Tag: Free Speech

This week on Hubwonk, host Joe Selvaggi talks with Noah Rothman, associate editor of Commentary magazine, about his recently released book, The Rise of the New Puritans: Fighting Back Against Progressives’ War On Fun, examining how the attempt to remoralize American culture mirrors similar social movements in the past and what concerned onlookers can do to better manage this frenzied phenomenon.

Guest:

Professor Sues U. of Wash. After Being Punished for ‘Inappropriate’ Opinion on Land Acknowledgments

 

Perhaps you’ve heard of “land acknowledgment” statements, which have come into vogue in educational and cultural institutions. In the higher education context, the gist of such statements — sometimes placed on course syllabi, sometimes spoken at meetings, exhibitions, or performances — is to state that the institution’s campus sits on occupied indigenous lands. This year, the University of Washington’s computer science department encouraged its faculty to issue such statements, offering approved language on how to word them. 

UW computer science professor Stuart Reges didn’t think much of this, viewing the exercise as performance (he’s not alone), so he crafted one of his own to make a point. More than four months later, after being accused of creating a “toxic environment” and subject to a seemingly unending harassment investigation, Reges has sued his employer to vindicate his First Amendment rights. Reges is represented by my organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE).

Louisiana Enhances Student Due Process, Free Speech Protections, While Dept of Ed Threatens Both

 

Last month, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed two bills into law that will significantly strengthen key civil liberties in higher education. HB 185, introduced by Rep. Charles Owen, codifies important free speech protections for students at Louisiana’s public colleges, while HB 364, introduced by Rep. Scott McKnight, provides critical due process protections. My employer, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), advised Louisiana legislators as they drafted and revised each bill.

HB 185 makes important revisions to Louisiana’s existing campus free speech law. Among its provisions, the law adopts the speech-protective definition of student-on-student harassment established by the Supreme Court in Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, which defines student-on-student harassment as conduct “so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it effectively bars the victim’s access to an educational opportunity or benefit.” HB 185 also prevents colleges from charging security fees to students and student organizations based on the content of their expression or the anticipated reaction to an invited guest’s speech.

Taking Down the Woke Agenda

 

No part of our culture has been immune from the disease of woke-ism. Whether one studies corporations, educational institutions, the media, federal and state governments, woke-ism has corrupted every part of our culture to one degree or another. When I contemplate how to even begin to break its hold on our country, that proposition appears overwhelming. Where to start? How to make legitimate inroads? How to get an informed audience to consider the issues and make changes?

Eventually, however, I discerned that tackling one bastion of woke-ism might be possible. It is one of the oldest institutions, as it began to show its power in the 20th century, and it continues to demonstrate its pervasive influence nearly everywhere.

I’m talking about the public university.

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“The Spirit of Liberty” Speech by Judge Learned Hand, 1944: What do we mean when we say that first of all we seek liberty? I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws, and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are falsehopes. Liberty lies in […]

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Don’t Canada America, Redux

 

What started as a Chinese-style “social credit” financial system focused on protesting truckers four months ago has now expanded to guns, mainstream and social media, and religion.

Following the tragic massacre in Uvalde, Texas last week, Canada’s government, some 2,000 miles away, decided they needed to do something. There is no right to gun ownership in Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, backed by masked and clapping seals from his Liberal Party caucus, announced that legislation would be forthcoming to ban (sorry, a “national freeze”) the sale and transfer of all handguns.

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Last night FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) hosted an event here in Silicon Valley.  President and CEO Greg Lukianoff appeared and as usual shared humorous remarks.  He was joined by Antonio García Martínez, a well known tech executive with deep insights into the industry and target of cancellation at Apple who similarly shared […]

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State Governments Delivering on College Students’ Free Speech, Due Process Rights

 

There’s been no shortage of unconstitutional legislation affecting speech on campus for my employer, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), to cover of late. It’s a breath of fresh air, then, to commend Kentucky, Indiana, and Georgia for passing new new bills protecting student free speech and due process rights. 

The most transformative of these measures is the Kentucky Campus Due Process Protection Act, which Gov. Andy Beshear signed into law on April 8. Under the law, students facing suspension or expulsion at public institutions of higher education are ensured vital due process protections, including:

TechFreedom Internet policy counsel Corbin K. Barthold joins Brian Anderson to discuss Elon Musk’s successful bid for Twitter and its implications for free speech, tech regulation, and the Internet.

Find the transcript of this conversation and more at City Journal.

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Congratulations to the nation’s richest and perhaps its most interesting man, Elon Musk, for his $44 billion purchase of the social media site, Twitter. Launched around 2008 (when I joined) along with Facebook and other “big tech” initiatives, it has transmogrified from a “town hall” to that church scene in the first Kingsman movie, where […]

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My Dear Friends on the Left: What Happened to You?

 

Half a century ago, when I was a young man, you were the ones celebrating individuality and anything-goes self-expression.

Back then, you were the ones burning the draft cards and defying authority. Today you’re a masked lump sitting on an airport bench, scolding with narrowed eyes anyone who delights in the air touching her face. What happened to you?

Back then, you were the ones demanding to be heard, saying the things the establishment didn’t want to hear, speaking truth to power. Today the phrase “free speech” terrifies you, and you offer a dozen excuses why we’re better off muzzled and restrained by those in power, like some kind of pet.

Free Speech and Elon Musk

 

I have long argued that we should focus more on ideas than on the people who endorse them. I still believe that. Ideas are enduring; people too often are not. But when a man or woman makes a significant stand for an idea that’s praiseworthy, that in itself is praiseworthy. Without losing sight of what matters — of the idea — it’s appropriate to praise those who champion it.

Elon Musk claims to be championing an idea that I hold dear, one that is, as I’ve written many times, of paramount importance today, the idea of free and unfettered speech. Indeed, I think it is the single most important challenge faced by those of us who would preserve our country and its values.

‘Would I Lie to You?’

 

Pay attention to the names of the individuals, publications, companies, and networks that are expressing panic right now at the prospect of a proponent of “radical free speech” buying Twitter. And remember, the next time one of them purports to tell you “the news,” that they jealously defended their collective right to filter what you are allowed to know.

Then assume that you’re hearing only the news that fits.

An Unwelcome Campus Renaissance for the Heckler’s Veto

 

If you’d seen the multiple reports of campus speakers being shouted down (or very nearly so) on university campuses and thought, “there sure seems to be a lot of this going around,” I’m here to tell you: You’re not wrong. I’ve been on the staff of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for 14 years now, and even by our standards the “heckler’s veto” seems to be having a heck of a run

Consider these cases from recent weeks:

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The United States has a long and storied history of creating protected classes, going back to 1866 following the Civil War. The goal was to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their color, would enjoy the same rights as white citizens. A second bill was passed in 1870 and was intended to back up the […]

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Free Speech and Power in the Time of Ukraine

 

Russians are being cut off just as Canadians were cut off, and just as Americans were cut off.  This is not to equate the three causes — the cut-off Americans were pro-Trump, the Canadians were anti-mandate, and the Russian government is currently killing its way through Ukraine.  Different cases, right?  Yet the same tools are being used to silence individuals who have opinions contrary to the “dominant paradigm”.  That similarity is the real danger.  In the middle to long term, this is worse even than the horrors currently inflicted on Ukraine – globally homogenized censorship is a recipe for unending invasion and suppression.  It is the boot poised above the human face.

Conventional wisdom has nothing to do with it.  A paradigm is not wisdom, and convention has folded before dominance.  I recall a bumper sticker artfully pinned to the door of some facultron in the English Department at my university, “Subvert the Dominant Paradigm”.  This was an explicit, if cheeky admission of Brando’s defiant answer “Whaddya got?” when asked in The Wild Ones, “Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against?”.  But now we simply Meet the New Boss.  They rebel against nothing; they carry out their instructions, and curry favor with The System.  They decide and the shotgun sings the song.  The radicals are now the establishment, and they have mortgages.

The Great Liquidation

 

America is hanging by a thread.  A great liquidation is underway, with many of the structures that support American society..or, in some cases, any viable society…being kicked away, sold off piecemeal, or just wantonly destroyed.  I’m talking about physical structures, legal structures, and social structures.

I do not think it is too late to turn this trend around, but the situation is very serious, and I’m going to ask you to gaze into the abyss with me before I discuss some reasons for hope.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Bari Weiss, former New York Times op-ed editor and writer, and author of How to Fight Anti-Semitism. Bari shares what motivated her to write this book, its reception, and key lessons for teachers and students alike.

She also explains why we’re now seeing a rise in anti-Semitism, how educators can best combat it, and the connection she observes between the current upsurge in anti-Semitism and cancel culture. Bari discusses her experiences on the editorial boards of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and her courageous decision to resign from the Times, as well as the public praise and criticism she’s encountered since her resignation.