Filed under: Bureaucracy, Education, Freedom, Politics | Tags: Academe, Freedom of Speech, Safe Spaces and Trigger Warnings
The University of Chicago’s Dean of Students has sent a letter to the Class of 2020 incoming students:
Welcome and congratulations on your acceptance to the College at the University of Chicago. Earning a place in our community of scholars is no small achievement and we are delighted that you selected Chicago to continue your intellectual journey.
Once here you will discover that one of the University of Chicago’s defining characteristics is our commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression. This is captured in the University’s faculty report of freedom of expression. Members of our community are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn, without fear of censorship. Civility and mutual respect are vital to all of us, and freedom of expression does not mean the freedom to harass or threaten others. You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion, and even disagreement. At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.
Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called “trigger warnings,” we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual “safe spaces” where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.
Perhaps a little publicity will help other universities to discover just what education is all about, and stop pandering to agitators.
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Foreign Policy, Intelligence, National Security, Regulation, The United States | Tags: Freedom of Speech, ISIS & al-Qaeda, Terrorism
The totalitarians are after your social media use. If the federal authorities have their way, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites will be forced to report users’ activities under a new provision of the 2016 Intelligence Authorization Act.
This is a tricky business. ISIS is clearly using social media as a recruiting tool, and quite successfully, though if you want to see a useless search, ask Google about ISIS recruit numbers. It is clear that many young Muslims are being radicalized through social media. The glamor of going to the Middle East to chop off heads or shoot people for entertainment escapes me, but it is a real problem.
According to the legislation sent to the Senate floor, any online service provider that “obtains actual knowledge of any terrorist activity…shall provide to the appropriate authorities the facts or circumstances of the alleged terrorist activity.” The companies would have to report tweets, videos, posts or other content exchanged online by users.
If you read the ordinary comments on online posts, the language is increasingly crude, comments often designed more to insult than provide intelligent discussion. Everybody’s angry. However, people who are anxious about privacy aren’t going to go for this. But the problem is real, and the dangers real. Someone will have to decide whether a communication is wholly protected political speech, only commentary on current events or — something that should be reported to the government.
Unfortunately, the government’s constant drive for more control and more regulations on the one hand, and more secrecy and lies on the other — means a significant loss of confidence on the part of the public. You won’t find totalitarian governments that are beloved by their people. It ‘s a conundrum. There are still people out there who think Edward Snowden is some kind of hero.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Freedom, History, Law, Politics, Regulation, Taxes, The United States | Tags: Freedom of Speech, The Bill of Rights, The Temptation towards Tyranny
The Democrats attempt to rewrite the Constitution and amend the First Amendment to curtail the rights of Americans to free political speech has died in the Senate. It needed 60 votes to advance. Free political speech is the very essence of liberty, and the envy of the world.
Fifty-four Senate Democrats actually voted to give Congress the power to “regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.” Think through what that would mean.
Some, such as Senator Bernie Sanders (S-VT) said the amendment would allow Democrats to enact more of their preferred legislation. Exactly. Democrats want to be completely in charge, without any interference from those pesky Republicans. They just want Republicans gone — so they can rule.
This bunch rejects 223 years of liberty and political freedom guaranteed by the Bill of Rights since it was ratified in 1791 — because they want their own way. No arguments. No questioning our policies. No criticism. No unpleasant speech. Can they win elections without cheating?
Somebody remarked that there used to be a “Sandinista wing” of the Democrat Party. Not anymore, it’s entirely Sandinista now.
Filed under: Freedom, Law, National Security, Politics, Progressivism, Statism | Tags: As Long As It's Nice Speech, Freedom of Speech, You Must Not Offend
—Jeff Olson is a 40-year-old man who was being prosecuted for scrawling anti-megabank messages on the sidewalk in water-soluble chalk faced a 13 year sentence. A judge had barred his attorney from mentioning freedom of speech during the trial. The San Diego Reader reported that a judge had opted to prevent Olson’s attorney from”mentioning the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or political speech during the trial.”
Olson faced 13 counts of vandalism. In addition to possibly spending years in jail, Olson would also be held liable for fines of up to $13,000 over the anti-big-bank slogans that were left in washable children’s chalk on a sidewalk outside of three San Diego, California branches of Bank of America, the massive conglomerate that received $45 billion in interest-free loans from the federal government in 2008-2009 in a bid to keep it solvent in the financial crisis.
Olson was a former staffer for a Washington State senator, and involved himself in political activism inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protest regarding debit card fees. He scribbled slogans such as “Stop Big Banks” and “Stop Bank Blight.com.” One Bank of America branch claimed it had cost $6,000 to clean up the washable chalk.
Darrell Freeman, Vice President of Bank of America’s Global Corporate Security, and a former police officer, decided to take Olson and his friend on. He threatened them with “running a business outside of the bank,”and when that didn’t work pressured members of San Diego’s Gang Unit on behalf of Bank of America, until the matter was forwarded to the City Attorney’s Office.
Olson did not deny that he scrawled anti-bank messages and artwork outside the banks last year, such as “No thanks, big banks” and Shame on Bank of America.”
His attorney argued that vandalism law required jurors to find something was “maliciously defaced.” He added, “His purpose was not malicious. His purpose was to inform.
The mayor condemned the City Attorney’s Office, calling it a waste of time. Defense attorney Tom Tosdal said it was an “enormous waste of public resources.” He said bank officials demanded the prosecution because they didn’t like his client’s message. The jury agreed and acquitted Olson.
The judge forbade any mention of freedom of speech or the First Amendment? Wow.
—In West Virginia, a 14-year-old student wore a National Rifle Association tee shirt to school. Uh Oh! His teacher demanded that he remove it, and he refused. Jared Marcum, 14, was charged with obstruction following the April 18 incident after police were called to Logan Middle School. Police said he wouldn’t stop talking. After he was charged, Marcum faced up to a year in jail and a $500 fine.
Ben White, the Marcum family attorney, claimed the demand that he remove the NRA shirt violated his right to freedom of speech. Logan County Circuit Court Judge Eric O’Briant signed an order dismissing the charge.
After Marcum was arrested, students throughout Logan County wore similar NRA shirts in a show of solidarity. Prosecutors sought to have a gag order imposed on Marcum and his family. After reviewing statements from the arresting officer and the school principal, White said he and a prosecutor agreed that creating a criminal record for the 14-year-old boy was not a good idea. Annoying a prosecutor is apparently not a good idea.
—The BBC headline ran “U.S. Bloggers Banned From Entering the UK.” “Bloggers” Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer were denied entry to the country that gave the world the Magna Charta. Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer are both prominent critics of Islamism — the strand of militant Islam that attempts to spread the intolerant ideology of Islam throughout the West through the imposition of sharia.
What Geller and Spencer do is speak. They give lectures, they write books. They were traveling to Britain to participate in a commemorative ceremony for Drummer Lee Rigby, the young soldier who was returning to his barracks when two Muslims ran him down with a car, then stabbed and hacked him to death with knives and a cleaver. Rigby had to be identified with dental records.
Geller and Spencer speak about the intolerance of Islam and the requirements of sharia. A government spokesman said individuals whose presence “is not conducive to the public good” may be denied entry by the Home Secretary. He explained: “We condemn all those whose behaviors and views run counter to our shared values and will not stand for extremism in any form.” We’re trying to be very tolerant, don’t be disagreeing with us or disturbing our fantasies.
Another few incidents in today’s world where freedom of speech means being very, very careful what you say. How did we get here?
Filed under: Freedom, Politics, Progressivism, The Constitution, The United States | Tags: Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Freedom of Speech, The First Amendment
“I was expelled from Syracuse University for comments that I posted on Facebook.”
Syracuse University School of Education graduate student Matthew Werenczak was just trying to finish his masters degree early when he decided to take a summer course that involved tutoring at a local middle school. But after a comment he posted on Facebook about an experience he had at the school caught the attention of the Syracuse administration, Werenczak would be lucky if he graduated at all.
On the first day of Werenczak’s tutoring program at Danforth Middle School, he and another Syracuse student were introduced to their students by a member of the Concerned Citizens Action Program (CCAP). They happened to be the only two white people in the room. Shortly after the introduction, in the presence of Werenczak and the other white student teacher, the CCAP member, who is black, said that he thought that the city schools should hire more teachers from historically black colleges.
“This [comment] offended me, as well as the other student teacher in the room,” says Werenczak in FIRE’s latest video. “It just seemed inappropriate considering that the two student teachers happened to be from Syracuse and a not a historically black college.”
So Werenczak took to Facebook to write about the incident.
“Just making sure we’re okay with racism,” wrote Werenczak. “It’s not enough I’m … tutoring in the worst school in the city, I suppose I oughta be black or stay in my own side of town.”
“I was kind of trying to see if my friends or other peers, classmates would have a similar reaction to what I had,” says Werenczak about the reason for his posting the comment.
One reaction Werenczak didn’t see coming was an expulsion from the School of Education for the Facebook comments, which the school described as “unprofessional, offensive, and insensitive.” The school told Werenczak he could avoid expulsion by voluntarily withdrawing, or he could fulfill several requirements in order to gain a chance of “re-admittance.”
When Werenczak fulfilled the requirements and was still not readmitted to the school, he contacted FIRE for help.
“Hours after FIRE took the case public, Syracuse University backed down and I was brought back [into the program] and later graduated.”
Why is it always the educators in our universities that don’ t grasp freedom of speech. Our colleges and universities are hotbeds of attempting to censor speech that they don’t like. Thank goodness for FIRE.