Monday, August 31, 2020

Sasha White and the woke war on feminists

Imagine the horror of having a literary agent who might not want to use your preferred pronouns. To raise awareness of this burning issue, on 24 August, a ‘genderfluid’ writer called Madeline Pine organised a Twitter campaign with other gender-soggy activists to target literary assistant Sasha White. Pine tweeted: ‘My pronouns are they / them… Sasha White is a publishing agent who doesn’t believe in honouring my pronouns.’

Hundreds of social-justice warriors joined in, apparently feeling quite justified in publicly hounding a woman for doing nothing more than holding an unpopular point of view.

Earlier this week, Sasha White was still an employee at the Tobias Literary Agency (TLA). She was tweeting in a personal capacity from her own account @iamGrushenka, while she used @SashaSemonovna for more professional tweets. Along with expressions of support for disgraced author JK Rowling, White posted as @iamGrushenka: ‘The reason I think pronouns suck is because thinking of people as “they / them” and pretending they’re not male or female is like colour / race blindness for gender. It won’t help sexism or toxic masculinity. Men and women have unique and distinct experiences…’

Her observation is valid: the 23million female fetuses aborted due to the cultural preference for boys in India and China will not be able to identify out of their fate; the women imprisoned in Iran for protesting against forced veiling can’t declare themselves men and claim their freedom; and the victims of grooming gangs in Rochdale wouldn’t have been saved by declaring themselves ‘genderfluid’.

It is true that identity politics has become an all-consuming monster. Nonetheless, as with race and class, the sex you are born into does change how you experience life and it is important that language allows us to articulate these differences. That a minority of self-pitying, privileged brats demand the use of ‘they / them’ pronouns does nothing to alter the material reality of social inequality.

The fact that White’s comment was reasonable, evidenced-based and expressed as a personal opinion offered her no protection. Within an hour, TLA had issued a statement decrying her views as ‘anti-trans’. In the same afternoon, following trial by social media, White tweeted to announce: ‘It’s true: I was fired last night for my feminist stance. The Twitter mob came for me and my employer immediately terminated me.’


Google bias

You’d think we’re living in a dystopian novel: news sites are blocked, politicians are prevented from reaching constituents, speech is arbitrarily labeled as “false,” and history is “forgotten.”  But this isn’t Orwell’s Airstrip One in 1984.  It’s America in 2020.

You don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to see this in action.  In late July, Breitbart and other websites that support the Trump administration mysteriously disappeared from Google's search results, leading some to believe that Google might maintain a “blacklist” of disfavored websites that it either buries or outright blocks from its search results.  We wanted to see if this was true, so we conducted a search for the terms “Azar” and “Taiwan” on both Google and DuckDuckGo, a Google competitor focused on user privacy.  For context, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar recently visited Taiwan.

The results were unsurprising, but still disappointing.  A Breitbart story detailing the event ranked ninth in the DuckDuckGo search.  On Google, the story didn’t even break the top 50.  Keep in mind, Breitbart consistently drives traffic to its website and user engagement on social media, and ranks higher in Amazon’s Alexa website rankings than either NBC News or The Wall Street Journal.

If Google were a small search engine, this sort of bias in its results might not matter.  But Google dominates online search.  Globally, across all platforms, Google enjoys a 92% market share.


Sunday, August 30, 2020

A recent case of attempted silencing and censorship has roiled the field of political science

Two gender studies professors, Allison Howell of Rutgers University and Melanie Richter-Montpetit of the University of Sussex in the UK, wrote an interdisciplinary paper titled “Is securitization theory racist? Civilizationism, methodological whiteness, and antiblack thought in the Copenhagen School,” published in the journal Security Dialogue.

Howell and Richter-Montpetit argued a predictable view in interdisciplinary scholarship: Securitization theory is Eurocentric and, therefore, structurally racist, promoting the usual sins of “civilizationism, methodological whiteness, and antiblack racism.” Broadly, securitization theory divides the world as “(white) ‘civilized politics’ against (racialized) ‘primal anarchy.’”

The paper, a direct attack against the Copenhagen School of Securitization theory, naturally drew a tough response from the theorists Barry Buzan of the London School of Economics and Ole Waever of the University of Copenhagen. But that is where the fun started.

First, they were refused space to respond to the libelous paper—which accused them of racism and Eurocentrism—and eventually offered some small space which was clearly inadequate. Buzan and Waever then wrote a short reply, while linking to a more thorough dissection of the original scholarship and its methodological flaws.

Howell and Richter-Montpetit then started,  predictably, a Kafkaesque open letter campaign where they claimed that the critique of them amounted to intimidation against junior scholars, and therefore needed a public denouncement.

For the historical record, Buzan and Waever’s rebuttal is exemplary scholarship in picking apart scholarly libel and a shoddy, “at times, pernicious” methodology. Beyond their personal disappointment, they wrote that they are more concerned about the “implications for our discipline that an article of such poor academic quality and problematic political content can be published in one of our leading journals.”

The charges are toxic and unsupported, and the methodology is termed as “deep-fake;” it cherry-picks words and phrases to construct a grand narrative of racial theory-building without any sense of the concept being critiqued. “If H&RM deem various classical authors (Arendt, Schmitt, Hobbes, Durkheim, Foucault) as being racist, then we and ST are racist too for citing them,” Buzan and Waever write. “This destructive tactic is the main basis for their charge against us of civilizationism.”


Media Figures Smear Nick Sandmann as a ‘Snot-Nosed,’ ‘Smug,’ ‘Tiny Nazi’

On August 25, Sandmann, the Covington Catholic High School graduate who sued media outlets for defamation after their coverage of an interaction between him and Native American activist Nathan Phillips, spoke at the Republican National Convention. He drew attention to biased media and urged that journalists be held accountable. Following his comments, media figures and political activists called him everything from “snot-nosed” to a “tiny Nazi.”

Sandmann, a Kentucky native, sued outlets including the Washington Post, The New York Times, and CNN after he and his classmates, many of whom wore pro-Trump hats, were cast as racist instigators.

"I’m the teenager who was defamed by the media after an encounter with a group of protestors on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial last year," Sandmann introduced himself at the RNC.

After attending the March for Life in defense of the unborn, he said he purchased a Make America Great Again hat because President Trump “has distinguished himself as one of the most pro-life presidents.”

“Looking back now, how could I have possibly imagined that the simple act of putting on that red hat would unleash hate from the left and make myself the target of network and cable news networks nationwide?" he asked. “I found myself face-to-face with Nathan Phillips and other professional protestors looking to turn me into the latest poster child showing why Trump is bad.”

Even now, Sandmann is a media target. Following his speech, commentators and political figures personally attacked the teenager.

One of the most attention-grabbing comments came from CNN political analyst Joe Lockhart, who tweeted, “i don't have to watch this snot nose entitled kid from Kentucky.”

After a backlash, Lockhart ironically complained about the “personal attacks” that he himself had received for his earlier tweet.


Friday, August 28, 2020

EFF Sues Texas A&M University Once Again to End Censorship Against PETA on Facebook and YouTube

This week, EFF filed suit to stop Texas A&M University from censoring comments by PETA on the university’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas A&M held its spring commencement ceremonies online, with broadcasts over Facebook and YouTube. Both the Facebook and YouTube pages had comment sections open to any member of the public—but administrators deleted comments that were associated with PETA’s high-profile campaign against the university’s muscular dystrophy experiments on golden retrievers and other dogs.

Where government entities such as Texas A&M open online forums to the public, the First Amendment prohibits them from censoring comments merely because they don’t like the content of the message or the viewpoint expressed. On top of that, censoring comments based on their message or viewpoint also violates the public’s First Amendment right to petition the government for redress of grievances.

Texas A&M knows this well, because this is not the first time we’ve sued them for censoring comments online. Back in 2018, EFF brought another First Amendment lawsuit against Texas A&M for deleting comments by PETA and its supporters about the university’s dog labs from the Texas A&M Facebook page. This year, in a big win for free speech, the school settled with PETA and agreed to stop deleting comments from its social media pages based on the comments’ messages.  

We are disappointed that Texas A&M has continued to censor comments by PETA’s employees and supporters without regard for the legally binding settlement agreement that it signed just six months ago, and hope that the federal court will make clear to the university once and for all that its censorship cannot stand. 


Most Americans think social media companies are censoring people

Because they are

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and other social media companies are scrambling to take down and fact-check rampant misinformation about topics like Covid-19 and the 2020 election that spread on their platforms.

But complicating these companies’ efforts to moderate content is the fact that a majority of Americans — on both sides of the political aisle — believe that social media companies are censoring political viewpoints, according to a new poll by the Pew Research Center.

About three in four Americans feel it is very likely or somewhat likely that social media sites “intentionally censor political viewpoints that they find objectionable,” according to the survey. It polled around 4,700 Americans across the political spectrum. While people from both parties thought that social media companies were likely censoring content for political reasons, Republicans were much more likely than Democrats — 90 percent of Republicans compared to 59 percent of Democrats — to hold this belief.


Thursday, August 27, 2020

Australia: Cancel culture and push to rename Queensland’s ‘racist’ place names must end now, writes Michael Madigan

Today we in Queensland are pondering the (hopefully faint) possibility that we will have to rename a series of Queensland cities and towns because they are allegedly named after people connected to slavery.

A petition from 400 people lodged with the Queensland Parliament has requested the move start with Russell Island – named for Lord Russell who allegedly voted against slavery abolition

Townsville, Mackay and Gladstone are just some of the places named after figures who supported the blackbirding which often resulted in South Sea Islander forced to work in sugar cane paddocks under appalling conditions for meagre, or sometimes no, wages.

The Palaszczuk Government says it will consider changing names associated with British aristocrats and politicians who were in favour of slavery.

Yet if we start walking down this track we’ll find it has no end, no point of finality.

For, if we were to be logical and consistent, we would have to start by renaming the entire state of Queensland. The “Queen’s Land’’ is quite definitely named after the British Monarch generically even if the name originated in the time of Queen Victoria.

And it was a British Queen (Elizabeth 1) who in 1563 helped kick off the African slave trade when she rented out one of her old man’s (Henry VIII) boats (it was called ironically enough, Jesus of Lubeck) to a group of British businessman who collected African slaves.

So the institution that is the British Monarchy is tainted with slavery and the very name of this state, by association, also carries the stain.

Yet it was also members of the British Monarchy (notably Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, now a title owned by Prince Harry) who joined the abolitionists led by William Wilberforce in the 19th Century to bring an end to slavery.

Places named after slave traders and their supporters:

Townsville - named after Robert Towns - revived blackbirding in Queensland in the late 19th Century

Mackay - named after Captain John Mackay - conducted many blackbirding expeditions through the Pacific and China between 1865 and 1883

Gladstone - named after British prime minister William Gladstone - supported the slave trade

Town of McIlwraith, McIlwraith Range - named after three-time Queensland Premier between 1879 and 1893 - tried to annex New Guinea for Queensland to promote easy flow of slave labour, supported the trade

Federal division of Dickson - Brisbane northside seat named after Sir James Dickson, currently held federal MP Peter Dutton - supported the trade of slaves to Queensland

William Gladstone’s family may have owned slaves, and he may have been an apologist for slaves, but he also attempted to rein in some of the more brutal treatment of the Irish.

Captain John Mackay may have engaged in blackbirding but he also led an expedition up from what is now northern New South Wales to present day Mackay.

That opened up the district to the agriculture which played a major role in developing the economy of present day Queensland.

As for Russell Island, a reader of The Courier-Mail has already penned a letter to the editor saying the allegations of Lord John Russell supporting slavery are simply wrong.

That Lord Russell was apparently not even born when his father Lord Russell made a speech supporting the regulation of the slave trade.

We just can’t go on doing this. We can’t go on posturing as moral arbiters of people who lived in times we can’t possibly understand.

And we can’t go on attacking people connected with slavery when almost every society on planet earth, for thousands of years, thought slavery perfectly acceptable.

Our own behaviour, which we might assume is perfectly acceptable, may be interpreted as utterly reprehensible by generations living a century on from today.

All we can hope is that future generations have the intelligence to understand that human beings are fallible, and the wisdom to know they share in that fallibility.

Brian Courtice is a former federal Labor politician from Bundaberg who knows more about the South Sea Islander blackbirding trade than most people in this state after studying it for decades.

His own property outside Bundaberg hosts the bodies of South Sea Islander who were often buried in the cane fields, where they fell.

Courtice, who has formally asked the British Government for an apology relating to the blackbirding trade which occurred under British rule, says changing a name or tearing down a statue resolves nothing.

“What we need is more statues, more place names,’’ he says.

“We need to own all of our history, not just part of it.’’


NBC Sports REMOVES analyst Mike Milbury for making 'insensitive' joke that NHL players were lucky they had 'no women to disrupt their concentration' in the playing bubble

Just a normal sort of joke you hear among men

NBC Sports have removed National Hockey League analyst Mike Milbury for making an 'insensitive' and 'insulting' comment about women. 

On Thursday, the 68-year-old sparked furor for making the off-color remark during a live broadcast of a game between the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals.

After fellow commentator, Brian Bouche, mentioned the NHL's 'quarantine bubble', Milbury quipped: 'There's not even any woman here to disrupt your concentration'.

The comment caused a storm on Twitter, and Milbury was quickly blasted by the NHL.

In a statement released on Friday, the organization said: 'The National Hockey League condemns the insensitive and insulting comment that Mike Milbury made during last night's broadcast and we have communicated our feelings to NBC.

'The comment did not reflect the NHL's values and commitment to making our game more inclusive and welcoming to all'.

 Milbury apologized for his comments in a statement released through NBC.  'It was not my intention to disrespect anyone. I was trying to be irreverent and took it a step too far. It was a regrettable mistake that I take seriously,' he said.

However, the apology didn't appear to be enough for the broadcaster, who booted the analyst from covering its Friday games.

Many social media users described Milbury's remarks as 'offensive' and 'outdated'.

However, others claimed it was simply a storm in a teacup.


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

BBC 'is considering dropping Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory from Last Night of the Proms in wake of BLM protests'

This is sacrilegious. These songs are immensely enjoyed and are undoubtedly the highlight of the Proms.  But patriotism is "racist" if not "white supremacist" these days of course

British anthems: Rule, Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory could be axed from the BBC Proms amid the Black Lives Matter movement, an insider has claimed.

The broadcaster is considering dropping the patriotic songs from the Last Night concert due to fears of criticism because of their apparent links to colonialism and slavery, the Times reported.

Dalia Stasevska, who is conducting the Last Night on September 12, is said to believe 'a ceremony without an audience is the perfect moment to bring change.'

'Dalia is a big supporter of Black Lives Matter,' a source added.  

Flag-waving crowds will be absent from London's Royal Albert Hall during the 125th annual Last Night of the Proms concert due to the coronavirus outbreak.  

Jan Younghusband, head of BBC music TV commissioning, has confirmed the content of the Last Night concert is still under review.

She said: 'We have a lot of problems about how many instruments we can have. It is hard to know whether it is physically possible to do [Rule Britannia].

Its inclusion in the Last Night was previously criticised by BBC columnist Richard Morrison, who put out a call for Rule, Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory to be scrapped from the concert because they are 'crudely jingoistic'.

Last month, Mr Morrison used his column in the BBC Music Magazine to claim it would be 'insensitive, bordering on incendiary' to chant the 'nationalist' songs this year in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

He took aim at the traditional patriotic pieces, and called for a 'toe-curling embarrassing anachronistic farrago of nationalistic songs' to be replaced  with a 'more reflective' finale which doesn't 'provoke offence or ridicule'  - but stopped short of proferring any suggestions.

BBC Proms director David Pickard said: 'These are challenging times for our nation and the rest of the world, but they show that we need music and the creative industries more than ever.

'This year it is not going to be the Proms as we know them, but the Proms as we need them.


Jokes not allowed

It's a play on the expression "shotgun wedding"

A hunting-themed wedding cake that shows a bride holding a rifle under her arm while dragging her groom's body is being slammed online, as critics call it 'trashy' and 'gross.'

A photo of the custom cake was posted on Reddit's Wedding Shaming forum, with the person who shared it writing: 'Immediately no. Immediately no.' While the design was beautifully executed, many agreed the theme was in poor taste.

'The hunt is over,' reads the sign on the front of the cake, which shows a bride in her wedding gown pulling her camouflage-wearing husband-to-be away with a hunting a rifle tucked under her arm.

The intricate cake by Graceful Cake Creations was decorated to look like a tree stump, with a deer, two large bullets, and fall leaves surrounding the bride and groom.

The backlash was directed at the couple who ordered the cake, with a number of commenters pointing out that the design itself was well-done.

'A trashy idea, but well-executed,' one person wrote. 'Can't say it's a graceful wedding cake though...'

'10/10 Bakers Points for the execution, but 0/10 What the French Fried F**ks for the content,' someone else wrote. 'This could be funny if Cupid had a compound bow and both bride and groom were struck by Arrows of Love or somesuch, but this "bride murders groom" thing is over the top gross.'

'At least the groom isn’t bloody?' another added.


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Australian public servant condemns censorship after blogpost cost him his job

He would have had to sign a confidentiality agreement to get his job so the government has a clear right to enforce that agreement.  But whether what he did does breach the agreement sounds moot.  But in any case there is no "right" to a government job.  And resigning was not forced on him.  So I think he has scant grounds for complaint

When federal public servant Josh Krook sat down to pen a decidedly uncontroversial blogpost on how Covid-19 benefitted big tech, he didn’t imagine it would cost him his job.

In April, Krook published a post on a fledgling blog called the Oxford Political Review, arguing social isolation was good for big tech companies, because it made people increasingly dependent on online platforms for interaction.

Krook also worked as a policy officer with the industry department, working on tech policy.

His post talked only in generalities. It made no reference to any individual company and did not mention, let alone criticise, the Australian government or government policy.

In no way did Krook identify himself as a government employee or policy officer or seek to conflate his writing with his views as a public servant.

Three months after the post, Krook was invited to a meeting with his superior. In the meeting, Krook says he was given a choice: remove the blog post or face termination.

“[My boss] said that the problem was that in talking about the big tech companies, we risked damaging the relationship the government has with the big tech companies and that when we go and do public-private partnerships, they could Google my name, find my article and then refuse to work with us,” Krook told the Guardian.

“I was told that all future writing, all future public writing that I do would have to go through my boss or a senior colleague.

“I was also told that for the first article, it would have been fine to write it, had I been positive about the big tech companies.”

Krook did as he was asked, initially at least. He contacted the editor of the Oxford Political Review and asked that the post be removed.

But the more he reflected, the less he could stomach what he had been asked to do. He decided to quit government and speak out about the censorship, a decision that will almost certainly cruel any future career he has in the public service.

The case reignites the tension between freedom of speech and the public service code of conduct’s requirement that workers be apolitical.

He aired no criticism whatsoever of government or government policy. “I was very careful not to do that … the idea that you shouldn’t be able to criticise other companies, when you work with the government particularly, it doesn’t make sense to me,” he said.

“I don’t think there is a public interest case for that. Basically, I think I can criticise the big tech companies while remaining apolitical.”

Krook says he was also told to amend a second post containing an almost laughably benign reference to the Australian government’s competition with other governments for medical supplies.

He was, at the time, seconded within the industry department to a role in helping the government secure such supplies.

His post’s brief reference to the competition between Australia and other nations for medical supplies could in no way be conceived of as a criticism, but rather a reflection of fact, and a repetition of a statement previously made by the health minister, Greg Hunt, and the former chief medical officer Brendan Murphy.

“I was told that by saying that there’s competition between Australia and other countries, I make the government look chaotic in its response,” he said.

“I didn’t say that, I didn’t say the government was chaotic in its response. But he said that could be implied by what I had written somehow.”

The industry department was approached for comment but says it does not discuss staffing matters.

Krook was on a non-ongoing contract with the department, which was expected to be renewed.

Krook is now jobless at an extremely difficult time, leaving the relative comfort of the public service to enter the job market during an economic crisis.

He remains the law editor of the Oxford Political Review, where he occasionally edits writing, and plans to republish his blog post.

Krook is eyeing a future career in academia, but with that sector facing huge upheaval, his work prospects remain uncertain.

“It’s not the best time to leave a job, it’s not the best time to look for new work,” he said. “But there reaches a certain point where you have to stand by what you believe in, I guess, and in this I just completely disagreed with what they were saying and their decision.”


Full stop (period) is 'intimidating' to young people because they interpret it as sign of anger, linguists say

Good grammar is now under attack.  It had to come

Full stops intimidate young people when used in social media communication as they are interpreted as a sign of anger, according to linguistic experts.

Teenagers and those in their early twenties, classified as Generation Z, have grown up with smartphones which they use to sent short messages without full stops.

And a study from Binghamton University in New York suggested that people who finish messages with full stops are perceived as insincere.

Linguistic experts are now investigating why teens interpret a correctly-punctuated text as a signal of irritation.

Full stops 'intimidate' young people when used in social media communication as they are interpreted as a sign of anger, according to linguistic experts    +3
Full stops 'intimidate' young people when used in social media communication as they are interpreted as a sign of anger, according to linguistic experts

Some have said the full stop is redundant when used in texting because the message is ended just by sending it.

According to The Telegraph, Linguist Dr Lauren Fonteyn of Leiden University in Holland, tweeted: 'If you send a text message without a full stop, it's already obvious that you've concluded the message.

In 2015, a study from Binghamton University in New York suggested that people who finish messages with full stops are perceived as insincere.

The study involved 126 undergraduates and the researchers found that text messages ending in the most final of punctuation marks – eg 'lol.', 'let's go to Nando's.', 'send nudes.' – were perceived as being less sincere.

Unusually, texts ending in an exclamation point – 'lmao!', 'just a cheeky one!', 'what body part even is that? I hope it's your arm!' – are deemed heartfelt or more profound.

The authors concluded that punctuation 'is one cue used by senders, and understood by receivers, to convey pragmatic and social information' such as irritation.


Monday, August 24, 2020

Keir Starmer has committed the twin crimes of writing for the Mail on Sunday and calling for children to be educated

Keir Starmer is the relatively moderate leader of the British Labour party. He has the handicap of being unusually intelligent for a Labour leader

Twitter leftists have gone into meltdown after discovering Keir Starmer had the audacity to write an article for the Mail on Sunday.

Not only did Starmer write in a newspaper popular in Middle England, something that is anathema to Labour’s bourgeois activists. He also dared to state the obvious truth that kids should be back in schools as soon as possible.

Starmer said: ‘I don’t just want all children back at school next month, I expect them back at school. No ifs, no buts.’ Starmer’s call for the education of children was apparently so heinous that #StarmerOut started trending on Twitter.


Roald Dahl’s Matilda mug canceled after Twitter users say it promotes domestic violence

This is an example of what the Bible (Matthew 23:24) calls "straining at a gnat" -- bothering about minute problems

Celebrated British author Roald Dahl’s legacy has indirectly come under attack by Twitter activists who managed to scare a supermarket chain into removing mugs that featured a quote based on a line from his classic children’s book, “Matilda.”

Twitter campaigners who pressured Sainsbury’s into removing the mug with the words, “A brilliant idea hit her” printed on it – argued that it was “actively promoting domestic violence.”

Those offended by the mug and expressing their outrage could be reading too much into the whole thing, as they claim that the quote, and its design, including the use of typeface and capital letters, is dangerously ambiguous.

Other than idiocy, one possible explanation could be the campaigners’ poor grasp of English (“A brilliant idea hit her. She had a brilliant idea,” the head of the Institute for the Study of Civil Society explained in a tweet, urging the retailer not to bow to pressure.) But it could also be that as Twitter has proved time and again to be a very useful tool to those looking to weaponize it for their political and ideological goals – it’s becoming hard for a certain type of activist not to use it that way.

And given the current political and social climate, Sainsbury’s would not take a chance on resisting: it seems that the relentless waves of canceling and deplatforming have driven fear into celebrities and brands in particular. Not only is the supermarket chain removing the mugs, the company also apologized, and announced it was “working with the Roald Dahl team to remove the mug from sale and review the design.”

One of those putting pressure on Sainsbury’s was Dr. Miranda Horvath, who, in addition to demanding the removal of the mugs from the shelves and an apology, also wants “a huge donation” to be made to charities combating violence against women and girls.

The original quote from “Matilda” says, “The germ of a brilliant idea hit her.” At this point, it’s not entirely far-fetched to think that had that been used on the “problematic” mug – Sainsbury’s might have been accused of promoting coronavirus misinformation, in addition to domestic violence.


Sunday, August 23, 2020

Twitter Ignores Its Own 'Civic Integrity Policy'

Yet another case of a social media giant applying a double standard to censorship.

Remember that time Twitter put a “fact-check” warning label on one of President Donald Trump’s tweets warning that expanded, nationwide mail-in voting would increase the risk of voter fraud? To quote the late Chris Farley, “That was awesome” — by which we mean not awesome.

Despite Twitter’s false claim that there is “no evidence” for Trump’s warning, there is plenty of evidence that mail-in voting is the “largest source of potential voter fraud.” That’s not our conclusion; it’s the conclusion of a 2005 report by the bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform, chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker.

Undeterred by the facts, Twitter announced last week that it will expand its crackdown on mail-in voting “misinformation.”

When the shoe is on the other foot, however, and leftists are trafficking in actual crazy conspiracy theories, Twitter whistles and looks the other way.

With users sharing demonstrably false allegations about Trump supposedly preemptively cheating by making changes to the Postal Service, Twitter’s Thought Police have concluded that such tweets do not violate its “civic integrity policy” and no fact-checking is necessary. That same policy was cited by the censors in May for Trump’s tweet and for others it intends to censor.

Is it any wonder why conservatives have this sneaking and unshakeable suspicion that maybe — just maybe — social media giants aren’t exactly playing fair?


Make Goodyear Good Again

Goodyear recently forgot it was a tyre company and decided to enter the exciting new field of leftist virtue signalling. Sadly for them, the move did not pay off:

The Goodyear tyre company in the US was rocked after President Donald Trump called on Americans to boycott the firm after it reportedly banned workers from wearing red Make America Great Again caps.

Shares in Goodyear plunged 6 per cent after Mr Trump tweeted his call for a ban.

Reports in the US said employees were told they could wear Black Lives Matter apparel but not clothing with logos such as MAGA or Blue Lives Matter.

An attempted clarification wasn’t much help: According to CEO Rich Kramer, the slide presented during a diversity training session inside a Kansas Goodyear plant was created by an employee and not approved by Goodyear Corporate.

The slide in question indicated that attire promoting any type of political affiliation, as well as support for law enforcement, was not acceptable in the Goodyear workplaces.

Hmm. That statement is now under review:

Goodyear Tire Chief Executive Rich Kramer said Thursday the company had clarified its policy to make clear employees can wear apparel expressing support for law enforcement after it faced a boycott call from President Trump.

Before it went woke, Goodyear supported US troops:

"The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company will customize its iconic Goodyear Eagle race tires for the seventh consecutive year to support the U.S. Armed Forces"


Friday, August 21, 2020

'We are losing our rights over a virus with a 99% recovery rate': Defiant organiser of hippy drumming event at a Sydney beach vows to keep defying coronavirus restrictions

The organiser of a hippy drumming event has vowed to continue defying COVID-19  restrictions and labelled social distancing measures a 'totalitarian measure'. 

Sydney Drummers founder, Curt Hannagan, organised a gathering that saw 200 people pack onto Mistral Point at Maroubra in the city's east on Sunday.

Mr Hannagan unleashed an explosive social media rant on Tuesday after he was fined $1,000 for breaching coronavirus restrictions.

'We are having our rights and freedoms taken away from us over a virus with a 99 per cent recovery rate,' Mr Hannagan wrote on Facebook.

Mr Hannagan, who also goes by Curt Alchemy, established a GoFundMe page to help pay for the event's fine and purchase new drumming equipment. 

'Over 200 people gathered in Maroubra to collectively share their heart beat and connection to one another in a form of musical celebration for the human race and mother earth,' Mr Hannagan explained.     

He also added a post on the Sydney Drumming page that said the group would 'not submit to the current totalitarian measures here in Australia'.  

'These events are designed to heal ourselves, heal our trauma, and to create harmony within our body, mind and spirit,' Mr Hannagan said.

The drummer asked those who 'stand strong for you rights, for your freedoms' to 'donate any finances... so we can pay the fine and move forward.' He also shared plans to host another gathering and asked 'Who wants another secret location tribe fest in Sydney?'  'We will not submit, we will rise in community spirit,' Mr Hannagan said.

Maroubra residents called police after seeing the drumming party grow and officers arrived at about 6pm.

'Officers spoke with a 33-year-old man who was one of the organisers of the event.

'Police were able to disperse the crowd without incident,' a NSW Police spokeswoman told Daily Mail Australia.

NSW Police said they issued the 33-year-old man with a $1,000 fine on Monday for failing to comply with COVID-19 regulations.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted the event organisers for comment. 

According to New South Wales Health regulations no more than 20 people are allowed to gather outside in a public place.

The state recorded three new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases to 3,770.  

One was a returned traveller in hotel quarantine, one has been linked to the funeral cluster in South Western Sydney and another case remains under investigation.

There were 13,736 tests undertaken in the most recent 24 hour period and 122 people are being treated for coronavirus.


Twitter Kicked Me Off for Saying This But I'm Going to Double Down

"What kind of person sues nuns," I asked in a fervent tone. The answer was Joe Biden.

"I can't stand this creep. Between the sniffing and the suing and deceit - there is nothing worthwhile. He's a completely worthless human being. Trash, decay, scum. He brings with him nothing but sorrow and theft," I ranted on Twitter. I minced no words. This election is not a time for niceties. These socialist sociopaths need to be exposed for what they are, and each of us who has a voice should be using it, loudly, to do so.

Twitter disagreed and decided to suppress my voice. Some leftist with a mute button working for corporate Twitter deemed me in violation of Twitter's "abuse and harassment" policy. Twitter claimed I committed "targeted harassment" by "wishing or hoping someone experiences physical harm." Certainly, Twitter's allegations are entirely inconsistent and completely removed from my words, but I'm not in control of that mute button, and my opinion is inconsequential to Twitter controllers. Twitter demanded I delete the comment and then benched me for seven days after I complied with their demand.

I immediately alerted my Parler followers. "Twitter suspended me for criticizing Biden for suing nuns," I posted.

Conservative heavy-hitters like Jack Posobiec, Michelle Malkin, Dan Backer, and Joel Fischer started alerting Twitter's conservative base that my criticism of Joe Biden's plans to sue nuns resulted in a suspension from the platform. The users weren't shocked. Many chimed in with their own stories of suspension on grounds that were entirely incongruent with their actions. My unsubstantiated suspension wasn't an anomaly; it was the norm.

Later that day, The Babylon Bee was suspended for "spamming," though reinstated a few hours later. Other conservative accounts like mine remained suspended. Twitter engaged in a conservative-cleanup effort these last few days, that is for sure.

So why do we stay on Twitter? The answer is simple: Trump. For as long as Donald Trump continues using Twitter, so will his supporters and the media. If and when Trump decides to shun Twitter and move over to Parler or another substitute, Twitter will fall. Until he makes his move, we're at Twitter's mercy. Twitter remains the judge, the jury, and the executioner.


Thursday, August 20, 2020

Leftist Bullies Cause, Then Celebrate Mike Adams Suicide

The UNCW professor was exhausted by the vile hatred and vengeance of the Left.

Mike S. Adams, professor of sociology and criminology at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, took his own life last week. At UNCW and in public speaking, as well as in columns for Townhall and The Daily Wire, Adams was a stalwart defender of free speech, the Second Amendment, and the sanctity of life, and he stood bravely — often alone in his position in academia — for conservative and Christian values. He was 55.

What makes Adams’s death all the more tragic and, frankly, outrageous is that he spent decades being bullied by hateful leftists at his university and elsewhere, only to be bullied even in death by celebrating leftists.

Adams fought a seven-year legal battle against UNCW to achieve the tenure he was initially denied — tenure that was granted to professors with far less in the way of accomplishment yet denied to Adams because of his political beliefs. Previously an atheist liberal, Adams converted to Christianity and later to conservatism. His friend and attorney David French wrote, “Prior to his religious and political conversion, his student and peer teaching evaluations were remarkably high (teaching evaluations were important for retention and promotion). After his conversion, his student evaluations remained sky-high (routinely among the best in the department), but his peer evaluations plunged.”

Adams frequently used acerbic wit and provocative rhetoric, but neither Adams nor conservatives in general are the aggressors in the culture war. The aggressors are the “social justice” warriors who want to fundamentally transform America.

But like the bullies they are, all leftists can do is scream that people like Adams dare to fight back.

Even after news broke that Adams had committed suicide, the bullies at NBC headlined, “Professor who announced retirement after racist and sexist tweets died by suicide.” NBC’s hack “journalist” David Li offered no evidence for those charges, other than linking to UNCW’s vacuous statement earlier this summer. That statement likewise offered no evidence of the charges, and administrators only grudgingly conceded that Adams was protected by free speech even while declaring they “stand firmly against” him.

Other Leftmedia stories — including one in 2016 by the “LGBT” activist division “NBC OUT” — derided Adams for such things as calling “transgenderism” a mental illness, rejecting same-sex marriage, and calling out a homosexual Muslim student for embracing a religion that demands her own execution.

These are, of course, mainstream conservative opinions, not “racist and sexist” language. But if there’s one thing you don’t do in Marxist-dominated academia, it’s challenge the Rainbow Mafia.

The last straw, however, was the “racist” one. Near the end of May, Adams took on North Carolina Governor Rory Cooper’s pandemic shutdown with his typical edgy humor, tweeting, “This evening I ate pizza and drank beer with six guys at a six seat table top. I almost felt like a free man who was not living in the slave state of North Carolina. Massa Cooper, let my people go!”

This time, he didn’t fight the predictable outrage; he negotiated his exit from UNCW on August 1.

Those of us who dare challenge the Left know how vengeful the radicals can be. As Mark Steyn lamented, “If you’re doing the heavy lifting on an otherwise abandoned front of the culture war, what you mostly hear, as Mike Adams did, is the silent majority’s silence.” Thus, we know that the will to fight can sometimes leave even the toughest and, in Adams’s case, the seemingly happiest warrior. For those of us in our humble shop who corresponded with Mike over the years, we also know that his blood is on the hands of the leftist bullies, including those in the UNCW administration, whose cruel hatred knows no bounds.

Yet they do not have ultimate victory. Finally, Mike, you can rest in peace.


Conservative Students have a big fight

Everywhere, assaults on freedom and free speech are going full blast. Violent True Believers are on the march as others, even if less overtly barbaric, provide cover, an excuse.

For example, the State University of New York at Binghamton has cooperated with left-wing thugs to suppress conservatives.

The mob stole or destroyed posters and the table students were using to promote an appearance by Arthur Laffer, the noted supply-side economist. The same mob also disrupted the lecture itself. A lawsuit brought by the victimized students accuses officials of failing “to take action to defend College Republicans’ constitutional rights” and supporting the “physically abusive actions of the College Progressives.”

Another student under attack is Austin Tong. Recently, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has been going to bat for Tong, a Fordham University student suspended for social media posts.

One is a picture of Tong holding (not pointing) a legally owned rifle, intended to draw attention to the Tiananmen Square massacre. The other shows black police captain David Dorn, who was murdered by looters. Its caption chastises members of the Black Lives Matter movement for apparent indifference to Dorn’s fate.

Before suspending him for “bias” and “threats,” university personnel showed up at Tong’s house to interrogate him about the posts.

Tong is unapologetic, and FIRE says that Fordham has “acted more like the Chinese government than an American university, placing severe sanctions on a student solely because of off-campus political speech.”


Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Kamala Harris’s Former Press Secretary Is the Face of Twitter Censorship

When CNN hired Sarah Isgur, a former Jeff Sessions spokeswoman and now staff writer at The Dispatch, last year to be a political editor at its Washington bureau, left-wing media types put on a full-court press to smear her professionalism. The CNN newsroom — which, last I looked, included former Obama official Jim Sciutto — was reportedly “demoralized” by her very presence.

Conservatives, and it’s probably fair to say that Isgur is a pretty moderate one, aren’t welcome in mainstream journalism. We don’t need to go through all the numbers and polls to stress this point. Journalists have long jumped back and forth between Democratic Party politics and media gigs. The job is the same. The venue is different.

I bring this up because, as my former colleague Sean Davis points out, Nick Pacilio, Kamala Harris’s former press secretary, is now in charge of deciding/announcing what the president of the United States can and can’t say on Twitter to his 85 million followers. Twitter has already removed debatable contentions by the president — or, contentions no more misleading than any number of Joe Biden allegations. The point of removing tweets, I assume, has more to do with being able to call  Trump a liar than worrying about his spreading misleading information.

But the optics are remarkably terrible for Twitter. It’s almost certainly true that whoever holds the job of senior communication manager at the social-media giant will be ideologically progressive like the company’s CEO. But could you imagine what the nightly reaction on CNN and MSNBC would be if Mike Pence’s former spokesperson was seen censoring Joe Biden’s tweets during a presidential election? I have no doubt Democrats would be calling for congressional hearings.


CENSORSHIP: Viral Shadowgate Documentary Deleted by Facebook and YouTube After Film Maker’s Arrest

The Shadowgate documentary, which went viral after one of its producers was arrested on Friday, has now been removed by both YouTube and Facebook.

Journalist Millie Weaver was charged with alleged “robbery, tampering with evidence, obstruction justice, and domestic violence” after police officers apparently from a local SWAT team showed up at her Ohio home Friday morning and took her to the Portage County Jail in Ravenna.

The Portage County Sheriff’s Office later confirmed that there was a “secret indictment” against Weaver but refused to give further details.

A woman claiming to be Weaver’s mother later commented that there had been a family dispute over a $50 cellphone on April 25, but that she had almost immediately dropped all charges against Weaver and expressed shock that her daughter had been arrested.

The arrest occurred on the eve of Weaver releasing Shadowgate, a documentary that purports to expose the “operational role the shadow government played behind the scenes carrying out the coup against President Trump.”

After the documentary received millions of views following its upload to Facebook and YouTube, both websites censored the film, with YouTube claiming the movie violated its rules against “hate speech.”

Weaver is expected to appear in front of a “tentative bond meeting” later today.

There is also a live protest against her arrest taking place in Ohio right now.


Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Watch Out for the New Censors

Until the Trump era, there was a pretty broad consensus in America around free speech. If you didn’t like something someone said, you could debate them and prove their point was not worthy. The solution to bad arguments was to use our free speech rights to win an argument.

The notion of censoring political debate does not have deep roots in our system. The Trump era changed all that. The left views President Donald Trump as an existential threat. Quaint notions such as free speech are no longer in vogue when compared to the broader moral calling to drive him from office.

Running a news company in this environment is, to say the least, challenging. The newest challenge we are facing at my company, The Daily Caller, is an attack on our fact-check site,

The Daily Caller has millions of readers, many of whom do not trust the traditional corporate media. Supplying these readers with reliable, accurate information to counter some of the bogus information on the web is a service we were excited to perform. Our goal on fact checks was simple: Tell the truth, no matter where it leads.

This means calling out politicians or other influencers when they get things wrong. We knew going in that addressing these misstatements with a fair, thorough, and nonpartisan approach was key to our success. It’s the only way we can develop a trusted relationship with our readers.

And that trusted relationship, the faith people have in your desire and ability to call it straight, is the only real asset of any news organization.

To do our job well, we committed to:

No. 1: Transparency in our fact checks so readers could see as much of the information we rely on as possible.

No. 2: A strong corrections policy so we can correct mistakes when we make them.

No. 3: Obtaining a commitment of fairness from each author, including an agreement to refrain from partisan political activity.

No. 4: Posting our methodology with details on our selection, writing, and research process.

With all this in place, we applied and were accepted to the International Fact-Checking Network operated by the Poynter Institute, the world’s leading organization for ethics in journalism.

Upon launching Check Your Fact, I fully expected to engage in debates about our work. Interestingly, though, our work has been nearly free of controversy. Nobody wants to debate us about our fact checks. That’s probably because they are consistently fair, thorough, and completely nonpartisan.

Instead, we have seen something much more insidious. Many on the political left are outraged by our mere existence, and they are trying to shut us down.

Their newest attack is that The Daily Caller can’t do fact checks because it has “taken tens of thousands of dollars to help Republican campaigns raise money.” As the site’s publisher, this came as a shock to me. We have never taken a single contribution from the Republican Party.

Then I realized they were talking about the advertising we sell. Almost every news company sells advertising. And, especially during election years, almost all news companies sell advertising to political candidates and committees.

It’s important to be very transparent when you do sell political advertising, so the ads we have been attacked for running all say “a message from our sponsor” right at the top.

When was the last time near any election that you watched a local or national news program and didn’t see a political ad? By the logic of the attacks against us, mindlessly parroted by numerous left-wing commentators, any news company that takes a political ad—meaning virtually every news company—is somehow disqualified.

This is, of course, preposterous. Running properly labeled political advertising has been a staple of the news business for decades.

So, why the controversy?

First, the Trump campaign is one of the advertisers in question. To many on the hard left, running ads for that campaign is akin to working with the devil. They want us to tip the scales and refuse to take ads from the Trump campaign.

There are two candidates for president. We are happy to run ads for either one; we have offered to do so for each and think it’s eminently reasonable for each to do so, considering our audience is politically engaged and covers a broad cross section of political America, from liberals to conservatives.

Ironically, if we refused to sell ads to one side, we would be tipping the scales in a partisan direction.

The second goal of the critics is to silence us altogether. To many on the left, the fact that The Daily Caller is running fact checks is just offensive. We have no right, in their minds.

In reality, if this group would bother to read the content they hope to censor, they should be celebrating our Check Your Fact operation and thanking us for the work we are doing.

Our site is popular with conservatives and Trump voters. Yet we regularly publish fact checks that point out misstatements by the president, correct some of the crazier right-wing disinformation on the web, and defend Democrats from unfair attacks.

With the trust our readers place in us, we are the perfect outlet to correct some of this information that conservatives otherwise may rely upon. In a rational world, this would be celebrated. In the real world, the partisans on the left who are coming after us have never even read our work.

They just want to censor us based on their preconceived notions. It’s not going to work.


Newsweek Caves to the Rage Mob After Publishing an OpEd About Harris

Newsweek decided to publish an opinion piece by Dr. John Eastman, a law professor at Chapman University and a Senior Fellow at the Claremont Institution. In his OpEd, Eastman makes the argument that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is ineligible to be vice president because she's not a "natural born citizen."

"Her father was (and is) a Jamaican national, her mother was from India, and neither was a naturalized U.S. citizen at the time of Harris' birth in 1964. That, according to these commentators, makes her not a 'natural born citizen'—and therefore ineligible for the office of the president and, hence, ineligible for the office of the vice president," Eastman wrote.

Of course, the cancel culture mob went after Newsweek editors, claiming that this was pushing the "birther" movement. Editors responded by defending Eastman's piece, saying it had nothing to do with the birther movement:

"Some of our readers have reacted strongly to the op-ed we published by Dr. John Eastman, assuming it to be an attempt to ignite a racist conspiracy theory around Kamala Harris' candidacy. Dr. Eastman was focusing on a long-standing, somewhat arcane legal debate about the precise meaning of the phrase "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" in the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment. His essay has no connection whatsoever to so-called "birther-ism," the racist 2008 conspiracy theory aimed at delegitimizing then-candidate Barack Obama by claiming, baselessly, that he was born not in Hawaii but in Kenya. We share our readers' revulsion at those vile lies:

The 14th Amendment is one of the most-studied areas of constitutional law, and questions were raised by the Constitution's Article II, Section 1 "natural born Citizen" requirement for presidential eligibility about both John McCain and Ted Cruz, at the time of their respective runs. The meaning of "natural born Citizen," and the relation of that Article II textual requirement to the 14th Amendment's Citizenship Clause, are issues of legal interpretation about which scholars and commentators can, and will, robustly disagree.

Debating the meaning of these constitutional provisions and, in the particular case of Dr. Eastman's piece, the meaning of the 14th Amendment's phrase "subject to the jurisdiction thereof," is not an attempt to deny facts or to make false claims. No one is questioning Harris' place of birth or the legitimacy of an obviously valid birth certificate.

After President Trump referenced the OpEd in his press conference on Friday, politicos took to Twitter to slam the so-called "birth strategy.

Newsweek ended up issuing an editor's note at the top of Eastman's OpEd, saying the piece was never meant "to spark or to take part in the racist lie of Birtherism."

It's ridiculous that Newsweek had to issue any kind of editor's note at all. Why can't we discuss the merits of someone's eligibility for office without it automatically being considered racist or xenophobic? Eastman laid out the scholarly debate surrounding the 14th Amendment. He brought up questions about Harris' eligibility for the office. The same questions have come up when John McCain and Ted Cruz both ran for president.

We need to get back to having intellectually honest conversations surrounding the Constitution. Not every question is risen with malice. For some people, like law professors and scholarly experts, are focused on the Constitutional aspect of things.


Monday, August 17, 2020

A defeat for the cancel culture

Trader Joe's pushes back against a gratuitous accusation of racism.

by Jeff Jacoby

IN THE ethnic food aisles at Trader Joe's last week, the cancel culture hit a speed bump.

The popular grocery chain, famous for its organic, gourmet, and imported foods, came in for some unwelcome notice recently when the New York Times, CNN, and other news outlets called attention to a petition condemning Trader Joe's for its "racist branding and packaging." The petition, launched on by a California high school student, declared that the company "perpetuates harmful stereotypes" by labeling some of its international foods with international names, such as Trader José's for its Mexican beer, Trader Jacques' for its ham-and-cheese croissants, Arabian Joe's for its Middle Eastern flatbread, and Trader Ming's for its Kung Pao chicken. The use of these familiar ethnic names amounts to racism, scolded 17-year-old Briones Bedell, "because they exoticize other cultures."

In reality, they do just the opposite: They familiarize other cultures. They present international foods as accessible and appealing. Far from portraying foreign peoples and their foods as weirdly exotic, the lighthearted branding helps make them as welcome and appetizing as traditional "American" foods. Trader Joe's ethnic packaging exemplifies the melting pot at its most engaging, lowering the barriers between consumers of different backgrounds and encouraging Americans to explore the variety and joys of other cuisines.

On social media, where Bedell tried to promote her petition (she tweeted that Trader Joe's "romanticizes imperialism, fetishizes native cultures, and casually misappropriates"), the reaction was overwhelmingly negative. The gusher of media attention she attracted didn't translate into many signatures — fewer than 6,000 as of Tuesday. And a counter-petition — "¡Salvemos a Trader José! / Let's save Trader José" — was started by another Californian, Mexican-American writer Carlos Allende.

The company's initial response to reports of the petition was to surrender without a protest. A spokesman said Trader Joe's was "in the process of updating older labels." It allowed as how its ethnic brand names may have had the "opposite effect" from the lighthearted inclusiveness they were designed to convey.

Then something splendid happened: Trader Joe's got an earful from its customers — and reversed course.

"We want to be clear: we disagree that any of these labels are racist," the company announced on its website. "We do not make decisions based on petitions." Trader Joe's shoppers, it turned out, liked the playful "Trader José" and "Arabian Joe" names, and were unwilling to see them gratuitously smeared as racist or rushed down the memory hole because of one teenager's complaint.

"Recently we have heard from many customers reaffirming that these name variations are largely viewed in exactly the way they were intended­—as an attempt to have fun with our product marketing," Trader Joe's noted. "Those products that resonate with our customers and sell well will remain on our shelves."

The cancel culture has been on a roll, toppling brand names and logos (to say nothing of statues and people) on the grounds of racial or social unacceptability. Some of the vanished trademarks, like the Aunt Jemima "mammy" emblem and the name of the Washington Redskins, were plainly overdue for retirement. But other names and products — like the Dixie Chicks, "Paw Patrol," and even the Coco Pops cereal emblem — have been assailed for no good reason at all.

"Trader Jose's" and other ethnic branding at Trader Joe's exemplifies the melting pot at its most engaging, encouraging Americans to explore the variety and joys of other cuisines.

These name-and-shame campaigns haven't encountered much corporate resistance lately. Businesses focused on their bottom lines may figure it's best to minimize any controversy and move on as quickly as possible. But there are dangers in letting groundswells of outrage proceed unimpeded, or in going along with the pretense that a random online petition is a legitimate news story because a reporter decides to play it up.

It is probably too much to hope that the unsuccessful assault on "Trader José's" and "Trader Ming's" represents some kind of turning point. There will be further examples of "woke" intolerance, and more efforts to denounce bigotry where none exists. All the same, Trader Joe's and its customers have provided a welcome reminder that the cancel crowd can be resisted, and common sense can prevail in the face of ludicrous demands. Here's hoping that the power of that good example resonates widely, and that unwarranted charges of racism stop getting attention they don't deserve.


N-word row ripping the BBC apart: Bitter battle rages between the old guard and the new 19 days after it was uttered

They are two men called David – but the contrast between them could hardly be more stark.

A BBC ‘lifer’ of more than 30 years, David Jordan is the Corporation’s chief trouble-shooter tasked with upholding its editorial standards and investigating when Auntie gets it wrong.

Meanwhile, Jamaican-born David Whitely – better known as Sideman – is the razor-sharp comedian and presenter who landed a BBC radio show on the back of his huge popularity as a social media ‘influencer’.

Their two very different worlds collided last week when Mr Whitely resigned from BBC 1Xtra in protest at the decision by Mr Jordan’s department to defend the use, in full, of the N-word in a news report.

As the BBC desperately struggles to woo a younger, more ethnically diverse audience, the episode has shone a light on a cultural and generational clash at the heart of the Corporation.

Insiders say Mr Jordan – who is paid £177,000 a year – is attempting to protect the independence of reporters and editors by not bowing to noisy campaign groups and Britain’s mounting ‘cancel culture’.

Others argue that the Corporation’s mainly white, middle-age managers remain impervious to change and are undermining their £100 million drive to produce ‘diverse and inclusive content’.

Last Sunday, BBC director-general Tony Hall overruled Mr Jordan and apologised for the use of the racist slur.

His intervention is understood to have been prompted by fears of further resignations by black and ethnic minority presenters. However, it has failed to end the row.

This weekend, a group of 100 black professional women said that Lord Hall’s apology – which came 12 days after the word was first broadcast – was ‘not enough’ and called for a 24-hour boycott of the BBC, starting at 9am on Wednesday.

Members of the InfluencHers campaign are also calling for the dismissal of Mr Jordan and the BBC’s director of news, Fran Unsworth, who is paid £340,000 a year. ‘The BBC’s gratuitous use of the N-word could constitute a race-hate crime,’ the group said.

BBC sources say that the Corporation remains gripped by confusion over whether or not there is now a blanket ban on the full use of the N-word.

Lord Hall accepted its use in a report about an attack on an NHS worker caused ‘distress’ and admitted the BBC ‘should have taken a different approach’.

Yet this newspaper has found eight examples of the word being used in full across five articles on the BBC News website. One, posted in 2016 about a BBC2 series called Black Is The New Black, used the word four times in just three paragraphs.

Another, posted in 2014 about a councillor using a racial slur live on BBC radio, contained the full N-word in its opening paragraph.

The latest controversy erupted after BBC social affairs correspondent Fiona Lamdin used the full N-word when reporting on a suspected race-hate attack against a musician known as K-Dogg.

The 21-year-old was left with a broken leg, nose and cheekbone after being hit by a car as he walked home from his job at Southmead Hospital in Bristol on July 22.

In her report – broadcast on local news programme BBC Points West on July 28 before being repeated on the BBC News Channel the next morning – Ms Lamdin said: ‘As the men ran away they hurled racial abuse, calling him a n*****.’

The BBC was soon under fire from viewers and the report was pulled.


Sunday, August 16, 2020

Australia: Queensland government backflips on plans to gag journalists reporting on corruption allegations against candidates in upcoming election

The Queensland government has backflipped on plans to prevent the publication of corruption allegations against candidates ahead of elections following a furious public backlash.

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath introduced the amendments to parliament on Thursday, citing a report tabled by the Crime and Corruption Commission early in July.

Under the proposed changes, complaints about electoral candidates to the CCC would be kept under wraps until investigations became official, or three months had lapsed since the watchdog had been notified.

Breaching the law could land a person in jail for up to six months, or face thousands of dollars in fines.

The changes would have also allowed a candidate or the watchdog to seek an injunction to prevent further publication of allegations during the lead-up to elections.

However, in a brief statement on Friday the Queensland government dropped the proposal, citing time constraints.

'Given the limited time for the parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee to consider the law changes the CCC seeks... the bill introduced yesterday in state parliament is withdrawn,' Ms D'Ath said.

The backflip comes after criticism from unions and the Liberal National opposition, who accused the government of trying to silence whistleblowers before the October state election.


Uber and Lyft Say They Will Likely Suspend Service in California Because of Suffocating Labor Order

Global rideshare giant Uber has said they will most likely have to suspend their service throughout California now that the state has ordered them to hire all of their drivers, rather than allow them to drive as independent contractors.

The order comes after the state has been engulfed in controversy following the enactment of Assembly Bill 5 in January, legislation that completely upended employment laws in California. The bill totally redefined the parameters of independent contract work, which specifically skewered the gig economy and freelance work.

Under AB5, gig workers such as rideshare drivers, delivery drivers, and other on-demand service workers for an industry that has surged in the past few years, contract work is limited severely. The law requires that the company hires the workers rather than allow them to work their own hours at their own pace, a restriction that completely undermines the business model for the gig economy.

Democratic lawmakers helmed by California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez introduced the bill to ostensibly help workers in the state receive state-mandated employer benefits that they would be eligible for if they were forced onto the staff.

In practice, however, AB5 has cost thousands of Californians work as freelancers and gig workers are no longer legally allowed to earn money unless they are a normal member of staff. Freelance writers, for example, must be taken on as full-time staff if they produce more than 35 pieces of writing per publication per year. In the digital age, that threshold has been crippling for writers who have depended on being able to contribute to multiple outlets simultaneously.

Both Presumed Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden and his VP pick Sen. Kamala Harris fully support AB5, despite the fact that even far-left Californians have spoken out against its stranglehold on earning potential in the state.

They also support the PRO Act, a federal measure that would apply the same job-killing laws to the entire nation. The Democratic-led House of Representatives passed the measure earlier this year. It is not expected to come up for a vote in the Republican-held Senate, but will likely resurface in another form should Democrats gain more control in Congress after November. 

The business model for Uber works for riders because of the low overhead made possible by the independent contracting relationship with the drivers. The corporation works for drivers who often contract with multiple companies and get to pick their own hours. As full-time employees of just one company with mandatory set schedules and costly benefits, the ride rates would be exorbitant and the employment freedom for the drivers would evaporate.

The fate of rideshare driving and business in the state has been held up in litigation for months as Uber, Lyft, and Postmates have taken California to court over the devastating impact of AB5 on their business. Now, out of options, Uber has said they will probably not be able to continue service in the nation's most populous state.

A San Francisco court ordered this week that Uber and Lyft would not be exempt from the restrictions of AB5 and would be required to classify their drivers as employees, not independent contractors, an order they had resisted until now.

A ballot measure for Californians in November, Proposition 22, would exempt app-based on-demand ride and delivery services from the draconian demands of AB5. That measure was largely funded by the companies to the tune of $30 million.

Lyft President John Zimmer encouraged voters to take the matter seriously when they head to the polls this fall.

"If our efforts here are not successful it would force us to suspend operations in California," Zimmer said. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi echoed Zimmer's sentiment.

"If the court doesn’t reconsider, then in California, it’s hard to believe we’ll be able to switch our model to full-time employment quickly," Khosrowshahi told MSNBC. Both companies intend to appeal the court ruling, which has given them 10 days to do so. Should they fail, Uber and Lyft both stated they will be required to suspend service pending the results of the election and success of Prop. 22.


Poland and the tyranny of human-rights law

Ignore the outrage – Poland has good reasons to leave the Istanbul Convention on Violence against Women.

Poland, the bad boy of Europe, recently got another big black mark. The trouble this time had to do with an institution you might be forgiven for not having heard of, the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention on Violence against Women. Under pressure, Poland ratified this convention in 2015. Now, however, following Andrzej Duda’s election victory a few weeks ago – with Duda having run on an unashamedly traditionalist and Catholic ticket – Poland has announced that it intends to give the required six months’ notice to pull out of it.

The outrage has been predictable. Women in Poland have been demonstrating clad in Handmaid’s Tale costumes. The Council of Europe and a number of MEPs have slated the decision as ‘alarming’ and ‘disgraceful’. Guy Verhofstadt, not to be outdone, has called the affair ‘scandalous’. He went on to tell us, didactically as ever, that ‘violence is not a traditional value. The EU and all of its members signed because Europe stands for human rights, equality and decency.’

This whole debacle is worth a closer look. One reason is that it is both novel and very significant for the future of Europe.The other is that Poland is right.

To see why, you have to look carefully at the convention text. True, its headline purpose is to require that any state party to it outlaw violence against women (including such matters as forced abortion and FGM), prosecute it effectively and provide remedies for the victims of it. But this hardly necessitates a treaty at all. All European states already do this anyway, Poland included. Whatever the Euro-establishment might try to insinuate, no one is looking to turn Poland into some kind of male supremacist, wife-beating theocratic dystopia.

What is making the Poles unhappy (and ought to give pause to any liberal administration) is the small print elsewhere in the convention. Take Article 12, for instance. Since 2015, this has required the Polish state to:

‘Take the necessary measures to promote changes in the social and cultural patterns of behaviour of women and men with a view to eradicating prejudices, customs, traditions and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority of women or on stereotyped roles for women and men.’

Read that carefully again. What it amounts to is a demand for the state suppression of wrongthink: an insistence that whatever the electorate might think, the state must take administrative measures to eradicate its existing customs, traditions and practices in so far as they do not conform to an official left-liberal ideology.

And there is more. By Article 14, the Polish government stands committed to major intervention in education and the media. So at all levels from kindergarten to university, it must impose, whatever parents might want, ‘teaching material on issues such as equality between women and men, non-stereotyped gender roles, mutual respect, non-violent conflict resolution in interpersonal relationships [and] gender-based violence against women’. Nor does such compulsory ideological direction end with education: all these matters must also be promoted by the government in, among other places, the media. It is deliciously ironic that the same Euro-elite that increasingly castigates Poland for its restricted press freedom also demands that the country continue to be signed up to a treaty that not only allows but requires intervention in the media.

But by all accounts, the final straw was the Istanbul line on gender. The treaty requires far more than teaching children that gender roles are bad. More importantly, Article 3 states baldly, without room for argument, that gender means ‘the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for women and men’. In other words, whatever opinions Poles might have on the gender debate, their government is committed in international law to dictating to them what the correct line is to take.

In view of all this, it is not all that surprising that Poland has made up its mind that it has had enough and wishes to cut and run. Whatever you may think of the values contained in this authoritarian instrument, surely the decision to adopt them must rest with the people of Poland, whose will must prevail over that of a cadre of international quangocrats who are largely insulated from public opinion.

But these developments in Poland may also have a bigger destabilising potential. Disquiet over the Istanbul convention are more widespread than might appear. Turkey, for example, is also mulling withdrawal for much the same reasons as Poland, and the Polish move must strengthen the hand of those promoting a Turkish exit.

Since the convention was signed in Istanbul and Turkey was an early ratifier (in 2012), the political fallout from such an event would be big. There could also be effects closer to home. The UK government is under severe pressure to ratify (indeed, an act of parliament quietly slipped through in 2017 requires annual reports on progress towards ratification). But those behind the pressure may well find their job a good deal harder once it becomes public knowledge that there is so much to dislike about the treaty they are pushing.

More generally, Poland’s announcement also threatens a major upset to the comfortable liberal balance in Europe on the subject of human rights. The Istanbul Convention, which looks like motherhood-and-apple-pie on the surface but underneath is actually rather sinister, is in no way unique. On the contrary: it is part of a suite of fairly similar agreements which have been ratified by all, or virtually all, European countries.

Similar in conception are the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC); the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR). Each of these also contains prescriptive clauses on matters of social policy which could well impinge on democratic decision-making (think corporal punishment against children, which the UNCRC might be read as banning, or the rewriting of school textbooks, which on one reading the CEDAW actually demands).

So far there has been an unspoken assumption that human-rights treaties of this type operate on a ratchet principle: countries can be heavily leant on to ratify convention after convention, and once they have ratified, it is not the done thing ever to withdraw, even if a treaty technically allows it. But Poland has now dared to do the unthinkable, and as Turkey shows, where it has gone others may well follow.

There is also one other thing to put in the balance. As far as European countries are concerned, the apex of the entire human-rights consensus is formed by the European Convention on Human Rights itself. But this, too, has serious shortcomings which people are increasingly willing to publicise. And this too, it is all too easy to forget, has a provision for withdrawal (all a country has to do is give six months’ notice). No wonder, perhaps, that the international liberal human-rights establishment is suddenly beginning to look uncomfortably over its shoulder, in case the whole edifice it has painstakingly built up since 1950 starts to come crashing down about its ears.


Why Blockading Would Have Been Better than Bombing Japan

On the 75th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bombs—“Little Boy” and “Fat Man”—on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, a debate still rages about whether the United States should have used the weapons. That’s because the 129,000 to 226,000 dead were overwhelmingly civilians.

International law clearly denotes the disproportionate killing of civilians as a war crime. Yet, the winners of war write history, so American school history books usually either blandly report the bombings or put them in the broader context of battling the evil Japanese Empire, along with its Nazi German and Italian fascist allies, in the most gargantuan clash of good and evil in human history—the great World War II.

And while it is true that by their aggression and their own war crimes, the Japanese, Germans, and Italians killed millions more noncombatants than the United States and its Western allies, some troubling questions linger about the allied use of the intentional bombing of cities. From even a morally superior position in a democracy on the winning side, we can (and should) critique our own government’s actions without being attacked as “unpatriotic.”

After all, defending debate and dissent in a free society, against the forces of genuine evil, is what we were fighting for in this war. And we should have had higher standards than those evil enemies, right?

Although the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were historically significant because they ushered in the nuclear age, which eventually brought forth the much more powerful thermonuclear H-bombs and a balance of nuclear terror, these first atomic weapons made the targeting of enemy cities more efficient. Instead of incinerating civilians with bombing runs of hundreds of planes—as was done in the firebombing of Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo, and other Axis cities—the same mass destruction could be had with only two aircraft, one each over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In both Germany and Japan, such mass killing of civilians were done in 1945 as both enemies were on their last legs. War crimes are more often committed when combatants are exhausted and frustrated with the length or intensity of a conflict or the tenacity of enemy resistance.

In the Pacific theater of World War II, the Japanese resistance was fierce, the dropping of the atomic bombs was justified on the basis that an invasion of Japan’s home islands would have cost an estimated one million allied casualties.

When I was in junior high school in the early 1970s, I came home from school and told my father we had debated whether the bombs should have been dropped. He quickly confounded me with the argument that I might not have been in the world if the bombs hadn’t been dropped, because he was slated to be part of the U.S. forces that would have invaded Japan if the Japanese hadn’t surrendered.

As I grew older, I realized that there were several problems with this argument. First, did the atomic bombings of August 6 and 9 in 1945 trigger the Japanese surrender on August 15? Some analysts believe that the triggering event was actually the Soviet Union’s entrance into the war on August 9. Second, although Japanese resistance had been fierce, were the huge casualty estimates for an invasion plausible? In fact, the estimates were extremely soft. More troubling was the willingness to kill civilians to reduce combatant casualties based on those hazy estimates.

Third, the allies at the Potsdam Conference on July 26th, before the bombs were dropped, demanded “unconditional surrender” from Japan or that nation would face “prompt and utter destruction.” To Japan, this meant giving up their sacred emperor, which they would not do; they ignored the ultimatum. In most wars, a settlement with conditions are negotiated between the winners and losers. Unconditional surrender usually makes the enemy–fearing subjugation and humiliation–fight harder. In this case, the United States did not make unconditional surrender stick, because the Japanese eventually got to keep their emperor, even after the atomic bombings. Finally, and most important, dropping the A-bombs were not the only alternative to an all-out invasion of Japan.

Japan is an island, and by August 1945, the U.S. Navy had overwhelmingly crushed its Japanese counterpart. The U.S. Navy could have imposed a tight blockade around Japan’s home islands, allowed a minimum of food, medicine, etc. in for humanitarian purposes, and simply waited for Japan to capitulate. This option would have saved hundreds of thousands of civilian lives and allowed the United States to have avoided stooping to the low regard for civilian life that its enemies exhibited on so many occasions.

However, a naval blockade of Japan would not have fulfilled perhaps the real purpose of the atomic bombs: demonstrating the power of the new weapon to a then ally and likely future enemy—the Soviet Union. President Harry Truman delayed testing of the atomic bomb until the Potsdam Conference with Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, and comments were made at the conference that Truman wore the bomb ostentatiously on his hip to intimidate Stalin. However, it was morally questionable to drop powerful bombs on Japanese civilians, killing hundreds of thousands, merely to impress a possible future enemy with U.S. technology and power.

Ironically, Stalin already knew the power of the bomb because his spies had thoroughly penetrated the Manhattan Project. In short, a slightly porous U.S. naval blockade of Japan would have been far superior to the atomic mass killing of civilians, which has remained a stain on the otherwise defensible allied defeat of the Axis powers; the only use of atomic weapons heretofore in history is still used in propaganda by U.S. nuclear adversaries and wannabes, such as China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and Iran.


National Democrats Endorsed Congressional Candidate Who Referred to Women as 'Breeders'

A most unpleasant person

A Democratic congressional candidate in a nationally-watched race is facing scrutiny for a host of now-deleted blog posts in which he voiced creepy sexual fantasies about children and degrading comments toward women. A current state legislator in Michigan, Jon Hoadley earned the Democratic party’s nomination in Michigan’s 6th congressional district, and will take on GOP Rep. Fred Upton in November.

Hoadley’s now-deleted blog, “Rambling Politics,” featured posts where he bragged about “learning about crystal meth,” described various sexual partners as “victims,” and made reference to four-year-old children wearing thongs. Hoadley, an openly-gay man, went on to deem women as “breeders,” referring to reproductive ability.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) threw their support behind Hoadley leading up to the primary election. A handful of other national Democrats also endorsed Hoadley’s bid, including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Gary Peters (D-MI), and Reps. Pramila Jayapa (D-WA) and Haley Stevens (D-MI).

Since the deleted blog posts surfaced, national Democrats including the DCCC have yet to comment on Hoadley’s gross behavior. In a statement to New York Post, Hoadley’s campaign likened the posts to “bad college poetry.” Hoadley’s primary opponent did not offer her endorsement after he clinched the nomination, citing his misogyny, use of meth and sexual exploitation of children.

If Hoadley was a Republican seeking a seat in Congress, the GOP would be rightfully forced to denounce this creepy behavior.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Friday, August 14, 2020

Kamala Harris’ Deep History Of Letting Facebook Off The Hook

Vice president candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has gone easy on Facebook and tech giants for years, and in her 2020 presidential bid she was rewarded with many maxed-out contributions from Silicon Valley executives.

Senator Kamala Harris was heralded as a possible president from the day she arrived in Washington. The pundits and consultants of the Democratic establishment loved her youth, clear intelligence, and charisma. She was a prosecutor, and she wanted you to know it.

HuffPost’s Zach Carter revealed on Friday that Harris had a close relationship with Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Cheryl Sandberg as California attorney general. Harris participated in the marketing campaign for Sandberg’s paen to capitalistic feminism Lean In, even though at the time Harris was California’s law enforcement official most principally responsible for overseeing Facebook.

When Harris cracked down on revenge porn—an extremely admirable signature issue—she focused her legal cases on publishers of this painful material, but never the platforms without which it cannot spread. This meant that Facebook and other big platforms never faced consequences, or even any incentives to take the issue seriously. When the platforms’ role became simply too clear to ignore any longer, according to Carter, Harris held one meeting with company representatives at her office, then appeared next to Sandberg at a Facebook-sponsored lecture six days later.


13 August, 2020

Australia: Public mural sparks Shire censorship debate

It would certainly make me ill if I had to walk past it every day

It is the public mural that has divided opinion in Sydney's Sutherland Shire provoking two petitions, a social media debate and even a critique from the local mayor.

Critics have launched a campaign to remove the large mural, which is painted on a wall outside a retail shop in Miranda, claiming it is inappropriate and offensive. But the owner of the building says the mural was commissioned to prevent just that kind of content, and had succeeded in deterring graffiti and vandalism.

Painted outside Ferrari Formalwear, on the corner of an intersection near Miranda train station and Westfield shopping centre, the mural depicts three figures in different poses, including one smoking and another holding a glass.

Shire resident Yvette Graf has been campaigning to have the artwork removed for almost a year. Her cause gained renewed traction at the end of July when another resident posted a photo of the mural to the Sutherland Shire Council's Facebook page and started an online petition, which in turn sparked debate and a counter-petition.

Ms Graf said the mural was inappropriate because it normalised drunkenness and promoted "degrading imagery of women".

"My gut instinct is it's not respectful to stereotype women with dog collars. The three women have either bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils, indicating they've been drinking or taking drugs. We don't need that as role-models for our children," Ms Graf said. "I'd like to see an image celebrating the Dharawal people - something that makes you inspired and makes you feel good."

By Tuesday afternoon, the petition to remove the mural had 452 signatures and the counter-petition in support of it had 585 signatures. The original Facebook post attracted nearly 500 comments.

The counter-petition claims the artwork adds "both culture and flavour to our streets" and should be protected to ensure "freedom of expression and or free speech".

Sutherland Shire Council mayor Carmelo Pesce said he understood both supporters and detractors of the mural.

"It's probably not the best piece of art you could put up, but people interpret art differently," Cr Pesce said. "I've had a couple of the older councillors think it promotes abuse. I don't see that. I interpret three women who have gone out and had a big night."

Cr Pesce said he wished the building owner had consulted the community before commissioning the mural but council was ultimately powerless to censor artwork on private property.

"If that art there was in Newtown would we be having this discussion? Look at the demographics of who's complaining. The youth aren't really complaining," Cr Pesce said.

The building owner, who also asked to remain anonymous due to the heated nature of the debate, said the mural was a "special commission" that had succeeded in deterring graffiti.