Monday, July 31, 2023

The Biden Administration’s Assault on Free Speech

Among the revelations in the so-called Twitter files was that government officials pressured social-media companies to censor posts unfavorable to the Biden administration. The White House has denied this, insisting that companies like Meta and Twitter adopted content-moderation policies on their own. But internal documents newly released by the House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on Weaponization of the Federal Government prove that government pressure led Meta to go beyond what it otherwise would have in censoring user speech.

Court-ordered discovery in Missouri v. Biden has already revealed that the White House strong-armed platforms into more censorship than they considered justified—prompting the judge to declare that the administration had made “arguably the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history.” The new documents go further, showing that the administration drove much of Meta’s censorship.

In April 2021, Facebook (now Meta) executive Nick Clegg wrote to the company’s leaders, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg: “We are facing continued pressure from external stakeholders, including the White House and the press, to remove more COVID-19 vaccine discouraging content” (emphasis in original). Mr. Clegg recounted a conversation he had with Andy Slavitt, then White House senior adviser for the Covid response. Mr. Clegg wrote that Mr. Slavitt was “outraged” that Facebook hadn’t taken down a meme, which joked that 10 years from now trial-lawyer commercials would be soliciting the vaccinated to seek damages. When Mr. Clegg protested that the administration was making “a significant incursion into traditional boundaries of free expression,” Mr. Slavitt (according to Mr. Clegg) dismissed such First Amendment concerns on the ground that the objectionable meme “inhibits confidence in Covid vaccines.” This prompted Mr. Clegg to comment to his colleagues that “given what is at stake here,” the company should “regroup to take stock of where we are in our relations with the WH, and our internal methods too.”

Meta acquiesced to the administration’s pressure. An internal Aug. 2, 2021, email from a Facebook employee on the Trust and Safety Team noted: “Leadership asked Misinfo Policy and a couple of teams on Product Policy to brainstorm some additional policy levers we can pull to be more aggressive against Covid and vaccine misinformation. This is stemming from the continued criticism of our approach from the US administration and a desire to kick the tires further internally on creative options.”

An internal Meta email from a few weeks later confirms that the company increased its censorship under administration pressure. After discussing “our response to the Surgeon General on COVID-19 misinformation,” another employee on the Trust and Safety team wrote, “we agreed to further explore four discreet policy options for reducing the prevalence of COVID-19 misinformation on our platforms.” Those policies targeted 12 individuals known as the “Disinformation Dozen” and were implemented on the platform shortly after the Aug. 2 email, resulting in removal of these accounts and many others.

At the government’s behest, Facebook also adopted a policy of removing posts discussing the lab-leak theory. In July 2021, Mr. Clegg emailed his colleagues to find out “why we were removing—rather than demoting/labeling—claims that Covid is man made.” The company’s vice president in charge of content policy responded that “we were under pressure from the administration and others to do more” and continued with regret: “we shouldn’t have done that.”

The First Amendment prohibits the government from “abridging the freedom of speech.” Supreme Court doctrine makes clear that government can’t constitutionally evade the amendment by working through private companies. The newly released documents paint a clear picture of an administration running roughshod over these protections.

The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is poised to reconsider the injunction against the government in Missouri v. Biden early next month. The government’s case relies to a significant degree on the claim that it isn’t clear the government caused the platforms’ censorship. And the Sixth Circuit will soon be re-evaluating the denial of discovery in a similar case, Changizi v. HHS.

The latest revelations underscore the need for the injunction in Missouri and for discovery, not dismissal, in Changizi. If the appellate courts fail to recognize the spurious nature of the government’s position, the First Amendment might as well be a dead letter.

More generally, the nation needs to come to terms with the reality and scale of the assault on free speech. Our government has established a vast system of censorship. By keeping it largely secret, it has been able to exert unconstitutional control over medical, scientific and political speech, suppressing debate over questions of great public importance. This is a shocking constitutional violation. All of us, not only the courts, need to recognize what is at stake.




Sunday, July 30, 2023

'I'll do it again': Teachers at Christian school fired after publicizing drag queen show

Two teachers were fired from a Christian school in Baytown, Texas, after going to a drag queen performance and posting images and videos on Facebook about the event.

ABC 13 reported that two teachers were both fired from First Baptist Academy because they violated the school's operating policies manual.

Kristi Maris reportedly went to an establishment in Houston, Texas, called Hamburger Mary's, which frequently hosts events featuring men dressed as women. Their website boasts events such as the "SaturGay Brunch Hosted by Lady Shamu" and "Party with the Divaz."

Maris posted photos and videos from her time at the show on Facebook, captioned "This was a blast!!!!" before being contacted by her school.

The senior pastor at the school pointed to the operating policies manual, which Maris had previously agreed to, which stated, "I will act in a godly and moral fashion at work, on Facebook and in my community."

Despite agreeing to the clause, Maris couldn't comprehend why attending a drag show was not seen as "godly" or "moral" and said that she felt she and her coworker "were treated like criminals" when they were contacted by the school over the phone about their jobs.

Both were fired via phone call and complained that they were not able to say goodbye to coworkers or students, according to Q1077 radio.

"They're entertainers. I would've never thought in a million years that this would happen. Never. We were in disbelief. We still are. We were heartbroken. We had relationships with parents and the kids, and I didn't even get to say goodbye to a lot of the kids," Maris said.

"For almost 20 years, I've taught children to love each other. I've talked to them and told them, 'You have to get along. God loves us all equally.' And that's the way we should be," Maris went on. "We should love everybody, and that's what we've been teaching, but they're expecting us not to do that."

The woman told the local ABC affiliate that while she won't be teaching for the time being, she will continue to attend shows predominantly featuring men performing as caricatures of women.

"Oh yeah, I'll do it again," she said. "It was too much fun, and it was good music!"




Friday, July 28, 2023

The Intolerant Woke Left is the Only Threat to Free Speech

A clear majority of Americans now back restrictions from both the government and tech companies on "false" content, per the latest Pew Research Institute poll, revealing how successful the effort has been to build a constituency around silencing dissent.

Five years ago, a similar Pew survey showed that a majority of Americans—58 percent—understood that protecting freedom of information was more important than concerns about the veracity of what was posted online. Why did that number flip to 55 percent in favor of silencing so-called false information, with only 42 percent now clinging to faith in free speech?

The blame clearly belongs to the political Left, and in particular, President Joe Biden, the Democratic Party, and its corporate media and Big Tech collaborators.

This spirit of intolerance was given new life by the reaction to the 2016 presidential election and the rise of former President Donald Trump. Rather than admit that their ideas and candidate had no appeal to working class voters, Democrats and their press cheerleaders preferred to blame fables about Russia. Liberals and Democrats concluded that Trump constituted a threat that could not be met by the conventional methods of democratic debate; the only answer to conservatives was to label their speech as beyond the pale.

And when damning evidence of Biden family corruption was uncovered during the last weeks of the 2020 presidential campaign, the Left closed ranks to ensure that the New York Post's story about Hunter Biden's laptop was suppressed. They then bought into the lies concocted by the Biden campaign—backed up by dozens of former members of the security establishment—that it was Russian "disinformation," effectively ensuring that the Democratic candidate was protected from the fallout.

The spirit of that effort continues to this day as liberal media still downplays or refuses to cover new revelations from whistleblowers about the presidential family's corrupt activities.

But it was the coronavirus pandemic that did more than anything to legitimize opposition to free speech.

We now know that the lockdowns, mask and then vaccine mandates were both misguided and failed to protect Americans from the disease. The medical establishment's lies about what the "science" truly was and then their determination to silence all opposition to their pronouncements and rulings led to their labeling of all dissent as dangerous "misinformation" which should be suppressed rather than debated. As we learned from the revelations provided by the Twitter Files, they used their power and ability to influence the few companies that effectively control the Internet to brand a great deal of information that was actually truthful as lies that were too dangerous to be allowed to be heard.

It was the Biden administration that fully weaponized the effort to shut down opposition to its COVID-19 mandates. Silicon Valley oligarchs effectively own the virtual public square where contemporary debate takes place. They were the Biden administration's willing accomplices. The result was a dramatic curtailment of free speech that has no previous precedent outside of wartime.

Similarly, in another arena entirely, the Left's conquest of academia, the education establishment, and much of the press enabled them to push a false narrative about American racism. The promotion of critical race theory indoctrination as well as ideas about race and gender in schools prompted a furious pushback from grassroots groups of parents across the nation. But here again, the Left's appetite for silencing opposition went into effect. Not only were critics of local school boards who wished to protect their children from being lied to and sexualized falsely labeled as racists and homophobes. They also became targets for investigation by the Biden Department of Justice that was quick to label them and other dissidents from liberal orthodoxies as "domestic terrorists."

Two and a half years into the Biden administration, we've seen a clear pattern of efforts to target political opponents for prosecution and to use the powerful combination of corporate media and Big Tech to shut down or marginalize the speech of their opponents.

By contrast, it is conservatives who are fighting back against this toxic collusion of corporate and government power. The Pew survey shows a stark partisan difference when it comes to support for curtailment of free speech with Republicans opposing and Democrats supporting them. If our freedoms are to survive this assault, it will only be made possible by the defeat of the woke Left and its Democratic Party handmaids.




Thursday, July 27, 2023

Censorship of "Epoch Times"

"Epoch Times" is a news site run by anti-Communist Chinese living in the West

The content is mostly mainstream conservative so the Left do not like it one bit. It also puts up articles critical of the official line on Covid

And I have just found out how heavily censored it is. I took one very simple article that seemed to me to be uncontroversial and checked whether it could be found via the main search engines. The article was this:

Neither Google nor Bing had ever heard of it. It did not exist as far as they were concerned. So it would seem that there is a blanket ban on recording ANYTHING that appears on Epoch times.

I subscribe to them and I would encourage others to do likewise if you want to be fully informed. The subscription cost is small




Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Pew Research: Democrats Value Free Speech Far Less Than Republicans

In case you were in doubt—and if you were in doubt, that means you aren’t following what is happening in America to the most important freedom of all—Pew Research has confirmed that Democrats value free speech far less than Republicans do.

Read the following statistics and conclusions and weep for our country:

“The share of U.S. adults who say the federal government should restrict false information has risen from 39% in 2018 to 55% in 2023.”

“Just over half of Americans (55%) support the U.S. government taking steps to restrict false information online, even if it limits people from freely publishing or accessing information.”

“Support for government intervention has steadily risen since the first time we asked this question in 2018. In fact, the balance of opinion has tilted: Five years ago, Americans were more inclined to prioritize freedom of information over restricting false information (58% vs. 39%).”

“The partisan gap in support for restricting false information has grown substantially since 2018.”

“Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are much more likely than Republicans and Republican leaners to support the U.S. government taking steps to restrict false information online (70% vs. 39%). There was virtually no difference between the parties in 2018, but the share of Democrats who support government intervention has grown from 40% in 2018 to 70% in 2023.”

“A large majority of Democrats and Democratic leaners (81%) support technology companies taking such steps, while about half of Republicans (48%) say the same.”

Here are 10 conclusions:

No. 1: The most important human freedom is freedom of speech. Free speech is what makes the pursuit of truth possible. It is what makes the advancement of science possible. It constitutes the very definition of a free society. And free speech is what makes human dignity possible. People who cannot say what they believe are dehumanized. They ultimately become robotic beings exemplified by North Koreans.

No. 2: America has been the freest country in the world for all of its history. That is why the French gave America the Statue of Liberty. It is rapidly relinquishing that title.

No. 3: Free speech is seriously threatened for the first time in American history.

No. 4: The threat to free speech comes entirely from the Left.

No. 5: There is no example in history of the Left attaining power and allowing free speech. From the French Revolution to the Russian Revolution to the Maoist takeover of China to almost any university in America today, wherever the Left comes to power, it suppresses speech.

No. 6: The Left must suppress speech in order to retain power. If it were to allow dissent, it would lose its hold on power.

No. 7: That is why conservative speakers are rarely allowed to speak on college campuses. Left-wing professors, deans, and administrators know—consciously or subconsciously—that an effective conservative speaker can undo years of left-wing indoctrination in just 90 minutes.

No. 8: Given that “Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are much more likely than Republicans and Republican leaners to support the U.S. government taking steps to restrict false information online (70% vs. 39%),” the often-stated claim that “there is little difference between the two parties” is false.

No. 9: All tyrannies label dissent “misinformation.” That is what Vladimir Putin’s government labels all dissent in Russia today.

The communist regime in the Soviet Union named its official newspaper “Pravda”—the Russian word for “truth”—because in a left-wing tyranny, the left-wing regime determines truth. Anything else is “misinformation” or “disinformation.”

That Western societies are moving toward Soviet-like suppression of speech is obvious in America and was made particularly clear in 2020, when the then-prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, told her country: “We will continue to be your single source of truth” and “If you do not hear it from the government, it is not true.”

Fittingly, Ardern was awarded with two teaching fellowships at Harvard University—one of them at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, based at Harvard Law School, where she “will study ways to improve content standards and platform accountability for extremist content online.”

No. 10: Liberals are abandoning liberal values—in particular, their storied commitment to free speech. There are far more liberals than leftists, but over the past few years the liberals’ unswerving commitment to the Democratic Party, unswerving commitment to The New York Times, The Washington Post, or virtually any other mainstream news source, and their unswerving opposition to conservatives and the Republican Party has led them to embrace and unswervingly vote for left-wing values.

As for the future, this is what Pew reported regarding young Americans: “The shares of younger adults who say they support tech companies and the government restricting false information online have increased substantially since 2018 (by 14 and 19 percentage points, respectively).”




Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Support the Free Speech Protection Act

We have come full circle with government censorship.  Of late we have suffered that kind of widespread government suppression of speech critical of the Biden Administration and its policies that the nation experienced in its formative years during the Adams administration under the Sedition Act of 1798.

The Biden Administration’s censorship is far greater than anything the authors of the Alien and Sedition Acts could have imagined.  By exercising coercion, cajolery, and influence over Big Tech and major media, the Biden Administration’s FBI and White House staff have achieved a degree of censorship far greater, more comprehensive and more devastating than ever before to the health, welfare and security of all Americans.  

Two hundred and twenty-five years ago the Sedition Act became law on July 14, 1798.  Under it, any who uttered, wrote, or published content deemed defamatory to the government were subject to punishment.  Republican journalists who published content critical of the Adams’ administration were arrested under the Act.  There were 25 arrests and 10 incarcerations.  Thomas Jefferson and James Madison fought behind the scenes for an end to the censorship against the early Republicans by secretly writing resolutions of condemnation of the Act.  Jefferson was Adams’ Vice President at the time.  The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions were passed by both legislatures and helped form a popular basis for nullifying enforcement and ending the reign of censorship.  In the election of 1800, Jefferson became President and allowed the Sedition Act to expire.  

Today, Rand Paul and Jim Jordan have followed in the footsteps of Jefferson and Madison, mounting an attack on Biden Administration censorship.  They have risen to fight against Biden Administration collusion with Big Tech and the mainstream media to suppress voices critical of Biden actions and policies.  That collusion resulted in widespread removal of content, de-platforming of opinion makers, and limits on access to content, among other techniques employed digitally to censor.  Paul in the Senate and Jordan in the House have introduced the “Free Speech Protection Act.” Passage of that bill will be a litmus test of member support for the Constitution of the United States.

The bill recites landmark Supreme Court decisions that re-affirm the First Amendment’s central premise: that under our Constitution there is no allowance for government to exercise control over the content of messages expressed by private individuals.  That includes when government agents in the FBI and White House collude with Big Tech or other media to avoid publication of views antithetical to the Administration’s policies and to censor content which exposes the corruption of those in power; the misgivings of COVID-19 vaccine mandates, mask mandates, and denials of early treatment options; content of the Hunter-Biden laptop or the influence peddling and bribery schemes entered into by Biden family members; and conservative opposition to the climate change agenda.  

The Twitter files and the Missouri v. Biden decision have brought to light this Administration’s multifaceted and extensive First Amendment violations, ones committed on a scale never before witnessed in American history, affecting almost all Big Tech platforms and mainstream media.  The Free Speech Protection Act would make it a federal felony subject to civil penalties and adverse employment effects for any federal employee to use any form of communication “to direct, coerce, compel, or encourage a provider” to engage in censorship prohibited by the First Amendment.  Those actions include, among others, removing speech from Big Tech platforms, suppressing speech on those platforms, removing users from Big Tech platforms, labeling speech as false, disinformation or misinformation, or “blocking, banning, demonetizing, de-boosting, limiting the reach of, or restricting access to speech.”

I am among those who have experienced censorship for my criticisms of the Biden Administration’s actions to compel mass COVID-19 vaccinations and for my criticisms of Biden Administration support for international organizations intent on denying American physicians and patients’ freedom of choice in the provision of care during health emergencies. Undoubtedly many lives have been lost along with innovations in medicine and many truths have been suppressed due to the censorship of discussions related to the adverse effects of COVID-19 vaccines, the preferability of early treatments, and the imprudence of conferring on international bodies, like he World Health Organization, authority to recommend and direct patient care.

Rand Paul and Jim Jordan appreciate that it is insufficient for Americans to await case by case adjudication of acts of widespread government censorship that effectively shut down the robust and wide-open idea and information marketplace on which we depend for ferreting out truth and for innovation essential to the betterment of mankind and the saving of lives.  Rather, targeted legislation, like the Free Speech Protection Act, is essential to drive out of existence federal speech suppression.  I only wish that its penalty provisions were more robust with jail time required for and restitution required by federal employees and Big Tech/media executives responsible for the censorship.




Monday, July 24, 2023

Australia: Why Labor’s threat to free speech must be rejected

The right to be wrong is both the most vital of freedoms and the most constantly threatened. Vital, because the freedom of expression is the guardian of every other liberty, alerting the public to the abuse of power; and constantly threatened because few temptations come more readily to governments than that of suppressing views they regard as irksome, dangerous or simply incorrect.

That is why John Stuart Mill called the freedom of thought and discussion “the most fundamental doctrine” of a free society. And it is why the Communications Legislation Amendment (Combating Misinformation and Disinformation) Bill 2023 poses so serious a threat to our democracy.

Extraordinarily open-ended, the proposed legislation’s stated purpose is to protect Australians from misinformation and disinformation that is likely to cause “serious harm” – that is, “harm that affects a significant portion of the Australian population, economy or environment, or undermines the integrity of an Australian democratic process” – where misinformation is “online content that is false, misleading or deceptive, that is shared or created without an intent to deceive”, while disinformation is misinformation that is “intentionally disseminated with the intent to deceive or cause serious harm”.

To that end, the legislation empowers the Australian Communications and Media Authority to require digital platforms to implement systems that identify and suppress any offending information.

The government’s Guidance Note suggests the legislation is comparable to the European Union’s Digital Services Act (2022); what it does not say is that the relevant provisions of the DSA apply only to “very large” online service providers. In contrast, the legislation would apply to “social media, search engines, instant messaging services, news aggregators and podcasting services”, regardless of their size and reach.

Indeed, few websites would fall outside the legislation’s ambit, giving ACMA powers whose scope has no equivalent in a liberal democracy.

Virtually none of the legislation’s crucial terms is tightly defined, nor does the legislation even attempt to distinguish questions of fact from those of opinion, creating uncertainty that can only chill the expression of controversial views. And the examples the Guidance Note gives of information it might seek to suppress – such as content that “falsely claims that specific community groups in Australia are responsible for a range of social issues” – so obviously involve matters of opinion as to simply heighten the resulting concerns.

The government has attempted to calm those concerns by claiming that “ACMA would have no role in determining truthfulness”; but that contention is plainly incorrect.

That is because the legislation effectively requires ACMA to audit whether the systems regulated entities have implemented adequately curb misinformation or disinformation. But it is impossible to see how such an audit could be undertaken without assessing the truth or falsity of the content those entities have posted.

And it is inconceivable that ACMA could evaluate complaints about false or misleading content without determining whether the content they refer to is or is not false or misleading.

The legislation does provide a number of exemptions, including for “professional news content” (but not for comments on that content) and for content produced by “accredited educational providers”. However, those exemptions merely highlight the legislation’s underlying lack of logic.

After all, if content is so manifestly odious that it should be suppressed, why would the fact that it appears on (say) a university’s website reduce the danger it poses to the community? One would, on the contrary, expect vesting the content with academic authority to increase its credibility and so aggravate the resulting harm, making the case for its suppression all the stronger.

But reliance on arbitrary distinctions is hardly the legislation’s worst flaw. In effect, the legislation gives ACMA the power to impose vast penalties on regulated entities if their systems are ineffective at eliminating what it considers mis- or disinformation. There are, however, no penalties whatsoever if regulated entities suppress information that is neither false nor harmful.

Given that asymmetry in rewards and penalties, content providers will inevitably prefer to make the error of removing information that does not merit removal to that of not removing information that does merit removal: they will, in other words, convict more “innocent” content so long as that reduces, even marginally, the likelihood of any potentially “guilty” content slipping through their net.

Yet it is hard to conceive of an outcome more starkly at odds with the public interest. In an open society, falsehoods can be – and usually are – corrected by truths; but no number of falsehoods can replace a censored truth. It is therefore far better to allow ten falsehoods to run loose than to rob the public of a single truth: which is the exact opposite of this legislation’s design and likely effect.

None of that means the issues the legislation is seeking to address should be ignored.

Even as unflinching an advocate of freedom of expression as John Stuart Mill recognised the harm certain forms of speech could inflict – and there are, of course, already laws in place that deal, for example, with incitement to violence, online harassment and vilification.

But as Mill rightly pointed out, the harm “caused by an opinion is itself a matter of opinion”. And he warned that deterring the expression of the “opinions and sentiments which happen to be in a minority” necessarily encouraged the oppressive conformism, enforced by vindictive and intolerant majorities, and the resulting intellectual “stagnation and immobility”, which Mill considered “the real danger in democracy, the real evil to be struggled against”.

That danger would, for sure, disappear were the regulator “an infallible judge of opinions”, as well placed “to decide an opinion to be noxious, as to decide it to be false” – but infallibility is not of this world.

Mill therefore argued that any restraints on speech should meet three conditions: parliament should precisely set out the nature of the offending speech and take political responsibility for doing so; there should be no prior censorship of that speech, but only its ex post prosecution; and every alleged breach should be dealt with individually by the courts, giving the impugned content a chance to be defended and allowing any possible harm to be assessed within the context in which it occurred.

Applying those principles to an online environment is undoubtedly challenging. But this legislation simply ignores them altogether. Vague to the point of inviting administrative arbitrariness, it involves parliament delegating legislative authority to a regulatory agency; in turn, that agency can compel regulated entities to exercise prior censorship of speech; and what review mechanisms the legislation provides are hardly capable of identifying, correcting and penalising the suppression of inconvenient truths.

Should it pass, our credibility, when we criticise dictatorships for attacking the freedom of expression, will be severely compromised. However, the greatest harm will be to the fabric and vigour of our democratic life.

“Whatever you do, keep, at all risks, your mind open,” an ageing but still passionate Mill urged his country’s youth, “do not barter away your freedom of thought” and “the liberty of expressing and publishing opinions which is practically inseparable from it”. At a time when the right to take unpopular stances is more threatened than ever, his call should ring in our ears.




Sunday, July 23, 2023

Black lesbian Harvard law grad is CENSORED for 'hateful' post saying transgender women should not be allowed to compete in women's sports

Cripes!  Transgenders get even higher privilege than a black Lesbian!

A black lesbian Harvard law graduate claims that she has been censored by a blogging site for saying transgender women should not be allowed to compete in female sports.

Monica Harris said that she had her post removed less than 24 hours after posting it on Medium for 'violating community rules'.

She wrote about the 'impact of transgender inclusion on the rights of women and lesbians', but claims she was told she had posted 'hateful content'.

Harris referenced transgender swimmer Lia Thomas in the blog, and pointed out that former NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines felt she was 'emotionally blackmailed and gaslit into silence.'

The entertainment lawyer said she was 'shocked' to have the blog removed, saying it is a 'timely subject' and 'as a gay woman of color' she had a 'vested interest in the issue'.

Writing in a column for Fox News, she said: 'Much of my writing focuses on bringing people together around our shared values and interests. I've never been accused of advocating hateful positions.

'This incident is laced with many ironies, not the least of which is that I've spent much of my life feeling invisible and not having a voice.'

Harris, who is on the Board of Advisors of the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism at Harvard Law, wrote int eh blog that transgender people need to have their personal choices honoured.

But the blog-hosting website claims she breached the terms and conditions by claiming 'the playing field is tilting — literally — in the wrong direction'.

The lawyer claims that content curators removed the article 'because it 'disempower[ed]' and excluded others based on 'protected characteristics,' i.e. biological men who identify as women.'

She said: 'Yet they had no qualms about disempowering and excluding me — a member of not one, but three 'protected' groups — from their community.

'Further, I was silenced for expressing my belief that inclusion of biological men in women's sports, prisons and other historically protected spaces potentially undermines the rights and safety of biological women and lesbians.

'Yet the act of deplatforming my article was, itself, proof of the marginalization I lamented in my article.




Friday, July 21, 2023

Democrats Try to Censor RFK Jr. During Hearing on Censorship

House Democrats attempted to prevent President Joe Biden’s Democrat primary rival Robert F. Kennedy Jr. from giving public testimony during a hearing investigating government censorship.

Kennedy was among witnesses who testified Thursday to the House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government about collusion between the federal government and Big Tech companies to block speech.

Early on, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., cited House Rule 11, Clause 2, “which Mr. Kennedy is violative of,” she said.

“I move that we move into executive session because Mr. Kennedy has repeatedly made despicable antisemitic and anti-Asian comments as recently as last week,” said Wasserman Schultz, whose run as former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee came to a controversial end after WikiLeaks emails appeared to show DNC staffers tried to tip the scales against the candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and in favor of eventual nominee Hillary Clinton.

House Rule 11, Clause 2 requires any House witness with testimony that would “defame, degrade or incriminate any person” to be given in closed session, out of public view.  

During his testimony, Kennedy insisted his remarks were mischaracterized.

“In my entire life, I have never uttered a phrase that was either racist or antisemitic,” Kennedy told the House panel.

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., asked to table the Wasserman Schultz motion, and she responded by asking for a roll call vote.

All Republicans on the select subcommittee backed Massie in voting against going into closed session for Kennedy’s testimony. All Democrats voted in favor of Wasserman Schultz.

Wasserman Schultz said it was voting against “allowing a witness to degrade others and to violate the rules and not have his testimony and degradation amplified rather than given in executive session.”

Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., said he was voting, “No to hate speech.”

Last week, Kennedy suggested that COVID-19 could have been a deliberate bioweapon from the Chinese, and said: “COVID-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.”

Kennedy, the son of former Attorney General and New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, is challenging Biden for the Democrat presidential nomination

“I was censored, not just by a Democratic administration, I was censored by the Trump administration,” Kennedy said during the House hearing. “I was the first person, as the chairman [Jim Jordan, R-Ohio] pointed out, I was the first person censored by the Biden administration two days after he came into office.”

Massie noted “irony and cognitive dissonance from the other side of the aisle is deafening.”

“This is a hearing on censorship that began with an effort with a formal motion from the other side of the aisle to censor Mr. Kennedy,” Massie said. “They do not want him to speak. Yet that is the topic of this hearing. They have kept him from speaking, the collusion between government and private organizations.”




Thursday, July 20, 2023

Here’s the Real Reason Obama Went Out of His Way to Defend Librarians in a ‘Banned Books’ Letter

Former President Barack Obama just came out in favor of porn in schools.

Sure, the former president didn’t say that outright. He released a letter lamenting the supposed trend of “banned books” and standing with school librarians as if they were under siege.

“In a very real sense, you’re on the front lines — fighting every day to make the widest possible range of viewpoints, opinions, and ideas available to everyone,” Obama wrote in a public letter Monday. “Your dedication and professional expertise allow us to freely read and consider information and ideas, and decide for ourselves which ones we agree with.”

Obama’s letter emphasized a core American value; namely, the idea that the solution to bad speech is more speech, not censorship. Yet, as with so much of Obama’s soaring rhetoric, the real message appears between the lines. Behind the effusive praise for librarians—who help “us understand each other and embrace our shared humanity”—Obama’s letter rebukes the concerned parents who dare to question why school librarians defend sexually explicit books.

“Today, some of the books that shaped my life—and the lives of so many others—are being challenged by people who disagree with certain ideas or perspectives,” Obama wrote. “It’s no coincidence that these ‘banned books’ are often written by, or feature, people of color, indigenous people, and members of the LGBTQ+ community—though there have also been unfortunate instances in which books by conservative authors or books containing ‘triggering’ words or scenes have been targets for removal. Either way, the impulse seems to be to silence, rather than engage, rebut, learn from or seek to understand views that don’t fit our own.”

Obama has mastered the appearance of political neutrality while advancing his agenda. He likely knows the “banned books” talking point is false—that the real debate involves whether sexually explicit books belong in school libraries.

In supporting his argument, Obama shared a link to an American Library Association project, “Unite Against Book Bans.” The American Library Association, echoing the organization PEN America, also released a list of the 13 “most challenged books of 2022.”

Even ALA admits that every single one of the “most challenged books” faces challenges because they are “claimed to be sexually explicit.”

Jay Greene, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy, and Madison Marino, a research associate with the center, analyzed PEN America’s report claiming to identify 2,532 books banned in public schools during the 2021-2022 school year. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

PEN America’s claim is “simply false,” Greene and Marino write. They “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.”

PEN America’s report claims that certain school districts have banned some classic works—such as the diary of Anne Frank, “Brave New World,” and “To Kill a Mockingbird”—yet Greene and Marino found each of those books listed as available in the card catalogues of the respective school districts.

Greene and Marino failed to find some books in the card catalogues of school libraries, however. They noted that those books “would strike most reasonable people as unlikely to be age-appropriate for school libraries.”

“Works like ‘Gender Queer,’ ‘Flamer,’ ‘Lawn Boy,’ ‘Fun Home,’ and ‘It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health’ either contain images of people engaged in sex acts or graphic descriptions of those acts,” the Heritage analysts wrote.

Parents don’t oppose those books due to racism or animus against those who identify as LGBT—they raised concerns about sexually explicit images and passages in the books. “Gender Queer,” for example, contains pictures of sexual acts between a boy and a man. “Lawn Boy” contains long sections in which a boy reminisces about explicit experiences he had at 10 years old. “All Boys Aren’t Blue” contains sexually explicit passages. (Warning: Explicit passages quoted in the link.)

The sainted Obama would not dare to write, “I support sexually explicit pictures and passages in school libraries,” but that is the ultimate message his letter conveys.

Obama’s letter references classic authors like Mark Twain and Walt Whitman, but also includes Toni Morrison, whose book “The Bluest Eye” (on the ALA list mentioned above) reportedly features incest, pedophilia, a graphic description of a married woman’s distaste for intercourse with her husband, and more.

Contrary to the rhetoric of “book bans,” parents are not calling for the government to purge these tomes from existence. They’re complaining about students in elementary schools and middle schools having access to sexually explicit materials in their school libraries.

I remember when school was about education, leading children out of ignorance and equipping them with basic math, language, and writing skills to face the world around them, not indoctrinating them into a hypersexualized identity.

Rather than agreeing with the moms and dads who are rightly outraged about porn in schools, Barack Obama stood with those falsely claiming that concerned parents are trying to suppress minorities.




Wednesday, July 19, 2023

The 34 Professors Who Protested My Speaking at Arizona State University

Dennis Prager

In February, I was invited along with Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA (TPUSA), and Robert Kiyosaki, author of the bestseller, "Rich Dad, Poor Dad," to speak at Arizona State University (ASU) at a conference titled "Health, Wealth and Happiness."

The invitation came from the TW Lewis Center for Personal Development, an independent center affiliated with Barrett College, the honors college of ASU.

About a week before the scheduled event, 34 (Ann Atkinson -- see below -- counted 39) of Barrett College's 47 faculty members signed a letter to the dean of ASU condemning the event on grounds that Charlie Kirk and I are "white nationalist provocateurs ... purveyors of hate who have publicly attacked women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, [and] institutions of our democracy."

In June, in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece that went viral, the then-director of the Lewis Center, Ann Atkinson, wrote, "The faculty protests extended beyond the letter. Professors spent precious class time denouncing the program."

In addition, the "administration's position ... was no secret. All advertising about 'Health, Wealth, and Happiness' was scrubbed from campus walls and digital flyers. Behind closed doors, deans pressured me to postpone the event indefinitely. I was warned that if the speakers made any political statements, it wouldn't be in the Lewis Center's 'best interests,' which I interpreted as a threat."

"The faculty's illiberal tantrum was devastatingly effective on two fronts.

"First, the scare tactics worked on undergraduates. Many students told me they were intimidated by professors into not attending. Some would attend only if we promised that cameras wouldn't face the audience...

"Second, the event cost its organizers dearly. Shortly after 'Health, Wealth, and Happiness,' Lin Blake, the events operations manager at ASU Gammage Theater, was fired... And as of June 30, ASU will dismantle the Lewis Center and terminate my position as its executive director."

As will be clear, these 34 professors epitomize the low moral and intellectual level of nearly all our universities.

I will not address the specious attacks on Charlie Kirk. I will only note that this alleged "hater" devoted his entire half-hour speech to explaining why he, though a Christian, observes the Sabbath each week from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. He spoke about the enriching benefits to his life and to his marriage and family of abstaining from work one day every week, an abstention that includes turning off his cell phone for 24 hours.

Does that strike you as something a hater, let alone a white supremacist, would talk about to students? Furthermore, wouldn't any student benefit from hearing such a talk, especially from a young person?

Here are some of the accusations of the 34 ASU professors:

"During Black History Month Barrett is hosting two white nationalist provocateurs who have decried the social prohibition on using the n-word and called for the cancellation of Black History Month."

Their primary "proof" of my being a white nationalist is a statement I once made on my radio show. I told a caller that I believe it is ludicrous that one can never say the N-word -- unless, of course, one calls or refers to a black person using that word, in which case, I said, "it is despicable." You can hear me say it is despicable to call a black person the N-word on the broadcast linked to the professors' letter.

The context of my statement about the N-word was my saying on the air the word "Kike" in quoting the 1993 Pulitzer Prize-winning David McCullough biography of President Harry S. Truman. A caller asked me why people can say "Kike" -- the N-word for Jews -- but never the N-word. That is when I made the common-sense point that there are times when enunciating awful words is warranted -- as when one wishes to condemn its use or quote literature, to cite two examples.

In fact, the New York Times recently published an op-ed piece by Columbia University Linguistics Professor John McWhorter on the N-word in which he and the New York Times repeatedly spelled out the word -- precisely to show that sometimes it is entirely legitimate to say or write the word. In short, the professor (who is black) and the New York Times (which is as left-wing as the 34 ASU professors) essentially said what I said about the N-word.

The 34 provided two other examples of my being a "white nationalist provocateur":

One is that I said in 2020, "If you see the entire video, (George Floyd) is sort of hysterical from the beginning of his encounter with the police, who were completely decent with him. He says he can't breathe; he can't breathe before they touch him."

The other is that I condemned Black Lives Matter.

On the basis of these three examples -- none of which is in any way racist -- the ASU professors labelled and libeled me as a "white nationalist provocateur."

They owe me a public apology. More importantly, they owe ASU and their students an apology. Should they not apologize and retract their libels, if ASU has any commitment to truth, it should censure every one of the 34.

Every other example the 34 cited to smear me was equally specious and intellectually dishonest.

Every example they used to condemn me was taken from a left-wing group called Media Matters, whose raison d'etre is to smear conservatives. Media Matters is as far left as Proud Boys is far right. Imagine if a conservative group condemned liberals using only Proud Boy sources. That would be the equivalent of what the 34 professors did.

This is important to understand because the professors based their entire smear of me on one, radical, source; they clearly never read any of my work.

The charge of my being a "white nationalist" is as vicious as it libelous. It would be impossible to find a written word in my ten books or more than a thousand columns (all available on the internet) or an uttered sentence in forty years of broadcasting that expresses sympathy with "white nationalism."

I am a religious Jew who hates white nationalism, the doctrine that murdered two out of every three of Europe's 9 million Jews just a few years before I was born. My father, an Orthodox Jew, joined the U.S. Navy and risked his life to fight that evil. As anyone who has heard or read me can testify, the motto of my life, taken from Viktor Frankl's classic "Man's Search for Meaning," is that "there are only two races: the decent and the indecent."

Unlike the 34 professors and the rest of the left, I divide people by morality, not race or class.

So, given the dishonesty of the smears, why did the 34 professors condemn ASU for having me come to speak at ASU?

The reason is that left-wing professors, deans and students are terrified of articulate conservatives coming to their campuses. They rightly fear that if students are exposed to one of us for just 90 minutes, we can undo four years of leftist indoctrination.

And here's one proof: It is almost inconceivable any one or, for that matter, ten, of these professors would invite me to ASU to debate them.

Meet a few of them -- exactly as described on their individual pages on the ASU website.

Dagmar Van Engen, a 'non-binary' individual whose preferred pronoun is 'they,' and whose "current project argues that transness is central to queer and feminist science [and is the] author of 'How to F*ck a Kraken: Cephalopod Sexualities and Nonbinary Genders in EBook Erotica.'"

Lisa Barca, whose "area of expertise includes ... Feminism and Gender Studies and (whose) recent research uses an ecofeminist approach to the intersections of speciesism . . . and other forms of discrimination."

Alex Young, "a scholar of transnational settler colonialism."

David Agruss, who has done "research in gender and sexuality studies, postcolonial studies, queer theory, and animal studies" and who "filed a lawsuit against Montana State University, saying he was denied tenure and fired because he is gay."

Joseph O'Neill, who "recently led a seminar on the 'whitewashing of Ancient Greece and Rome.'"

Rachel Fedock, whose "research interests include ... feminist ethics, Black feminism, abolition, gender, race..."

And Rebecca Soares, an editor of "The Female Fantastic: Gendering the Supernatural in the 1890s and 1920s."

These are the people who teach your children at Arizona State University -- in their "honors" college, no less.




Tuesday, July 18, 2023

British Banks as censors

Readers of this magazine would be well aware of the latest disturbing phenomenon of banks and financial institutions stepping outside of their core business of managing money and waging war on ‘wrongthink’. While the most high-profile casualty seems to be Nigel Farage, the UK Free Speech Union and the Tiggernometry Podcast have also been targeted by PayPal and Tide, respectively.

Even though a public outcry led to their accounts being reinstated, this has not stopped financial institutions acting as the self-appointed thought police in the same way that Big Tech has.

One of Britain’s leading women’s rights campaigners, Dr Lesley Sawers OBE, the Equalities and Human Rights Commissioner for Scotland, has had her bank account shut down by the Royal Bank of Scotland. Dr Sawers said that the bank ‘categorically refused to give us a reason why they are closing our account and when I spoke to someone in customer services I was told abruptly: “We don’t have to”.’

Registered charity Families Need Fathers claim that HSBC shut their account in April and they were forced to use credit cards to keep running. Colin Mair, once the Ukip group leader on Lincolnshire County Council, had his account shut down without explanation.

Under the UK Equality Act, it is against the law to discriminate against customers on the basis of their religious and philosophical beliefs.

But banks and other financial services seem to think that they can get away with closing people’s accounts for their views as long as they don’t say why.

A whistleblower who worked in a Santander branch helping with complaints, told the Daily Mail Online that the bank is on a ‘really toxic path’ and has been ‘policing the views of their customers’. He said LGBT groups in the bank had pressured bosses to axe one customer because she complained about Pride flags in branches and told them to stick to banking.

Now banks have taken their puritanical war on freedom of speech to a new, more sinister level, by adopting the Nero approach and specifically targeting Christian organisations.

Core Issues Trust, a non-profit Christian ministry that supports men and women who voluntarily seek change in sexual preference and expression, had its bank accounts closed following a campaign of harassment and intimidation.

The group has received abusive calls and messages, and been dropped by multiple service providers since being targeted through a social media campaign.

After Barclays Bank closed the ministry’s bank accounts, the Christian Legal Centre helped challenge the decision through the courts.

Eventually, Barclays agreed to pay over £20,000 in compensation to the group.

There is also the case of Anglican vicar, Reverend Richard Fothergill, cancelled by the Yorkshire Building Society (YBS). Last month Fothergill responded to a monthly email he gets from YBS asking for his feedback, after noticing that it was displaying support for Pride month on its website. He wrote out ‘a couple of paragraphs’ about how he did not agree with trans ideology – or the idea that you can have alternative genders – being pushed on children.

On 22 June he received a letter from YBS about his ‘views regarding LGBTQIA+’. It said the comments he made were ‘not tolerable’, that their ‘relationship had irrevocably broken down’ and the building society had a ‘zero tolerance approach to discrimination’.

Speaking to the Times, Fothergill said, ‘I wasn’t even aware that our relationship had a problem. They are a financial house – they are not there to do social engineering. I think they should concentrate their efforts on managing money, instead of promoting LGBT ideology.’

Now the matter of a Christian charity organisation working in Nigeria having its accounts closed in the UK has emerged.

While the world focusses on the war in Ukraine, the daily bloodshed in Nigeria is ignored. Violent attacks on Christians and their churches are commonplace, and in the country’s south-east, warlords have usurped local authority and nothing – including marriages and funerals – can be done without their approval. A spate of gruesome killings, kidnappings and extortion rackets has left residents there living in fear.

The unrest has forced people to flee villages where they led a peaceful life until just a few years ago. Where so many live in abject poverty and in fear of their lives, this organisation (which wishes to remain anonymous for fear of further reprisal) carries out its ministry, caring for hundreds of refugees from conflict, feeding children and providing schooling and health care among all the trauma and bloodshed.

It prioritises patients who would otherwise not be able to afford treatment, particularly young mothers and those suffering from HIV and chronic hepatitis B.

It also runs a displacement camp, not just for Christians, but for Muslims who have also been subjected to violence, thus promoting peace and reconciliation.

Even though clearly carrying out the Gospel messages of the Good Samaritan, loving thy neighbour and thy enemy, caring for the most vulnerable in our world, the charity is considered ‘intolerant’ and their bank accounts in the UK are also being shut down, without reasons being given.

In all these instances, the banks seem to be using EU laws incorporated into the UK to close the accounts of ‘politically exposed persons’ (PEPs), in the same way Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau froze the bank accounts of the Canadian truckers and their supporters who were protesting his government’s vaccine mandate.

Ostensibly, PEP laws were designed to ensure politicians can’t take bribes or launder money. However, following the revelation that UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt was denied a bank account because he was a PEP, UK banks are facing a Treasury investigation into claims they are using these laws to close customers’ accounts because they do not like their views on politics, Brexit, gender and sexuality. Indeed, the UK government is now moving to scrap the EU PEP laws altogether. Nevertheless, there is clearly a trend here.

Behave yourself and you can live a measure of a normal life; challenge the approved ideology and you will be punished, including ‘switching off’ access to your money, and the Marxist commissars who enforce this new cultural revolution dare to call themselves ‘progressive’ and ‘tolerant’.




Monday, July 17, 2023

Leading gender dysphoria expert lauded for his work on sexual orientation says he has been censored

One of the world's leading experts on gender dysphoria claims an academic journal has withdrawn an article he wrote for it due to pressure from trans activists.

J Michael Bailey, 66, professor of psychology at Northwestern University in the US state of Illinois, has published more than 100 academic articles during his 40-year career and has previously been lauded for his 'groundbreaking' work on sexual orientation.

On March 29, his article 'Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria' was published in the academic journal Archives Of Sexual Behavior. The professor co-authored the piece with a mother called 'Suzanne Diaz', whose daughter is transgender. She declined to give her real name for fear of reprisals.

In the report, Prof Bailey concluded that young girls reported feeling 'pressured' into receiving medical transition treatments, including drugs to block puberty, after suffering Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD). ROGD is where children, mostly girls, with no history of gender dysphoria suddenly declare they want to transition to the opposite sex.

Prof Bailey has long argued ROGD is caused by peer pressure and says doctors encourage drastic medical interventions, including mastectomies, which the girls later regret.

He wrote: 'Increasing awareness about ROGD is largely attributable to parents with daughters claiming to be sons.

'Desperate for sound medical advice, they find themselves confronted with a medical establishment that has come to prioritise surgical and hormonal intervention over traditional psychotherapy that seeks to resolve the feelings of distress.'

He says that from the day it was published the report received 'negative attention from trans activists'.

Writing on The Free Press website last week, he said: 'These activists began to lobby both the publisher (Springer Nature Group) and the organisation affiliated with the journal to retract the article and to punish the editor.'

On May 5, more than 100 gender activists published an online 'open letter' citing 'ethical concerns' over Prof Bailey's study.

He said: 'This was a pretext for their real complaint: dislike of certain ideas. Debate is essential to good science, but that is not what these activists want.

'On May 23, we received an email from Springer informing us that they were retracting our article.' The professor consulted lawyers but the article was removed last month.

Last night Toby Young, founder of the Free Speech Union, told the MoS: 'Activists dare not challenge the concept of ROGD according to the standard rules of academic debate because they know they'd lose.'




Sunday, July 16, 2023

Banning the Nazi salute

It's true that the salute given by Nazis, even by Hitler himself, varied a lot.  It was often more like a wave

Last month the Tasmanian government, in addition to banning Nazi symbols (as many jurisdictions around the world have done), took the further step of banning the Nazi salute, a favourite gesture of the brain dead, on pain of three months’ imprisonment.

How did this come about? Were there unreported Nuremberg rallies taking place in Devonport and Launceston? Or did the ever-vigilant legislature, spotting a novel threat, leap into pre-emptive action?

The desire to cancel these morons and their posturing is understandable, perhaps noble; but to my mind, it’s flawed. I’ve never considered this before, but as well as being a free-speech advocate, I find myself an equally committed defender of free movement, like some radical modern choreographer. It’s bad enough that increasingly authoritarian governments want to control the sounds that come out of our mouths, without also seeking to limit the directions in which our limbs are allowed to point.

Agreed, it does put an end to those tedious friends’ recreations of Basil Fawlty not mentioning the war, but I’m not sure that’s sufficient justification. Furthermore, is the full range of Nazi salutes forbidden? (Jerry Seinfeld once did an amusing bit on this.) Watch any WWII film and contrast the Wehrmacht motorcycle messenger snapping to attention with the SS-sturmbannfuhrer’s response, an effete, limp-wristed “Ja, ja” salute from the elbow. And careful when you’re stopping a taxi in Hobart: “Honest, officer, I see how it might have looked, but I was hailing a cab, not a genocidal dictator.”

By passing this law the Tasmanian government unintentionally buttresses the neo-fascists’ delusions that there is a conspiracy against them, that they are a force to be feared rather than ridiculed, and drives them into the darkness.

It has missed the opportunity to implement my preferred solution, which would be to expose the pathetic cretins so the rest of us know who to avoid. For ease of identification, instead of banning the Nazi salute, we might make it compulsory for them; they should be obliged to incorporate the gesture in their dealings with everyone else, enter shops and pubs with a click of the heels and a shout of devotion. Let’s see where that gets them.

Hitler, to their disappointment (and perhaps surprise), has been dead for almost 80 years, but I’m sure they’d find some other arsehole to “heil”. In fact if they’re short of ideas, I’ve got one or two first-rate candidates in mind.




Thursday, July 13, 2023

Free speech benefits the weak

Free speech advocates often face the accusation that they are defending a right that embeds existing structural privilege. Many claim that free speech protects the wealthy and powerful from the consequences of language and beliefs that oppress others. For this reason, they argue, legal limitations are needed on free speech to defend the powerless.

Yet this is demonstrably false.  

Research which will be published next month in the Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organization by academics from Victoria University of Wellington and Motu Economic and Public Policy Research demonstrates a fact we have long claimed at the Free Speech Union: free speech defends first the vulnerable and marginalised. The study, which looked at population datasets from around the world and drew from the World Values Survey, found that while individuals with greater resources may place greater stated priority on freedom of speech, it is individuals with fewer resources who consistently receive the greatest benefits from free speech.

We are often told that the poor and otherwise marginalised need state protection from certain speech. Indeed, the New Zealand government’s recent attempt to extend hate speech laws, and the current proposals to regulate social media, often stem from these claims. Yet, the researchers write: ‘Our results indicate that, within countries, individuals with lower income and lower education levels benefit most from free speech. These results support the hypothesis that free speech has an empowerment effect for those with fewer resources in society.’




Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Tech giants warn Australia's ‘fake news’ rules could limit free speech

Tech giant Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, says it is concerned new legislation designed to limit the spread of online misinformation could have a chilling effect on free speech in Australia, with potential for it to be abused to shut down legitimate debate.

The federal government announced legislation last month that would give the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) new powers, including a potential government-mandated industry-wide standard on misinformation and disinformation.

The laws would give ACMA the power to request specific content or posts be removed from social media sites, but some Coalition MPs have branded it an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth”.

Social media companies could be hit with fines of $2.75 million or 2 per cent of global turnover, whichever is larger, if they repeatedly fail to remove disinformation and misinformation.

Meta’s head of public policy in Australia, Josh Machin, on Tuesday told a Senate inquiry examining foreign interference through social media that the company was happy to be part of a voluntary industry code but was concerned about a compulsory government-run scheme.

Manchin said the draft legislation, which is currently open for public submissions, “empowers the ACMA to, for example, develop binding standards around misinformation and disinformation with some very substantial civil penalties and also criminal penalties for individuals who are involved”.

“That is a part of the legislation that we’re looking at quite closely,” he said.

“We can see some potential for that power to be abused, or for it to be used in a way that inadvertently chills free and legitimate political expression online. We’re thinking through some constructive suggestions.”




Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Facebook Speech Suppression Reaches a New Low

“A coordinated and well-funded assault on the First Amendment is well underway. So egregious are these attacks that even the leftist ACLU’s legislative counsel notes, ‘It should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions — especially when political realities make those decisions easier.’”

Fortunately, things for Twitter have changed since our own Mark Alexander mentioned the above ACLU quote. But the social media monster Facebook (Meta) continues down the path of conservative speech suppression.

The Patriot Post joined Facebook in 2009, seeing the opportunity to reach millions of people with the message of Liberty. Our efforts have resulted in a substantial following of over three-quarters of a million people, with the ability to reach millions on the platform. Compared to our peers, we have some of the most engaged followers on the platform — and thus leftist types at the Big Tech behemoth took notice.

We had a good run for over a decade building our Facebook presence (and, subsequently, building Facebook itself). That all changed in January 2020, when we received a Hate Speech strike for telling the truth. This unleashed an unending parade of strikes in the run-up to the presidential election, leaving our page in perpetual peril of deletion and severely limiting our reach. We have received at least 21 fact-checks and at least six Community Guidelines violations since, mostly for utterly absurd reasons — none for legitimate ones. In most cases, we have been given little to no recourse to resolve these. Indeed, what we have experienced has been unending capriciousness, lack of recourse, and civil rights violations.

Today, we stand on the other side of a newly kindled offensive, having now four “violations” that existentially threaten our page. Over 750K people have intentionally followed us for the purpose of seeing our content, but only a tiny fraction of them see anything we post. To shed light on the sheer absurdity of these most recent strikes, a brief recounting is in order.

Here are the causes for lost traction on Facebook:

Fact-checks. Facebook uses (read: pays) “independent” third-party fact-checkers to supposedly combat the spread of false information on the platform without bias. If original content is directly cited by a fact-checker, the author may contest it with them and might have a chance to reverse it. If it has been reposted, even just as similar content that is not expressly cited by the fact-checker, there is no recourse — just punishment. Due to the third-party nature, Facebook does not help in these instances, based on our experience. One of the most famous labels fact-checkers use is the “missing context” category. This makes it easy to fact-check just about anything that differs from their opinion.

Community Standards/Guidelines violations. We can understand a platform wishing to limit things such as adult content or spam, but in our experience nearly every Community Standards violation levied against us has been a “gotcha” situation based on a technicality. For example, in a recent violation we received a strike for promoting “Dangerous Organizations or Individuals” because in 2021 we posted an editorial column summarizing the rise of political Islam (more on that later). There are countless examples where Facebook flat-out gets what we’re saying wrong (willfully or otherwise) — but when we contest the ruling, 99% of the time it upholds its decision, or there is a convenient “technical error” that does not allow us to submit a claim.

Facebook limiting political content. After using political content to drive massive growth and engagement on its platform (and collect huge sums of money for itself), Facebook decided in late 2021 to limit political content on the platform. This directly impacts our ability to spread the message of Liberty, and it comes, again, after we expended significant effort to build the platform over many years.

Here are the ways we have lost traction on Facebook:

Page no longer recommended.

Distribution in news feed reduced.

Ability to advertise was taken away for two years

Page at risk of being unpublished.

Our message of Liberty intentionally hidden from people who want to see it.

Traffic from Facebook to our website reduced by over 85%.




Monday, July 10, 2023

Michigan ‘hate speech’ bill makes using wrong pronouns a felony

A new bill passed by the Michigan House of Representatives, HB 4474, has sparked outrage among conservative Republicans and could threaten free speech in the state.

The bill would criminalize causing someone to feel threatened by words – including misusing someone’s desired pronouns – with a potential prison sentence of up to five years or a fine of up to $10,000.

Critics have raised concerns about the implications of this bill and how it will be enforced. State Rep. Angela Rigas said, “The state of Michigan is now explicitly allowing the gender delusion issue to be used as a ‘protected class’,” She went on to say that there are similarities with attempts to block “conversion therapy”, insinuating that Democrats want to control how people think.

The language of the bill defines “intimidate” as “a willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another individual that would cause a reasonable individual to feel terrorized, frightened, or threatened, and that actually causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, or threatened.”

It also considers “sexual orientation” and “gender identity expression” as protected classes under HR 4474.

Gender identity expression means having or being perceived as having a gender-related self-identity or expression whether or not associated with an individual’s assigned sex at birth.

According to Zero Hedge:

“The state of Michigan is now explicitly allowing the gender delusion issue to be used as a ‘protected class.’ This opens up numerous issues when it comes to the courts and the continued weaponization of the system against conservatives,” said State Rep. Angela Rigas, adding “We saw similar concerns when they wanted to pass blocks on ‘conversion’ therapy. It seems Dems want to be in the business of telling people how to think.”

The bill, passed by a 59-50 vote in the Democrat-controlled House, now moves to the state Senate for consideration. If passed, it will move to the desk of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is expected to sign it.

If signed into law it could have serious consequences for free speech rights in Michigan.




Sunday, July 09, 2023

Covid Censorship Strikes Again: "Their Actions are Reprehensible," Dr. Peter McCullough M.D., MPH

Throughout these past few years, particularly post Covid, the censorship-industrial complex has grown unabated.

My 3-part (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) investigative series for TrialSite in 2021, ‘Are the scientific journals censoring the science?’ exposed how the scientific journals had been withdrawing or retracting studies, which revealed the COVID-19 vaccines in an inconvenient light (one counter to the official narrative).

In addition, studies showing favourable results for repurposed drugs as an effective early Covid treatment were also ‘fair game’ to the agents of censorship. For my series, I interviewed Dr Peter McCullough, Dr Robert Malone and Dr Pierre Kory- who all gave their personal testimonies on how their scientific papers and/or that of their colleagues were abruptly removed, without any prior warning.

This systematic removal of critical papers by medical and scientific experts informing the scientific community and the wider public on evidence-based data, scientific observations and cutting-edge research, can easily be regarded as censorship.

Unfortunately, this damaging trend has continued. On July 5th, Dr McCullough’s co-authored paper entitled, ‘A Systematic Review of Autopsy Findings in Deaths after COVID-19 Vaccination’ was published on The Lancet’s preprint server. The paper’s damning findings showed: ‘A total of 240 deaths (73.9%) were independently adjudicated as directly due to or significantly contributed to by COVID-19 vaccination.’

In less than 24 hours, this landmark paper was suddenly removed and a note appeared stating, “This preprint has been removed by Preprints with the Lancet because the study’s conclusions are not supported by the study methodology.”

This is just another example of a paper with findings, not fitting in with the “very good safety profile of the COVID-19 vaccines,” being expelled from a prominent journal.

Dr McCullough commented exclusively for TrialSite about this highly concerning issue. This is what he said: "This act of medical censorship occurred after the paper met all the criteria for listing on the Lancet PrePrint Server and appears to be triggered by very heavy worldwide interest and rapid downloading of the paper. This speaks to the importance of our findings as the largest summary of autopsies after COVID-19 vaccination. Elsevier and Lancet are trying to suppress critical scientific observations on COVID-19 vaccine safety. Their actions are reprehensible."




Friday, July 07, 2023

Mark Levin says Target refuses to carry his new book to avoid customers being 'offended' by the title

Seven-time #1 New York Times best-selling author Mark Levin said that Target told his publishing company stores would not carry his new book because customers might be offended by the title.

The book is entitled "The Democrat Party Hates America."

Levin, who is also the BlazeTV host of "LevinTV," tweeted about the announcement from Target on Wednesday and gave his fans a call to action to counteract the partisan restrictions on his book.

"Target has informed my publisher, Simon & Schuster, that it will not carry my new book when it is released on September 19. It claims that certain customers might be offended by the title," Levin tweeted.

"Imagine that!" he added. "So, the corporatist leftwing censorship begins. I will discuss this in more detail on this evening's radio show."

He went on to call on his fans to pre-order the book at Amazon to combat the censorship at Target.




Thursday, July 06, 2023

Free speech dying in Australia

In many ways the federal government’s proposal for Acma to regulate the content of social media platforms – via the Combatting Misinformation and Disinformation bill – is simply another attempt to restrict freedom of speech by limiting expressions of political opinion. There is nothing new in this.

There are various terms used by critics and regulators to describe the kind of material that they would like to see prohibited on social media and in more traditional forms of publication, including: ‘misinformation’, ‘disinformation’, ‘malinformation’, ‘fake news’ and ‘hate speech’.

Largely, however, these terms do no more than reflect disagreement by politically correct critics and regulators with the view being expressed. And it should be noted at the outset that there has never been any issue about imposing penalties on incitements to violence against individual or groups in the community. This has always been a criminal offence under the common law and an offence under various state statutes. But this kind of conduct is different from expressions of opinion that may be offensive to many, sometimes to almost all, members of the community but that do not advocate any form of action in reliance on those opinions.

In addition to their distaste from all opinions contrary to their own, those who propose restrictions on freedom of speech have a basic distrust of members of the general community because they fear that some of those members might be influenced by those contrary opinions. This fear was reflected in the 2012 report, commissioned by the Gillard government, into the subject of media regulation by former Federal Court judge, Ray Finkelstein.

The report recommended that a government body be established to supervise the news media. The report noted the observation that ‘citizens must have the capacity to engage in debate, in the form of the relevant critical reasoning and speaking skills’ but added that there is ‘real doubt as to whether these capacities are present for all, or even most, citizens’.

It also suggested that ‘even armed with full information, people do not necessarily have the means for weighing and evaluating that information’. Ultimately the report was not implemented at that time but the view that members of the community cannot be left to form their own judgments when confronted with conflicting opinions is still widely held in some quarters.

It is when views that are abhorrent to most members of the community are publicised that the sternest test for freedom of speech occurs. The use of Nazi salutes would fall into this category, being offensive to an overwhelming majority of the community and, of course, particularly to Jews. But, as the 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’.

Where does banning stop in the case of discredited regimes? What of the hammer and sickle under which millions in the Soviet Union were killed or sent to gulags? Or the Confederate flag under which the Old South fought a war to preserve the institution of slavery? 600,000 lost their lives.

Hate speech and misinformation have often been suggested as targets of section 18C of the federal Racial Discrimination Act, which makes it unlawful to do an act that is reasonably likely to, amongst other things, offend or insult another person or group of persons because of their race, colour or ethnic origin. It is important to note that this kind of legislation is a significant restriction on freedom of speech because it is aimed at expressions of opinion on political and social issues.

It is very different from the law of defamation which allows proceedings to be brought where there has been an allegation of specific misconduct but there is a complete defence to the proceedings if the allegation can be proved to be true. Section 18C does not deal in facts but with opinions and it makes the expression of those opinions unlawful if they fall within its terms.

Those who complain of ‘misinformation’ and ‘hate speech’ are essentially saying that they want opinions contrary to their own to be supressed. As already observed, there is nothing new in this and in the days of the Inquisition people were burnt at the stake because they held dissenting opinions. Those who lit the fires felt entirely justified because, in their view, their own beliefs were the truth and error – or heresy as it was called in the religious context of that time – had no right to exist.

This is the same view of the modern inquisitors. They are no longer able to have dissenters burnt – however much they might like to – but they can subject them to all manner of legal penalties, as well as portraying them as dangers to the well-being of the community.

There was a time when a robust defence of freedom of speech might have been expected from academics and administrators in universities but these bodies are now bastions of political correctness. Currently an associate professor at Melbourne University has to be escorted to and from her lectures by a security guard to avoid harassment by hostile students.

Universities were originally established as places where ideas could be exchanged and challenged. What has been the response of Melbourne University? It has been to set up a procedure for students to complain about courses of which they do not approve. It is not enough that they do not have to attend those courses but in the spirit of the Inquisition, their very existence remains an affront.

Freedom of speech is the starting point for all other political liberties but it is an endangered species here in Australia where it once had a long-established history. ?