Sunday, December 31, 2023

California Bill Would Charge Any Parent Who Doesn’t Affirm Transgenderism With ‘Child Abuse’

A blatant attempted breach of the 1st Amendent.  If enacted, it will rapidly be struck down in the courts

A recently amended California bill would add “affirming” the sexual transition of a child to the state’s standard for parental responsibility and child welfare—making any parent who doesn’t affirm transgenderism for their child guilty of abuse under California state law.

AB 957 passed California’s State Assembly on May 3, but a co-sponsor amended it after hours in California’s State Senate on June 6.

Assembly Member Lori Wilson, D-Suisun City, wrote the bill and introduced it on Feb. 14. State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, co-sponsored it. Wilson’s child identifies as transgender.

Originally, AB 957 required courts to consider whether a child’s parents were “gender-affirming” in custody cases. Wiener’s amendment completely rewrites California’s standard of child care.

AB 957 post-amendment “would include a parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identity as part of the health, safety, and welfare of the child,” altering the definition and application of the entire California Family Code.

California courts would be given complete authority under Section 3011 of California’s Family Code to remove a child from his or her parents’ home if parents disapprove of LGBTQ+ ideology.

By changing the definition of what constitutes the “health, safety, and welfare of [a] child,” schools, churches, hospitals, and other organizations interacting with children would be required to affirm “gender transitions” in minors by default—or risk charges of child abuse.

AB 957 could also expand which organizations provide “evidence” of gender “nonaffirmation” to California’s courts.

Because of the addition of “gender affirmation” to the qualifications of California’s standards for “health, safety, and welfare,” California’s courts would now be able to accept reports of gender “abuse” from progressive activist organizations—as long as they claim to provide “services to victims of sexual assault or domestic violence.”

In essence, a boy could report his parents to his local school’s Gay-Straight Alliance club or other LGBTQ+ organization, who could then report the boy’s parents for child abuse.

Incredibly, the bill provides no definition whatsoever of what would qualify as “nonaffirming” to a child’s gender.

As Susannah Luthi of The Washington Free Beacon points out, “The bill makes no distinctions regarding the age of a child, how long a child has identified as transgender, or affirmation of social transition versus medical sex-change treatments.”

It remains unclear what law or precedent California courts would be able to cite in determining whether a parent was affirming—much less to define a standard that applies to all situations.

AB 957 isn’t Wiener’s first foray into legislating transgenderism for children. Last year, Wiener authored bill SB 107, making California the first state to establish itself as a sanctuary for minors’ transgender treatments and surgeries. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, signed the bill into law in September.

In March, Advocates for Faith and Freedom sued Newsom’s administration in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Western Division.

Parental rights advocates and experts lambasted Wiener’s amendment that would upend the California Family Code.

Jay Richards, the Director of the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Life, Religion, and Family at The Heritage Foundation, calls AB 957 a “grotesque violation.” (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)

While more and more European countries pound the breaks on ghoulish gender medicine for kids, California has decided to mandate it. They not only want to make sure that any child with discordant feelings toward his or her sexed body gets fast tracked to cross-sex hormones and sterilizing surgery, state Democrats want to go after parents who might otherwise hesitate. This is a grotesque violation of both children’s and parent’s rights. Decent Californians on the Left, Right, and center should be outraged.

Nicole Pearson, founder of the Facts Law Truth Justice law firm and civil rights advocacy group, condemned AB 957’s unconstitutionality in an interview with The Daily Signal:

This bill makes law that failure to affirm your child’s identity is child abuse. This will be a final, legal determination without any evidence in support, or a hearing with notice or the opportunity to be heard. Assemblywoman Wilson and Senator Scott Wiener are not doctors. They can’t make this determination for every single child aged 0 to 17 in the state and, yet, that is exactly what they’re trying to do here.

If a parent or guardian is unwilling or simply not ready to affirm their 7-year-old’s new identity—as they transition from Spongebob to Batman to Dora the Explorer—they can be found guilty of child abuse under AB-957 if it passes into law.

This is a horrifying bill for children, and for parents and guardians not just in California, but across the country. Gavin Newsom is gunning for president in 2028. If he signs this bill into law, here, it will be headed to every state if he wins.

AB 957 has a scheduled hearing in the State Senate on June 13 at 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time.




Thursday, December 28, 2023

A professor claimed he was “unlawfully dismissed” by the university over a social media post.

Professor Andrew Timming, who was sacked by RMIT University last week, said he would take the university to the Fair Work Commission, claiming he was bullied and unlawfully dismissed by the institution.

Prof Timming said his sacking came after a social media post he made in December 2022 weighing in on an exchange between controversial influencer Andrew Tate and climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Tate posted a tweet taunting Thunberg with a picture of himself in front of his Bugatti vehicle, boasting about his 33 cars and asking for her email address so he could send “a complete list of … their respective enormous emissions.”

Thunberg responded: “Yes, please do enlighten me. email me at”.

Prof Timming questioned why Thunberg had received praise for the remark.

“Demeaning sexual jokes when directed from a woman to a man – smiley face, wink face. Demeaning sexual jokes when directed from a man to a woman – bomb emoji, skull and crossbones emoji,” Prof Timming tweeted.

Prof Timming alleges he was reprimand over the tweet, then suffered “vicious bullying” at the university, leading him to lodge a grievance complaint in May.

A month later, RMIT allegedly placed him on extended leave and tried to terminate his contract on the grounds of ill health.

Prof Timming said his doctor and an independent medical expert appointed by the university said he was fit to return to work and he did so immediately.

He claims he was later stood down for not undertaking extra teaching, which he claims he never agreed to do.

Prof Timming told the Herald Sun he hoped the university would ensure “procedural fairness” during the Fair Work Commission appeal process so he could “put all this nonsense behind (him)”.

The former Human Resource Management professor said he was terminated from his job three days before Christmas.

“I was called into a meeting and I was informed I would be dismissed that same day,” he said.

“I was given the opportunity to comment … but after 15 minutes of deliberation they said I was dismissed immediately.”

Prof Timming said while the decision was a difficult one to hear, he had spent the previous six months preparing for it.

“It has been extremely stressful, but I knew it was coming,” he said, noting previous issues he had with the university.

“Ultimately my message to the university is that the rule of law must prevail and procedural fairness must prevail and I have a right to appeal.”

RMIT declined to comment on Mr Timming’s case as it doesn’t respond to individual staff matters.

The petition on website ActionButton is calling on RMIT’s vice chancellor to uphold Prof Timming's appeal against his dismissal, restore academic freedom and respect workplace rights.

“Prof Timming’s tweet was a commentary on the double standard when it comes to men sexually harassing women versus women sexually harassing men,” the petition said.

“After being threatened with disciplinary action over the tweet and bullied, he lodged a grievance alleging the RMIT violated his rights to academic free speech.

“Following his complaint, he was subjected to intense bullying and adverse action aimed at constructive dismissal,” the petition states.




Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Politically correct censorship

Despite the long history of scientific censorship and its current prevalence, the mechanisms by which censorship operates, the agents who impose censorship and their motives, and the ultimate costs of censorship have not been systematically investigated. A recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) by Cory Clark and 38 co-authors, Prosocial Motives Underlie Scientific Censorship by Scientists: A Perspective and Research Agenda (Clark et al. 2023), takes a stab at this issue. The paper lays out important questions regarding the nature and consequences of censorship and puts out a call for systematic research on the subject.

One of the paper’s co-authors, psychology professor Steve Stewart-Williams, summarizes the evidence for the current wave of scientific censorship and self-censorship, as well as the rise of censorious attitudes among scientists, which motivated the paper:

* Increasing numbers of scientists report being sanctioned for conducting politically contentious research.
Retractions of papers have become more and more common over the last decade, and at least some of these appear to have been driven primarily by concerns other than scientific merit. One group of scholars even retracted their own paper, not because it was scientifically flawed, but because it was being cited by conservatives in ways the authors didn’t approve of.

* Several lines of research suggest that studies reaching politically unpalatable conclusions may have a harder time negotiating the peer-review process than they would if the conclusions were in the opposite direction. As the paper notes, “When scholars misattribute their rejection of disfavored conclusions to quality concerns that they do not consistently apply, bias and censorship are masquerading as scientific rejection.”

* Recent surveys suggest that many academics support censuring or censoring controversial research, with support being strongest among younger scholars.
Unsurprisingly, recent polls also suggest that many academics now self-censor on even mildly controversial topics.

* A large number of academics express a willingness to discriminate against conservatives when it comes to hiring, publications, grants, and promotions. Unsurprisingly, conservative scholars are particularly likely to self-censor.

*A growing number of journals have explicitly committed to judging scientific papers not just on the quality of the research but also on their (supposed) social or political impact. “In effect,” note Clark et al., “editors are granting themselves vast leeway to censor high-quality research that offends their own moral sensibilities.”




Sunday, December 24, 2023

The Harvard Crimson refuses to publish my letter critical of President Claudine Gay

Alan Dershowitz (below)is professor emeritus at Harvard Law School

The paper published an article Dec. 12 by law Professor Charles Fried providing a legalistic defense of her claim that those who call for genocide against Jews cannot be disciplined without considering “the context.”

Here’s my response:

The problem with Charles Fried’s defense of President Gay’s “context matters” statement is he fails to acknowledge that for Gay context apparently matters only for genocidal threats against Jews.

Context does not matter for microaggressions against blacks, gays and other minorities protected by the diversity, equity, inclusion bureaucracy that she has long championed.

Under the DEI regime, admissions have been withdrawn, lectures canceled and students admonished — at Harvard, Penn, MIT and other universities — for their speech without regard to the context in which they were said.

Fried fails to see the broader context of the double standard employed by so many universities — including Harvard — against Jews and other minorities that are excluded by DEI.

Yes, context matters, and in this broader context Gay was wrong to brag to Congress about Harvard’s commitment to free expression without also telling it that Harvard’s selective application of free-speech standards earned it a last-place rating for free speech by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression.

It is in that context that Gay’s new and selective double standard for protecting the free speech of Jew-haters should be evaluated.

It is to be hoped that Gay’s new contextual standard will in the future be universally applied to all speech at Harvard and the DEI bureaucracy will henceforth be denied the power to censor and cancel expression that is directed against protected minorities.

Despite my forward-looking and positive conclusion, the editorial board wrote that it is “not interested in publishing it.”

I think this is the first time in my 65 years of writing letters to the editor that one has been turned down.

And this one is from a professor who has been on the Harvard faculty for 60 years and has published numerous articles and letters in the Crimson.

It’s a telling irony the paper that reassured its readers “Free speech is the guiding principle of this Editorial Board” refuses to publish a letter calling for less censorship and viewpoint discrimination on campus.

That reflects Harvard’s double-standard approach to free speech: contextual free speech for the enemies of Jews and their state; censorship for supporters of Israel and critics of Harvard.

By refusing to publish my short reply to Professor Fried, the paper didn’t deny my free speech.

It denied Crimson readers’ right to hear all sides of a controversial issue — because the Crimson decided to shut down the marketplace of ideas.

When the media refuse to publish legitimate criticism of the institution they cover, the checks on the biases of that institution are weakened.

In light of this pervasive double standard, it’s not surprising so many Jewish students feel that Harvard does not value and protect them.

In recent years, the Crimson has become the megaphone for anti-Israel and antisemitic extremism on campus.

It’s also become the censor of pro-Israel and balanced views.

Last year, for instance, the Crimson’s editorial board called for support for the boycott, divestment, sanctions movement against Israel.

In its editorial, the paper explicitly distanced itself from a 2002 editorial that called divestment too blunt of a tool and the comparison to South African apartheid offensive: “In the past, our board was skeptical of the movement (if not, generally speaking, of its goals), arguing that BDS as a whole did not ‘get at the nuances and particularities of the Israel-Palestine conflict.’ We regret and reject that view. It is our categorical imperative to side with and empower the vulnerable and oppressed.”

It then goes on to paint a false picture that pro-Palestinian viewpoints are being suppressed on campus.

The Crimson of today writes, “We have a certain community-wide tendency to dismiss opposing views as inherently offensive and unworthy, straw-manning legitimate arguments and obfuscating difficult but necessary discussions. Yet civil discourse and debate, even when trying, are fundamental steps towards a better reality.”

But it does not apply these standards when it comes to Jews.

Harvard students, faculty and other readers should make their voices heard in the name of veritas and the open marketplace of ideas.

Competing Harvard newspapers and media should be established to ensure all reasonable views can be heard.

The Crimson is part of the problem of growing antisemitism at Harvard. It does not serve the Harvard community well in this time of deep divisions and hate.




Thursday, December 21, 2023

Barring speakers under u.s. sanctions puts ideas off-limits, say free speech advocates

Can the U.S. government control the speech that an American organization sponsors in another country?

A LAWSUIT FILED Wednesday says the U.S. government violated the First Amendment when it prevented a U.S.-based organization from hosting people sanctioned by the U.S. as speakers at a conference earlier this year. The suit, if successful, could have far-reaching implications for placing federal limits on freedom of speech when sanctioned or otherwise designated people or groups are involved.

The complaint Opens in a new tab, filed by Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute, argues that the decision made by the Office of Foreign Assets Control could have consequences for public discourse, including whether news outlets could publish interviews with individuals designated under U.S. sanctions law.

For the lawyers bringing the suit, the current curtailment of speech based on sanctions amounts to the policing of thought.

“The question at the core of the case is what control the U.S. government has over the American mind and whether it can effectively insulate Americans from ideas and people who it decides are off-limits,” said Alex Abdo, litigation director of the Knight Institute. “That is an extraordinarily dangerous authority.”

In January, the Foundation for Global Political Exchange, a U.S. nonprofit that organizes small-group discussions across the political spectrum in the Middle East, held an event in Beirut aimed at fostering political dialogue about Lebanon.

The Foundation sought to include five influential political figures in Lebanon who were either sanctioned by the U.S. government or were members of a designated organization. Two of the potential speakers were members of the Lebanese Parliament, one was a senior representative of the sanctioned Palestinian militant group Hamas, and two others were members of Hezbollah, which the U.S. government considers a terrorist organization but remains a major political party within Lebanon.

Out of prudence, the Foundation informed OFAC, the agency that regulates sanctions, that some of the participants were on the sanctions list or affiliated with sanctioned groups. The agency was categorical in its response: Any event held by Americans with designated individuals was prohibited and risked civil or criminal penalties. OFAC claimed that inviting any of the five people — even those who were members of sanctioned organizations but not themselves listed as individuals — would violate the law by giving them “a platform for them to speak” that would provide a “service,” according to the lawsuit. (OFAC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

The lawsuit argues that OFAC has no legal authority to prevent Americans from engaging in conversation with people on the sanctions list. The Foundation’s event was specifically protected by legal and regulatory exemptions on the exchange of information and ideas, it claims.

“OFAC is assuming the authority to control whom Americans get to hear from and by extension what views Americans hold,” Anna Diakun, a staff attorney at the Knight Institute, told The Intercept. “But the public gets to decide for itself which ideas to credit and which ones to reject. That is what the First Amendment is supposed to protect.”




Wednesday, December 20, 2023

The Dangers of Curtailing Free Speech on Campus

The answer to surging antisemitism on campus is not to curtail free speech. Anguish over mounting anti-Jewish sentiment, and the seemingly ad hoc scramble of American universities to define their duties toward targeted students, is understandable. But in a pluralistic society predicated on the right to speak, antisemitism cannot be eliminated by banning or punishing noxious sentiment. Too many university administrators, Members of Congress, and other influentials mistakenly believe that, when it comes to hateful speech, the choices are to prohibit it outright or instead let its pollution seep freely through communities. That is a false choice. Antisemitism, like other forms of bigotry, must be unequivocally repudiated and countered. But the U.S. Constitution and our private universities’ commitments to free expression and academic freedom demand that the tools to accomplish this goal respect rather than restrict speech.

The recent surge in antisemitism on campus and in the wider society is alarming. While various forms of bigotry – including anti-Palestinian and Islamophobia are also surging – incidents of antisemitism are at a record high. The main threats come not from speech but from actions: violence and violent threats against Jews; disruptions of classes or talks; vandalism; and ideological litmus tests being applied in classrooms. Commonplace slogans can be interpreted as annihilationist. The tearing down of hostage posters, including those depicting the elderly and children, send a message that innocent Jewish lives don’t matter.

The menacing of Jews has uncorked fear that age-old hatreds were only dormant, lying in wait. Campus norms have evolved to shield other marginalized groups and bring about a more inclusive campus. Over the last decade, campus communities have rightly become sensitized to racial slurs, stereotypes, and microaggressions that can stoke feelings of exclusion.

Even five years ago, reference to the n-word was not unheard of in the college classroom; whether in a quote from literature or illustrate a legal doctrine. In recent years instructors were put on notice that the word, regardless of intent and context, was widely considered deeply offensive. Once alerted, many voluntarily refrained from its use, not wanting to stoke tension or hard feelings.

The use of preferred gender pronouns has also come to be more widely accepted on the basis that people deserve a choice in how they are identified and described. We have begun to adapt to the premise that living together in a diverse, pluralistic society demands a measure of respect for individual difference, even when that extends to what we do or don’t say. When it comes to language that can be code for genocide or play on antisemitic stereotypes, Jewish students are now drawing attention to how words may land.

For the most part, though, these expectations have been enforced not through rules and punishments but with informal taboos and spreading awareness of heterogeneity and the need to avoid gratuitous offense. Some free speech defenders have rightly pointed out that while increased conscientiousness of difference may be good in theory, it can readily cross over into a climate of censoriousness in which topics such as affirmative action, immigration, or care for transgender youth become too risky to discuss.

The problem intensifies when unofficial awareness raising hardens into institutional mandates policing speech. Formal prohibitions can foster grievances among those who believe that open debate – and specifically their own dissenting opinions - are being muzzled.

Universities have exacted reprisals against students and professors for voicing provocative or offensive views and sought to suspend students organizations that challenge prevailing orthodoxies. Yet recent experience attests to the futility of trying to subdue bigotry by quashing speech: official prohibitions are inevitably subject to interpretation and charges of hypocrisy; those who believe their ideas are disfavored become aggrieved and resentful, sometimes grandstanding their way into even more clout; and chilling effects unavoidably reach beyond the narrow parameters of enumerated speech restrictions.




Tuesday, December 19, 2023

It isn’t free speech that causes violence – it’s censorship

So it is now against the law in Denmark to treat the Koran ‘improperly’. Anyone who inflicts ‘inappropriate treatment’ on a copy of Islam’s holy book – whether by stomping on it, ripping it to shreds or setting it on fire – could be fined or even jailed for two years. This is a travesty for liberty. It is a stain on the good name of Scandinavia. Denmark joins Iran, Afghanistan and other theocratic tyrannies as a nation where you might be made to rot in a cell simply for insulting a religion.

The new law, passed on Thursday, doesn’t specifically mention the Koran. Instead it makes it a crime to ‘inappropriately treat, publicly or with the intention of dissemination in a wider circle, a writing with significant religious significance for a religious community’. But we all know what ‘writing’ is being referred to here. We all know it isn’t fiery abuse of L Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics or Buddhism’s Tripitaka scriptures that the Danish state is worried about. It’s Koran-burning. The justice minister was candid. ‘Koran-burnings must be stopped’, he said on Instagram the day the law was passed. Ignore the law’s slippery chat about protecting all sacred texts from violation – this is a law expressly designed to shield Islam from blasphemy.

Denmark and Sweden have witnessed numerous Koran-burnings recently. Far-right agitators as well as ex-Muslims have set fire to copies in Copenhagen, Stockholm and elsewhere. And the reaction from Muslim-majority nations has been ferocious. There were angry protests in Baghdad. Iran summoned Danish and Swedish diplomats in Tehran to give them a dressing down. Turkey threatened to block Sweden’s entry to NATO until it showed ‘respect to [Muslims’] religious beliefs’. In short, bow to our faith or you will be punished. Take the knee to our ideology or suffer the consequences.

Now, Denmark has capitulated. It has sought to appease the muftis and mobs of distant regimes by forbidding the desecration of their holy texts. It has restricted the liberty of its own citizens to placate theocrats in other lands. The more you think about it, the more surreal it gets. It’s almost like a soft colonisation, with Denmark meekly introducing the blasphemy laws of nations like Iran to try to avoid further protest and rebuke. ‘This law is introduced out of necessity, not out of desire’, said one Danish politician, speaking to the spineless nature of what Denmark has done – namely, mimicked the intolerance of its critics in the hope they will now leave it alone.

Yet if Denmark does win brief respite from Islamist bullying, it will have done so at a staggeringly high price: freedom itself. For make no mistake, outlawing the burning of the Koran is a flagrant assault on free expression. Personally, I never like to see a book on fire. One cannot help but think of the bleakest decades of the 20th century when a match is put to a book. But freedom of speech must include the freedom to blaspheme. To mock gods, prophets, bibles. To lampoon Muhammad, put a likeness of Christ in piss. To call bullshit on anything and everything. Yes, some will feel offended, but that’s an infinitesimally small price to pay for the preservation of everyone else’s right to think and speak as they see fit. Free speech is not just for the erudite but also for the impolitic, the cantankerous, the wind-up merchants. Outlawing Koran-burning should offend us as profoundly as outlawing the writing of poetry would – in both cases the liberty to utter is restricted.

Few, I know, will feel sympathy for hard-right troublemakers who’ll no longer be able to burn a Koran in Denmark. But what about ex-Muslims, or ‘apostates’, as Islamic states call them? Some of the Koran-burnings in Scandinavia have been carried out by immigrants from Muslim lands who’ve abandoned their Islamic faith. They feel fury towards a religion they now consider unjust and unfair. If Denmark imprisons an ‘apostate’ for publicly desecrating the Koran, it will be no better than Iran, where apostasy is likewise punishable by jail. Iranian dissidents might once have looked to a nation like Denmark for refuge. No longer. Now they know they risk severe punishment there, too, if they demean Islam’s holy text. For shame.

The enormity of what Denmark has done was summed up by Nina Palesa Bonde, a deputy judge in the Copenhagen District Court and one of hundreds of Danish intellectuals to sound the alarm about the new law. ‘Normally, the law protects people, not religion, ideology or God himself’, she said. Indeed. Six years ago, Denmark ditched its 334-year-old blasphemy law on the basis that ‘religion should not dictate what is allowed and what is forbidden to say publicly’. Yet now it has resurrected blasphemy law in the sneaky language of political correctness. Once again, religion – well, Islam – is dictating what may and may not be said. We are protecting in law a book that is ‘used as a death sentence for women, Jews and homosexuals in many countries’, said Ms Bonde. If that doesn’t give Danes pause for thought, nothing will.

One of the key arguments made by the officials who pushed through this medieval law in woke garb is that Denmark must do everything it can to protect itself from violence. This law is necessary because ‘the terrorist threat level against Denmark is alarmingly high’, said one politician. That is a horrifying thing to say. It essentially grants terrorists a veto over liberty, law itself, in the state of Denmark. It offers up Denmark’s longstanding principle of free expression as a bargaining chip with terrorists. It says, ‘If we ban blasphemy, if we jail those who offend you, will you let us live in peace?’. This isn’t only cowardly – it’s dangerous. It sends a signal to terrorists that threats work, violence works. Threaten the nations of Europe and they will abandon their principles, including freedom.

This does the opposite of pacifying the violent – it emboldens them. It gives them an almost despotic power over the laws and rights of a free nation. It moulds Denmark around their reactionary beliefs rather than around the freeborn rights of the Danish people. In fact, it’s an incitement to violence. Denmark’s ruling class says burning a Koran incites violence, but their horrific new law is far more likely to do that. For it communicates to every Islamist on Earth that if you want concessions from Denmark, if you want this once proud nation to jettison its principles and beliefs, if you want it to reinstate the blasphemy laws it only recently demolished – only this time to protect Islam rather than Christianity – then all you need to do is threaten it with violence. ‘Terrorism works’ – that’s what Denmark has said to the world.

Here we can glimpse an eternal truth of censorship: it is the midwife of violence. So often today we’re told that free speech causes violence. That the utterance of offensive ideas is likely to whip up mobs. In truth, censorship is a far more comfortable bedfellow of savagery than freedom could ever be. For censorship tells certain groups that their beliefs are so perfect, so pristine, so beyond the scurrilous commentary of mere mortals, that those who dissent from them are deserving of punishment. Censorship begets intolerance. In forcefielding certain ideologies from criticism, it incites the adherents to those ideologies to seek out and ‘discipline’ the filth that dare to dissent.

Consider the Charlie Hebdo massacre, or the beheading of Samuel Paty, or the stabbing of Salman Rushie. The problem in those cases was not the freely uttered views of the attacked but the violent sensitivities of their attackers. The problem was not Charlie Hebdo’s, Monsieur Paty’s and Mr Rushdie’s expectation of freedom, but their tormentors’ expectation of protection from offence. The apocalyptic violence of those attacks sprung not from the principle of free expression but from censorship’s depraved incitement to intolerance, its instilling in people’s minds of the backward idea that anyone who offends them deserves punishment. It wasn’t freedom of speech that drove the knife into Rushdie’s face and neck – it was a man’s lust for censorship.

Denmark has, in effect, hung a target sign around the necks of those who ‘blaspheme’ against the Koran. It has said they are such wicked people that they might even have to be imprisoned. It will not be able to feign shock if other elements in Denmark, and elsewhere in Europe, decide that harsher punishment might sometimes be required. Maybe even violent punishment. Pity the ‘apostates’ and dissenters – they always lose when censorship wins.




Monday, December 18, 2023

Irish Legislation Targeting Free Speech

Republican Ohio Sen. JD Vance sent a letter Tuesday to Irish Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason expressing strong concerns about legislation that would undermine Irish citizens’ freedom of speech.

Vance’s letter, first obtained by The Daily Signal, references the Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022, which is supported by Irish politicians such as Sen. Pauline O’Reilly, who is in the country’s Green Party.

“We are restricting freedom but we’re doing it for the common good,” O’Reilly said in viral remarks earlier this year as she discussed the legislation. “Yes, you have rights, but they are restricted for the common good.”

The Ohio Republican warns that this Irish bill is “full of vague prohibitions that would chill important public debate if they were to become law, particularly with respect to the most controversial and publicly significant matters.”

“Given that President de Valera himself was imprisoned for sedition in 1918, I urge your government to consider the impact of this legislation on Ireland’s proud tradition of free speech,” Vance wrote.

The proposed Irish legislation would criminalize “behav[ing] in a public place in a manner … that is likely to incite … hatred against a person or a group of persons on account of their protected characteristics [while] being reckless as to whether … hatred is thereby incited,” as Vance pointed out.

“What on earth does that mean?” questioned the senator. “Would the prohibition include ‘recklessly’ attributing social ills, like crime, to increased immigration to Ireland? Would it include ‘recklessly’ affirming that gender is biologically determined and that there are only two genders, male and female?”

“Even if a court would not interpret the law to prohibit that sort of activity, Irish citizens could be forgiven for thinking that it does,” he said. “And if those citizens self-censor to protect themselves from prosecution, Ireland will be robbed of the meaningful public discourse that all democracies need.”

Vance pointed out that the United States “routinely condemns” censorious conduct from countries like China, Iran, or Myanmar, noting that the State Department just imposed visa restrictions on Iranian government officials who are suspected to have been involved in censoring the rights of peaceful protesters.

“I am alarmed that one of our closest friends, a democracy dedicated to upholding cherished freedoms, should undertake such legislation,” the senator said. He concluded the letter by calling upon the Irish ambassador to explain whether the legislation would be consistent with Ireland’s treaty obligations and whether the bill would be applicable to all classes of foreign visitors to Ireland, including U.S. government officials.




Sunday, December 17, 2023

Elon Musk SLAMS Microsoft Word's inclusiveness checker as it prompts him to reconsider using the word 'insane'

Even word processors aren't safe from Elon Musk's war on wokeness.

The X (formerly Twitter) CEO took to social media to slam Microsoft Word's inclusiveness checker.

Musk complained that he had been 'scolded' for using the word 'insane' in a document.

His supporters took to X to vent against the 'woke' work processor with some joking that it was Microsoft which had gone insane.

Another supporter wrote that 'wokeism has literally infiltrated everything on this planet'.

Musk's ire was drawn by a suggestion provided by Microsoft Word's inclusiveness spell check feature.

While trying to write that a vehicle, presumable the Cybertruck, has 'insane stability' Microsoft noted that 'this term implies mental health bias'.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Musk wrote: 'Microsoft World now scolds you if you use words that aren't "inclusive"!'

Musk's supporters joined the X CEO in an outpouring of rage against the program's interference.   'MS Word is going woke', wrote one angry commenter.  'They really putting the Soft in Microsoft', joked another.

Meanwhile, one commenter poked fun at the suggestion, writing: 'That's insane'.




Thursday, December 14, 2023

Princeton punished me for fighting to fix DEI and antisemitism on campus

If the words “diversity, equity, and inclusion” mean anything, it’s that hatred is unacceptable no matter what form it takes.

Yet the past two months have made clear to me that institutional DEI tolerates — and thereby encourages — the particularly awful hatred of antisemitism.

What else could explain what’s happening at Princeton University?

Nothing prepared me for Oct. 7.  I stayed up all night watching the horror Hamas terrorists were perpetrating in real time.

The next day, my family was in anguish, and my friends were devastated, especially those with loved ones in Israel.

Nothing prepared me for the days and weeks that came after, either.

I made the mistake of logging onto X and our Graduate Student Government Slack channel.  While I always knew antisemitism found a home in higher education, I still expected my peers to express shock and sympathy — the natural response to obvious evil.

Instead, I found an explosion of Jew-hatred, mere days after Israelis were slaughtered, burned, kidnapped and raped.

The comments were as heinous as they were numerous.

Some particularly disturbing examples: “They called Nelson Mandela a terrorist too”; “Jews have naturally developed something of a victim complex”; “you know you’re the one . . . committing terrorism, killing innocent people on a daily basis” to a professor and alumnus who served in the Israel Defense Forces; “you’re a racist who would love to see as many Palestinians dead as possible”; “What was your body count today? . . . did you end up orphaning more than twenty children today alone?”; and “Respecting people’s heritage” means “standing in solidarity with the oppressed as they resist the oppressor.”

That one came Oct. 7, before Hamas had finished its murder spree.

At first, I felt sick — a combination of shock, anger, grief and disgust rolled into one.

After I calmed down, I felt resolved. I compiled a list of the most horrific comments and sent them Oct. 18 to Princeton’s DEI office.  I asked it to discipline Princeton students spreading hate.

I got a response Nov. 7: It would take no action because the comments “constitute political (and therefore protected) speech.”

I could understand that reasoning, despite the naked hypocrisy of Princeton faculty members having been previously disciplined for speech.

But what happened next was far more baffling.  I asked the DEI office to meet with me — not to discuss the report I made but rather the problem of antisemitism more broadly.

I hoped we could devise a plan to combat this hatred in Princeton’s student body.

The DEI office’s response was swift and simple: No because “campus community members are not entitled to personal meetings.”

I kept trying, including by getting more influential members of the Princeton community to reiterate my request.

But the DEI office held firm, even as antisemitism became prominent amid campus protests, walkouts and everyday interactions.

To this day, the DEI office has not met with me, though I have been punished for pushing back on antisemitism in the Slack channel.

A student obtained a “no communication order” against me.

For subsequently “liking” with a green-check emoji a Slack message a friend wrote replying to that student with some facts, I was put on disciplinary probation Wednesday, “the most serious admonition a student can receive while being permitted to remain at the University.”

The Graduate Student Government also temporarily suspended my Slack account for “stigmatization of mental health and religious affiliation,” according to a newly updated code of conduct.

I had tried to explain particular drivers of antisemitism by drawing on my own psychological training and discussing religious fundamentalism in general.

DEI ideology has been weaponized against me — and Jews more broadly, as groups like Do No Harm have documented across higher education.

I should have known. For all its talk about justice and the importance of oppressed lives, DEI cares about neither — at least, not in a consistent or holistic way.

It divides groups of people based on superficial characteristics, then assumes they can do no right or do no wrong depending on their identity and relationship to other groups.

Jews, it turns out, are forever damned, deserving no support when victimized.

If silence is violence, then silence about antisemitism at Princeton is driving ongoing calls for violence against Jews.




Wednesday, December 13, 2023

$290 Million Class Action Lawsuit Against Freedom Convoy Participants Created to Silence Expression, Lawyers Argue

A lawsuit filed by a group of Ottawa residents against participants of the Freedom Convoy is designed to silence expression, lawyers for the defendants say.

The class action litigation, filed by Ottawa resident Zexi Li and others, seeks $290 million in damages, saying the protestors caused a nuisance and led to psychological distress as well as a loss of income due to business closures in downtown Ottawa.

The lawsuit has also named citizens who donated to the protest, according to a news release by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), who are supporting legal representation for the defendants.

Lawyers for defendants Tamara Lich, Chris Barber, and others will be in court on Dec. 14 to try and have the case tossed out. They say it is a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP), or a lawsuit brought to try and silence opponents.

“Zexi Li’s lawsuit engages the very purpose that ‘anti-SLAPP’ legislation was designed to address: an attempt to silence peaceful expression, and the right of defendants to participate in public debate,” lawyer James Manson said in the release.

The defendants’ attorneys argue the lawsuit relates to the defendant’s expression, which includes those who donated to the Freedom Convoy.

“Donating to and participating in the Freedom Convoy amounted to an expression of support for the protest, and of disagreement with the Government of Canada’s response to Covid—matters of public interest,” JCCF said.

They also say that the defendants have valid defences and “the value of the expression at issue outweighs the allegations of nuisance against them.”

JCCF said that after an anti-SLAPP motion is filed, the defendant must demonstrate that the lawsuit against them arises from their expression and relates to a matter of public interest.

"If the defendant can demonstrate that their expression does relate to a matter of public interest, the plaintiff must then demonstrate that their lawsuit has ‘substantial merit’ and that the defendant has no valid defence.”

The group behind the lawsuit has started a website where they say they are seeking compensation for “serious harms and losses” that residents, businesses, and workers in Ottawa experienced.

“The non-stop blaring horns, diesel fumes, unexpected fireworks, and loud sound systems blasting music have caused the residents unbearable torment in the sanctity of their own homes,” the site says.

“Canada is a free and democratic society with a long tradition of peaceful protest and assemblies. The Defendants have abused those freedoms to cause serious harm to others, innocent bystanders to the Defendants’ pursuit of their misguided political goals.”

In testimony given in court in October, Ms. Li said the protest made life difficult.
"It was difficult to live as a human being," she testified.

Ms. Li was granted an injunction against the horn-honking during the demonstration, according to The Canadian Press.




Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Harvard’s Claudine Gay uses ‘free speech’ as a defense after a history of squelching it

She has no principles at all

During last week’s House Education Committee hearing on campus antisemitism, college presidents like Harvard’s Claudine Gay used free speech grounds to defend anti-Israel protests on campus.

The problem is, Gay’s defense rings hollow when stacked against the university’s reputation. When it comes to free speech, Harvard is abysmal.

It finished dead last in the 2024 College Free Speech Rankings from our organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression.

FIRE’s results come from survey data of more than 55,000 students at 248 schools, assessing openness, tolerance, self-expression, administrative support for free speech and campus speech policies.

Harvard’s final score? Zero.  Worse than zero, actually, because FIRE rounded up from -10.69.

Harvard pays lip service to free expression, but its record says otherwise. There have been nine reported attempts in the last five years to punish students, student groups, scholars and speakers for speech protected under First Amendment standards. Seven resulted in sanctions.

While this may seem small, it’s not. One sanction can potentially cause hundreds to self-censor out of fear — and the numbers show they have. Students who report self-censoring “fairly often” or “very often” have increased from 16% in 2021 to 24% in 2023.

That — along with 10 ambiguous or easily abused speech codes, such as vaguely defined requirements that students be “civil” when using computers or networks — is why Harvard consistently lands at the bottom of FIRE’s rankings.

As for whether Claudine Gay can turn things around: We’re hopeful, but her record leaves room for doubt.

In 2019, while still Faculty of Arts and Sciences dean, Gay was instrumental in Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. losing his position as residential dean for representing disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein.

Rather than respect Sullivan’s constitutional role as a defense attorney, Gay cited student outrage as evidence that “more work must be done to uphold our commitment to the well-being of our students.”

The implication being that for Gay, the constitutionality of a given action or argument may not overcome current student sentiment.

Then there’s Gay’s insistence on institutional activism in response to George Floyd’s death. In an August 2020 memorandum, she noted, “The calls for racial justice heard on our streets also echo on our campus,” and affirmed her “personal commitment” to “institutional change” regarding “the pernicious effects of structural inequality” at Harvard.

By attempting to signal Harvard’s position in this national debate, Gay immediately alienated differing opinions.

This is a far cry from Gay’s sudden recognition that “the pursuit of truth is possible only when freedom of expression is protected and exercised” and that Harvard “will not allow discomfort or disagreement with opinions fairly expressed to impede this pursuit.”

Given this, accusations of double standards on Gay’s part are understandable.

Still, it’s possible Gay sincerely intends to correct course. Her inaugural commitment to “open inquiry and freedom of expression as foundational values” and her defense of “robust debate” at the hearing may signal a welcome change at Harvard. Skepticism is warranted, but cynicism shouldn’t get in the way of progress.




Monday, December 11, 2023

Woman prevented from documenting antisemitism

After issuing an apology on Friday after video surfaced showing employees at an Oakland coffee shop blocking a Jewish woman from a bathroom while making anti-Israel comments, the owners have now fired the employees allegedly involved in the altercation.

The owners continued by saying that acts of hate would not be tolerated in their business. “We do not tolerate any behavior at Farley’s that makes people feel unwelcome or unsafe. Because this act was not aligned with our values, the employees involved in the incident are no longer employed by Farley’s,” the Hillyard’s posted.

The video, which was recorded by the customer, showed three employees standing between the customer and the door of the bathroom.

According to the video, the customer had previously gone into the bathroom and wanted to re-enter to document the antisemitic graffiti.

The employees allegedly wanted to prevent the woman from recording graffiti in the bathroom, which showed “Zionism = fascism” written on the mirror above the sink and “Your neutrality/apathy is enabling genocide” written on a diaper-changing station.




Sunday, December 10, 2023

California Climate Agency Bars Staff From Contact With Former Agency Scientist

California’s air quality regulatory agency barred staff from communicating with a former top scientist after he criticized gas lobbyists and a director there in an email to California Air Resources Board members and staff. Jim Duffy, who retired from CARB in 2022, had written that the agency and industry representatives made misleading statements about subsidies for clean fuels.

In response to Duffy’s email, CARB climate director Rajinder Sahota emailed fuel policy specialists and scientists at the agency on Oct. 23, prohibiting them from “engaging” with Duffy, who was a CARB fuel chief from 2019 to 2020.

Others who had held positions like Duffy’s at CARB now work for oil and gas business associations. Those former CARB managers have continued to communicate with staff at the agency. A current CARB employee, who spoke anonymously because they feared being fired or other retaliation, said the email regarding Duffy is something Sahota “has never issued for people who are directly lobbying.” The employee said the directive showed “regulatory capture” of CARB by the gas industry.

Sahota’s email to five senior staff members said only, “No staff is to engage with Jim. Unbelievable.”

Neither Sahota, nor any of the staff or board members, responded to detailed questions from Capital & Main. Instead, CARB communications director Lys Mendez sent an excerpt of the Low Carbon Fuel Standards regulation, apparently supporting Sahota’s statement that Duffy had criticized.

Mendez wrote that Sahota’s email forbidding contact with Duffy was intended to “ensure coordination on official responses” and to prevent actions that could violate public meetings laws. (Sahota’s eight-word email did not cite either of those reasons for prohibiting contact with Duffy.)

Since June, Duffy has submitted written public comments to the agency critical of several policies he was once in charge of implementing, including one that rewards dairies and gas companies for collecting methane from cow manure to sell as a fuel for heavy trucks.

Critics claim that the policy does little besides enrich gas companies. Others, including advocates, Central Valley residents and state lawmakers, say the policy is also leading to more cows at dairies, harming rural communities with increased air and water pollution. CARB says there is no data showing its policy is leading to bigger herds.

Methane leaks during the refining process, sending climate pollution into the atmosphere. Opponents of methane subsidies, including Duffy, say the policy diverts money that could instead go to cleaner alternatives, such as electricity from solar energy.

Sahota’s prohibition on contact with Duffy could run afoul of free speech protections that cover government employees, said Leslie Jacobs, a professor of law at McGeorge School of Law specializing in constitutional protections of speech.

In general, an employer cannot stop employees from speaking to members of the public about their jobs, Jacobs said. Employers can block employee communication if it undermines the credibility of the organization, she added. CARB said it is “common protocol and a best practice” to coordinate its official responses, but did not explain why employees couldn’t talk to Duffy.

Since 2013, California has promoted fuels that emit fewer pollutants and greenhouse gases through its Low Carbon Fuel Standards (LCFS) program. It offers incentives for companies to produce fuel from non fossil sources, like manure and landfill methane, as well as diesel made from plants and animal fats. CARB sets annual limits on the amount of carbon a company can emit per gallon of fuel it produces, using a system of credits and deficits to cap emissions on California’s roads.

Gas producers receive subsidies to collect methane — a potent greenhouse gas — from cow manure. They often split the money they receive for collecting methane with the dairy farms where they gather the methane.

During Duffy’s time as a CARB fuel chief, the dairy methane setup remained mostly unchanged. After retiring, he moved to Montana.




Thursday, December 07, 2023

Texas Sues Pfizer for ‘Conspiring to Censor’ COVID-19 Vaccine Critics

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, filed a lawsuit Thursday against Pfizer Inc., arguing that the pharmaceutival corporation misrepresented the effectiveness of its COVID-19 vaccine and “conspired to censor” critics.

The lawsuit alleges Pfizer “deceived the public” by claiming its vaccine was 95% effective, as well as through suggestions it made about the vaccine’s duration of protection, protection against transmission, and protectiveness against variants.

Pfizer then “coerced social media platforms to silence prominent truth-tellers,” including former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Brett Giroir and journalist Alex Berenson, engaging in a “censorship campaign” to suppress content that would negatively impact sales, according to the lawsuit.

“Pfizer intentionally misrepresented the efficacy of its COVID-19 vaccine and censored persons who threatened to disseminate the truth in order to facilitate fast adoption of the product and expand its commercial opportunity,” Paxton’s complaint alleges, adding:

In light of the multibillion dollar bet that Pfizer made on the vaccine and its need to quickly establish the product as the marketing leader, Pfizer was heavily incentivized to, and in fact did, make misrepresentations intended to confuse and mislead the public in order to achieve widespread adoption of its vaccine.

The complaint filed by Texas also states that government reports show that by 2021, in some places “a greater percentage of the vaccinated were dying from COVID-19 than the unvaccinated.”

“We are pursuing justice for the people of Texas, many of whom were coerced by tyrannical vaccine mandates to take a defective product sold by lies,” Paxton said in a formal statement. “The facts are clear. Pfizer did not tell the truth about their COVID-19 vaccines.




Wednesday, December 06, 2023

More nails in the coffin of Biden’s censorship regime

With each passing month, we are getting closer to the Custer’s Last Stand for federal censors.

But will free speech triumph in time to prevent the feds from secretly rigging the 2024 presidential election?

At a House Weaponization Subcommittee hearing Thursday, Twitter Files reporters Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger returned to reveal the latest censorious outrages.

When Taibbi first testified before the committee in March, congressional Democrats denounced him as a “so-called journalist,” a hypocrite, a profiteer and Twitter owner Elon Musk’s lackey.

Virgin Islands Delegate Stacey Plaskett, the ranking Democrat, threatened Taibbi with perjury charges and a five-year prison sentence after she claimed he had made a minor misstatement in his testimony.

The Federal Trade Commission demanded, as The Post noted, “all internal communications by, from or about Musk — and telling him to name reporters he’s shared info with” — as if exposing White House misconduct were a federal crime.

But Team Biden was not so lucky in court.

On July 4, federal Judge Terry Doughty, ruling in Missouri v. Biden, condemned the Biden administration for potentially “the most massive attack against free speech in United States history.”

A federal appeals court ratified that verdict in September, slamming the White House and federal agencies for actions “suppressing millions of protected free speech postings by American citizens” — especially conservatives.

Federal agencies pirouetted as a “Ministry of Truth,” according to federal judges who have castigated Biden censorship abuses.

How far did the censorship go?

On Tuesday, the House subcommittee posted online a spreadsheet listing thousands of specific targets of federal contractors.

There was pervasive suppression of any complaints about election fraud before the 2020 election, thereby subverting Americans’ awareness of problems with mail-in ballots and polling booths.

Nothing was too petty to suppress.

One of the issues flagged for targeting was “TikTok trend to raise middle fingers to vaccine.”

So federal censors were obliged to counterpunch any obscene hand gesture in the world?

Shellenberger testified that the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and its nonprofit partners had targeted political jokes, hyperbole and specific viewpoints for social-media companies to suppress.

He also stressed that “cognitive security” is a key goal for disinformation researchers. This parallels federal agencies’ interventions to protect “cognitive infrastructure.”

And the most important cognitive fix is to train Americans to never doubt Uncle Sam.

Shellenberger urged Congress to abolish CISA.

But congressional Democrats Thursday had a two-word refutation of all the censorship abuses: DONALD TRUMP!

The specter of Trump’s re-election miraculously expunges all Biden sins.




Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Big Tech, Big Government Jackboots Trample Free Speech Rights

Our own government has waged “psychological operations” and other attacks on the free speech rights of the American people.

That’s according to witnesses at a Thursday hearing of the House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.

The hearing was part of a series following up on last year’s disturbing revelations of the so-called Twitter Files.

Among the notable revelations during the massive data release from X, formerly known as Twitter, was that the U.S. government worked with Big Tech companies to manipulate public opinion and silence critics.

Journalist Matt Taibbi was asked by Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., what he thought was the most disturbing allegation against the government in his review of the Twitter Files.

“The regular stream, organized stream, of communication between the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and the largest tech companies in the country,” he replied.

Author Michael Shellenberger explained the techniques the federal government used to censor speech.

“My colleagues and I published the first batch of internal files from ‘The Cyber Threat Intelligence League,’ which show U.S. and U.K. military contractors working in 2019 and 2020 to both censor and turn sophisticated psychological operations and disinformation tactics, developed abroad, against the American people,” Shellenberger said, the Washington Examiner reported.

Shellenberger noted that while the First Amendment prohibits the government from impinging on the freedom of speech, and the Supreme Court has ruled against working with private parties toward the same ends, there is “now a large body of evidence proving that the government did precisely that.”

Federal courts have ruled against the Biden administration on this issue. In July, a federal appeals court ruled in Missouri v. Biden that what the administration did represented “the most massive attack against free speech in United States history.”

The court issued an injunction on the administration working with Big Tech companies. However, the Supreme Court paused the injunction in October, and the case will be reviewed by the justices.

In a dissent, Justice Samuel Alito said that stopping the injunction could be “giving the government a green light to use heavy-handed tactics to skew the presentation of views” on social media.

So the problem persists.

“The abuses of power my colleagues and I have documented go well beyond censorship,” Shellenberger said. “They also include what appears to be an effort by government officials and contractors, including the FBI, to frame certain individuals as posing a threat of domestic terrorism for their political beliefs.”

In a follow-up interview with Fox News on Friday, Shellenberger said that what the U.S. government did was similar to tactics it uses to go after foreign opponents. In this case, the state was turned on supporters of former President Donald Trump.

It’s funny how President Joe Biden and the Left always say that Trump is destroying democracy. They would know something about that, I suppose. They’ve turned attacks on democracy into a science.

That’s certainly one of the most disturbing and telling chapters in American history. That the federal government has been actively coordinating with private companies to crush domestic foes is in some ways worse than if the government just did it alone.

It means that many big companies, especially in Big Tech, are willing to make themselves an appendage of the federal government. The distinction between the government and the private sector has effectively been blurred.

Not only does it appear that Democrats and the Left want to put Biden’s 2020 and possibly 2024 presidential opponent in jail, it looks like they want to target Trump’s supporters, too.

What does that mean for elections in this country? Is even the idea of self-government becoming a farce as unelected federal bureaucrats manipulate public opinion on a whim and get whatever president they choose?

Whatever form of government that is, it’s a far cry from the limited constitutional republic this country was created to be.




Monday, December 04, 2023

The Left Learns the Dangers of Cancel Culture

Leftists spent years using cancel culture as a sword to cut down anyone who disagreed with their increasingly radical beliefs. Since October 7, however, many of those same leftists have learned the hard way that cancel culture is a double-edged sword.

The phrase “cancel culture” has become ubiquitous and yet remains relatively undefined. In general, cancel culture is a harsh, unforgiving response to any behavior deemed offensive—even if the same conduct would not have been considered offensive just a few years ago.  

A key component of cancel culture is character assassination. The labeling of one’s political enemies quickly became an effective tool of progressives. If anyone disagreed with a policy that supported diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) or LGBTQ rights, those people were silenced by being called racist, transphobic or anti-gay.

Businesses became especially susceptible to cancel culture, and many chose to appease the mob rather than risk a cancellation of their own. After all, customers don’t want to be associated with a canceled business out of fear that they will be canceled by proximity, too. Leftists don’t believe anyone is entitled to sit out a political debate. After all, they believe “silence is violence.”

To date, the right has suffered the brunt of cancel culture. Conservatives are regularly smeared as racist or homophobic, criticized on social media for old and benign activities that became offensive overnight, and targeted by aggressive mobs that wish to destroy their personal and professional lives in any way they can.  

Because the left’s causes were deemed so righteous, all forms of harassment, doxxing, and threatening became fair game. To them, “progress” warranted breaking every norm of considerate or civilized behavior.

Yet now leftists who are supporting Hamas are complaining about each of these tactics. Palestinian supporters are learning how damning such name-calling can be. For example, a New York Times piece detailed how many Congressional staffers were frustrated by the fact that they’ve been “almost reflexively brand as antisemitic” because of their criticisms of Israel following the October 7 massacre by Hamas terrorists.

Progressives have claimed the right to tell us what words and phrases mean–no matter a person’s intent when using those words. It was considered fair game to look back at activities that were decades old and retrospectively condemn someone. They’re the ones who deemed the phrase “master bedroom” racist and the word “mother” transphobic.

Yet when Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich) was confronted for a post crying “from the river to the sea,” she said she thought it meant “freedom.” Okay, maybe she did. But given today's standards, she does not get to decide what she meant. Those opposing her decide what she meant.

Until recently, many of the left – including the United Nations – claimed that calls for free speech really meant allowing “hate” speech. Meta, for example, justifies banning free speech on Facebook and Instagram because hate speech is harmful. Yet Pro-Palestinian protestors are demanding their right to free speech even if Jews know it is hate speech. The Left has long believed that anonymity leads to hate speech, and therefore it needs to be regulated. Leftists often take pride in exposing the identity of right-of-center donors.  

After facing criticism of their own, however, the pro-Palestinian protestors have learned the importance of anonymous speech when speaking to the media. Various pro-Palestinian groups have made a habit of wearing masks and requesting anonymity from reporters. The New York Times included this line in one recent report: “The committee members, all current or recently graduated students who were interviewed in Washington, spoke on the condition of anonymity because they said they worried for their safety.”

At least now some in the media seem concerned about the safety concerns of cancel culture.

The Israel-Hamas conflict has also upended the leftist trend of calling for businesses to speak out on political matters. Typically, the left urges businesses to make political statements showing the company’s support for the progressive cause of the day.  When it comes to freeing the hostages in Gaza or mourning the hundreds who were murdered by Hamas, however, the left does not support companies making statements. They’ve even set up a Reddit page to try to silence businesses for speaking out–or even investing–in Israel.

The left loves to change the rules of what is acceptable. Words are offensive only when they decide they’re offensive. Businesses should speak out on political issues only when they want them to speak out. Silence is violence until Hamas murders hundreds.

Cancel culture has been full of hypocrites for years, and the aftermath of the October 7 attacks put that hypocrisy on center stage. Hopefully, the world is watching, and we can all agree to stop playing the left’s stupid games.




Sunday, December 03, 2023

Pope Francis’s eviction of Cardinal Burke a ‘denial of free speech’: Vatican source

Francis would be clearly aware that the men he has penalized are much more loyal to the deposit of faith (received Catholic doctrine) than he is, so this smacks of personal pique on the part  of Francis.  There is no obvious theological grounding for the demotions

Pope Francis’ move to evict US Cardinal Burke, 75, one of the Church’s top canon lawyers, from his Roman flat and stop his salary was a tyrannical denial of free speech, a Cardinal close to Burke has told The Australian.

The move is working against Francis, whose closest associates in the College of Cardinals and in the Vatican bureaucracy are distancing themselves from him ahead of any upcoming Synod. The Pope turns 87 later this month and has been in poor health.

Cardinal Burke was especially shocked, his friend said, that Francis chose to confirm the move through his biographer and friend, English journalist Austen Ivereigh, who visited the Pope last Monday. The interview has been the Pope’s only public announcement of his unprecedented measures against Cardinal Burke. The Pope has not spoken to the Cardinal directly.

Writing on a religious website, Where Peter is, on Thursday, Ivereigh said: “In the course of our conversation, Francis told me he had decided to remove Cardinal Burke’s cardinal privileges — his apartment and salary — because he had been using those privileges against the Church.’’

The statement published by Ivereigh contradicts Francis’ claims that he wants those who disagree with him to speak freely, according to the Cardinal’s circle.

“That claim about working against the church is a calumny, and now that Ivereigh has spread it the Pope or his spokesman need to justify it,’’ Cardinal Burke’s friend told The Australian.

The Church’s Code of Canon Law encourages free speech, even criticisms of Church authorities. Canon 212 says that “according to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess’’ Christians “have the right and even at times the duty’’ to make known their opinion on “matters which pertain to the good of the Church’’.

Cardinal Burke is the second US prelate to fall foul of Francis in a month. Three weeks ago, the Pope sacked one of his most prominent critics in the US, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas. Bishop Strickland, a conservative, was popular and respected in his diocese, where his seminary attracted more priestly vocations than most larger dioceses. As with Cardinal Burke, no explanation was given for Bishop Tyler’s removal.

In June, Francis forced the late Pope Benedict’s long-time secretary Archbishop George Ganswein back to Germany, without a position, despite the he had also run Francis’s household for 10 years, In contrast, the controversial priest-artist Fr Marko Rupnik, who was expelled by the Jesuits earlier this year over allegations of sexually abusing nuns and sacrilegious conduct and temporarily excommunicated in 2020 has been given a new start working in his native Slovenia, despite Francis’s “zero tolerance’’ of sexual abuse.

While the moves highlight increasing tensions between the church’s liberal and traditional wings, and Francis’s well-known hostility to “Anglos’’, his treatment of Cardinal Burke has drawn unexpected reactions across factional lines.

Opus Dei (regarded as one of the Church’s most conservative groups) Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, writing in the Jesuit-run America magazine, backed the Pope, arguing that any failure to act in communion with the Church and the Pope can be cause for dismissal.

On the other hand, Chris Altieri, the editor of the middle-of-the-road Vatican website Crux said stripping Cardinal Burke of his Roman digs and cutting off his stipend were “tough to justify as necessary, especially as punishment for promotion of ‘disunity’ in the Church. “This move against Burke is a tough sell, at least from a PR point view, while it is nigh on impossible to see the practical upside,’’ Altieri wrote.

Liberals who disagree with Cardinal Burke’s orthodoxy and respect for tradition admire his authenticity and consistent adherence to Church teaching.

Cardinal Burke, who was appointed to the Church’s most senior legal office by Pope Benedict in 2008, has been measured in his criticisms of Francis’s radical agenda.

Unlike Cardinal George Pell, for example, who, a week before he died in January this year, branded last month’s “Synod on Synodality’’ a “toxic nightmare’’, Cardinal Burke took a quieter approach. He was one of five Cardinals who issued Francis with a “Dubia” – a series of questions – before the event.

These covered whether the blessing of same-sex unions and women’s ordination were consistent with church doctrine. The synod agenda, Cardinal Burke told a gathering of 200 people in Rome held at the same time as the Synod, “appeared to be more political and human than ecclesial and divine’’.

Cardinal Burke has also been one of the few in the College to call out the Vatican’s secret deal with China, at a time when the Communist state is increasing religious persecutions and flexing its military and financial might, especially in the Indo-Pacific region.

In an interview with this newspaper when he visited Australia in 2018 Cardinal Burke said the agreement, which gives Chinese Communist Party officials a major say in choosing bishops, was “absolutely unconscionable’’ and “a betrayal of so many confessors and martyrs who suffered for years and years and were put to death” by the Communist Party.

Cardinal Burke has been urged by friends to consider moving into Domus Australia in Rome, even temporarily, until he finds a new home. The Australia guesthouse has large, comfortable rooms at reasonable prices and a striking chapel.

Cardinal Burke is currently in the US, but he intends to remain based in Rome.




Friday, December 01, 2023

Inside the UN Plan to Control Speech Online

A powerful United Nations agency has unveiled a plan to regulate social media and online communication while cracking down on what it describes as “false information” and “conspiracy theories,” sparking alarm among free-speech advocates and top U.S. lawmakers.

In its 59-page report released this month, the U.N. Educational, Cultural, and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) outlined a series of “concrete measures which must be implemented by all stakeholders: governments, regulatory authorities, civil society, and the platforms themselves.”

This approach includes the imposition of global policies, through institutions such as governments and businesses, designed to stop the spread of various forms of speech while promoting objectives such as “cultural diversity” and “gender equality.”

In particular, the U.N. agency aims to create an “Internet of Trust” by targeting what it calls “misinformation,” “disinformation,” “hate speech,” and “conspiracy theories.”

Examples of expression flagged to be stopped or restricted include concerns about elections, public health measures, and advocacy that could constitute “incitement to discrimination.”

Critics are warning that allegations of “disinformation” and “conspiracy theories” have increasingly been used by powerful forces in government and Big Tech to silence true information and even core political speech.

Just this month, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee released a report blasting the “pseudoscience of disinformation.”

Among other concerns, the committee found this “pseudoscience” has been “weaponized” by what lawmakers refer to as the “Censorship Industrial Complex.”

The goal: silence constitutionally-protected political speech, mostly by conservatives.

"The pseudoscience of disinformation is now—and has always been—nothing more than a political ruse most frequently targeted at communities and individuals holding views contrary to the prevailing narratives,” states the congressional report, "The Weaponization of ‘Disinformation’ Pseudo-Experts and Bureaucrats."

Indeed, many of the policies called for by UNESCO have already been implemented by U.S.-based digital platforms, often at the behest of the Biden administration, the latest congressional report makes clear.

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers nevertheless expressed alarm about the new UNESCO plan.

“I have repeatedly and publicly criticized the Biden administration’s misguided decision to rejoin UNESCO, putting U.S. taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) told The Epoch Times regarding the social-media plan.

Calling UNESCO a “deeply flawed entity,” Mr. McCaul said he is especially concerned that the organization “promotes the interests of authoritarian regimes—including the Chinese Communist Party.”

Indeed, UNESCO, like many other U.N. agencies, includes multiple members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in its leadership ranks, such as Deputy Director-General Xing Qu, The Epoch Times has reported.The CCP has repeatedly made clear that even while working in international organizations, CCP members are expected to follow communist party orders.

Lawmakers on the House Appropriations Subcommittee dealing with international organizations are currently working to cut or reduce funding to various U.N. agencies that lawmakers say are using U.S. taxpayer money improperly.

Already, the U.S. government has twice exited UNESCO—under the Reagan and the Trump administrations—due to concerns about what the administrations described as extremism, hostility to American values, and other problems.

The Biden administration rejoined earlier this year over the objections of lawmakers, The Epoch Times reported.