Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Must not say a divisive issue is divisive

With a strong Left/Right split on the issue, how can it not be divisive?

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says the success of the Voice to Parliament referendum will depend on millions of conversations across the country.

Channel 9 has become the latest broadcaster to come under fire for its reporting on the Voice to Parliament, after the referendum was labelled “divisive” in a news bulletin.

Australians supporting the Voice have taken to social media to call out the “despicable” act that involved Sydney newsreader Amber Sherlock reading out the phrase “the divisive Voice to Parliament” at the start of an intro to the next story.

The incident occurred on Monday evening and was used to highlight Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s visit to Adelaide “for a special keynote speech”, the annual Lowitja O’Donoghue Orations.

In the speech, Mr Albanese addressed his support for the Voice and called on Australians to “do one better”, while dismissing claims it would divide the nation.

Sherlock later crossed to reporter Mike Lorigan to highlight Mr Albanese’s success at the talk, but pro-Voice supporters were upset with the use of the word “divisive”.

“So Channel 9 are now officially referring to The Voice as ‘the divisive Voice to Parliament’ in their news reports? Just disgraceful,” one Yes supporter tweeted.

They later added they heard the word “by chance” and initially believed they had misheard the comment.

“When I replayed, I couldn’t believe (Sherlock) said that,” they said. “It is kind of frightening.”

Another supporter labelled the wording as “despicable” and “outrageous”, stating she felt “quite shaken”.




Tuesday, May 30, 2023

When Government Censors Religious Views, It Violates First Amendment

The government shouldn’t prevent Americans from expressing their religious beliefs. But that’s exactly what the state of Washington is trying to do.

Brian Tingley is a licensed marriage and family counselor. For the past 20 years, Tingley’s deeply held religious beliefs have been the source of the guidance he offers his clients, who come to him voluntarily.

Many come seeking Tingley’s advice because his religious beliefs are consistent with their own, and they seek help to align their lifestyle with biblical teachings.

Washington state, however, wants to intervene in these private conversations and rewrite Tingley’s beliefs by telling him what he can and cannot say. State legislators passed a law that restricts counselors from helping people who are wrestling with gender dysphoria.

The state’s counseling censorship law prohibits counselors from engaging in conversations that might encourage a “change in an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Under the guise of regulating professional conduct, this state law threatens to silence speech based solely on the government’s disagreement with a viewpoint.

The law does so despite a recent holding by the Supreme Court, in NIFLA v. Becerra, that the government may not choose the protection that speech receives under the First Amendment. In that case, the high court struck down a California law forcing pregnancy resource centers to promote abortion because the law unduly burdened protected speech.

Instead of complying with the Supreme Court’s decision in NIFLA, Washington state is attempting to circumvent it by using a new guise and reclassifying therapists’ speech as “conduct,” so that it can be regulated out of existence. In doing so, the state is banning an activity that consists of nothing more than conversation.

Laws such as this that recast speech as conduct are especially concerning at a time when states are weaponizing laws against disfavored parties. That’s what organizations such as Heartbeat International are facing, and why First Liberty Institute submitted a friend of the court brief on behalf of Heartbeat in Tingley’s case at the Supreme Court.

Heartbeat is a Christian organization with a mission to support the pro-life cause through a network of affiliated pregnancy centers. Despite the important work that Heartbeat’s centers do to help women facing unplanned pregnancies, its life-affirming health care facilities recently have become frequent targets of violence from extremist groups such as Jane’s Revenge and overzealous politicians who wish to drive Heartbeat out of business with regulations that suppress free speech.

For example, attorneys general for New York and Massachusetts issued consumer alerts last year targeting pregnancy centers, calling them “fake clinics” and accusing them of employing “deceptive tactics.”

In addition, several state legislatures are threatening pregnancy centers with sanctions by reclassifying their religious speech as “deceptive practices.”

But the Supreme Court repeatedly has told government officials that the First Amendment absolutely prohibits government from regulating speech just because it disapproves of the speaker’s message. In fact, the Constitution finds such viewpoint discrimination so egregious that the Supreme Court says it is automatically unconstitutional, no matter the purposes a regulation may serve.

When the government tells a counselor or religious entity what can’t be said, based on nothing more than ideological disagreement, it has crossed the line and engaged in unlawful weaponization of government against ideological foes.

The Supreme Court should intervene in this case and reaffirm that Americans of all viewpoints have a right to express themselves without fear of government reprisal.




Monday, May 29, 2023

Joe Biden's new woke madness as top watchdog bans gendered language: Diversity management officer blacklists terms such as 'man-made' and 'police man' in new inclusivity push

The Biden administration has been accused of peddling 'woke madness' after a top U.S. government watchdog banned the use of gendered language in the workplace.

Leaked internal memos obtained by show the Government Accountability Office forbids employees from using male and female terms.

The agency, whose role is to scrutinize administration spending, issued the bizarre diktat in October 2022 at the behest of its so-called 'chief diversity management officer.'

The 'style guide' demands an end to 'non-inclusive terminology' and said the GAO's 3,100-strong army of bureaucrats should avoid 'wording that diminishes anyone's dignity.'

The four-page rant, which was posted on the GAO intranet, bans staff from using words such as 'man-made' or 'manpower' in official communications.




Sunday, May 28, 2023

Australian judge apologises after claiming that colleagues are appointed regardless of merit

Too much truth

A federal and family court justice who planned to deliver a speech at an international conference claiming that progressive governments appointed diverse judges regardless of merit has been forced to apologise to his colleagues and told he can no longer attend the conference.

The speech by Justice Joshua Wilson had been uploaded on the court’s website before Justice William Alstergren, the chief justice of the family court and chief judge of the federal circuit court, was alerted to its contents and ordered that it be removed this week.

The speech was dated 17 April, and Wilson planned to deliver it in September at the International Association of Judges annual general meeting in Taiwan.

“Is it correct to say that the brightest and the best are appointed to judicial office, independent of political persuasion? The answer is in the negative in the case of the overwhelming majority of appointments,” Wilson, a division one judge, wrote in the speech.

“It sometimes occurs that a government appoints a person to judicial office who is aligned with the opposite party’s politics. That is a rarity.

“Occasionally, an attorney-general appoints a person as a judge who is wholly apolitical. Again, that is a rarity. Appointment to judicial office is a political activity.”

Wilson went on to say that appointments to state and territory courts were highly political, and that “progressive governments are more likely to appoint to benches based on gender and ethnic diversity, irrespective of merit or expertise”.

Alstergren said in a statement to the Guardian that he was alerted to the paper, which had been uploaded without his knowledge or permission, by a number of judges.

He said Wilson had been planning to attend the conference as a member of the association, not as a representative of the court.

He said that as soon as he was alerted to the paper it was immediately taken down from the website, and that a statement was made to all judges indicating that it did not reflect the views of the courts and that protocols were in place to make sure this could not happen again.

“Further, Justice Wilson will not be providing a paper at this conference nor will he be attending, and I have taken steps to ensure there is no further publication of the paper’s content,” Alstergren said.

“The judge has apologised to the judges of both courts for the comments.


Thursday, May 25, 2023

Why free speech and offensive expressions are too important to be left to legislation

Dachau concentration camp was established just outside the city of Munich in March 1933, less than two months after Adolf Hitler became German chancellor.

It has been preserved, along with some of the other later camps, as a reminder of the regime that ruled Germany from 1933 until 1945. Its location rebuts any suggestion that the German people were somehow unaware of their government’s policies over this period. In the early 1970s I visited Dachau with a small group of recent graduates from the University of Melbourne on a camping tour of Europe.

We didn’t spend much time in those days reflecting on history but our normally boisterous behaviour was replaced by complete silence as we walked past the barracks where the prisoners had been housed and contemplated what had happened to most of them. I have sometimes thought of that visit whenever there have been calls in recent months for legislation to prohibit the Nazi salute, particularly after it was used by some of the participants in a demonstration in Melbourne.

The salute was not in fact confined to Hitler’s administration but a similar version was used, for example, by the regimes of Francisco Franco in Spain and Benito Mussolini in Italy after they took power in the years before World War II.

Any public imitations of the Hitler period are, however, especially offensive to Jewish members of society in any country because of their enormous losses at the hands of the Germans.

It is not an especially popular position to raise questions about this kind of banning legislation but the problem about freedom of speech is, if it is accepted as an important value, it does not allow for picking and choosing between different kinds of speech, even those that may be offensive to almost all members of the community.

None of this is to say that incitements to violence against individuals or groups in the community should not be unlawful – and they have always been a crime under the common law. In addition, there are statutory provisions, for example, under the NSW Crimes Act, where it is an offence for a person by a public act to intentionally or recklessly to threaten or incite violence towards another person or group of persons on the ground of race, religious belief, sexual orientation or gender identity.

But it is the expression of utterly offensive views that provides the real test for a belief in freedom of speech. As American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes said in a judgment of the US Supreme Court in 1919: “All life is an experiment … while that experiment is part of our system I think we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe.”

It is not as if the handful of persons in Australia who seem to have some affection for this period of German history are taken seriously by the general community. No regime in modern history is more discredited, and anyone displaying Nazi salutes or symbols would rightly be considered an embarrassment to himself or herself by almost every member of Australian society. This kind of legislation also raises the question of how offensive a symbol has to be before its display should be prohibited by law. What about the hammer and sickle – the flag of the Soviet Union – a regime under which millions were killed or sent to gulags? Or what about the Confederate flag, the banner of the old south, in a war fought to preserve the institution of slavery? Should the music identified with these regimes, such as The Internationale and Dixie, be banned as well?

There have also been calls for those calling themselves Nazis to be declared by legislation as members of a terrorist organisation.

There is, of course, a large volume of legislation at both the federal and the state level in Australia on the subject of terrorism, but this is designed to deal with individuals or organisations who are dedicated to acts of carefully planned violence, often on a large scale that might result in the deaths of hundreds of individuals through bombs placed at public events or the sabotage of airline flights.

It is hardly suitable to apply to political agitators, however offensive and misguided. Dachau and its like should never be forgotten, but freedom of speech is an important legacy of Western civilisation and worth preserving, no matter how unworthy some of those who make use of it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

NY university fires 2 employees over pronouns in email signatures

Two staffers at a private Christian university in upstate New York were fired for using their pronouns in their work email, according to a report.

Houghton University administrators asked residential hall directors Raegan Zelaya, 27, and Shua Wilmot, 29, to remove “she/her” and “he/him” from their school-associated email accounts, The New York Times reported.

Zelaya and Wilmot were relieved of their duties “effective immediately” after refusing to do so.

Zelaya shared a letter from the university dated April 19 explaining she was “in violation of institutional policy.”

She was barred from having an on-campus presence, where she was only allowed to leave her apartment to either get her mail or get her meals from the university’s dining hall.

Zelaya and Wilmot said they included their pronouns due to their first names being gender-neutral and, in the past, have been misgendered in corresponding emails.

“I have been mistaken for a woman over email,” Wilmot said in the video. “When someone misgenders me, it sometimes makes them uncomfortable so let me avoid that professionally by putting my pronouns in my signature so you know that you’re writing to a man.”

“Reagan is also a dual-gender name,” Zelaya added. “I know many men and women who have the name Raegan. From a practicality point is helpful to say what my pronouns are. It’s a pretty standard industry practice.”

Zelaya’s letter of termination also cited she was relieved for “defamatory statements” made in the university student newspaper when she was asked for feedback on the administration’s closure of the Mosaic Multicultural Center — an on-campus diversity space.

“I responded with my opinion, thoughts, and prospectives,” she said in a Youtube video. “I didn’t think I was saying anything that I hadn’t already communicated with my superiors,” revealing she had meetings with high-ranking administrators at the university about her views on inclusiveness on campus

Zelaya believes she was fired because of how she upholds her Christian values but alleges the school is also motivated to appeal to more conservative political beliefs.

“We live in a very divided world right now where everything is this or that, right or left, conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat,” Zelaya told the outlet. “As Christians, I think we’ve gotten so caught up in these ideas of, ‘This is what I should be advocating for or upset about,’ that we forget to actually care for people.”

In a statement, a Houghton spokesperson said the university “has never terminated an employment relationship based solely on the use of pronouns in staff email signatures,” relaying that the school has “required” employees to remove “extraneous” information from email signatures — including Scripture quotes, the outlet reported.

Houghton University is affiliated with Wesleyan Church.

University President Wayne Lewis Jr. responded to the letter signed by the alumni over the administration’s decision to fire Zelaya and Wilmot, the closure of the diversity center, and the affiliation with Wesleyan Church, saying the school “unapologetically privileges an orthodox Christian worldview, rooted in the Wesleyan theological tradition.”

Lewis Jr also noted that university staff was required to reaffirm their “understanding of and agreement to these commitments” at the start of each school year.

He cited the closure of the Mosaic Multicultural Center was due to “its current form and function no longer achieving the university’s aims.”

In the fallout of the terminations, more than 600 alumni from the small Christian university have signed a petition supporting the pair and disagreement with the university’s decision to close the diversity center.

“I think it boils down to: They want to be trans-exclusive and they want to communicate that to potential students and the parents of potential students,” Wilmot told the outlet.




Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Shocking moment woke NYC college professor hurls foul-mouthed abuse at students over pro-life stand and accuses them of 'triggering' others, before angrily DESTROYING their display

A professor at a New York City art college has drawn the ire of social media after a video showed her hurling obscenities at pro life students over a display at their school that she eventually destroyed.

Shellyne Rodriguez, 46, is an adjunct professor at the School of Visual Arts and Hunter College in the Big Apple.

She's also an artist and activist who claims her work 'utilizes text, drawing, painting, collage and sculpture to depict spaces and subjects engaged in strategies of survival against erasure and subjugation,' according to her bio.

A video posted by a pro-life group from early in May shows her stopping at what claimed to be an educational pro life display at Hunter College in the City University of New York, which is taxpayer funded. A spokesperson for the school has said an investigation is underway.

'You're not educating s***,' Rodriguez said to one of the students. 'This is f***ing propaganda. What are you going to do, like, anti-trans next? This is bulls***. This is violent. You're triggering my students.'




Monday, May 22, 2023

Tom Cotton: Strip colleges of cash when they deny free speech

Colleges and universities that violate students’ free speech rights could be stripped of federal cash under legislation being proposed by Sen. Tom Cotton.

Cotton (R-Ark.) told The Post that his Campus Free Speech Restoration Act would bolster free expression in American higher education.

“Colleges and universities ought to be centers of free thought and spirited debate — places where young Americans are exposed to all sides of an issue and sometimes hear things that they disagree with or maybe even makes them uncomfortable,” the senator told The Post.

Cotton said the time has come to reaffirm the importance of open dialogue as campuses across the country are shaken by free-expression controversies — from the University of South Carolina refusing to recognize a free speech student group to Stanford Law School students shouting down US Circuit Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan in March.

“If you’ve gone to law school and you can’t tolerate hearing the other side of an argument and you can’t meet it with counterarguments but rather meet it with shouts and heckling, then you’ve probably gone into the wrong line of work,” the senator said of the Stanford debacle.

Cotton says Stanford students shouting down Kyle Duncan in March was an especially low moment for campus free speech.
The legislation imposes different standards on private and public universities, since public universities are beholden to the First Amendment while private institutions are not.

It requires public universities to have policies consistent with the First Amendment and threatens to withhold federal funds if a school’s policies run afoul of free speech.

The law would also ban public colleges and universities from establishing so-called “free speech zones,” which are small areas of campus designated for free expression.

Cotton said free speech shouldn’t be quarantined into specific zones on campus. “The free speech zones on campus are usually relegated to the waste management treatment center in some corner of the campus where there’s never any foot traffic,” the senator joked.

And students at private schools would gain protections, too.

Cotton’s proposal would require private schools to clearly disclose their campus speech policies both to students and the Department of Education as a condition for receiving federal funding.

It would also affirm that schools have a “contractual obligation” to their students to live up to their stated policies.

If they break their promises, students would have a course of legal action in court.




Sunday, May 21, 2023

The State Department has added pronouns to employees’ email address lines, The Daily Signal has learned

One signature viewed by The Daily Signal inaccurately identified a man with “She/Her/Hers” pronouns. It is unclear exactly when or why the policy was enacted.

Associated Press reporter Matt Lee flagged the occurrence during a Thursday briefing with deputy State Department spokesman Vedant Patel, pressing Patel as to why pronouns had been added to the “from” field of State Department employee emails.

“Have you gotten any emails from any of your colleagues before you came out here… since about noon or so?” Lee asked Patel, to which Patel responded, “What’s your question? My email? I’m not going to pull up my email from the podium.”

“You don’t have to show it to me, I want to know if you noticed anything different in the ‘from’ line, where it gives the sender,” Lee responded.

When Patel said he was not aware of anything different, Lee told him: “Within the last hour and a half… the State Department’s internal email system—and I tested this, so I know that it’s true—has added pronouns to people’s—not their signature—but to where it says from. Why?”

“This is not something that anybody has a choice about,” he added, “and so I’m wondering why and who made this decision.”

“I’d like to know why this would not be an optional thing,” the Associated Press reporter continued, before pointing out that many of the pronouns are inaccurate. “The problem is that a lot of them or at least some of them so far, as I’ve been able to tell, are wrong. They’re giving the wrong pronouns. So men are being identified as women and women as men.”

“This has nothing to do with whatever transgender or anything like that,” he added, “but It’s ridiculous.”




Thursday, May 18, 2023

Oxford student group steps up plans to stop talk by gender-critical feminist Kathleen Stock - defying warnings by top dons

Oxford students yesterday stepped up their campaign to stop a talk by a visiting professor – despite being warned by 44 of the university’s dons that they are threatening free speech.

Hundreds of trans activists will protest against a debate at the Oxford Union featuring feminist professor of philosophy Kathleen Stock.

Claiming she is ‘transphobic and trans-exclusionary’ for opposing gender self-identification and saying biological sex is real, the Oxford University LGBTQ+ Society is arranging a day of talks and a protest march when Professor Stock visits on May 30.

The student group warned its members of ‘heated interactions’ during the day and told them to prepare facing a ‘transphobic counter protest’.

The society initiated the row by calling for the Oxford Union – the famous debating society that has been the breeding ground for countless British politicians – to rescind its invitation to Professor Stock.

Since then the university’s Student Union has barred the Oxford Union from having a recruiting stall at future freshers’ fairs – a decision criticised yesterday in a letter signed by 44 Oxford academics.

Condemning the replacement of ‘reasoned argument’ with ‘coercion and threats’, they said ‘universities must remain places where contentious views can be openly discussed’.

Amiad Haran Diman, president of the university’s LGBTQ+ Society, told Radio 4’s World At One: ‘The youngest cohorts at uni are increasingly not cisgender and are super accepting.

'The Oxford Union is a private members’ club and it has no duty to platform these views when Kathleen Stock is not an expert on gender identity.

‘I don’t think that it’s fair to debate the existence of trans people. And I don’t think it’s fair to debate basic human rights.’

The 44 Oxford dons include evolutionary biologist Professor Richard Dawkins and theologian Professor Nigel Biggar and their letter is one of the most significant interventions by academics in recent free speech controversies.

They condemned the Student Union’s decision to sever ties with the Oxford Union, and said they were united in their belief that ‘universities exist, among other things, to promote free inquiry and the disinterested pursuit of the truth by means of reasoned argument’.




Wednesday, May 17, 2023

We’ve Been Blacklisted, Again

It's no surprise to Townhall readers or conservatives generally that Big Tech and the U.S. federal government have partnered in recent years to influence elections, censor inconvenient news outlets that destroy their narratives and forcefully punish political opponents.

The problem is it keeps happening.

Just this week, Townhall published a column warning about the dangers of President Joe Biden's open border policies and their implications on national security. It was written by retired Navy Captain Hung Cao, who came to America as a refugee from Vietnam as a child.

"Virtue-signaling leftists will say that we are a country of immigrants and we should have open borders. As a refugee and an immigrant, I share the same hope of freedom and liberty as every person who aspires to come here. My family came here with nothing, and this country gave us everything," Cao wrote. "As Americans, we have an obligation to protect our fellow citizens and ensure the safety of those who want to come here legally. But, at this time, our border is in complete chaos and the Biden administration has no plan to fix the problem caused by their reckless policies."

When the op-ed was posted on Facebook by Cao, it was flagged as "hate speech" and eliminated from circulation on the platform.

"No one else can see your post. We have these standards because we want everyone to feel safe, respected and welcome. If your content goes against our Community Standards again, your account may be restricted or disabled," Facebook said when the op-ed was shared by Cao.

This censorship came shortly after Townhall found out it was put on yet another list. This time, to starve the site of advertising revenue.

"Newly leaked data to me from a whistleblower in the ad industry sheds light on how Group M, a major media investment group, blacklisted conservative media outlets and labeled them as 'disinformation' or 'hate speech' before the 2020 presidential election," the Washington Examiner's Gabe Kaminsky found. "Group M's billings surpassed $50 billion in 2019, and its agencies are major players in ad space."

In February, Kaminsky also exposed the State Department worked with foreign entities to censor Townhall articles by burying them at the bottom of search engines and in social media algorithms, as well as starving them of ad revenue.

"The Department of State has funded a deep-pocketed "disinformation" tracking group that is secretly blacklisting and trying to defund conservative media, likely costing the news organizations vital advertising dollars," Kaminsky reported. "The Global Disinformation Index, a British organization with two affiliated U.S. nonprofit groups, is feeding blacklists to ad companies with the intent of defunding and shutting down websites peddling alleged 'disinformation.' This same 'disinformation" group has received $330,000 from two State Department-backed entities linked to the highest levels of government, raising concerns from First Amendment lawyers and members of Congress."

The blacklisting will never stop, just like the left's crusade against free speech and alternative media. These are more examples of why it is crucial for Townhall to be independent of Big Tech and its reach. We do this through our subscription program and with the support of our VIP members. Without it, we can't pursue the stories that need the most attention or expose the full truth that runs contrary to media or government narratives. While the censorship efforts continue, we are more resolved than ever to keep working.




Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Are School Libraries Banning Thousands of Books? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Trust the Left’s Narrative

“What we’re seeing here is a resurgence of widespread censorship in America,” Nadine Farid Johnson recently told The Wall Street Journal. Johnson is the Washington director of PEN America and co-author of its report claiming to identify 2,532 books banned in public schools during the 2021-2022 school year.

PEN America advocates on behalf of poets, essayists, and novelists, and it shows: Its report is almost as fictional as the work of the writers it represents.

It is simply false that 2,532 books were removed from schools during the 2021-2022 school year. We know this is false because we examined online card catalogues and found that 74% of the books PEN America identified as banned from school libraries are actually listed as available in the catalogues of those school districts. In many cases we could see that copies of those books are currently checked out and in use by students.

Among the books that PEN America alleges were banned are classic works, such as “Anne Frank’s Diary,” “Brave New World,” “Lord of the Flies,” “Of Mice and Men,” “The Color Purple,” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.” In every school district in which PEN America alleges those books were banned, we found copies listed as available in the online card catalogue.

For example, PEN America claims that “To Kill a Mockingbird” was “Banned in Libraries and Classrooms” in the Edmond public school district in Oklahoma. Edmond’s card catalogue indicates that the library has 10 copies of the book, two of which were checked out at the time we looked.

PEN America suggests that racism is a major factor driving censorship. The organization reports that “659 banned book titles (40 percent) contain protagonists or prominent secondary characters of color” and “338 banned book titles (21 percent) directly address issues of race and racism.”

The book “The Hate U Give,” which was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and primarily features black characters, is listed as one of the most frequently banned books, reportedly removed from more than a dozen public school libraries during 2021-2022.

But when we examine the online card catalogues in those school districts, we find copies of “The Hate U Give” available in every one of them.

For example, PEN America says that “The Hate U Give” was banned in Goddard Public Schools in Kansas, yet that district’s card catalogue lists nine copies of the book; three were checked out at the time we examined it. Similarly, the book was supposedly banned from the Indian River School District in Florida, but the card catalogue in that district shows 20 copies available, with several checked out.

We were unable to find 26% of the books that PEN America claimed were banned in school district card catalogues, but that doesn’t necessarily mean those books were banned. Given how sloppy and error-prone the PEN America report is, it’s unclear whether the books we were unable to find in school district card catalogues had ever been listed and then removed.




Monday, May 15, 2023

UK: Now calling criminals 'convicts' is offensive: Prison service tells warders to drop the phrase 'ex-con' and instead call them 'persons with lived experience'

Prison officers have been ordered to stop calling criminals 'convicts' on the grounds it is 'offensive'.

Civil servants at the Prison Service headquarters have also instructed warders to drop the phrase 'ex-con' for former prisoners - and refer to them as 'persons with lived experience' or 'prison leavers'.

The edict has left staff shaking their heads – at a time when jails are suffering from record overcrowding and their colleagues are leaving in droves.

A Prison Service spokesman said it was part of a 'clampdown' on 'inappropriate deviations' from its guidelines.

The national chairman of the Prison Officers' Association (POA) trade union was instructed to drop use of the words in an official letter from the Ministry of Justice agency.

Mark Fairhurst told the Mail: 'I received a letter saying some people found the word 'convict' offensive and that we should not use that term.

'The letter from the employee relations department of HM Prison and Probation Service said the terms 'prisoner' and 'offender' should be used instead.

'But there is nothing offensive about that language when you are describing someone who has been convicted and incarcerated.'

He added: 'When I talk to prisoners they call themselves 'cons'. So what's the problem?'

Another prisons source said: 'This is real nanny state stuff. Yet again, do-gooding civil servants are spending their working hours trying to manipulate the English language to fit their personal world view, rather than concentrating on things that really matter.

'While they are sending out diktats about 'persons with lived experience', the jails are full to bursting, prison officers are leaving in droves and crime is at a record high.'

Tory MP Craig Mackinlay described the Prison Service's latest intervention as 'nonsense'.

'However you refer to them – convicts, offenders or prisoners – these are people who find themselves in prison for serious offences against their victims and the community at large,' he said.

'I frankly don't care what you call them because they're all the same. They have not earned the right for new, woke nomenclature to describe their status.'

He added: 'This new agenda that has taken hold right across government departments has to stop. It is not respected by the public. It's just pure nonsense.'

Last year, the Prison Service published guidance on how inmates should be described.

It was issued after the then Justice Secretary, Sir Robert Buckland, expressed his frustration at the Prison Service referring to inmates as 'residents'.

The guidance adopted 'prisoners' or 'offenders' and said terms such as 'residents' and 'service users' should not be used.

A source close to Sir Robert said at the time: 'This isn't the first time we've found this kind of drivel circulating around civil servants at the department.




Sunday, May 14, 2023

Anderson Cooper: CNN Viewers ‘Have Every Right to Never Watch This Network Again’

Must not hear other points of view!

CNN host Anderson Cooper criticized his own network during a Thursday night CNN segment in which he criticized his company’s decision to host a town hall event with former President Donald Trump.

“It was certainly disturbing to hear that audience—young and old, our fellow citizens, people who love their kids and go to church—laugh and applaud his lies and his continued defamation of” E. Jean Carroll, Cooper said in what appeared to be critical comments of the audience.

Trump was found guilty of battery against Carroll earlier this week in a Manhattan case that the former president said was a witch hunt. Trump also said he doesn’t know Carroll, whom he suggested had mental issues, and had no contact with her.

Cooper continued to criticize the town hall’s New Hampshire audience: “The audience that upset you? That’s a sampling of about half the country. They are your family members, your neighbors and they are voting, and many said they’re voting for him.”

The longtime CNN host, however, said that because there are so many Trump supporters, they cannot be ignored by the mainstream. “That man you were so upset to hear from last night, he may be president of the United States in less than two years. It can happen again, it is happening again. He hasn’t changed and he is running hard,” Cooper said.




Thursday, May 11, 2023

Opposition demands PNG foreign minister be sacked over 'primitive animals' comments while defending daughter

The main problem here is that Mr Tkatchenko is white (Ukrainian) while those he criticized are black

Calls for Papua New Guinea's foreign minister to be sacked — and even have his citizenship stripped — over "racist" and "derogatory" comments are intensifying ahead of US President Joe Biden's historic visit to the country.

In an interview with the ABC on Wednesday, Justin Tkatchenko called people criticising his daughter, over a TikTok video she posted, "primitive animals" and "useless individuals".

The video, made during a PNG taxpayer-funded trip to the coronation of King Charles III, was tagged #aussiesinengland and flaunted cocktails and lavish meals at first class airport lounges.

It triggered widespread anger in PNG where almost 40 per cent of people live below the basic needs poverty line, according to the World Bank.

"[My daughter is] absolutely traumatised by these primitive animals. And I call them primitive animals because they are," Mr Tkatchenko said in the interview.

He said his daughter was selected to attend the coronation in the place of his wife, who couldn't make the event.

PNG opposition leader Joseph Lelang said Mr Tkatchenko's response to the criticism was insulting to Papua New Guineans.

"It is racist … it is a very derogatory remark," Mr Lelang said.

"I joined the chorus of Papua New Guineans to call for the prime minister to sack Justin Tkatchenko and have him referred to the Ombudsman Commission for misconduct in office."




Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Cambridge don ready to lead war on woke as PM's first free speech tsar

Rishi Sunak has chosen a Cambridge professor as the UK’s first free speech tsar to crack down on cancel culture at universities, the Telegraph understands.

Arif Ahmed, a philosophy professor who has given free speech lessons to Cambridge students, will be confirmed as the selected candidate this weekend, according to a government source.

The new champion will have the power to investigate universities and student unions in England and Wales that wrongly restrict debate. The director will also advise the sector regulator on imposing fines for free speech breaches.

Prof Ahmed has repeatedly warned that free speech is under threat and has also been involved in multiple rows on the topic at Cambridge University.

In December 2020, dons forced a vote on a new policy that would require them to “respect” other viewpoints. Prof Ahmed’s amendment, which replaced the word “respect” with “tolerate”, was voted through in what the rebels described as “a landslide”.

Last year, he was rebuked by his college’s master for inviting the writer and gender-critical feminist Helen Joyce to speak to students about cancel culture. Prof Ahmed described the intervention as “predictably chilling”, and said he had to smuggle students into the talk because they were scared that their peers would see them attending.




Tuesday, May 09, 2023

Attacks on free speech in Scotland

Scotland is renowned as a seat of the Enlightenment and the Protestant Reformation — two seismic historical events that laid the groundwork for modern, liberal democracies and demonstrated the value of individual liberties including freedom of speech and free conscience. You probably wouldn’t guess this considering the illiberal goings-on in our nation’s capital of late.

Last month, we endured the embarrassing spectacle of Edinburgh University — one of the oldest and most prestigious educational institutions in Western Europe — cancelling the screening of a feminist film critiquing gender ideology. It’s the second time a screening of Adult Human Female has been halted at the university after angry protesting by flag-waving “progressives”.

The film’s detractors allege that it is “hateful” and “transphobic”. There’s nothing in it that would support such allegations. I’d suggest the real problem for opponents — and the source of their anger — is that the film is truthful. It utters an unforgivable heresy against gender dogma. Namely, that women are, in fact, adult human females and it is important to take account of this in law and policy. Given scientific consensus and public opinion supports material realities about womanhood, gender ideologues seek to force compliance with their views by browbeating, silencing and maligning critics. They cannot defend their ideas in the free air of debate, persuading others to their point of view by reasoned argument, so they try to shut up opponents instead.

The second illiberal event we’ve witnessed is the no-platforming of Joanna Cherry MP, an outspoken “gender critical” feminist, by the Edinburgh comedy club The Stand. Cherry was due to take part in an In conversation with event at the venue during the Fringe. Staff who don’t like her views objected and the event was cancelled by club bosses.

In rather the same vein as the women behind Adult Human Female, Cherry has been bullied out of a platform to discuss her ideas by individuals who lack the maturity to deal with hearing things they don’t like. She has a good case for discrimination on the grounds of philosophical belief, which she may yet choose to pursue. If she does, she’ll likely win.

I find the events surrounding Adult Human Female and Cherry troubling, but the former is particularly egregious. As Cherry has pointed out, she has the means to defend herself in court and a significant public profile to air her views. Others in Scotland depend on public institutions like universities offering a space for the free exchange of ideas.

Universities should be a space for free inquiry and robust debate. Yet, they are failing the public. “No-platforming” is a growing phenomenon. Academics are punished for ascribing to views outwith the parameters of political correctness. Students are barred from expressing their closely held beliefs. All of this is antithetical to the core purpose of higher education: education.




Monday, May 08, 2023

Silenced women in Spain

Tennis: A storm has erupted at the Madrid Open after all four players competing in the women’s doubles final were barred from speaking in the aftermath of the match on Monday morning (AEST).

After days of controversy surrounding the tournament, trophies were handed out to the winning pairing of Victoria Azarenka and Beatriz Haddad-Maia as well as the runners up Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula, however no speeches were made as is customary.

Sunday, May 07, 2023

Australian public broadcaster edits out references to weight in Bluey episode

The makers behind the hit ABC Australian children’s series Bluey have succumbed to pressure and heavily edited an episode that ­focused on weight after it was criticised for sending damaging messages to children about their bodies.

Nearly three weeks after the episode first aired, the public broadcaster issued a statement on Friday, saying the content had been “been republished by the ABC following a decision by the makers of the program”.

Online outrage erupted after the episode, titled Exercise, showed husband and wife Bandit and Chilli using bathroom scales to weigh themselves and being disappointed when their weight was revealed.

After seeing the number pop up on the scales, Bandit groaned: “Aw man.” Bandit then goes on to grab fat around his stomach and Bluey asks: “Why don’t you just do some exercise?”

Bandit replies, “Same old reason Bluey, you kids and work.”

He says he can’t do it because he would be late for work and his boss wouldn’t be happy. Chilli then jumps on the scales, a number pops up and she sighs: “Ah man.”

Among those to call out the outrage over the episode included Nine Network’s Today Show co-host Karl Stefanovic who said at the time: “I think this is fantastic, it’s a bit of Australiana and it plays out in households across Australia.

All these influencers are coming out going, ‘Bluey’s fat-shaming and it’s disgusting’. Give it a rest. It’s actually a really good message.”

However after widespread criticism about the episode, the ABC said the newly edited version would now allow families to hold discussions about issues including weight in an appropriate way.

The new six-minute version of the Exercise episode has removed the scales references altogether and focuses on ways to stay fit, including rolling out a fitness mat and doing push-ups and star jumps.




Friday, May 05, 2023

Staff of major Australian insurer are encouraged to address colleagues as “folks”

Suncorp staff have been encouraged to address colleagues as “folks” and “team” instead of “guys” and to add pronouns to their email and social media as part of compulsory gender diversity training.

The training, which includes an assessment component requiring an 80 per cent pass mark, also instructs staff to stop saying things like “you’re acting like a girl” or “that’s so gay,” and that gender identity is not about “physical markers but rather how we feel on the inside.”

The training, which was due to be completed this week by Suncorp’s 13,000 staff, has received a mixed reaction in the Brisbane-based financial giant with some concerned about the cost of the training as well the general condascending tone in the course material.

“The vibe at Suncorp is that they are annoyed that the underlying assumption is that they need the training,” says someone with knowledge of the situation.

“It implies they’re all a bunch of bigots in the first place. Which they ain’t.”

The insider said the “woke agenda” was being pushed because of concerns industry funds would vote against companies not considered to be pushing reform agendas in areas like gender diversity.

Suncorp Group spokesman said the “once off short training module was developed internally by our employees, for our employees, and aims to provide practical information so we can better support all our customers and workforce.”

“The overwhelming majority of our employees have already completed this course and we have received very positive feedback,” the spokesman said.

The training comes as Suncorp, headed by chief executive Steve Johnston, also introduced “gender affirmation leave” which grants workers going through gender transition six weeks of paid leave and up to 12 months unpaid leave.

The training includes an instruction to staff not to assume anyone’s gender and that instead of Mr or Miss the salutation Mx could be used as a “non-binary option.”

“Non-binary is a gender all on its own and can also be used to recognise the fluidity and diversity that some of us feel,” according to course material seen by News Corp.

“Some people who are non-binary also describe having a trans experience. The point is we all describe our gender experience in different ways and the labels we use, if we use them, are personal.”

The questions in the quiz section of the course include “What is gender identity?” and “Gender expression, like gender identity is very personal, and we cannot asssume someone’s gender identity just by their appearance. Is this statement true or false?”

The course material also references “allyship” a term used in social activism to describe building and nurturing relationships with underrepresented, marginalized, or discriminated individuals or groups.

Another question in the quiz says: “Allyship is very important for all marginalised groups, including the LGBTIQ+ community. Which of the following statements are true? - an ally is someone who listens to, believes and amplifies LGBTIQ voices? Anyone can be an ally? Allyship means showing up, speaking up and offering support to others? or all of the above?

Suncorp’s investments in gender diversity training comes amid growing evidence such courses do nothing to harbour gender diversity in the workplace.

A study by the Harvard Business Review in 2019 found very little evidence that diversity training affected the behavior of men or white employees overall—the two groups who people claim hold the most power in organizations.

The study found that in the “absence of any observable change in the behavior of male or white employees” suggests companies need to “stop treating diversity training as a silver bullet” instead investing in programs that encourage “underrepresented talent to join, stay, succeed, and lead within your organization.”




Thursday, May 04, 2023

Further Progress on Campus Free Speech

In some states, the public university systems are pushing back against the malign forces that want to censor or punish anyone who says things that clash with leftist orthodoxies. North Carolina is among them.

In today’s Martin Center article, Ashlynn Warta discusses several good developments.

One is at UNC Charlotte. She writes, “Last month, UNC Charlotte’s Faculty Council held a special meeting to discuss and ultimately pass a free-speech resolution endorsing the Chicago Principles. Following suit, the UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees made a similar commitment, also endorsing the Chicago Principles.”

It’s quite possible for a university to say that it’s going to protect free speech and still fail to do so when controversy erupts, but at least this shows concern over the problem.

Warta also reports on good news at East Carolina University: “East Carolina University (ECU) is also making strides in protecting First Amendment rights. The ECU Board of Trustees passed a resolution for academic freedom and freedom of speech earlier this year. ECU’s trustees also confirmed the Chicago Principles, and they went a step further by including the Kalven Committee’s ‘Report on the University’s Role in Political and Social Action’ in their resolution.”




Wednesday, May 03, 2023

Michigan school ignores free speech to spare Biden supporters’ feelings

Tri-County Middle School in Howard City, Michigan, showed political favoritism and its lack of commitment to free speech by demanding that two students remove anti-Biden sweatshirts in February 2022. The sweatshirts said "Let's Go Brandon," a political slogan that is a euphemism for "F*** Joe Biden."

Now, the two students, along with the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, are suing the school for viewpoint discrimination.

Although schools can legally restrict profane speech on clothing, "Let's Go Brandon" contains no profane speech. None of those three words are curse words. However, the slogan lets people know that the youths wearing the sweatshirt probably dislike the sitting president.

Given that we do not live in a one-party totalitarian dictatorship, they have the right to dislike President Joe Biden. After all, it's not difficult to think of many reasons why someone may disapprove of the sitting president.

FIRE has correctly pointed out the hypocrisy that exists when it comes to political speech at Tri-County Middle School. The school allows students to wear clothing with other political messaging, including gay-pride-themed sweatshirts. It also allowed students to wear pride flags as capes on field day, but not flags of former President Donald Trump. Regardless of how one feels about Trump and Biden, the double standard and lack of commitment to free speech is absurd.




Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Republicans Subpoena Head of CDC Over Big Tech Censorship Coordination

The U.S. House of Representatives has subpoenaed several top Biden administration officials, including the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over the administration’s coordination with Big Tech to censor users.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, sent the subpoenas on April 28 to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Jen Easterly, and James Rubin, an official at the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC).

All three have responded inadequately to requests to provide documents, including communications between their respective entities and social media platforms, Jordan said in letters accompanying the subpoenas. CISA and GEC have not responded at all to the requests, while the CDC has not provided any of the requested documents, he said.

“Freedom of speech is one of the most important rights we have in this country,” Jordan told the Washington Examiner. “The collusion between our federal government and Big Tech undermines First Amendment principles and should be investigated.”




Monday, May 01, 2023

Not so Keen on free speech

Of the many aphorisms about free speech, surely the best known is that attributed to Voltaire: that although he might disapprove of what you say, he would defend to the death your right to say it. It is, of course, excellent — as far as it goes. Often, however, those who seek to silence other people’s speech object not to what they say, but how and where.

Consider Kellie-Jay Keen, aka Posie Parker, a women’s rights activist who holds rallies under the rubric Let Women Speak. She advertises a place and time, turns up with stewards in hi-viz jackets, and hands the mic to any woman with something to say. Some talk about men who identify as women using women’s toilets and changing rooms at workplaces and gyms, or muscling into women-only support groups for everything from addiction to the menopause.

One frequent speaker served a prison sentence locked up with a trans-identified man; another, a disabled woman, fears asking for a female carer only for a man who identifies as a woman to turn up. An increasingly common theme is schools colluding with gender-distressed children’s delusion that they can change sex.

In a sane world, what these women say wouldn’t attract criticism; indeed, it wouldn’t even need to be said. But often they are drowned out by transactivists shrieking threats and slogans of the sort Robert Jay Lifton, in his 1961 book Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, called thought-terminating clich├ęs: “brief, highly reductive, definitive-sounding phrases [that] become the start and finish of any ideological analysis”. “Trans women are women”. “Trans rights are human rights”. “Kill all terfs [trans-exclusionary radical feminists]”.

Keen recently returned to the UK from a tour of Australia and New Zealand, which was aborted after a police no-show at a planned rally in Auckland. She was hemmed in and jostled, pelted with eggs and tomato soup and sprayed with liquid. Protesters picked up the metal barriers that were supposed to keep them back and brandished them as weapons.

Keen barely kept her footing as she was hustled away by private event stewards. Afterwards she tweeted: “I genuinely thought if I fell to the floor I would never get up again, my children would lose their mother and my husband would lose his wife.”

If anyone is supposed to be Voltaireishly assiduous in defending the lawful exercise of free speech, it’s the police. That they failed to do so in Auckland — and at some Let Women Speak rallies in the UK — can be blamed on the way Keen is smeared and dehumanised by the authorities.

Before her tour of Australia and New Zealand, she was vilified by politicians and in the press. Her “evil ideology is to scapegoat minorities”, said the premier of the Australian state of Victoria. “That woman and her views are abhorrent,” said New Zealand’s deputy prime minister. New Zealand Greens claimed she had a “longstanding track record of hateful speech and the incitement of violence”.

Describing Keen like this marks her as outside civilised society: an acceptable target for threats and violence. It outsources the dirty work of shutting her up to the bovver boys. Commentators, politicians and campaigners can say “I support free speech, but … ”, while maintaining (im)plausible deniability.

Trans lobby groups who tried to get a court order blocking Keen from New Zealand came up with a classic of the genre: “We are not opposing freedom of speech, we are opposing the measurable threat to public order and the safety of transgender people.”