channel first pulled an ad and then reinstated it with a groveling apology.
Netflix has declined to remove a “comedy” special portraying Jesus Christ as homosexual, despite well over one million signatures to a petition demanding it. Just don’t hold your breath waiting for the companion show about Muhammad — even the Rainbow Mafia won’t challenge Muslims. No, when it comes to homosexuality, the only powerless people are Christians who remain faithful to Scripture.

Beyond the Netflix episode, that was evident in the dispute over an ad on the Hallmark Channel. Zola, a company providing services for wedding planning and registry, created the attention-seeking ad, featuring two women kissing at a same-sex “wedding” ceremony. After objections from One Million Moms, a division of the American Family Association, Hallmark pulled the ad.

A win for families, right?

Not so fast. The Rainbow Mafia isn’t defeated so easily, because no one uses pressure tactics better. As Allie Beth Stuckey put it, “The left doesn’t like other people playing the game they created.” Within hours, Hallmark reversed its decision, issuing a groveling apology for making the “wrong decision” and “for the hurt and disappointment this has caused.” Hilariously, the company claimed, “It is never Hallmark’s intention to be divisive or generate controversy.” But without the remotest sense of self-awareness, Hallmark went on to tout its LGBTQ-friendly record and promise to work “with GLAAD to better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands.”

How about apologizing to American families forced to educate their too-young children about same-sex marriage because their kid saw it in a commercial during a family movie? As One Million Moms put it, “Until recently, Hallmark had a good record for keeping their movies and commercials family-friendly. Now, parents can no longer trust Hallmark because Hallmark is no longer allowing parents to be the primary educators when it comes to sex and sexual morality. Parents need to know they could now come face-to-face with the LGBT agenda when they sit down to watch the Hallmark Channel.”

We have written on numerous occasions about this insidious indoctrination. Establishing emotional connections in children — even via a commercial — is very effective in producing adults who won’t dare question the leftist narrative.


Monday, December 23, 2019

Not canceled

The article by Sarah Hagi from Time magazine below is very well written.  The author also tells us she is a black, Muslim woman.  That conjures up to my mind a picture of a person who could not have written the article. To me the article sounds like something written by a highly literate white person and must therefore have been very extensively "polished up' by such a white person -- perhaps an editor at Time magazine.

My thinking in the matter is probably the very thing that enrages Ms Hagi.  She hates people making derogatory asssumptions about her. And she would call those assumptions "stereotypes".  But what are stereotypes?  It is a term with origins in the printing industry but as applied to people it is generally taken to mean inflexible and false generalizations about some group or other.

But stereotypes are in fact not like that.  As far back as the 1930s psychologist Gordon Allport pointed out that stereotypes usually have a "kernel of truth".  And my surveys of the psychological research literature (here and here) revealed that stereotypical beliefs are highly responsive to reality and to changes in reality.  So when somebody expects a black to be inarticulate, it follows that low levels of articulateness among blacks are common.

What the stereotype research also finds, however, is that stereotypes are only a useful first approximation.  I might have a stereotype of black as inarticulate that will in general guide me well but if I encounter a black who is very articulate I will no longer think of him as inarticulate but will think of him according to how he personally is.  My stereotype was not in any way imprisoning and I will go on to anticipate more articulate writing from him.

So that should be encouraging to all of us, but particularly to members of minority groups.  It tells us that minority group members might have to wait a little longer to have their good qualities recognized but that people who really come to know you will fairly quickly come to a recognition of your good qualities.

It's not as good as being a member of a prestigious group such as white Anglo-Saxon Protestants (a group to which I belong) but life will always be unfair in handing out its rewards.  So rather than grieve about belonging to a low prestige group it should be fairly comforting to know that in personal encounters you will be judged by how you personally really are rather than by some group to which you may belong. 

If a critic persists in using negative expectations of a person after he should have seen clearly that such expectations are wrong, the fault lies with the inadequate personality of the critic.  Normal people will not be like that.  In popular parlance, the critic will be an "ignoramus" -- who will get his just deserts in due course.

Ms Hagi is clearly not as patient as that and sees the criticism and attacks on people who speak incautiously as justified and useful.  Stereotypes are to her anathema.  When people say "racist" things they are most usually expressing a stereotype and Ms Hagi enjoys seeing them punished for that.  That there will still be general agreement with the stereotype she does not address.  Critics may have succeeded in hurting an individual but the population as a whole will be unmoved. They may be more inclined to keep their mouths shut but their beliefs will not change. 

If anything their beliefs may be strengthened.  The recent revolt of the masses against Leftist hectoring seen in the electoral successes of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson may well be evidence of that -- and harbingers of many more such revolts to come.

So unlike Ms Hagi, I deplore attacks on speech.  For the most part the speakers will not actually be ill-intentioned and if they are it is surely best to know in advance who the "enemy" is rather than have him creep up on you unawares.

Ms Hagi seems to see the current "cancel" culture as a good way for disadvantaged people and their advocates to hit back at those who devalue them -- but the prospects of that doing any good are remote. Christian forgiveness would be a much better option -- but is obviously more difficult.

If forgiveness is not an option, letting insults slide off you like water off a duck's back would be very calming.  I have been called many things in my time and will probably get more of that in response to this essay but I have yet to be bothered by any of it. Resilience to verbal attacks and slights is the healthy way forward.  The fact that Ms Hagi lives in politically correct Canada yet still finds much to upset her suggests that her resilience is minimal.

Her article is however helpful in setting out how harmful cancel culture has been to many individuals -- though she tries to downplay the harm.  A major gap is that she does not address the way many people not ordinarily much in the public eye have been grievously hounded by the cancel culture warriors

So, in sum, continuing the attacks on ordinary people that cancel culture consists of will most likely just give you more Donald Trumps and Boris Johnsons.  Is that what Ms Hagi wants?

“Has cancel culture gone too far?” The question felt impossible to ignore this year. Google it and you’ll see pages of op-eds, often concluding, yes, it has gone too far, and the Internet mob is out of control.

Cancel culture became so central to the discourse in 2019 that even President Obama weighed in. The idea is that if you do something that others deem problematic, you automatically lose all your currency. Your voice is silenced. You’re done. Those who condemn cancel culture usually imply that it’s unfair and indiscriminate.

The problem with this perspective is cancel culture isn’t real, at least not in the way people believe it is. Instead, it’s turned into a catch-all for when people in power face consequences for their actions or receive any type of criticism, something that they’re not used to.

I’m a black, Muslim woman, and because of social media, marginalized people like myself can express ourselves in a way that was not possible before. That means racist, sexist, and bigoted behavior or remarks don’t fly like they used to. This applies to not only wealthy people or industry leaders but anyone whose privilege has historically shielded them from public scrutiny. Because they can’t handle this cultural shift, they rely on phrases like “cancel culture” to delegitimize the criticism.

Since the #Metoo hashtag went viral in 2017, more women have spoken out about their experiences with sexual harassment and assault.

While many people have applauded this movement, some men now say they fear even casual interactions with women will get them canceled.

Only that’s not what’s happening. While some powerful men may not have the status they once did, they have hardly been canceled. Louis CK admitted to masturbating in front of female comedians. He was dropped by his agency, and HBO and Netflix cut ties with him, but he recently sold out five shows in my home city of Toronto. Harvey Weinstein—who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 80 women (he has denied the allegations) and charged with predatory sexual assault, a criminal sexual act and rape (he has pleaded not guilty)—lost his job, but when he showed up at a young artists’ event in October, a comedian who called him out in her set was booed and two women who confronted him were asked to leave. When political journalist Mark Halperin, who denied allegations of unwanted sexual contact but acknowledged that his “behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain,” faced pushback over a new book, his publisher spoke to the New York Post decrying “this guilty-until-proven-innocent cancel culture where everyone is condemned to death or to a lifetime of unemployment based on an accusation that’s 12 years old.” That criticism is being compared to death tells you a lot about some of the people arguing that cancel culture has run amok.

In September, comedian Shane Gillis was fired from Saturday Night Live after videos of him making racist jokes surfaced. Comedian Bill Burr condemned the firing saying, “You f-cking millennials, you’re a bunch of rats, all of you,” and “None of them care, all they want to do is get people in trouble.” But having a job at SNL isn’t a human right. And although Gillis’ defenders have fretted about the sanctity of free speech in comedy, the audience of a comedic TV show should get to speak out about whether they want to watch someone who has espoused this type of humor. That’s actually the marketplace at work. Why should Gillis be able to utter racist things but those affected by hate speech shut their mouths? Gillis is still a touring comedian. He will be fine.

Although use of the term spiked this year, the idea of cancel culture has been bubbling for a while. In 2016, Kim Kardashian shared clips revealing that despite Taylor Swift’s claim that Kanye West didn’t warn her about a provocative lyric, he actually did give her a heads-up and she thanked him. Swift said she was “falsely painted as a liar.”

But soon #Taylorswiftiscanceled was trending.

“When you say someone is canceled, it’s not a TV show. It’s a human being,” Swift told Vogue this summer. “You’re sending mass amounts of messaging to this person to either shut up, disappear, or it could also be perceived as, kill yourself.” There aren’t many people who can understand what Swift went through. To have so many people turn on you is surely upsetting. But how exactly was she canceled? Though many people believed that this white woman had disingenuously portrayed herself as a victim of a black bully and made clear that they didn’t find that acceptable, Swift has remained one of the highest-paid celebrities in the world.

The conversation reached a new level in October when Obama expressed concern about the way people are called out on social media. “This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically woke and all that stuff, you should get over that quickly,” he said at a summit. He didn’t use the term, but the assumption was he was condemning cancel culture.

Now I am certain Obama wasn’t talking about Louis CK in his call for us to be less judgmental. He was pointing out that people are complicated and make mistakes, though I’m not convinced they are being written offin the way he thinks. It should also go without saying that Swift’s perceived offense should not be lumped in with Weinstein’s alleged crimes. But that’s another problem with the conversation about cancel culture. It oversimplifies. The term is used in so many contexts that it’s rendered meaningless and precludes a nuanced discussion of the specific harm done and how those who did it should be held accountable.

Rather than panicking that someone might be asked to take a seat, we would all do well to consider the people who are actually sidelined: those who lose professional opportunities because of toxic workplaces, who spend years dealing with trauma caused by others’ actions, who are made to feel unsafe.

I write frequently about racism and Islamophobia and have received more death threats, calls for my firing and racist insults than I can keep track of. But when people who believe cancel culture is a problem speak out about its supposed silencing effect, I know they’re not talking about those attacks. When they throw around terms like “cancel culture” to silence me instead of reckoning with the reasons I might find certain actions or jokes dehumanizing, I’m led to one conclusion: they’d prefer I was powerless against my own oppression.


When We Self-Censor on Politics and Religion, the Left Wins

We SHOULD talk about religion and politics

Conservative self-censorship on themes of politics and religion aids the left’s push to eliminate Judeo-Christian ethics from America, said Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government and author of Necessary Noise: How Donald Trump Inflames the Culture War and Why This Is Good News for America, in a Wednesday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily.

Manning described a Judeo-Christian ethos as central to American values and as the foundation of an objective moral framework for the nation.

“Our DNA is a Judeo-Christian DNA. It’s built into the Constitution [and] the Declaration of Independence; all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights,” Manning remarked. “It’s part of the DNA of America, and when President Obama said we were a post-Christian country, he stated that almost as a triumph, and for the left it is, because here’s what it means: the underpinning of a certitude that there is, in fact, right, absolute truth, and everything else falls aside, that exists [within] a Judeo-Chistian ethos.”

Manning warned of growing moral relativism in the wake of continual erosion of Judeo-Christian values across America

“It doesn’t exist anywhere else,” Manning said of the Judeo-Christian ethos. “So the concept of absolute truth underlies the rule of law, [and] it underlies the entirety of our civilization, and when you destroy the Judeo-Christian ethic, you destroy the rule of law and everything else becomes situational ethics, and what you see is, it’s okay to lie to accuse a Supreme Court nominee [of sexual impropriety] because the objective is to make sure that person isn’t confirmed. The ends justify the means. When we lose the Judeo-Christian ethos of our country, we lose the capacity to have objective [and] rational conversations between right and wrong.”

Marlow asked if the undermining of Judeo-Christian ethics is circumstantial or wrought by design.

“There is a concerted effort to destroy America,” noted Manning. “We’ve closed our eyes to it and allowed those who would destroy America to take over the institutions of America, and as a result, we wake up and we wonder, ‘Well, how the heck did this happen? How do we find ourselves with an Obama administration suing a school district in Illinois saying you have to let boys shower with girls or go in the girls’ locker room? When did we vote on that?’”

Manning added, “The left has been doing this over time and has developed a consensus in academia, and they just haven’t let the rest of us in on it. There is a concerted effort [to destroy America], but because there’s a concerted effort it is something we can attack and defeat.”

Conservative self-censorship on the subjects of politics and religion in order to avoid possible contentiousness in discussion amounts to withdrawal from the ideological battlespace, explained Manning.

“Because we’ve turned a blind eye, because we’ve said, ‘Oh, the things we can’t discuss are religion and politics,’ well, when you say you can’t discuss religion and politics, effectively, you say you can’t discuss anything that matters in the world,” stated Manning. “So consequently, we say you can’t discuss religion and politics in polite company, yet the other side does.”

Marlow reflected on those deliberately avoiding political or religious discussions around the Thanksgiving dinner table.

“I was thinking about this over Thanksgiving because I was at a house where we were discouraged from talking politics — which is fine for me because I talk politics all day every day, so I’m more than happy to have a day where we talk about other things — but overall, as this becomes a greater trend, I think this is very bad,” determined Marlow. “I think we’re all getting very soft to being able to handle criticism and [being able] to disagree civilly, which I think is a lost skill that used to be necessary and assumed, and now, basically, if anyone disagrees with you that is a microaggression, if not a macroaggression.”

Marlow continued, “I find all these [phenomena] to be certainly not good, and perhaps devastating for the future of the country if we’re going to control speech and forget how to disagree politely. I don’t like this stuff, and it’s becoming more and more commonplace.”

Manning described conservative self-censorship on matters of politics and religion as a surrender of critical analysis of such subjects to news media outlets.

“I think it’s important to remember that the speech they want to control and say you can’t engage in is the speech that they don’t control,” Manning said. “When I say ‘they’ I mean the major media and the elites who are sitting there and basically putting us through an inundation through all the entertainment that we consume of almost complete leftist agenda with little pushback.”

Manning went on, “They’re inundating us everyday with stuff throughout MSN headlines on MSN.com — they’re tilted left. Everything we see is tilted left, and as a result we can’t discuss it because that would be pushing back. We have to accept that norm. So yes, it’s a manipulation and it’s dangerous.”

Conservative self-censorship in political and religious discussions allows left-wing and partisan Democrat news media and academia to control Americans’ understandings of such subjects, concluded Manning.


Sunday, December 22, 2019

Man, 30, who tore down and burned an LGBTQ flag at an Iowa church is jailed for more than 15 years

But you can burn Old Glory all you like -- as free speech

A man has been imprisoned for burning an LGBTQ flag that was flying at a church in central Iowa. Adolfo Martinez, 30, of Ames, was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years for the hate crime of arson.

He was also given a year for reckless use of explosives or fire and 30 days for harassment. The sentences are to be served consecutively, Story County court records said.

He was found guilty of a hate crime, which is a class D felony, third-degree harassment, and reckless use of fire last month.

Police allege he stole the flag that hung at Ames United Church of Christ at 217 6th St. It was found burning on June 11 outside Dangerous Curves Gentleman’s Club, 111 5th St, Des Moines Register reported.

Martinez told police he had ripped the flag down and had set it ablaze with lighter fluid because he is against homosexuality.


Democrats ignore "Liberty" and focus on redefining "freedom" and "Constitution."

Last night was the final Democrat debate of 2019. We say “debate” only loosely, because all seven of the remaining candidates on stage agree on the basics of the Democrat platform — higher taxes, “free” stuff for constituents, racial division, and hating President Donald Trump. So, rather than another lowlights reel of outrageous comments or meaningless tussles between candidates, we thought a brief word study would be enlightening.

The word “Liberty” was not used in last night’s Democrat debate. That should surprise no one, and it may be about all you need to know about the Democrat field.

Though the word “freedom was used nine times, it was used twice to defend abortion, twice to attack Trump for daring to complain about the Democrats’ Leftmedia super PAC, and three times to argue for income redistribution — specifically, Andrew Yang’s "freedom dividend” wealth transfer of $1,000 from some Americans to other Americans.

“Constitution” or “constitutional” were used 11 times. Primarily, that was in reference to the Democrats’ impeachment charade — a sad spectacle of political theater made all the more absurd by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to delay sending those articles to the Senate for trial. Nonetheless, all seven Democrat candidates waxed eloquent about their solemn duty “to support and defend” the Constitution — a document they rip to shreds with every policy proposal and actual law or regulation they pass.

When the Constitution wasn’t being used as an impeachment fainting couch, Democrats were using it to make false allegations of voter suppression of minorities or to whine about money in politics, which we thought they already “fixed” with campaign-finance reform nearly 20 years ago. As with all Democrat “fixes,” however, the fix needs fixing, and Democrats always propose even more government.

A theme running throughout the evening is that Democrat presidential candidates routinely declare they will do what a president has no constitutional authority to do. Every one of the seven Democrats on stage seems to have no problem with an imperial presidency, so long as it’s their own. Their distortions of words like “freedom” and “Constitution” belie their fundamental bent toward authoritarian power. That aptly sums up today’s Democrat Party.


Friday, December 20, 2019

Nonpartisan free speech org. calls out college's 'discrimination' against conservatives

A nonpartisan free speech group alleged that a Pennsylvania university engaged in viewpoint discrimination when it denied status to a conservative student group.

The Foundation of Individual Rights in Education says that the University of Scranton student government discriminated against students seeking to form a Turning Point USA chapter when it voted against granting them official student group status.

FIRE says it sent a letter to the university urging the administration to intervene, citing the school's stated student code of conduct, which says that "freedom of thought, freedom of expression, and freedom of the individual must be preserved."

According to FIRE, the school sent back an "unsatisfactory response" in which it "stood by" as the student government "turn[ed] students’ rights into a popularity contest."

"We ask again that you identify a viewpoint-neutral reason for the rejection or, in the alternative, a substantive explanation as to how viewpoint discrimination is compatible with the promises Scranton makes to its students," FIRE wrote in a second letter to the university.


Australia: A 'vital' social media group connecting farmers battling the drought has been reinstated by Facebook after being abruptly disabled

More than 11,000 people signed an online petition within hours of the One Day Closer to Rain (Drought) group being removed from Facebook, calling for its return.

The page brings together thousands of primary producers who give each other advice and support, as well as allowing people from the city to see the realities of the drought.

"It was a place for people to share their stories so they weren't alone in drought, and it just grew from there," founder and New South Wales farmer Cassandra McLaren said.

"It's more than a Facebook page — it's a community, it's a family.

"It was farmers sharing their stories, it was people living in rural towns but not necessarily on farms sharing their stories, it was people in city and urban areas that didn't live on farms trying to understand."

The group was suspended by Facebook yesterday after it breached a community standard in relation to selling livestock, a mistake Facebook has now acknowledged.

"We appreciate the hard work that 'One Day Closer To Rain' is doing to support drought-stricken farmers and their families at this difficult time," a Facebook company spokesperson said.

"We've looked into yesterday's removal, and upon further review, realised that we made an error and have since restored the Group and are reaching out to the admins of this Group to apologise for our mistake."

Isolation is a common feeling shared by primary producers living through the worst drought in a century, but the online community group offers a little reprieve and crucial connections, disregarding countless kilometres between its users.

"We are ecstatic that it is back up," Ms McLaren said.

"Still reeling and trying to process it all but are extremely appreciative of the support of everyday Australians who have rallied to ensure our page is able to continue.

"With this being recorded as the biggest drought on record, it's actually a historical record of this drought.

"We look forward to hopefully direct contact with Facebook and an understanding of what has happened."

After first learning the group had been taken down over concerns of the sale of livestock and guns, Ms McLaren said she was "devastated and gobsmacked." "Anybody who knows our main One Day Closer To Rain page, [knows] it's not a sales group," she said.

"We don't allow sales — we don't even allow hunting, so why we would we be selling guns?" Users have often praised the group because of the exclusion of sales.

"Often the comments have been … 'it's so supportive, it doesn't have all the other crap other pages have', and we had to moderate fairly hard to get it to that standard," Ms McLaren said.

Within hours more than 11,000 people had signed the online petition, and many other emailed Facebook with their concerns, as well as voicing them online.

"This is devastating to us that are on the land … it's a lifeline to each other and city folk who are interested in what we do," Robyn Clydsdale wrote. "It's a wealth of information to us all."

Another user, Kerry Fraser, said she was worried about the impacts Facebook restrictions could have. "This is deeply concerning," Ms Fraser said. "At this time of the year this lifeline is critical for our farmers for our mental health."

That was a sentiment echoed by Ms McLaren. "We can't be without that page, it's vital, it's saved lives and that's not an underestimation," she said. "Australia needs it, farmers need it, and those that aren't on the land need to know they can support them, even if it's just emotionally, because it does make a difference.


Thursday, December 19, 2019

I’m Jewish. Please Wish Me a Merry Christmas

Season’s greetings mean more when they celebrate America’s diversity by acknowledging our religious differences.


It was the day before Thanksgiving, and I was at my local coffee shop in New Haven, Conn. I had just finished ordering my preferred espresso drink, and as I paid for it, the barista said to me, with good cheer, “Happy Thanksgiving, if you celebrate it.” I was genuinely nonplused, and so, without considering how rude it might sound, I blurted back, “Who doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving?”

As it turned out, the barista was right there with me. “I know, right?” she said. “But I wished someone a happy Thanksgiving yesterday, and she got annoyed and said, ‘Not my holiday.’ So I’m just being careful.” I felt her pain. Nobody likes to offend, and Lord knows people do take offense.

As Christmas approaches, that worry becomes particularly acute: What to wish people as Dec. 25 nears? My advice in this season—when we proffer many season’s greetings, to strangers of indeterminate beliefs—is just what I said to the barista about Thanksgiving: “Don’t be so careful. Just say what you feel.” Yes, as a proud American Jew, I hereby give permission to my Christian, and secular but Christmas-minded, friends to keep alive the robust, specific “Merry Christmas,” abjuring the weak, vague “Happy Holidays.”

That’s right, Christmas lovers. Keep “Merry Christmas” alive on your annual card, with the creepy portrait of your family (a bit too happily posed) on one side, the news of your 5-year-old son’s latest novel and his younger sister’s coding genius on the other. Keep it alive in the longer, single-spaced, double-sided holiday letter, with its detailed explanations of your new job, your old hernia issues and your cat’s valiant battle with cancer. Keep it alive in your inflatable yard displays.

And by all means, keep it alive in your encounter with this Jewish stranger on the street, at the post office or browsing at the bookstore. It’s a perfectly fine way to greet me, even though Hanukkah is my seasonal holiday (albeit one of relatively little religious import). My Christmas observance is spending a day off wearing pajamas, watching movies with my wife, children and dogs. Others may believe what they will; for me, Christmas marks the birth of no savior, nobody who rose from the dead, nobody who walked on water. I will mark the day by eating Chinese food, in the great tradition of my people.

I welcome “Merry Christmas” because I am a Jew. As a member of a minority tribe, raising children to be proud bearers of a tradition foreign to most of their countrymen, I’m glad that we are reminded, from time to time, that we are surrounded by people unlike us: a mix of believing Christians and the secular Christian-ish, those whose cultural assumptions are influenced by Christianity. Asking Christians to repress their benign cultural folkways does nothing to increase tolerance; if anything, it just encourages Jews to forget our own distinctiveness. Of course, many Jews are happy to forget their distinctiveness, but that’s no reason to conscript other groups in the project of blanching all cultural differences.

Truly celebrating our country’s growing diversity should mean that all groups feel free to announce their uniqueness, to encounter the other with a strong sense of self.

So far I am discussing a hypothetical encounter between a sales clerk and a customer, in which case the clerk is playing the odds: Most people are Christmas people. But the clerk may also be introducing himself, after a fashion—being true to who he is. When one stranger offers a “Merry Christmas” to another, he is saying something about himself, something like: “I am hoping that I have a merry Christmas, and I wish one for you, too.” The second stranger can then respond however she likes. She can, of course, say, “You too.” Or, “We’ll see what Santa brings me.” Or, “Fat chance.

It’s both sensitive and joyful to have a culture in which we name our holidays, own them, share them.

But she might equally choose, “Thank you so much, but my holiday is Hanukkah.” That is a genuinely pluralistic encounter, much more so than a “Happy Holidays” met with “And to you, too!” Now, when there is a pre-existing relationship, everything changes. If I meet a friend who knows that I am of the Hebrew persuasion, hearing “Merry Christmas” would indeed seem odd. Instead, my friend might reasonably select “Happy Hanukkah.” And that’s the spirit, isn’t it? In that spirit, the educated, civic-minded Christian or Jew may greet Muslim friends during the month of Ramadan with a hearty “Ramadan Mubarak!”—blessed Ramadan. On crossing paths with the neighborhood Wiccan around Christmastime, wish her a happy Solstice. The “Seinfeld” fan may appreciate being met with, “A Festivus for the rest of us!” And the village atheist? I recommend, “Cherish this life, in case it is all there is!”

And however these conversations go, no party should take offense. The stakes aren’t very high, after all. Nobody has declared war on Christmas, nor is anybody trying to force us non-Christians into submission. The point is that we can all win. It’s both culturally sensitive and joyful to have a culture in which we name our holidays, own them, share them. This practice requires good cheer, a minimum of self-righteousness and a high threshold for taking offense.

Such a culture, one of both “Merry Christmas” and “Ramadan Mubarak,” is also one that exalts private intimacies over public show. I am happy for Christians to greet me with “Merry Christmas,” but that doesn’t mean I think the public high school should offer Christian prayers over the loudspeaker before the Friday night football game. The first is an act of friendship, the latter is just bullying. And with that, my friends, I place this wisdom in your Christmas stocking, as I wish you a happy 2020. Or, as the Jewish calendar has it, 5780.

Mr. Oppenheimer writes frequently on religion. He is a co-author of “The Newish Jewish Encyclopedia.


Calgary campuses adopt new, government-mandated free speech policies

All of Calgary’s post-secondary institutions have introduced government-mandated free-speech policies modelled after the Chicago Principles, a set of free-speech guidelines originally created for use on American campuses.

In May, the UCP government directed the province’s 26 post-secondary institutions to adopt free-speech policies aligning with the one developed by the University of Chicago in 2014. Each school submitted its new policy by the province’s November deadline.

Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides said he was pleased with the final policies, which were approved with only minor changes.

“It’s a recognition that free speech is central to the idea of academic debate and discovery, which is, of course, one of the central purposes of an institution of higher learning,” he said. “You fundamentally can’t engage in academic discourse and debate without protections for free speech on campus.”

Nicolaides referenced the case of two students found guilty of non-academic misconduct at the University of Calgary in 2007 after criticizing a professor on Facebook as one example of an Alberta school violating principles of free expression.

The new policies at Calgary’s post-secondaries are similar, with most opting to adapt the Chicago Principles using their own wording, prohibiting actions such as obstructing the free speech of others or shielding students from opinions they may disagree with or find offensive.

Mount Royal University president Tim Rahilly says his school’s policy isn’t as thorough as he would have liked, due to the short timeline to complete it.

“We actually went with a fairly streamlined policy that just captured the basics of a policy with, essentially, the promise to our campus community that we were going to engage in a year-long process to speak to them and hear their concerns about it,” Rahilly said.

The process will include a committee of faculty, students and staff tasked with figuring out how a freedom of speech policy will best work in practice.

Jessica Revington, president of the University of Calgary’s Students’ Union, was part of the committee tasked with crafted the statement from her school. She says student feedback was taken into account, particularly with regards to creating an inclusive campus culture and emphasizing respectful dialogue.

“The statement just formalizes what the students’ union believes with reference to free expression, that universities should be places where free and open dialogue should take place,” Revington said.

The policies now in place in Alberta differ in some ways from those in use south of the border, largely because federal free-speech laws are stricter in Canada, with provisions barring hate speech.

Nicolaides says this wasn’t a significant challenge, though, because the Chicago Principles specify any expression cannot violate the law. He added that hate speech “shouldn’t be used under the guise of free speech.”

Alberta isn’t the first province to require its post-secondaries to adapt free speech policies along the lines of the Chicago Principles. Ontario mandated the same for its campuses last year, with policies in that province coming into effect Jan. 1, 2019.


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Not All Findings of Religious Freedom Index Are Encouraging

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a leading nonprofit law firm defending religious freedom, is taking an innovative approach to evaluate the current state of religious freedom in America.

Most assessments in this area focus on government actions such as laws, regulations, or court decisions that affect religious freedom. Becket’s first-ever Religious Freedom Index instead focuses on public opinion, using a national poll to examine six dimensions of religious freedom. The results are generally positive, with a few caveats.

At least formally, religious freedom in America long has been defined broadly. The First Amendment, for example, refers to the “free exercise of religion,” which obviously extends beyond speech or religious worship. In fact, colonial laws protected the exercise of religion for more than a century before the United States was born.

In the mid-20th century, following World War II, the U.S. was an original supporter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 18 of that document says that religious freedom includes both belief and behavior, in private and in public, individually and collectively.

But rights, even such fundamental and comprehensive ones, are more than statements or ideas. To be real, they must be experienced and that, in turn, depends a great deal on people’s understanding, perception, support, or opposition to religious freedom. This is why, for example, the Pew Research Center’s evaluation of religious freedom around the world looks at social, as well as government, hostilities involving religion.

Becket’s Religious Freedom Index asked about the degree of acceptance/support or challenge/opposition to six dimensions of religious freedom.

The index, for example, asked five questions about religious pluralism, such as practicing religion in daily life without fear of discrimination or harm. Overall, it shows an average of 80% support for religious pluralism.

Although there was little difference between Democrats and Republicans regarding religious pluralism, the largest gap was about the freedom to practice one’s religious beliefs “even if they are contrary to accepted majority practices.”

Significantly, however, Democrats led Republicans by 10 points (85% to 75%). Future indexes will show whether this continues as the category of “accepted majority practices” changes over time.

The Religious Freedom Index also explored “how Americans value religion and its role in society.” The results were not as encouraging.

“When it comes to issues and what happens today in our country,” for example, 56% said that religion is “part of the solution” while 44% said it is “part of the problem.” The division about “people of faith” was 59% to 41%.

Problems, of course, need solutions. This perception by many (thankfully, not a majority) that not only religion in general, but people of faith in particular, are part of the problem may weaken support for the freedom to practice one’s religious beliefs even when those beliefs are contrary to majority practices.

The index also examined the familiar area of church and state. Here, even though the U.S. Constitution explicitly prohibits any “religious test for public office,” one-quarter of Americans say that candidates “should be disqualified or blocked from holding public offices” based on their religious beliefs.

They also say that “[s]ociety should not tolerate public officials who might allow their religious beliefs to influence their decisions.” It will surprise many that the percent of religious people who say they believe this is exactly the same as the percent of agnostics and atheists.

The Religious Freedom Index is based on an online poll surveying a representative sample of 1,000 Americans age 18 and older. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.1%, and Heart and Mind Strategies constructed  the index.

Becket’s conclusion from this first Religious Freedom Index is that “there is evidence for broad support of robust religious freedom protections, discomfort with government interfering in religious practice, and positive attitudes toward a culture of accommodation of religious practice.”

The caveat, however, is this: “Within each dimension the composition of support and opposition varies depending on political parties, age, ethnicity and many other factors.”

This means that the consensus supporting religious freedom in America might be broad, but it also may not be very deep.


Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Students stalk professor over his scholarship on ancient sexual practices. University does nothing

What will the University of Texas do if you stalk a professor and harass him at home because you’re offended by his scholarship?

Nothing of substance, if the taxpayer-funded university’s response to student harassment of Thomas Hubbard is any indication.

No arrests have been made as of Tuesday night regarding a student protest at the classics professor’s house, nor student discipline meted out, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Students not only showed up to Hubbard’s house Monday night to shout that “he was a predator,” but also “banged on the front door of his home” and “filmed as he was escorted to safety by local police officers.”

Hubbard is known for his scholarship on ancient sexual practices, particularly physical relationships between adult men and teenage boys in cultures such as classical Greece. He describes the relationships as “pederasty,” distinct from “pedophilia,” or sexual relations with children.

The Monday night protesters, working under the moniker Fire the Abusers, documented their illegal harassment and called Hubbard a “known pedophile.” That slander, based on nothing more than Hubbard’s scholarship, provides the professor grounds to sue for defamation if he wishes.

A “revolutionary” news outlet also published video of the illegal harassment of Hubbard.

It’s not clear how long students have been calling on the administration to remove Hubbard. The Austin American-Statesman reported Dec. 4 that activism against the classics professor piggybacked on earlier activism against two UT professors “with histories of sexual misconduct.”

Hubbard has written that pederasty in the ancient world, as he described it, constituted “proper learning experiences” and could inform how modern people view age-of-consent laws. He specifically blamed the late Victorian and Progressive eras for adopting such laws based on “outmoded gender constructions and ideological preoccupations.”

According to the American-Statesman, his work is celebrated by the North American Man/Boy Love Association, which published a book he edited, “Greek Love Reconsidered.” Scholars who contributed essays to the 2000 book came from UCLA, Northwestern and Johns Hopkins.

Hubbard, however, has disavowed NAMBLA, telling the newspaper he’s not “influenced by or sympathetic to NAMBLA’s radical position.” He neither endorses its “idiosyncratic approach to legal reform” nor shares the “sexual orientation of its members.”

The university has upheld Hubbard’s First Amendment right to his scholarship in media interviews and said he’s not violating any campus policy.

A spokesperson told the American-Statesman that “the study of controversial and even offensive ideas is protected by the First Amendment,” but Hubbard has not been alleged to “violate university policy or takes actions that threaten the safety of the campus community.”

After the illegal protest at Hubbard’s home, the spokesperson told the Chronicle that the administration condemns the “threats of physical harm” against Hubbard and vandalism against his home, “and will work to protect them from harm.”

The university did not explain why no one had been arrested or punished under UT policy – with their own video evidence – in spite of the spokesperson’s reminder that “threatening anyone’s safety violates the law and university standards of conduct.”