Tag: First Amendment

Make the Democrats Talk About Sex

 

Yes, really. I mean the meaning of “sex.” The leftists in the House of Representatives passed a resolution purporting to extend the deadline for passage of a Constitutional amendment that had failed for lack of ratification by the specified deadline. The Democrats did so as part of election politics. The Senate Republicans should seize the opportunity given them, rather than playing into Chuck and Nancy’s hand.

Democrats want to run this year as women’s rights advocates, even as they destroy the rights of actual girls and women. It is time one party stood up for girls and women against the patriarchy in dresses. The ERA, if passed as currently written, will be weaponized by the left, reading their cultural agenda through the word “sex.” Nevertheless, the recurring story we will see and hear for the next nine months will be that a bunch of old white men, led by Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, are standing in the way of women’s equality. It does not have to go this way.

The Democrats almost slipped the ERA by us back in 1972-1973, whereafter Phyllis Schlafly mobilized effective opposition. Eventually, several states reversed their ratification. Yet, the Democrats intend to claim in court that a state cannot un-ratify, so they get to collect every state, with the more recent passage by Virginia making the magical 38th state, adding the already redefined amendment onto the end of the Constitution, trumping all previous language—especially the First Amendment’s religion clauses.

The Case for a Free Speech Union

 

The idea for a free speech trade union was born at a conference for canceled academics in Oxford last year. It was organized by Nigel Biggar, Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Philosophy at Oxford, who was targeted by an outrage mob in 2017 after writing an article for the Times of London entitled ‘Don’t feel guilty about our colonial past.’ Because Nigel was bold enough to defend Bruce Gilley, a conservative political science professor at Portland State, who had made the case for colonialism in an academic journal called Third World Quarterly, he became the victim of a witch-hunt. Colleagues stopped collaborating with him, open letters circulated calling for his academic work to be de-funded and a Cambridge lecturer accused him of being a “white supremacist.” Needless to say, Professor Gilley had it much worse. The editors of Third World Quarterly received death threats from enraged members of the woke Left and withdrew the article, although it was republished by the National Association of Scholars.

Bruce Gilley was at Nigel’s conference, as was Bret Weinstein, who was chased off the Evergreen State College campus by baseball-bat wielding thugs, and Amy Wax, who was relieved of some of her teaching responsibilities at Penn Law School after she had the temerity to co-write an article for the Philadelphia Inquirer defending the bourgeois virtues. There were others, too.

Listening to their stories convinced me the time had come to take a stand. What was needed was a trade union-like organization that stood up for the speech rights of its members. The idea was simple: everyone who values intellectual freedom should organize so if the mob tries to pick one of us off, we can unite in his or her defense. The enemies of free speech hunt in packs; its defenders need to band together too.

The Multi-Front Attack on Free Speech

 

Free speech…free expression generally…is under attack in America and throughout the Western world to a degree not seen in a long time. I think there are specific phenomena and (partially-overlapping) categories of people which are largely driving this attack, to wit:

The Thugs. As I pointed out in my post The United States of Weimar?, illegal actions against political opponents, ranging from theft of newspapers to direct assault and battery, have in recent decades become increasingly common on university campuses, and now are well on track to being normalized as aspects of American politics. Incidents of political thuggery are reported almost daily: just the other day, pro-Trump women at an upscale DC hotel were verbally attacked and apparently physically assaulted by members of a wedding party that was heavy on Democrat attendees; including, reportedly, some top officials from the DNC. A pro-free-speech film was reportedly interrupted by two men wearing masks. Interruption of movies they didn’t like was a tactic used by the Nazis prior to their obtaining official censorship powers. The film “All Quiet on the Western Front” was plagued by Nazi disruptions when released in Germany in 1930. And attempts to shut down dissident speakers on college campuses, such as this, have become so common as to now be almost the default expectation.

Member Post

 

With nearly seven in 10 American adults worried about cultural and political threats to free speech, good news may be closer than you think. In fact, a recent court decision provides hope that free speech protections are trending upward, charting the course for future victories for all Americans. Free speech was at the very center […]

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Victory for Christian Filmmakers Is a Win for Everyone

 

With nearly seven in 10 American adults worried about cultural and political threats to free speech, good news may be closer than you think. In fact, a recent court decision provides hope that free speech protections are trending upward, charting the course for future victories for all Americans.

Free speech was at the very center of Telescope Media Group v. Lucero. The case challenged the state’s attempt to force Christian filmmakers—with the threat of fines and jail time—to promote messages that violate their faith. On August 23, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit ruled 2-1 in favor of the filmmakers, overturning a lower court’s decision and giving that court a roadmap for how this case should move forward.

The win isn’t just a major victory for the filmmakers—it’s a game-changer. Last summer, when the US Supreme Court decided Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission on free exercise grounds, it did not even need to reach the free speech issue presented because Colorado’s hostility against cake artist Jack Phillips was so egregious.

An Antidote to Conservative Gloom on Campus Free Speech

 

FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff is in National Review this week with a rather simple message for conservatives: There are actually a lot of things we can feel good about regarding the state of free expression on college campuses today.

The welfare of campus discourse is not perfect, of course, and its easy to sense that the issue is only getting worse–especially as free speech on campus gets no shortage of media exposure. The playing field has also changed in other fundamental ways. College students today are more aligned against free speech than they were ten or even five years ago, for reasons Greg and Jonathan Haidt expound on at length in their bestselling book The Coddling of the American Mind.

I’ve been at FIRE since 2008, and I can attest to those changes in the culture firsthand. I can also, however, attest to these meaningful changes FIRE has brought about nationally:

Andrew Doyle is the man behind satirical Twitter account Titania McGrath – a radical intersectionalist, feminist, and slam poet, who is constantly telling people how oppressed she is – and author of Woke: A Guide to Social Justice. He and Bridget have a fascinating and important conversation about the dangers of taking art and comedy literally, how smart people are becoming stupid because of woke ideology, why self-censorship is a slippery slope, and they wonder when the left became such pearl-clutchers. They discuss winning the culture war by winning people over, rather than locking them up or making certain types of speech illegal, the fact that there’s nothing more likely to help the far right to grow than the way the far left are behaving, the dangers of eroding the distinction between right wing and alt right, and the problems with The Faith of Intersectionality. Should the word “douchebag” be considered ableist? Where did the idea that “speech is violence” come from? What is it like being tribeless in an increasingly tribal world? What is the path forward? Find out on this not-to-be-missed episode.

The Absolute Right to Choose Your Own Pronouns

 

I believe both in the right of individuals to express their personal pronoun preferences and in the right of other individuals to ignore them. It’s the same right in each case: the right of freedom of expression and it’s a right I hold dear.

I understand that some folks in the trans movement would like to tell other people which words they can and can’t use. I don’t approve of that, because I really do believe in freedom of expression: the same freedom that lets a guy put on a dress and say “I’m a woman” lets me chuckle and say, “yeah, no. But let’s agree to disagree.”

Nick Sandmann Lawsuit against WAPO for $250 Million and Clarence Thomas’ Solo Opinion

 

Two stories have intersected making for intriguing discussions about the First Amendment as well as the laws against defamation.

The first story is the defamation lawsuit of Nick Sandmann against the Washington Post for $250 million. WaPo’s coverage of the confrontation between Sandman and a Native American man exploded into a national story and was fed by the inflammatory and reckless coverage by WaPo and other media outlets. Sandmann’s lawyer, Lin Wood, said, “Nick Sandmann was perceived as an easy target. He is 16. Inexcusable on every level.”

I suspect that the attorney will also include information on the threats, intimidation, and harassment that Sandmann went through, which included his family leaving their home for security reasons, explaining how the extreme coverage endangered all those involved. The lawsuit claims that. . .

Daniel DiSalvo joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss the impact of last year’s Supreme Court decision in Janus v. ASFCME, in which the Court ruled that public-sector unions’ mandatory “agency fees” were unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

Unions provide an important source of financial support for politicians—primarily Democrats—around the country. In a new report for the Manhattan Institute, DiSalvo finds that blue states are taking steps to shield their public unions from the full consequences of the Janus ruling.

Formidable to Tyrants Only

 

The title comes from the Declaration of Independence. Third on the list of grievances, Ol’ Tommy J. has this to say:

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

FIRE report: 9 out of 10 Universities (Still) Restrict Free Speech

 

For more than a decade now, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has published its Spotlight on Speech Codes report, an annual survey of speech policies at hundreds of universities across the United States. Yesterday, we unveiled our latest report.

I’ll start with the good news. First, the percentage of universities receiving FIRE’s worst, “red-light” rating, has fallen to its lowest ever, at 28.5%. Compare this to our first report, when three quarters of all universities bore this distinction. Second, the number of schools receiving our “green-light” rating, meaning that their policies, as written, are fully consistent with the First Amendment’s requirements. This year, 42 such institutions can claim the honor.

Now for the less-good news: A decisive majority of institutions (61%) receive FIRE’s “yellow-light” rating. This is better than a red-light rating in that the policies on paper are not plainly unconstitutional as written. However, the rating means that their policies as written are too vague to pass First Amendment muster, and could easily be abused to unconstitutional ends. (Both public and private universities are included in the report; while private institutions are not bound by the First Amendment, they often make robust free speech promises, and we assess them accordingly.) This means that, even with the significant policy improvements many universities have made in recent years, 90% of the schools in the survey still fail to live up to their free speech obligations in their policies.

Professor Files Lawsuit Against University Requirement to Use Transgender Labels

 

Professor Nicholas Meriwether has finally had enough.

In June 2018, a warning was put in this professor’s personnel file because he refused to refer to a transgender student, who was biologically male and called himself Alena Breuning, with female personal pronouns.

But Ms. Bruening demanded to be referred to as “Miss” and “she” in accordance with the student’s gender identity, filing a complaint against her professor earlier this year for not accommodating her wishes.

Welcome to the Harvard Lunch Club Political Podcast for August 28, 2018 it is the End of Trump edition of the show, number 189!!! This week is a special show because our guest is my esteemed editor from the Boston Globe, the editorial page editor Marjorie Pritchard. As noted by NPR host David Greene:

An editorial in The Boston Globe this morning [August 16] has the headline “Journalists Are Not The Enemy.” This is in response to President Trump’s attacks. He has called the media, quote, “the enemy of the American people.” Now, the Globe asked other newspapers to join them today in running an editorial like this, and more than 300 publications heeded the call. This was spearheaded by Marjorie Pritchard. She’s the op-ed editor of The Boston Globe.

David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America take on three heavy topics, starting with Colorado baker Jack Phillips now having a powerful case of discrimination against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission after the commission ruled Phillips had violated the rights of a transgender lawyer for not customizing a cake for their gender transition or one depicting Satan engaged in a sex act.  They also hammer the Catholic church in Pennsylvania over the new grand jury report that reveals more than 3oo priests horrifically abusing more than a thousand children over the decades and the despicable lengths officials in the church went to in order to silence accusers and keep the priests in active ministry.  And they shred Chelsea Clinton’s absurd contention that abortion has been great for the economy because it allows more women to stay in the workforce.

Richard Epstein on Classical Liberalism, the Administrative State, Free Speech, and Silicon Valley Regulation

 

For this week’s Big Ideas with Ben Weingarten podcast, I had legendary classical liberal legal theorist and longtime professor at University of Chicago Law School and now at NYU Law — and prodigious Ricochet podcaster Professor Richard Epstein on the podcast to discuss among other things:

  • The role that Professor Epstein’s famous book, “Takings” played in Justice Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing — and then-Senator Joe Biden’s hectoring
  • Professor Epstein’s groundbreaking theories on private property rights, eminent domain and the Takings and Commerce Clauses
  • The practical argument against progressivism
  • Whether we should deconstruct the administrative state, and if so how to do it
  • The danger to free speech emanating from college campuses in a world of microaggressions, trigger warnings, de-platforming
  • The folly of regulating Silicon Valley social media companies
  • Classical liberalism versus socialism and libertarianism

You can find the episode on iTunes, everywhere else podcasts are found or download the episode directly here.

Richard Epstein explores the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a gay marriage ceremony, critiques the judicial style of Anthony Kennedy, and explains how anti-discrimination laws have expanded beyond a useful scope.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America cheer the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of a Christian baker who was sued for not customizing a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony but note the ruling focused on this particular case rather than broader issues of conscience and religious liberty.  They also cringe as Bill Clinton still sees himself as the victim in the Monica Lewinsky scandal and scolds an NBC reporter for even bringing it up.  And they’re incredulous as President Trump boldly announces he has the power to pardon himself and Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, contends Trump could not even be indicted for killing former FBI Director James Comey while still in office.