"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press"

This document is part of an archive of postings on Tongue Tied, a blog hosted by Blogspot who are in turn owned by Google. The index to the archive is available here or here. Indexes to my other blogs can be located here or here. Archives do accompany my original postings but, given the animus towards conservative writing on Google and other internet institutions, their permanence is uncertain. These alternative archives help ensure a more permanent record of what I have written. My Home Page. My Recipes. My alternative Wikipedia. My Blogroll. Email me (John Ray) here. NOTE: The short comments that I have in the side column of the primary site for this blog are now given at the foot of this document.


31 October, 2019

Former Obama Official, Journalist Calls for 'Guardrails' on Free Speech
Richard Stengel, a former editor of Time and Obama State Department undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, used free speech and the press... to attack free speech and the press in a truly pathetic op-ed published in the Washington Post Tuesday.

Stengel wrote he noticed in his travels that the U.S. is an "outlier" and other countries don’t have our First Amendment freedoms but, instead of thinking they should, he wants us to lower ourselves to their standards. He cited “the most sophisticated Arab diplomats” not understanding why it’s legal for someone to burn the Koran and he apparently wasn’t unable to articulate an explanation. I’d be interested to hear more of these Arab diplomats’ thoughts on our laws allowing gay marriage, abortion, and women going out in skimpy outfits.

He, of course, brought up the Russia boogeyman, as if dank memes that only a handful of people saw or retweets on social media are what turned the election, and blamed the U.S. media for repeating Putin’s lies in their reports. Little does he know, weakening our free speech laws would only make our media more Pravda-like.

I never thought I’d see the day when the same arguments for getting rid of the Second Amendment – the Founders lived in a different time, they never could have imagined the powerful, modern technology in our country today – were used to overturn the First. Stengel said: “[T]he intellectual underpinning of the First Amendment was engineered for a simpler era” and “in the age of social media, that landscape is neither level nor fair.”

He thinks because teens can’t distinguish between real stories, ads, and fake sites, we need to protect everyone from the latter two. Where does this leave comedy and sarcasm? The satirical conservative site The Babylon Bee has already been caught up in fact-checkers’ attempts to police articles numerous times. I suppose he wants to ban the tabloids in the supermarkets as well. How else are we supposed to know that Bigfoot isn’t real and Elvis isn’t still alive?

He claimed hate speech is “nearly as damaging” as violence:

It diminishes tolerance. It enables discrimination. Isn’t that, by definition, speech that undermines the values that the First Amendment was designed to protect: fairness, due process, equality before the law? Why shouldn’t the states experiment with their own version of hate speech statutes to penalize speech that deliberately insults people based on religion, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation?

Suddenly federalism and allowing states to be “laboratories of democracy” is popular on the left! But I’m not sure Hollywood would be so happy to be punished for all the hatred they espouse towards Christians. And how would this apply to historical works, like speeches by Adolf Hitler or even Louis Farrakhan?

“[W]here truth cannot drive out lies, we must add new guardrails,” Stengel proposed. But who decides what is “the truth” and who decides what counts as “guardrails?” If it’s the government, then it’s Trump’s Administration, is Stengel really ok with that?


Speech First and University settle lawsuit over free speech

The University of Michigan and Speech First, an organization dedicated to promoting and upholding freedom of speech on college campuses, agreed to settle an ongoing lawsuit related to freedom of speech and the University’s Bias Response Team. The agreement to settle, which effectively dismissed the lawsuit, was reached between Oct. 24 and 25.

Since May 8, 2018, the University and Speech First have been engaged in a dispute over whether the University’s Bias Response Team stifled freedom of speech on campus and violated the First Amendment. The University created the Bias Response Team during the 2010-2011 academic year to investigate claims of racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination put forth anonymously by students, faculty and staff. Speech First declared the team unconstitutional.

According to the settlement agreement, the University replaced the Bias Response Team with Campus Climate Support beginning in the 2019-2020 school year with no plans to reinstate the Bias Response Team in the future.


30 October, 2019

The False Hope of the Transgender Language Police

Always, a brand of period pads, recently announced it will take the Venus symbol off its products. Always is “committed to diversity and inclusion and are on a continual journey to understand the needs of all of our consumers,” the brand noted in a statement.

Because in 2019, it’s apparently controversial to say that only women get periods.

For years, woke activists have been pushing for language to shift on the issues of periods and pregnancy. Thinx, a brand of underwear designed to be worn during periods, apologized during “Transgender Awareness Week” in 2015 for focusing too much on women.

“We feel it is our responsibility to send a reminder that menstruation is not a trait of, nor a defining factor of, a specific gender. It is something that can occur amongst all people,” the brand wrote at the time. 

Two years later, Glamour magazine approvingly covered the open-mindedness of new menstruation products company Aunt Flow: “There’s also the recognition that it’s not just cisgender women who get periods: Trans men and people who don’t identify as one gender get them too, so the company has eliminated the gendered pronouns of her and she from their materials.”

In 2016, the Twitter hashtag #IfMenHadPeriods was controversial—for suggesting that men didn’t have periods.

So now if you wear a kimono or don a Native American headdress—no matter how respectfully—that’s cultural appropriation and inappropriate if you are not Japanese or Native American.

But if you want to label a female experience—one that is dependent on having female body parts at birth—as being gender-neutral, that’s A-OK.

So at least for today, ethnic appropriation gets you hurled into cancel culture. But gender appropriation gets you celebrated.

How is that fair?

Transgender people should be treated with respect and love, just like everyone else. But that does not mean all of society—from companies to individuals—should be forced to kowtow and affirm their preferred version of reality.

There are differences between men and women, and menstruating is one of them.


Word police roundup

The word police strike in the US, Poppy Noor, The Guardian Australia website, Thursday:

Imagine if the word bitch was banned … Could this become reality? Perhaps in Massachusetts where … a Democratic state representative is trying to ban the word. Many are denouncing the “bitch bill” as a sincere example of the left gone too far in its bid to curtail free speech.

Disorderly wordage, Mary Markoc, Boston Herald, October 21:

A bill to criminalise the B-word — the term for a female dog that is commonly used to slander women — is up for a hearing on Beacon Hill in what one critic calls “patently unconstitutional” and the latest political correctness push from the “word police”. The legislation states: “A person who uses the word bitch directed at another person to accost, annoy, degrade or demean the other person shall be considered to be a disorderly person.”

Ellise Shafer, Billboard, June 26:

Lizzo’s Truth Hurts is an anthem for female empowerment. Its danceable beat and no-bullshit lyricism (“I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100 per cent that bitch”) turned Lizzo into a star, and her debut album, Cuz I Love You, met critical acclaim.

Mind your language, Josh Barrie iNews website, October 21:

A British drill rapper has been banned (by a court) from using specific slang words in songs … Rico Racks will no longer be able to rap the words bandoe, trapping, booj, connect, shotting, whipping, and Kitty. All are colloquial words relating to drug dealing.

Ellen Peirson-Hagger, The New Statesman, October 22:

It’s hard to imagine that — had the law been in place at the time — the Beatles would have been banned from singing Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, which glamorises the use of hallucinogenic drugs, or Bob Dylan from sharing his incantation of injecting heroin in From a Buick 6: “Well, when the pipeline gets broken and I’m lost on the river bridge / I’m cracked up on the highway and on the water’s edge / She comes down the thruway ready to sew me up with thread.”

Man-made laws, Madeline Holcombe, CNN, July 18:

Soon, there will be no more manholes in Berkeley, California. There will also be no chairmen, no manpower, no ­policemen or policewomen … Words that imply a gender preference will be removed from the city’s codes and replaced with gender-neutral terms … manhole and manpower (become) maintenance hole and human effort.”

No more mere et pere? Ally Foster, news.com.au, February 19:

A change to a law in France will see schools unable to refer to a child’s parents as their mother or father on school documents, instead the titles will be replaced with “parent 1” and “parent 2”. The amendment was passed as part of the country’s law and aims to reduce the discrimination faced by same-sex parents.

Ricky Zipp, Vox website, February 27, 2018:

Days after the Chinese Communist Party announced that presidential term limits could be abolished, opening the door for President Xi Jinping to continue his rule indefinitely, censors issued an extensive list of newly banned words … My emperor and lifelong control were banned along with references to George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984, which describe worlds where authoritarian leaders control the population … And in perhaps the most blatant example of curbing free speech, the word disagree is now illegal to post on Weibo.


29 October, 2019

When a terrorist butcher became an ‘austere religious scholar’

The Left are sometimes so extreme as to make of themselves a laughing stock. In apparent mourning over the execution of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Washington Post (sister publication of the NYT) described him as an “austere religious scholar” in one of its headlines:

The obituary, written by The Post’s National Security reporter Joby Warrick, followed confirmation of al-Baghdadi’s death in a US military operation in Syria on Saturday night.

It detailed al-Baghdadi’s rise to the terrorist group’s shadow leader from what the paper described as his origins as a “religious scholar with wireframe glasses”.

The headline read, “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48”.

The story first appeared to run under a headline that referred to al-Baghdadi as the “Islamic State’s ‘terrorist-in-chief’”. It was unclear why or who decided to change the “terrorist” label to “austere religious scholar”.

The Post then changed the headline again, settling on “extremist leader of Islamic State”.

The Washington Post vice president of communications Kristine Coratti Kelly told Fox News, “Regarding our al-Baghdadi obituary, the headline should never have read that way and we changed it quickly.”

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted that she had “no words” regarding the Post headline.

Former press secretary Sean Spicer also responded, writing, “Stop, read this & think about it: last night a ruthless, brutal terrorist who threatened our country & is responsible for the death of American citizens was killed in a successful operation by US military & @washingtonpost described #Albagdadi as an ‘austere religious scholar’.”


There is no doubt this will become a source of mockery.  All sorts of bad guys will in future be decribed as "austere religious scholars".

The whole thing reminded me of the way Leftists tried to save bloodthirsty gangster Tookie Williams from execution in 2005.  They were all concerned about Tookie, with no apparent concern about the innocents he killed.  They even had the muscleman photographed wearing spectacles. Are spectacles a sign of holiness to Leftists?

Sydney University academics free to criticise under free speech charter

Sydney University intends to protect the right of staff to criticise the institution as part of its response to a national review of free speech in higher education.

The university's academic board will next month consider reforms to the Charter of Academic Freedom that would bring it into line with a free speech code proposed by former chief justice Robert French.

The reforms include clarifying that professional staff were free to express their "lawful opinions" about the university, and there were no restrictions on staff making public comment on any issue in their personal capacity.

It also recommends free protest should be permitted on university land, but should not be exercised in a way that prevents the free speech of others, causes property damage or physical risk to others.

The univeristy's report, written by academics in consultation with staff and student unions, also recommends the charter be renamed the Charter of Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom.

Sydney University was the stage for one of the controversies that prompted the Morrison government to launch the review, when protesters tried to stop commentator Bettina Arndt from speaking at a campus event.

Another was a furore over James Cook University's decision to sack marine physicist Peter Ridd after he criticised colleagues, including a coral researcher at his own university, who he described as having no "clue about the weather".


28 October, 2019

UK: 'Snowflake' police can opt out of training sessions with swearing and offensive language because it might upset them

For most police officers, facing a barrage of four-letter words from abusive suspects is an everyday occurrence.

But chiefs at one force are warning officers that they may be upset by ‘swearing’ and ‘offensive language’ in training exercises – and that they should contact their supervisor if they find it all too much.

The move – part of a trend for so-called trigger warnings normally associated with ‘snowflake’ university students – has been met with derision from hard- bitten cops.

One officer joked on Twitter: ‘If this language is not acceptable to you please go directly to the safe space where the duty inspector will bring you a nice snuggle blanket and a cup of tea ... after that hand in your warrant card as you’re no ******* good to us.’

The language warning comes as part of an online exercise devised by Hampshire Police and aimed at both officers and civilian staff. Before a section on hate crime begins, an alert flashes up on screen saying: ‘Warning!’ in large letters.

It then says: ‘Please be aware that this package uses real life examples and, as a result, has offensive language and views in it. ‘Swear words are spelt out in full. Swear words are spoken in full in the audio files.

‘If you feel that this language is not acceptable to you, please close the package down and speak with your supervisor about how to proceed with completing the training.’

It is understood the warning was issued following a complaint by a distressed junior officer.

Boris Johnson has pledged to introduce an extra 20,000 officers over the next three years, but a recent Home Office report suggested forces were struggling to recruit because so many young people are ‘wrapped in cotton wool’ and unprepared for the harsh realities of the world.

Frank Furedi, emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent, said: ‘This is very worrying. It is one thing for fragile 19-year-old sociology students to be easily offended, but when you have policemen and women maintaining law and order getting distressed by harsh language then you have a big problem.’


LGBT Activists Demand Businesses Cut Ties With Church After Sermon on Transgender Issues

The Crossing Church from Columbia, Missouri, has been in the news recently—and for all the right reasons.

Just last month, the church garnered national attention when it helped members of its community pay off unpaid medical bills. Through partnership with RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit organization that helps people pay off outstanding medical debt, church members donated more than $430,000, which was used to pay off more than $43 million of medical debt by negotiating with debt collectors.

Today, the Missouri church is in the news for something else: Its pastor preached a sermon on Oct. 13 titled “Male and Female. Ancient Text. Modern Debate.”

Using Genesis 1:27 as his text, Simon preached on God’s design for sexuality and transgenderism. Displaying pastoral sensitivity, Simon walked through the Bible’s teaching on gender and reflected on how Christians can minister to those who identify as transgender.

With love and compassion, the pastor explained how men and women are created in God’s image and how the transgender movement does not align with the Bible’s teaching on sex and gender complementarity.

But despite Simon’s efforts to discuss the topic from a loving, biblically informed perspective, local LGBT activists immediately cried foul, launching a petition and demanding local businesses cut ties with the church.

Last Thursday, Sager Braudis Gallery, a local art gallery, was the first to cave to activist pressure. Although the church had financially sponsored the gallery for five years, the gallery said it was severing ties to show “solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community” and to register its protest “against institutions who perpetuate and use their powerful platforms for content of this nature.”

While skirmishes over marriage and human sexuality have become commonplace, this latest incident reveals an alarming level of intolerance among progressive activists.

An honest observer would be hard pressed to find anything in the sermon that could be construed as vindictive or hateful. In fact, Pastor Simon went out of his way to avoid politics, at one point saying, “We’re not talking about partisan politics or the culture wars.” Instead, Simon wanted to show what Jesus taught on these contentious issues, regardless of the current cultural moment.


27 October, 2019

'We sincerely apologise': Kmart REMOVES a $6 bridal costume for children from shelves after angry mums accuse the store of 'promoting child marriage'

Little girls LOVE dressing up. This would have been an indulgence for one

Kmart Australia has pulled a $6 wedding dress costume for children from the shelves after public outcry over the 'inappropriate' Halloween costume.

The retailer was bombarded with angry messages on Tuesday when Melbourne mother Shannon Barbone pointed out how distasteful she found the ensemble and started an online petition to have it banned.

As a result Kmart has 'sincerely apologised' and will no longer be stocking the dress.

'Kmart Australia regrets the decision to range the bride costume (ages 4-6 years), it was not intended to cause offence and we sincerely apologise,' a spokesperson told FEMAIL.

'We have made the decision to withdraw this product and we encourage customers who have product concerns or feedback, to please get in contact with our Kmart Customer Service team.'  

Shannon was shopping for a Halloween outfit for her young daughter when she came across the white gown nestled between the fairy and unicorn costumes.

Outraged by what she saw as a promotion of 'child marriage', Shannon started a petition on Change.org to see the dress removed completely from stores. 'A child bride costume currently exists on Kmart shelves in children's sizes,' she wrote on the petition, which has been signed by 179 people.

'Tell Kmart this is beyond inappropriate and offensive and that they have a social responsibility to pull this item off their shelves immediately.'

The dress, which has a hemline down to the knees and includes a veil and sweetheart neckline, is targeted for girls aged between four and six.

But others found her anger over the costume ridiculous and said this doesn't equate to actual child brides.


Must not defend Trump admin at Harvard

The leaders of Harvard University’s student newspaper defended a basic tenet of journalism Tuesday amid a swirl of controversy on campus.

After reporters for The Crimson attended a Sept. 12 protest on campus that called for the abolition of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, they reached out to ICE to allow the government agency to respond to the criticism.

ICE didn’t respond to the inquiry, and the reporters included a sentence noting that in their report published the next day.

In the weeks since, members of the student-led immigration advocacy group that organized the protest, Act on a Dream, have expressed their disagreement with the student journalists’ decision to seek comment from ICE and have started a petition to demand The Crimson not contact ICE for comment in its future reporting.

“We are extremely disappointed in the cultural insensitivity displayed by The Crimson’s policy to reach out to ICE, a government agency with a long history of surveilling and retaliating against those who speak out against them,” says the petition, which had collected more than 670 signatures by Wednesday morning. “In this political climate, a request for comment is virtually the same as tipping them off, regardless of how they are contacted.”

The petition calls for a policy change, an apology, and a declaration of The Crimson’s “commitment to protecting undocumented students on campus.”

Kristine E. Guillaume, The Crimson’s president, and Angela N. Fu, its managing editor, responded with a note to readers Tuesday defending the reporters’ request for comment from ICE and explaining that it is standard practice across the journalism profession to allow people and organizations that are criticized a chance to respond.

Guillaume and Fu defended the right of journalists to seek comment from any relevant party and said The Crimson’s practices have been reviewed and affirmed by the Student Press Law Center and the Society of Professional Journalists.


25 October, 2019

Outrage over ‘condescending’ Michael Leunig cartoon

One of Australia’s most loved cartoonists Michael Leunig has been slammed for a mummy-shaming drawing published on Wednesday.

The cartoon, published in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers, showed a woman pushing a pram while looking at her mobile phone. Behind her a baby lies on the ground. It was accompanied by a poem that read:

“Mummy was busy on Instagram

When beautiful bubby fell out of the pram

And lay on the path unseen and alone

Wishing that he was loved like a phone.”

The cartoon has attracted criticism and anger on social media, with some describing it as “sad” and an example of “trite egoism and male frailty rolled into one”.

Feminist witer Clementine Ford slammed Leunig as a “f***ing gronk” on Twitter.

“I bet you never spent hours walking babies around in a pram, feeling isolated and alone and terrified. F*** you and your condescending judgement”.

Another Twitter user commented: “young parents have enough anxiety without this boomer bull***t”.

Some also retailated with their own poems.


Blackface pumpkins!

In a bold move which will forever remove from mankind the stain of racism -- and probably also cure poverty, disease, and war -- home retailer Bed Bath & Beyond has pulled certain jack-o'-lanterns off its store shelves. Reports don't make it quite clear whether the move was nationwide or just at the one particular location, but your Friendly Neighborhood VodkaPundit was unable to find them for sale on the company's website.

See, these particular jack-o'-lanterns are painted black on the outside, in order to better contrast and show off a very cool orange glow from the inside when lit. And since we live in a deeply stupid age, someone decided that the glowing fake pumpkin carvings must be racist. This is an easy mistake to make if you happen to be brain damaged, or are a perennially pissed-off progressive permanently on the lookout for something to be peeved about. But I repeat myself.

The whole ball of stupid got rolling in Nyack, New York, where someone from a local law firm picked up a few of the nasty-evil-vile-racist-hater plastic pumpkins for office Halloween decorations. Local Westchester News 12 reported that "the jack-o'-lanterns upset some community members," and so the law firm of Feerick, Nugent, MacCartney got rid of them. Then, following a vital news investigation into this horrific act of pure ... [checks notes] holiday charm... Bed Bath & Beyond decided to stop selling them.

News 12 also reports, "Though they have been removed, both attorneys say they wonder why the decorations didn’t raise flags at Bed Bath & Beyond." I dunno, because there's nothing possibly racist about pretend light-up gourds?

Local NAACP Director Wilbur Aldridge, apparently never one to let a crisis go to waste, claimed that the brightly lit pumpkins showed an "extreme lack of sensitivity." To what, law firms that didn't try and cheer up the place during the depths of autumn?


24 October, 2019

Australia's top academics call for Murdoch University to drop case against whistleblower
An investigation earlier this year by ABC’s Four Corners (Australia's leading investigative journalism program), found Murdoch University was one of a number of Australian universities lowering academic standards for lucrative international students.

An Associate Professor in Mathematics and Statistics, Gerd Schroeder-Turk, was one of three Murdoch University academics who spoke on Four Corners, having previously raised their concerns through internal channels. Murdoch University’s response was to deny the allegations.

This is an old, old issue.  The University of Newcastle in 2003 was doing the same thing:  Giving Asian students degrees even though they had not mastered the work -- and refusing to "fess up".  Very short-sighted.  Sending incompetents back to Asia just ruins your reputation

An open letter published today from 57 professors to Murdoch University vice-chancellor Professor Eeva Leinonen stated they believe the court action sets a "dangerous precedent for all Australian universities".

The signatories are all recipients of the prestigious Australian Research Council's Laureate Fellowship, and come from 15 universities across the sector in disciplines including arts, humanities, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Quotes from the letter:

"It is a long-established principle of academic freedom that academics must be able to criticise university governance. This right is especially important where aspects of university governance might compromise the integrity of teaching and research."

"The claim for damages is highly intimidatory to all Australian academics and therefore risks the capacity of Murdoch University and all Australian universities to pursue excellence in research and teaching."

"We urge you to withdraw the claim, to settle any dispute without punitive measures, and to affirm the commitment of Murdoch University to academic freedom as an essential university value."

The letter comes after the Australian Institute of Physics and a coalition of 23 international academics issued public statements condemning the university's actions.

One of the letter's signatories, distinguished Professor Michael Bird from James Cook University, told the ABC that academics have been disturbed by the case against Dr Schroder-Turk.

"It appears to be more intimidatory than anything else. I'm a humble scientist. I don't ordinarily feel I should be doing this sort of thing, this was an exceptional case and and we felt that it required an exceptional response," he said.

Professor Bird said the group of academics don't know Dr Schroder-Turk personally but felt compelled to act after reading about the case. "I do not understand how a university could think this was an appropriate action to take," he said

"Academic freedom gives people the right to query decisions that have been made and that's for the good of democracy in the same way that press freedom is there for the good of democracy ultimately.

"If that is eroded, that is not conducive to a healthy democracy and it really needs to be called out whenever it happens."


No free speech at UConn?

Two University of Connecticut students were arrested Monday after video allegedly showed them using racial slurs. The school confirmed to Campus Reform that the men were charged under a Connecticut statute that makes it a crime to "ridicule" certain people.

The incident occurred on Oct. 11 in the parking lot of an off-campus apartment complex. In the video, there are three men walking through the lot. An individual took the video from the window of an apartment building, according to local media reports.

The video prompted the UConn NAACP chapter to pen a letter to the editor of the campus newspaper, The Daily Campus, calling on officials "to fully investigate this incident and apply the proper justice."

Following those calls, the university confirmed to Campus Reform Monday that two of the three men allegedly seen in the video were arrested under a Connecticut state statute that makes it a crime to "ridicule" certain persons.

"Any person who, by his advertisement, ridicules or holds up to contempt any person or class of persons, on account of the creed, religion, color, denomination, nationality or race of such person or class of persons, shall be guilty of a class D misdemeanor," the statute states.

UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz confirmed in a statement to Campus Reform the arrests of the men who were "heard shouting a racial slur."

"The two students both were charged under CGS 53-37, ridicule on account of creed, religion, color, denomination, nationality or race," Reitz said. "A third person had accompanied them as they walked outside of the apartments, but the police investigation determined that individual had not participated in the behavior."

The two men arrested were identified in a police report obtained by Campus Reform as Ryan Mucaj and Jarred Karal, both 21. The police report states that Mucaj and Karal "played a game in which they yelled vulgar words" after leaving an area business.

Mucaj and Karal are scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 30. If convicted, they could face fines of up to $50, up to 30 days in jail, or both.

In a 2018 column for Reason, University of California at Los Angeles law professor Eugene Volokh called the statute under which the men were charged "obviously unconstitutional, because it suppresses speech based on its content (and viewpoint), and because there's no First Amendment exception for speech that insults based on race or religion."


23 October, 2019

Free Speech Documentary Aims to Get Wider Release

Atlas Distribution — whose film 'No Safe Spaces' features multiple scenes that decry censorship in China — says it is booking hundreds more theaters.

Capitalizing on the controversy swirling around China, which censors the internet and Hollywood movies, a documentary film from comedian Adam Carolla and talk show host Dennis Prager that tackles free speech is beefing up its theatrical distribution plans.

On Monday, The Hollywood Reporter obtained two exclusive clips from the movie, called No Safe Spaces, that directly take on China. They are a couple of risky scenes, given China-owned AMC Entertainment is set to exhibit the film in several of its theaters early in the film’s distribution pattern.

“Free speech is unique to the United States; in Russia and China you go to jail if you say anything nice about gay people,” Carolla says in one clip. In another, a cartoon character dubbed Firsty sings, “I’m the First Amendment. / Without me you’d be living in China,” in a scene meant to invoke images of a protester who stood down a tank in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

No Safe Spaces was to screen a couple of times at Harkins Theatres in Phoenix on Oct. 25 then slowly roll out from there, but Harkins added several screenings and the distributor, Atlas Distribution, says it has been scrambling to go wide more quickly by booking hundreds more theaters, including many owned by AMC. Dalian Wanda Group purchased AMC for $2.6 billion in 2012, making China’s largest private company also the worldwide leader in theater chains.


The curious case of Alfie Perkins

Another teenage tweeter has been criminalised for being an idiot online.

On 10 March this year, Birmingham teenager Alfie Perkins – reportedly nine pints deep and full of football-inspired anger – sent some very, very stupid tweets.

The Salford University student tweeted about Aston Villa footballer Jack Grealish, soon after he scored against Birmingham City. He made a series of jokes about Grealish’s deceased brother. These abhorrent tweets (written in all-caps, no less) were clearly intended to rile up and anger their audience.

It worked. Six hours and 8,000 replies later, Perkins was the most hated person in England. Death threats, angry local-news stories in the Birmingham Mail and a police investigation all soon followed. And everyone was falling over themselves to prove just how righteous they were in opposition to his internet nastiness. Attacking Perkins was the key to a few serotonin-releasing retweets, and soon half the site was on the case.

The Perkins affairs was a classic example of Twitter’s tendency to launch into full-blown medieval mob justice.

But what started as some Twitterati policing soon evolved into actual criminal justice. Just a few days after the match and his tweets, Perkins was arrested and charged with three counts of sending grossly offensive communications.

This week, he was found guilty of all three counts and, after avoiding a jail sentence, was ordered to pay a fine of £350.

This is unacceptable. Perkins said some incredibly stupid and nasty things, but being stupid and nasty on the internet should not be a matter for the courts. The police, judges and juries should not be brought in to punish an unthinking teenager, desperate for what they were bound to give him: attention.

Football fans are one of the press’s easiest targets. All too often columnists and commentators jump at the opportunity to tarnish them with all sorts of bigoted, unfair accusations. This quickly leads to a ‘something must be done’ panic, which lawmakers – ever-keen to solve problems that don’t exist – quickly latch on to.

The online and judicial reaction to the Perkins affair shows why we get awful laws like the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act, an appalling piece of kneejerk legislation that tried to arrest nasty chants out of the terraces in Scotland. Thankfully, this law was repealed last year after a sorry six years on the books. But the sorts of laws used to punish Perkins have maintained their authoritarian presence in Britain – most notably, Section 127 of the Communications Act, which criminalises ‘grossly offensive’ online communications.

It has been revised and put through revisions and public consultations in order to help ‘strike a balance’ between freedom of speech and criminality. But with something as subjective as offensiveness – gross or otherwise – that balance will always be impossible to strike.

Perkins has been banned from Birmingham City for life. Lots of people will forever despise him for his bout of tweeting under the influence. Apparently he now occasionally attends Manchester City matches. This, it seems to me, is punishment enough. There is no need to punish him for the ‘crime’ of being rude on the internet.


22 October, 2019

Sweeping attack on political speech in Canada

Trudeau's new “fake news” election law can land you 5 years in prison

Twitter Bans Gay Man For Telling Inconvenient Truths About Transgender People

Mikey Harlow, outspoken gay writer and model, has been banned from Twitter permanently for dubious reasons. It all started when he posted these few tweets about inconvenient truths that Twitter must not want you to see.

"Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people want to be treated the same as everyone else. Radical alphabet people want to be treated differently. That is a key distinction. And that is why sane LGBT individuals take such exception to the latter category," he wrote.

He continued poking the beast by announcing, "Good news! There is NOT an epidemic of trans people being murdered. 5 out of 100k Americans are the victims of homicide. 1.1 out of every 100k trans people are victims of homicide. About 20-25 trans people killed each year. 51 Americans are struck by lightning every year."

These statstics fly in the face of the popular LGBTQWTF claims that trans people are at higher risk of violence than anyone else. It's simply not true. But posting true things on Twitter won't stop you from being banned today when feelings trump facts.

Maybe it was this next post that did him in.

Everyone knows you're not allowed to challenge the new gender theology. "These are both me. Sometimes I like looking like an  androgynous emaciated albino space vampire. Sometimes I like looking like a strung out 90's computer hacker. Sometimes I feel more gay vampire, sometimes I feel more sk8r boi. Guess what? That doesn't make me my own special gender."

But if I had to bet, I'd say that some over-caffeinated soy boy on the Twitter team took one look at this next one and needed smelling salts to revive xim just in time to reach for the ban hammer. "0.3-0.6% of the population is transgender. The vast majority of whom just want to be seen as a man or woman. 'Non binaries' cannot account for more than 0.1% at most. Yet we need to alter the English language and change how we speak to appease less than 0.1% of radicals. No.

Facts simply can't exist in a world of feelings, so Twitter abruptly shut down Mikey Harlow's account with several conflicting reasons that are pretty comical. Harlow has received multiple excuses from Twitter.

First they said that he was suspended for trying to "evade permanent suspension," which Harlow claims he doesn't understand. "How could I be 'avoiding suspension'? I don't even know what that is!" Harlow told PJ Media. Twitter then sent him an update to his suspension and changed their story, claiming that Harlow had operated multiple accounts. "That's ridiculous," Harlow said. "I have only ever had one account. I do not have, nor have I ever had multiple accounts." But that wasn't the last story Twitter would pull out of thin air.

Harlow contested the suspension and received another notice from Twitter now claiming that his suspension will be permanent because he engaged in "targeted harassment." To illustrate this harassment, Twitter presented a months-old Harlow tweet mocking the people criticizing Ivanka Trump for posting cute pictures of her children.

This wasn’t the algorithm. Some shameful @twitter employee banned @MikeytheHarlow for ideological reasons & then tried to find some reason after the fact. Coming up empty handed, they tried to use this. How embarrassing for them. This is an abuse of their job & power.

Twitter refuses to ban people who regularly spew actual death threats against the president and his family, like Tom Arnold, but they will suspend a guy for sticking up for a Trump. This is a good time to remind everyone that Louis Farrakhan, who called Jews "termites" still has his account.


21 October, 2019

3 Big Wins for Religious Liberty Indicate Tide Is Turning

Air Force Col. Leland Bohannon, a combat veteran, was close to retirement when he entered an unexpected fight—one to preserve his two-decade military career.

“There always will be a pending opportunity for you to stand for what God has said in his word as the differences between where society is going and where God has always been become greater and greater,” the retired colonel said Friday during a panel on religious freedom at the Values Voter Summit in Washington.

In May 2017, Bohannon’s superiors tried to suspend him for not signing a “certificate of appreciation” for a same-sex spouse of a retiring service member under his command.

At the time, Bohannon had his own supervisor sign the certificate. He requested a formal religious exemption and consulted with both a command chaplain and staff judge advocate.

A year later, in April 2018, the Air Force Review Boards Agency determined that Bohannon had the constitutional right to exercise his religion and that he acted appropriately without discrimination.

Joined by others on the stage that had similar experiences and victories, Bohannon warned those in the audience to be faithful regardless of the outcome.

“If cases [were] lost and our efforts had failed, would we be bitter? How does that impact our witness and our continued witness to our neighbors, to the Americna public, and really to the world?” the retired colonel said, adding:

We can take some lessons from our brothers and sisters in China and take some lessons from our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, who are suffering far greater than we can even imagine. Here, we live in a nation where things are succeeding and perhaps the tide is turning somewhat. That might not always be the case.

Will we continue with a spirit of generosity and outreach? Or will we turn inward and become bitter just because we didn’t get what we wanted?

Other panelists spoke about their own victories for religious freedom against attempts to interfere by federal and local governments.

When the federal government essentially tried to close his meatpacking plant in Michigan because he displayed an article with a Christian theme on a breakroom table, Don Vander Boon said, he was faced with a tough choice.

“That was part of the decision of whether to push back or not, the fear of loss, the fear of what’s going to happen,” Vander Boon, the owner of West Michigan Beef in Hudsonville, Michigan, said. “At a certain point, my wife, we sat down and I said, ‘Are we prepared to lose everything?’ It seemed like pretty much a hopeless cause.”

In 2015, U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors threatened to cease conducting inspections of the plant, effectively putting Vander Boon out of business, unless he removed the religious tract that made a scripturally based argument against same-sex marriage.

The inspectors cited an expanded agency definition of “harassment” of USDA employees who inspect sites. Under laws regulating meat, a plant must be open to USDA inspectors in order to operate legally.

In 2017, under the new Trump administration, the Agriculture Department changed the policy to respect religious freedom. But, Vander Boon said, he didn’t realize this when he entered a risky fray.

“We decided it was bigger than us,” he said. “It’s something worth fighting for. People have fought and died for these freedoms. I’ve read so many stories and aspired to them, and here it is. It’s my turn. So, we hardly lost a thing. The Lord prospered our business through it.”

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled recently that the city of Phoenix cannot use a local nondiscrimination ordinance to force owners of an art studio to creating wedding invitations that violate their religious beliefs.

Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, owners of Brush & Nib Studio in Phoenix, brought the lawsuit. “Freedom won in Arizona,” Duka told the audience, to cheers.

“We received messages from people who said they disagreed maybe with our view of marriage, but said, ‘You are fighting for my freedom also and I stand with you,’” she added. “I am grateful for that.”


Zuckerberg doubles down on free speech—the Facebook way

Even though he has censored the whole of one of my sites, I have some sympathy for Zuckerberg.  I think he is confronted with an impossible task. The basic problem for him and for us all is that he is constantly URGED to censor things. He is told to censor "hate speech".

But it cannot be done -- for the simplest of reasons: One man's hate-speech is another man's fair comment, or even part of his religion. 

So Zuckerberg inherits the problem of deciding what is hate speech. He seems to decide that on what the loudest voices say and the big complainers are Leftists.

But that is probably the best he can do.  There is no agreed definition of hate speech nor could there be, probably.  So the only fair way to treat Facebook content would be to delete NOTHING.  But that would be unpopular too. It would infuriate the Left.

So the acceptable censorship of social media sites is an impossible task.  All we can hope for is some compromise that is not wholly unreasonable.

I think we can do that.  I think we can regulate it in a way that avoids political bigotry.  And we do it by taking the whole censorship task away from Zuckerberg, which could well please him.

What I propose is a variant on the ancient Roman Tribunus plebis.  A tribune is someone appointed to safeguard the interests of a particular group.  I think social media platforms  should appoint two tribunes -- one for the Left and one for the Right.  And NO content should be deleted without the approval of BOTH tribunes.  Each tribune would need a substantial staff and he should be free to choose and train  his own staff.  The tribune himself (or herself) should be appointed by the head of the relevant party in the Federal Senate

That should do the trick

Mark Zuckerberg came to Washington, DC, on Thursday to claim the mantle of Martin Luther King and the Founding Fathers as a champion of free speech. Standing in the stately Gaston Hall auditorium at Georgetown University—which has hosted the likes of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Bono—the Facebook CEO declared, “I’m here today because I believe we must continue to stand for free expression.”

And a city full of regulation-hungry politicians and foes of Big Tech undoubtedly thought: How’s that working out?

Zuckerberg’s highly promoted speech introduced no new Facebook features or initiatives, but was a defiant reply to critics of Facebook’s destructive effects on global society—manipulating voters, fomenting division, and even aiding genocide. He doubled down on Facebook’s handling of the treacherous business of implementing free expression at an unprecedented global scale. Despite considerable evidence that the approach has often fallen short, Zuckerberg still professes optimism: Giving people a voice and connecting the world, he believes, are transformationally positive actions. Essentially, he’s saying—as he always has—that Facebook is essentially positive.

What’s more, he was claiming high ground for Facebook’s values. If you disagree with him on speech, he implied, you’re siding with the forces of censorship and elitism. He described a “countertrend … to pull back on free expression.” His foes, he implied, are the same kind of people who wanted Eugene Debs in prison, who wanted Vietnam protesters stopped. But the people whose Facebook presence is more disturbing include the likes of Alex Jones (whom Facebook ultimately banned) or … Donald Trump. The speech didn’t really take on those kinds of choices.
Furthermore, rejecting his point of view will align you with the oppressive overlords of China! He pointedly noted that his dreams of taking Facebook to that country have been stalemated by that country’s demands on data and censorship. While Facebook’s encrypted WhatsApp service is a boon to protesters, he says, the Chinese TikTok app censors mentions of protests even for users in the US.

Zuckerberg clearly believed in what he was saying: Though his presentation was sometimes halting (maybe reflecting that he was tinkering with the speech until his deadline), his voice grew stronger when invoking Facebook as an instrument of empowerment. He spoke for almost 40 minutes, which is what happens when senators aren’t interrupting you.

But while he constantly described Facebook as giving voice to everyday people and underrepresented groups, he gave short shrift to the way that powerful forces are using his platform to manipulate people. In the past two years, Zuckerberg and his leadership team have admitted that they were late to recognize the downside of free expression: political extremism, intentional misinformation, and political ads that baldly lie.

At every turn, the company has avoided becoming an arbiter of what is news and what political utterances are destructive. “I don’t think it’s right for a private company to censor politicians or the news in a democracy,” he said, a sentiment he often expresses. But neither does that mean that a private company has to promote outright lies and divisive content. It would have been interesting if he’d grappled with that concept more in his Georgetown address.

Maybe the most powerful part of the speech was when he said, “I’m not going to be around forever,” and so he thinks it essential to deeply embed free speech values into Facebook so the company continues giving voice to people long after he’s gone.

Zuckerberg’s foray into the belly of the Beltway to deliver a message of free speech was, in a sense, a daring gambit. It’s hard to disagree with the First Amendment, and even less attractive to align with censors. But his critics—and a lot of people who are simply unhappy with Facebook—are asking for more. Boosting speech at global scale is a tricky and unprecedented practice. Though Zuckerberg constantly cites the army he now employs in matters of security and safety (up to 35,000), it’s not clear that a “community” of almost 3 billion people can be purged of truly destructive content. Facebook is a huge experiment that constantly tests Zuckerberg’s deeply felt claim that connecting the world will yield a net positive. The results are far from settled.

After the speech, Zuckerberg took a few questions from Georgetown students in the audience (which were submitted in writing, not offered spontaneously). One questioned whether Facebook was favoring conservatives with its green light to misinformation in political ads. Zuckerberg agreed with Georgetown’s moderator that liberals are angry, too. “Right now, we’re doing a very good job of making everyone angry at us,” he said.

No one seemed to disagree with that. And things won’t change after Zuckerberg’s Tom Paine moment.


20 October, 2019

The war over words

We are living in an era of verbal purification, where certain words and ideas are not allowed.


The issue of language is becoming more and more acrimonious and controversial. Politicians are attacked not so much for their views and policies as for the words they use. And this new policing of language is not confined to politically motivated censors. Even the actual police have become involved in the unfolding cultural conflict over language.

There is little doubt that the language used in public and political life has become debased. Political rhetoric often lacks substance these days. It can be bombastic and evasive. It is rarely about encouraging engagement. Indeed, politicians now use words in such a way that they self-consciously avoid communicating a clear outlook. So, yes, it is legitimate to be concerned about the quality of the language used by politicians, on both sides of the Atlantic.

However, the key motivation behind today’s controversies over political language is not a concern with the quality of the language – it is a desire to limit what may be said in public debate. Recent controversies in the UK illustrate this well. Attacks on the ‘toxic’ or ‘vitriolic’ language used by politicians are often accompanied by a censorious demand that certain words should not be used, and certain ideas should not be expressed.

Last month, former prime minister John Major laid into pro-Brexit members of parliament and current prime minister Boris Johnson for using the language of ‘hate’. Major was very precise in his outline of what words should not be used in public debate. He said that words like ‘saboteur’, ‘traitor’, ‘enemy’, ‘surrender’ and betrayal’, had ‘no place’ in the Conservative Party, in ‘our politics’, or in ‘our society’.

Numerous opponents of Brexit share Major’s view that certain words should be expunged from the political vocabulary. In particular, they take exception to the term ‘surrender’, which politicians in the Leave camp have used to describe the behaviour and policies of the pro-EU lobby. Remainer MPs claim that using the word ‘surrender’ could incite violence on the streets of the UK.

Throughout September, the campaign against the supposed toxic language of Brexiteers was widely covered in the media.

Typically, the denunciation of Brexiteers’ language would be followed by a demand for linguistic policing. Even the police got involved. Senior police officers warned about the effect of using highly charged language to discuss Brexit. Charlie Hall, the chief constable of Hertfordshire Police, who heads Brexit operations planning for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, linked the tone of the political debate with an alleged rise in hate crime. ‘In the past few weeks… we did see a couple of spikes that seemed to coincide with some of the debates that have taken place’, he said.

It is a sign of the times that the intervention of the police in the debate about political language was not viewed as unusual by media commentators. Thankfully, Britain is not a police state, so it is still rare for the police to lecture parliamentarians about the language they use and the ideas they express. And yet no one asked the question, ‘When did the police assume responsibility for telling politicians what they should and should not say?’. Nor was the supposed link between the tone of political debate and hate crime seriously interrogated. Indeed, many in the media treated this new, literal policing of political language as a welcome development.

The principal objective of the new policing of words is not to moderate political language but to control what can be said

Also, very few questions have been asked about the one-sided character of this campaign against ‘toxic’ speech. So, the tendency to hurl loaded words like xenophobe, fascist and racist at supporters of Brexit is rarely questioned by the crusaders against hateful language. The casual manner in which anti-Brexiteers use words like fascist to describe their opponents suggests they are not really interested in linguistic moderation.

But leaving aside Remainers’ clear double standards, the real issue here is not people’s rhetorical tone but rather the insidious growth of linguistic policing. For if Brexiteers really must avoid using the word ‘surrender’, then how are they meant to draw attention to what they perceive as the willingness of some politicians to kowtow to the EU? They could use the word ‘capitulate’ or ‘yield’, I suppose – but it is likely that these terms would be denounced as toxic, too.

The principal objective of the new policing of words is not to moderate political language but to control what can be said. Because if words like traitor, surrender or betrayal cannot be used in political discourse, then it actually becomes very difficult to express a particular idea — that certain forms of behaviour seem, to some people, to contradict Britain’s national and democratic interests. The elimination of these words would diminish the ideas that could be expressed in public life, especially in relation to Brexit. The call to modify public language is motivated by a desire to achieve a political aim.

This is what Orwell meant when he said that those who control language are able to determine what is considered to be true, what we are allowed to think.

One of the key features of the language wars is to make a link between certain words and the rise of hate crimes. This is done through labelling certain words and ideas as forms of ‘hate speech’. Once a word is rebranded as an act of hate, it can be discredited on the basis that it encourages violence.

It isn’t only anti-Brexit ideologues who use the label ‘hate speech’ to delegitimise certain forms of expression and certain views. Anyone who questions the views promoted by trans activists risks being accused of ‘transphobia’ and denounced as a hate-speaker.

Recently, Zayna Ratty, the chair of Oxford Pride, said that stickers dotted around Oxford city centre were ‘inducing hate crime’. The stickers merely expressed the dictionary definition of the word woman. They said: ‘Woman: noun. Adult human female.’ Other stickers said, ‘Women don’t have penises’. The Thames Valley Police joined the fray and warned that those responsible for putting the stickers on lampposts could be charged with public-order offences. In this instance, the police and groups of trans activists merged together to eliminate the right of people to say something that would have been considered completely uncontroversial for thousands of years. The attempt to criminalise the view that women do not have penises logically leads to the next step in this cultural conflict – the attempt to alter the way people think about issues of sex and biology, and about what is a man and what is a woman.

The growing efforts to eliminate certain words and ideas from public life represent a form of verbal purification. Through turning words like ‘surrender’ or even ‘woman’ into taboo words, this verbal purification creates a climate in which certain ideas come to be marginalised. This demonstrates that the war on words is fundamentally an attempt to re-engineer thought itself and transform how individuals look at the world.

Outside of totalitarian settings – such as Stalinist Russia – the goal of verbal purification was first introduced in Anglo-American societies, especially in higher education, in the 1980s. Over the past three decades, the practice of ‘watching your words’ has been internalised by many academics and students on campuses across the US and the UK.

One of the consequences of verbal purification is to change the meaning of words. Consider the word ‘controversial’ itself. In recent years, campus culture warriors have turned this into a negative word. Why? Because genuine controversy provokes serious debates, and the outcome of a serious debate cannot be controlled in advance by censorious moral entrepreneurs. Rather than welcoming controversy, the new linguistic police think it is best avoided. Numerous universities have introduced rules to vet so-called controversial speakers. The transformation of the word ‘controversial’ into a negative euphemism highlights the ability of verbal purifiers to influence people’s thoughts.

By turning words like ‘surrender’ or even ‘woman’ into taboo words, this verbal purification creates a climate in which certain ideas come to be marginalised

Fundamentally, the goal of verbal purification is to develop conventions about what can and what cannot be said and thought. Right now, this desire to overhaul language is most systematically expressed by the advocates of trans culture. Almost overnight, they won the support of officialdom for the introduction of laws and rules to govern the language around sex and gender. The elimination of binary language in relation to sex, and the introduction of an ever-growing range of pronouns, is a testimony to the influence of language purification.

In their book, Forbidden Words: Taboo and the Censoring of Language, Keith Allan and Kate Burridge argued that, unlike normal censoring activities, which are aimed at the maintenance of the status quo, the culture of political correctness sought to promote actual political and social change. In other words, changing the way people speak became an instrument for achieving a political objective. In the case of PC, the attempt to change language was motivated by the aim of altering how people behave and how they identify themselves. It was also about changing the process of socialisation itself in relation to young people.

For example, in 1995 the day-care centre at La Trobe University in Australia banned the use of around 20 words, including the gender-related terms of girl and boy (1). It did this in order to promote its social-engineering mission of altering traditional sex roles. Anyone who violated this code was ‘made to pay a fine into a kind of swear box for using a dirty word’. And that was in 1995! Today, far more than 20 words have been banned. The practice of gender-neutral socialising and parenting has become increasingly entrenched in certain sections of society and the establishment.

The language wars have acquired their most insidious form in nurseries. In principle, politicians can kick back when they are accused of using toxic words. Such an option is not open to children who have become the targets of today’s social-engineering zeal. In Sweden, in 2012, the gender-neutral pronoun ‘hen’ was introduced. This word and others have been widely adopted throughout Swedish society. Children are explicitly indoctrinated into a worldview in which girls and boys, and men and women, are seen as the same thing. The aim of this pedagogy of gender-neutrality is to challenge ‘traditional gender roles and gender patterns’. In their place, they want to introduce a new non-traditional ideology – one in which all boys and girls, and men and women, think of themselves as ‘hen’.

The campaign to police language has undoubtedly had a significant impact on attitudes and behaviour in Western societies. As Allan and Burridge observed, it has ‘been extremely successful in getting people to change their linguistic behaviour’. Society has become increasingly sensitive and hesitant about which words are appropriate, and which are not.

One of the consequences of the language wars is that many people who do not share the social-engineering outlook often struggle to give voice to their views. It is increasingly common to encounter people who say, ‘I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say this’… In the current climate, where there is little cultural support for the robust exchange of competing views, many people self-censor and allow the language police to intimidate them. That is a dangerous development; people who self-censor may soon forget the beliefs and sentiments that they held in the first place.

The stakes are high in the culture war over words. Those who take their freedom seriously must refuse to yield to the policing of language. History shows that the attempt to control citizens’ language inevitably leads to a diminishing of democracy itself.


Oak Park Trustee to White Colleague: 'You Shouldn't Have an Opinion... You Have Been White from Birth'

In the most racist incident to happen in all of 2019, look to Oak Park, Ill., trustee Susan Buchanan, who was caught on tape berating her fellow board members for being white and male.

Arguing to adopt a new equity statement for the city of Oak Park, Buchanan lost her marbles and started telling the white men on the board they have no right to an opinion.

"I don't want to hear what you have to say!" she yelled. "Why do you have an opinion on equity? You have been white from birth...why are you arguing 'what is a system of oppression?' You've never experienced one. Just stop Dan. Stop Dino. You are not oppressed...You stop it. You are a white male."

Then she turned to a non-white male of Middle Eastern descent, Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb and said, "Your skin is white enough." Luckily for all of us, white woman Susan Buchanan is qualified, somehow, to decide whose skin color is light enough to make their opinions void.

According to this elected official, white male elected board members don't get to speak on behalf of their constituents based on the color of their skin, and nothing else. She, however, a white female board member, does.

Protests haven't happened. No one is calling for her resignation. This is the state of American politics now: open, blatant racism with no censure. Not only that, but Buchanan got her way and Oak Park, by a unanimous vote (including by the white guys who don't matter) passed their equity statement that is full of Marxist, feminist garbage.

We acknowledge intersectionality and the compounding effect of multiple forms of discrimination that many in our community experience. We affirm all people as members of the human family. Our goal is for people of widely differing backgrounds to do more than live next to one another. Through intentional interaction and fair treatment, we can respect our differences while fostering unity and developing a shared, intersectional vision for the future.
You can read the whole thing here. It's positively Orwellian.

Prediction: This will mainly be used to put biological boys in the girls' locker room and on girls' sports teams, erasing women and setting women's rights back 100 years. Forward!


18 October, 2019

An Open Letter to Sergey Brin (co-founder of Google)


Fifty years ago this week, when I was a 21-year-old college senior, I was in the Soviet Union, sent by the government of Israel to smuggle in Jewish religious items and smuggle out names of Jews who wanted to escape the Soviet Union and could then be issued a formal invitation to Israel.

I was chosen because I was a committed Jew and because I knew Hebrew and Russian. I was no hero, but the trip did entail risk. The Soviets did not appreciate people smuggling out names of Soviet citizens who sought to emigrate, information the Israeli government and activist groups in America used to advocate on their behalf.

My four weeks in the USSR were, of course, life-changing. This young American, lucky beyond belief to have spent his entire life in the freest country in the world, experienced what it was like to live in a totalitarian police state. People feared merely being seen speaking with a Westerner, lest the KGB arrest and interrogate them. People arranged to meet me at a certain tree in a certain park and only spoke to me while walking to avoid eavesdroppers. I met with Jewish engineers, doctors and professors who could find no work because they were known to the government to be "otkazniki," or "refuseniks" -- Jews who had applied for exit visas to leave the Soviet Union and been refused permission. I'm sure you know of them from your parents.

I left the Soviet Union angry and grateful -- angry there are people who have the audacity to tell other people what they could and could not say, and grateful beyond measure to have been born in America, where no one could tell anyone what they could say. From that day to this, I have never taken freedom, especially freedom of speech, for granted.

Why I am writing to you about this?

Because, beyond my wildest dreams, two things are happening in America.

One is that for the first time in America's history, free speech is seriously threatened.

In 1977, when Nazis sought to march in Skokie, Illinois -- those terrible human beings chose Skokie because it was home to many Jewish Holocaust survivors -- virtually every liberal and conservative organization, including Jewish organizations, defended the Nazis' right to march. Because in America -- and only in America -- it was understood that even if the most loathsome speech was not protected, all speech was at risk.

That has changed.

Today, decent people -- people who abhor Nazism and every other form of evil, left or right; people like Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro and Ayaan Hirsi Ali -- are shouted down, threatened, disinvited or never invited to speak at America's universities.

The other thing that is happening is even more frightening. The company that you co-founded, Google, the greatest conduit of speech in world history, is also suppressing speech. I have asked myself over and over: How could the company founded by a man whose parents fled the Soviet Union do this?

It so boggles the mind that I have to hope you are simply not fully aware of what your company is doing.

So, in a nutshell, let me tell you what Google has done to one organization, Prager University (better known as PragerU). Every week, PragerU releases a five-minute video on virtually every subject outside of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Some of the finest minds in the world have presented these videos -- including professors from Harvard, Stanford and MIT; four Pulitzer Prize winners; three former prime ministers; liberals; conservatives; Democrats; Republicans (including never-Trumpers); gays; and, of course, many women and members of ethnic and racial minorities.

Yet YouTube, which Google owns, has placed hundreds of our videos on its restricted list. In addition to the inherent smear of being labeled "inappropriate for children," this means no family that filters out pornography and graphic violence, no school and no library can see those videos. Among those restricted videos is one during which former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper defends Israel. Had someone told me 50 years ago that a company led by the son of Soviet Jewish refuseniks would suppress a video by a world leader defending the Jewish state, I would have told them they were out of their mind. That's one reason I can only assume, or at least hope, that you are not fully aware of what your company is doing.

Or how about a video series I present on the Ten Commandments? YouTube is suppressing a number of those, too. When Sen. Ted Cruz asked a Google official why Google restricted one of my videos on the Ten Commandments, the official responded (it's on YouTube) that it was because the video "contains references to murder."

In fact, PragerU has repeatedly asked Google over the past several years why any of our videos are on the restricted list, and we have received either a runaround or silence. We have never received a substantive explanation. We have no desire to see government intervene in private business to protect free speech. But your company has availed itself of protections under law that shield it from liability for defamation, copyright infringement, etc. Your company's arrogance is such that a vast number of Americans -- liberals as well as conservatives -- are worried that the major conduit of speech in the Free World doesn't care about free speech.

Mr. Brin, along with millions of other Americans, I fought to bring your parents from a land with no freedom to the Land of the Free. None of us has ever asked for anything in return. It was our honor to work for liberty in general and for Soviet Jewry specifically.

What Americans most want from immigrants is that they help keep America free. I never had any doubt that those leaving the Soviet Union would fulfill that mission.

Until now.

Freedom of speech is the most fundamental of all freedoms. It's what your parents yearned for and bequeathed to you. Please don't help take it away from those who made it possible -- the people of America.


How the Left is Banning Conservatives From the Internet: A three-pronged attack on freedom of speech

“Free Speech is Killing Us,” is the title of the latest New York Times op-ed arguing that speech is dangerous. Previous entries included, “When Speech is Violence” which made the same argument.

Free speech has surpassed global warming, the ladies’ room, the criminal justice system, plastic straws, the border patrol, saying, “you guys”, and vaping, as the greatest threat to the ‘right side of history’.

The great conspiracy theory of our time is that President Trump was illegitimately elected because some people, maybe Russians, were saying stuff on Facebook, as part of a conspiracy that eventually pulled in the Russians, the Ukrainians, a British former intel agent, a guy who tried to frame Dan Quayle as a drug addict, FBI agents having an illicit affair, Bernie Sanders’ top strategist, the brother of Hillary’s campaign chair, and a confused former FBI director named Bob who was supposed to bust the case wide open.

But it all began with the claim that President Trump only won because of “disinformation” and “fake news” on social media. The original problem was free speech.

At Harry Reid’s retirement, Hillary claimed that the “malicious threat of fake news and false propaganda” is an urgent danger. At her forum on democracy, she argued that people couldn’t be trusted to make up their minds about the political content that they see on social media.

“Facebook’s answer was, ‘well we’re going to let people decide for themselves,’” she insisted. “How can you decide for yourself when what is presented is blatantly false and manufactured?”

Probably the same way people decided that she hadn’t been named after Sir Edmund Hillary, hadn’t come under fire at an airport in Bosnia, and hadn’t negotiated peace in Northern Ireland.

The conclusion to Hillary’s sad career suggests that people actually know a lie when they hear one.

But, if people can’t be trusted to determine their political opinions, how can they be trusted to vote?

Obviously, they can’t.

After the 2016 election, the claim that free speech had gone too far and needed to be controlled became widely accepted, first in the media, and then among the big dot coms who coordinated a censorship campaign with media fact checkers. The stated goal was to stamp out ‘disinformation’. And ‘disinformation’ was defined as any viewpoint that media lefties disagreed with or found disagreeable.

Fact checkers were embedded into Facebook and Google’s operations. Conservative content was censored, deranked, and pushed under corporate media content. The ‘disinformation’ pretext, which was supposed to describe foreign propaganda, was extended to apply to nearly any conservative view.

Earlier this year, Pinterest, banned Live Action, a pro-life group, accusing it of “misinformation”.

This push to suppress conservative content on Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media companies is an attack on indexing. People find posts, articles, and videos through search engines, these days largely a Google monopoly, and peer feeds on social media. The indexing attack has been successful with conservative sites losing traffic, and conservatives being banned on social media

But indexing is just one prong of the attack. The others are advertising and payments.

If you’re a leftist, you don’t want people finding conservative content. Going after indexing means that the people who aren’t specifically looking for conservative content won’t find it. The idea is to turn conservative media into a ghetto. The impact on elections and national debates is obvious.

The next stage would be bringing down those sites entirely by ensuring that they can’t find hosting, and that no company will provide them with the services necessary to keep a site running. That’s in the works, but, unlike search, social, advertising and payments, there are a lot of companies and options.

So, for now, there’s been less action on that front.

Instead, the Poynter Institute, whose subset is the International Fact-Checking Network, has promoted efforts by the Global Disinformation Index to cut off advertising to conservative sites. The GDI report claimed that lots of ads are being run on sites condemned by Poynter and its fact checkers.

GDI, whose co-founder led the transition of a Soros group to independent status, never mentions conservatives, but its ‘disinformation’ screenshots feature conservative headlines such as, "Barack Obama is to blame for inflaming racial tensions as first black president", and "Ted Cruz likens Bernie Sanders to another genocidal maniac bent on controlling the population". Two of the disinformation examples feature Ted Cruz, and one is an attack on the Mueller investigation.

While GDI claims that these are examples of "misinformation" or "disinformation", they are opinion pieces. Twitchy quotes a Ted Cruz tweet comparing Bernie Sanders to Thanos for agreeing that population control was part of the solution to global warming. No 'fact check' site seems to have fact checked this and how would you fact check a comparison of Bernie Sanders to a comic book villain?

There are no counterpart lefty headlines and articles accusing President Trump of being a Russian agent.

That’s not “disinformation”. That’s the media’s “information”.

What is clear is GDI’s agenda which calls for “going after the sources of disinformation funding”.

That means removing ads on Twitchy and other conservative sites. GDI claims to be “developing a ratings tool that gives ad tech firms a reliable and unbiased indicator of site risk, enabling them to direct money away from domains that have a higher risk of carrying disinformation.” That’s an elaborate way of saying that the organization is developing an extremely biased blacklist of conservative sites.

Meanwhile GDI will "help to direct more ad monies to low-risk, better quality news domains." Examples of these include a variety of left-wing media sites. Poynter notes that, "Google served about 70% of the websites sampled. It also provided about 37%, or $86 million annually, of their revenue." Get Google to pull the plug and a lot of conservative sites won't be able to pay their bills. Meanwhile the ad money will move from financing conservative content to financing left-wing media content.

The leap from social media censorship to attacks on funding mechanisms for conservative sites makes it clear that this is not just about fighting ‘disinformation’ on social media, but eliminating the opposition.

The attacks on indexing and advertising are conducted under the guise of preventing people, innocent Wisconsin voters who might have otherwise voted for Hillary if it wasn’t for the Russian brainwashing, and companies unknowingly advertising their products to the filthy unwashed MAGA hordes instead of progressive sexually confused fair trade latte drinkers, but the attack on payments kills that pretext.

Even if a conservative site is suppressed on social media and banned from ad networks, its supporters could still donate to keep it going. The attack on payments sets out to make sure that won’t happen.

The Freedom Center briefly lost the ability to accept payments from the Visa/MasterCard duopoly as the result of a pressure campaign sourced from the Southern Poverty Law Center. Beyond going after digital payments, House Democrats have participated in a push to cut off the non-profit status of conservative organizations. Donor-advised funds have also been targeted in a bid to cut off conservative funding.

These are not varying approaches in response to different problems, but a common agenda.

The agenda is to turn back the clock to a corporate media monopoly and silence the political opposition. GDI’s report is fairly blatant in its endgame even as it is disingenuous about its political goals. The endgame in which big tech companies, indexers, payment processors and ad networks function as a cartel, denying access to conservatives, under the guidance of the media and its non-profit allies.

"It's a whole-of-industry problem that needs a whole-of-industry solution," GDI's program director Craig Fagan said.

A whole-of-industry solution would be a political cartel by a collection of illegal dot com monopolies.

What’s the problem that needs solving? Fagan accused the technical director of Google Cloud of a "conflict of interest" while retweeting claims of his alleged links to the Drudge Report and Breitbart.

“Disinformation” or “misinformation” are euphemisms for content from the political opposition.

The campaign against them is really a program to eliminate the political opposition. That, not “disinformation”, is a real threat to democracy, and that, not the vicissitudes of net neutrality, embraced as an urgent crusade by many of the dot com censors, is the threat to freedom on the internet.

America and the internet were both born as experiments in free speech. But free speech is endangered.

The threat doesn’t just come from hysterical social justice children crying about their campus safe spaces. While conservatives have taken shots at easy targets, a growing alliance between the media, dot com monopolies, and lefty non-profits is contriving to transform the internet into one giant safe space.

Much like the Chinese internet, their vision is of a unipolar community where only one point of view is acceptable and all others are treated as a crime. But, unlike the People’s Republic, they don’t seek to keep the rest of the world out with a Great Firewall, but to force the opposition off the internet with a comprehensive program of political censorship, transforming social media itself into a social credit scheme, and cutting off traffic and funds to conservatives by redefining speech as “disinformation”.

“Free Speech is Killing Us,” the new lefty paradigm insists. But it wasn’t speech that killed millions of people under Communism and Nazis. It was totalitarian socialist regimes determined to stamp out free speech. A system may start out by banning words, books, sites, tweets and newspapers, but it rarely ends there.

Words are written and spoken by people. Those who set out to ban speech are really out to criminalize the men and women who speak them.

The detached terms that the new censorship is hiding behind, like ‘fighting disinformation’, are Orwellian euphemisms. Speech isn’t a bodiless abstraction. Disinformation implies an objective source of information. Nobody fights disinformation, they silence some people and empower others. They create authorities over speech and use that authority to perpetuate their own power structures.

The power to define “disinformation” is also the authority to define what “information” is.

The campaign to ban conservatives from the internet isn’t just about banishing them, but eliminating any opposition to the power of the governments, corporations and non-profits doing the banning.


17 October, 2019

No more lunatics in Britain

People suffering mental ill health face being let down and stigmatised by “outdated” laws that still describe them as “lunatics,” says the Director of Public Prosecutions.

In an exclusive article for The Telegraph, Max Hill, QC, says criminal justice has lagged behind the rest of society in how it handles mental health even though research by his officials found one in five victims, witnesses or defendants has a mental health condition.

He said its failure to modernise meant there were examples of cases where two people with similar mental health issues could conceivably receive very different criminal justice outcomes which was unfair whether they were victims or defendants.


Airline ditches ‘ladies and gentlemen’ in favour of more politically correct term

It’s a standard greeting that’s been used airlines across the world for decades, but Air Canada crew will part with tradition by no longer using “ladies and gentlemen” when greeting passengers on the aircraft.

In a major change to the airline’s on-board protocol, passengers will no longer be referred to as “ladies and gentlemen” or the French “mesdames et messieurs”.

Instead, crew will use gender-neutral greetings such as “good morning everybody” in a bid to be more conscious of gender fluid passengers.

“We will be amending our on-board announcements to modernise them and remove specific references to gender,” an airline spokesperson said, according to CTV News Montreal.

The change in language will be adopted by gate agents, flight attendants and pilots.


Politeness falls victim to preoccupation with sexual abnormality

16 October, 2019

China isn’t the only country trying to stifle our free speech

A bunch of foreigners are deciding what we Americans can read online. Outrageous. Who do those Austrians think they are, anyway?

No, I didn’t get the country wrong. I’m talking about Austria, a liberal democracy and member of the European Union. Earlier this month, one of its politicians won a court case that ought to alarm all free-speaking Americans.

The ruling arose out of an incident in 2016, when someone on Facebook wrote that Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek, head of the Austrian Green Party, was a “lousy traitor” and a “corrupt bumpkin” who belonged to a “fascist party.” That kind of babble happens in the United States every day and barely merits a shrug, or maybe just a holla-back — “I’m no traitor! You’re a traitor!” But in Austria, such words may be sanctioned as illegal defamation.

Glawischnig-Piesczek sued in an Austrian court and won an order that Facebook must take down the offending words. But the court wasn’t content with riding herd on the reading habits of people in Austria. It held that Facebook had to take the message down around the world, so that absolutely nobody could read it.

In 2016, France fined Google for refusing to delete disputed information beyond the EU. After all, someone in France could still access that information, simply by going to the American version at Google.com instead of the French edition at Google.fr. But in September, the EU’s supreme court disagreed, ruling that Europe’s “right to be forgotten” can be enforced only against Google’s European sites.

Case closed? Not so fast.

On Oct. 3, the same court, ruling in the Glawischnig-Piesczek case, said that if the message in question is defamatory, the ban can be enforced worldwide. Facebook has to delete the disputed insults against her from its entire network, or it could face sanctions in the European Union, where the company generated about $14 billion in revenue last year. Worse yet, the court ruled that Facebook must also take down “equivalent content” — in other words, posts that say essentially the same thing.

Now, how to enforce such a ruling? Automate the process, the EU court says. Surely Facebook’s computers can ferret out every instance of the insults in question. That might work for exact copies of the original post. But Facebook must also ban messages that say roughly the same thing. But what if the words are used in a message that supports Glawischnig-Piesczek, or a news story that merely describes the affair?

Facebook must sort it all out on a global scale, every time an EU court demands a new takedown. That will never work. Either insults will seep through, or the filters will be so strict that even modest criticisms are barred, and free speech is smothered.

It’s unlikely this ruling will lead to a torrent of censorship requests, as unhappy Europeans will have to first win a defamation case. And while the EU nations may impose more limits on free speech than the US, they at least recognize the principle.


In Britain, even the dictionary is incorrect

A police force has been accused of “incredible irresponsibility” for treating the display of transphobic stickers around Oxford as a “serious crime”.

Some of the stickers, which have been dotted around the city centre, state: “Woman: noun. Adult human female” and “Women don’t have penises”.

Thames Valley Police has announced that those responsible could be charged with a public order offence and has appealed for witnesses.

It said: “Officers are investigating a large number of offensive stickers that have been placed across Oxford city centre containing transphobic comments.

"It is believed they started appearing in March within the High Street, Catte Street and Parks Road area.”

PC Rebecca Nightingale, the investigating officer, added: "Behaviour like this is not acceptable and we take incidents of this nature very seriously.”

Michael Biggs, Associate Professor in Sociology at the University of Oxford, suggested that the police had overreacted. “This is literally the Oxford English definition of what a woman is,” he said.

“I can’t believe that needs any stance at all. To say that a dictionary definition is a terrible hate crime is extraordinary. The police is being incredibly irresponsible."

Hundreds, or even thousands, of the stickers have been put up around Oxford since March, the police have said.

Others responded to the police response with disbelief. One resident wrote on Twitter: “You don’t see many officers in our area because they are busy dealing with this tosh.”

Another wrote: Oh no crime wave of stickers stating biological fact , sending prayers to the people of Oxford at this difficult time.”


15 October, 2019

'Woke' NBA Bows to Communist Tyrants

But Chinese influence over the decisions of American companies is growing.  

The Hong Kong protests have inspired people around the world and especially here at home. Some Americans have even taken to social media to voice their support, including Daryl Morey, general manager of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, who tweeted what he probably thought was a harmless show of support for freedom and democracy. After all, who among us could take issue with such a quintessentially American statement as “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong”?

Freedom-loving Americans, meet the “woke” NBA and its communist-sympathizing speech suppressors.

Morey was pressured to retract his statement by the NBA brass, which is bending over backwards to keep from offending Chinese President Xi Jinping and his despotic comrades. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who hates Donald Trump but loves the Black Lives Matter movement, thoroughly disgraced himself by apologizing to the ChiComs while all the world was watching.

This is what happens when American companies sell out in the blind pursuit of profits: They side with monstrous regimes that harvest the organs of their political prisoners. And that’s just one of the current abuses. Don’t forget the tens of millions slaughtered by previous ChiCom regimes.

It’s easy to find the hypocrisy in the NBA’s supplication to China. Suddenly, the league has decided to crack down on certain kinds of political expression while at the same time encouraging its players’ support of domestic “progressive” causes.

Remember, this is the same NBA that pulled its 2017 All Star Game out of Charlotte, North Carolina, after that state’s Republican governor signed a biological-sex “bathroom bill” into law. (One wonders whether the NBA has any clue as to how homosexual and transgender people are treated in China.)

ESPN’s social-justice warriors have been equally craven, as revealed in a leaked internal memo forbidding its on-air “talent” from even discussing Hong Kong or Chinese politics. This is the same ESPN whose president, Jimmy Pitarro, last year explained that whenever there is an intersection of sports and politics, “ESPN is the place of record. Of course, when you tune into ESPN … we need to be covering those stories, if there is a connection to sports.”

But when a nascent democracy movement makes the news? Crickets.

Here’s more: A CNN news reporter who questioned an NBA player about the controversy was shut down this week; Nike’s anti-Betsy Ross battalions are pulling Houston Rockets products from the shelves of Chinese stores; and Apple just removed from its App Store an app that helped the people of Hong Kong monitor police movements.

Remember, this is all the result of a seven-word pro-democracy tweet. If only Daryl Morey had tweeted, “Fight for Freedom. Impeach Donald Trump.”

Jarrett Stepman writes at The Daily Signal, “Political dialogue is great unless the gravy train from an authoritarian state is cut off, it seems. Celebrating the Betsy Ross flag is beyond the pale, but we don’t dare in any way contradict the whims of a brutal, police state regime that puts Muslims in concentration camps, forces women to have abortions, and throws citizens in prison for exercising their God-given right to free speech, among other atrocities.”

As the editors at the Washington Examiner explain, “Terrified of losing out on potential future profits from 1.4 billion Chinese consumers, Hollywood and Silicon Valley have bowed again and again to Chinese censors.”

If the Chinese were only interested in silencing a basketball league or a sports network, we might not have much to worry about, but their influence is growing more pervasive. They’re practically calling the shots in Hollywood and have already established nearly 90 Confucius Institutes in colleges and universities across America to indoctrinate our debt-ridden students with Chinese propaganda.

“These are the times that try men’s souls,” said Thomas Paine. Sadly, the NBA and many other American entities have already sold theirs. Perhaps we American consumers should begin to make buying decisions that reflect our displeasure.


Free Speech Is Not 'Killing Us'

Uncivil speech is not the threat some make it. But we could all use the Golden Rule. 

Since our nation’s inception, Americans have understood it better than most: With rights come responsibilities. This sentiment has seldom been as apparent as it is in the realm of free speech, where one edgy performance deemed offensive, or one tasteless social-media post that skewers the wrong segment of society, can be a career-breaker. Just ask Shane Gillis about the “Saturday Night Live” gig he lost, or maybe ask Roseanne Barr about the cancellation of her popular rebooted “Roseanne” show after just a few episodes. There are numerous others. Despite apologies and pleas for forgiveness, their career doors were slammed shut for the crime of having said what they wished to say at the time.

Yet a recent New York Times op-ed claiming “Free Speech Is Killing Us” from author Andrew Marantz, a contributor to The New Yorker, has upped the ante on this debate. Intoning the relatively recent atrocities in El Paso, Christchurch, and Charlottesville, Marantz makes the case that something needs to be done, and the best entity to do it is the federal government.

“I am not calling for repealing the First Amendment, or even for banning speech I find offensive on private platforms,” he writes. “What I’m arguing against is paralysis. We can protect unpopular speech from government interference while also admitting that unchecked speech can expose us to real risks. And we can take steps to mitigate those risks. The Constitution prevents the government from using sticks, but it says nothing about carrots.” Among the carrots Marantz would dangle: a government-backed competitor to Google and Facebook.

Marantz is wrong in a number of respects. Our nation isn’t becoming more dangerous in terms of crime, as Reason’s Robby Soave points out, nor are providers of content neglecting the idea of policing themselves, as John Samples of the CATO Institute opines. Gabriella Hoffman at The Resurgent also reminds us of the basic truth that sunlight is the best disinfectant for hateful speech.

That last approach has always worked rather well. Now, we can disagree as to whether Gillis stepped over the line to offend in his live performances, or Barr was out of bounds when she tweeted about former Barack Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. But these situations were dealt with by private entities that took action against the offenders, rather than via a government edict against thought crimes. (Which sounds like something this guy would do.)

However, in some respects Marantz is getting his wish, as Congress has chipped away at longstanding speech protections on the Internet and is threatening to erode them even further in the name of combating human trafficking and what the National Association of Attorneys General called “black market opioid sales, ID theft, deep fakes, election meddling, and foreign intrusion.” Notably, these First Amendment assaults are coming from both sides of the political aisle, for differing reasons.

Ours is not a nation in which speech is utterly unfettered and unlimited, but to the extent that we have safeguards already in place, we seem to be mostly getting along just fine. The solution to unpopular, hateful speech is to counter it with other speech or simply ignore it and — to borrow a phrase made popular by the Left — to move on.

There’s still something to be said for being civil, for respecting for one another, and for simply abiding by the Golden Rule.


14 October, 2019

Holding Pro-Hong Kong Signs, Two NBA Fans Booted From Game—in Philadelphia, USA

Two NBA fans attending a game in Philadelphia say they were kicked out of the stands for holding "Free Hong Kong" signs at a game between the 76ers and the Guangzhou Loong Lions.

Sam Wachs and his wife had attended the preseason game at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia when their neon green signs were confiscated by security, NBC Philadelphia reported.

The couple was then escorted out after yelling “Free Hong Kong” during the second quarter.

“We were saying, ‘Free Hong Kong,'” Wachs told NBC. “What’s wrong with that?”

What's wrong with it is that the Wachs ran afoul of the NBA's policy of licking the boots of the Chinese Communists, who were angered when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey sent out a tweet supporting the Hong Kong protesters.

 He was taken to task by the Rocket's owner for trying to make the team a "political organization." Morey subsequently deleted the tweet -- while keeping a tweet critical of Donald Trump in his feed.

“We are strongly dissatisfied and we oppose Silver’s claim to support Morey’s right of free expression. We believe that any speech that challenges national sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech,” CCTV said in its statement in Chinese, which was translated by CNBC.

It shouldn't surprise us that the National Basketball Association has gone full Commie in their kowtowing to Chinese political interests. The league has demonstrated time and time again over the years that they will always bend to doing what's expedient, not what's right.


Significant change at Facebook

Facebook recently stated that it will neither censor nor “fact-check” statements by politicians on their site. This is great for political speech but — apparently — unwelcome news to the leadership of at least one of the major political parties.

The Democratic National Committee slammed Facebook’s decision, arguing that “Trump has an utter disregard for the truth” and that “social media platforms have a responsibility to protect our democracy and counter disinformation online.”

This is only the most recent effort by leftist politicians to goad social-media companies into silencing conservative politicians and anyone else they disagree with.

Several weeks ago, we warned that Federal Election Commission chairwoman Ellen Weintraub (D) was convening representatives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google to pressure them into “fighting the disinformation that risks further corroding our democracy.” In other words, to appoint themselves as Big Brother — with her approval — to censor political speech and reporting on elections and hot-button issues.

It’s a heartening sign that at least one of those social-media platforms has wisely decided that less is more when it comes to policing and censoring political speech and the global Internet arena where so many Americans today gather information and news and debate, discuss, argue, and vigorously contest the public issues of the day. To its credit, Facebook seems to appreciate, much more than some progressive politicians, the value of robust political discourse and the danger of vague limitations on political speech.

“I know some people will say we should go further,” Facebook executive Nick Clegg said, seemingly referring to left-leaning critics. “But imagine the reverse. Would it be acceptable to society at large to have a private company in effect become a self-appointed referee for everything that politicians say?” Clegg asked rhetorically. “I don’t believe it would be.”

Clegg went on to clarify how Facebook views its role vis-à-vis political speech: “To use tennis as an analogy, our job is to make sure the court is ready — the surface is flat, the lines painted, the net at the correct height. But we don’t pick up a racket and start playing. How the players play the game is up to them, not us.”


13 October, 2019

Not Even Mar-a-Lago Is Safe: Trump Org Bows to Far-Left Demand to Cancel Conservative Event

On Monday, the Trump Organization canceled an ACT for America gala scheduled for November 7 at Mar-a-Lago, days after a liberal smear campaign launched by the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) denounced the event itself as a violation of the Constitution.

"This is a perfect example of how Free Speech is on its last breath in this country," Brigitte Gabriel, founder and chairman of ACT for America, said in a press release. "The radical leftist smear machine like the SPLC, CAIR, and the fake news media will lie, twist the truth, and take words out of context in order to destroy those with whom they disagree."

"While we are disappointed in the decision made by the Trump Organization attorneys, we do not blame President Trump or the Trump family," Gabriel added. "ACT for America, with its over one million member base, will continue to stand with President Trump and support his fight for the soul of our country, and his fight to protect and preserve our freedoms. They are under assault like never before."

"We will not be silenced," she concluded.

The article emphasized Gabriel's support for Trump and ACT for America's claims to have a "direct line" to the president through allies such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who spoke at one of the group's conferences in 2016. The SPLC noted that Trump "still owns and profits from Mar-a-Lago but has said he is not involved in the day-to-day operations."


Actress Fired for Christian Views on Homosexuality

A 25-year-old British actress, Oluwaseyi Omooba, was set to star in the stage musical based on the Alice Walker novel “The Color Purple,” but was abruptly fired for her Christian beliefs.

A fellow actor scrolled through Omooba’s Facebook feed, going back five years to Sept. 18, 2014, to find a post in which she said homosexuality was wrong.

The actor asked Omooba publicly (via Twitter) whether she would renounce her old post or “remain a hypocrite.” The theater and her agents asked her to recant. But when Omooba refused to deny the authority of Scripture, they sacked her.

Although she is clearly a talented actress, Omooba no longer receives invitations to audition, nor can she find an agent to work with her. One agency told her, “Homophobia is illegal. It is not a matter of faith.”

To Omooba, these sudden attacks came as a surprise. “They knew that I was a Christian and they knew my stance on marriage, on my faith, on God, on many different things that are in the Bible,” she said. “On all my social medias I always post stuff about God, the Bible, or scriptures.”

Her father, Pastor Ade Omooba, is a co-founder of Christian Concern.

The experience hurt her. “I was quite taken aback. I was like, ‘Wow, people really think I hate them?'”

Throughout these trying circumstances, Omooba has refused to back down from her biblical convictions. Now, with the help of the Christian Legal Centre, she is suing the theater and her agents for wrongful termination under British law.

Surely Omooba had said something egregiously hateful to get so utterly canceled, right? That would have been simpler, but she said nothing of the sort.

She had written on Facebook more than five years ago: “Some Christians have completely misconceived the issue of Homosexuality, they have begun to twist the word of God. It is clearly evident in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 what the Bible says on this matter. I do not believe you can be born gay, and I do not believe homosexuality is right.”

As to whether anyone can be born gay, a landmark, pro-LGBT science paper released this summer concluded, once again, that there is no “gay gene.”

Besides having science on her side, Omooba simply cites the Bible and says that she believes it. In the verses she cites, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, the Apostle Paul includes homosexuality in a long list of sins. But the point of the passage is that hope, forgiveness, and cleansing from all these sins can be found in Jesus Christ. Where is the hate in that?


11 October, 2019

Leave EU has apologised and deleted a 'racist' tweet of German Chancellor Angela Merkel with the caption 'We didn't win two world wars to be pushed around by a Kraut'

The Brexit campaigners posted the image on social media yesterday following a phone conversation between the German leader and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

A Downing Street source claimed Mrs Merkel insisted that Northern Ireland should remain part of the customs union after the UK leaves the EU.

The Leave EU tweet sparked outrage, with many branding it racist, offensive and inappropriate.

This morning co-founder Arron Banks announced the tweet has been deleted and admitted it went 'too far'. 

The official Leave EU account also tweeted this morning: 'We're sorry,' accompanied by a sad face emoji.


Many Brits would have agreed with the Ad but you don't hear anything from them

Chinese workers rip down NBA ads and more firms pull sponsorships

The rift started after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey posted a tweet last week that showed support for the Hong Kong protests

Chinese workers have been filmed ripping down NBA advertisements after state broadcasters vowed not to air this week's preseason games in China as the backlash from the freedom of speech row continues.

The NBA postponed scheduled media sessions in Shanghai for the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers where both teams were training on Wednesday.

It remains unclear if the teams will play in China this week as scheduled given the ongoing rift that started after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey posted a tweet last week that showed support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.

Footage has emerged of workers in multiple spots around Shanghai using machinery to remove large roadside NBA promotional signs that were advertising a preseason game between the Lakers and Nets scheduled for Thursday.

The teams are also supposed to play Saturday in Shenzhen.

'Given the fluidity of the situation, today's media availability has been postponed,' the NBA said of canceling its Nets-Lakers media session.

Chinese smartphone maker Vivo has joined the list of companies that have suspended - for now, at least - ties with the NBA, and that only adds to the uncertainty over whether the China games will be played.

Vivo was a presenting sponsor of the Lakers-Nets games, and on Wednesday there was no reference to the game in Shanghai on the list of upcoming events scheduled at Mercedes-Benz Arena.


From a Chinese perspective, they think they have been very tolerant with HK so they think it is being very unfair and hostile to criticize them

10 October, 2019

The CASE Act's flaws threaten free speech and Congress must fix them

Congress is about to create a kangaroo court

Congress is currently considering legislation that would allow copyright holders to bring smaller cases defending their works from copyright infringers without some of the prohibitive costs of going to federal court. It’s a smart idea that many in the creative community have made clear is long overdue. At the ACLU, we agree. However, the specific legislation Congress has drawn up to achieve this – the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (CASE Act) -- has significant design flaws that undermine free speech online and our due process rights. We’re urging lawmakers to make some changes to reform the bill’s deficiencies while preserving its rightful intention.

The current proposal creates a new government body, the Copyright Claims Board (CCB), within the U.S. Copyright Office, to resolve certain copyright claims and counterclaims. The board, however, is being handed far too much power without proper oversight. As currently constructed, CCB would have the last and final word for nearly all cases and neither the copyright holder nor the alleged infringer could appeal the board’s decision in court, except in very limited circumstances.

The last thing Congress should be doing right now is giving yet another government body broad powers to operate without proper judicial oversight. The system will be abused, and CCB will make mistakes. Individuals fairly using copyrighted work, or those using it unknowingly — like kids posting videos of themselves on YouTube dancing to the latest Cardi B song — could be forced to pay up to $30,000 for those mistakes.

What makes the CCB’s nearly unreviewable authority even more troubling is that the board will inevitably be faced with tough questions about what is infringement, what is fair use, and what is protected speech. These questions should not be left to the sole discretion of one government office, especially when those affected could include every Internet user who has ever shared an article or a photo without knowing whether they had proper permission or posted a video of themselves singing along to the latest pop song. With no court to correct the board’s mistakes, the First Amendment will suffer.


Princeton students trying to silence distinguished conservative professor

She is "disgraced" only in the eyes of the Left.  All her positions are carefully reasoned.  The descriptions of them below are misleading.  Whig-Clio is a political, literary, and debating society at Princeton University

Next weekend, Whig-Clio will host Amy Wax, a disgraced law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, to discuss campus free speech alongside two University professors. Wax, whose racist, pseudo-scientific views have rightly garnered her infamy, does not deserve a pedestal at Princeton. The Editorial Board urges the students and administrators who lead Whig-Clio to immediately disinvite her.

Time and again, Wax has espoused pernicious white supremacy. Her racist views, which she has expressed at lectures and in op-eds, hold that white culture is superior to other traditions, that immigrants worsen the United States, and that “racism” is nothing more than a pejorative label. Several months ago, she expressed her support for “cultural-distance nationalism,” which means, in her words, “taking the position that our country will be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites.”

While the Board affirms Wax’s right to free speech and academic freedom, such a right does not grant Wax the privilege to use the financial and logistical resources of Whig-Clio, which is partially funded and managed by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students.

Every student, alum, and administrator who plays a role in Whig-Clio is obligated to use the organization’s funds and power to shape campus conversation judiciously, in the interest and for the benefit of all students. As such, an invitation to Amy Wax constitutes malpractice.

The decision to invite Wax is as myopic as it is dangerous — and we will not stand for it. We urge the leaders of Whig-Clio to reconsider their invitation. If this appeal should fall upon deaf ears, we encourage readers who share our conviction — that Wax’s racism deserves no podium on our campus — to exercise their right to free speech accordingly.


9 October, 2019

Christian Crackdown? Students Must Submit Speeches, Swear Oath to School
All to prevent any mention of Christian themes

Anyone who delivers a speech at an event hosted by the school district in Appleton, Wisconsin, must submit the speech in advance and then swear under oath they will not deviate from the script. And that includes students.

“The opportunity to speak at a school event is a privilege, not a right,” the Appleton Area School District wrote in a statement. “These guidelines do not restrict or regulate individual or regulate individual speech or expression. However, individual speech and expression may still be subject to other restrictions or limitations that are imposed by law or that the District may lawfully enforce through other policies, rules or practices.”

The new regulations were implemented after a Christian school-board member invoked the name of Jesus Christ during a graduation ceremony last June.

Rev. Alvin Dupree told students to “never succumb to the pressure of being politically correct,” the Post Crescent reported. He also changed the district’s prepared statement of “best wishes” to “God bless.”

The new guidelines require all speakers, including students, to submit their entire speech in writing two weeks in advance of delivery.

First Liberty Institute, one of the nation’s leading religious-liberty law firms, told Starnes Media it stands ready to assist any students who become targets of hostility because of their religious beliefs.

“Students who earn the right to address their peers are free to reference their faith as a part of those remarks,” First Liberty Institute attorney Jeremy Dys told Starnes Media. “Any school district that requires students to submit their speeches for pre-approval must be careful they do not force students to secularize their private remarks to satisfy government censors.”

Speakers are also not permitted to wear “jewelry, clothing or accessories that reasonably could be understood to communicate a message to the audience when the speech is given.”

Does that mean students will be banned from delivering a speech if they are wearing a cross necklace or a T-shirt that references the Almighty?

But the swearing of an oath is perhaps the most disturbing part of Appleton’s crackdown on free speech.

“Speakers that submit proposed speeches shall be required to certify that they will deliver the speech as written, except for minor and immaterial variances from the text of their proposal,” the district wrote. “Certification shall be in writing and shall be sworn under oath.”

I wonder if they are going to make folks swear that oath on a copy of the Holy Bible or a copy of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals?

The oath must be signed by student and adult speakers and must be witnessed and sealed by a notary.

The oath states, among other things, “that I am affirming the statements to be true and correct under penalty of law.”

First Liberty’s Dys blasted the school district’s draconian speech oath.

“The only oath these school officials should require of anyone is that they uphold the First Amendment to the US Constitution,” he told Starnes Media.

Heaven forbid the day comes when an American teenager or a pastor is dragged off the stage by security forces simply for uttering the name of Jesus Christ at a graduation ceremony.


Atheists Go After Christian Judge

Bibles are not OK

Freedom from Religion Foundation cries foul over judge giving a Bible to a defendant.  

Following one of the most unexpended and emotionally moving moments witnessed in a court room in recent memory, leave it to a small bunch of angry, agitating atheists to come in and attempt to ruin it. The Washington Examiner reports, “The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which describes itself as a ‘nonprophet nonprofit’ seeking ‘to promote nontheism and defend the constitutional separation between religion and government,’ sent a letter to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct in Texas, complaining that State District Judge Tammy Kemp’s ‘proselytizing actions overstepped judicial authority, were inappropriate and were unconstitutional.’”

And what were those “proselytizing actions”? The good judge, after presiding over the murder trial and sentencing, hugged just-convicted Amber Guyger and gave her a Bible. This occurred after the brother of the murder victim, Brandt Jean, publicly forgave and hugged Guyger. It was clear throughout the entire exchange that Guyger was fully receptive to the grace she was shown.

Yet the FFRF complained that “delivering bibles and personally witnessing as a judge is an egregious abuse of power” and called for an investigation into “these actions for violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct.” Clearly, the FFRF does not believe in the power of faith or forgiveness, and apparently only thrives off of its hatred of religion and Christianity in particular. Hopefully, this spurious complaint is quickly and thoroughly rejected.


8 October, 2019

Probably true

BBC censors Sikh history in case it offends Muslims

Lord (Indarjit) Singh has been almost as permanent a fixture on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’ as the Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines. The BBC likes a certain sort of thought for the day, delivered by a certain sort of thinking person. If you hold a certain establishment status (like bishop or peer [or, preferably, both]) and they like the way you think, you can easily become a permanent fixture, featuring at least fortnightly, if not weekly, and pocketing £200 a time. If you don’t think in a certain sort of way or don’t hold a certain establishment status (Telegraph journalist, for example), you might still be invited by the BBC to deliver your thought for the day on Radio 4, but it won’t be entirely your thought: you will have been ‘assisted’ in the way you should think. If you incline toward a liberal-left ecumenical multi-faith disposition, your thought for the day will be just perfect. If you incline to the right or adhere to the rather more robust dogmata of your faith, your thought for the day will be ‘corrected’ before you are permitted to share it with the nation.

After years of having his texts tinkered with, Lord Singh has told the BBC’s where to go (and it wasn’t to Vaheguru’s Loutus Feet). The final straw was the BBC’s decision to censor Sikh history in case it might offend Muslims. That Sikh history happens to be factual history; it is world history. It is, in short, historical truth. But Lord Singh wasn’t permitted to refer to it because the only Sikh thought for the day which may be uttered is the kind of thought for the day which doesn’t offend Muslims. Ergo, the BBC ensures ‘Thought for the Day’ complies with the principles of Sharia.

The Times reports that Lord Singh has accused the corporation of “prejudice and intolerance” after they censored his reference to an executed Sikh Guru who had opposed the forced conversion of Hindus to Islam under the Mughal emperors of India in the 17th century. The Daily Mail helpfully explains:

Guru Tegh

Lord Singh’s thought for the day contained no criticism Islam or Muslims; he simply made reference to Guru Tegh Bahadur as an exemplar of religious liberty in an era of persecution. It is a matter of historic fact that Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb imposed Islam (and higher taxes) on Hindus, and their temples were demolished and turned into mosques. It is also a matter of historic fact that Guru Tegh Bahadur opposed the pogrom and refused to convert to Islam, for which he was beheaded.

Lord Singh is of the view that being unable to mention this historic aspect of his faith in case it might offend Muslims “is like saying to a Christian that he or she should not talk about Easter for fear of giving offence to the Jews”. He raised a complaint with the BBC which reached Director of Radio (and former Labour Culture Secretary) James Purnell (who thinks in a certain way). Mr Purnell rejected the complaint.


7 October, 2019

New York City Will Fine You for Saying ‘Illegal Alien.’ That’s an Assault on the Constitution

The propaganda, surveillance, and censorship of Big Brother in George Orwell’s novel “1984” has now arrived in New York.

The city’s Commission on Human Rights recently released new legal enforcement guidelines that ban the use of the term “illegal alien” by employers, housing providers (including hotels), and law enforcement as “discriminatory.” Violators can be punished with exorbitant and punitive fines—up to $250,000 per offense.

In other words, the city will now censor and penalize anyone for using the correct legal term that has been used in both federal immigration law and numerous court decisions, including by the Supreme Court.

This is an outrageous violation of the First Amendment.

Open-borders advocates and pro-illegal alien groups have been waging a propaganda war for years, very successfully, to convince media outlets and government officials to abandon the term “illegal alien.”

They want it replaced with a euphemism, the term “undocumented immigrant,” to disguise and hide the unlawful conduct of aliens who break our immigration laws and enter this country illegally.

“Undocumented immigrant,” the preferred term used by the New York commission in its guidance, is a made-up term that ignores the law.

As noted in a prior Daily Signal article, “illegal alien” is the correct legal term and it makes no sense to say you are being “offensive” when you use precise legal terminology.

Federal District Court Judge Andrew Hanen explained this when issuing an injunction against President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, the so-called DAPA program:

The court also understands that there is a certain segment of the population that finds the phrase “illegal alien” offensive. The court uses this term because it is the term used by the Supreme Court in its latest pronouncement pertaining to this area of the law. See Arizona v. U.S., 132 S. Ct. 2492 (2012).

Federal immigration laws, such as 8 U.S.C. §1365, which deals with a reimbursement program the federal government has for states that are incarcerating illegal aliens, uses the term “illegal aliens” in its title and within the statute itself. An illegal alien is defined as anyone “who is in the United States unlawfully.”

In fact, last year, the Department of Justice reminded its attorneys to use proper legal language in their briefs, which means using the term “illegal aliens.” Among the problem phrases it told its lawyers to purge from their lexicon was the term “undocumented immigrant.”


Straight talk from teachers not allowed

A Round Rock high school principal has been placed on paid administrative leave, just days after a former teacher publicly alleged the principal made racist remarks.

District leaders said they are investigating allegations against Early College High School Principal Veronica Coss.

Former Pre-AP English teacher Stephanie Martin told school board members Thursday night that Coss used a racial slur about a black employee, said immigrants don’t teach their children how to behave, and told teachers they needed to wean special education students off their accommodations, the educational aids or services provided to students by law.


6 October, 2019

Kamala Harris Calls for Twitter to Silence Donald Trump Indicating She’s for Censorship of Opposition

California Senator and 2020 Democratic candidate Kamala Harris is definitely on board the censorship train as she called for Twitter to silence President Donald Trump by suspending his account. Her reasoning? His tweets about the whistleblower are mean.

Appearing on CNN with Anderson Cooper, Harris made a show of saying the government would protect this poor whistleblower from Trump, and that Trump’s tweets are causing more harm than good about it and everything else. As such, Harris suggested Twitter take action.

“The President’s tweets and behaviors about this are just further evidence of the fact that he uses his power that is designed to beat people down instead of lift people up,” said Harris.

“Frankly, when you look at what he’s been tweeting today, directed at the whistleblower, directed at so many people, I frankly, think that based on this and all we’ve seen him do before, including attacking members of Congress that frankly his Twitter account should be suspended,” she continued.

“I think there’s plenty of now evidence to suggest that he is irresponsible with his words in a way that could result in harm to other people. And so the privilege of using those words in that way should probably be taken from him,” she added.

The bottom line here, however, is that Harris wants to silence someone because she doesn’t like their tweets. The question that should be asked is, if she’s willing to do it to one person, how many more people do you think she’d try to pressure Twitter to silence when she has the power of the White House behind her?


Kickstarter calls MS-13 ‘marginalized group,’ deplatforms conservative comic creator whose hero is depicted beating up gang members who mugged a woman

A conservative comic book creator was deplatformed from the crowdfunding website Kickstarter  apparently because the vigilante hero from his book is depicted beating up MS-13-esque gang members while saving a black woman from being mugged, with Kickstarter calling the gang a “marginalized group.”

The book, called “Lonestar” — now available for its second printing on Indiegogo along with its sequel — is by Mike S. Miller, a comic book veteran of almost three decades, who has been crowdfunding his books for over a year with a great deal of success, raising more than $350,000 with more than 6,600 backers combined on the projects.

After building his audience on Indiegogo, Miller decided to give Kickstarter, which has a larger potential audience, a try. Initially, the project was approved on Sept. 27 until Miller says he started posting some of the artwork from the story, including the hero rescuing the woman from being mugged, and then suddenly he got a message from Kickstarter’s Trust and Safety saying the project was rejected on Oct. 2.

The letter read, “We’ve carefully reviewed it against our Rules, and we’re unable to approve it to launch. As a Public Benefit Corporation committed to fighting inequality and creating a more equitable world, Kickstarter does not allow discrimination, subjugation, or intolerance towards marginalized groups.”

Miller fired back at Kickstarter on Twitter, writing, “Hey team @kickstarter, it’s nice to see that you consider MS-13 a ‘marginalized group’, since that’s the only people who were being ‘subjugated’ in the artwork I provided… More wokeness from the tech companies on display.”

It is mean-spirited political bias by Kickstarter, no question.

But here, Kickstarter’s decision in the name of protecting MS-13 is quite unbelievable. The Justice Department recently published a 90-page briefing on MS-13, a brutal Central American street gang, and its acts of violence, sexual assault, drug and human trafficking, “MS-13 in the Americas: How the World’s Most Notorious Gang Defies Logic, Resists Destruction.”

According to the Justice Department paper, the gang views itself as being in a “constant state of war”: “Violence is a major part of the glue that binds the MS-13. It is part of every stage of an MS-13 member’s life: potential members commit violent acts to be considered for membership and ultimately to gain entry; they are beaten into the gang in a ritual that has left more than one permanently scarred; they move up the gang ladder by ‘putting in the work’ and showing ‘commitment,’ euphemisms for committing violent acts in the name of the gang.

The briefing details the gruesomeness of the murders committed by MS-13: “In the MS-13, all members must do ‘missions,’ and during a mission, all members must participate. In some cases, this means repeatedly hacking a victim with a machete. Refusal means almost certain death since the member or aspiring member is a potential witness. The weapon of choice frequently is a knife, a machete or a baseball bat. The gang’s murder victims have signs of repeated blows and stab wounds, and are sometimes partially or completely dismembered.

This is what Kickstarter thinks is a “marginalized group”?


4 October, 2019

Universal Orlando Bans OK Sign After 'Despicable Me' Hate Crime Atrocity

The Universal Orlando Resort, commonly known as Universal Orlando, formerly Universal Studios Escape or simply ”Universal“, is an American theme park and entertainment resort complex based in Orlando, Florida.

Last week the Anti-Defamation League declared the OK sign a "hate symbol." Back in the old days, that hand gesture just meant "I'm okay" or "Things are good" or "No, that outfit does not make you look fat" or some other positive message. But now that 4chan trolls have successfully hoaxed everybody, the OK sign now means "I am an evil Nazi racist and, even worse, I love Donald Trump." It's the worst gesture you can make. If you even think about letting the tip of your thumb touch the tip of your forefinger, you are a criminal and everybody hates you. Right, Barry?

Now that the Hate Circle has been banned, it's time to start punishing anybody who uses it at any time, for any reason. Thank goodness Universal Orlando is leading the way!

Adrianna Rodriguez, USA Today:

Tiffiney Zinger said it was painful telling her daughter she couldn't use a family vacation photo for her second grade class project – the image was marred by what appeared to be a symbol of hate.

The photo shows the 6-year-old girl, who is biracial and has autism, posing with an actor dressed as the movie character Gru from "Despicable Me" during a Universal Orlando breakfast event attended by the Zinger family in March. The character formed an upside-down "OK" symbol with his fingers, recognized by some as a hate symbol, on the girl's shoulder...

"We just wanted to take them to see the minions," Tiffiney Zinger said. "Do something special for our family and this person ruined that special warm feeling."

A Universal spokesman said in a statement:

We never want our guests to experience what this family did. This is not acceptable and we are sorry – and we are taking steps to make sure nothing like this happens again. We can’t discuss specifics about this incident, but we can confirm that the actor no longer works here. We remain in contact with the family and will work with them privately to make this right.


Stop Blocking Us!

John Stossel
I now make my living by releasing short videos on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I assumed you who subscribed to my feed or became Facebook “friends” would receive that video every Tuesday.

Wrong! Turns out social media companies send our posts to only some of our friends. (That’s why I ask for your email address. Then they can’t cut us off.)

Why might they cut us off? One reason is that we’d drown in a fire hose of information if they showed us everything. The companies’ algorithms cleverly just send us what the computer determines we’ll like.

Another reason may be that the companies are biased against conservative ideas. They deny that. But look at their actions. Social media companies say they forbid posts that “promote violence,” including ones that encourage violence offline.

But antifa groups that promote violence still have accounts. The Twitter account of the group in Portland, Oregon, that recently beat up journalist Andy Ngo. leaving him with brain damage, is still up.

“In Austin, they were calling for a paramilitary operation!” says Glenn Beck. That antifa group’s Facebook account is also still up, even though it links to a manifesto calling for opponents to be “beaten bloody.”

In my newest video, Beck, who runs a big media operation called The Blaze, says social media companies push a leftist agenda.  “They manipulate algorithms to reshape our world.”

Beck himself hasn’t been banned, but he says Facebook limits his reach, putting him in a “digital ghetto.”

“They’re shaping you,” he warns.

Is it true? Although I’m not a conservative, sometimes I do notice odd things happening with my posts.

On average, my videos get more than a million views. But when I did a one that criticized Facebook, that video got half as many views.

Because Facebook didn’t show it to many people? I can’t know. Facebook won’t say.

Today, social media companies are pressured to cut off anyone spreading hate. In response, YouTube and Facebook say they now even demote content that almost violates policies.

But those antifa accounts are still up.

By contrast, Beck says, conservative accounts are censored merely for making fun of Democrats. “Remember the person who slowed down (a video of House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi?” he asked. The video made Pelosi sound drunk. It went viral, but once Facebook got complaints, the company announced it “dramatically reduced its distribution.”

When Facebook did that, notes Beck, “The person in charge happened to be one of the leaders in Nancy Pelosi’s office who had just left to go to work for Facebook.”

I told Beck that Facebook hires some Republicans. “They do,” he replied, “but only about 20%, and not in top level positions.”

The site Spinquark did the research Beck cites, finding dozens of Democratic campaign workers who now work for social media companies.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg once invited Beck and some others to come to his offices to talk about bias. “I sat with him and he said, ‘Why would we do that?’ And I said, ‘I want to believe you, but your actions don’t match.’”

Beck was also unhappy with conservatives at that meeting. “Some said, ‘Mark, solve this by having affirmative action. … For every liberal you hire, hire a conservative.’”

“I don’t want that!” Beck said. “We don’t need more regulation!”

We don’t.

But it’s human nature, when people see a problem, to demand government do something.

Beck himself fell prey to that when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez claimed she saw border guards telling migrants to drink water from toilets. On his radio show, Beck said government should “prosecute anyone making outrageous charges like this!”

I gave him a hard time about that. “You want prosecution of members of Congress who say nonsense?!”

Beck laughed and quickly walked his statement back. “John, I speak five hours off script every day. … There’s a lot that I vomit out.”

The solution? “No censorship,” says Beck.

“Publish everything?” I asked. “Yes!” answered Beck. “We can handle it. Stop treating us like children.”

I agree. On at least some platforms, all speech should be free. The more that is blocked, the less we learn.


3 October, 2019

Is There Freedom of Speech in Germany?

Germany doesn’t have a problem with free speech. It has two — or rather, it is caught between two very different conceptions of free speech, each of which has significant shortcomings and each of which is rooted in our inability to close the chasm that remains between eastern and western Germany, 30 years after reunification.

Simply put, the division pits one part of the country that believes freedom of speech is on the decline against another that believes freedom of speech is going way too far. These aren’t just different concepts, rooted in two different formative national experiences — the Nazi era and the East German Communist regime. They are also at fundamental odds with each other, meaning that the day in, day out debate over what counts as acceptable speech is driving Germans further apart.

Let’s start with the Germans who believe that freedom of speech is endangered. Concentrated in eastern Germany, many of them experienced communism and its “better say nothing” atmosphere firsthand, only to be freed with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

For many eastern Germans, the revolution of 1989 held the promise that in a free country you would be able to utter any opinion, without suffering consequences. Instead, they complain, when they express conservative views on hot topics like immigration or multiculturalism, they are quickly labeled Nazis.

We know what it feels like to live in a society where certain opinions are unacceptable, they say, and increasingly, we’re feeling that same pressure.

The second group, rooted in western Germany, has a different concern, and a different historical reference point. They believe they see social norms around tolerance and diversity eroding, and fear a replay of the 1930s.

From 1933 onward, the incremental acceptance of hatred, racism and dehumanization paved the way to the Holocaust. This group, which includes high-profile journalists and celebrities, believes that hatred should not be covered by the freedom of speech. That in itself is not a new view in Germany, but recently those who hold it have ceased to draw a distinction between the broad political right and right-wing extremism.

To them, “rechts” — right-wing — has become the new collective term for an immensely broad range of people, from conservative critics of Chancellor Angela Merkel to neo-Nazis. We have learned our lesson, this group says, and we will “never again” allow intolerance and inhumanity to enter legitimate discourse.

Both groups command support from broad sections of German society. And both fundamentally misunderstand what free speech means.

The promise of 1989, to start with, never included a guarantee that speech came without consequences. In fact, most opinions have and will always have a social price. Freedom of speech never meant freedom from ridicule. Part of the messy necessity of democratic civil society is sorting out good ideas from bad ones. Plus, in Communist East Germany, people who criticized the government were often tortured by the Stasi. We are far from this danger today.

What the other side gets wrong is that brute, malign and even hateful speech is, in fact, broadly covered by freedom of speech. Freedom of opinion includes the right to utter opinions against freedom.

The German constitutional court ruled in 2009 that “even the dissemination of National Socialist ideas as a radical challenge to the existing order” is principally covered by the right of the freedom speech. Why? Because there’s no better way to fight nonsense than a good counter argument.

Increasingly lost on the German left is exactly this confidence: that the freewheeling fight of opinions is the best insurance against a victory of inhumane ideologues. In Nazi Germany, this clash of ideas did not exist. Dissidents were shut in concentration camps or killed. We are far from this danger today as well.

The real danger Germany faces today is neither a creeping leftist regime nor a nascent far-right dictatorship. Rather, it is the irrational insinuation that people who hold views different from your own are themselves illegitimate. This suspicion leads to tribalism, and tribalism is what drives societies apart.


Beta Testing for Jordan Peterson’s Free Speech Platform Thinkspot Goes Live!

In the initial email sent October 1, Thinkspot was described as:

“a community built around a curated collection of content, with features that enable users to engage with some of today’s leading thinkers. Our mission is to promote meaningful and respectful discourse that foster an open exchange of ideas, inciting users to challenge perspectives and discover interesting and informed viewpoints.”

As the platform stands currently in its beta form, users will be able to:

*Annotate and share video, podcast, and eBook content
*Interact with the community in public and private forums
*Access exclusive content and special live stream events
*Share and exchange ideas with some of the world's leading thinkers

The e-mail added that from the get-go of this endeavor “we value freedom of thought and expression across a wide range of topics, and encourage you to engage regularly with the community and support our growing roster of contributors.”

The account creation process is extremely quick with a brief tutorial on how to use the various features.

The Terms of Service make it very clear that this website is radically pro-freedom of speech and debate so long as there is no illegal activity.

The main page of the website shows a menu of intellectual commentators to follow, podcasts to listen to, and thought-provoking articles to read.

Rather than merely upvoting or downvoting posts, users can also choose intellectually-oriented reactions such as "disagree," "provocative, "insightful," "agree," "like," and "recommend."


2 October, 2019

Free speech suppression online builds case to break up Big Tech


Free speech is under attack by the Big Tech monopolies that dominate the internet. The flogging that Beto O’Rourke received during his Reddit “ask me anything” session this month perfectly underscored the distinction between a mainstream media and a genuinely free press. O’Rourke gave Americans a chance to grill him about his pivot from a centrist Senate candidate to a radical presidential hopeful, and in contrast to the handling he has gotten from the media, they treated him like hamburger meat.

No surprise there. The expression of free speech can be edgy, brutal, irreverent, and sometimes downright offensive. I should know. My father and I have been subjected to some of the most withering attacks and false claims in politics. Participating in democracy, however, is as American as apple pie. There is no substitute for open, honest, unrestricted dialogue and criticism when it comes to holding our leaders accountable.

For all the platitudes offered by liberal journalists about the free press standing as a cornerstone of democracy, they do not actually have a very good grasp of the concept. The free press that the founders envisioned looked a lot more like the Reddit users who roasted O’Rourke than New York Times writers who misrepresent basic tenets of free speech and demand censorship to protect their friends from “online harassment.”

In the 18th century, English newspaper editor John Wilkes anonymously published a satirical pamphlet savagely blasting the British prime minister. Wilkes was thrown in jail for writing it, but our founders, whom Wilkes firmly supported, wound up basing their concept of a free press on his example. Common Sense by Thomas Paine, the most important pamphlet championing the patriot cause, was also published anonymously, as were the Federalist Papers that informed the writing of the Constitution.

As I have written many times, the greatest threat to free speech and our democracy today is not the government, but the technology giants that deplatform people at the behest of liberals and then justify the action as “combating hate” and making the internet somehow safer. I was reminded of this reality when Instagram once again stifled my voice, as well as that of my father, by preventing our accounts from appearing in search results. As with every time this happens, Instagram simply blamed an error.

If social media can do that to the president, then no one is safe.


Censorship of conservatives in New Zealand upheld

If the current madness of modern life permits, cast your mind back to the middle of last year. Two “right-wing provocateurs” from Canada (ship name “Stefren”) wanted to bring their grift to New Zealand, and to Auckland’s Bruce Mason Theatre in particular. Some people got mad about this prospect and threatened to physically block public access to the event. The organisation that runs the Bruce Mason Theatre – Regional Facilities Auckland Ltd – then cancelled Stefren’s booking on health and safety grounds. Whereupon some other people got mad at this alleged curtailment of free speech, whipped up a bunch of money, and went off to court to challenge the cancellation decision.

At the time, I said this about the prospect of such a case:

At the risk of lapsing into legalese, the council’s actions when hiring out its venues to speakers are captured by both the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990 and the Human Rights Act 1993. Those enactments prevent the council from making venue hiring decisions (including cancellations) that “unjustifiably limit” freedom of expression, or that discriminate on the basis of political opinion. Auckland Live – the council’s company that manages the venues – can’t then contract out of those legal obligations.

Consequently, Mayor Goff’s decision (put into practice by Auckland Live) most likely will be found to be unlawful unless there is some sort of “demonstrably justified” reason for preventing [Stefren] from speaking at the council’s venue.

Well, you did read my internet hot-take for free, and so you got what you paid for. Not only did I get the name of the organisation that runs the Bruce Mason Theatre wrong, but it later turned out that the Mayor Phil Goff had nothing at all to do with the cancellation decision. Rather, he publicly jumped on board Regional Facilities Auckland Ltd’s independently-made decision in an effort to burnish his liberal, pro-diversity credentials.

And now the High Court has pretty much trashed my legal analysis of the issue as well. In a judgment released yesterday, it found that Regional Facilities Auckland Ltd didn’t have any public law duty, whether under the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990 or otherwise, to consider freedom of expression when cancelling Stefren’s talk. That’s because, the Court said, Regional Facilities Auckland Ltd hadn’t made a “public” decision when it pulled out of its contract to hire out the Bruce Mason Theatre. As a separate body from Auckland Council that has the job of managing the region’s various facilities and making them available for use, it simply made a business call that holding this event represented too big of a legal risk for it. Which it was free to do irrespective of the resulting consequences for expressive rights.

In other words, to lapse into legalese again, Regional Facilities Auckland Ltd’s hiring out of the venue was neither susceptible to judicial review nor subject to the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990. Whatever the moral rights or wrongs of the matter, it’s none of the court’s business. Meaning that the court didn’t examine whether the claimed health and safety concerns really justified cancellation, because Regional Facilities Auckland Ltd didn’t have to justify its action at all.

Now, better and brighter administrative law minds than mine have expressed some disquiet about this conclusion. But unless and until there’s an appeal, it stands.


1 October, 2019

Mattel Introduces Gender-Neutral Dolls in Effort to Be 'Woke'

In an effort to be 'woke' and kowtow to the gender-confused masses, Mattel is coming out with a new line of Barbie-like dolls, called "Creatable World," that are gender-neutral and have a variety of interchangeable hairstyles and clothing choices to switch up the doll's look.

What's silly about this is that these dolls look really wholesome and cute and exactly the kind of thing parents have been asking the Barbie manufacturer to do. For years we've had to buy handmade Barbie clothes at festivals because all the clothes Mattel sells for Barbie are whorish. Most parents aren't thrilled about letting their little girls play with a sexed-up hooker doll.

This new line has a much more pre-pubescent body shape and comes with normal clothes that kids would wear. I take issue with Mattel's inference that offering short haircuts for girls somehow denotes gender ambiguity. My daughter has a pixie cut and it's the cutest, most feminine cut on her and she knows she's a girl. How is short hair "gender-neutral?"


'Needs bleach': Tennis champ in racism scandal

A Japanese comedy duo and their management company have apologised after the pair reportedly said during a live event that Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka, who just won the Pan Pacific Open at the weekend, "needed some bleach."

Japanese media said the duo, known as "A Masso," made the remark during a Sunday event, the same day that Osaka lifted her first trophy since winning the Australian Open in January, and also said that "she is too sunburned."

In separate messages carried on the website of their management company, Watanabe Entertainment Co Ltd, both women apologised for making "inappropriate, hurtful remarks" but did not refer to Osaka, who is [mixed race] Haitian and Japanese, by name.



This is Tongue-Tied 3. Posts by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.)

HOME (Index page)

Is the American national anthem politically incorrect? From the 4th verse:
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."


The truth can be offensive to some but it must be said

The war on "cultural appropriation" is straightforward racism

"HATE SPEECH" is free speech: The U.S. Supreme Court stated the general rule regarding protected speech in Texas v. Johnson (109 S.Ct. at 2544), when it held: "The government may not prohibit the verbal or nonverbal expression of an idea merely because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable." Federal courts have consistently followed this. Said Virginia federal district judge Claude Hilton: "The First Amendment does not recognize exceptions for bigotry, racism, and religious intolerance or ideas or matters some may deem trivial, vulgar or profane."

Even some advocacy of violence is protected by the 1st Amendment. In Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), the U.S. Supreme Court held unanimously that speech advocating violent illegal actions to bring about social change is protected by the First Amendment "except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action."

The double standard: Atheists can put up signs and billboards saying that Christianity is wrong and that is hunky dory. But if a Christian says that homosexuality is wrong, that is attacked as "hate speech"

One for the militant atheists to consider: "...it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg" -- Thomas Jefferson

"I think no subject should be off-limits, and I regard the laws in many Continental countries criminalizing Holocaust denial as philosophically repugnant and practically useless – in that they confirm to Jew-haters that the Jews control everything (otherwise why aren’t we allowed to talk about it?)" -- Mark Steyn

A prophetic comment on Norwegian hate speech laws: As Justice Brandeis once noted, repressive censorship “breeds hate” and “that hate menaces stable government,” rather than promoting safety; “the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies.”

Voltaire's most famous saying was actually a summary of Voltaire's thinking by one of his biographers rather than something Voltaire said himself. Nonetheless it is a wholly admirable sentiment: "I disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it". I am of a similar mind.

The traditional advice about derogatory speech: "Sticks and stones will break your bones but names will never hurt you". Apparently people today are not as emotionally robust as their ancestors were.

The KKK were members of the DEMOCRATIC party. Google "Klanbake" if you doubt it

A phobia is an irrational fear, so the terms "Islamophobic" and "homophobic" embody a claim that the people so described are mentally ill. There is no evidence for either claim. Both terms are simply abuse masquerading as diagnoses and suggest that the person using them is engaged in propaganda rather than in any form of rational or objective discourse.

Leftists often pretend that any mention of race is "racist" -- unless they mention it, of course. But leaving such irrational propaganda aside, which statements really are racist? Can statements of fact about race be "racist"? Such statements are simply either true or false. The most sweeping possible definition of racism is that a racist statement is a statement that includes a negative value judgment of some race. Absent that, a statement is not racist, for all that Leftists might howl that it is. Facts cannot be racist so nor is the simple statement of them racist. Here is a statement that cannot therefore be racist by itself, though it could be false: "Blacks are on average much less intelligent than whites". If it is false and someone utters it, he could simply be mistaken or misinformed.

Categorization is a basic human survival skill so racism as the Left define it (i.e. any awareness of race) is in fact neither right nor wrong. It is simply human

Whatever your definition of racism, however, a statement that simply mentions race is not thereby racist -- though one would think otherwise from American Presidential election campaigns. Is a statement that mentions dogs, "doggist" or a statement that mentions cats, "cattist"?

If any mention of racial differences is racist then all Leftists are racist too -- as "affirmative action" is an explicit reference to racial differences

Was Abraham Lincoln a racist? "You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss, but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think your race suffer very greatly, many of them by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side. If this be admitted, it affords a reason at least why we should be separated. It is better for both, therefore, to be separated." -- Spoken at the White House to a group of black community leaders, August 14th, 1862

Gimlet-eyed Leftist haters sometimes pounce on the word "white" as racist. Will the time come when we have to refer to the White House as the "Full spectrum of light" House?

The spirit of liberty is "the spirit which is not too sure that it is right." and "Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it." -- Judge Learned Hand

Mostly, a gaffe is just truth slipping out

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were.

It seems a pity that the wisdom of the ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus is now little known. Remember, wrote the Stoic thinker, "that foul words or blows in themselves are no outrage, but your judgment that they are so. So when any one makes you angry, know that it is your own thought that has angered you. Wherefore make it your endeavour not to let your impressions carry you away."

"Since therefore the knowledge and survey of vice is in this world so necessary to the constituting of human virtue, and the scanning of error to the confirmation of truth, how can we more safely, and with less danger, scout into the regions of sin and falsity than by reading all manner of tractates, and hearing all manner of reason?" -- English poet John Milton (1608-1674) in Areopagitica

Hate speech is verbal communication that induces anger due to the listener's inability to offer an intelligent response

Leftists can try to get you fired from your job over something that you said and that's not an attack on free speech. But if you just criticize something that they say, then that IS an attack on free speech

"Negro" is a forbidden word -- unless a Democrat uses it

"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper

Why are Leftists always talking about hate? Because it fills their own hearts

Leftists don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

When you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

The intellectual Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) could have been speaking of much that goes on today when he said: "The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane."

I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.


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