Tag: Free Speech

Edgy Comic Refers to Audience as ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’


David Deeble, a standup comedian referred to by his critics as an “insult comic,” brazenly opened up his set at Sarah Lawrence College by addressing the audience as “Ladies and gentlemen.”

“Discomfort in the room was immediate and palpable,” said booker Gwynyd Simms (she/her, Bachelor of Arts in English.) “In hindsight, the absence of pronouns on his résumé should’ve been a red flag,” she added. (Simms would later embark on a month-long listening tour after being reminded that the term “red flag” is deemed offensive to indigenous peoples.)

According to witnesses, tension in the room only increased after Deeble claimed to have gotten married “old school — to a woman.” Undeterred, Deeble went on to say that he had “three children — one of each,” according to an audience member who wished not to be identified as their identity is currently in transition.

To Protect Religious Students’ Feelings, Hamline University Jettisons Academic Freedom


I’ve spent nearly 15 years advocating for free speech in higher education and defending the rights of students and faculty to do the same. That’s to say that hopefully the following statement carries a bit of weight: In defending the non-renewal of an art history instructor’s contract for showing a 14th-century painting depicting the Prophet Muhammed, Hamline University president Fayneese Miller made one of the worst pronouncements on academic freedom I’ve ever seen a university president make – maybe the very worst. 

The instructor in question showed the painting – in a class session on Islamic art, it can’t be stressed enough – as part of an optional exercise, one students were given the opportunity to opt out of, and which was preceded with a warning about its content. In spite of the exit ramp offered by the instructor, a Muslim student in the class complained about the display, and the administration took swift action. David Everett, Hamline’s associate vice president for inclusive excellence, denounced the classroom exercise “undeniably inconsiderate, disrespectful, and Islamophobic.” Days later, he announced that the instructor would be “no longer part of the Hamline community.”

Strike a Blow for Free Speech


Those people who consider themselves as the prince-electors are aiming to destroy the Elon Musk-owned Twitter unless they are able to bring Musk to heel.  Many advertisers have been pressured into stopping or suspending their advertising on the platform, and Apple is apparently thinking of banning Twitter from the App Store.

As Musk said yesterday: “This is a battle for the future of civilization. If free speech is lost even in America, tyranny is all that lies ahead.”

Did Gov. DeSantis Get the ‘Stop Woke Act’ Wrong?


When I saw that the court’s Judge Walker rejected key parts of the “Stop Woke Act”(Individual Freedom Act) in Florida, I assumed that he was just another Leftist judge attacking the Conservative legislation. But then I saw that he was responding to a lawsuit brought by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) on behalf of a faculty member, a student, and a student group. FIRE is a highly regarded organization that champions free speech. You can review their lawsuit here. FIRE stated that the act was unconstitutional in that it disallowed free speech on public college campuses.

Judge Walker’s blistering criticism referred to the work of George Orwell:

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In Thomas Pynchon’s novel Gravity’s Rainbow, one of the characters explains a ‘European-style gangster hit’, which he says consists of three shots: head, heart, and stomach. Yes, that should definitely ensure the target’s demise. It strikes me that this comprehensive approach to high-certainty murder provides a pretty good analogy for what is going on in […]

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Twixt Gentleman and Brigand


Our own Susan Quinn recently wrote an interesting post exploring the wisdom of Judge James Ho’s recent decision to disfavor Yale Law School graduates when seeking judicial clerks. In Should a Judge Use Cancel Culture to Boycott Cancel Culture?, Susan presents arguments for and against Judge Ho’s position (which echoes that of the late Judge Laurence Silberman).

Judge Ho’s position has been mischaracterized by some on both the left and right as a form of viewpoint discrimination: what the judge is doing, given this understanding, is rejecting a particularly left-leaning law school because it is particularly left-leaning. I disagree. What the judge is doing is, as I tried to make clear in my comments to Susan’s post, objecting to Yale’s institutional intolerance to diversity of thought. That’s a very different thing: the judge rejects a process that betrays our civilizational norms of open discourse and free expression. And well he should.

Despair and the Difficulties of the Enemy


I see a a lot of posts and comments from people who have concluded that the 2022 election is hopeless–that election fraud, combined with the huge Democrat funding advantage and the dominance of Democrat-advocating media, will make it impossible for any Republican candidate to win (any Republican candidate other than those who aren’t a challenge to the Democrat-desired status quo, at least).

I’m reminded of a passage in the book Infantry in Battle, written between the world wars–it contains numerous individual-experience monographs (American, French, and German) along with some rather philosophical thoughts about conclusions to be drawn from these experiences.  (The book was edited by then-colonel George C Marshall)

The Rule of the Prince-Electors


During the Middle Ages, in the time of the Holy Roman Empire, there was a small group of men known as the Prince-Electors.  They, and only they, got to choose the next Emperor.  We have something kind of similar in America today.  There is a cluster of influential and would-be-influential people who fervently believe that–while they might not get to actually select the next President–they should have the authority to decide who may and who may not be considered for the Presidential role.  These Prince-Electors include national journalists, Ivy League professors and administrators, and high-level government officials.  Their primary means of action is via the control of communications channels.

A few days ago, Jon Gabriel linked a YouTube video of a 2019 speech by Giorgia Meloni, the newly-elected Prime Minister of Italy.  For at least 12 hours, that video showed a  message: “This video has been removed for violating YouTube’s Terms of Service.”   It now has been restored.  But the fact that a video platform would take it upon themselves to censor a speech by the elected leader of a major and generally-US-friendly country betrays an astonishing level of arrogance.  Although not surprising, given the recent history, including Twitter banning of Donald Trump and the Facebook suppression of stories about the Hunter Biden laptop–and much more.

This week on Hubwonk, host Joe Selvaggi talks with Pacific Legal Foundation Senior Fellow Alison Somin about the Biden Administration’s proposed modifications to Title IX fair treatment guidelines, challenging principles of free speech and due process, and potentially chilling the culture of free debate in American universities.


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.


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: