Thursday, April 30, 2020

Facebook Admits Banning Users for Saying They Are ‘Proud to Be English’

Facebook has admitted to banning swathes of users for posting messages saying they were “Proud to be English” on St George’s Day.

As England’s patron saint, St George’s Day has long been celebrated as the English national day — if with less official enthusiasm than St Patrick’s Day in neighbouring Ireland, given the embarrassment of much of the academic, media, and political establishment at expressions of “Englishness”, which they have associated with racism and imperialism.

Someone, some group, or some algorithm moderating also appears to have bought into this mentality, with people who marked St George’s Day with messages expressing pride in the country and their heritage reporting that they were banned from the social media platform.

An image bearing the legend “Proud to Be English” and two crossed flagpoles carrying the English St George’s Cross and the white lion on a red field — a banner associated with Anglo-Saxons — appears to have proved particularly offensive to the so-called “Masters of the Universe“.

Users who shared the image reported receiving messages informing them they had been subject to various bans and suspensions because they had posted content which “goes against our Community Standards on dangerous individuals and organisations”.


Scotland hate crime Bill risks free speech

A top academic has criticised the Scottish Government’s proposed hate crime legislation, saying it would have a significant impact on free speech.

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill seeks to extend the law on ‘hate crime’ against particular groups. The Bill lists these as age, race, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity and variations in sexual characteristics.

Dr Andrew Tickell, of Glasgow Caledonian University, questioned the plans to criminalise “stirring up hatred” on these grounds, even if there is no intent, which he said risks “serious injustice and social harm”.

The Bill was drawn up following Lord Bracadale’s independent review of hate crime law. If it passes, words or behaviour considered to be “threatening or abusive” and “likely” to stir up hatred would constitute an offence.

Free speech clauses are included in relation to sexual orientation and religion, which will provide some protection for legitimate debate, but there are no such clauses surrounding transgenderism.

This raises the possibility that politically-motivated complainants might use the change to the criminal law to shut down critics of radical gender ideology.

Ciarán Kelly, The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director for Communications, said the new Bill represents a serious threat to religious liberty and free speech.

“This is a very concerning Bill. If it becomes law it could have implications for many areas of life. In this day and age certain groups are far too quick to find offence whenever someone disagrees with them.

“Biblical truth is offensive to many. Sadly, it is not difficult to see how the broad language of the Bill might be used to suppress free speech. The draft includes some welcome free speech clauses, but they don’t protect the freedom to disagree in every area that’s necessary.

“Intent to stir up hatred is not required for an offence to be committed, meaning people may become criminals simply because they didn’t realise how their honestly expressed views might be interpreted.”


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Majority of Public Colleges Filter, Block Social Media Comments

Facebook and Twitter offer colleges tools to limit comments from the public, but using them constitutes a First Amendment violation. A new report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education noted their widespread use and the potential for abuse.

FIRE’s survey focused on the largest public four-year and two-year schools in each state, getting substantive responses from 198 colleges on how they use social media. The majority of schools, 77.8 percent, admitted they used a “strong” or “medium” profanity filter. Additionally, 30 percent of schools noted their use of a custom blacklist for words and phrases.

“These tools enable public universities—and other government actors—to quietly remove critical posts, transforming the Facebook pages into less of a forum and more of a vehicle for positive publicity,” FIRE noted. “This censorship has deleterious effects on campus and public discourse.”

Some schools seem to be operating in ignorance of what the Constitution requires. Wayne State University in Michigan, for example, is retraining social media staff since receiving a public records request from FIRE. It’s not all that surprising that institutions would assume they could remove or hide profane speech on posts about athletics or non-political topics.

Other schools, however, have less-than-defensible motives. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill blacklisted “Silent Sam” for all its posts, which will hide any criticism without notifying individuals when their posts had been removed. Other schools, such as the University of Kentucky, Mississippi State University, and Clemson University, censors posts with words like “chicken” or “Nike” to hide criticism of those schools’ lucrative contracts with Aramark and Nike.

“These tools enable public universities—and other government actors—to quietly remove critical posts, transforming the Facebook pages into less of a forum and more of a vehicle for positive publicity,” FIRE noted.

Universities often use social media as another arm of their PR apparatus. Highlighting important research or student success stories may attract future students or new donors. But constitutional protections limit their ability to censor critics or hide posts deemed offensive by university workers.


Grey’s Anatomy star slammed for ‘disgusting’ Weinstein comments in resurfaced 2018 interview

Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo has come under fire for comments she made about Harvey Weinstein in a July 2018 interview.

In a resurfaced clip from an Oxford Union Q&A, Pompeo says that “it takes two to tango” when it comes to sexual assault and harassment, and she adds that women must be “responsible for the signals that we put out, for the messages that we put and the way we present ourselves.” The video ignited a firestorm on Twitter, with users calling her “victim blaming” remarks “absolutely disgusting” and “insane.”

In a brief clip from Pompeo’s 2018 Oxford Union interview, Pompeo discusses the #MeToo movement and seems to suggest that Weinstein’s victims are partly to blame for their trauma. “I think we bear some responsibility, not all,” she says. “That’s not to blame the victim, that’s just to say — I did go into a room with Harvey Weinstein, I sat at a table with him, I had a probably two and a half-hour with him. He never said anything inappropriate to me, he never made any sort of physical advance to me.”

Pompeo clarifies that she “wasn’t in the room alone with” Weinstein, and “had been sent there by an agent” for a midday meeting. “I wouldn’t have gone into that room at night. But he did nothing inappropriate toward me. Now had he, I would have picked up that glass and smashed him across the side of the face with it,” says the Grey’s Anatomy star. “So I mean, it’s all what we’re willing to tolerate in our self-esteem, and what are we going to put up with, and what are we going to compromise to be liked, to be loved, to be accepted? How bad do we want to be in show business?”

Later in the interview, Pompeo says that “we are all responsible for ourselves” and claims that she doesn’t “love a victim behaviour.” The actress noted that “as women, we flirt,” but concluded, “There has to be a balance there. There has to be a line. But I do think we do bear some responsibility.”

Pompeo addressed the furore today, tweeting that the remarks were “out of context” and the issue was “too serious to talk about on a platform like this.”

The star’s response came after she was widely slammed for the 2018 remarks. “What the f**k is wrong with Ellen Pompeo,” said one user who shared the video. “What a dumbass saying she’s not victim blaming but saying ‘it takes two to tango.’ Tango as in assault?!” tweeted another. “Every year Ellen Pompeo makes it more likely that I will never watch Grey’s Anatomy,” added actress Kelechi Okafor.


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

YouTube Removes Biotech Company's Video Showing Potential Treatment for Coronavirus

If you've been paying attention the past few weeks, you're aware of the fact that articles and blog posts shared on social media that dare to suggest that social distancing isn't needed anymore, or that the curve has already been flattened, or basically anything that contradicts the preferred narrative of the moment has been flagged by the gatekeepers of social media to prevent them from being seen by the public.

In the wake of the press briefing where President Trump touted the possibility of using UV light to destroy the coronavirus, a biotech company called Aytu BioScience has been developing a UV light treatment called Healight, and posted a video to YouTube describing the treatment and its potential. It has since been taken down for violating YouTube's community guidelines. The product has not been reviewed by the FDA, and it's not yet been demonstrated to be an effective treatment, but a study from the team published in 2019 suggests that "UVA therapy can potentially provide a safe and effective novel approach to antimicrobial treatment via phototherapy on internal organs."


Google Play Catalog 'Disappears' Larry King Episode With Biden Accuser's Mother's Call

According to Fox News, the 1993 episode of the "Larry King Show" on CNN that featured Tara Reade's mother calling in about her daughter's problems with a powerful senator being ignored has apparently disappeared from Google Play Catalog.

Reade is the woman accusing Joe Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993. She says she told her mother about her problems getting any senior staff in the senator's office to hear her complaint.

There is no indication of when the deletion occurred, but Fox is saying that there was obviously something in the archives that is no longer there.

Twitter user J.L. Hamilton shared a screenshot showing the Aug. 11, 1993, broadcast of "Larry King Live" was no longer listed in the season three catalog of the iconic CNN talk show.

Mysteriously, though, the Aug. 10 broadcast, which is listed as "Episode 154" is followed by the Aug. 12 broadcast, which is listed as "Episode 155," suggesting that episode and the ones that follow could be incorrectly listed and off by a number.

Fox News later verified the Aug. 11 episode is not listed on the streaming service. It is unclear when it was removed from the catalog.

Neither CNN nor Google immediately responded to Fox News' requests for comment. Fox News also reached out to the representation of Larry King and have not heard a response.

The Intercept website had obtained a transcript of the show, but it wasn't until MRC scoured its archives that a video of the call-in was seen.

How could Google -- or some other interested party -- reach into a protected archive and delete a video that may or may not be damaging to the Democratic nominee for president? You would think something like this wouldn't be done on a whim from some librarian or clerk. Someone up the management chain had to sign off on it.

It doesn't matter because MRC's version has been circulating widely for 24 hours. It's not like history will be erased.


Monday, April 27, 2020

Duncan Lemp’s Parents Threatened with Jail for Protesting his Killing

“It has been six weeks since a SWAT team shot and killed 21-year-old Duncan Lemp in a 4:30 a.m. raid at his family’s home in Potomac, Maryland, and affluent and sedate suburb of Washington, D.C.

Montgomery County Police have thus far refused to provide any evidence on how or why they killed Lemp. But a county prosecutor leaped to action on Wednesday, effectively threatening any Lemp family members who attend a protest over his killing with a $5000 fine and a year in jail. The reason? Maryland’s strict stay-at-home orders, imposed by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan last month. …

An unprovoked killing of an innocent man as he lay in bed is exactly the type of tyrannical abuse that Americans should protest. But Montgomery County officials apparently believe they can suppress protestors the same way that they have thus far covered up the SWAT killing.”


Distributor pulls Michael Moore’s new film over misinformation allegations

Planet of the Humans, the new documentary film from director Jeff Gibbs and executive producer Michael Moore, contains a stunning evisceration of so-called green energy and the people profiting from it. It was released on April 21 for free viewing on YouTube and as of the afternoon of Friday, April 24, had been viewed over 1.5 million times.

However, Marc Morano reported on Climate Depot that a pressure campaign has succeeded in getting the distributor to pull the film. Josh Fox, who directed 2010's semi-factual anti-hydraulic fracturing documentary, Gasland, launched the campaign on Twitter and tweeted Friday afternoon that the distributors had agreed to withdraw Planet of the Humans. Fox also tweeted that he didn’t blame the distributors because they hadn’t seen the film before releasing it.

Gibbs and Moore approach green energy from the perspective of the ultra-far left. They believe that everything wrong and evil in the world is caused by “cancerous” capitalism and the billionaire plutocrats who control the global economy. In addition to anti-capitalism, Gibbs has been strongly influenced by Deep Ecology, the anti-human ideology that preaches that drastic population control and near-total deindustrialization are necessary to save the planet.


Sunday, April 26, 2020

Who Runs Facebook — Mark Zuckerberg or State Governors?

Facebook is unfriending quarantine protestors.

The social-media company has removed events set up by protestors in states such as Nebraska, California and New Jersey, where thousands of protestors — masked and unmasked alike — have gathered in the hopes of opening up the country in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Unless government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook,” a company spokesperson tells The Post. “For this same reason, events that defy government’s guidance on social distancing aren’t allowed on Facebook.”

“Facebook is letting government — state governments in this case — determine what protestors can — and cannot — say on Facebook. God forbid some American out there has the nerve to disagree with ‘government guidance.’

Say what? This is a classic example of government-driven anti-free speech/anti-free press censorship run amok — and it isn’t supposed to be running anywhere in America in the first place. It is not — decidedly not — about a private company deciding what they will and will not allow on their website. This is nothing less than thinly veiled — very thinly veiled — government censorship.


You can help stop Amazon’s reliance on the SPLC ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
Amazon uses its Smile program to discriminate against religious nonprofits that support traditional marriage. ADF is one of many nonprofits that were kicked out of the Smile program. Amazon relies on the widely discredited lists produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center for this purpose.

You can help stop this form of discrimination against traditional believers in one of two ways.

If you are an Amazon shareholder, please vote in favor of Resolution 12 (which you can read on the bottom of page 41 at this link) that is on the latest shareholder ballot. (Details below).

If you are an Amazon customer, please sign the petition to urge Amazon to stop this practice.

Corporate America needs to end its war against traditional believers and stay neutral on controversial social and political issues.

An email from The ADF

Friday, April 24, 2020

Vimeo Categorized the Christian Faith as 'Hateful,' Blacklisted Group Says

On Friday, the global video platform Vimeo banned a Christian non-profit group, citing the far-left smear factory the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The SPLC had accused the American Family Association (AFA) of being a "hate group," placing it on a list with notorious white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan. According to the SPLC, AFA is an "anti-LGBT hate group" largely because it espouses traditional Christian doctrine on marriage and sexuality.

"Vimeo has essentially characterized the Christian faith as 'hateful' because the Bible teaches that sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is sinful. Yes, that includes homosexual activity," Ed Vitagliano, AFA's executive vice president, told PJ Media in a statement. "This has been Christian teaching for 2,000 years. Vimeo’s religious bigotry is appalling, and we reject the company’s heavy-handed censorship."

Vimeo told AFA the Christian group cannot have an account on its website "if you are a member of a terror or hate group," AFA President Tim Wildmon explained in a note to members on Friday. AFA protested that it was neither a terrorist group nor a hate group, but Vimeo responded with a letter citing the SPLC.

Even some prominent liberal leaders have criticized the SPLC for branding the Christian nonprofit law firm Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) a hate group. The SPLC's "hate map" inspired one deranged man to break into the Family Research Council, intending to kill everyone in the building. Luckily, his attack was foiled and he was convicted on terrorism charges. The SPLC faces defamation lawsuits due to its "hate group" attacks, and it has paid millions in damages after branding a Muslim reformer an "anti-Islamic extremist."

Despite all this, legacy media outlets, Big Tech, Corporate America, and Democrats widely cite the SPLC as the gold standard when it comes to identifying "hate groups." Amazon has excluded SPLC-accused "hate groups" from its charity platform. Apple has partnered with the SPLC in fighting "hate." Hyatt Hotels has blacklisted SPLC-accused "hate groups," as has the event-hosting platform Eventbrite. Last year, The New York Times, the Miami Herald, and the Tampa Bay Times repeated SPLC talking points and successfully pressured Mar-a-Lago to cancel a gala with the conservative group ACT for America.

Vimeo is not a small platform. A competitor to YouTube, the video platform has 170 million monthly viewers, 90 million registered members, and 715 million monthly views. Vimeo's selling point is an ad-free experience.

While YouTube considers the SPLC a "trusted flagger," it has not yet banned organizations outright just because the SPLC accuses them of being "hate groups."

Whatever the SPLC claims, its "hate" accusations really do target conservative Christians for their beliefs on sexuality.


Must not criticize the lockdowns?

“Tennessee physician Jonathan Geach, M.D., describes himself as ‘a simple country Anesthesiologist with big ideas.’ Working with a group of distinguished colleagues, he recently wrote a well-reasoned and compelling article calling for an end to the destructive COVID-19 lockdown, which has wrecked the nation’s economy and threatens the health and well-being of all Americans.

Although it received approximately 50,000 pageviews, within 24 hours of publication Medium took it down

Dr. Geach and his colleagues make a compelling case for immediately liberating America


Thursday, April 23, 2020

Activewear label Lululemon apologises for ‘inappropriate’ bat fried rice shirt

Activewear company Lululemon Athletica has apologised for an offensive shirt design that was inadvertently linked to the company despite having nothing to do with it.

The ‘bat fried rice’ shirt caused outraged on Chinese social media for “insulting” the country.

The design showed a small image of chopsticks with bat wings in red on the front and a winged Chinese takeaway box with the words “No Thank You” on the back.

The shirt was designed by artist Jess Sluder, who has no connection with Lululemon, but a link to his website was shared on the Instagram page of the company art director, Trevor Fleming.

Mr Fleming’s Instagram page has been switched to private however his biography on the social media platform says, “I deeply apologise for putting the URL in my bio. I did not design the T-shirt, nor did I participate in any part of its creation”.

Critics said Mr Sluder and Mr Fleming were trying to stir anti-Asian sentiment during the coronavirus pandemic.

Before it was removed on Sunday, the post on Mr Sluder's Instagram account read, “Where did COVID-19 come from? Nothing is certain, but we know a bat was involved.”

Lululemon was also forced to apologise after the social media storm.


Ontario court dismisses PETA free speech application over anti-Canada Goose ads

An Ontario court has dismissed an application for judicial review by an animal welfare organization who said its rights to free expression were violated when its anti-Canada Goose ads were taken down in Toronto.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals took the City of Toronto and Astral Media to court after its advertisements on four bus shelters were taken down following a complaint by Canada Goose.

PETA had sought a court order to replace the ads on the shelters for its original four-week run.

A panel of three judges says it has no jurisdiction because of the contract signed between the parties.


Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Coronavirus protests test Facebook's free speech pledges

The right-wing anti-lockdown protests breaking out around the U.S. are presenting the latest no-win quandary for Facebook, as the world's largest social network tries to fulfill its pledge to remain politically impartial amid a pandemic that has killed more than 42,000 Americans.

The company has taken tentative steps so far — blocking protesters from using Facebook to organize in-person rallies in California, New Jersey and Nebraska — but not in other places, such as Michigan, Texas and Virginia, where people have rallied together outside state capitols in defiance of orders to self-isolate at home.

But Facebook’s partial takedowns were still enough to bring a political brushback from some Republicans in Washington, where GOP lawmakers have repeatedly threatened to enact legal consequences for internet companies over what they consider to be a pattern of anti-conservative bias in Silicon Valley.

President Donald Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., accused Facebook of "colluding with state governments to quash peoples free speech," calling its actions "chilling & disturbing." Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) asked rhetorically of the company's decision: "Because free speech is now illegal America?"

"Given Big Tech’s history of bias and censorship, I’m deeply concerned that they and government officials are partnering not to protect public health, but to shut down views with which they disagree," Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said in a statement Monday evening. "Now, more than ever, companies like Facebook should focus on connecting people, not shutting down communities because they hold different views.”


The Jihad Attacks on Churches in Illinois That You Heard Nothing About

Osama E. El Hannouny, a 25-year-old man who lives in the Chicago suburb of Palos Hills, Illinois, has made his prejudices very clear, saying that he doesn’t like Christians. More than once he has acted on that dislike at churches in his area. But as his attacks don’t fit the mainstream media narrative, this article is likely to be the only place where you’ll hear about them.

Last Tuesday, when he should have been staying at home and making TikTok videos like other people his age, El Hannouny ventured out into the coronavirus-ridden wilds, heading for Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Palos Hills. Once he got there, he looked into the church through the doors, and saw that there were people inside (doesn’t anyone honor the coronavirus quarantine in Cook County?). Seeing his chance for jihad, El Hannouny immediately began piling leaves around the church’s gas main and air conditioning unit, making numerous trips back and forth to do so. Once he was satisfied that he had sufficient kindling, El Hannouny, according to the charges against him, set fire to the leaves.

As it happened, no one was hurt: firefighters quickly arrived on the scene and put out the fire before it did any significant damage. El Hannouny, however, continued his jihad, this time against the police who arrested him. According to Patch, “while El Hannouny was being processed, police said he started spitting at officers, reports said. El Hannouny also wrote a religious slur on the wall of his cell, according to the report. El Hannouny allegedly scratched, bit and spit at police when they tried to stop him.”

The officers who arrested him may have recognized El-Hannouny. It was only six months ago, November 17, 2019, that he showed up at two other churches in Palos Hills. With a laudable eye for ecumenical sensitivities, that time he chose the city’s First Baptist Church and the Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church. At both, he confined his activities to the parking lot, slashing the tires of a total of nineteen cars.

When he was arrested and asked why he had done such a thing, El Hannouny replied with unusual directness: “I don’t like Christians.” According to WBBM, he admitted to the 19 tire-slashings and was “charged with 14 counts of criminal damage to property.” El Hannouny was then “released on a personal recognize [sic] bond and electronic monitoring.” In January, authorities added on hate crime charges.

The hate crime charges didn’t deter El Hannouny from hating. For the new incident over at Sacred Heart Church, according to Patch, El Hannouny “appeared Wednesday before a Cook County judge on charges of arson, hate crimes, criminal damage to property, battery to a police officer and violation of bail bond.”

That’s all very well, and it looks as if a good case can be made against El Hannouny on all these charges, but there still remains a larger question: Why, exactly, does El Hannouny dislike Christians? Does it have anything to do with the Qur’an’s teaching that “they have certainly disbelieved who say that Allah is Christ, the son of Mary” (5:17, 5:72), an assertion that directly contradicts the core Christian belief in the divinity of Christ? Could El Hannouny’s dislike for Christians be linked in any way to the Qur’an’s statement that those who say “Christ is the Son of Allah” are under Allah’s curse (9:30)? Might his tire-slashing and attempted arson have something to do with the Qur’an’s command to Muslims to wage war against and subjugate Christians as inferiors under the hegemony of Islamic law (9:29)?

In today’s political climate, such questions cannot be asked. And yet their pertinence goes far beyond the case of Osama E. El Hannouny. If his self-professed hatred of Christians is indeed based on Islamic teachings, did he learn that hatred at his local mosque? If that mosque is indeed teaching that Muslims should hold the people whom the Qur’an terms “the most vile of created beings” (98:6) in utter contempt, and wage jihad against them, isn’t it possibly that more Muslims besides just young Osama could be influenced to act upon these teachings? And if so, wouldn’t it be prudent for local law enforcement officials to be aware of and prepared for that possibility?

It is much more likely, however, that the local police have never been to El Hannouny’s mosque except for “outreach,” in order to assure the Muslim community of their good will. The possibility that the assurances could ever or should ever flow in the other direction is never considered, even for a moment.


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

"This is censorship": Google suspends evangelical church's app for violating coronavirus "Sensitive Events policy"

An app used by an evangelical church in Idaho to stream Bible lessons and sermons was suspended by Google when the tech giant deemed its content insensitive.

The ministers and staff at Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, a college town about 80 miles south of Spokane, Washington, are weighing their options after Google refused to budge on its decision that the church's app violates the company's "Sensitive Events policy" amid the coronavirus outbreak.

"@GooglePlay suspended our app today," the church tweeted on Good Friday. Speculating that pastoral calls for repentance during the pandemic and "short lessons on responding faithfully to the COVID-19 crisis" could have singled them out, the church added a photo of the Google notification informing them, "We don't allow apps that lack reasonable sensitivity towards or capitalize on a natural disaster, atrocity, conflict, death, or other tragic event." The Christ Church app was then scrubbed from the Google Play store, which leaves Android users unable to download it.

Christ Church received a response to the appeal on Thursday, which reiterated that their app was deemed in violation of the Sensitive Events policy and would not be reinstated until all references to COVID-19 were removed. Google then directed them to a webpage offering examples of "common violations."

Ben Zornes, who has been an executive minister at Christ Church for four years, told the Washington Examiner, "So, essentially, merely referencing COVID-19 is putting us out of compliance with their 'Sensitive Events' policy. We are now evaluating the best way forward as we believe this is censorship, and wrong-headed. We are not purporting to present any medical advice or information on the virus, we are simply presenting what we believe Scripture teaches in regards to how to face such crises in faith and love to our neighbor."


Coronavirus: whatever happened to the right to protest?

The mass arrest of anti-lockdown protesters in Berlin shows we have given up our freedoms far too easily.

Demonstrations are not uncommon in Berlin, but during the current crisis they deserve special attention. Last Saturday, an organisation called Communication Democratic Resistance (Kommunikationsstelle Demokratischer Widerstand) held its third weekly ‘hygiene demonstration’ on Berlin’s Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz against Germany’s lockdown. Approximately 40 people had gathered the week before under the motto ‘For basic rights and an end to the emergency regime’. Seventeen protesters were arrested and charged with violating the Protection Against Infection Act.

The most recent demonstration attracted around 350 people. Protesters distributed copies of the German constitution and chanted ‘Versammlungsfreiheit‘ (freedom of assembly) – a right guaranteed in article eight of the constitution. Although many demonstrators wore face masks and promised to respect social-distancing guidance by standing 1.5 metres apart, the protest was nevertheless forcefully dispersed by police officers, and 80 people were charged.

The response to the demonstrations is just one of many examples of the state’s draconian treatment of those who flout the new corona laws. While there have been many good and critical reports in the German media about the dire consequences of the lockdown for businesses and the economy (Germany’s GDP is predicted to fall by 4.5 per cent this year), the consequences for civil rights and freedoms have received far too little attention.

Some say this is no time to talk about civil rights. For instance, the left-leaning Berlin city newspaper tipBerlin asked if anyone could call for a demonstration during the corona crisis in good conscience. Others have pointed to the fact that the demonstrators do not speak for the majority. Indeed, surveys show that most Germans accept the temporary restraints on their civil liberties as necessary to save lives.

The government is in no bad position, either. It can (and has) emphasised its successes, such as Germany’s relatively low fatality rates compared with other European countries (at the time of writing, 3,495 people have died). The government has also overseen an impressive and rapid increase in testing (currently more than 50,000 people are tested per day), a huge aid package for businesses (at around €353 billion), and it has supported important scientific research.

Yet, for those of us who still think freedom and civil liberties matter, the current law-and-order situation is concerning. Too many fundamental liberal principles have been thrown overboard far too quickly and too lightly. One of these is the principle that every restriction of our constitutional rights – such as the right to gather and protest – must be well justified.

Of course, the justification in the case of the hygiene demonstration was the apparent danger of contagion. But does that really hold up to scrutiny? What threat did the protestors, most of whom kept a distance, pose to anyone else? Is the act of demonstrating in an open space more dangerous than shopping in a supermarket, which is still permitted?

The fact is that police powers have far exceeded anything anyone would have imagined only weeks ago. Anyone can be accused of violating the lockdown laws. Night after night and day after day, hundreds of officers, often in full riot gear, have been on the move in search of people flouting the laws. Even helicopters have been deployed.

It is time to remind our elected politicians that our basic constitutional rights should be guaranteed by the government, not granted to us in such a patronising way on the condition that we behave. Even a viral pandemic should not be enough to make us forget that important principle.


Monday, April 20, 2020

Police In North Carolina Arrest Peaceful Protestors, Declare Protesting A ‘Non-Essential Activity’

A group of peaceful protesters gathered in Raleigh, North Carolina on Tuesday to call for the re-opening of the state. They stood outside and observed social distancing guidelines. More importantly, they observed the guidelines of the First Amendment, which, plain as day, protects “the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” They were assembled. They were peaceful. And they were petitioning their government for a specific and reasonable thing, namely the right to go back to work and feed their families.

But the protestors forgot that our Founding Fathers, when codifying our inherent human rights into the legal document known as the Bill of Rights, included the important caveat that all rights immediately evaporate whenever there’s a virus and people are scared. You can’t see it because it’s written in invisible ink. That appears to be the legal theory of the governor of North Carolina and his law enforcement agents, anyway, as Raleigh police descended upon the peaceful assembly and instructed it to disperse. At least one of the protestors was arrested.

When asked to justify their actions, the Raleigh Police Department explained on Twitter that — and this is a direct quote — “protesting is a non-essential activity.” I expect that the bootlickers who support the government’s right to arrest people for going to church will find this reasoning totally acceptable. But Americans who value freedom will recognize it as Orwellian insanity. If a politician can unilaterally abolish our fundamental liberties simply by declaring them non-essential, then we have no fundamental liberties.


Land O Lakes Indian Maiden Bows to Political Correctness

The politically-correct crowd has claimed another scalp.  Quietly and without fanfare, the makers of Land O Lakes butter rubbed out the lovely maiden that was the centerpiece of the company's logo for 100 years. In the middle of the logo now is a big zero.

That stands for the amount of sense that it makes to get rid of a lovely image that offended few if any Native Americans, for whom it was supposedly removed.

"You know who loves being represented in American culture? According to a survey of 4000 Native Americans by NAGA, Native Americans do," the red-headed libertarian tweeted. "You know who doesn’t love Native Americans being represented in American Culture? Woke suburban white women."

That letter, from Eunice (Abraham) Davidson — who described herself as a "full blood Dakota Sioux enrolled member with the Spirit Lake Sioux tribe in North Dakota" — said she's tired of Native American imagery being expunged from the national consciousness:

"Every independent poll or survey since 1992 (Washington Post, CBS, ESPN, Annenberg, USA, Sports Illustrated) [has] concluded 80 to 90% of American Indians support or have no problem with the use of our names and images portrayed by sports teams, whether High Schools, University/Colleges, or Professional sports."

People reacted with surprise that anyone found it objectionable. "I grew up thinking it was a beautiful image. I thought it was a positive depiction of Native people, a reminder of their relationship with nature. Guess I was wrong," one user tweeted.

Minnesotan John Hoffman offered that the image was made by a Native American artist. "The packaging was redesigned in the 1950s by Patrick DesJarlait, a highly-successful Ojibwe artist from Red Lake. He said he was interested in 'fostering a sense of Indian pride' across the Midwest," Hoffman tweeted.


Sunday, April 19, 2020

Time to get rid of the idea of cultural appropriation and other Marxist identity claptrap

When the pandemic is over, it’s possible that a few things that once seemed important to some people might leave with it. This could include some of the more arcane elements of what constituted the “Woke” culture. For example, some people used to fret about what they called “cultural appropriation,” castigating people from Western white cultures who adopted practices from other cultures. Justin Bieber was slated for wearing his hair in blond dreadlocks, and university students were derided for holding costume parties themed on countries such as Mexico or Japan.

It’s nonsense, or course. When we take on board things done by other cultures, more often than not it’s cultural appreciation rather than appropriation. The walls of my house feature paintings done by a Western artist in the Chinese style, but this is a tribute to Chinese culture rather than the theft of it. I love Chinese cuisine, and I don’t mind in the slightest if some of it is prepared by non-Chinese chefs. Indeed, I sometimes cook in that style myself, as I do in the style of many countries. When I dress, as I often do, in clothes that echo the fashions of Eastern countries, it is because I admire that style.

At the heart of this absurd idea lies the notion that we should all live in boxes with labels on them. Western Europeans are supposed to live like stereotypical Europeans, without enriching their culture with outside influences. It would be a duller and poorer world if we did this. We’ve always taken outside ideas and influences, usually because we admire them. When the Pope and his predecessor wore sombreros on visiting Mexico, they were honouring Mexican culture, not mocking it.

It is identity politics gone mad to define us and limit us to one narrow culture. People are too complex, too diverse, and too multi-faceted to be confined like this. We express our own independent ideas, rather than simply giving expression to what someone else thinks is our class interest. We need to be treated as individuals, not dealt with merely as members of the groups that others want to define us by.

There are people who prefer to dismiss our ideas as the mere expression of our group interest and identity. It saves them from having to listen to those ideas, or to consider them, or to argue with them. They claim that people in one box have nothing to say about those in other boxes, and no value to draw from them into their own lives. Fortunately, people are bigger than this, and the idea that they should be limited in this way will almost certainly have a short shelf life when the current pandemic is over.

Thanks very much, but we’ve had quite enough confinement of late, and when it’s ended, we’re not about to let a few obsessives continue to confine us culturally or intellectually.


COVID-19 and free speech: ‘gagging’ NHS staff is not proportionate and lawful

George Letsas and Virginia Mantouvalou explain why any blanket restriction on NHS workers’ freedom of speech in the light of the pandemic is unlikely to pass the legal test of proportionality, or fit the image of a democracy that values transparency and accountability.

‘I never thought I lived in a country where freedom of speech is discouraged’, wrote an NHS doctor to The Lancet. The journal receives many messages from front-line health workers who are being threatened with disciplinary action if they raise concerns about their safety at work. According to The Guardian, some NHS staff are altogether forbidden from speaking out publicly about the coronavirus. Intimidation techniques reportedly include threatening emails, monitoring of social media and disciplinary action.

This unprecedented restriction takes place against the background of secrecy surrounding the government’s response to the pandemic. There has so far been limited information both on the situation in hospitals and on the scientific evidence upon which the government acts. With Parliament in recess, the need for public scrutiny is even more pressing.

What is more, wars and pandemics have a substantial degree of a so-called ‘chilling effect’ on free speech: people typically rally behind their leaders and feel reluctant to voice their criticisms, adopting a stance of self-censorship. Even in the absence of any legal restrictions, a pandemic is therefore likely to result in suppression of information and decreased levels of accountability.

Governments’ response to the pandemic across Europe, and the rest of the world, has been accompanied by unprecedented restrictions on freedom of movement and assembly.


Friday, April 17, 2020

Shady Leftist Group Weaponizes Consumer Protection Law to Silence Fox News, Network Fights Back

A shady liberal group filed a lawsuit against Fox News, attempting to restrain the network's coronavirus coverage and get Fox News slapped with hefty penalties. The Washington League for Increased Transparency and Ethics (WASHLITE), which appears not to have a public website, filed a lawsuit against Fox, claiming that when Sean Hannity and Trish Regan condemned the left for using the coronavirus to attack President Donald Trump they had minimized the threat of the coronavirus, endangering viewers and violating Washington State's Consumer Protection Act (CPA).

On Tuesday, Fox News filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, citing the First Amendment right to free speech.

"It’s Constitutional Law 101: the First Amendment protects our right to speak openly and freely on matters of public concern. If WASHLITE doesn’t like what we said, it can criticize us, but it can’t silence us with a lawsuit," Fox News General Counsel and Executive Vice President Lily Fu Claffee said in a statement.

The motion condemns WASHLITE's complaint as a "frontal assault on the freedom of speech" that "flagrantly violates the First Amendment and fails to state a claim."

The WASHLITE complaint cites two examples of Fox News segments that they claim violate the Washington Consumer Protection Act, which bans "unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce." The act does not apply to television broadcasting stations that distribute information "in good faith without knowledge of its false, deceptive or misleading character."

When Donald Trump himself condemned liberal attacks against him over the coronavirus as a "hoax," liberal outlets and Democrats falsely claimed the president called the virus itself a hoax, but fact-checkers defended the president. The Trump campaign is now suing a Wisconsin TV station for airing an ad making the false claim. Hannity and Regan were doing something similar, and WASHLITE is trying to weaponize the same false narrative.


Why Free Speech Still Matters During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Plenty of misinformation is circulating about the COVID-19 pandemic, and that can lead to impatience about or even hostility toward free speech. Would we be better off if the government stepped in to restrict or penalize false reports? Such restrictions would not be unknown in time of epidemic. The city of Newark, N.J. recently threatened to prosecute persons who make false statements about the outbreak.

In a fine new piece, Greg Lukianoff of FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) points out that free speech helps bolster resilience to threats like the virus, in multiple ways.

To begin with, the looming crisis with COVID-19 is far worse than otherwise because of the repressive state policies of the Chinese Communist Party (today, China announced that it is expelling reporters from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post, and will not even let them work in Hong Kong.) Specifically:

Since at least Jan. 1, China enforced severe social media censorship of hundreds of terms relating to the virus, many of which concerned the failures of China’s leadership in controlling the outbreak. Because people in China didn’t have access to information about the virus, they didn’t know to take extra precautions, allowing it to spread faster, all the while preventing the world from preparing its response during the crucial first weeks of the outbreak.

In closed societies like China, government officials have the power to stop the free flow of information if they believe it poses a threat of any kind, either real or imagined; and in authoritarian regimes, like China, the leaders of countries often see anything that might embarrass the country in the eyes of the world as a threat. By contrast, if the initial outbreak had happened in the United States, where the government has comparatively little legitimate power to control what citizens say, it’s doubtful that the disease would’ve gone unnoticed.

Despite the inapt metaphor often applied, Lukianoff argues, an arena of free expression does not really function as a “marketplace of ideas” in which competition works to drive out peddlers of falsehood the way a market for goods tends to drive out peddlers of lamps that don’t light. In the idea business, there are people, institutions, and movements that prosper for the longest time selling total junk. Hence the observed failure of the hope for “the good ideas to ever finally defeat and drive from the earth bad ideas.” The difference is that in systems controlled by the government, like China, those who operate the control switch can cut you off from those trying to reach you with the truth. “Freedom of speech gives you a fighting chance to know the world as it really is.”

Lukianoff’s further and subtler point is this. The free venting of false notions on an ongoing basis, together with the study of false notions circulated in the past, gives us crucial information about the human psyche — what people are prone to believe, and how if ever they might come to be talked out of it — and about the particular landscape of false beliefs we must face in this world right now. It is “the lab in the looking glass.”


Thursday, April 16, 2020

Greenville Mayor Stands By Tyrannical Ban on Drive-In Church Services to Fight Coronavirus

In a press conference on Monday, Greenville, Miss., Mayor Errick Simmons stood by his tyrannical order criminalizing drive-in church services, where parishioners worship in their cars with the windows up. Greenville police infamously ticketed attendees at a drive-in service last Wednesday and then stalked another drive-in service on Thursday. Two religious freedom law firms filed lawsuits in response, claiming Simmons's order violates the Constitution and is unnecessary to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The mayor remained unmoved, however.

Simmons, knowing he faces serious backlash, announced that the city will not be demanding the $500 from the drive-in service attendees ticketed on Wednesday. He also said the city decided not to enforce the order on Easter Sunday.

"On Easter or Resurrection Day, we told our officers to stand down, because we wanted people to enjoy one of the holiest days of the year," Simmons said. "That's our way of loving our faith-based communities and also our way of understanding that 'by his stripes, we are healed.'"

Simmons insisted that the order does not violate citizens' "right to worship" or their "right to assemble."

Arthur Scott, the pastor of the church were attendees were fined $500 each, and Charles E. Hamilton Jr., the pastor of the church police stalked on Thursday, would beg to disagree.

Both pastors have retained legal counsel to hold Simmons accountable for violating their constitutional rights.

ADF Senior Counsel Ryan Tucker responded to Simmons' statements on Monday.

"It’s disappointing to see the city of Greenville continue this unconstitutional, unwarranted ban on drive-in church services," Tucker said. "This church has taken on creative ways to minister to people in its community without access to social media. The city’s order is baseless, and so we intend to continue aggressively pursuing our case against it in court."

The religious freedom law firm First Liberty sent Simmons a demand letter, urging him to retract the order. First Liberty represents Hamilton and claims that the mayor's order violated the pastor's right to free exercise of religion by singling out churches for unusual restrictions.

Jeremy Dys, special counsel for litigation and communications at First Liberty Institute, also condemned Simmons' comments.

Simmons can deny it all he likes, but the ban on drive-in church services clearly violates the First Amendment.


Trump Campaign Sues Wisconsin TV Station for Airing False 'Coronavirus Hoax' Ad

Contrary to a popular liberal narrative, President Donald Trump never called the coronavirus itself a "hoax," but a pro-Biden Super PAC, Priorities USA Action, launched a video ad twisting Trump's words at a rally in order to make it seem like he had. When a TV station in Wisconsin aired the ad, the Trump campaign responded with a cease-and-desist letter, citing numerous fact-checks proving the ad false. The station kept running the ad, anyway.

On Monday, the Trump campaign filed a defamation lawsuit against the TV station, WJFW-NBC of Rhinelander, Wisc.

"It is disappointing that WJFW-NBC would knowingly continue to broadcast this blatantly false ad and perpetrate falsehoods on the American people, even after the Trump campaign provided proof in good faith of the ad’s falsity," Jenna Ellis, senior legal advisor to the campaign, said in a statement. "We fully expected the station would recognize their error and immediately cease under their FCC obligations."

"The Trump campaign is now left with no other option than to use the force of law to ensure these false and defamatory ads cease. Defamation law helps ensure that news outlets are accountable to viewers, who should be able to trust the accuracy and truth of content aired to the public," Ellis added.

Many independent fact-checkers have explained that the "Trump called the coronavirus a hoax" line is a flat-out lie. On the night of the president's rally, Slate's Will Saletan noted that Trump "was saying the hoax is that he's handled it badly. Not the virus itself."

In the lawsuit, the Trump campaign also explains that since WJFW-NBC is a licensed broadcast TV station under the Communications Act of 1934, it has an "obligation to operate in the public interest," including a "responsibility to protect the public from false, misleading, and deceptive advertising." This makes the TV station liable for the deceptive ad, the lawsuit argues.

This is far from the first time the Trump campaign has sued a media outlet for false statements. In February and March, the campaign sued The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN for defamation over false Russia collusion claims.


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

NASCAR star Kyle Larson suspended indefinitely for using the N-word during virtual race on Sunday, leaving his fellow drivers stunned

NASCAR star Kyle Larson was suspended indefinitely by the stock car circuit and without pay by Chip Ganassi Racing on Monday for using a racial slur on a live stream during a virtual race.

With all NASCAR events suspended amid the ongoing pandemic, Larson was competing in an iRacing event Sunday night when he appeared to lose communication on his headset with his spotter. During a check of his microphone, he said, 'You can't hear me?' That was followed by the N-word.

'We are extremely disappointed by what Kyle said last night during an iRacing Event. The words that he chose to use are offensive and unacceptable,' read a statement from Chip Ganassi Racing. 'As of this moment we are suspending Kyle without pay while we work through this situation with all appropriate parties.'

Larson has since apologized on social media.  'Last night I made a mistake and said the word that should never ever be said and there's no excuse for that,' he said.

The 27-year-old Larson was speaking with other drivers on an open line that was being broadcast on Twitch, which live streams video game competitions among other things.

The Twitch display shows viewers which driver is speaking at any given time. And although Larson appeared to think he was having communication issues, the audience could hear him clearly and see his name on the screen when he uttered the racial slur.


Why we shouldn’t censor Covid conspiracy theories

“Censorship has a funny way of making nutcases think that they’re on to something. Conspiracy theorists, for one, love being shut down and kicked off platforms. It vindicates their worldview and burnishes their victim complex, proving in their feverish minds that the state or the big corporations or the Jews (delete as appropriate) are out to silence them and their explosive spider diagrams.

So amid the coronavirus crisis, as people like that try to use the Covid-19 crisis to spew their nonsense, let’s not give them the satisfaction of censoring them.”


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Florida police chief is suspended for 'saying one of his deputies who died from coronavirus got it because he's gay and attended "homosexual sexual events"'

A Florida police chief has been suspended after he reportedly told his force the their colleague died from coronavirus because he was gay.

Deputy Shannon Bennett, 39, initially came down with a fever and a headache which developed into breathing problems and he passed away a couple of days after going to hospital, his fiancé Jonathan Frey said.

Bennett has no underlying health conditions, but during a team briefing, Davie Police Chief Dale Engle connected the cop's death to his sexuality.

Florida Fraternal Order of Police chief of staff Mike Tucker, complained to the Davie town manager in a letter Tuesday, saying that Engle 'allegedly berated them, and yelled about a "...backstory' which proclaimed that Deputy Shannon Bennett contracted and died from the virus because he was a 'homosexual who attended homosexual sexual events'".'

Tucker said that if the claims are true, 'it's obviously extremely disturbing.' 'This obviously was shocking to the members that were present, who are right now looking for reassurance. . . who were looking for guidance,' Tucker added to Local 10.

Engle was suspended on Saturday. 'As of April 11, 2020, Police Chief Dale Engle was placed on Administrative leave pending further review of allegations brought forward by the Fraternal Order of Police,' Davie's Town Administrator Richard J. Lemack said in a statement Saturday night. 'The allegations will be investigated in accordance with the Town's Equal Employment Opportunity compliance policy by outside counsel.


UK: I was censored... by the free speech stand-up night!

It was a night set up to champion free speech – but today Comedy Unleashed has been accused of trying to censor comedians who do not agree with its agenda.

American stand-up Will Franken, once one of the stalwarts of the club, has criticised its promoters for attempting to influence what he should talk about on stage.

And he claims it failed to release videos of performances in which he criticised some of the controversial figures backing the project, essentially silencing him.

However, those behind the club deny censoring the comic, and accused him of making ‘fabrications and misrepresentations’ following a furious fall-out about the direction of the night.

The accusations come after stand-up Andrew Doyle, one of the founders of Comedy Unleashed, and creator of the spoof woke character Titania McGrath, threatened to take legal action against another comedian over a joke on Twitter.


Monday, April 13, 2020

Majority of Americans Agree With Trump’s Calling COVID-19 ‘Chinese Virus’

A majority of American adults agree with using the term “Chinese virus” to describe the coronavirus, despite media members pillorying President Donald Trump for using that term, three polls showed.

Three consecutive national surveys by the Harris Poll found that more than 50% of Americans said they somewhat or strongly agree with Trump using the term “Chinese virus.”

The poll results make for a stark contrast with the national media’s reaction to the term “Chinese virus.”

MSNBC anchor John Heilemann said on air in March that Trump’s use of the term “Chinese virus” is “nakedly racist and obviously racist and blatantly racist.”

CNN opinion writer Jill Filipovic similarly argued that using the term “Chinese virus” was “xenophobic racism,” and compared it to scapegoating European Jews for the Black Death.


A Failed Attempt to Squelch Broadcasting of Trump’s Coronavirus Press Briefings

A radical left organization known as “Free Press” sought to censor the broadcasts of the White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefings. The misnamed “Free Press” had recently petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to investigate broadcasters showing President Donald Trump’s press conferences on the coronavirus outbreak.

Citing the left wing, Trump-hating Media Matters, CNN and the New York Times among its sources for its accusations against President Trump, “Free Press” claimed that the president has told “dangerous lies about a public health emergency.”

Broadcasters, the petition said, “have a choice: don’t air them, or put those lies in context with disclaimers noting that they may be untrue and are unverified.” The FCC, the petition added, has “a duty to rein in” those broadcasters that “seed confusion with lies and disinformation.” 

Fortunately, for the sake of true freedom of the press under our Constitution, the FCC’s Office of General Counsel and Media Bureau rejected the petition, concluding that the petition “Free Press” filed “seeks remedies that would dangerously curtail the freedom of the press embodied in the First Amendment.” Amen!


Sunday, April 12, 2020

In Wisconsin, a Free Speech Law with Teeth

The Wisconsin university system has been criticized for upholding unconstitutional free speech laws that infringe on students’ rights, leading the Wisconsin Assembly to pass in February a bill aimed at preventing disruption of protected speech, and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents to recently adopt a similar rule that would sanction anyone who does so.

The Wisconsin State Assembly passed a bill that would require the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin to adopt a policy on free expression. Assembly Bill 444, passed in February, applies to four-year and two-year institutions of the University of Wisconsin system. The new policy revokes existing policies or rules that restrict freedom of expression.

"That any person lawfully present on campus may protest or demonstrate, but that protests and demonstrations that interfere with the expressive rights of others are subject to sanction"   

The Wisconsin Board of Regents voted Thursday in favor of similar rules:

This bill outlines that it is not the proper role of an institution to prevent individuals from engaging in speech protected by the Constitution.

"Students and faculty have the freedom to discuss any problem as permitted by the First Amendment and within specified limits," it states. The legislation allows for demonstrations and protests on college campuses, provided they do not disrupt others' speech.

According to the bill, individuals who disrupt free expression on the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Technical College System campuses twice are subject to suspension and, if they violate the free speech of others three times, they would be expelled from the institutions.


In The Face Of Coronavirus, The Left Tries To Silence Truth

In the midst of one of our nation’s most sobering episodes, an episode that has forced tens of millions onto the unemployment rolls, rendered nearly the entire nation on some form of shelter in place order, and seen wartime powers enacted to support the rapid production of critically needed equipment for healthcare workers; activists on the left have chosen to file frivolous litigation against the very people speaking truth—Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson, and Fox News more generally.

Is it really too much to ask, given the stark reality facing our country, that Americans from all ends of the political spectrum come together to face down the coronavirus pandemic as a unified front?  Apparently, for the activist lawyers at the leftist Washington League for Increased Transparency & Ethics, or WASHLITE, it is indeed too much to ask and is instead viewed as the perfect time to further divide our nation and attack the very people, arguably some of the only people, who have consistently provided reliable coverage since the beginning of the pandemic.

WASHLITE has filed what appears to be a clearly frivolous lawsuit against Fox News alleging that the network has aired false information about the coronavirus and demanded an injunction to prevent Fox from “interfering with or undermining the legitimate control measures” while the pandemic persists. In other words, these liberal activist lawyers want to silence Fox News during the remainder of this emergency.

Lawfare, “the misuse of legal systems and principles against an enemy,” is a common tactic of the American left. They utilize Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) like ammunition in battle, intended to silence, damage, delegitimize or otherwise destroy their political opponents. It’s a disgusting exploitation of the American judicial system and defending against such frivolous attacks has proven to be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor.


Saturday, April 11, 2020

Jerry Falwell Jr. Has a Free Speech Problem

The Liberty University president thinks two reporters' coverage was unfair—so he wants them arrested.

Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of the evangelical Liberty University, has long positioned himself as a torch-bearer of free expression. "Free speech and intellectual diversity are two of the most important pillars of a college education," he wrote last June. "That's why I urge every college and university in the country to encourage open political discourse on their own campuses—just as we do at Liberty University."

Falwell is now demanding the arrest of two reporters he accuses of painting his school in a negative light.

In an interview with radio host Todd Starnes, Falwell derided reporters at The New York Times and ProPublica for how they covered his decision to partially reopen Liberty amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Both pieces, he claimed, unfairly portrayed Liberty's attitude toward the coronavirus as flippant and careless. He singled out, for example, Times journalist Elizabeth Williamson's characterization of a conversation she had with local physician Thomas W. Eppes, Jr. Williamson wrote that Eppes told her "nearly a dozen Liberty students were sick with symptoms that suggested Covid-19." Although one eventually tested positive, Falwell said the presumptive cases never numbered as high as 12—a depiction he cast as "sensational click-bait."

And so the university president secured arrest warrants for Times photographer Julia Rendleman and ProPublica reporter Alec MacGillis for trespassing, a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. He told Starnes that an additional warrant is coming against someone with another "big time liberal news organization" (There is no warrant against Williamson because she did not take any photographs, so there's no physical proof that she was on campus.) He also said that defamation "lawsuits will be filed" against The New York Times if a retraction or Liberty-friendly correction isn't issued regarding the contagion numbers.


Judge: ‘Seems probable’ Humboldt County attorney was fired over his free speech

Humboldt County legal counsel Jeff Blanck has been on paid administrative leave for more than a year without being officially fired, a status that won’t change for at least another few months.

The head county attorney was told that a hearing would be held April 30 to determine if he will be terminated over multiple anonymous personnel complaints against him.

But on Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg ordered that the hearing not be held before June 1, partly because the ongoing coronavirus pandemic would make it difficult for Blanck to track down favorable witnesses.

Seeborg wrote that Blanck has raised “serious questions” about whether the county violated his right to free speech when it placed him on leave right after he began raising issues with the county’s financial conduct.

“Given Blanck was fired immediately after a closed-door session at which the individuals against whom he had complained, were present — and themselves admitted a conflict of interest — it seems probable Blanck’s protected speech was a motivating factor for his firing,” states the order granting Blanck’s injunction.


Friday, April 10, 2020

We must not shy away from the fight for free speech

Far more people believe in free speech than are willing to risk defending it. That must change.

When I first read John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, as a starry-eyed young socialist, my first thought was, ‘What’s all the fuss about?’. I recognised that it had some good principles in it, but surely nobody would actually disagree with them today?

How times change. Fast forward just a few years and free speech is under attack even in countries where it had appeared to have become part of the furniture.

A common refrain deployed in response to concerns about the health of free speech is that our only concern should be the role of the state. That is to say, freedom of speech is solely a question of what the government allows you to say. By this analysis, I can’t complain if my university only invites speakers from one end of the political spectrum, or if a theatre is pressured into cancelling a controversial show. Or I can complain, but I am not supposed to argue that free speech is being undermined because the state is not involved.

The truth is rather different. First, there actually is a great deal of state censorship in the West, particularly in Europe. Hate-speech laws allow the authorities to gag and punish dissenters, and the list of people who have fallen victim to this state censorship is growing.

However, the bigger problem with the free-speech sceptic’s refrain is the idea that the state is the only relevant player. It is quite remarkable that people still produce this argument, over 150 years after Mill demonstrated its falsity. Mill identified that the greatest threat to freedom of speech was the ‘tyranny of the majority’. Today we might call this the tyranny of the loud – for people do not need to be in the majority to have their opinions seem like they are.

In fact, Mill could easily have been writing today. Witness the pile-ons when people step out of line on social media, the hatred visited upon them, and then the inevitable exile from various platforms. See the threats to life and livelihood aimed at controversial commentators. Contemplate how many people hold back from sharing their real opinions out of fear for their jobs, their friendships, and their reputations.


Corona virus deception

On Tuesday, Dr. Deborah Birx admitted to the American press a deception is being presented to the American people. Our death toll is not the number we say that it is.  Not as it counts towards the pandemic known as COVID-19.

I’ve already spent some space in this column comparing the information void between what the networks will pronounce and what they refuse to.

Will: Every news network breathlessly keeps the total numbers of infections globally and domestically rotating or statically pasted on their graphics.

Will: Every news network posts the growing death numbers, 24/7, on the same screen.

Will not: Post, mention or even give lip service to the number of known recoveries across the globe.

Will not: Make any notable reference to the fact that known recoveries in America surpassed the total number of deaths roughly four days ago, and now roughly double the number dead.

If it’s a marketing ploy, or a ratings strategy, or whatever—it’s ill-suited in this time of top-down imposed cautionary cabin-fever. At the very least, if the networks would accurately report the recoveries alongside the deaths, we viewers might have some sense of balance on where our efforts are proving fruitful.

But for the “smart people” (who should be accountable to the voters) to willfully mislead us is an entirely different matter. And Dr. Deborah Birx (an Obama appointee, along with her academic theorist pal Dr. Fauci) seems to have let the cat out of the bag.

Yes... in short the rumors you’ve heard recently coming from conspiracy corner—turns out—are true.

For some unexplained reason Birx/Fauci et al, are counting deaths and attributing their cause to COVID-19, even if the actual cause of death was not COVID-19.

For example: A patient gets admitted to the hospital for organ failure due to late stage cancer. If the patient comes into contact with COVID-19 in the hospital and the virus shows up in a test either before or after death, that’s a COVID-19 fatality. Same with a heart attack/heart disease. Same with fill in the blank.

Never mind that as a nation we lose 54,000 persons a month to heart disease, and 50,000 per month to cancer.

But by “juicing the numbers,” it appears Fauci/Birx get to extend the misery, heighten the panic, and continue to command relevancy.


Thursday, April 09, 2020

CA: $665,000 settlement for East Bay student punished for mock terrorist video

Must not suggest that Muslims can be terrorists

An East Bay school district has agreed to pay $665,000 to settle a free-speech suit by a former student who was suspended from a leadership class, and briefly barred from serving as student body president, after posting a video that showed him as a James Bond hero fighting off terrorists, the youth’s lawyers said Tuesday.

The video by Nathaniel Yu was a parody, and the supposed terrorists were played by two of Yu’s Muslim friends, his lawyers said in announcing the settlement with the San Ramon Valley Unified School District. They said district officials falsely described the production as hate speech, and that the ensuing publicity led to threats of violence against Yu.

In an apology that was part of the settlement, the district said the video was not hate speech and that it “regrets the negative consequences associated with mischaracterizations regarding you and the content of the video.” But Mark Davis, a lawyer for the district, said the apology was only for the harm that Yu suffered, and the settlement does not include any admission of violating the youth’s rigths.

Yu was a 17-year-old junior at San Ramon Valley High School in Danville, and president of his junior class, when he and some friends posted the video in February 2017, as he was running for student body president. It showed him as a hero saving fellow students from terrorists.

The participants improved their lines, without a script, and intended the video as entertainment, the youth’s lawyers said. They said it was posted for about 12 hours, and viewed by about 30 people, before Yu took at down at the suggestion of another student who said some might find it offensive.

But a teacher obtained the video and showed it to other instructors and administrators, who told Yu the posting was racist and violated rules against inappropriate material during a school election campaign, the lawyers said. Yu was removed as junior class president, suspended from the school’s leadership class, and disqualified as a candidate for student body president.

School officials revoked those punishments three months later, and Yu — who had previously apologized, at officials’ request, for any “misconceptions and misinterpretations” of his video — won the election and served as student president during his senior year.

But his lawsuit said a teacher told news media and Muslim groups that Yu had disparaged Muslims and refused to apologize. His reputation was trashed in social media, and his school parking spot was vandalized twice on his first day of class in August 2017, his lawyers said.


Atheists, Jews, Muslims, Catholics All Asking Supreme Court To Defend Rights My College Violated

By  Chike Uzuegbunam

All I wanted was to share with other students the faith that has changed my life.

I was a junior at Georgia Gwinnett College, and I had some tracts that explained the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I was standing in an open area of campus, offering them to any students who expressed interest.

But college officials stopped me and said I couldn’t distribute literature because I wasn’t in one of the two speech zones the college specifically designated for students wishing to speak freely. It was difficult to find those miniscule speech zones: they only made up 0.0015% of the campus and were only open for about 10% of the school week.

Even those microscopic areas were off-limits, the policies said, unless I had applied to reserve them and unless administrators had okayed the materials I was distributing. So I made a reservation and submitted my literature for approval. That approval was granted. But I had hardly begun speaking and handing out the materials before college security officers stopped me.

Why? “Somebody” had complained. That made me guilty, officers said, of “disorderly conduct.”

It turned out that the college didn’t just have speech zones; it also had a speech code, which said that no one could say anything — there, in the open air, on free American soil, even in the speech zone — that “disturbs the peace and/or comfort of person(s).”

The essence of free speech is the ability to tell people things they do not want to hear. And that is especially true today when almost anything is practically guaranteed to offend someone’s “comfort.” The college’s policies eliminated the heart of the Constitution’s First Amendment: freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

That disconnect was something my attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom impressed on college administrators. Trying to end the lawsuit, those administrators changed their policies but left it unclear where students could speak. Interestingly, this remained true until I graduated and was no longer around to speak.

It wasn’t until then that a federal district court ruled on my case. It decided that, since I had now graduated, and the college had changed its policies, there was really no point in holding administrators accountable for violating my constitutionally protected freedoms. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit later agreed with that ruling.

But my rights were violated — a fact that no court has yet seriously addressed. My case deserves a decision declaring that the college’s officials violated my constitutional rights, not only for my own sake, but for all the other students who are likely to run into the same administrative brick wall I did. If college officials are free to create unconstitutional restrictions, revising them only if and when they get caught, and then to shrug and walk away scot-free, my situation is simply going to play out over and over again at Gwinnett and on other campuses.

That’s why I and everyone from atheists to Jews, Muslims to Catholics, are hoping the Supreme Court will take my case — to clear up the legal waters so that no other student has to experience what I endured…and so that all of us may express our views freely.


Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Don't let free speech be a casualty of coronavirus. We need it more than ever

In times of crisis, liberal democratic institutions and values are vulnerable to authoritarian power grabs, or corona coups, as we are seeing around the world today. One of the first victims, as always, is freedom of speech. But the current attack on free speech is particularly dangerous, because it does not only target, reasonably, “fake news” on coronavirus, but also critique of inadequacies in hospitals by healthcare workers.

These are the people best informed about the situation, and thus the best potential antidotes to fake news. Yet, according to the Independent, British NHS doctors are being gagged over protective equipment shortages, while NHS England has taken control of communications for many NHS hospitals and staff.

In the US, one of the few western democracies without a universal public healthcare system, individual private hospitals are doing the censoring. Prioritizing their brand and profits over the health of their patients and staff, private hospitals across the US have threatened staff with termination if they speak out about the lack of protective gear. Several hospital staff have already been fired after speaking out, an incredible waste of crucial but sparse resources during a pandemic.

Leaving aside the problem of employers regulating the speech of their employees, incidentally an increasingly common development (even at universities), censoring healthcare professionals is outright dangerous to the broader community. These are the people who actually have day-to-day experience with the coronavirus and risk their lives to help others – particularly if their employers don’t provide them with adequate protective gear.


Facebook admits it made an 'error' after algorithm threatens to ban users who post content showing people how to make their own masks

An algorithm designed to help weed out misinformation about coronavirus has been inadvertently hampering some Facebook users from disseminating content on homemade medical masks.

According to a report from the New York Times, Facebook says that an 'error' with its algorithm has been blocking content on how to make hand-sewn masks and threatening to ban the users who post it, including groups in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and California.

Some of those groups, including one called Sew Face Masks Philadelphia, had thousands of followers and had its moderators threatened with a ban if content on masks continued.

'The automated systems we set up to prevent the sale of medical masks needed by health workers have inadvertently blocked some efforts to donate supplies,' Facebook said in a statement to the New York Times.

'We apologize for this error and are working to update our systems to avoid mistakes like this going forward. We don’t want to put obstacles in the way of people doing a good thing.'

The so-called error comes as Facebook ramps up efforts to prevent users from profiting off of a protective and sanitizing products sold on the site, in particular medical masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer.  

On Facebook and other major platforms like Amazon, some sellers have used  the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in their efforts to price-gouge items, selling them for multiples beyond their average price.


Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Christian Round-Ups Continue: 7 Arrested for Praying Near Greensboro Abortion Clinic

On Sunday, we reported that four men were arrested outside a Greensboro, N.C., abortion clinic, where they were conducting a prayer walk. Despite the fact that that a pro-life group, Love Life, had canceled its group meeting and everyone was following the rules for social distancing, the Greensboro Police Department arrested them and charged them with violating Guilford County's stay-at-home order.

Apparently not happy with violating the First Amendment rights of four prayer warriors, the Greensboro Police Department arrested seven more people on Monday after they were caught praying in public in front of a facility that makes its money by slaughtering innocent children.

Steve Noble, an area radio host who recorded the arrests, wrote on his Facebook page that those arrested were following the county's rules by limiting their gathering, which was held on private property with the permission of the owner, to fewer than ten people. "They were exercising their First Amendment rights [to] assemble and to exercise their religious beliefs," said Noble. "They believe they are allowed to be there under the exemption clauses of the local county order" regarding the Chinese coronavirus rules.

Justin Reeder, the founder of Love Life, was arrested for a second time on Monday, as were Jason Oesterreich and Isaiah Burner. Also arrested were Leroy Stokes Jr., Andre Gonzalez, Richard Whittier, and John Mcatee.

In multiple videos, the men can be seen abiding by the 6-foot social distancing recommendations. Nevertheless, and despite the fact that walking alone is permissible under the guidelines, police swooped in to arrest the men, ordering ten cars to the area to deal with the peaceful prayer warriors who were there not only to pray but to counsel men and women who were contemplating having their babies killed at "A Woman's Choice" clinic.

Noble's video, too, shows that the men were doing nothing more than walking and praying quietly to themselves when a heavy police presence was brought in to deal with them.

All of the men emphasized that they had no beef with the police and understand that they were just following orders that came from above.

Mark Robinson, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in North Carolina, was outraged by the arrests and by the violation of the men's First Amendment rights. He blamed Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan and the city council (51:00 in the video above).

"A whole squadron of police officers come down here and violate someone's First Amendment rights," he said. "This is absolutely ridiculous. The resources of this city are being wasted by sending people down here to stop people from praying against the scandal of abortion. These people are trying their best to do this and still follow the guidelines that have been set forth by the state and by the county and our city council and our mayor think that it's essential to send police officers to browbeat people who are praying."

"It's awfully funny to me that the liquor stores are still open, the abortion clinic is still open, but, yet, we can't go to church," he continued. "We can't assemble and pray. We can't peacefully assemble and have our grievances addressed. We can't stand on the sidewalk and pray without the mayor turning the police into the Gestapo to send them down here to trample these people's First Amendment rights. It is egregious."

"The people of Greensboro need to rise up and get rid of this mayor and get rid of this city council," he concluded.

North Carolina Values, a grassroots pro-family group, condemned the Greensboro police "for arresting Christians who peacefully and legally pray and exercise their religious rights on the sidewalks outside an abortion clinic."

"Not even in communist China would police arrest three men for walking and praying on the street," said Jim Quick, state director of grassroots & media at North Carolina Values Coalition. "Since Governor Cooper refused to close abortion clinics as part of his administration's order to cease elective medical procedures these men were simply exercising their constitutional rights to pray outside one of the clinics that remain open. "

Quick pointed out that abortion is an elective procedure and said that "Governor Cooper should have closed abortion clinics and urged abortion providers to donate their PPE and other equipment to [the] coronavirus response, just as he did with hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers that perform elective procedures."

The men were released from jail Monday afternoon and posted a video explaining why they came back to pray and why they will continue to obey God's command to rescue the perishing. It's well worth your time to watch the entire thing. You'll be truly blessed by their desire to serve God and to rescue those who are risk of being slaughtered while ministering and offering help to the mothers.

The hysterical reaction to men maintaining social distancing rules and praying quietly to themselves virtually guarantees that this movement will multiply exponentially in the coming days and weeks. Americans don't take kindly to having their First Amendment rights violated and usually respond with more of the same when told they can't pray, they can't speak, and they can't assemble. And while it's true that we're in the middle of a pandemic and there are legitimate reasons to ask Americans to assent to social distancing requests, it doesn't' appear the men were doing anything more than someone walking a dog or jogging might do. If people who walk their dogs aren't being arrested, why are men walking and praying being harassed and thrown into the slammer?

The answer, of course, is that to many on the left, abortion is a sacrament. They won't be denied their right to spill the blood of innocent children, come hell or pandemic. And if people of faith try to get in their way — or even pray for the women to change their minds — they must be destroyed.


'I will tear out this poison by its roots': New Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer says SORRY to Jews for 'stain' of anti-Semitism in the party

I rather like Starmer.  He is clearly of the Left but is less extreme and clearly has a functioning brain -- which is more than you can say of most Labour party politicians.  He is clearly the man to give Boris a challenge

Sir Keir Starmer vowed to wipe out the 'stain' of anti-Semitism from the Labour Party today as he was unveiled as its new leader.

The 57-year-old made a fulsome apology to British Jews as he was confirmed as Jeremy Corbyn's replacement, vowing to rip out the 'poison' that has dogged the party under his predecessor.

Sir Keir, a former Director of Public Prosecutions, overwhelmingly saw off the challenge of the Corbynite continuity candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey, who was backed by Mr Corbyn's closest allies.

The St Pancras and Holborn MP won with 56.2 per cent after a single round of voting, giving him a powerful mandate for his leadership.  Ms Long-Bailey took 27.6 per cent and outsider Lisa Nandy 16.2 per cent. 

Sir Keir, who was the first person in his family to go to university and is married to Victoria, also a lawyer, used his online victory speech to lash out at the anti-Jewish racism under Corbyn that led to the departure of many members and even some Jewish MPs.

'We have to face the future with honesty,' the father-of-two said. 'Anti-Semitism has been a stain on our party. I have seen the grief that it's brought to so many Jewish communities. On behalf of the Labour Party, I am sorry.

'I will tear out this poison by its roots and judge success by the return of Jewish members and those who felt that they could no longer support us.'

Mr Starmer's most immediate concern will be Labour's response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Shortly before he was unveiled this morning, Boris Johnson has invited opposition party leaders to a Number 10 coronavirus briefing, urging rivals to come together in the national interest.

This afternoon a spokesman for the new Labour leader said: 'This afternoon, Keir Starmer spoke with the Prime Minister about the current national emergency.

'Keir offered to work constructively with the Government on how best to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, accepted the Prime Minister's offer to meet next week and agreed arrangements for Privy Council briefings and discussions.'

Sir Keir Starmer was raised by socialist parents who named him after Keir Hardie, the Labour leader's founder and a colossus of the socialist movement. He was the first member of his family to go to university, studying law at Leeds and St Edmund Hall Oxford, before joining the Middle Temple chambers of Sir John Mortimer, the late barrister and novelist. 

His policy pledges include raising income tax for the top 5 per cent of earners, campaigning for EU freedom of movement to continue and to push for 'common ownership' of public services such as mail, rail and energy.

The 57-year-old, who lost his mother-in-law during the leadership race, has also vowed to introduce a prevention of military intervention act if he becomes PM to ensure Britain could only go to war if the Commons agreed.

'But we will test the arguments that are put forward. We will shine a torch on critical issues and where we see mistakes or faltering government or things not happening as quickly as they should we'll challenge that and call that out.'

The scale of the more moderate shadow Brexit secretary's victory in a vote by the party's 600,000 members shows a clear desire for change after the party's horrific mauling in last year's general election.