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Category Archives: Freedom of Speech

Fake News Is Still Subject To Freedom Of Speech And Press – Daily Caller

Posted: February 25, 2017 at 3:04 pm

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Let me be very clear

I dont care if our president liberal or conservative, democratic or republican, the freedom of speech and press are two constitutional mandates we have built our country on.

If you havent heard, the Trump Administration hand-picked media outlets to join Press Secretary Sean Spicer for a gaggle in his office. Simply put, the intention of the hand selection of who can and cannot join a White House press briefing, especially in the instant, shows some blatant disregard for differing editorial slants, in part by the administration.

Trust me, I am no fan of CNN, the New York Daily News, and Buzzfeed (a few of the outlets blocked for an off-camera press gaggle). Several of those publications drop to new lows in reporting; yet, even in the ignorant distribution of misinformation (all media included, even myself), constitutional rights supersede a childish dislike of the media.

The events of today present a scenario that many didnt expect. Being one of the many to vote for Donald Trump and rest all of our future interests on his presidency, I can maybe speak on the behalf of many conservatives and libertarian types that view this as a smack in the face to document and virtues he swore to protect.

Though I will face ridicule from many members of the nationalist flights of the Republican Party, freedom of speech and press resides as one of the most important freedoms to people. Even members of the fake news media are entitled to such protections, even if they feed the masses lies.

In the First Continental Congress, in the Appeal to the Inhabitants of Quebec, many of our founders broadly characterized the freedom of the press as a very sacred right.

The last right we shall mention regards the freedom of the press. The importance of this consists, besides the advancement of truth, science, morality, and arts in general, in its diffusion of liberal sentiments on the administration of Government, its ready communication of thoughts between subjects, and its consequential promotion of union among them, whereby oppressive officers are shamed or intimidated into more honorable and just modes of conducting affairs, the Appeal proclaimed.

As I mentioned above, this definition of a free press is monumentally broad. Though it mentions the advancement of truth, I personally define this component to be truth to the perspective of the publisher of the alleged remark that embodies some truth.

This very occurrence should remind us that the United States was, and still is, a marketplace of ideas, cultures, and people.

We cannot abandon that. I do still have hope with the Administration, yet we mustnt be afraid of looking and asking for answers for the acts of our elected officials (even if we did vote for them).

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Free speech isn’t free – The Echo News

Posted: at 3:04 pm

Not everything that can be said should be said

ByMarshall Oppel | Contributor

Image provided by National Archives and Records Administration

Political correctness. Censorship. Being a decent human being. Violating our First Amendment rights.

The topic of political correctness is a fairly heated one. On the one hand, we have a group of people who want to tailor our language to avoid offending peopleseems reasonable. But on the other, we have people who dont want to be censored. These people cite our First Amendments freedom of speech; this also seems reasonable. There has to be a balance somewhere, right? I have conservative views; people should be able to live without someone controlling every aspect of their lives. As a result, Im against anyone telling me what I can and cannot say. Yet I recognize that not everything should be said. For example, look at recent comments made by the YouTube comedian Pewdiepie. For those unaware, in a recent video he paid a group to hold up a sign saying death to all Jews while singing and dancing. He did this as a joke and claims he didnt expect the group to actually do it, yet the event was still streamed to his channel.

Should he have paid the group to do this? Absolutely not. And yet he has the freedom of speech to do this. Should he have taken precautions so that the footage would be not shown if the group did what he paid them to do? Absolutely. Now he faces backlash from fans, YouTube and people whove never heard of him before this. He used to star on Disneys Maker Studios, but now theyve pulled his support. And while he has many vocal fans defending him, it seems hell learn a very expensive lesson from thisyou cant publicly say or do anything you want, not even as a joke.

Isnt that what freedom of speech is all about? No, absolutely not. Freedom of speech is the right that protects us from the government telling us what we can and cannot say. Other people likewise have the right to tell us we shouldnt say something; thats their freedom of speech.

As Christians, we fall between the main positions in this debate. On the one hand, freedom of speech is an important right to protect, for if we ever lose that, it would not be a far step to see censorship of preaching and evangelism. And yet we are also called to be kind and loving. I hate to use a massive clich, but the political correctness debate comes down to a heart issue. Why do we say what we say? If we are speaking out of love, which we should be, we wont use language that hurts someone else just because we can.

Many of us will leave the Taylor bubble in the next three months. As we enter the world, well undoubtedly face opinions that offend us. And thats a good thing. It means were in a country of freedom. But we shouldnt throw that freedom around and use it as an excuse to say whatever we want because we will still face consequences from those around us. You have every right to say something racist if you so choosebut your employer has every right to fire you for doing so, and your customers have every right to boycott you.

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Free speech isn’t free – The Echo News

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Free Speech Fireworks in Florida – National Review

Posted: February 24, 2017 at 6:10 pm

I testified yesterday before the Post-Secondary Education Subcommittee of the Florida State House on the model campus free speech legislation I co-authored with Jim Manley and Jonathan Butcher of Arizonas Goldwater Institute. After my initial presentation, fireworks followed. Although my sense is that the majority of the committee is positively inclined toward legislation designed to ensure campus free speech, a few of the Democratic representatives were more skeptical. These skeptics dominated the questioning. One skeptic in particular, Orlando Democrat Carlos Guillermo Smith, pressed me repeatedly on the need to limit freedom of speech in order to combat hate speech. If you want to see an open clash on the free speech vs. hate speech controversy, this is it.

You can find video of the hearing here. My initial presentation runs about 17 minutes, from the 35:5053:27 mark of the video. The fireworks come during the 32 minute question period, particularly (but not exclusively) during the back and forth with Rep. Smith, which begins at the start of the question period (53:30) and returns again at the 1:18:16 mark.

Also note that in my response to questioning by Democratic Representative Robert Asencio (Miami-Dade), (which begins at 1:12:22), I refer to an incident in which leftist students silence a conservative student by way of the rehearsed and coordinated tactic of clapping her down. Video of this clap-down can be found here.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He can be reached at [emailprotected]

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Milo is no free speech advocate – Rare.us

Posted: February 23, 2017 at 1:00 pm

Is Milo Yiannopoulos truly a free speech advocate? Thats the question that should be at the heart of the controversy surrounding the revocation of his keynote speakership at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), his book deal with Simon and Schuster, and his resignation from Breitbart.

This question matters because despite Milos remarks supporting pedophilia, his grassroots supporters are rallying around him. To them, he is a Stockholm Syndrome victim who suffered at the hands of a Roman Catholic priest and is being unfairly targeted by the media and political establishment. He consistently receives a free pass for his actions no matter how offensive or outrageous his comments are because he is a free speech advocate. Criticism against him is spun into being an assault on free speech. For instance, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange recently referred to Milos exclusion from CPAC as an act of censorship.

However, the record reflects that Milo is not the free speech advocate that he claims to be.

RELATED: Milos comments about pedophilia made me feel sorry for him

As an attendee of his American University talk last year, I saw a sharp contrast between his stated support for freedom of speech and his actual rhetoric. When questioned by an audience member about his passionate support for then-presidential candidate Trump, who supported the anti-free speech positions of loosening libel laws against the media and of utilizing the government to shut down parts of the Internet, Milo surprisingly defended both positions.

Echoing Trumps attacks on the fake news media, Milo assaulted the press for lying as a matter of routine. He called for a mild discouragement in the law [to exist] to prevent journalists from knowingly and deliberately lying about people to specifically curtail some of the excesses of the hard left in American media.

But he went chillingly further:

So far, in the media, the extent to which you can no longer say true things if you want to keep your newspaper or if you want to have a successful job in the media to me represents a sort of industry failure. And in those industry failures, well, thats precisely the moment where the government steps in.

For true advocates of free speech, nothing could be more dangerous than this illiberal position. As highlighted by journalist and prominent free speech advocate Flemming Rose, who was targeted by Islamic fundamentalists for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, this same control over the media was employed by authoritarian regimes to suppress dissenters and opponents. In fact, our founding fathers were so afraid of this outcome that they explicitly articulated within the First Amendment that the government could not infringe upon the freedom of the press.

Hence, it is frankly puzzling why self-described free-speech advocate Milo Yiannopoulos would use the language of industrial nationalization to call for the government to step in and dictate the functioning of the media especially against a specific political faction.

But Milo doubled down on Trumps support for government censorship of the Internet. Dismissing free speech concerns over this as not very objectionable, he called for the FCC to block off certain geographic areas through the Internet Protocol system to undermine ISIS and that we could cut off the access to large geographies in the Middle East from communicating with us and with themselves.

Regardless of the feasibility of this proposal, his support for granting government the power to limit access to the Internet like Chinas Great Firewall is a stark contrast to the open nature of the Internet promoting freedom of expression. It flies in the face of the efforts of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation to fight off censorship laws infringing on the Internet as platform for free speech.

RELATED:No, Milo Yiannopoulos is not a white nationalist, but he has spent a lot of time promoting them

These disturbingly authoritarian remarks should call into consideration Milo Yiannopoulos free speech advocate credentials that form the core of his public persona. Does he truly stand up for freedom of speech and of the press, or does he merely utilize them as cover for his views?

That is the question that conservative and libertarian students inviting Milo to speak at their campuses should be asking themselves, and that should be part of the CPAC exclusion debate. If not, just as the airing of Trumps sexual assault discourse failed to break his momentum, so too will this episode fail to challenge Milos grassroots support.

Gaurang Gupte was a Cong. Bill Archer Fellow, and is a current first-year medical student at the Washington University School of Medicine.

Gaurang Gupte | Posted on 7:47 am

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The 10 Worst Colleges For Free Speech: 2017 | The Huffington Post – Huffington Post

Posted: at 1:00 pm

There isnt a week that goes by without a campus free speech controversy reaching the headlines. Thats why its as important as ever that we at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) review the record each year and shine a spotlight on the 10 worst schools for free speech.

Since FIREs first worst of the worst list was released in 2011, the number of colleges and universities with the most restrictive speech codes has declined. However, 92 percent of American colleges still maintain speech codes that either clearly restrictor could too easily be used to restrictfree speech. Students still find themselves corralled into absurdly-named free speech zones, taxed when they invite speakers deemed controversial by administrators, or even anonymously reported on by their fellow students when their speech is subjectively perceived to be biased.

The average person muzzled on a college campus is often an everyday college student or faculty member: someone who wants to chat about politics, a student who confides in a friend about their own mental health concerns, or a group of students that simply want to discuss free speech controversies with their peers.

As always, our list is presented in no particular order, and it includes both public and private institutions. Public colleges and universities are bound by the First Amendment, while private colleges on this list, though not required by the Constitution to respect student and faculty speech rights, explicitly promise to do so.

If you believe FIRE missed a college, or if you want to nominate a college for next years list, please let us know in the comments. Most of all, if you want to challenge your own schools speech codes, please get in touch with us. FIRE is happy to work with schools to improve their speech codes. You can find more information on our website at http://www.thefire.org.

Northern Michigan University

Any list of schools that most shocked the conscience with their censorship in the past year would have to include Northern Michigan University (NMU). Until last year, NMU had a long-standing practice of prohibiting students suspected of engaging in or considering self-harm from discussing suicidal or self-destructive thoughts or actions with other students. If they did, they faced the threat of disciplinary action.

After FIRE brought this information to a national stage, causing a social media firestorm, NMU hastily distanced itself from the practice and publicly committed not to punish students for discussing thoughts of self-harm.

Unfortunately, NMU has not answered all of its students questions. NMU is currently under investigation by the Departments of Justice and Education for allegations that it threatened to disenroll a student for discussing mental illness with a friend. The school allegedly forced the student to sign a behavioral contract promising not to do so again. Is that student now free from her contract? Is every student who received a letter about discussing self-harm now free to speak out? Will NMU ever acknowledge and apologize to the countless students it hurt in the past, many of whom have spoken up to FIRE and online? Until we get answers, NMU remains on our list of worst schools for free speech.

California State University, Los Angeles

Last February, conservative author and political commentator Ben Shapiro was scheduled to speak at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) at the invitation of a student chapter of Young Americas Foundation. After students threatened to protest Shapiros speech, CSULA demanded that the students hosting the event pay the cost of security because the appearance was controversial. The students objected, but it didnt matter; CSULA President William Covino unilaterally canceled Shapiros speech, claiming he could appear at some future date if accompanied by a panel of speakers who disagree with him.

Shapiro threatened to show up and speak anyway. Hours before he was set to appear, CSULA relented. But while CSULA administrators no longer attempted to prevent Shapiros speech, some student protesters picked up where the university left off. Some students did the right thing by protesting outsideexercising a more speech response to speech they found offensive. However, other students engaged in a hecklers veto by pulling the fire alarm and attempting to prevent attendees from entering the venue.

For all this, CSULA earned a bruised reputation for its lackluster dedication to freedom of expressionand a lawsuit. Shapiro and Young Americas Foundation sued CSULA, compelling the university to change the policy that allowed it to impose a tax on controversial speech. The lawsuit remains pending.

At FIRE, weve seen universities offer a number of viewpoint-discriminatory justifications for rejecting student groups applications to become officially recognized, but few are as persistent and brazen as Fordham Universitys.

On November 17, the Fordham United Student Government (USG) Senate and Executive Board approved a prospective Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter. Dean of Students Keith Eldredge informed SJPs members that he wanted to review the groups status before it could be granted official recognition, and then chose to overrule the USG and deny SJPs recognition on December 22. Eldredge wrote that he cannot support an organization whose sole purpose is advocating political goals of a specific group, and against a specific country and that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict often leads to polarization rather than dialogue.

On January 25, FIRE and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) sent a letter to Fordham demanding the university recognize SJP and noting that its reasons for rejecting SJP fail to align with the universitys stated commitments to free expression. In its response to FIRE, Fordham doubled down on its rejection of SJP and offered a new baseless justification: that members of SJP chapters at other universities had engaged in conduct that would violate Fordhams code of conduct.

Whats more, just last week, it was reported that Fordham is retaliating against a student who organized a rally to protest the schools decision to ban SJP. Senior Sapphira Lurie has a hearing scheduled for today with Eldredgewho denied Luries request to bring counsel and will conduct the hearing despite being both the complainant and adjudicator.

Fordhams persistent refusal to live up to the promises it makes to its students earned it warnings from FIREand a place on this list.

The University of Oregons (UOs) Bias Response Team (BRT), and its response to a professors off-campus Halloween costume, earned it a spot on this years list.

UOs BRT, which responds to student complaints about offensive (yet protected) speech, found itself embroiled in public controversy last spring and then tried to hide its records from public scrutiny. Criticism arose when the BRTs annual reports surfaced, revealing that the BRT had intervened with the student newspaper because of a complaint that it gave less press coverage to trans students and students of color. In another instance, UO dispatched a case manager to dictate community standards and expectations to students who had the audacity to express anger about oppression.

When FIRE asked UO for records surrounding the complaints, UO claimed that it wouldnt be in the public interest to share the records and demanded that FIRE pay for them. Apparent suppression of protected speech, coupled with a resistance to transparency, would alone be enough to earn UO the dubious honor of inclusion on this years list. But thats not all.

Last fall, a law school professor found herself in hot water after hosting a private Halloween party at her home, attended by students and professors, where she wore blackface as part of her costume. According to the professor, the costume was intended to provoke a thoughtful discussion on racism by invoking Damon Tweedys memoir, Black Man in a White Coat.

The costume did, in fact, spark discussionmuch of it criticizing the professors judgment. Thats the proper response to offensive speech: more speech. Yet the fact that students and faculty discussed the costume was a factor UO cited in deciding it had reason to override her First Amendment right to freedom of speech and punish her. UOs move puts the cart before the horse and risks justifying punishment whenever expression motivates rigorous debate on campus.

California State University, Long Beach

File photo

This fall, California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) administrators betrayed First Amendment principles when they closed the curtain on a scheduled campus performance of the satirical play N*GGER WETB*CK CH*NK (N*W*C*).

The university canceled the September 29 performance due to its apparent opposition to the plays deliberately provocative content. N*W*C* is performed by Asian-American, Hispanic-American, and African-American actors who share personal narratives about how the construct of race shapes personal identity while also mocking stereotypes and racial slurs that perpetuate social injustice.

FIRE, the National Coalition Against Censorship, and the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund wrote a letter to CSULB urging the university to protect artistic expression. The letter argued that the CSULB community should not be denied the opportunities for engagement the play provides. The university never reversed its actions, and Michele Roberge, then-executive director of the Richard & Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center, where the play was slated to be performed, resigned to protest the censorship.

CSULB has a red light rating for free speech and a troubled history with protecting students civil liberties. Last fall, it ended a year-long moratorium on recognizing new student groups that threatened students ability to associate and organize, so it wasnt hard to find a place for CSULB on this years list.

Last May, Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust and Dean Rakesh Khurana announced their plan to blacklist members of off-campus single-gender organizations, including fraternities, sororities, and Harvard-specific final clubs. Students determined to be members of these organizations would be banned from leadership positions on sports teams and official student organizations, and barred from receiving recommendations from the Deans Office for Rhodes and Marshall scholarships.

While not a straightforward free speech violation, Harvards actions so severely violate the correlated right to freedom of association that the university deserves inclusion on this list.

Organizations including FIRE and hundreds of students at Harvard pushed back against Harvards flagrant disregard for freedom of association. The backlash prompted the administration to announce that at least one favored single-gender club would be allowed to operate as long as it pretended it was co-ed. Even more troubling was the discovery that President Faust was willing to characterize freedom of association as primarily a defense for racists, apparently not realizing it was an indispensable tool for civil rights activism that protected the NAACP and other civil rights advocates on more than one occasion.

Earlier this year came news that the policy may be revised or replaced by a new committee made up of faculty, students, and administrators. FIRE strongly urges this new panel to shelve the policy altogether, lest Harvard wind up violating freedom of association for a third time.

Harvard last appeared on FIREs worst schools for free speech list in 2012. It still maintains FIREs worst, red light rating for free speech.

University of South Carolina

What lesson did students at the University of South Carolina (USC) learn in 2016? Even when you do everything you can to avoid getting in trouble for potentially controversial speech on campus, trouble may still find you.

Last February, USC student Ross Abbott and the campus chapters of Young Americans for Liberty and the College Libertarians filed a First Amendment lawsuit with FIREs assistance after Abbott was investigated for a free speech event for which the groups received prior approval.

In late 2015, the groups planned an event to draw attention to threats to free speech on campus. The event involved poster displays featuring examples of campus censorship across the country. Given that some of their posters included provocative words and symbols, the groups sought and obtained approval for the event ahead of time from USCs director of campus life.

Despite these precautions, Abbott received a Notice of Charges the day after the event, demanding that he meet with the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs to respond to student complaints of discrimination. Several weeks after their meeting, the office dropped its investigation, but it provided no clarification on USCs treatment of protected speech.

Abbott and the groups now seek that clarification through their lawsuit, challenging not only Abbotts investigation, but also USCs requirements that expressive activity be pre-approved and limited to small, designated free speech zones on campus. The ongoing lawsuit is part of FIREs Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project.

Last February, Williams President Adam Falk took what even he described as an extraordinary step when he unilaterally disinvited author and conservative commentator John Derbyshire, a polarizing figure for his writings on race realism, from the Massachusetts liberal arts college.

It didnt seem to matter to President Falk that Derbyshire had been invited by the student organizers of a speaker series called Uncomfortable Learning, which seeks to purposely confront controversial and divisive issues in its programming. Nor did it matter that the groups president, Zach Wood, is African-American, and that Derbyshire had been invited precisely so his writings and comments on race could be debated.

While nonetheless making paeans to Williams commitments to free expression, Falk asserted that [t]heres a line somewhere and Derbyshire, in my opinion, is on the other side of it. In a single, paternalistic stroke, President Falk declared that there were certain speakers and viewpoints that Williams students werent to engage, and he showed the lengths Williams would go to to keep them off campus. Falk has done his students a serious disserviceand earned Williams a place on this years list.

Making its second appearance in as many years on FIREs worst list is Georgetown University. As the presidential primary season got underway, Georgetown University Law Center informed a group of Bernie Sanders supporters that campus was no place for talking to fellow students about their chosen candidate. The students were informed that, because Georgetown is a tax-exempt institution, the law school could not allow any campaigning or partisan political speech on campus.

FIRE wrote to Georgetown Law last February, asking it to revisit its policy on student political speech. Every campaign season, we see examples of both public and private colleges erroneously suppressing student political speech because they believe it will jeopardize their federal tax-exempt status. Indeed, Georgetown Law student and Bernie supporter Alexander Atkins and a FIRE staffer were invited to speak on the issue at a hearing before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight. Georgetown sent a letter to the Subcommittee pledging to revisit the law schools policy.

In March, Georgetown Law released a revised policy but failed to answer many questions about permissible partisan student speech on campus. In fact, the group of Bernie supporters continued to face resistance and confusion from the law school for the entire election season.

This is not the first time that Georgetown played politics with speech on campus. The university has for years repeatedly violated its own policies on free speech and expression to the detriment of the student organization H*yas for Choice, the most recent example occurring in September.

While few free speech controversies truly surprise FIRE anymore, its fairly uncommon for a college or university to put four notches in its censorship belt in a matter of months. But if theres any school that could do it, it would be DePaul University.

In April, after students chalked messages in support of Donald Trumps presidential campaign, DePaul warned all students that they were not allowed to chalk partisan messages on campus due to the universitys tax-exempt statusa justification that FIRE has refuted on several occasions.

A month later, when the College Republicans invited controversial speaker Milo Yiannopoulos to campus, DePaul attempted to obstruct the event by limiting Yiannopoulos speaking time to 1520 minutes and charging the students $1,000 for extra security. When students stormed the stage and disrupted the event, the security guards refused to intervene. When the College Republicans sought to re-invite Yiannopoulos, DePaul banned them from doing so.

But DePaul was not done infringing on its students rights. In July, DePaul also banned the DePaul Young Americans for Freedom chapter from inviting conservative journalist Ben Shapiro to speak on campus.

FIRE wrote to DePaul about all of these incidents, urging it to adhere to its promises of free expression for students. Unfortunately, DePauls response did little besides deflect and blithely repeat its illusory commitment to working with students to invite speakers from across the ideological spectrum.

One might suspect that DePaul would think twice about resorting to the same censorship tactics again. However, only eight days after FIREs first letter, the university required the DePaul Socialists student organization pay hundreds of dollars for security for an informational meeting about the group, because the event could be potentially controversial.

These multiple acts of censorship, along with DePauls sordid prior history of restricting speech, led FIRE to ask whether DePaul University is the worst school for free speech in the United States. So it should be no surprise to anyone that DePaul finds itself on this years list of worst offenders.

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The limits of promoting ‘free speech’ – Albuquerque Journal

Posted: at 1:00 pm

………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ……….

A quick recap for those who have not been following this sordid tale: MILO, as hes best known (all-caps his own), is an Internet personality and now-former Breitbart News senior editor best known for his glibly offensive remarks about minority groups, his hatred of political correctness and his support of Donald Trump.

Many on the right hailed Milo as a much-needed iconoclast, one of the few brave enough to defend free speech, speak uncomfortable truths and push back against the simpering social justice warriors of the left. After his charmingly titled Dangerous Faggot speaking tour was met with protests at college campuses, including some most notably at the University of California at Berkeley this month that turned violent, he was invited to speak at this years Conservative Political Action Conference.

This weekend, however, video emerged of Milo joking about pedophilia and molestation. In short order he was disinvited from CPAC, his book deal was canceled, and he resigned from Breitbart.

It is interesting to consider that while the right championed his racist, misogynist invective as a much-needed tonic for our stifled public discourse, discussions of child sex abuse were not seen the same way. The defense of free expression seemed to go only so far as be free to insult those we already disagree with, but please, no further than that. For all the invocations of the First Amendment, there is apparently still a line. Milo crossed it, the end, goodbye. I, for one, do not look forward to his apology tour and inevitable transformation.

Yet the fact that a line exists at all brings to light a point often overlooked when free speech is bandied about as a hallowed but somehow threatened ideal. Yes, speech is free, but not free from dissent. You can say what you like, but no one has to listen to you. The fact that you have spoken something controversial in public does not make your provocation correct or worthy of acclaim.

The First Amendment guarantees that Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech. That is all. It does not say that private companies such as Facebook must promote all kinds of content equally, or that Simon & Schuster is obliged to hand out book contracts to everyone who wants one. It should not be stretched to imply that institutions must provide a platform for every opinion that comes their way. And while the First Amendment often makes it possible for individuals to challenge the dominant discourse, it gives them no more help than that.

Some myself included have argued that the best remedy for hateful speech is more speech, not less. But it is worth pointing out that more speech can take a number of forms. It could be the addition of other, opposing speakers to a lineup featuring a contentious guest. It could be a petition asking for the guest to be disinvited. It could be protesters telling said speaker to shut up and get off of their campus, or even calling the speaker a racist or Nazi. Some of these methods are far more productive than others, and some are less likely to promote useful discourse. But free speech also means that such responses must be allowed to occur and may well bring about consequences that the original speaker might not enjoy.

Positive freedom relies on prudence. If the things you say provoke an intense and unpleasant reaction, it may be worth wondering whether your critics have a point. And if youre in favor of free speech when it comes to some topics but not others, perhaps you should investigate why your limits lie where they do.

The Milo debacle helpfully illustrates the limitations of invoking free speech to cast a benevolent glow on any and every injudicious statement, and the bind created when any opposition is cast as unjust, illiberal silencing. It may finally be time to stop flogging the First Amendment as some sort of get-out-of-jail-free card for foolish talk. Were wonderfully free to say whatever we want to. But that doesnt mean we should.

Emba edits The Posts In Theory blog.

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Hate speech abuses free speech rights – The Daily Evergreen

Posted: at 1:00 pm

Counter-protesters debate members of the College Republicans on Oct. 19at the Trump Wall on the Glenn Terrell Friendship Mall.

American liberties are founded on the crucial right to free speech. As a society, our members can thrive in the knowledge that we can freely express our opinions without government persecution.

Since all citizens enjoy the right to free speech, it is only fair that we respect each others views. You may not agree with what someone says or believes, but being respectful of their opinions is key to cordial conversation.

Just like our parents taught us treat others the way you would like to be treated.

Weve reached a time where political divisiveness has attained extreme levels. It is difficult to go an entire day without hearing or seeing anything about opposing political parties.

With conflict comes inflammatory rhetoric. This is where the fundamental right to freedom of speech is used as a shield for hate speech. There is a deeply ingrained line between expressing ones opinion and conveying vile judgments.

Hate speech is any speech that offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits, according to the American Bar Association.

A political opinion can only be valid if it’s allowed to be challenged, President of the WSU Young Democrats Gavin Pielow said in an email. Hate speech can be challenged, and its claimed merit can be disproved.

When ones political views align with politicians who condone, support and even spew hate speech, their views do not have to be respected; in fact, these views do not even have to be tolerated.

Why respect someone elses political opinion when their opinion disrespects a persons existence?

There is a common argument on the Republican side that hateful rhetoric must be respected on the basis of free speech and autonomy of ones political views.

On Oct. 19, a GoFundMe for a Trump wall built by the WSU College Republicans was set up. The club cited free speech as a defense to construct this symbolic wall on the Glenn Terrell Mall.

While construction of the wall was legal, the act in and of itself encourages hateful politics.

During a campaign speech in June 2015, Trump stated that Mexico is not sending their best people.

They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us, he said. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.

These comments target an entire ethnic group, and paint them in a negative light. Trump merely disguised his racist opinions with immigration policies.

It’s unfortunate but evident that intolerant social views can play a role in a person’s political views, Pielow wrote.

Respect for freedom of speech is paramount to American liberty. But political views that tout violence and intolerance do not deserve acknowledgment of merit, on the basis that these views contain elements of hate speech.

Geana Javier is a sophomore economics major from Seattle. She can be contacted at 335-2290 or byopinion@dailyevergreen.com. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of The Office of Student Media.

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Hate speech abuses free speech rights – The Daily Evergreen

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Report: UMN’s bias response team poses little concern for free speech – Minnesota Daily

Posted: February 22, 2017 at 3:58 am

The University of Minnesotas bias response team stands out for its free speech and academic protections, a survey of over 200 similar teams across the country found.

The report, published this month by the nonpartisan, nonprofit group Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, compared schools based on who reviews reports, what constitutes bias and whether the team agrees tension exists between bias reports and free speech.

The Universitys Bias Response and Referral Network fared better than many schools surveyed.

BRRN members say this is a result of concerted efforts to foster open conversation on campus during its formation last year. For the first nine months following its January 2016 launch, BRRN received about 25 reports.

The University did not immediately respond to a request for more recent data.

FIRE conducted the survey with the stance that tension between protecting free speech and addressing bias is unavoidable. About half of the 232 teams surveyed mention free speech on their websites or in their policies, the report found.

The Universitys BRRN page states the team is committed to safeguarding the free expression rights of all University members and considers whether an incident has implications for free speech or academic freedom when a report is made.

Additionally, the studys lead author, Adam Steinbaugh, said the Universitys definition of what constitutes a bias incident is one of the best hes seen.

Acts motivated by 14 specific characteristics, like race, disability and sexual orientation, are included in the Universitys definition. Definitions of bias at other schools, like the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and Dartmouth College, encompass political and social views, which could invite administrative and police surveillance of political activity, the report says.

Including strong free speech protections in the teams procedures was an easy decision, said Tina Marisam, University Title IX coordinator, Office for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action director and BRRN member. She said the most effective response to a bias incident is often open conversation about its harmful effects.

Working to end bias, in our view, requires free speech and creating more opportunities for free speech, Marisam said.

The best bias response teams, Steinbaugh said, are clear about their limitations in order to avoid a chilling effect on free speech. In addition, they are not responsible for investigating reports or punishing students.

If theyre just trying to gather information about whats going on on campus, that doesnt have as much of a threat to freedom of speech as investigating people [does], he said.

To avoid such a chilling effect, the Universitys BRRN doesnt have any investigatory or disciplinary role, said BRRN member Karen Miksch. The team instead tracks local and national trends in bias reports and serves as a referral network to direct reporters to the appropriate resources, she said.

Forty-two percent of schools surveyed include law enforcement on their response teams, the survey said.

While police should investigate bias cases involving criminal conduct, it otherwise could lead to regulation of political activity and other speech, Steinbaugh said.

The Universitys group is among those that dont include law enforcement.

If members suspect an incident might require a police response, they forward the report to the University of Minnesota Police Department, according to the BRRN webpage.

In order to protect academic freedom, teams should include faculty, Steinbaugh said. The survey found that only 27 percent of teams do.

[If] they dont have faculty members on the team, that makes it less likely that the team is going to be able to say, Hey, this is an issue of academic freedom, Steinbaugh said.

Miksch is one of two faculty members on the Universitys BRRN. She was sought out for it because of her research background in academic freedom, she said.

She is also a member of the University Senates Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee.

This spring, Miksch will host free speech training for BRRN members. Only one school out of those surveyed Louisiana State University trains its members in First Amendment concerns.

At the training, BRRN members will consider potential bias scenarios and discuss how to foster open dialogue on campus, Miksch said.

The University is a place where people can have these kinds of debates and conversations but doesnt put up with what would be illegal or criminal, she said.

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Report: UMN’s bias response team poses little concern for free speech – Minnesota Daily

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Robesonian | Left frowns on free speech – The Robesonian

Posted: at 3:58 am

Citizens United, or Citizens United v. FEC, is a 2010 case in which the Supreme Court struck down limits to independent political expenditures on First Amendment freedom of speech grounds. The ruling didnt affect lobbying activities and direct contributions to political parties and candidates that continue to be subject to regulation. It allowed individuals, corporations, and labor unions to spend what they wanted to enter the public debate about politics and policy that inevitably surrounds elections and their campaigns. It gave rise to what has become a household term super PAC.

The decision led to a torrent of criticism, mainly from the left. The essence was Citizens United enhanced political inequality by amplifying the voices of corporations and the rich. President Obama said at the time this ruling strikes at the heart of democracy. Indeed, the amount of such independent spending skyrocketed outside group expenditures associated with presidential elections tripled from 2008 to 2012 much of it advocating conservative-type policies and candidates. The presidential election saw an interesting decline, a Trump effect, if you will.

The First Amendment says nothing about equal speech, just that you cant prohibit it. The Constitution surely places a larger burden on the opponents of the decision than its supporters. But lets assume Citizens United poses a challenge to our democracy. Certain people and groups, by dint of their wealth, can make greater contributions to public debate than others. They join what John Adams called a natural aristocracy, a class of people distinguished by their ability to influence others votes a class already populated by educators and media, which are dominated by the left.

But its critical to remember the behavior permitted by Citizens United like other forms of salutary free speech takes the form of persuasion, not coercion. It allows individuals to make a case to large numbers of people. Theres no cost to rejecting the appeal. Surely political action designed to compel others to take a public position on a matter of policy or cast a vote for a particular candidate is considerably more harmful. Democracies should embrace advocacy but reject force.

Yet force is everywhere in politics today, much of it designed to exert economic pressure. Liberals across the country have organized efforts to make North Carolinians who support House Bill 2 change their views or face economic harm. Businesses connected with Trump are threatened if they dont disassociate from his administration. Those who ran Super Bowl ads implicitly critical of his agenda face reprisals from the other side. The aim is to punish and constrain freedom. Economic and political liberties are inextricable. As Milton Friedman noted, free commerce allows humans to enjoy social and financial gains from exchange without letting political differences get in the way. Using economics as a political tool leads us down the road to authoritarianism.

Groups use intimidation in ways other than economic boycotts. The ostensible goal of the new left-wing anti-Trump Indivisible movement is to execute, like the Tea Party before it, a full-court press on members of Congress. But its greatest wish is to embarrass and harass non-conforming citizens who we perhaps might call deplorables into silence.

The target isnt always people with whom they disagree. Such groups also attack their own. Those who reject orthodoxy become pariahs. Pro-life women were barred from the marches immediately following the Trump inauguration because the organizers, as self-proclaimed definers of female identity, believed they werent woman enough.

Alexis de Tocqueville warned Americans of such tyranny nearly 200 years ago. He saw a tendency to evangelize and bully. All of this seems fresh and particularly intense again. We are deeply divided, in a kind of political war. For many who profess to embrace free speech, theres no longer room for broad and reasoned debate, for independence of thought.

Although they constitute a naked effort to compel subjects to behave in a particular way, these kinds of politics are surely protected under the Constitution. Besides, in practice, how would effective regulation work? The left therefore turns gleefully to advocacy and the ability of its opponents to make their case something conservatives must do directly because the media, education establishment, and other privileged citizens with state-funded or protected megaphones wont. Citizens United facilitates broad public discussion of parties, candidates, and policies. But in the logic of the new lefts morality, its more harmful than efforts to force Americans how to think and act.

http://robesonian.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/web1_andy-taylor-1.jpg

Andy Taylor is a professor of political science at the School of International and Public Affairs at N.C. State University. He doesnt speak for the university.

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The limits of free speech (when you have 50 million YouTube subscribers) – Polygon

Posted: February 20, 2017 at 7:03 pm

There is an increasing amount of noise surrounding freedom of speech, fake news, and everyones right to be heard. This has particular bearing on the gaming community, where the term freedom of speech is often used incorrectly.

On the other hand, online personalities are often playing a role in game marketing, and issues with GamerGate and other hate groups latching onto gaming means that games, studios and publishers are confronted with the task of moderating community and forum posts and interactions while being told they are censoring others. Hence, depriving someone of their right to free speech.

As an entertainment attorney with over seven years of experience in a practice dedicated exclusively to gaming culture and industry, this has been an ongoing cause for concern. Its an issue my clients face daily.

Legally, theres no argument to be had. Let me explain why.

Felix Kjellberg, aka PewDiePie, blamed the press immediately after apologizing for his bad judgement, which brings up some interesting legal points about his situation.

He seemed to be operating under the assumption that the Wall Street Journal and mainstream media intentionally destroyed his business relationships. However, based on his own explanation, its more than likely he broke his contract under any number of contract theories, as well examine below.

This was my first notice of PewDiePie, so Im not bringing any baggage into this debate. I dont like him or dislike him. I just know hes being widely discussed, and Im familiar with the legal aspects of these situations.

His departure from Google and Disney seems like a no-brainer to anyone with a basic understanding of entertainment contracts. His first mistake likely came from his presumption that either Google or Disney have a sense of humor, or value him for his comedic chops.

Companies typically wont support you when doing so will harm their brand or otherwise expose them to liability

The contracts he signed with Google (through YouTube) and Disney (through Maker Studios) should have made it apparent that they do not. Any tolerance on their part would be based on financial interest, not out of any respect for his freedom of expression or his budding career as a rookie comedian. That is not the business they are in, as evidenced by how quickly they dropped him when his humor became a liability.

Companies typically wont support you when doing so will harm their brand or otherwise expose them to liability. Thats why YouTube has a code of conduct, and why most contracts for endorsement include rather robust non-disparagement/no disparaging effect clauses. Disney includes this in its terms of use:

You may not submit or upload User Generated Content that is defamatory, harassing, threatening, bigoted, hateful, violent, vulgar, obscene, pornographic, or otherwise offensive or that harms or can reasonably be expected to harm any person or entity, whether or not such material is protected by law.

Or, if youd like a more direct example from one of my own agreements:

Influencer may not: [.] engage in conduct or a pattern of behavior that may: (i) diminish Influencers reputation as a personality in the gaming community; or (ii) as a result of [Companys] association with Influencer, harm [Companys] reputation.

Typically a non-disparagement clause wont act alone to limit influencer conduct in an agreement. Some agreements will include strong moral clauses, broad warranties and representations, and at will termination as additional means of controlling the influencer or providing backers a buffer if the Influencers conduct creates a problem.

For example, a moral provision may prohibit an influencer from engaging in behavior in his or her private life that may amount to a scandal, while almost any reps and warranties provision will include a proviso prohibiting content that is defamatory or otherwise subject to legal action. The goal is to make sure, if you get into a scandal, you can be cast off quickly and with little legal repercussion.

In the interest of fairness, it is possible that the relevance of such provisions werent made clear to Kjellberg. In an effort to court lucrative talent, backers may treat such verbiage as boilerplate until and unless something triggers it. Ive heard they said we dont need to worry about that part, from more than a few clients.

This doesnt absolve responsibility on the part of the talent. You should read and treat as enforceable anything you want to sign. If youre not sure, consult an attorney and save yourself trouble down the road. However, its generally common sense that companies like Google and Disney are in this for two main reasons: it helps their bottom line, and its good for brand building.

When an influencer under contract does something that harms that brand, that influencer is materially breaching their contract. That means termination.

Its possible that the relationship can still be repaired. However, he broke the rule any competent attorney would advise in a matter concerning an open dispute: the less you say, the better. An eight minute diatribe placing blame on third parties and treating your business partners as complicit in the conspiracy against you probably isnt going to help smooth this out.

Thus my surprise when Kjellberg admitted that his content was offensive and he crossed the line, that he exhibited poor judgment and that his amateurish attempt at comedy was a failure. He effectively admitted to breaching his contracts with Disney and Google, and then immediately sought to blame the press.

The context for his joke, and whether mainstream media took it out of context, never really had anything to do with it. Its reasonable for companies like Disney and Google to consider mainstream media as the litmus test for what is considered offensive; their respective brands cater to a far broader demographic than PewDiePies followers, after all.

Welcome to the wonderful world of entertainment, Felix. Youve joined an elite club of performers, comedians and artists who crossed the line. No one is entitled to a platform, and your platform is a privilege that you will lose if you breach the terms under which that platform operates. In all likelihood you broke your contract. You even explained how you broke that contract in a video. Its irrational to conclude that a third party is responsible for the failure of your contract.

More alarming is the response by supporters, or rather, the response against detractors. The idea that companies or institutions are infringing on someones freedom of speech is commonly expressed, often in very strong language. When Twitter banned Milo Yiannopolous, we heard the same refrain. Kjellberg himself has already confirmed that a subset of his fan base consists of white supremacists. As many of us have witnessed, that particular subset is known to be more vocal about a perceived injustice than your average netizen.

Let me go ahead and get this out of the way:

A private individuals right to tell you to shut up, and a companys right to censor your offensive content, are both protected by the first amendment.

If a client of mine terminates a players subscription because they violated a games code of conduct by spamming a chat channel with anti-Semitic rhetoric, they are well within their contractual rights to terminate that subscription. Your participation on a platform like Twitter, YouTube or one of the excellent games offered by my clients, however, is not. That is strictly governed by the Terms of Service or EULA you agree to when you sign up.

If you are an Influencer, your continued support from your backers is contingent on your compliance with whatever non-disparagement language youve agreed to. Almost every platform available to you is offered by a private entity. Surprise! Welcome to Capitalism!

The first amendment isnt prohibitive against society at large; it protects society from government action. This typically shouldnt be a point of confusion, as the text itself is clear and unequivocal:

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; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The context of free speech, in roughly every territory where free speech exists, is uniformly a limitation on government power to suppress that right. Your personal feelings about censorship notwithstanding (or mine, for that matter), your only recourse against censorship on a platform provided by a private company is to not use that platform. There is no legal recourse. In fact, if there were, that really would violate the First Amendment. Clearly no one wants that.

When someone decries censorship and claims free speech, they generally are not talking about the right to say what they want. They are talking about the right to say what they want wherever they want to share it, and that is a distinction that crosses the line between fundamental human right and moral rationalization.

No one is morally obligated to listen to another persons opinion. No one should feel morally obligated to offer a platform for someones message when they consider that message offensive. Freedom of speech does not place one persons rights above another persons right, simply because the other provides the platform. That rationale subverts the fundamental right to freedom of speech generally.

We like to see the Internet as an open platform for the free exchange of ideas. Many of the companies who make the Internet possible, and they are each and every one private corporations, do their best to make that a reality.

But as we begin to recognize the risks associated with that free exchange, companies must take measures to safeguard the privacy and happiness of their consumers. This necessarily means censoring the content shared online. We are comfortable with censorship intended to protect us (e.g., prohibitions against sharing your personally identifiable information, passwords, etc. online), but we are less comfortable with censorship designed to protect others (e.g., codes of conduct).

The bottom line is that when you engage in free speech online, you typically do so as a consumer of the platform you are using. Normally you wont have the opportunity to negotiate the contracts you are bound to (whether it be a ToS or EULA) when you use those services.

Even the most successful influencers, Kjellberg included, are bound by provisions that limit their behavior. Ironically, they are often subject to greater restrictions because of their influence on the brand. The reality is that your right to free speech may directly conflict with the agreement youve entered, and engaging in some kinds of speech will almost certainly cost you a contract.

Mona Ibrahim is a Senior Associate at Interactive Entertainment Law Group. She is an avid gamer and has dedicated her career to counseling the video game industry and indie development community.

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The limits of free speech (when you have 50 million YouTube subscribers) – Polygon

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