Friday, February 28, 2020

Apple hearts China

Apple Inc. received a fairly high level of support from its shareholders over the matter of free speech in China as the company met for its annual meeting today.

The issue at hand was the fact that in 2017 Apple removed 634 virtual private networks from its Apple Store at the behest of the Chinese government. At the time, Apple was blasted by free speech advocates, seeing as activists in China had used those VPNs to get around China’s Great Firewall. In 2018, also at the request of the Chinese government, Apple delisted the New York Times app.

Nearly 41% of shareholders supported a proposal for Apple to be “publicly committed to respect freedom of expression as a human right,” a significant number. But it was still defeated.

Chief Executive Tom Cook (pictured) didn’t mention the obvious reason for Apple’s moves — the bottom line — and instead said it was in everyone’s interest to adhere to the laws and regulations where the company operates. Cook added, in a common refrain for U.S. companies defending their cooperation with dubious regimes, that it wasn’t “in the best interest of our users to simply abandon markets, which would leave consumers with fewer choices and fewer privacy protections.”


Free speech in the UK: it’s the business of parliament, not Ofcom, to judge what is ok to publish

The UK government recently announced a new plan to regulate social media companies such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The proposals give the government’s media regulator, Ofcom, extensive powers to tell tech giants what speech they must suppress – and to punish them if they don’t.

These proposals seem long overdue. Just consider the case of YouTube. Once celebrated for its videos of wedding engagements, graduation speeches and cute cats, its darker corners have been used to display televised beheadings, white supremacist rallies and terrorist incitement. Facebook and Twitter have been similarly abused for nefarious ends.

Surely, the argument goes, it is fitting and proper to hold profiteering social media firms partly accountable for the harms caused by the content they platform. Simply relying on these firms to self-regulate is not enough.

But unless the government’s proposals are dramatically revised, they pose a significant risk to two fundamental political values: freedom of speech and democracy.

Start with the risks to free speech. The current proposal stems from an Online Harms White Paper published in April 2019, which unhelpfully outlines two kinds of speech to be regulated: “harms with a clear definition” and “harms with a less clear definition”.

The former category focuses on speech that is mostly already illegal – offline and online. So, for example, extreme pornography (for example, videos depicting rape) and speech which incites terrorism fall into this category. Yet the second category is nebulous precisely because it concerns speech that is mostly already legal – such as so-called “trolling”, “disinformation” and other “extremist content” (though the white paper offers few examples).

Under the proposal, social media companies will be tasked with a “duty of care” requiring it to restrict the distribution of both kinds of content – with Ofcom to serve as judge, jury and executioner.

Rule of law

It is the second, more nebulous category that should trouble the defenders of free speech. If it is perfectly legal to post certain speech online – if there is good reason to permit citizens to engage in, and access, certain expression without fear of penalty – why should such speech then be subject to suppression (whether in the form of outright censorship or reduced dissemination)?

There may be rare cases in which an asymmetry can be justified – for example, we wouldn’t want to punish troubled teenagers posting videos of their own self-harm, even though we would want to limit the circulation of these videos. But with respect to content propounded by accountable adults – the majority of the speech at issue here – symmetry should be the norm.

If certain speech is rightly protected by the law – if we have decided that adults should be free to express and access it – we cannot then demand that social media companies suppress it. Otherwise we are simply restricting free speech through the backdoor.

For example, take the category of “extremist content” – content judged to be harmful despite it being legal. Suppose Ofcom were to follow the definition used in the government’s Prevent strategy, whereby speech critical of “British values” – such as democracy – counts as extremist. Would social media companies be violating their duty of care, then, if they failed to limit distribution of philosophical arguments challenging the wisdom of democratic rule? We would hope not. But based on what we know now, it’s simply up to Ofcom to decide.

Recent reporting suggests that, with regard to legal speech, the final proposal may simply insist that social media companies enforce their own terms and conditions. But this passes the hard choices to the private companies, and indeed simply incentivises them to write extremely lax terms.

A job for democracy

This leads to my final concern, with democracy. As a society, we have hard choices to make about the limits of freedom of expression. There is reasonable disagreement about this issue, with different democracies taking different stands. Hate speech, for example, is illegal in Britain but broadly legal in the US. Likewise, speech advocating terrorism is a crime in Britain, but is legal in the US so long as it doesn’t pose a high risk of causing imminent violence.

It is instructive that these decisions have been made in the US by its Supreme Court, which gets the final say on what counts as protected speech. But in Britain, the rules are different: the legislature, not the judiciary, decides.

The decision to restrict harmful expression requires us to judge what speech is of sufficiently “low value” to society that its suppression is acceptable. It requires a moral judgement that must carry legitimacy for all over whom it is enforced. This is a job for democracy. It is not a job for Ofcom. If the UK decides that some speech that is presently legal is sufficiently harmful that the power of the state should be used to suppress it, parliament must specify with precision what exactly this comprises, rather than leaving it to be worked out later by Ofcom regulators.

Parliament could do this, most obviously, by enacting criminal statutes banning whatever speech it desires Ofcom to suppress (incorporating the relevant loopholes to protect children and other vulnerable speakers from prosecution). On this model, social media companies would be tasked with suppressing precisely specified speech that is independently illegal, and no more. If the government is not prepared to criminalise certain speech, then it should not be prepared to punish social media companies for giving it a platform.

The government is right to hold social media firms accountable. A duty of care model could still work. But to protect free speech, and ensure that decisions of the greatest consequence have legitimacy, the fundamental rules – about what speech may be suppressed – must be clearly specified, and authorised, by the people. That’s what parliament is for.


Thursday, February 27, 2020

Why This Adoption Provider in New York May Have to Shut Its Doors

There are more than 400,000 children in the foster care system nationwide. This includes over 25,000 children in the state of New York alone.

You would think that government agencies would want as many adoption providers as possible working to find homes for these children. Yet, in some states, government officials are cutting ties with—and in some cases, outright attempting to shut down—adoption providers because of their religious beliefs about the best home for a child.

The apostle James urged Christians “to look after the orphans and widows in their distress.” Christians throughout history have always taken care of children in need of a home. In America, one of the first orphanages was founded before the Revolutionary War by a Christian preacher.

New Hope Family Services has continued this tradition for over 50 years.

New Hope is an “arm-around-the-shoulder” ministry committed to meeting the needs of every life touched by adoption. This adoption agency provides adoption planning and placement while remaining committed to helping prepare adoptive parents for their unique responsibilities. New Hope is also a pregnancy center that offers pregnancy tests, medical referrals, and counseling. New Hope provides all these services through the generosity of donors; the organization does not receive any public funding.

New Hope is committed to walking with adoptive families and birth parents alike to place children with adoptive families. And it has done so with excellence.

In the fall of 2018, the New York Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) recognized this in a review, writing in a letter that the organization “had a number of strengths in providing adoption services.”

But then something changed.

Just months after the OCFS gave New Hope Family Services a positive review, the agency changed course, calling one of the organization’s policies “discriminatory and impermissible.”

Had New Hope changed any of its policies since the favorable review? No. But as a Christian non-profit, New Hope believes that the best environment for children is in a home with a married mom and dad. For that reason, New Hope does not place children for adoption with same-sex couples or unmarried opposite-sex couples. Instead, New Hope kindly refers them to one of the other approximately 130 adoption providers in New York—the vast majority of which will place children with any individual who qualifies.

New Hope’s decision to live out its faith in its polices was too much for the OCFS. Despite its previous favorable review of the organization, the agency issued an ultimatum to New Hope: violate its religious beliefs or close its adoption services. The OCFS took this position even though New Hope receives no public funding.

Faith-based adoption providers should not be punished for their religious beliefs. And children should not be deprived of forever homes because government bureaucrats disfavor religious organizations that believe children benefit from having a married mom and dad. For both of these reasons, New Hope is asking a federal court to protect it from being singled out, punished, and disfavored because of its Christian beliefs.

New Hope filed a complaint against the OCFS in federal district court on December 6, 2018. Unfortunately, the district court dismissed the case on May 16, 2019. Now, New Hope’s case is before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

And on November 4, the Second Circuit issued an emergency order, so that New Hope could keep its doors open and continue serving families and children while its appeal is being considered. The Second Circuit heard oral arguments in New Hope’s case on November 13, 2019. The court will ultimately decide whether to reverse the district court’s decision to dismiss the case entirely.

New Hope Family Service’s Christian faith is central to its mission. It should be able to operate according to its religious beliefs in a pluralistic society such as ours. There is no reason to single out and punish those who hold the belief that the best home for a child includes a mother and a father.

The Bottom Line:

Adoption providers who help children find a loving home with a mother and father should be protected, not shut down for their faith. And children should not be punished by government bureaucrats who do not share (or who outright condemn) the religious beliefs of such providers.


Australia: Viewers unload on Eddie McGuire for DEFENDING Sam Newman over his blackface stunt

Blackface was once common entertainment.  Jewish entertainer Al Jolson used it often. But Leftist hysteria has made it objectionable

Viewers of a documentary featuring AFL great Adam Goodes have slammed Eddie McGuire for defending Sam Newman's infamous Footy Show blackface stunt. 

The Australian Dream, which had its television premiere on the ABC on Sunday night, focused on Goodes, who turned his back on the game after he retired in 2015 in the wake of an ugly racism row and years of booing from opposition fans.

The film includes a clip from a 1999 episode of the AFL Footy Show showing Newman with his face painted black as he imitated St Kilda champion Nicky Winmar, who had failed to turn up for a guest slot.

In the documentary, McGuire defended his long-time friend and colleague, who was born in 1945. 'He [Newman] didn't understand the nuance. He was a product of those times,' he said. 'He was a 60s 70s vaudevillian who was sending up Nicky Winmar because he didn't turn up on the show that night.'

McGuire's defense of Newman was criticised by some viewers on Sunday night. 'Sam Newman is disgusting, but Eddie McGuire is equally vile. Making excuses for his behaviour creates space for it to exist. Gutless to the end,' Seb Conway said on Twitter.


Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Disparity Between Liberal And Conservatives Professors behind free speech problems

A survey of many major universities revealed that while there is a 6-to-1 ratio of liberals to conservatives among professors, liberal college staff members outnumber their conservative counterparts by the astonishing ratio of 12-to-1.

The impact of this huge disparity between liberal and conservatives professors, and also administrators who increasingly run and set the tone at universities, appears to be why so many institutions of higher education now have speech codes which are hostile to free speech and are often unconstitutional, and speech police (now often called "bias response teams") which investigate (and often even do more) students who say something which offends another student or a group to which they belong.

Many such teams remain in operation despite a recent ruling by a federal Court of Appeals that the mere existence on campus of investigatory bias response teams "objectively chills speech," and acts "by a way of implicit threat of punishment and intimidation to quell speech" on campus, even if such teams have no power to discipline, and no student is ever in fact disciplined.

For example, George Washington University [GWU] characterized as a potential hate crime, and asked for police intervention after a referral to a bias response team, when one law student used the word "Jew" in a strictly private conversation with another law student.

Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech?

In a more recent occurrence, upon learning of an off-campus drunken rant about bombing Israel, GWU referred the matter to the police as a possible crime, and also began its own investigation aimed at possible discipline, including expulsion of the student; a punishment which many on campus had called for.

Faculty apparently are also teaching students - incorrectly - that speech which is offense to any group, often labeled "hate speech," is not free speech protected by the First Amendment or academic freedom, and that it is permissible and appropriate to prevent anyone from making statements which even a small percentage of students might find objectionable, even to the point of using intimidation and violence - in which some faculty members have even cooperated.

For example, when conservative law professor Josh Blackman was stopped from speaking at CUNY about "the importance of free speech," Law Dean Mary Lu Bile insisted that disrupting his speech about free speech was itself free speech, and therefore presumably appropriate and protected.

In another recent example, at one state university, a professor physically assaulted pro-life advocates and tore down their display.  Even more astonishing, other faculty rallied around him.

And in a very recent example which went even further, a small group of students at Kent State opposed to ICE physically blocked other students who were seeking jobs from even talking with Department of Homeland Security [DHS] recruiters, even though nothing was ever actually said, and the recruiters were not even from ICE.

University police who were present reportedly did nothing, and the presence of DHS recruiters was analogized to the appearance of the National Guard coming on campus during the Kent State shootings.


Exploring the line between free speech and hate speech

Robert Thomas firmly believes freedom of speech is key to maintaining democracy and a healthy society, but recognizes the topic raises many questions.

What is the balance between freedom of expression and making everyone feel welcome? Should there be a limit on freedom of speech? How does social media fit into freedom of expression?

“It’s something I feel is a really important issue,” said Thomas.

“It’s certainly a passion of mine. I feel very strongly about the importance of freedom of speech for democracy as a whole, and certainly for universities in particular.”

One topic Thomas often sees rise to the surface is how to find a balance between freedom of speech and limiting hate speech. He believes hate speech should be defined only by the Criminal Code of Canada and not by the changing opinions of society.

Once people begin to limit freedom of speech outside of the legal definition, Thomas said he begins to see a problem.

“Hate speech is often used in a fairly ideological way in popular speech,” he said. “My idea is perfectly fine, but your idea is completely erroneous … it becomes a bit problematic.”

Even ideas he would consider to be conspiracy theories or completely without evidence, Thomas said should still be allowed to circulate and pointed to the anti-vaccine movement as an example. Although he firmly supports vaccines and trusts the science behind it, he does not want to see government or another authority say the opposing viewpoint is illegal.

“As a citizen I should have the right to say ‘that’s completely nonsense’ or ‘you have a point.’ It shouldn’t be some government official or somebody hired for the library or some other public space that decides,” he said.

“If you try to crush an idea that’s nonsense … who decides where we’re going to stop when it comes to an idea that isn’t nonsense?”

Sometimes this means having conversations or listening to opinions that make us uncomfortable, said Thomas, and with social media now giving every voice an equally large platform, how these conversations are happening has changed.

“Freedom of speech has to adapt, at least in the sense that we have to get used to having more explicit conversations, I guess, on matters of public interest,” he said.

“Hopefully the truth will prevail eventually through a public forum where people are allowed to discuss topics of importance to them.”


Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Free speech union takes on woke mobs: Body will defend people who become the target of 'Twitter storms' after making controversial remarks

People who become the target of ‘Twitter storms’ after making controversial remarks will be defended by a new body called the Free Speech Union.

The organisation will ‘stand up for the rights of its members to tell the truth in all circumstances’.

The union has been set up by the journalist Toby Young in response to police investigations into a string of ‘non-crime hate incidents’ triggered by outspoken comments.

Mr Young, writing in today’s Mail on Sunday, said the union would be a ‘non-partisan, mass-membership organisation’.

He says: ‘If someone at work writes to your boss to complain about something you’ve said, we’ll write to them, too, and explain the importance of intellectual tolerance and viewpoint diversity.

‘If self-righteous social-media bullies pick on you, we’ll return the fire. If someone launches an online petition calling for you to be sacked, we’ll launch a counter-petition. The enemies of free speech hunt in packs; its defenders must band together too.’

The move, which comes after The Mail on Sunday launched its own Fighting For Free Speech campaign, was welcomed by Tory MP Andrew Rosindell, who said: ‘Free speech is the bedrock of a free society and a free people.

‘I have watched freedom of expression gradually being eroded and good men and women being hounded as a result of simply having an opinion. It’s time the fightback began against the extreme politically correct culture and I commend Toby Young for this initiative in establishing the Free Speech Union.’


A student is suing his school for a dress code that bars him from wearing a t-shirt with a picture of a gun

WALES, Wis. -- A high school in Wisconsin has a dress code that students have to follow, and it says the mere picture of a gun is not allowed. Some say this violates their free speech rights.

Robert Newhouse isn’t old enough to own a gun, but he said he is a gun rights supporter. “They’re really fun,” Newhouse said. “It’s great to use to go hunting. I like hunting.”

When he was told he couldn’t wear his shirt - on which is a rifle with the words “Pew Professional” written underneath - he and his family were confused.

"Just to have a picture to be a supporter of our gun rights and be a supporter of just legal ownership of guns, it was very upsetting," said Kimberly Newhouse, Robert’s mother.

Robert continued to wear the shirt until Kimberly got a letter from the school which read, in part: “We do not allow students to wear clothes that depict guns (or alcohol, drugs, etc.) … Moving forward, Robert cannot wear any items of clothing that depict guns.”

A classmate of Robert’s faced similar discipline for wearing a shirt featuring a Wisconsin Carry, Inc. logo. The organization is a gun rights organization.

Nik Clark is the group’s CEO.

"It doesn't matter what your dress code says,” Clark said. “The Constitution of the United States and the First Amendment trumps your dress code. If a school sanctions a walkout for gun control and to call for gun control, to call for universal background checks, to call for red flag laws, certainly they should at least allow students to wear a non-violent, non-threatening shirt as they go about their daily business."

Robert hopes his lawsuit will allow him to wear the shirt


Monday, February 24, 2020

Another photographer is taking a stand for freedom—this time in Kentucky…
Louisville wants to force this photographer to celebrate and participate in same-sex weddings

Besides the bride and groom, few people get to experience, celebrate, and participate in as many special moments of a wedding as the wedding photographer.

Wedding photographers have the privilege of telling a story about the couple’s love and taking part in the sacred ceremony when the groom and bride become husband and wife.

Because of her faith, Kentucky photographer and blogger Chelsey Nelson believes that weddings are a sacred union of one man and one woman. The photographs she takes and the blogs she writes celebrate each married couple and reflect her religious views about marriage.

The problem is that Louisville is interpreting its law to force Chelsey to photograph and blog about same-sex weddings if she does so for weddings between one man and one woman. And if Chelsey doesn’t participate in same-sex ceremonies, she could face financial penalties, court orders, and required compliance reports.

But the government should never have the power to punish someone for peacefully living and working consistently with their faith.
Chelsey believes that marriage is a sacred religious event

Chelsey is a Christian. She believes a wedding ceremony is a sacred event. The very definition of sacred is something that deserves the utmost respect because of its religious purpose—that’s why it’s called Holy Matrimony.

Chelsey objects to participating in same-sex weddings because doing so would be inconsistent with her religious beliefs. Her objection has nothing to do with declining to serve people who identify as gay or lesbian. For the same reason she wouldn’t photograph a zombie-themed wedding—she believes it undermines the sanctity of the wedding ceremony—she can’t photograph other weddings that violate her faith. But that doesn’t mean she has something against fans of the TV show The Walking Dead.

We've always agreed as American people to respect religious beliefs. The government or popular culture does not have the right to dictate Chelsey’s conscience—or anyone else’s.

But lately, we’re seeing more government officials who think it’s okay to force people of faith to promote and participate in events that contradict their religious convictions. That is exactly what’s happening to wedding photographer Chelsey Nelson in Kentucky.

What these officials fail to understand is that the First Amendment protects Chelsey’s right to freely speak and exercise her faith, even if they disagree with her views about marriage. This protection extends beyond her home or church—to every part of her life.

That’s the freedom we’re fighting for
Email from Alliance Defending Freedom

Federal judge orders Chicago to cease enforcing free speech restrictions at Millennium Park

People who want to pass out literature or evangelize in Millennium Park will now be able to do so after a federal judge has temporarily barred the city of Chicago from restricting free speech privileges there.

U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey granted a preliminary injunction Thursday that allows people to evangelize and campaign in the park.

Blakey called the city’s rules about visitors exercising their First Amendment rights in limited areas of the park “constitutionally flawed in several respects.”

The ruling comes six months after a group of Wheaton College students filed a lawsuit against the city, saying Millennium Park rules unconstitutionally restricted their freedom of speech and their free exercise of religion in a public space.

The city has argued that Millennium Park isn’t a traditional public forum, but in his decision, Blakey shot down that argument, saying the plaintiffs have enough likelihood of succeeding in their lawsuit to warrant an injunction against the city’s rules.

“The Supreme Court expressly recognizes streets, sidewalks, and parks as traditional public forums,” Blakey said in his decision. “Traditional public forums ‘are defined by the objective characteristics of the property,’ and thus remain ‘open for expressive activity regardless of the government’s intent.’ ”


Sunday, February 23, 2020

Orlando Sentinel's Attack on Schools Barring Gay Acts Is an Attack on the First Amendment

The editorial in the Feb. 18 Orlando Sentinel is critical of private schools, mostly Christian, which participate in a state-school voucher program; the schools uphold biblical teachings on homosexuality. The newspaper says they should not qualify for the program because they discriminate against homosexuals the way Bob Jones University once discriminated against blacks. There are several problems with this line of reasoning.

Race and sexual orientation have nothing in common: race is not a behavioral category but sexual orientation is ineluctably ordered to behavior. Christian sexual ethics, which are based on Judaism, proscribe adultery, homosexuality, and other sexual acts. That is their right.

There is no rational argument for denying a person who is black, brown, or white from marrying to attending a Christian school: race is behaviorally neutral. Indeed, it is because Bob Jones University—which also promoted anti-Catholicism—could not sustain a rational argument that it eventually was forced to change course.

There is a rational argument for allowing religious schools to sanction behaviors it finds sinful. To deny them this option is to deny them their identity. Moreover, to protect the institution of marriage—indeed to grant it a privileged position—Christian sexual ethics does not approve of sexual conduct that is outside the union of a man and a woman in the institution of marriage. No such reasoning could plausibly be applied to denying mixed racial marriages.

An investigation of private schools in Florida by the Orlando Sentinel, published Jan. 23, found 156 private Christian schools with "anti-gay policies."Almost half are Baptist. Catholic schools were mostly given a pass by the newspaper.

Catholic schools do not reject applicants on the basis of sexual orientation, though they will enforce teacher contracts which bar them from marrying someone of the same sex, and they generally do not admit students whose parents are homosexuals. The reasoning is sound: sending mixed messages to students only confuses them about the validity of Catholic sexual ethics.

As it turns out, for nine schools, the newspaper cites quoted statements as proof of their "anti-gay views." It is important to note that the statements have nothing to do with the status of a student's sexual orientation. Rather, they have to do with beliefs and practices.

1. Central Florida Christian Academy admits students who follow biblical teachings and abstain from "sexual immorality." The newspaper concludes this means "gay children aren't welcome." But it is not clear that it does. The school did not say it does not admit gay students. It suggested it does not admit students who are engaged in sexually immoral behavior. That could mean premarital sex (until recently confined to heterosexuals), as well as homosexual acts.

2. Calvary Christian High School in Clearwater is mentioned because it denies students who practice a "homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity" or "promoting such practices." Lifestyle, switching sexes, and [homosexual] practices are all behavioral categories, and as such are entirely legitimate for a Christian school to consider.

3. Wade Christian School in Melbourne says students can be expelled for a "homosexual act." The emphasis is on an "act," not orientation.

4. Master's Academy describes "homosexual behaviors" as sinful and does not enroll those who engage in them. Again, it is the behavior that matters.

5. Mount Dora Academy lists as an offense "sexual misconduct or professing immorality (including homosexuality) on or off campus." Conduct is not neutral—it is normative—and is therefore a valid concern for Christian schools.

6. Landmark Christian School in Haines City does not accept or retain "faculty, staff, or students who profess to or practice a homosexual lifestyle." A lifestyle is empirically a behavioral category.

7. Cooper City Christian Academy in Broward County says students should refrain from "talking favorably about or engaging in" such things as "idolatry, Satanism, astrology, profanity...premarital sexual activity, pornography, homosexual behavior, gender-confusion behavior, [and] cross-dressing." All of these beliefs and practices are proscribed by our Judeo-Christian tradition.

8. Worshiper's House of Prayer Academy in Miami says it has a "zero tolerance" policy for "homosexual activity." Activity is conduct.

9. Donahue Academy is the one Catholic school listed. Its "anti-gay" rule bars those who "advocate" or act "upon those [disordered] inclinations romantically or sexually." This speaks to the religious beliefs of Catholic schools and the acting out of proscribed moral conduct.

In short, the Orlando Sentinel counts as "anti-gay views" anything associated with the sexual ethics of the three monolithic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It has a First Amendment right to free speech to do that. But religious schools also have a First Amendment right to free speech, as well as the free exercise of religion.


Ryanair boss calls for extra checks on Muslim men at airports in bid to prevent terror attacks as he claims 'that is where the threat is coming from'

A rare breath of realism in politically correct Britain

Ryanair's boss has called for Muslim passengers to be checked at airports in a bid to prevent terror attacks, claiming 'that is where the threat is coming from'.

Michael O'Leary said terrorists 'will generally be males of a Muslim persuasion' - and that families with young children should be let through security as they are less likely to 'blow' people up.

The 58-year-old added that the only way to 'deal with the threat' was to vet 'single male' Muslims travelling on their own.

His comments have since been slammed by a Labour MP for 'encouraging racism'.

'Who are the bombers? They are going to be single males travelling on their own,' Mr O'Leary told The Times. 'If you are travelling with a family of kids, on you go; the chances you are going to blow them all up is zero.'

He added: 'You can't say stuff, because it's racism, but it will generally be males of a Muslim persuasion. Thirty years ago it was the Irish. 'If that is where the threat is coming from, deal with the threat.'

Labour MP Khalid Mahmood said Mr O'Leary was 'encouraging racism' and asked why he wouldn't suggest white people be given the same treatment 'to see if they're being fascists'.

'If he can tell me what colour Muslims are then I'd be very happy to learn from him – you can't judge a book by its cover,' he told the Times.

He added: 'In Germany this week a white person killed eight people. Should we profile white people to see if they're being fascists? 'He's being very blinkered and is actually encouraging racism.'

The airline chief is no stranger to controversial remarks – particularly his murderous intentions towards environmentalists and travel agents.

He once said: 'The best thing you can do with environmentalists is shoot them.'

Mr O'Leary's remarks come the day after a white female Muslim convert admitted plotting a suicide bomb attack on St Paul's Cathedral in London.

Safiyya Amira Shaikh, 36, was born Michelle Ramsden but converted to Islam in 2007 and is believed to have become radicalised in 2015 after following extremists online.


Friday, February 21, 2020

Aubrey Huff Says San Francisco Giants Banned Him From World Series Reunion Over Trump Support

In 2010, the San Francisco Giants won the World Series. That year, Aubrey Huff started for the Giants at first base and led the team in home runs, playing a vital role in their championship season. Now, the team has announced that he will not participate in the 10th-anniversary team reunion and ceremony, over his support for President Trump.

On February 17, the San Francisco Giants responded to a request for comment by the online sports outlet The Athletic,

“Earlier this month, we reached out to Aubrey Huff to let him know that he will not be included in the upcoming 2010 World Series Championship reunion. Aubrey has made multiple comments on social media that are unacceptable and run counter to the values of our organization. While we appreciate the many contributions that Aubrey made to the 2010 championship season, we stand by our decision,” the Giants said in a statement emailed to The Athletic when asked specifically if Huff would be invited to the reunion.

While Huff's Twitter rants have crossed the line into the crass and objectionable, many observers believe his unabashed support of Donald Trump is the real reason.


UK Govt. Approves Net Censorship – Free Speech Dies

Britain allows the internet to be censored, a warning for the U.S.

The United Kingdom has become the first Western nation to move ahead with large-scale censorship of the internet, effectively creating regulation that will limit freedom on the last frontier of digital liberty. In a move that has the nation reeling, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has unveiled rules that will punish internet companies with fines, and even imprisonment, if they fail to protect users from “harmful and illegal content.”

Couched in language that suggests this is being done to protect children from pedophiles and vulnerable people from cyberbullying, the proposals will place a massive burden on small companies. Further, they will ultimately make it impossible for those not of the pervasive politically correct ideology to produce and share content.

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes

The new guardian of the internet will be the Office of Communications (known as Ofcom), a government-approved body that already regulates television, radio, broadcasting, and even the postal service. This group has been accused on many occasions of “acting as the moral arbiter” for the nation, and perhaps unsurprisingly, tends towards a very left-leaning position.

Speaking to, Matthew Lesh, the head of research at The Adam Smith Institute, warned:

“Make no mistake: free speech is under threat. The Government is proposing the most censorious online speech regime in the Western world. We must not be fooled by platitudes about freedom of expression. The inevitably woke bureaucrats in Ofcom will be deciding what sort of speech is and is not allowed across much of the internet. They will have extraordinary discretion to decide who to target and what is harmful.

This is a recipe for disaster for anyone that thinks differently to the Notting Hill set — any correct but unpopular opinions will not just come under attack from the Twitterati, but the law itself.”


Thursday, February 20, 2020

Defender of gun rights attacked at Ohio College

Kaitlin Bennett is a person most famous for open carrying a gun on college campuses to bring attention to gun rights. She's controversial to some, especially when she confronts social justice warriors about their beliefs. Whether or not you agree with anything Bennett has to say, her right to say it and move about the country unimpeded should not be in question. She visited Ohio University on Monday and chaos ensued. Now the left is cheering this behavior and calling for more.

She deserved it, of course, because she has views that the animals at Ohio University don't share. I don't care what Bennett thinks about any subject, or if she even is a white supremacist (she isn't), this behavior is criminal and the police just standing there doing nothing should be fired immediately.

We don't even know what she was there to do. No one in that mob had any interest in hearing anything she had to say. Bennett isn't my favorite young conservative by any stretch, I find her bikini photos cringeworthy and not representative of how I want my daughters or young conservatives to behave. I think she's young and impulsive and that usually comes with stupidity.

But Kaitlin Bennett has a right to exist. She has the same rights as any American to not be assaulted for her beliefs. We don't do that here. Or at least, we didn't until the left took over college campuses and started telling young idiots that their feelings matter more than facts, laws, or civility.

There is a groupthink mentality that has taken over the left which makes any diversion from approved thought patterns a dangerous activity that could end with broken bones and bleeding skulls. These people have not been taught the merits of debate or rational discussion. I would like to think that I could stand on a stage with a white supremacist or a communist and completely destroy their philosophy with my words, shake hands, and go about my day.

We used to agree in America that while we abhor the ideas of communism, communists have a right to exist here. And equally, while we abhor the ideas of white supremacists, they have a right to exist in America in exactly the same way that the Black Panthers have a right to exist.

The free exchange of ideas here is what makes this country great. Tolerating abhorrent viewpoints keeps us from devolving into chaos and war because no one is in charge of speech regulation, so no one can be silenced.

How many white supremacists are there in America? 100? I mean real ones who go to meetings and write philosophy, not just "people who disagree with other people about big government."  There are surely way more communists in America than white supremacists and no one is demanding they be punched in the face.

These rabid co-eds, however, won't be satisfied until there is blood. This is not America. This is some banana republic behavior that only ends one way. Violence and death. If they keep this up then the revolution they want so badly may be upon them. I don't think they will like it when their targets begin to fight back.

You can only push reasonable people so far. And mobbing a small girl [she's 5'4" tall] who thinks differently than you and targeting her with violence and threats and calling for more is what will get reasonable people to stop tolerating campus terrorism.

Twitter has a so-called policy of no targeted harassment, but is allowing "punch Kaitlin Bennett" to trend. This should not surprise anyone, but it's good to point it out.

Ohio University police are trying to claim they didn't do anything wrong by allowing a mob to throw things at Bennett and impede her car and pound on it and engage in harassment and intimidation as they stood there dumbly doing nothing. They released a statement that said in part, "Contrary to allegations circulating on social media, the incident did not rise to the level of a riot."

One wonders what a riot would look like according to these police officers. Would you want your daughter in that situation while police stood there doing nothing?

Much like the Portland police, these officers appear to be blinded by political correctness and unable to use their eyeballs to discern that this crowd is vandalizing someone's car right in front of them. The two-tiered justice system continues: the one for far leftists who can destroy things, break windows, beat people up in the streets, shut down traffic, and the one for the rest of us who will be held to the letter of the law in all circumstances. Welcome to America 2.0. It's a joke.

Bennett is calling for Donald Trump to remove federal funding from schools that are harboring these types of violent anarchists. I agree. Pull the plug.


Virginia Anti-SLAPP Bill is Good for Free Speech But Can Still Be Made Stronger

The Virginia legislature is on the verge of a big step forward for free expression. In the coming days, legislators will have the opportunity to pass a bill that would push back against harassing lawsuits called SLAPPs, or Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.

SLAPPs are lawsuits that are filed to bully or bankrupt activists, protesters, journalists, bloggers, or even online reviewers. The point of a SLAPP isn’t to resolve a legitimate legal dispute—instead, it seeks to leverage the financial and psychological pain of litigation against someone who has spoken out, and silence or diminish that person’s speech. Unfortunately, SLAPPs have been on the rise. And states without strong anti-SLAPP laws—like Virginia—are becoming a magnet for these types of lawsuits.

H.B. 759 will make it easier for SLAPP defendants to get legal counsel. That’s because if a judge deems a case a SLAPP, the plaintiff will be required to pay the defendant’s attorney fees. Ideally, that results in defense lawyers who will represent SLAPP defendants on contingency even in situations where the person sued doesn’t have a lot of money to pay up front.

The bill also protects a wider range of speakers to defend themselves in court. H.B. 759 allows anyone speaking about a “matter of public concern” to use the anti-SLAPP law to defend themselves, and it has a fairly broad definition of public concern. 


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Some truths may not be uttered

An adviser in British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office has resigned after online comments resurfaced where he linked intellect to race and seemed to advocate a eugenics policy.

Andrew Sabisky once suggested that black Americans had a lower average IQ than white Americans. [All the research says they do]

He also said in a 2014 web post that one way to stop unplanned pregnancies "creating a permanent underclass" was to force people to use contraception.

Mr Sabisky said he was in the middle of a "giant character assassination" and was stepping down because he did not want to be a distraction.

"The media hysteria about my old stuff online is mad but I wanted to help HMG, not be a distraction," he said on Twitter using the initials for Her Majesty's Government.

"Accordingly I've decided to resign as a contractor."

He said he hoped the government hired more people with "good geopolitical forecasting track records and that media learn to stop selective quoting".

"I signed up to do real work, not be in the middle of a giant character assassination: if I can't do the work properly there's no point," he said, adding that he had "a lot of other things to do" with his life.

Downing Street had repeatedly refused to say whether Mr Johnson supported the views expressed by Mr Sabisky.


New York City Thinks It Has Power to Tell Businesses What They Can’t Sell

The potential for infringement on individual liberty and free markets is self-explanatory.

New York City’s Commission on Human Rights apparently believes that it has the right to stop private businesses from selling things that it considers to be offensive — and worse, at least one company isn’t pushing back.

The commission, by the way, is an oversight agency that’s tasked with making sure that everyone follows the city’s anti-discrimination law — which, as Reason’s Robby Soave notes, is astonishingly broad.

In a piece published Wednesday, Soave recounts how the agency recently used its power to stop Prada from selling dolls that it had determined were racist caricatures that looked similar to blackface.

The dolls had first become the subject of controversy back in December 2018, after civil-rights lawyer Chinyere Ezie shared a photo of them on social media. Ezie’s post, in which she stated that she was “shaking with anger” over them, went viral — prompting Prada to apologize and pull the dolls from shelves.

“The resemblance of the products to blackface was by no means intentional, but we recognize that this does not excuse the damage they have caused,” Prada said in a statement at the time. “We will learn from this and we will do better.”

Unfortunately for Prada, however, this wasn’t enough. Ezie still filed a complaint. What’s more, the commission sent Prada a “cease and desist,” and it had been investigating the company over the issue for the last year — until the two entities finally reached a deal on it just last week.

The deal, the New York Times reports, includes a promise by Prada to send all of its New York City employees — and its Milan executives — to sensitivity training. Prada has also agreed to allow for external oversight of its business for two years, and to hire a diversity-and-inclusion director (one that has to be approved by the commission) who will be responsible for “reviewing Prada’s designs before they are sold, advertised or promoted in any way in the United States.” If you think that sounds like an absurd task for a single individual, you’re not alone: The Times piece itself notes in parentheses that, considering “the hundreds of products Prada creates every season, this is a pretty extraordinary task.”

Now, I’m not going to weigh in whatsoever on whether Prada should have been selling those dolls. Actually, I don’t think that anyone sane could see this story and think that that was what we should be talking about here. The point is that the New York City government should never be able to tell them that they can’t.

Make no mistake: I completely agree with Soave when he calls this “naked authoritarianism.” Essentially, according to this precedent, your freedom to decide what products to sell in the financial capital of the world is completely up to the whims and sensibilities of the assortment of individuals that make up one of the city’s commission. The potential for abuse is obvious; the potential for infringement on individual liberty and free markets is self-explanatory.

What’s more, it’s totally unnecessary. Advocates for this draconianism, of course, would probably tell you that it is a paramount provision, crucial in stopping companies from being able to peddle racist, sexist, or otherwise offensive merchandise.

But is it? Is there really no other solution?

Think about it: For leftists, the equation always goes like this: “We must achieve X; therefore, the government must do it.” That is, objectively, a logical fallacy.

In fact, I can’t think of a better example of something for which government intervention is completely unnecessary than in the case of preventing businesses from selling potentially offensive products. Social-media mobs and other forms of public pressure move businesses to take action — to apologize, to remove offending items, to take steps to do better — all the time. (Unaware? Check out this example from a hoodie-related H&M controversy last year. Or this Ralph Lauren one from last month. Or, you know, what Prada already did by apologizing, pulling, and examining themselves, before the government got involved.)

The free-market solution to this issue isn’t just effective . . . it’s unrelentingly effective. I am self-aware enough to know that my libertarian views automatically mean I’m going to be on the no-government-involvement side of more issues than the average American — but, when it comes to this issue, it isn’t even a matter of whether government involvement is necessary (or whether disregarding the Constitution is needed) to achieve a higher, more important goal. No, on this issue, it’s quite clear that that private sector is already more than taking care of the problem. In this case, it’s obvious that the only possible justification for this would be a desire for government to control everything — regardless of the constitutionality or of the ability of the private sector to do what it’s doing without the measure.


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

San Diego Padres will not wear Swinging Friar caps with logo that resembles swastika during spring training

Less than a week after revealing a new spring training cap, the Padres have acquiesced to fan concerns and decided that the design will only be worn in limited circumstances. The design of the hat announced last Wednesday was in the brown and gold colors that featured a Swinging Friar with a digital-looking, interlocking SD that had lines which seem to resemble a swastika.

"Following our offseason uniform rebrand and the overwhelmingly positive response from Padres fans, we've decided to wear our regular season brown caps with the gold 'SD' for the majority of spring training," Wayne Partello, Padres chief marketing officer, said Tuesday per the San Diego Tribune.

Kevin Acee, the Padres beat writer for the Tribune, tweeted out on Tuesday that the team had switched to a cap with the traditional San Diego logo on it during spring training workouts.

The hats will still likely be worn at least once given that the team did actually sell and promote this merchandise to fans as on-field equipment. They are also part of a general series from Major League Baseball and New Era that combines the logo of each team with their letter logo. However, none of the other ones appeared to have accidental derogatory imagery.


The United Nations Once Again Proves Its Anti-Semitism

The U.N. Human Rights Council disproportionately focuses on Israel.

The depraved totalitarians, nefarious barbarians, two-bit gangsters, odious scoundrels, and bigoted scum who run the United Nations recently set up a new “database” to help anti-Semites around the world target Jewish businesses in the disputed territories of Judaea and Samaria — businesses that offer economic opportunities for Palestinians that pay higher than most other jobs in the West Bank.

In no other international dispute — and there are hundreds of them — does the United Nations target peaceful civilians or institutions. Certainly in no place do they work to destroy the businesses of noncombatants based on their ethnicity or religion. The 112 companies on the U.N.’s list are run and staffed, no doubt, by people with diverse viewpoints, at least some of whom likely support the creation of a Palestinian state. All of them create jobs, products, and services that foster cooperation.

None of this matters to the U.N. The “boycott, divestment, and sanctions” (BDS) campaign, now supported by the U.N., is a coordinated international effort committed to the elimination of the Jewish state, bringing together dictators, theocrats, terrorist organizations, Communists, the “international community,” and at least one of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s top surrogates. The movement targets Jews under the guise of anti-Zionism, which remains the predominant justification for violence, murder, and hatred against Jews in Europe and the Middle East.

The United Nations, of course, has long been ahead of the curve in this effort, from its infamous 1975 Resolution 3379, which declared that Zionism was a “form of racism and racial discrimination,” to its 2006 creation of the Human Rights Council (current members include such sparkling examples of tolerance as Afghanistan, Angola, Qatar, Somalia, and Bangladesh).

Even those with good-faith criticisms of Israel’s actions in the West Bank would probably concede that United Nations has shown the Jewish state a highly curious amount of special attention and opprobrium.

NOW WATCH: 'Abbas To Speak To UN Security Council About Trump's Middle East Peace Plan'

Since its unfortunate inception, the Human Rights Council has condemned Israel about as many times as it has every other country in the world combined. According to the Washington Post, Israel’s human-rights record is discussed at literally every meeting of the Human Rights Council.

In 2018, while the Bashar al-Assad regime was gassing its own women and children and thousands of civilians were dying in a vicious civil war, the Human Rights Council passed only two condemnations directed at the Syrian regime but five directed at the Jewish state. Incidentally, Israel was delivering aid to refugees of that conflict at the time.

The only other countries to receive even one condemnation in 2018 were South Sudan, Myanmar, Iran, and the slave state of North Korea. The United Nations has drafted so many anti-Israel resolutions that I’ve noticed people have given up on entering them into Wikipedia.

No other country that oversees a minority population — populations who often have far stronger cases for autonomy — is afforded even slither of the attention from the world. Not even the Communist Chinese, who have imprisoned upwards of a million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in internment camps for “reeducation,” will catch the attention of alleged human-rights champions at the United Nations.

Nor does the Palestinian Authority, which recently arrested the only Palestinian brave enough to attend the Trump administration’s international peace-seeking economic conference in Bahrain (he’s lucky the ending wasn’t more macabre), which subsidizes anti-Israeli terrorism with a “Martyrs’ Fund” and which doesn’t even bother having elections. Rather, it gets big checks from the international community — often underwritten by the United States — to prop up its corrupt regime.

What really irks the U.N., though, are Israeli efforts at economic cooperation. The U.N. deputy executive director for advocacy, Bruno Stagno Ugarte, says: “The long awaited release of the U.N. settlement business database should put all companies on notice: to do business with illegal settlements is to aid in the commission of war crimes.”

War crimes? Hiring talented Palestinians for software-engineer jobs at tech startups is aiding in the commission of war crimes? Allowing Palestinians to see Jews as coworkers rather than the enemy is aiding in the commission of war crimes? Offering Palestinians work rather than keeping them in a perpetual state of aggrievement and anger, as do the authoritarian leaders who reject one peace plan after the next from the comfort of their mansions, is aiding in the commission of war crimes? Allowing them to work for international companies such as Airbnb,, Expedia, and Motorola is aiding in the commission of war crimes?

It’s a tragedy that those who work for the United Nations, people such as Stago, would rather that Palestinians remain victims in perpetuity than see a single Jewish person in the West Bank.

But it’s not surprising.


Monday, February 17, 2020

Pro-Life Protester Seeks Protection Order After Abortion Advocates Stalk, Threaten, and Even LICK Her

A pro-life woman who protests outside an abortion clinic in Bristol, Tenn., has faced harassment, stalking, and threats. Pro-abortion activists have bragged about their efforts to quash her free speech, physically blocking her sign with umbrellas, licking her arms, shouting obscenities at her, and pushing their bodies up against hers to prevent her message from reaching women as they go to the abortion clinic. The Thomas More Society has filed legal requests for a protection order to stop this harassment.

Erika Schanzenbach "has been terrorized while exercising her freedom to peacefully express her opinion," Thomas More Society Counsel Michael McHale said in a statement. "She has been stalked, threatened, and frightened, while attempting to share life-affirming alternatives with abortion-minded women – something that she is fully within her Constitutional rights to do. We expect the court to protect Ms. Schanzenbach to the full extent of the law."

When Schanzenbach protested at the abortion clinic, pro-abortion protesters mob her, even when she remains across the street from the clinic. McHale explained that "the offenders subject Schanzenbach to a variety of abuses, including surrounding her and blocking her from view with large, open umbrellas; licking her arms; following her very closely wherever she walks – even back to her vehicle hundreds of feet away from the abortion facility; stealing and destroying her leaflets; and hurling profanities, taunts, and obscene gestures directly in her face."

"These actions are blatantly illegal, and they are unacceptable in a civilized society," McHale added. "Everyone has the right to peacefully advocate their beliefs on public streets and sidewalks without being bullied into silence. While we continue to ask local authorities to stop this illegal abuse, we are eager to help Ms. Schanzenbach secure some measure of relief in civil court."

The abortion activists, Denise Skeen and her two adult daughters, Alethea and Rowan, have organized as "Pro-Choice Bristol." They posted a "Pink Manifesto" on Facebook, which states that they will "use any means necessary to physically block" pro-life speakers "from sight" and will do "anything at all not being enforced equally for the protection of patients whether demonstrably legal or not." In addition to the Skeens, the protection order request names Cheryl Hanzlik, who has blasted police siren sounds through a bullhorn directly into Schazenbach's face, allegedly aiming to cause permanent hearing damage.

The court held a hearing last month and will reconsider the cases in April. At that time, Schanzenbach's legal team will present video evidence and live witness testimony about the harassment.

While the pro-abortion protesters also have free speech rights to counter Schanzenbach's message, this physical harassment is entirely different.


Religious liberty under pressure

There is no more fundamental liberty than the right to respond to one’s creator. Belief in the transcendent obviously varies, which is good reason for the state to stand clear as people respond to something infinitely mysterious and powerful. When government seeks to impose someone else’s understanding of the world beyond, it is interfering with the essence of the human person. Attempting to suppress people’s deepest spiritual beliefs also guarantees social conflict, since no serious believer in God can obey self-serving politicians instead.

Alas, the Pew Research Center finds a significant increase in infringements of religious liberty over the decade from 2007 to 2017. Government restrictions on religion — laws, policies and actions by state officials that restrict religious beliefs and practices — increased markedly around the world. And social hostilities involving religion — including violence and harassment by private individuals, organization or groups — also have risen since 2007.

Pew’s work is notable since it addresses two aspects of the ongoing attack on religious faith. One is legal restriction, from modest civil limits to brutal criminal penalties, including death. The other is social hostility, ranging from religious discrimination to mob violence. The two phenomena sometimes merge, especially in Islamic nations. In other cases, governments act despite general social indifference, like in China. In contrast, state repression trailed social antagonism in the Central African Republic.

Unfortunately, both threats contribute to persecution and are on the rise. Put the two together, and religious liberty is likely to suffer greatly. Pew reported that over the decade covered, “52 governments — including some in very populous countries like China, Indonesia and Russia — impose either ‘high’ or ‘very high’ levels of restrictions on religions, up from 40 in 2007.” The comparable increase for states exhibiting significant degrees of social hostility was 39 to 56.

The news was not entirely bad. Both religious restrictions and hostility actually peaked in 2012. But they have since rebounded after dropping. While the future is unpredictable, there is no reason to expect attacks on religious faith to fall measurably in the near term, at least.

There is no more fundamental freedom than the right to seek spiritual fulfillment. There was a time when Christian majorities used the state to oppress those who believed differently. Today the oppression mostly comes from those of other faiths, especially Muslims and Hindus, but also atheists, who rely on government to impose their worldviews. The result is massive injustice worldwide.

It isn’t enough to press governments to stop targeting religious believers. States also must protect their citizens from private extortion and violence. And defending spiritual liberty should not be viewed as only the government’s domain. People of goodwill of all faiths should act and organize to expose and shame oppressors around the globe. Freedom of conscience benefits all of us.


Sunday, February 16, 2020

Dictionaries – like the English language – shouldn’t be made politically correct

An unusual argument is brewing among lexicographically-minded football fans in North London. The Oxford English Dictionary has for the first time included supporters and players of Tottenham Hotspur FC (who have a long history of being the objects of antisemitic abuse) in its definition of “yid”. 

The club describes the definition as “misleading”, and some Jewish voices have insisted that the dictionary make clear that it is “a term of abuse”. (For what it’s worth, it does.) Is it helpful – even as the club is labouring to stamp out the word’s usage in football chants – for this term of offense to be given the apparent imprimatur of the Oxford English Dictionary?

Well, those prone to blush might want to look away now. For in any comprehensive dictionary, these days you will find sober definitions for “yid” – as well as “wop”, “kike”, “spic”, “beaner” etc.


Mother-of-two who called a transgender woman a 'pig in a wig' is convicted of sending offensive tweets as free speech campaigners protest outside court

A mother-of-two who called a transgender woman a 'pig in a wig' has been convicted of sending offensive tweets as protestors assembled outside court.

Kate Scottow, 39, was today found guilty of persistently making use of a public communications network to cause annoyance, inconvenience, and anxiety to Stephanie Hayden, 48, between September 2018 and last May.

The 'radical feminist' was accused of deliberately 'misgendering' Ms Hayden by referring to her as 'he' or 'him' during a period of 'significant online abuse'.

Ms Scottow had been arrested by police officers last year at her home in Pirton near Hitchin, Hertfordshire, in front of her daughter, 10, and son, 20 months.

Though Ms Scottow's lawyer Diana Wilson claimed that Ms Hayden was a 'serial complainant' with past convictions, and had benefitted from an alleged police failure to investigate the case properly, the judge found Ms Scottow guilty.

District Judge Margaret Dodd told Ms Scottow that she made deliberate and persistent use of male pronouns, and had caused Ms Hayden 'needless anxiety'.

In a statement, Ms Hayden said: 'Today there are no winners. While I am satisfied with the outcome of the criminal prosecution, the fact remains that it should not have been necessary to ever complain to the police in the first place. 'Abusing and smearing transgender people online must stop.'

She added: 'Today's verdict demonstrates that such conduct has consequences that are potentially life-changing. I now wish to move on. 'With this in mind I wish Mrs Scottow all the best for the future and hope that she will learn from this experience.'

Her supporters today gathered outside St Albans Magistrates' Court to protest the verdict, chanting 'pig in a wig' and 'he's a man - go on prosecute me'.

Holding banners which read 'we love free speech', the mob tied scarves in the Suffragettes' purple, green, and white to lampposts outside the courthouse.

Ms Scottow was handed a two-year conditional discharge, and was ordered by the court to pay £1,000 compensation within six months.

It is understood that Ms Scottow is considering an appeal.


Friday, February 14, 2020

Language in a politically correct 2020

Valentina House

People fail to realize that those who are politically correct can be just as bigoted, if not more so, than those who aren’t. The real concern attached to political correctness is the lack of transparency. People may think one way and speak another.

In a creative writing class, I saw political correctness stunting creativity firsthand. My friend was eager to share a piece he had worked on for a long time. The piece, a romantic short story, centered around a heterosexual relationship. My professor spent the majority of class ripping my friend’s story apart because the female part didn’t have as many lines or vivacious characteristic traits as the male counterpart. He noted my friend’s piece fell into a trope and decided that was pretty much all there was to it.

In my final piece, my professor flagged the word “they” when referring to Mexicans, which he deemed insensitive and directed me to a list of politically incorrect terms. As a Mexican-American myself, it felt as though my intentions were being completely overlooked. It seemed that the words my friend and I chose were more important than what the story told — my friend’s overall story wasn’t sexist, nor was mine racist.

It is hard to be politically correct in a world where “they” can’t be used. Political correctness in general is subjective — some consider Black to be the appropriate term, while others deem it offensive, preferring African American. It is more fruitful to look beyond the terms to people’s underlying intentions.

Moreover, creative works can be good even if they aren’t progressive. The establishment of political correctness encourages uniform, progressive works. If an author can’t write a book without a progressive plot, we may end up with a lot of princess-and-princess fairytales but no way of knowing whether those authors actually supported homosexuality or just needed to check off a “politically correct” box.

Even though we may need more roles like these, they shouldn’t be placed by default because it may be blatant they were incorporated as an afterthought and weren’t uniquely developed. My professor would’ve liked if my friend added more female lines. If afterwards he did, however, it might suggest that dominant female roles are unnatural and therefore, have to be forced. Underneath the blanket of political correctness, there’s no way of knowing whether notions of equality and justice were actually realized or if they were forced into submission.

The end result of political correctness is always an approved form of speech (“speak right”) but not always a better set of actions. Free speech should be adamantly preserved if we want to progress as an equal and just society. The fear of being politically incorrect does nothing to shift people’s notions, but everything to silence true beliefs. The only way to combat ignorance is to let people speak freely and convince them of their ill-guided conceptions.


UC Berkeley Jewish Leaders Urge Action After Being ‘Harassed and Threatened’ at Two Student Gov’t Meetings

Jewish student leaders at the University of California, Berkeley, are calling for action after allegedly being “harassed and threatened” twice in less than a year during student government meetings.

The letter, published Monday and addressed to UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, accused the administration and the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC), an independent student association, of “continually” failing to protect Jewish students.

The signatories — who include the Hillel and Chabad student boards, two pro-Israel clubs, and Jewish ASUC senators Shelby Weiss and Milton Zerman — pointed to recent tensions surrounding a resolution condemning the anti-Zionist student group Bears for Palestine for displaying photos of Palestinians who were involved in hijackings and bombing attacks.

They include Fatima Bernawi, a Palestinian woman who planted an explosive in a Jerusalem cinema, as well as Rasmea Odeh and Leila Khaled, both members of the US-designated terrorist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which has carried out multiple suicide bombings targeting civilians.

The resolution was ultimately rejected by a 4-1 vote at an ASUC committee this Monday, with Weiss — the only member who supported the measure — saying she heard “a lot of rhetoric and discourse steeped in historic antisemitic tropes” during the meeting, and encouraged Jewish students to stay away. “There were two [Jewish] students who showed up who were told, ‘You feel so safe behind your camera, wait until we catch you outside,'” she told The Algemeiner on Tuesday. “It was very reflective of the kind of sentiments we heard last week,” Weiss added.


Thursday, February 13, 2020

Why Private Speech Doesn't Tell Us About a Person's Character
Very few things I have said have elicited as much negative attention as this: What people say in private tells little, if anything, about their character. Left-wing critics have had a field day mocking me (mockery is the left’s substitute for argument), but even some religious conservatives have taken issue with me (without the mockery) — don’t I know that it is precisely how we act in private that most clearly reveals our character?

This issue, of course, originally arose as a result of what then-reality TV host Donald Trump said in private to then-“Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush in 2005. I thought then, as I do now, that people greatly overstated the importance of the remarks — because they were made in private.

In order to understand why private remarks usually mean nothing, we need to make two critical distinctions: between private and public, and between speech and actions.

Here are the four categories:

1. Private speech.

2. Private actions.

3. Public speech.

4. Public actions.

The last three are very important and, therefore, reveal a person’s character. But what we say in private is not important. Why? Because it doesn’t necessarily affect anyone (except potentially the person hearing us).

This is so obvious that it is depressing that it needs to be spelled out. It shows how small a role reason, especially moral reasoning, plays in many people’s lives. We live at a time when what people feel substitutes for thought and reason. In the infamous “Access Hollywood” case, most people feel repulsed by what Trump said, and for most of them, that suffices to determine Trump’s character.

So, then, allow me to spell this out.

Does what you say to your therapist, which is obviously in private, reveal your character? No one believes so. If a faithful married man were to tell his psychiatrist that he often fantasizes about having sex with women other than his wife — and for that matter, wishes he could grab women by their genitalia — would that reveal what type of person he is? If a woman, after years of taking care of her elderly mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, were to tell her therapist or a close friend that sometimes she wishes her mother would die, would that tell us anything about the woman’s character?

Ironically, the answer is yes — but in a completely different way than most people think. If people say something ignoble in private but don’t act on what they say, that shows good character, not bad.

To cite another example, then-President Richard Nixon was taped making private comments about his dislike of many Jews. When this was revealed, people who hated Nixon used those tapes to label Nixon an anti-Semite. But it was Richard Nixon as president who Israeli leaders credited with saving Israel during the Jewish state’s 1973 war (the Yom Kippur War) with Egypt. Two years ago, Haaretz, Israel’s leading left-wing newspaper, wrote: “Nixon stands out among presidents for taking the boldest risk for Israel: a much-needed arms airlift during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. … Preoccupied by Watergate and mired in Vietnam, and against the advice of his Jewish adviser, Nixon risked a new war with the Soviets to save Israel. Nixon ‘made it possible for Israel to win, at some risk to his own reputation and at great risk to the American economy,’ historian Stephen Ambrose said.”

A similar situation existed regarding former President Harry Truman. According to biographers David McCullough and Merle Miller, in private, Truman often used the word “kike” when talking about Jews (for example, he referred to New York City as “kike town” in a letter to his wife). That is the Jewish equivalent of the N-word, a word he also often used in private. Yet it was Truman in 1948 who, against the pleas of the entire State Department, was the first world leader to recognize the new state of Israel, and who, as president, racially integrated the U.S. armed services.

Actions (and public speech) matter, not private speech.

Maybe Truman and Nixon didn’t like Jews. As a Jew, I don’t give damn what you think about Jews. I only care about how you treat Jews. Most evangelicals believe I cannot go to heaven because I do not accept Christ. But evangelicals are not only among my closest friends; they are, by far, the Jews’ best friends today. That’s what matters to me. I don’t judge people by their theology any more than I judge people by their private statements. Fools judge people by their theology and their private statements.

One more question for those who believe private speech tells us all we need to know about a person’s character: Do thoughts tell us all we need to know? And if not, why not?


Conservative Law Firm Threatens UW-River Falls With Lawsuit Over Free Speech Policies

A conservative, Christian law firm is warning the University of Wisconsin-River Falls it may sue if the campus doesn’t change policies it claims stifle students' free speech.

Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter Monday notifying UW-River Falls Chancellor Dean Van Galen that a student named Sofie Salmon had retained the advocacy group’s legal counsel in response to an incident on campus in September.

The letter states on Sept. 6, Salmon, a freshman at the time, and her friends were recruiting students for a conservative club on campus near the UW-River Falls student center. The group inflated a large beach ball for students to express their free speech rights by writing messages on it, according to the Alliance Defending Freedom.

A video, which appears to be recorded by one of Salmon’s friends and posted online by an organization called Campus Reform, shows a woman later identified as UW-River Falls Conference and Contract Services Manager Kristin Barstad telling the group that since they weren’t a recognized student organization they couldn’t assemble on the campus mall.

Barstad told the students the space in question was reservable but only for registered student organizations. Barstad said they could move to a city sidewalk running alongside campus.

WPR asked Salmon for comment on the matter, and she referred all media inquiries to Alliance Defending Freedom's public relations department.

The letter threatening a lawsuit states "limiting student speech to a select location on campus is unreasonable and violates the free speech rights of every student."

The letter also alleges students who are not part of a registered club are treated "the same as if they were not members of the university community" by the university.

Caleb Dalton, an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom, said the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees students' rights to assemble and speak.

"Free speech on campus is a real no-brainer. They shouldn’t have to go to an office and reserve a space or ask permission just to be able to talk to other students on the sidewalk," Dalton said. "So, it’s really ridiculous, clearly unconstitutional, policies, and we hope the university will consider revising them immediately."


Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Banned in Britain: Franklin Graham’s Tour Dates Canceled Over Christian Beliefs

Evangelist and missionary Franklin Graham’s seven-city tour of the United Kingdom is now a trial, as all seven venues have dropped him.

Graham’s canceled dates likely are due to an “an outcry over his homophobic and Islamophobic comments,” CNN reports.

Although I don’t agree with everything Graham has said by any means, it’s disheartening to see that the United Kingdom, once a beacon of free speech, now leads the way in “cancel culture.”

To be sure, Graham’s reputation has shifted over the years, and especially since President Donald Trump took office. Although it’s not unusual for Graham, son of the famous preacher Billy Graham, to venture into politics, he unabashedly has supported Trump, courting significant controversy.

Graham’s support of Trump never has wavered, even as the editorial board at Christianity Today said the president should be removed from office for unethical and immoral behavior.

Graham has been outspoken about other cultural issues, including gay rights and radical Islam, both hot topics in the U.K., where Islam is the fastest growing religion. Graham has said gays should go to “conversion therapy” to change, and once called Islam “evil.”

Interestingly, although multiple venues canceled Graham this year, this isn’t the first time the U.K. has had enough of the evangelist. In 2017, several members of Parliament moved to ban Graham from the U.K. for “hate speech” regarding gays and Muslims.

At the time, a “petition against Graham being granted a visa” had gathered 4,600 signatures. Nina Parker, pastor of Liberty Church in Blackpool, who organized the petition, said Graham’s presence would be “extremely destructive.”

Parker told The Guardian: “As a Christian and as a leader of a church that particularly welcomes LGBT people, I’m horrified that other local churches are inviting someone with this record of hate speech.”

Censorship of free speech, discourse, and individual autonomy in the United Kingdom has increased in the past several years.

British officials have cracked down on internet freedom. Even though several groups have pushed back against the government’s flagship internet regulation policy—which is so vague it covers nearly every kind of speech existent—it’s been an uphill battle.

In several dramatic cases, parents have lost their rights to their sick children as the U.K.’s court system usurped them and decided what care was best—typically, a removal of life support against the parents’ wishes.

Of course, any discourse offering a different perspective on LGBT groups or anything that might be seen as anti-transgender receives the most censorship—including being fired from one’s job, as J.K. Rowling bemoaned and I reported on recently.

The United Kingdom has become so intolerant of traditional views and determined to be a global leader in progressive ideology—especially if it quashes all other beliefs. Instead of greeting Graham’s traditional views on LGBT issues with robust debate, or even empty halls for his speeches, the venues outright canceled him without any pushback whatsoever.

Sure, a venue in England has the right to disinvite a pastor from America who is rabidly pro-Trump. But if everyone is so sure their views are correct, why are these groups simultaneously terrified of a preacher telling them what he thinks?

It’s unsettlingly Orwellian to watch the United Kingdom muzzle ideas, traditional beliefs, and viewpoints of Americans in favor of a unified groupthink that promotes only progressive concepts.

Not only is it unfortunate that certain strains of thought are promoted, but when other, more conservative or traditional ideas are censored, it leaves no room for originality or robust debate. This is something for which the United Kingdom used to be renowned.


UK: Why the Tories are right about free speech

By Marianne Taylor 

AS regular readers of this column will probably have gleaned, I am not a big fan of the Tory government. But that doesn’t mean I won’t say when it gets something right, hence my applause for Gavin Williamson’s recent commitment to protecting free speech at universities.

In a recent newspaper article the UK Education Secretary was impressively straightforward about his intentions: if universities in England don’t do more to defend and safeguard free speech, the Government will.

It seems strange and discombobulating that such a fundamental right, which is already etched in law, needs to be restated or protected, especially in our institutions of learning and research. After all, what are universities for if not to debate, scrutinise and test old, current and new ways of thinking?

But the chilling frequency and virulence of recent campaigns by students and activists seeking to completely shut down conversations around certain issues highlights the pressing need for action.

And we’re not just talking any more about the no-platforming of “offensive” thinkers and speakers at university union events. Over the last months around the UK we’ve seen increasing numbers of protests and petitions against members of teaching staff who are accused of holding offensive, upsetting and inappropriate views, accompanied by calls for them to be silenced or even sacked.

There have also been calls for entire areas of teaching and academic research to be withdrawn or have funding removed, for conferences to be cancelled, all because students deem them too upsetting and offensive. University managers have sometimes been too quick to bow to pressure, highlighting society’s increasing confusion and lack of confidence in dealing with issues of free speech.

Granted, the debates at the centre of current brouhahas are complex and controversial: Israel and Palestine, gender identity and women’s rights. They are also very important. But not as important as the wider need to protect our right to talk about them. Even if you couldn’t give a monkeys about the Gender Recognition Act, the things you care passionately about could be next on the list of views deemed offensive. You, too, could be cancelled.


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

High Court ruling restricts free speech for government employees in Australia

It has long been possible for people to give up their right to free speech for some purpose -- in this case to get a government job.  And in this case that was part of the employment contract that people sign to get a federal government job in Australia.  And Ms Banerji knew that, which is why she posted anonymously.

But there is no "out" for anonymous posting.  Ms Banerrji used knowledge she gained as part of her employment to criticize the government.  And that was a clear breach of her contract -- one which exposed the government to criticism.  The damage was done even though it was done sneakily.

One could argue that the government should be more open to criticism but we will undoubtedly wait a long time for that to happen.  Governments of both Left and Right like their secrecy. Confidentiality clauses are common in contracts for employment by private firms so the government is not doing anything unusual by insisting on confidentiality and penalizing breaches of it

This has no implications for free speech in general in Australia.  And even public servants have free speech as long as they keep their mouths shut about their job or matters to do with their job

The High Court has ruled that a public servant should have been sacked after making comments that were critical of the federal government on an anonymous social media account outside work hours.

Michaela Banerji was sacked from her job at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in 2013 when it was found she had been operating a Twitter account called @LaLegale that posted opinions criticising the government's immigration policies and treatment of asylum seekers.

Unofficial public comment tests limits of free speech
Even though Ms Banerji posted her opinions under a pseudonym and did so outside of work hours on her personal phone, the department said she had breached Australian Public Service Code of Conduct terms which aim to maintain an apolitical public service.

The public service argued she had breached guidelines on the use of social media and making public comments, even in an unofficial capacity.

Freedom of political communication and the right to free speech
Ms Banerji applied to Comcare for compensation for PTSD. The Administrative Appeals Tribunal found her sacking had impeded her implied right to freedom of political communication, contained in the Constitution, and ruled in her favour.

Comcare appealed to the High Court which ruled against Ms Banerji, saying the implied freedom of political communication is not a personal right of free speech and her dismissal was reasonable. (See Comcare v Banerji [2019] HCA 23, 7 August 2019.)

The High Court found that Ms Banerji had breached the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct, which was a condition of her employment, in that she had failed to uphold public service "values" and its "good reputation". The judges stated that a representative and responsible government must have an apolitical and professional public service.

The High Court decision is likely to have consequences beyond the Commonwealth public service.

With two million people employed in federal, state and local governments, the ruling will certainly impact their private out-of-work expression of political or social opinion.

It also throws into doubt the rights of everyone who is on a government payroll. Can teachers speak out about education policy? Can hospital workers complain of work conditions? Can scientists report flaws in climate change policy?

The implication of this ruling is that any employee who is critical of their employer's position on some political or social issue could risk being sacked. This is especially the case if a business has a policy against employees making comments regarding their workplace on social media.

The judgement may even have a bearing on cases like that of Israel Folau, who was sacked by the Australian Rugby Union for making homophobic comments on social media that breached his contract.

Following this ruling, does Australia have free speech?
After the Banerji sacking, the government tightened employment guidelines even further, stating that even liking or sharing a social media post could breach the rules.


This teacher was fired over something he wouldn’t say!

It’s been just over a year since Peter Vlaming was fired from his job teaching French at a Virginia high school.

Despite parents and students rallying in support of one of their community’s beloved teachers, the West Point School Board’s vote to terminate Peter was unanimous.

The decision was nothing short of shocking.

Peter was being punished for something he wouldn’t say. He was fired for having a belief that’s been nearly universal for most of human history!

That belief is simply that a person can’t change their sex. And the thing Peter wouldn’t say was to refer to a female student using male pronouns.

This is what it’s come to

There is a movement aimed at controlling your freedom to follow your conscience. What you believe. What you say. What you will and will not do.

Opponents of religious freedom demand complete submission to their views on issues like biological sex, marriage, and abortion.

People of faith who don’t fall in line are often targeted and punished—medical professionals, small business owners, churchgoers… and educators like Peter.
How Peter’s story began…

It all started when one of Peter’s female students began identifying as a boy.

Peter agreed to call this student by the student’s new preferred name. He cares for all of his students and wanted this student to feel welcomed and respected. In fact, he also allowed every student in his French class to choose new French names for the year, so that this student wouldn’t feel singled out for picking a new name.

But then the school demanded that Peter refer to this female student using male pronouns.

This was something Peter could not do.

As a French teacher, Peter knows that words and language carry meaning.

And as a Christian, Peter believes that God has created human beings in His image, as male or female. This is a biological reality. To call a man a woman or vice versa would be to endorse an ideology that denies the truth and that conflicts with his beliefs.

So Peter proposed a compromise.

He made it clear that he would accommodate the student by not using a pronoun the student found offensive. But at the same time, Peter stated that he can't use a pronoun that offends his conscience. He would simply avoid using pronouns altogether and use the student’s preferred name instead.

This wasn’t good enough for school administrators or the school board—so they fired him.

But public schools have no business forcing a teacher to choose between his beliefs and his career.

That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit representing Peter against the West Point School Board.

Peter’s religious convictions are sincere. He holds a belief about biological reality that was nearly universal only a few years ago. It’s a belief you probably share, John.

And Peter treated the student with kindness and dignity. He made a good faith effort to accommodate as much as his conscience would allow. He agreed to call the student by the name that student chose.

It wasn’t enough.

The truth is the school board didn’t care how well Peter treated this student. It was on a crusade to compel conformity.

A father with no job and five other mouths to feed can’t afford to mount a legal defense after being unjustly fired. Thankfully,  Peter is getting the strong legal defense he needs free of charge.