Wednesday, December 13, 2017



UK Christian street preacher found not guilty of hate speech against Muslims

A U.K. Christian street preacher accused by Muslims of hate speech and convicted by a lower court has had the ruling overturned by a higher court this week.

Daniel Courney, 33, was convicted by Lincoln Magistrates Court in September of using “threatening and discriminatory language” while preaching in Lincoln in June.

Courney, an American missionary who served in the United States military and has been a missionary in Nepal and India for 8 years, preached a message of repentance and of the need to believe in Jesus Christ to be saved. 

A Muslim woman and her family who heard Courney’s message on the street claimed the preacher singled them out and called them “ISIS” and told them to “go back to your country.” The Muslims reported the matter to police who arrested the preacher.

Courney denied the allegations. Despite this, however, he was charged under Section 5 of the Public Order Act with using “threatening or abusive words or behaviour or disorderly behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress.”

Lincolnshire Live reported that Adrian Clark, a friend of Courney, posted on Facebook in September that the judge who found him guilty was biased against the Christian message of salvation only through Jesus Christ.

“The judge was an impassioned multi-culturalist. He seemed antagonistic to the one person publically declaring another’s religious beliefs as being wrong,” Courney’s friend wrote.

“He trusted the prosecution witnesses despite their glaring inconsistencies. Despite Daniel being a man who serves his community in India and Nepal without fear or favour … and courageously protected a Muslim from being beaten in Bristol, this seemed to have had no bearing on the judge’s finding,” the friend added.

During the appeal, the Christian Legal Centre’s solicitor Michael Phillips argued that  English law provides Courney with the freedom to preach Christianity, and that this has been successfully upheld for many years.

The Crown Court judge agreed and overturned the conviction.

SOURCE








Free Speech in Trouble

Never in the history of the United States has the right of “freedom of speech” been so challenged as in the last decade or so.  If you have an opinion that does not comply with a certain group or groups, you might become subject of abuse, censorship, and even threats of physical harm.  The sector of the population most susceptible to this denial of free speech are the conservatives and people of religious faith, who have been targeted for repression of their views, thoughts, and ideas. 

A perfect example is the recently admitted IRS (Internal Revenue Service) attacks against conservative groups prior to the 2012 election.  After repeated lawsuits, the IRS finally has agreed that they “illegally” targeted these groups and have now agreed to reimburse these conservative groups for the IRS harassment of denying or delaying their petitions for tax exempt status. 

But, there have been no meaningful penalties against the perpetrators of this prejudicial action, including the past IRS supervisor, Lois Lerner, who got away “scot free” and was allowed to retire with a very nice government pension.

Very seldom, if any, do you read about conservatives (or Republicans) shutting down a liberal speaker, it is always the other way around ( ex:  Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Dinesh D’Souza, Alan Derschowitz (a Democrat and supporter of Israel), Pamela Geller, and certain authors of controversial books that the left has deemed unacceptable).

The word “racist” is being used constantly by the “liberal left” as a catchphrase for anybody whose views are deviating from the accepted liberal playbook.  Two of the greatest practitioners of using the word “racist” are the two liberal “race-baiters”, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, both Democrats, who are masters of the “racial shakedown”.  These phony “civil rights” leaders are nothing but con artists and shakedown specialists.  Their glory days were during the 8 years of the Obama Administration, as they both had unlimited access to the White House.  Now, with President Trump, residing in the White House, they don’t have that access or platform to further their “race hustling”.

SOURCE


Tuesday, December 12, 2017



Was the rioting that greeted Trump's inauguration Free Speech?

The heading on the report excerpted below was "Inside The Trial That Could Determine The Future Of Free Speech In America's Capital".  But the trial has got nothing to do with free speech.  The defendants are being charged with deliberate property destruction -- which only a Leftist would call free speech

Macchio is one of six individuals currently on trial in the nation’s capital, facing felony charges that could potentially land them in federal prison for decades, or at the very least leave them with felony convictions that would stunt their career prospects and deprive them of certain rights.

Another 181 individuals are facing felony trials in the coming year, though the ultimate resolution of a large number of those cases could depend on how this first trial plays out. Twenty other defendants arrested that day have already pleaded guilty, but just one defendant pleaded guilty to a felony. Seven others facing misdemeanors are scheduled for a trial by judge.

The charges all stem from a mass arrest conducted by police in downtown D.C. aimed at a group of marchers that included anti-capitalists, anti-fascists and anarchists under the umbrella of an organization called DisruptJ20.

Police had kept an eye on what demonstrators had planned that day, sending an undercover officer into a planning meeting where an organizer said their goal was to “make inauguration a giant clusterfuck.” Things quickly got out of control once the group left their gathering point in Logan Circle, with individuals from within the group of mostly black-clad demonstrators breaking store windows, throwing newspaper boxes, spray-painting cars, smashing parking meters and hurling rocks at officers.

In her opening statement in the trial on Nov. 20, Kerkhoff repeatedly referred to a “sea of black masks” that caused destruction that day. The possession or wearing of black clothing has become a central aspect of the prosecution’s case. During one day of the trial, she held up a skull cap featuring an image of a skull that was seized from defendant Christina Simmons, a 20-year-old from Maryland who offered snacks from her backpack to officers who processed her, according to her defense attorney.

Jurors have heard from numerous business owners and employees who had their property damaged by members of the group that day. They’ve also heard from numerous police officers about the chaos they encountered, including an officer injured as he tried to apprehend an individual who threw a patio chair at his colleague.

What jurors haven’t heard, and prosecutors don’t intend to offer, is evidence that any of the six individuals currently on trial ― Macchio, Simmons, Jennifer Armento, Oliver Harris, Brittne Lawson and Alexei Wood ― actually engaged in any property damage or violence. Under the government’s theory of the case, in which anyone arrested in the group is part of a conspiracy and is responsible for any actions taken by others, the lack of individualized wrongdoing doesn’t matter.

Prosecutors have charged all six with eight charges, including six felonies. If convicted, they’d be exposed to a potential maximum sentence of more than 60 years in federal prison (though such an extreme sentence is extraordinarily unlikely).

“Each of them made a choice, and each of them played a role,” Kerkhoff told jurors in her opening statement. “You don’t personally have to be the one who breaks the window to be guilty of rioting.”

SOURCE









Public disrespect for flag among footballers: Hate speech?

The most recent actions undertaken by a Muslim college basketball player during the national anthem has now raised the stakes to a level that must be challenged. While doubtful the player, Rasool Samir, was acting in a show of unity with the NFL protesters, it is clear he saw their disrespect of the flag as a vehicle for providing him the opportunity to denigrate the flag even further.

As players on the Garden City Community College team halted their warmup to stand silent for the anthem, Samir continued warming-up and throwing jump shots. His actions in doing so come into better focus when one considers his Islamic beliefs. He adhered to a teaching of his religion one is not to render reverence to any un-Islamic symbol, even if the non-Muslim culture demands it.

Although Samir later apologized, he subsequently was kicked off the team. The ACLU has now taken up the player's cause and will undoubtedly claim he was simply exercising his freedom of religion.

The law is fairly clear now concerning the conditions under which religious practices are constitutional. Requirements are participation must be voluntary for students and there can be no involvement by school officials - i.e., the religious activity must be student-led.

It would appear, based on the above, a good argument might exist that Samir was simply exercising his freedom of religion. Hopefully, however, a court would see his behavior did not involve exercising a religious practice per se but, rather, egregiously rebuking a non-Islamic symbol by poking non-Muslims in the eye to underscore Islam's superiority. In effect, Samir's behavior was hate speech with his conduct making him a public nuisance as well. Such behavior deserves to be banned.

An earlier case testing a religious group's beliefs being able to interfere with others engaging in an activity demanding dignified reverence involved the Westboro Baptist Church. The church's ideology includes a belief homosexuality is a sin. When LGBT people were allowed into the military, church members began protesting at military funerals. They shouted inflammatory comments, thanking God for dead soldiers - which they claimed were a consequence of His vengeance for this military policy. Their comments constituted hate speech. The courts eventually ordered such protests at military funerals be conducted 500-feet away so as to maintain reverence for the solemn occasion.

Samir's behavior during the playing of the national anthem achieved no positive religious purpose. It was done, as his religion allows, to disrespect a non-Islamic symbol. Disguised as a religious practice, his behavior was to serve as a poke-in-the-eye of all patriotic Americans in an effort to assert Islam's alleged superiority. As such, his behavior fell into the same category as that of the Westboro Baptist Church. Samir's behavior, like that exhibited by Westboro Baptist Church members, was purely and simply hate speech.

School authorities hopefully will take a stand against Samir in the event the ACLU decides to take legal action on his behalf. Failure to do so opens the door to a wide range of opportunities for Muslims to assert their perceived superiority of Islam over Western values. The end result will be to maximize Islamic culture at the expense of ours. Successfully doing so would put yet another feather in the cap of that religion's proclaimed strategy of using our laws against us to further implementation of their laws here.

SOURCE



Monday, December 11, 2017



Coerced speech in Minnesota

A federal district court already has ruled that a Minnesota filmmaker may not violate the state's human rights law by refusing to film gay weddings.

Carl and Angel Larsen, who own Telescope Media in St. Cloud, have argued in court that a state law barring discrimination violates their constitutional right to free expression.

"Telescope Media Group exists to glorify God through top quality media production,” Carl Larsen says in a video produced by Alliance Defending Freedom, or ADF. “I want to tell marriage stories. I want to tell stories about the glory of God in marriage."

Larsen and his wife Angel have appealed the ruling against their company, but Minnesota officials argue the case should wait to see what the U.S. Supreme Court decides.

The high court heard arguments Tuesday in a case filed by a gay couple in Colorado who were refused service by a wedding cake baker.

In Alliance Defending Freedom videos, attorney Jeremy Tedesco says both the Colorado baker and the Minnesota videographer have the right to express themselves in their work.

"The Minnesota Human Rights Department has said that state law requires them to create films celebrating same sex marriages if they create films celebrating marriage between a man and a woman,” Tedesco points out. “And that's something that violates Carl and Angel's beliefs.”

The U.S. Department of Justice has sided in the case with Alliance Defending Freedom, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as a hate group.

SOURCE





Scientists censor term ‘climate change’ to save public funding

Scientists are increasingly omitting the term “climate change” in public grant proposals to avoid funding cuts from the Trump administration, according to a recent NPR analysis — a trend some Boston University researchers said they have noticed.

An analysis of National Science Foundation grants awarded in 2017 revealed a 40 percent decrease in the use of the term “climate change” and an increase in replacement phrases like “extreme weather” and “environmental change,” according to the NPR report.

The recent trend of using euphemisms for the term “climate change” can in part be attributed to the skeptical approach the Trump administration has taken toward environmental science issues and research, some researchers said. The NPR article notes that climate change was the only research area singled out by name for reduction in Trump’s budget proposal.

Michael Dietze, a professor in BU’s earth and environment department, explained that although research spending has been restricted for scientists for over a decade, this administration has been the first to target work on climate change by cutting funding for specific programs.

“It wasn’t a minor cut — whole programs were zeroed out in the budget across multiple agencies,” Dietze wrote in an email. “In some instances Trump’s proposed budget increased spending in other areas so that the total budget of a specific agency does not change.”

Dietze also explained that he has not yet seen direct political interference in how agencies distribute grant funding, but fear of political bias has caused scientists to resort to euphemisms instead of being outright about their efforts to study climate change. Because of that fear, he wrote, the trend of omitting the term “climate change” in public grant summaries is likely to increase.

“There’s every sign that it will get worse,” Dietze wrote. “Many of the grants awarded in 2017 are based on proposals written in 2016 before the election — what we’re seeing now may be the tip of the iceberg.”

Mark Friedl, professor and interim chair of the earth and environment department, said he has discussed the omission of the term “climate change” in public research with his colleagues, but he feels the greater issue is “decreased funding and support for science and research in general.”

“There has been discussion about this among the [earth and environment] faculty,” Freidl said. “The current administration and Congress [don’t] seem to place any value whatsoever on this notion of science as an important element of society.”

Friedl said the best thing research institutions like BU can do in response to this trend is to “just keep doing our science and keep providing that clear, empirical, sensible evidence of what we see is happening on the planet.”

“The choice of a single word isn’t really what dictates the merit of a proposed science project,” he said. “The best thing we can do is to keep working on doing good science and objective science and defensible science, and in the end, truth will prevail.”

SOURCE



Sunday, December 10, 2017


The radical right is using 'free speech' to help them destroy democracy (?)

The big Zapper (Chris Zappone) argues below that some speech can destroy democracy.  But he fails to identify a single anti-democratic utterance coming from those he disapproves of.  What, for instance has Milo Yiannopoulos said that undermines democracy? Nothing that I have heard.

So Zappone relies on mischaracterizations in the routine Leftist way.  He says the "Alt-Right" groups he disapproves of advocate racial superiority.  Yet the most prominent spokesman of such groups -- Yiannopoulos -- is married to an African man.  Not much white supremacism or racism there!

He also refers to restrictions on immigration from some Muslim countries as undermining democracy.  How?  How does that prevent the existing population from voting?  Most countries have immigration restrictions.  Are they all undemocratic? 

Perhaps most amusingly, the Zapper says that "actions to divide and drive wedges into society overall" are an antidemocratic  conspiracy.  Some of  the wedges driven into American society by Obama (as seen in the upsurge of black crime under Obama) must therefore be antidemocratic conspiracies too.  I am inclined to agree that Obama has been anti-democratic -- but not for reasons quoted by the Zapper -- Obama's reliance on regulations rather than law, for instance

Basically, the zapper seems to be defining democracy as "arrangements that I approve of".  He shows no connection at all between current alt-Right public utterances and any threat to selective voting. He just asserts it. He has no intellectual depth whatever.  But what do we expect from a Fairfax journalist?

The great destroyers of democracy have been socialists such as Lenin, Hitler and Mao -- and the Alt-Right are enemies of socialism



Somewhat lost in the chaos of the past year is a shift in language that has profound implications for open democracies.

Fringe extremists, nationalists and racist groups have tried to portray their cause as a battle for "free speech."

The most famous example, so far, has been the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in which alt-right and other extreme right groups gathered, in an event that turned violent, leaving one counter demonstrator dead.

Some of Milo Yiannopoulos' most provocative events have been staged under the banner of "free speech," a claim repeated to defend his visit to Australia.

Part of today's political crisis stems from this cultivated confusion that conflates freedom of expression with extremist ideas such as racial superiority, or blanket bans on people based on their religion (as long as it's Islam).

Ideas, in other words, that are frankly incompatible with a modern democracy.

People are free to argue whatever idea they please – that's free speech. But if they're using the idea of free speech as a shield for actions to divide and drive wedges into society overall, it's conspiracy.

More here




You have to BUY free speech in the Australian State of Victoria?

I can hardly believe how far left Victoria is veering: State police charging a conservative to protect him from Leftists. Charging protection money is what criminals do. The next step is refusing protection and letting harm happen. 

The whole rationale for government is that there are some things that should not be user-pays, but which the State should pay, like roads and infrastructure, defence, police, search and rescue, and emergency services, certain amenities ... etc. If the police don't think it is part of their job to prevent criminal assault, what are they good for?

The only consolation is that this is probably a try-on



THE ORGANISER behind controversial Milo Yiannopoulos’ Melbourne event is refusing to cough up $50,000 to cover the cost of police after a violent protest broke out.

Penthouse publisher Damien Costas, the man who organised Milo Yiannopoulos’s tour, told 3AW he had no intention of paying the five-figure bill from Victoria Police, following the Kensington clash.

“I can’t imagine we would (pay the larger bill),” he said. “In Melbourne they were talking about a user pays model but a particular sergeant at our head of security we were dealing with said ‘We’d like you to pay for the barriers, bollards etc’.”

“I think the entire thing was about five or $6000.” “I paid what I was asked to pay. Anything over and above that we can determine.” “This is actually asking the victim to pay the bill.”

He said user-pay models were discussed in every state and he’d paid about $9000 for police in the Gold Coast and nothing in New South Wales.

Supporters of the far-Right figure were involved in violent clashes with left-wing protesters on Monday night in Kensington.
Hundreds of police were called in with some using capsicum spray to subdue rioters.

Mr Costas said the 3000 attendees didn’t do anything wrong rather those uninvited threw rocks.

Police Minister Lisa Neville told the radio station on Wednesday the event’s promoters would have to foot the bill, which would be at least $50,000. She said billing event organisers for police resources was commonplace.

“For these sort of rallies, but also for the AFL and those big events there is an agreement around the costs,” she said. Ms Neville said she was confident Mr Yiannopoulos would cough up.
“(It’s a) big call to say you’re going to ignore a bill from Victoria Police,” she said.

Mr Costas said the police presence was executed with “military precision” and there were also 70 security guards at the event.

SOURCE



Friday, December 08, 2017



Black hate-speech censored

The outrage du jour is a newspaper column entitled “Your DNA is an Abomination” published by a student newspaper at Texas State University.

The column was taken down from the newspaper’s website. It should not have been. How can the rest of us assess its arguments absent an authoritative version of the writing? The student body president has called for defunding the student newspaper. He should not be advocating punishing speech he does not like. A few hundred people have signed an online petition calling for the paper to be defunded.

Texas State President Denise M. Trauth has said the column was “racist” and said its themes were “abhorrent.” So far so good. She is responding to speech with more speech. But she also said, “I expect student editors to exercise good judgment in determining the content that they print.” That is a sensible view but also could be taken as a threat.

The author apparently wrote:

    "Ontologically speaking, white death will mean liberation for all. To you good-hearted liberals, apathetic nihilists and right-wing extremists: accept this death as the first step toward defining yourself as something other than the oppressor. Until then, remember this: I hate you because you shouldn’t exist. You are both the dominant apparatus on the planet and the void in which all other cultures, upon meeting you, die".

SOURCE




Cloudflare’s CEO has a plan to never censor hate speech again

Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince hated cutting off service to the infamous neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer in August. And he's determined not to do it again.

"I'm almost a free-speech absolutist." Prince said at an event at the New America Foundation last Wednesday. But in a subsequent interview with Ars, Prince argued that in the case of the Daily Stormer, the company didn't have much choice.

Cloudflare runs a popular content delivery network that specializes in protecting clients from distributed denial-of-service attacks. The Daily Stormer published a post mocking a woman who was killed during the white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia in August. That had made a lot of people angry at the Daily Stormer, attracting massive attacks on the site.

The Stormer was a Cloudflare customer. Cloudflare had ample technical resources to battle DDOS attacks. The problem was that other Cloudflare customers started calling and threatening to cancel their service if Cloudflare didn't cut the Daily Stormer off.

"The pressure to take it down just kept building and building," Prince told Ars. "We thought that was the wrong policy. We reached out to various civil libertarian organizations and said we need some air cover here. People said 'we'd rather not stick our necks out on this issue.'"

So, Prince said, "we needed to change the conversation."

Why Cloudflare is cultivating free-speech allies

Prince's response was to cut Daily Stormer off while laying the groundwork to make sure he'd never have to make a decision like that again. In a remarkable company-wide email sent shortly after the decision, Prince described his own actions as "arbitrary" and "dangerous."

"I woke up this morning in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the Internet," Prince wrote in August. "It was a decision I could make because I'm the CEO of a major Internet infrastructure company." He argued that "it's important that what we did today not set a precedent."

Prior to August, Cloudflare had consistently refused to police content published by its customers.

Last week, Prince made a swing through DC to help ensure that the Daily Stormer decision does not, in fact, set a precedent. He met with officials from the Federal Communications Commission and with researchers at the libertarian Cato Institute and the left-of-center New America Foundation—all in an effort to ensure that he'd have the political cover he needed to say no next time he came under pressure to take down controversial content.

The law is strongly on Cloudflare's side here. Internet infrastructure providers like Cloudflare have broad legal immunity for content created by their customers. But legal rights may not matter if Cloudflare comes under pressure from customers to take down content. And that's why Prince is working to cultivate a social consensus that infrastructure providers like Cloudflare should not be in the censorship business—no matter how offensive its customers' content might be.

SOURCE



Thursday, December 07, 2017


White supremacists hang banners, give Nazi salute on SMU campus

Hard to know how much of this is just a provocation by Leftists

Members of a white supremacist group hung banners and fliers on Southern Methodist University's campus over the weekend.

The group, Texas Vanguard, also posted photos Sunday on Twitter of masked members giving Nazi salutes around the campus Saturday night.

One of the banners, which The Daily Campus student newspaper reported was hung at a gate to the lacrosse field, read: "White Men! Save your people. Reject the opioid beast!"

A flier posted in the Owens Arts Center said gays and lesbians have "misplaced pride." Another posted outdoors read "No more tolerance, no more diversity" and claimed that "the only solution is white revolution."

University president R. Gerald Turner denounced the banners and fliers and said school police were investigating.

"While SMU strongly supports freedom of speech and expression, the outside group featured on these signs promotes an abhorrent message that is opposite to SMU values," he wrote in a campuswide email, The Daily Campus reported.

People under the names Texas Vanguard, Vanguard America and American Vanguard have posted similar racist and homophobic signs at college campuses around Texas — including the University of Texas at Arlington and the University of North Texas — since the beginning of the year.

Last year, fliers titled "Why white women shouldn't date black men" were posted several places on SMU's campus.

SOURCE



Facebook bans women who post 'all men are scum' on hate speech grounds

About time.  If conservatives are accused of hate speech every time they disagree with the Left, it is about time that the real and virulent hate speech emanating from feminists and other Leftists gets banned too.  What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander -- as the old proverb says

Facebook has been banning women from its site for posting “hate speech” against men.

Hundreds of women who had their comments removed were taking part in the #MeToo campaign, a movement which started to stand up to sexual harassment in the wake of the scandals sweeping across Hollywood and other industries.

The bans came despite the fact that Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg wrote a Facebook post warning of the potential backlash women could face in light of the emerging scandals.

A number of women have come forward to stand up to the ban which also saw protesters who wrote “men are scum” have their posts removed.

Female comedian Marcia Belsky, was banned in October for 30 days after posting “men are scum” on her friend Nicole Silverberg’s photo album. The album detailed the abuse that Ms Silverberg had received after writing a list of ways in which men can treat women better.

Speaking to the Daily Dot, Ms Belsky said that it was not the first time she had been banned from Facebook for similar infractions.

Ms Belsky joins a whole host of women who have been banned from the site following similar incidences.

Fellow comedian Kayla Avery has been banned almost 10 times by Facebook. One of the first times she was banned was when she responded to male trolls who continued to harass her through her Facebook page using derogatory and sexist terms.

SOURCE

Wednesday, December 06, 2017



Ivanka Trump is accused of cultural appropriation after she donned a series of Oriental-style gowns during her solo trip to India

They would have been inspirational on Mrs Obama of course -- despite the fact that anything would look better on Ivanka.

I know nothing about fashion but my fashion adviser tells me that brightly coloured patterns such as Ivanka wore are in fact currently fashionable -- so the criticism was gratuitous. Just nasty politics




Ivanka Trump's fashion choices were slammed by an Indian news outlet who called her attire a 'superficial assimilation' of their culture.

The First Daughter and businesswoman was enrobed in an ivy green and yellow Oriental-style dress at a entrepreneurship summit during her trip to the country this week.

Along with the pricey $3,500 Erdem Geneva floral print gown, Trump also wore a $3,498 blue and gold Tory Burch ensemble with similar patterns.

The Daily O lambasted the Burch number and described it to be 'the 'me-too' of a Kashmiri pheran for the prime minister's banquet at the Taj Falaknuma Palace.'

While speaking at an event in Hyderabad, a city longtime known for pearl trading, the President's advisor displayed a black and pearl embroidered Tory Burch 'Sylvia' jacket.

'It referenced India with the embroidery, but in reality looked like a cheap brand ripping off designer Rahul Mishra,' the Daily O said of the jacket.

Also in Hyderabad, Trump wore a printed Saloni Lodha red and black ensemble with frilly sleeves.

SOURCE







What the Constitution says about cakes and compelled speech

by Jeff Jacoby

ON TUESDAY, the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission ­— the case of the same-sex wedding cake and the baker who refused to make it. A state agency ruled that the baker, Jack Phillips, was in violation of Colorado's antidiscrimination laws, and decreed that if he wishes to create wedding cakes at all, he must create them for same-sex weddings too.

But Masterpiece Cakeshop is not about gay marriage. It's about compelled speech.

The Supreme Court settled the marriage issue in its landmark Obergefell decision in 2015. Gay and lesbian couples are free to marry anywhere in the United States, and government at every level now protects their right to do so. But can government require artists, designers, or other creative professionals to celebrate same-sex marriage through their work? Can it subject someone like Phillips — who will happily serve any customer but cannot in good conscience use his cake-design skills to communicate an endorsement of gay marriage — to prosecution, sanctions, or legal coercion?

Most Americans support same-sex marriage. A sizable minority does not. In Obergefell, the high court emphasized that dissent is entirely legitimate. "Many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion. While same-sex couples would no longer be barred from marrying, he added, nothing should impede the continuation of "an open and searching debate."

Were the justices serious about that? If so — if they truly don't want the legalization of same-sex weddings to become an excuse to persecute "decent and honorable" Americans who oppose gay marriage — they will use this case to say so. They'll reverse the decision of the Colorado courts, and uphold Phillips's right not to support a practice he believes is wrong.

For Kennedy in particular, this case offers an exquisite opportunity to uphold two cherished principles: first, that the benefits of marriage not be denied on the basis of sexual orientation, and second, that liberty is threatened most when government seeks to control thought or speech.

In America, the state cannot force citizens to express a certain point of view. In 1943, in one of its most famous decisions, the Supreme Court ruled that West Virginia schoolchildren could not be compelled to salute the flag: "If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation," Justice Robert Jackson declared, "it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein."

But is refusing to create a custom-designed wedding cake, a skeptic might ask, really comparable to not saluting the flag? After all, the latter is an explicit demonstration of political loyalty; the cake is just — dessert.

Yet by that logic, a painting is just décor. A song is just entertainment. Calligraphy is just fancy lettering.

That's a dangerous argument — dangerous to the liberty of mind and conscience that the First Amendment shields. One of the many friend-of-the-court briefs filed in this case was submitted by 479 creative professionals representing all 50 states; the group comprises musicians, florists, videographers, ceramic artists, calligraphers, graphic designers, cartoonists, sculptors, and painters. Their brief urges the high court to defend the First Amendment rights of "artistic expression — regardless of the medium employed." They make a vital point: Viewpoints and messages can be expressed in many forms, and the Bill of Rights protects them all.

This isn't a new idea in First Amendment jurisprudence. The Supreme Court itself underscored it in a landmark case out of Boston — the 1995 St. Patrick's Day parade controversy.

In Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Group of Boston, the justices ruled unanimously that the parade's organizers, a South Boston veterans council, could not be compelled to include an LGBT group seeking to express pride in both its Irish heritage and its gay identity. The First Amendment trumped the state's antidiscrimination statute, the court held, and the government could not force the veterans to express, through their parade, a message they didn't agree with.

Hurley is the precedent most directly applicable to the case before the court this week, both for its resounding rejection of compelled speech and for its insistence that expression is not limited to writing and speaking.

"The Constitution looks beyond written or spoken words as mediums of expression," Hurley affirmed. "Our cases have recognized that the First Amendment shields such acts as saluting a flag (and refusing to do so), wearing an armband to protest a war, displaying a red flag, and even . . . displaying the swastika." The Constitution doesn't protect only banners and speeches; otherwise, the First Amendment "would never reach the unquestionably shielded painting of Jackson Pollock, music of Arnold Schoenberg, or Jabberwocky verse of Lewis Carroll."

Or the custom-designed edible artwork of baker Jack Phillips.

One needn't share Phillips's opinion of gay marriage to support his right to unmolested freedom of expression. Indeed, some groups that vigorously oppose his beliefs about matrimony have filed amicus briefs on his behalf. The right to have views that others don't share, they know, is a quintessential American liberty.

And the right not to be prosecuted for expressing those opinions is another.

SOURCE



Tuesday, December 05, 2017



Australia: Club owner removes pizza ad after complaints to the Advertising Standards Bureau




The dishy club owner

A STRIP club owner has been forced to remove an advertisement from one of Brisbane’s busiest train stations after the advertising watchdog found it debased women by comparing pizzas to breasts.

Owner of The Grosvenor topless bar and strip club Jasmine Robson was stunned by the decision from the Advertising Standards Bureau who received complaints about the ad.

The poster shows two pizzas with pepperoni clustered in their centres under the words: “Pizzas or Jugs? Grab both for just $25”.

Ms Robson said the ads were displayed in Central Station recently, but were due to be removed yesterday following the ASB’s finding.

“Now I think this is political correctness/censorship gone absolutely mad,” she said.

“I am shocked that the ASB would determine that this ad is exploitative or demeaning to women in any way, especially considering there isn’t even a woman on the billboard.”

In their ruling, the ASB noted the image used in the ad was of a picture of pizzas with “strategically placed pepperoni for the purpose of creating the impression of breasts with pronounced nipples”.

“The Board noted the placement of the pizzas side by side was an element also adding to the suggestion that the pizzas were a depiction of breasts,” they found.

“The Board considered the use of the term pizzas or jugs and noted that the colloquial definition for jugs can include breasts.

The ASB found that the representation of womens’ breasts as pizzas did reduce women to an object which was exploitative by way of purposefully debasing women.

SOURCE






University boffins want to scrap sporting terms like 'ruckman' in favour of 'ruckperson' to tackle rigid gender stereotypes

University researchers have recommended terms like 'ruckman' and 'batsman'  be scrapped in favour of 'ruckperson' and 'batter' to help fight against gender stereotyping.

The push for 'gender-neutral' language in sport has been proposed to help reduce violence against women and follows research by Swinburne and Latrobe University researchers .

 A key recommendation of the research, according to the Herald Sun, was to employ gender-neutral language across the sporting sector at every level, in a bid to 'discredit rigid gender roles and stereotyped constructions of masculinity and femininity.'

Since a roundtable last week, there has been plenty of debate about the effectiveness of the move in dismantling gender stereotypes.

Dr Lauren Rosewarne told Neil Mitchell on 3AW on Monday morning that she thinks gender-neutral language is important, but we should also be focusing on non-sporting terms - like 'chairperson' instead of 'chairman' as well.

'I'm always a supporter of language that can be inclusive, [but] I don't think it's going to have the impact the researchers think – I think that's a very long bow to draw,' she explained.

'But I am a supporter of gender neutral language,' she added comparing the recommendation to the recent adoption of gender-neutral language in maths, science and technology.

'If we identify that we want everybody to feel included, then we have to use language that includes everybody - and that means women,' she said.  'It's not as difficult as you're making out.'

Dr Rosewarne, a senior lecturer in the School of Social and Political Sciences, writes, researches and comments on sexuality, gender, feminism, the media, pop culture, public policy and politics.

'I've never seen any research that domestic violence occurs because somebody is calling them a ruckman,' she elaborated.

'While I'm passionate about gender-neutral language because I like to be inclusive, I'm not sure in this example that it's the way to solve the problem.

She said that better terms to work on would be 'spokesperson' and 'chairperson'  - 'they are examples of words that make assumptions that men are in a position of power always.'

The project was initially commissioned by the Andrews Government's Office of Prevention and Women's Equality.

It is being spearheaded by Swinburne's Dr Emma Sherry, who believes sport plays a significant role in reducing violence against women and promoting gender equality.

The first stage of was to convene a panel of experts in sport and active recreation, women's equality, and prevention of violence for the round table.

An in-depth summary of the findings will be presented to the Office of Prevention and Women's Equality later this month, according to Swinburne University, and will be put into effect in 2018.

SOURCE




Monday, December 04, 2017


"Where are you from?"

If someone looks or sounds a bit different from most of the locals, the above question is often asked.  It seems like reasonable curiosity and even a conversation-starter to me but it is these days often regarded as "incorrect" and offensive.

As I am old, however, I am usually forgiven incorrectness so I continue on in my merry way.  So when I was having Sunday brunch in a nearby Cafe recently, I noted that I was served by a very attractive blonde and blue-eyed young lady.  She spoke English well but with a rather charming accent which sounded to me like a South African accent.  I have been to South Africa twice so have some idea of the South African accent.

So I said to her, "You sound like you have a South African accent".

She replied cheerfully: "I am Polish".  I am a great fan of the  heroic Polish people (See here) so I was pleased at her answer. She had the extremely white skin that Poles often have so maybe I should have guessed.

Anyway, she was not a bit offended and was pleasant to me subsequently.

Now why can't everybody be like that?  I think the Left have made neurotics out of a lot of people by their constant preaching of "discrimination" so maybe that's it. 

I gather that politically correct preaching has not got far in Poland.  They have refused point blank to take any of the Muslim pseudo-refugees that Germany has welcomed. Niech Żyje Polska!


British motoring writer defends his controversial "gay" joke

RICHARD Hammond has spoken out after a controversial joke he made last year about ice cream being “gay”.

According to The Sun, in December 2016 while on The Big Tour with fellow ex-Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson and James May, Richard had announced that he didn’t want to eat ice cream, declaring: “I don’t eat ice cream,” replied Hammond. “It’s something to do with being straight. Ice cream is a bit — you know.”

Clarkson replied: “Are you saying everyone who likes ice cream ... you’re saying all children are homosexual?”

Hammond continues: “There’s nothing wrong with it ... it’s that way rather than that way. There’s nothing wrong with it, but a grown man eating an ice cream — it’s that way, rather than that way.”

Speaking in an interview with the Times Magazine this weekend, he commented that he didn’t think the comments, which were slammed by LGBT organisations, had discouraged people from coming out.

He commented: “It was certainly not what I set out to do. I wouldn’t want to cause genuine difficulty for anyone. But if it’s mock fury, pantomime fury from people looking to take offence then …

“Anyone who knows me know that I was being serious, that I’m not homophobic. Love is love, whatever the sex of the two people in love.

“It may be because I live in a hideously safe and contained middle class world, where a person’s sexuality is not an issue, but when I hear of people in the media coming out, I think, why do they even feel the need to mention it.

“It is so old-fashioned to make a big deal of it. That isn’t even an interesting thing to say at a dinner party any more.

SOURCE




Sunday, December 03, 2017


Australian TV host slammed over ‘anti-Semitic’ comment

Old-fashioned humour is dangerous these days

BROADCASTER Eddie McGuire has been accused of making anti-Semitic comments during an episode of Millionaire Hot Seat.

The Anti-Defamation Commission confirmed to the Herald Sun it received several complaints regarding an exchange between the Collingwood President and a contestant this week.

During the show Serena Greenberg said she hoped to win $20,000 to help her parents pay for a trip overseas to visit their grandchildren.

“Your Dad’s not Jewish, is he?’’ McGuire asked.

She replied: “Yes.’’

McGuire responded: “So you have a Jewish father and a Scottish mother ... I reckon it would have been hard getting pocket money from them!”

Anti-Defamation Commission Chair Dr Dvir Abramovich said the comments were disappointing and he was surprised they made it to air.

“While we appreciate the value of humour and give entertainers a lot of leeway, public figures need to show sensitivity and be careful not to traffic in age-old hurtful and demeaning stereotypes, especially those commonly associated with anti-Semitic myths,’’ he told the Herald Sun.

McGuire told the paper it was meant to be a joke and he himself was Scottish. “It was about Scottish people, of which I am one,’’ he said. “It was a joke aimed at myself and my family. We had a laugh, we moved on.’’

SOURCE



Islamists can utter extreme hate speech with impunity

Pro-Israel activists are deeply concerned about a recent anti-Israel, anti-Semitic sermon by an Islamic Imam in Tennessee.

During a meeting at the Islamic Center of Tennessee in the Nashville suburb of Antioch, Imam Ahmedul Hadi Sharif told his followers that it is the Jewish people – not Islamic jihadists – who are the terrorists.

"The Zionists – the number one terrorists in the world – had occupied and kidnapped that land a long time ago,” Sharif insisted, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). “Now they want to add the Al-Aqsa Mosque to their occupations …"

He went on to say that Jerusalem belongs to the Muslims – and not Israel – before calling down a wrath on Israelites. "Oh Allah, inflict Your revenge upon them," the Imam prayed aloud to the god of Islam.

Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJN) President Laurie Cardoza-Moore – whose group is based in Nashville, Tennessee, argues that these Imams are deliberately inciting their congregants by making false claims against "Zionists."

"[Imams are falsely claiming that] the Zionists are threatening to attack the Kaaba in Saudi Arabia – and of course, there is nothing that could be further from the truth,” Cardoza-Moore contended. “There is no plan to do that. This is just being done to incite violence against Jews and Christians who are supportive of Israel – the so-called ‘Zionists,’ as he called them."

Olive Tree Ministries Founder and Director Jan Markell, who hosts the Understanding the Times program on American Family Radio, maintains that, unfortunately – thanks to political correctness – Imams can get away with these kinds of hateful comments.

SOURCE

Friday, December 01, 2017



Trump recycles some truths about Muslims -- causing uproar in Britain

Official Britain is in the grip of a paralysing neurosis about Islam.  So the truth about Islam is heavily suppressed there.  Wilders, Geller and Robert Spencer simply report what Muslims do but they must be kept out of Britain because of that.  Facts are forbidden.

So it is only marginal groups in Britain who offer unrestriced reports about Muslim behaviour. So it is to them that Trump had to go to get accurate reportage on Muslim behavior in Britain.

It's notable that no one is disputing the accurcy of what Trump tweeted. They are only criticizing the channel through which that information came.  That is of course an "ad hominem" argument and, as such, is of no scholarly worth whatsoever



THE PRESIDENT OF the United States, Donald Trump, got to work early on Wednesday, stoking anti-Muslim hatred by amplifying the views of a small group of British vigilantes who call themselves Britain First, sharing three tweets from the group’s deputy leader.

Britain First is not, as Trump might have guessed, a tribute to his “America First” campaign slogan. It is a splinter group formed by ex-members of the avowedly racist British National Party which has called for Islam to banned and is dedicated to taking “militant direct action” against Muslim Britons, including elected officials they call “occupiers.” The group’s handful of members have been harassing British Muslims during so-called Christian patrols of the streets since at least 2014.

Trump’s intervention later prompted a rebuke from Prime Minister Theresa May. “Britain First seeks to divide communities in their use of hateful narratives which that peddle lies and stoke tensions,” May said in a statement. “British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right, which is the antithesis of the values this country represents, decency, tolerance and respect. It is wrong for the president to have done this.”

Given British laws against hate speech, Trump might even have veered into dangerous territory if he still hopes to visit the country soon. In May’s previous role as home minister, she added two Islamophobic American bloggers, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, to a list of “extremists” barred from travel to the country, on the grounds that their presence could “foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the U.K.” That ban, imposed in 2013, was motivated by what the two bloggers had written about Muslims online and their plan to take part in a march in London organized by the virulently anti-Islam English Defence League.

In 2009, the Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders was denied entry to the U.K. after the Home Office ruled that his anti-Muslim speeches could “threaten community harmony and therefore public safety.”

SOURCE



Anything non-Leftist is now defined as hate-speech

For many on the contemporary left, the side of the spectrum now most discomfited by an absolutist free-speech position, speech with which they disagree is increasingly considered "offensive," the first classificatory step toward "hateful."

Use of the "n-word" is most likely hate speech (or at least highly offensive, racist speech) but what about criticisms of racial preferences? Or a scholarly article pointing out that many of the claims made by the Black Lives Matter movement regarding police brutality, including that Michael Brown never said "hands up, don't shoot" in Ferguson, Mo., aren't true?

Going further, is it acceptable to raise the possibility that hostile relations between black communities and urban police forces might have less to do with the alleged racism of the police than the wildly disproportionate levels of crimes committed in such communities by young black males?

Would such speech be judged "hurtful" or "offensive" to certain "marginalized" groups and thus subject to restriction in certain settings (like college campuses)? If the overriding goal becomes to protect people from speech they disagree with, and if the mere exposure to such speech is viewed as traumatizing, then how can there be any result other than suppression?

More to the point, should the expression of any ideas that challenge in any way the social justice agenda of the left be forbidden?

Such questions are relevant when considering that a central plank of the contemporary left is that conservatism itself is inherently racist, sexist, and homophobic; that advocacy of limited government, market economics, and individual freedom (including freedom of speech and expression) is little more than a ruse designed to uphold a white patriarchy of oppression and "white privilege."

This is a notion that first germinated in more modest form during the presidency of Barack Obama, when his supporters attributed conservative resistance to his policies to his skin color rather than their liberal nature.

Such accusations were insidious because they smeared the loyal opposition with the brush of racism as a means of delegitimizing the idea of opposition. If some people who opposed Obama were racists, then all who opposed him in some way must somehow prove that they weren't.

A similar tactic is now being pursued by the proponents of "intersectionality" theory, with its claims that American oppression is built upon a racial/gender hierarchy with white straight Christian males at the top, single gay black women at the bottom, and everyone else somewhere in between based on their race, gender, and sexual preference. And that the value of speech, and thus whether it should or shouldn't be permitted, hinges solely upon the color and gender of those uttering it; that identity determines truth.

Based on such thinking, traditional conservatives are increasingly branded with the "white supremacist" label simply by virtue of their holding conservative beliefs, and it becomes possible to smear one's ideological opponents through a mendacious little semantic two-step: if we define conservative ideas as racist and existing for no reason other than to support a system of white supremacy, then speech uttered by conservatives can be conveniently defined as "hate speech" warranting suppression.

For many on the left, speech they disagree with becomes "hate speech" because, in classic totalitarian fashion, ideological opposition has been redefined as "hate."

Given such assumptions, even to speak in favor of the free-speech principle, and thereby defend the concept of the marketplace of ideas to which it contributes, is to become suspect because complicit.

Such ideas are vastly more inflammatory and divisive than the incoherent rantings of fringe neo-Nazis and KKK types because they seek to undermine the very notion of civil discourse crucial to self-government; they take the "politics" entirely out of politics by denying the legitimacy of different points of view (and equating all but their own with hate).

The give and take of democracy requires that each side extend the benefit of the doubt to the other; to believe that, at a minimum, we all seek the advancement of the great American experiment in freedom and quality, even if by different means.

This can't happen if one side equates support for limited government and free markets with racism and sexism.

SOURCE


Thursday, November 30, 2017



White "Aborigines" soaking up funds needed for blacks

Broadcaster Andrew Bolt got prosecuted and convicted for saying this.  Good that someone now is allowed to say it.  Under Australian law, someone with a small amount of Aboriginal ancestry can identify as Aboriginal and get special benefits designed for real Aborigines.  So many visibly white people claim to be aborigines for the government gravy they get from it.

Cosseted urbanites who belatedly self-identify as indigenous are ­ripping much-needed funds from the pockets of their disadvantaged brethren in remote communities farther north, according to one of the nation’s highest-profile Aboriginal bodies.

The Yothu Yindi Foundation, which runs the annual Garma Festival in Arnhem Land, yesterday told the Productivity Commission that counting indigeneity in the formula used to allocate GST revenue might be hurting those in areas with the highest need.

YYF representatives said “exponential” growth in the indigenous-identifying populations of southern states — over and above that attributable to natural factors — was “draining away” money from the Northern Territory.

Bob Beadman, who previously chaired the local branch of the body responsible for implementing the GST formula, said YYF was also concerned about identity “fraud” and called for “greater efforts to distinguish degrees of need among the Aboriginal population”.

“We believe the self-identification provision in the census is encouraging people to come ­forward for reasons of their own. Some of those reasons might be to do with the work of genealogists … if there was an indigenous ancestor 200 years ago, suddenly an ­entirely new family appears on the census data as indigenous,” Mr Beadman said.

“We know from census data that 80 per cent of marriages interstate are to a non-indigenous partner, and the kids of that union then become indigenous … all of this growth in numbers is drawing money away from the Territory.”

Mr Beadman made the comments at a PC hearing into the horizontal fiscal equalisation formula, which governs the Commonwealth Grants Commission’s allocation of GST. Over half the Territory government’s annual budget typically consists of GST.

“A double university-degree, double-income family in their own house in Parramatta should have much lesser value in the weighting that the CGC would give to an indigenous family (as compared) with (a family consisting of) several intergenerational levels of welfare dependency, all unemployed and in a humpy in a remote community like Papunya,” he said.

SOURCE



Does free speech protect nutcase ravings?

A federal court case in West Palm Beach could set a new precedence for free speech. Wednesday morning, an attorney will use the first amendment to prove former Florida Atlantic University professor, James Tracy, was wrongfully terminated.
Tracy and his attorneys say his right to free speech was violated when he was fired because of what he wrote on a blog.

He said the Sandy Hook School Massacre, which killed 20 children, was staged by the government to gain support for tougher gun laws.

FAU countered that statement by saying he was fired simply because he failed to follow the rules applying to all faculty.

Lawyers for FAU explained Tracy, “was repeatedly warned that this failure to follow policy would result in disciplinary action, including possible termination," they added his, “belligerent, rebellious conduct was deliberate and intentional."

SOURCE


Wednesday, November 29, 2017




Justices take up free speech case of anti-police rap lyrics

If the video is held to constitute incitement to violence, it would lose free speech protections

Pennsylvania's highest court will decide whether a Pittsburgh man's anti-police rap lyrics are protected free expression or amount to witness intimidation and making terroristic threats.

The state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Tuesday in the case of Jamal Knox, who served state prison time for the song he recorded after being arrested on drug charges.

Knox was charged after an officer found the YouTube video, performed by Knox under the name Mayhem Mal of the Ghetto Superstar Committee.

The video taunts by name two officers involved in the drug arrest and mentions Richard Poplawski, who's on death row for killing three Pittsburgh police officers in 2009.

Knox's lawyer says he wasn't trying to intimidate the officers and didn't intend the video to be posted online.

SOURCE






Use of Maori language in New Zealand criticized

"Te reo" is the name for the Maori languge in Maori. All New Zealand schoolchildren are taught bits of it.  Very few Maori now use it much, however.  It is in some danger of dying out.  So in the usual politically correct way, the New Zealand establishment is pushing use of it on radio and TV.  A writer who criticized use of it on TV and radio was therefore allegedly a "racist".  It seems more likely, however, that he just wanted to understand all that he heard

An opinion page article published in this newspaper on Friday has whipped up outrage.

Expressions of horror and disgust have followed Dave Witherow's piece criticising the increasing use of te reo on national radio, RNZ, and in mainstream media.

Mr Witherow, who was once a regular ODT columnist, is not afraid of colourful language to make his points.

This newspaper has also been lambasted for printing ''racist'' rubbish and giving sustenance to such outlooks.

The article, however, was published on the ''opinion'' page, where we allow for the expression of a wide range of views. As we said on Saturday, that does not entail any form of endorsement. In fact, editorially we would disagree, sometimes vehemently, with many opinion articles.

SOURCE


Tuesday, November 28, 2017



Twitter has turned its back on free speech

The platform plans to exercise ideological control over its users

Twitter has set a deadline. In addition to the existing Terms of Service, from 18 December users will be subject to a more stringent set of rules regarding ‘targeted harrassment’, the promotion of ‘violence’, and ‘expressing hate’. And last week Twitter announced that it would no longer ‘verify’ accounts whose viewpoints are not in keeping with the company’s values.

For those of you who have somehow resisted the lure of social media – in other words, those with real lives – the implications of this will not immediately be apparent. A ‘verified’ account on Twitter is marked with a white checkmark on a blue badge. It enables users to distinguish between authentic accounts run by public figures and parodies created by mischief-makers. How else, for example, could one tell the difference between the anti-democratic fulminations of philosopher AC Grayling and that of his similarly petulant rival AC Wailing?

For some reason, Twitter has now decided that verification implies endorsement, and is therefore withdrawing blue badges from those who are perceived to be extremists, such as the alt-right figurehead Richard Spencer. It is likely that such individuals will be banned completely following the 18 December deadline, especially since the new guidelines make it clear that Twitter will no longer tolerate those with questionable affiliations ‘both on and off the platform’.

All well and good, you might say. As a private company, Twitter is perfectly entitled to withhold its services, and if this is to the detriment of white supremacists, who will complain? This is an understandable point of view, although I’ve always found that the best way to discredit bad ideas is to allow them to be aired. That’s why Gary Younge’s decision to interview Richard Spencer for Channel 4 recently was a sound tactic. Given the opportunity, Spencer exposed himself for what he is: a historically illiterate demagogue, impervious to reason.

Twitter once saw itself as ‘the free-speech wing of the free-speech party’, but a recent New York Times interview with the company’s co-founder Evan Williams suggests that this commendable ideal no longer applies. ‘I thought once everybody could speak freely and exchange information and ideas, the world is automatically going to be a better place’, Williams said. ‘I was wrong about that.’

Williams even went so far as to apologise for Donald Trump’s successful use of the platform as a key feature of his election campaign. In doing so, Williams is reflecting a sinister idea which has been gaining considerable momentum of late: that the electorate consists of unthinking automatons who will vote not on principle, but in accordance with the contents of their Twitterfeeds. How else might one explain the absurd and widely circulated argument that the Russian government swung the Brexit vote through the use of online trolls?

I don’t need Twitter to remove Richard Spencer’s verification badge for me to know that his views are not to be taken seriously. His own words do the job perfectly well. By extending its role from facilitator to arbiter of acceptable ideas, Twitter can no longer lay claim to be a supporter of free speech. More worryingly, it sets a precedent by which relatively innocuous views might be censored under the pretence of protecting users from harmful content. One need only read the statements of the Stop Funding Hate campaign to realise that many activists see little or no distinction between conservatism and fascism.

Twitter is similarly prone to this kind of concept creep. It has a track record of suspending or deleting accounts on spurious grounds (often without specifying the details of the transgression) and censoring accounts in response to politically motivated complaints. It has even appointed a specific group – the terrifyingly named Trust and Safety Council – to act as the platform’s official thoughtpolice. Twitter, we are assured, must take a firm stance against ‘hate speech’, but this is a hopelessly nebulous term which is typically deployed to stifle the free exchange of ideas.

So when Twitter’s new rules include a prohibition against organisations that ‘use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes’, are we to take that to mean violence in its traditional sense, or is Twitter adhering to an expanded definition that includes insults, robust criticism and ‘triggering’ language? Those who defend university No Platforming policies, for instance, often claim that they are preventing potential ‘injury’ to students. Lindsay Shepherd, a graduate teacher at Wilfrid Laurier University, was recently reprimanded for showing a video featuring Jordan Peterson, a professor now famous for his refusal to adopt gender-neutral pronouns. According to the authorities, Shepherd had violated the university’s ‘Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy’. Such redefinitions are ideological sleight of hand, and should be resisted by anybody who values personal liberty.

Given that all of the major social-media companies – Twitter, Facebook and Google – are unashamedly partisan in their political outlook, the migration of users to alternative platforms now seems inevitable. This explains the growing popularity of Gab, a social-networking service which prides itself on its commitment to free speech. Gab’s refusal to censor its users has led some to brand it an ‘alt-right’ website, but this is disingenuous. One need not necessarily agree with an individual to support his or her right to speak.

With Twitter on track to narrow its Overton window to the dimensions of a porthole, it isn’t too far-fetched to imagine a future in which all social-media sites are tailored to a specific political worldview. Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey insists that censorship is for our own good, that freedom of expression ‘starts with safety’. But the public is not best served by the cultivation of an increasingly hermetic online ‘echo chamber’ culture. As Eduard Bernstein so succinctly put it, ‘men have heads’. The last thing we need is for Twitter to do our thinking for us.

SOURCE



‘Brave spaces’ are no answer to safe spaces

Ghettoising free speech will make matters on campus worse

Americans are self-segregating along political lines, choosing to associate only with like-minded individuals. This should be troubling to anyone who values a society where a diversity of opinions are allowed to thrive and be discussed. Nowhere is the new hyper-politicisation more evident than on college campuses, where ‘safe spaces’ have become a way to shelter oneself from the ‘trauma’ of hearing different opinions.

Through the ideology of ‘safe spaces’, students divide themselves along racial, sexual and other identity-based lines. It’s gotten to the point where some students are even calling for safe spaces in campus housing, so they will only have to live with those who share the same identity politics as them.

A former Harvard professor and dean is currently touting his new idea to fix this safe-space hysteria. John Palfrey has proposed that colleges enact ‘brave spaces’. He envisions these as areas on campus – such as classrooms or lecture halls – where controversial ideas can be debated rigorously and no topic is off limits. He sees them as coexisting and competing with safe spaces. While well-intentioned, Palfrey’s proposal will likely perpetuate the inability and unwillingness of students to interact with views they find difficult.

Essentially, Palfrey’s idea is equivalent to the concept of a ‘free-speech zone’, which has drawn the ire of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for limiting freedom of expression. Controversial ideas should be allowed to be debated in public portions of campus without being quarantined to an arbitrarily decided spot. And yet, alarmingly, many seem to be fine with the concept of protecting students from difficult ideas. A recent study from the Cato Institute found that 34 per cent of Americans think it is more important for colleges to protect students’ sensibilities than to expose them to new views. That may be a minority, but it’s still a startlingly high proportion. Additionally, 53 per cent said colleges have a responsibility to protect students from views they find offensive.

Palfrey’s idea leaves many unanswered questions. For starters, who determines what kind of speech is offensive enough to be relegated to the brave space? You can imagine this question quickly becoming politicised. For example, on a liberal campus, discussion of LGBT issues or abortion would be welcome in a more public setting, whereas on a more conservative campus these ideas would only be allowed in designated ‘brave’ areas.

That leads to the next issue. The current problem on college campuses is that so many students are inclined to seek out safe spaces when they feel an idea is offensive. But they can still inadvertently stumble upon some ideas they find controversial, whether on a flier in a public venue or at a campus organisation’s booth during a public event. Brave spaces would make this kind of thing even less common. Palfrey seems to suggest that anything that could be deemed contentious should be kept to certain classrooms and lecture halls.

College students, like Americans as a whole, are unlikely to seek out views they dislike. So, while brave spaces would give divisive topics a place to be debated and discussed, the proposal doesn’t go nearly far enough. Sadly, right now, if students have a choice, they will choose coddled safe spaces over rigorous debate.

SOURCE


Monday, November 27, 2017



"Woman" is now a bad word

MOTHERHOOD, it used to be said, is sacred. But perhaps in these supposedly more enlightened times we should change that to “carer status is sacred”.

As reported yesterday, Australia’s national Nursing and Midwifery Board just almost passed a new code of conduct which, among other things, would have made midwives refer to their patients as “persons”, not “women”.

As in, “the person in Delivery Suite A has been in labour for four hours”.

Welcome to mother… er, make that parenthood.

The shift was proposed, apparently, to make a universal change so that the profession would be more inclusive of those “individual instances” of women who identify as men giving birth.

Now of course everyone knows that transgender people are part of the community and surely no one of good will wants to make life more difficult for them.

But couldn’t it be left up to midwives and patients to work this out when these “individual instances” occur?

In any case, thanks to strong opposition from the profession, the Board relented, but not for lack of trying.

If anything, the progressive push to re-engineer the entire English language to suit whatever the rules are about what we can and cannot say this week is stronger than ever.

Political correctness used to be defended on the grounds of politeness, but the current language wars go far beyond that, even if they follow a predictable pattern.

What starts out as attempts by progressives to burnish their own moral standing by finding something to be offended about on someone else’s behalf quickly morph into campaigns to so comprehensively divorce words from their meanings that the rest of us dare not open our mouths lest we say the wrong thing.

SOURCE









Bill against anti-free speech lawsuits in Ohio

A Lima legislator is promoting legislation to guard against lawsuits that stifle free speech.

Sen. Matt Huffman, R-Lima: Huffman is sponsoring the Ohio Citizen Participation Act, which aims to protect people against so-called “strategic lawsuits against public participation,” or SLAPP lawsuits. According to a statement from Huffman’s office, a SLAPP lawsuit is “a meritless lawsuit against someone for exercising his or her First Amendment rights, rights that are also guaranteed to Ohio citizens under our state’s constitution.”

Such lawsuits, Huffman said, are not filed necessarily with the aim to win, but rather to cause someone a great deal of stress from a prolonged legal process and mounting bills. This bill, modeled after similar legislation in Texas, would allow a judge to dismiss meritless lawsuits against people engaging in “protected communication,” which encompasses all First Amendment-related speech on matters of public concern. The bill would also protect anonymous digital commenters who would face litigation, giving them the ability to contest efforts to expose their identities. This would, however, not change the state’s libel and defamation standards.

SOURCE



Sunday, November 26, 2017


God is gender-neutral: Church of Sweden urges clergy to stop referring to 'the Lord' and 'He'

This is theologically orthodox.  God has always been said to be neither male nor female.  It was always understood that "he" was simply the easist way to refer to him

The Church of Sweden is urging its clergy to use gender-neutral language when referring to the supreme deity.

The national church, which is Evangelical Lutheran, asks priests and other staff to refrain from using terms like 'Lord' and 'He' in favor of the less specific 'God.'

The Lord's Prayer, which in Swedish as in English is commonly called 'Our Father', shall continue to be referred to as such.

The decision was taken Thursday at the end of an eight-day meeting of the church's 251-member decision-making body, and takes effect May 20 on the Christian holiday of Pentecost.

A former state church, headquartered in Uppsala, some 37 miles north of the capital, has 6.1 million baptized members in a country of 10 million.

As of 2014 it is headed by a woman, Archbishop Antje Jackelen.

SOURCE



Australia: Must not disrespect Ganesha



Lamb may well be the meat to eat this Spring, but you won’t be watching any more of one particular ad about it.

The Meat and Livestock Corporation’s (MLA) latest offering, featuring a range of religious gods, deities and prophets has been has been banned.

The ad sang the praises of lamb as the food of the gods, with a message of unity and bringing people of diverse backgrounds together.

But the fact that it featured opposing divinities and prophets including Jesus, L. Ron Hubbard, Thor, Zeus, and Hindi god Ganesha proved its stumbling block, with the advertising watchdog ruling it discriminatory to those of the Hindu faith.
It’s a U-turn by the Advertising Standards Board, which originally sided with the view of the MLA that it was fine, despite a flurry of complaints when it first aired from Hindus seeing red.

But after an independent review the Board revised its decision, ruling the ad is discriminatory to those of Hindu faith.

The review rejected the board’s initial majority finding that the YouTube advert, which showed Lord Ganesha at a meal celebrating lamb as “the meat we can all eat”, was “lighthearted and humorous” and did not breach the advertising standards code.

At issue is the portrayal of Ganesha, with the board ruling Ganesh got “less favourable treatment” in the ad. The Hindu god is a vegetarian.

In the ad, amid lines like “it’s a nightmare catering for you lot with all your dietary requirements”, the agnostic host declaring a toast “to lamb — the meat we can all eat”, comes another line about “addressing the elephant in the room”.

It was the “elephant in the room’ reference which caused the problem, because the deity — who appears in elephant form — was the only one singled out for his physical characteristics.

The phrase “might sound cute and clever”, the Board noted, but to Hindus, Ganesha is “not just an elephant” but rather “the first deity in all Hindu services, and is considered the remover of obstacles”.

It ruled the MLA had not given adequate consideration to “how seriously some Australians take their religious views — and did not pay due attention to the level of offence about something important to those people”.

SOURCE



Friday, November 24, 2017


As it looks to end hate speech, Saucon Valley High School to ban five offensive words

There are plenty of other words that could be used abusively -- such as retard, spastic, moron, imbecile, parasite, no-hoper etc. 

The Saucon Valley School District, facing a federal lawsuit over racist incidents, is developing a hate speech policy for the high school that would specifically ban five words if used in hateful and menacing ways.

The five words are “b----,” the N-word, “terrorist,” “retarded” and “gay.” A student caught using the words would first go through an intervention program. If the student continues to use the words, he or she could face detention or suspension.

The five words have been used in derogatory ways at the high school level, including a handful of times this year, Superintendent Craig Butler said Wednesday. The policy was reviewed but not voted on at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

“What we’re looking at specifically is that these words not be used in a malicious, hurtful manner,” Butler said. “We’re trying to reinforce with our young adults that we would expect them to speak respectfully.”

Witold Walczak, legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said school districts have a right to prohibit offensive words.

“Schools can ban lewd and vulgar speech, regardless if there’s any disruption,” Walczak said.

Words such as “gay” and “terrorist” would not be grounds for punishment if used as part of a name such as Gay-Straight Alliance or on a lesson on terrorist attacks.

But the school can prohibit them if they are being used in a disruptive way, Walczak said.

SOURCE




In France, antisemitic speech is oppressive and dangerous

And French courts are slowly accepting that

Jewish groups have claimed that France's lack of judicial action against antisemites in the past amounted to a cover-up of hate crimes against Jews.

Amid vocal protests by leaders of French Jewry on the judiciary’s handling of antisemitic crimes, French courts made a series of tough rulings on inciters to hatred of Jews.

In three separate rulings last week, French judges rejected the appeal of the far-right Holocaust denier Alain Soral against his prison sentence, affirmed the eviction of his associate and career antisemite Dieudonne M’bala M’bala from his Paris headquarters and slapped a $1,700 fine on a teacher who inveighed against Israel and the Jews.

The rulings came amid unprecedented criticism by CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish communities, and other French Jewish groups on judicial actions and decision that it said were too soft on antisemites, encouraged terrorism or amounted to a cover-up of hate crimes against Jews.

The National Bureau for Vigilance Against Antisemitism, which earlier this month heavily criticized the acquittal from murder charges of an accomplice of the killer of four Jews in Toulouse in 2012, applauded the Nov. 9 verdict against Soral, who in 2012 co-founded the Anti-Zionist Party with Dieudonne, a comedian with multiple convictions for inciting hatred against Jews whom former Prime Minister Manuel Valls called “a professional antisemite.”

Soral, who also has multiple convictions — including for saying Adolf Hitler “should have finished the job” — was sentenced to three months in jail in March. He also was fined approximately $16,000. French courts rarely impose heavy fines for hate speech and seldom send individuals found guilty of this offense to prison.

Earlier this year, CRIF and the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Antisemitism mounted a vocal protest campaign over the absence of hate crime charges from an initial indictment against Kobili Traore, who confessed to killing his Jewish neighbor, Sarah Halimi. Traore, who reportedly had called Halimi’s daughter a “dirty Jew,” screamed about Allah and killing Satan while he pummeled Halimi in her Paris apartment in April.

In September, prosecutors included the hate crime charges in a revised indictment that followed intense lobbying and vocal protests by CRIF, including to President Emmanuel Macron.

The Nov. 8 sentence against Dieudonne comes two years after a lower court ordered him to leave the building that has housed his Main D’Or theater since 2002. The eviction order follows failed safety inspections and a motion to nullify the rental contract for the theater by the owners.

Dieudonne, whom tax authorities say is deliberately insolvent to avoid paying fines for his multiple hate speech convictions, on Nov. 8 also was ordered to pay nearly $6,000 to anti-racism groups that sued him for comparing on stage in 2014 the treatment of blacks by Jewish slave owners to how the Nazis treated Jews.

Separately, the Correctional Tribunal of Paris fined a former English teacher at the prestigious Janson-de-Sailly High School some $1,500 on Nov. 9, Le Parisien reported, over her posting on Facebook last year that “the American Jewish lobby” supports Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and that then-French President Francois Hollande “is a Jew who benefited from his belonging to that community to ascend in politics and who now denies this.”

SOURCE

Thursday, November 23, 2017


VA: Hate Symbols on Bridge

A Leftist provocation, most likely

Neighbors living on Sangers Lane in Augusta County woke up to swastikas spray-painted on a bridge not far from their homes. There was spray paint there previously, which they had gotten used to, but swastikas and other hateful messages appeared overnight, and neighbors found them on Sunday morning.

Daniel Shifflett, a neighbor in the area, says it is a quiet, rural area, and neighbors were shocked to find such outright expressions of hate emblazoning their road.

"They're wondering why it's happening here, you know, and not somewhere where more people would see it. It's just kind of a rural area, so it just shocked people, because no one would ever really expect it here," said Shifflett.

Deputies with the Augusta County Sheriff's Office responded to calls about the paint, but say they have no leads on who did it.

SOURCE




Canada: Laurier university issues apology amid censorship controversy

Wilfrid Laurier University officials have offered one of their T.A.s an apology for the way they handled a complaint surrounding her tutorial.

The issue started when Lindsay Shepherd, a master’s student, played a controversial YouTube clip about gender-neutral pronouns in her tutorial for students in a communications class.

The clip featured Jordan Peterson, a University of Toronto professor who infamously refuses to use gender pronouns other than “he” or “she.” Shepherd said the video was meant to start a debate in her class, but university staff said it created a toxic environment for transgender students, and accused her of being transphobic.

After a recording of a meeting between Shepherd and officials was shared to Global News, the university’s president and vice chancellor issued an apology to her for the way the situation was handled.

“After listening to this recording, an apology is in order. The conversation I heard does not reflect the values and practices to which Laurier aspires,” the statement from Deborah MacLatchy reads.

The meeting, which Shepherd recorded in secret, took place at the beginning of November and the professor of the course, Nathan Rambukkana, was also present.

Shepherd said she presented the clip of the debate neutrally and without bias, but Rambukkana told her her approach to the clip was tantamount to remaining neutral on other objectionable views such as those of Adolf Hitler. She was told that she should have provided more background on Peterson’s views, including his connections to the alt-right and Canada’s Rebel Media, and condemned him.

Rambukkana also apologized in an open letter to Shepherd also posted online on Tuesday for those remarks.

“This was, obviously, a poorly chosen example. I meant to use it to drive home a point about context by saying here was material that would definitely need to be contextualized rather than presented neutrally, and instead I implied that Dr. Peterson is like Hitler, which is untrue and was never my intention,” he wrote.

He also apologized for having a panel of three people confront Shepherd in the “informal meeting,” which he admitted was intimidating, and for not providing Shepherd with mentorship during the process.

“In not also prioritizing my mentorship role as the course director and your supervisor, I didn’t do enough to try to support you in this meeting, which I deeply regret.”

The school is creating an independent task force to look into the situation along with a review of their processes.

SOURCE




Wednesday, November 22, 2017



Free Speech Isn't Free: Rioters are Costing College Campuses Millions

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
When Charles Murray or Milo Yiannopoulos visit a college campus, administrators don’t just worry about the effect that inflammatory speech might have on their students. They aren’t only concerned about being swept up in the higher education free speech debate, or playing host to a scandal that could taint their school’s reputation for months.

 There’s also the cost — which can climb into the millions of dollars.

Colleges, especially public colleges, often shell out enormous amounts of money to provide additional layers of security when controversial speakers visit. If schools are lucky, contentious events will go smoothly. If they aren’t, there could be violent protests, injuries, campus damage and weeks of negative press coverage.

University of California at Berkeley, a historic flashpoint for the free speech debate rooted back to the 1960s, has spent at least $2.5 million on security surrounding controversial speakers since February, says Dan Mogulof, the school’s assistant vice chancellor for public affairs.

That’s $200,000 for Yiannopoulos in February, $600,000 for Ann Coulter (whose appearance was ultimately cancelled by the sponsoring student groups), and at least $600,000 for conservative commentator Ben Shapiro in September. Yiannopoulos’ latest appearance, part of Berkeley’s “Free Speech Week,”will cost upwards of a $1 million, Mogulof estimates.

The University California system even chipped in, covering at least $300,000 of the costs associated with Free Speech Week.

At Berkeley, preparing for a speaker event is a serious undertaking — the university police department painstakingly gathers intelligence before an event, then makes recommendations to the administration for what kind of security might be necessary. Minor considerations — like whether the event is scheduled for daytime or evening, and how many exits the venue has — play a key role in shaping the security plan.

“Universities like Berkeley — public universities, particularly with the demographics that we have and the kind of campus climates we foster — represent for many people on a certain part of the political spectrum everything that’s wrong with the country,” Mogulof says. “You spring that all together, and you’re going to get a lot of attention. And a lot of what these folks want more than anything is attention.”

SOURCE


CA: Compelled speech about abortion under challenge

Compelled speech is clearly not free speech

Abortion foes behind the clinics known as “crisis pregnancy centers” want the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down a California law requiring the clinics to inform their patients about the availability of abortions. But if they win the California case, they could lose much more in 16 other states, where laws require doctors to tell patients that abortions could harm them.

The clinics, backed by nationwide groups opposing abortion, argue that the notification mandated by California — that the state makes abortion and reproductive care available at little or no cost — violates their freedom of speech by compelling them to “advertise” abortion and send a message with which they disagree.

SOURCE


Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Facebook is still struggling with the difference between hate speech and censorship

On Nov. 11, thousands of people marched in the streets of Warsaw, Poland, to celebrate the country’s Independence Day. The march attracted racist and neo-fascist groups as well as individuals from all over Europe emboldened by the global rise of the far right. International news was flooded with images of the more menacing attendees: young men bearing signs that proclaimed white supremacy, engulfed in a sea of red flares and smoke.

One collection of such images, published on Facebook by a renowned photojournalist in Poland, was taken down by the social media’s content moderators, once again raising questions about censorship and the platform’s confusing policies on hate speech.

Chris Niedenthal, a family friend of mine, attended the march to practice his craft, not to participate, and posted his photos on Nov. 12, the day after the march. Facebook took them down. He posted them again the next day. Facebook took them down again on Nov. 14.

Niedenthal himself was also blocked from Facebook for 24 hours. “I was, quite naturally, furious when Facebook first deleted my post, and censorship immediately came into mind,” he said. “More important, I felt it was censorship for the wrong reason: A legitimate professional journalist or photojournalist should not be ‘punished’ for doing his duty.”

The images’ disappearance spurred multiple news articles and outrage in Poland, where official censorship reigned for decades under Communist rule. Some Facebook users speculated that the platform was helping quash unflattering portrayals of the march.

Niedenthal’s images showed a young woman, a child, and an older person among the participants. But some of the most striking were those of young men covering their faces with masks and scarves that bore the insignia of nationalist organizations, soccer hooligan groups, and the Celtic sign, often a symbol of white supremacy. Gazes intense, fists raised.

Facebook told Quartz that the photos, because they contained hate speech symbols, were taken down for violating the platform’s “community standards” policy barring content that shows support for hate groups. The captions on the photos were “neutral,” so Facebook’s moderators could not tell if the person posting them supported, opposed, or was indifferent about hate groups, a spokesperson said. Content shared that condemns or merely documents events can remain up. But that which is interpreted to show support for hate groups is banned and will be removed.

Other users had flagged the album as undesirable content, and, each time that happened, a Facebook content moderator took down the photos. Facebook said it was likely a decision of two different members of its 7,500-member team, who are located all over the world and not necessarily in Poland, where they may have had more insight into events on the ground.

Eventually, after Niedenthal protested, Facebook allowed the photos to remain on the platform. Facebook apologized for the error, in a message, an

SOURCE