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What Kent State Teaches Us About Free Speech

in First Amendment, Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

What Kent State Teaches Us About Free Speech

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

U.S. senators focused on free speech on college campuses on Tuesday as a panel questioned students, academics, and lawyers after high-profile speeches were canceled on campuses around the country this past year.

Kent State

Those students and academics questioned on the panel insisted the “golden rule” is for the speech to go on as long as violence can be prevented. They dismissed the idea of intolerance.

Eugene Volokh, a professor at the UCLA School of Law, said that a “heckler’s veto” should not be allowed.

“I think the answer is to make sure they don’t create a disturbance and to threaten them with punishment, meaningful punishment if they do create a disturbance,” Volokh said. “If thugs learn that all they need to do in order to suppress speech is to threaten violence, then there will be more such threats.”

But Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said that universities can’t always deal with the fallout when protestors respond to a speaker they oppose. She said the biggest threat of violence often comes from people who don’t attend the university and that colleges don’t always have the resources to deal with those types of situations.

“You don’t think we learned a lesson at Kent State way back when?” Feinstein said at one point.

In 1970, National Guardsmen opened fire on unarmed protesters of the Vietnam War at Kent State University in Ohio. Four students died and nine others were wounded.

Police charged that among the rioters they had spotted two militants just released from jail after serving six months on violent charges. The students denied this.

During these times on campuses across the country, it is imperative that elected officials and police understand the First Amendment in its entirety before any action is taken in the name of security. It’s also ridiculous to think that the killings of those students would have been prevented if the government hadn’t allowed the protests in the first place.

The First Amendment states:

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.

Therefore, students are within their rights to peacefully protest or demonstrate. If, and only if, protests become violent is it the role of the government to intervene.

Free speech means that Americans have the undeniable right to say, write, publish, and think whatever they want. It also means that we have the right to protest any establishment we so choose, even if it is our university or government.

The events that surrounded the shootings at Kent State should teach us that no matter how controversial the topic, we are within our rights to publicly display our disagreement as long as it is done without violence.

“Hate Speech” Does Not Exist – Speech Is Either Free Or Censored

in Liberator Online by Erik Andresen Comments are off

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Former Vermont Governor and DNC Chairman Howard Dean recently surfaced with the following tweet: “Hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment.” The comment was aimed specifically at Ann Coulter, Firebrand of the Right. Coulter had agreed to give a talk at UC Berkeley on April 27, but the university administration recently canceled it.

Speech Berkeley has seen street violence between “Antifa” (anti-fascist) groups and Trump supporters twice this year, and in February people attending a talk by Milo Yiannopoulos were attacked by protesters. According to the administration, Coulter’s safety could not be guaranteed. The administration has since offered to host her on May 2, but Coulter has already announced that she plans to show up anyway on April 27.

I suspect many libertarians are not surprised to hear that some cowardly administrators can’t control the locals. Many universities have poor track records of handling speakers presenting minority views.  But Dean should know better. If the First Amendment does not protect unpopular opinions, why even have it? And it feels different coming from a former governor. It is more than empty virtue-signaling coming from someone who has held elected office.

And while we can commend Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders for their support of free speech, Howard Dean is not alone. His ideological contemporaries are quite open about working toward the restriction of speech on any topic they consider to be off-limits. There is a reason the term “hate speech” has worked its way into our vernacular, yet it does not exist as a legal concept in the United States (with the arguable exception of a number of United Nations resolutions). So far, the First Amendment has acted as a bulwark.

But the term gains traction; we must resist it.  Labeling something “hate speech” is more frequent than ever: applied to religious and cultural considerations, personal pronouns, bathrooms, and anything else loosely grouped under the umbrella of “social justice.” Nor is this limited to college campuses.

In this new world, CEOs are fired for political donations (Brenden Eich, co-founder of Mozilla), mom and pop businesses are targeted for their religious beliefs, and controversial speakers are an excuse to smash private property and attack individuals. Even if we don’t like that world, that’s the world we live in.

We libertarians would prefer to disengage from such conversations. We want to be above this sort of thing, and we want to live and let live. But to shy away on this front is to submit. Whether our personal values align more with conservatives or liberals, libertarians should loudly advocate for free speech, even on behalf of someone like Coulter. And we should never accept, on any pretense, legal restrictions on what may and may not be said in public.

 

Under Gov’t Pressure, Facebook & Others Plan to Censor ‘Terrorist’ Content

in First Amendment, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Under Gov’t Pressure, Facebook & Others Plan to Censor ‘Terrorist’ Content

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

As the United States remains entangled in a series of long-lasting wars abroad, people have given in to fear.

Recently, a poll showed that nearly half of Americans seem to believe that torture can be “useful,” a trend that has been going on ever since the United States invasion of Iraq took place.

SmartphoneWith the constant exposure to war talk, Americans become fearful for their lives and security. The obvious result is that, as more individuals become fearful, they also become more likely to support anything the government will tell them to keep them safe.

One of the actions often embraced by government agencies is censorship, even if officials never use this word to describe their actions.

But with the war on terror abroad being gradually expanded to cover every aspect of the American life experience, going as far as hurting freedom of speech across the board, other groups of Americans are being directly impacted. And, as a result, organizations like Facebook, YouTube, Microsoft, and Twitter are being increasingly pressured to “do something” about the “terrorist threat.” What we’re now seeing is that, instead of allowing these companies to set their own rules, bureaucrats are now making sure social media websites are blocking content deemed dangerous.

As a result of peer pressure, these companies are combining forces to “curb the spread of terrorist content online.” And now, they are exchanging data on their users with one another in order to identify “violent terrorist imagery or terrorist recruitment videos or images” so they can be removed from their forums.

According to Tech Dirt, this type of approach appears modeled on arrangements used to track child pornography. But while child pornography is illegal, “terrorist content” is an abstract idea that hasn’t been outlawed — yet.

Instead of acting out of a legal concern, these organizations are making what Tech Dirt calls “a judgement call.”
Once these groups start labeling certain types of content as bad, “false positive designations” will begin flowing across the platforms.
Because mistakes will be made, good people posting content deemed as dangerous will be blocked, leading to a war on information that Tech Dirt calls valuable and necessary.

While private organizations are free to set up their own rules, this decision appears to have stemmed from government pressure. As the line that divides private organizations and government policy remains blurred due to the crony capitalist nature of our government, it’s easy to see why these companies have had a hard time ignoring government pressure.

Instead of censoring or pushing organizations to censor their own users, we should be a loud voice of reason, urging organizations to, instead, allow this type of content to roam freely so that the majority of online users are able to take part in one of the most effective anti-terrorism actions there is: Mockery.

After all, when we are aware of where the problem is coming from, we can act in a decentralized fashion, attacking on different fronts and doing what centralized power often fails to do: Bring awareness to a serious problem and find its solution.

College Kids Don’t Understand the First Amendment, Hate It Anyway

in First Amendment, Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

College Kids Don’t Understand the First Amendment, Hate It Anyway

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Last spring, I wrote about college students hating free speech. At the time, I didn’t have a good answer to explain why 22 percent of college students believe that “colleges should prohibit biased or offensive speech in the furtherance of a positive learning environment.” Students are done a disservice when administrators promote “safe spaces” and systems to report microaggressions for situations where students face speech they don’t like or can’t handle.

the_worst_thing_about_censorship-4ea871c-introBut now, I think that that 22% of American students just don’t understand the freedoms protected by the First Amendment – and they hate it because it’s the cool thing to do.

If you haven’t seen the news coverage, countless protests have taken place around the country that are, essentially, against free speech. The irony abounds.

Most recently, Jake Goldberg, a Tufts University sophomore, proposing a sweeping free speech resolution to the campus community, was viciously attacked and maligned on social media by peers who suggest he’s only lobbying for free speech so he can be free to say racist and oppressive things. This is often the tactic taken by those looking to limit freedom. They take the most vile example to become the argument that those advocating for freedom are fighting for.

Tufts University has some of the most restrictive free speech policies in the country, and Goldberg’s resolution calls for an end to campus anti-free speech rules. These rules include vague administrative provisos that crack down on the “use of nicknames,” “hurtful words,” “bias-fueled jokes,” “comments on an individual’s body or appearance,” “innuendos of a sexual nature,” and “gender bias.”

Goldberg created the resolution on behalf of a new organization he co-created called Students Advocating for Students. But many students reacted to the resolution in fits of online rage. Using social media and campus email, students called him every NSFW/K name imaginable.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, ensuring that there is no prohibition on the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.

How can these students not understand the concept of free speech, and how it’s protected by the First Amendment, when they immediately “peacefully assemble,” or protest, when they’re met with ideas that they don’t like?

In an age where censorship is running rampant on college campuses, students need to realize that it’s their freedom that is at stake – the freedom to say, write and think what they want.

Kim Kardashian’s New Lawsuit Teaches Us Something About Free Speech

in First Amendment, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

Kim Kardashian’s New Lawsuit Teaches Us Something About Free Speech

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Whenever celebrities are hit with heavy criticism over things they have said, libertarians often come to their rescue, explaining that criticizing the content of their words is perfectly acceptable, but effectively lobbying to have said celebrity censored is something else entirely.

KimReality TV star Kim Kardashian West has been the main character in many of these cases, having been on the receiving end of government scrutiny over her public endorsements of drugs in the past.

But as the star experiments with some bad publicity of her own, her attitude begins to shift.

According to CBS, Kardashian is filing a lawsuit against an online media outlet that has allegedly claimed the reality star may have not spoken the entire truth after being attacked in Paris.

The lawsuit was filed in a Manhattan federal court, and it names MediaTakeOut.com as the party to blame for wrongly portraying the TV star as a liar and a thief.

According to the French police, armed robbers made their way into the star’s private residence on October 3rd, stealing $10 million worth of jewelry.

Despite the report she filed for libel, this isn’t the first time Kardashian is the target of negative and even infamous comments online, neither is it the first time she files a lawsuit over victimless “crimes.” Regardless of the rationale behind this lawsuit, it’s important to note that, in a free market of news — just like in a free market of ideas — stories compete for attention and “hits,” especially if the medium is publishing stories online. With the expansion of the Internet news industry, bad stories — or publications that become known for endorsing and promoting bad journalism — are buried in negative reviews, giving competitors even more incentives to fill the void.

Instead of publicly lobbying to censor negative or inaccurate comments, publicly shaming such institutions is a much more effective way of getting the word out. Especially if the goal is to be taken seriously.

Whether or not you agree with the reality TV star’s actions, it’s important to understand that, when speech is censored, the natural result is the establishment of a black market of ideas. Once those with vile and often aggressive ideas are pushed underground, it’s harder to spot them. And, as a result, those who defend censorship end up becoming the victims of the very policy they embrace.

Yet again, good intentions are not enough. And suing everyone with something negative to say isn’t the best way out. Instead, leave it to the free market of ideas, where the truth often surfaces, no matter how hard establishment institutions work to keep them in the dark.

After Dallas, People Are Being Arrested for Posting Inflammatory Comments Online

in First Amendment, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

After Dallas, People Are Being Arrested for Posting Inflammatory Comments Online

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Speech protections are being denied for those who harshly criticize law enforcement online, The Intercept has reported.

EarsIn Detroit, four men were arrested this past week after posting allegedly inflammatory and “threatening” comments online. While we know that in one of the tweets that led to an arrest, Micah Johnson, or the sniper who shot and killed Dallas police officers, was praised as a hero, the authorities have yet to release the names of the men who were arrested.

What’s troubling about these arrests, The Intercept report suggests, is that neither of the four men allegedly arrested over online posts were charged with a crime.

Without acknowledging whether his wishes contradict the arrestees’ First Amendment protections, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said that he wants the men his team arrested “charged with crimes. … I’ve directed my officers to prepare warrants for these four individuals, and we’ll see which venue is the best to pursue charges.”

But to Bruce Schneier, a security technologist at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University who talked to The Intercept, “arresting people for speech is something we should be very careful about.”

In Connecticut, Facebook user Kurt Vanzuuk was arrested after writing a post claiming that the Dallas sniper was a hero. Vanzuuk allegedly called for the police to be killed. He was later charged with inciting injury to persons over his post.

Ronald Medina, a New Jersey resident, was charged with cyber harassment after allegedly posting that he would “destroy the Perth Amboy police headquarters” on an unidentified form of social media.

Jenesis Reynolds, another Facebook user from Illinois, was also arrested for writing that she would “have no problem shooting a cop for simple traffic stop [because] they’d have no problem doing it to me.” Officers charged Reynolds with “disorderly conduct.”

While “posting that kind of thing on social media is a bad thought,” professor Larry Dubin of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law said, “having a bad thought isn’t necessarily a crime.”

To professor of law at Northeastern University Daniel Medwed, “threats may seem more threatening to police officers around the country” after Dallas, which may cause law enforcement to go after inflammatory speech. “We might be seeing more arrests right now because the police will interpret that they have probable cause to make the arrest,” he continued, “But that doesn’t mean in the end that this will result in convictions.”

Whether social media posts are public or not, it’s hard to justify the arrest of an individual over offensive comments.

In an article for the Mises Institute, Andrew Syrios states that “when you’re popular, you don’t need freedom of speech.” He added that “resorting to the use of political force to silence adversaries is a sign of the weakness of one’s own position.”

If law enforcement leadership is serious about regaining the trust of the public, officers should act like the adults in this conversation. Resorting to force to restrain alleged enemies will only continue to hurt the reputation of US police. ​

There Is Hope! – How to Safeguard Free Speech On Campus

in First Amendment, Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

There Is Hope! – How to Safeguard Free Speech On Campus

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

For the last year, I’ve written more than a dozen articles about free speech on college campuses. From safe spaces, to microaggression reporting systems, and multiple campus protests that received national attention, it is clear that our nation’s universities are doing its students a disservice when administrators create nonsensical consequences for forms of speech that they don’t like.

UCAlthough it seems like the First Amendment is a fading part of campus life, there is hope, and a few simple ways to safeguard free speech at colleges and universities.

On Tuesday, a professor at the University of Chicago wrote an opinion piece for RealClearPolitics, outlining a five-point plan for reversing the trend of restricting potentially offensive speech.

In it, Charles Lipson argues that free speech on college campuses is on the verge of becoming extinct, and that administrators are largely to blame for the increased censorship.

“Today, dean-of-students offices are devoted to comforting delicate snowflakes and soothing their feelings. If that means stamping out others’ speech, too bad.”

His solution? It starts with communication at all levels. Step one, he says, is to make sure that the board of trustees “demands to know if free speech is protected on their campuses, in principle and in practice.” Then, he says that university presidents and top administrators should be held accountable for those results.

Second, he says that college acceptance letters should stress that, “our school believes in free speech, open debate, and diverse opinions. You will hear different views on controversial topics. You are urged to read, write, and develop your own views, but you may not suppress others.”

Lipson points out that students who are afraid of intellectual challenges should go to school elsewhere.

Third, he argues that one administrator should be appointed strictly to monitor free speech activities and to make sure that open debate happens on campus. Next, he demands that, “student affairs offices stop suppressing basic academic freedoms and start supporting them.” Lipson mentions that the office of student affairs shouldn’t exist to shield students from uncomfortable ideas or to suppress their speech.

Finally, Lipson wants students to know that they have every right to protest peacefully, but they have no right to disrupt others, and they will be punished if they do. He expresses that administrators who “coddle rabble-rousers” often ignore their corrosive effects.

Similarly, administrators at Gettysburg College created a new speech policy in April, which stresses the college’s commitment to free expression – even when forms of expression are seen as offensive. This comes after some student groups became upset about pro-life posters on campus.

The policy reads in part:

“Any effort by members of the College community to limit openness in this academic community is a matter of serious concern and militates against the freedom of expression and the discovery of truth. Each member of the community is therefore free to express their point of view on, or opposition to, any issue of public interest within reasonable restrictions of time, place and manner. Each member of the community is also expected to help guarantee the ability of other community members to express themselves freely. No group or individual has the right to interfere with the legitimate activity of other authorized persons and groups as interference with expression compromises the College’s goal of creating an environment where issues can be openly discussed.”

Although some of the steps proposed may seem small, they could do wonders for free speech on college campuses if implemented by administrators.

UC at San Diego Sued to Enforce First Amendment Rights

in First Amendment, Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

UC at San Diego Sued to Enforce First Amendment Rights

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Last week, The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit claiming the University of California at San Diego and the Associated Students Council defunded student organizations in retaliation for a controversial article published by a satirical paper, The Koala.

KoalaThe student paper, which has been published at UCSD since 1982, made fun of politically correct or “PC” culture last November in an article entitled, “UCSD Unveils News Dangerous Space on Campus.”

It mocked the use of “safe spaces,” repeatedly used the “N-word,” and mentioned the opening of a “dangerous space” to accommodate “individuals who do not like feeling safe…continuing the university’s theme of inclusion and equality.”

In a 22-3 vote on Nov. 18, the student government association eliminated funding for all 13 active student-funded media outlets on campus. Gabe Cohen, editor-in-chief of the satirical newspaper The Koala, known for its vulgar shock-value humor, said his publication is being targeted specifically.

The council’s vote came the same day UC San Diego administrators posted an online denouncement of The Koala as “profoundly repugnant, repulsive, attacking and cruel.”

Cohen criticized the budget cut, calling it as “thinly veiled censorship” aimed at The Koala in particular. He pointed out that The Koala’s $3,000 annual budget makes up a small portion of the total student government budget — less than one percent.

“The decision sends a dangerous message to the campus, which is essentially, ‘If we don’t like what you’re saying, we’ll do everything we can to shut you up, even if that means harming innocents in the process,’” he said. “A.S. hoped this would make us go bow down and go away, but in reality they challenged a belligerent drunk to a fist fight.”

So far, The Koala has raised $1,000 in addition to securing advertising contracts, Cohen said, adding that San Diego State University’s chapter of the publication draws its funding solely from ad revenues, “proving it is not impossible to run without school funding,” he said.

Now, with help from the ACLU, Koala staffers hope to overturn the cut by taking legal action.

The ACLU’s legal filing quotes extensively from the Bias Incident Report Forms, submitted to the college by students offended by The Koala’s article.

“[The publication] propagates insensitive mindsets with its sexist and racist comments masked under cruel humor,” one complaint said. “Screen works to make sure that there is no propagation of these attitudes.”

Another complaint demanded the university “immediately take the initiative to end any hate speech, actions or crimes that offend any groups represented on this campus.”

The Bias Response Incident Reports apparently prompted action, with one administrator noting, “we do not typically receive so many reports regarding single issue.” The student government responded by ending funding for all printed student media, even though it continues to pay for other forms of speech like forums and events with speakers.

The ACLU argues that “however offensive or outrageous it may have been, the article remains protected speech on topical issues of public concern, including but not necessarily limited to the nature, purpose, and appropriateness of trigger warnings and safe spaces on college and university campuses.”

Cohen agrees.

“Part of attending a university is learning through considering opinions and voices that differ from your own, which you might not agree with,” he said. “Cutting funding to print media is a slippery step in the direction of anti-intellectualism and paternalism that should have no place on this campus.”

A motion for a preliminary injunction will be heard in federal court on July 18, 2016.

A Rough Week for Free Speech – Fraternity Edition

in First Amendment, Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

A Rough Week for Free Speech – Fraternity Edition

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

It’s been a rough few weeks for free speech on college campuses with regard to Greek Life. In two separate instances at Illinois colleges, fraternities came under fire for…hurting feelings.

PaintMembers of the Millikan University chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon will no longer be allowed to wear face and body paint at recruitment events according to Nicki Rowlett, Assistant Director of Inclusion and Student Engagement.

Face paint is “cultural appropriation,” according to a student complaint last year.

In her email to the TKE president, Rowlett states:

“Members of [Tau Kappa Epsilon] are prohibited from wearing black and red paint, wigs/and or clothing items that mimic or depict an ethnicity or culture. Failure to comply with the expectation will result in immediate removal from the event, and additional student conduct sanctions.”

At Northwestern University, fraternities apologized for hanging anti-sexual assault banners on their houses after feminists on campus got offended.

Northwestern’s Interfraternity Council (IFC) soon “faced criticism over the banners,” with some students saying they were “in poor taste due to the pervasiveness of sexual assault in fraternities,” while others argued that simply putting up banners was not enough to stop sexual assault and doing so was offensive.

Banners featuring statements like, “This is everyone’s problem” and “(fraternity name) supports survivors,” had been hung on the houses for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which was in April. Students were so upset with these banners that the IFC issued a public apology:

“We recognize now how this campaign may have been emotionally triggering for survivors, and we want to make a deep, genuine apology for anyone that may have been affected,” the board said in the statement. “This was not our intent, but it is our fault for not being cognizant enough and not considering how it might affect others in our community.”

Because of these criticisms, the IFC announced plans to create a four-year sexual assault education program.

Both universities involved are private and should do what they want, of course. But, where will the “harsh consequences for feelings sake,” end?

No one at Millikan owns the colors blue, red, or black. And the only “appropriation” they were doing was of themselves – it’s the fraternity’s tradition. Will administrators start banning face paint at school sporting events, pep rallies, and activity fairs?

And why are students at Northwestern so upset about fraternities showing their support for victims of sexual assault during Sexual Assault Awareness Month?

Outraged students claim that these banners were in poor taste, but according to the Northwestern Annual Security Report, there were only three rapes reported on the Evanston campus in 2014. (And the report doesn’t say if those crimes were committed by fraternity members or not.)

Regardless of a student’s’ affiliation in Greek Life or not, ALL students are done a disservice when administrators and others create these nonsensical consequences when they are faced with forms of speech they don’t like.

TRIGGERING! – Political Correctness Gone Too Far at UMass Amherst

in First Amendment, Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

TRIGGERING! – Political Correctness Gone Too Far at UMass Amherst

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Last week, students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst redefined mass hysteria at a discussion on political correctness hosted by the College Republicans.

The discussion titled, “The Triggering: Has Political Correctness Gone Too Far?” almost immediately turned into a screaming match as some in the audience attempted to deny the panelists a chance to speak.

UMassThe panel was moderated by Kyle Boyd, president of the UMass Amherst College Republicans, and consisted of Milo Yiannopoulos, a British journalist, Steven Crowder, Canadian comedian and political commentator, and the “Factual Feminist,” Christina Hoff Sommers.

“We have organized tonight’s event to explore a single question – has political correctness gone too far?” Boyd said over shouts of support and disgust. However, the panelists didn’t back down and purposefully made provoking opening comments.

“Feminism is cancer,” Yiannopoulos said.

Hoff Sommers was greeted with shouts of “racist!” from the audience as soon as she approached the microphone.

The full YouTube video (contains NSFW/K language) of the ordeal is confusing, and I can’t imagine how members of the audience who were there to listen could follow along.

Student protesters interrupted the panelists, accused them of being racist, and told them to get their “hate speech” off of campus. Supportive audience members did cheer while the guests talked about heightened sensitivity on college campuses and microagressions.

The most widely-viewed clip (contains NSFW/K language) from that night was of a single protester who shouted every time Yiannopoulos tried to speak.

Hoff Sommers tells her to “calm down, young lady.” Instead, the protester responds with an impassioned expletive.

Then, the woman begins loudly asserting that “hate speech is not welcome here” and demanding that the speakers “keep your hate speech off this campus,” all while insisting that she is the true embodiment of free speech.

“Stop talking to us like children!” she yelled.

“Stop acting like a child and I will,” Hoff Sommers coolly replied, who is currently a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC.

One of the organizers of the panel, senior Nicholas Pappas, said their panel had drawn more attention than any previous event they have hosted – the online videos have more than a million views. He told the Massachusetts Daily Collegian that the discussion was intended to “give other students our perspective.”

It is very discouraging to see how overtly disrespectful these students were to this panel – especially when they couldn’t go more than 20-30 seconds without interruption! The purpose of the college experience is to grow and expand beyond one’s own worldview. If these students can’t sit through a two-hour panel on ideas they may disagree with, how will they ever be expected to hold their own after graduation in the real world?

Man Accused of Stealing Tomatoes Sues Off-Duty Cop Over Unlawful Arrest, Brutality

in Criminal Justice, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Man Accused of Stealing Tomatoes Sues Off-Duty Cop Over Unlawful Arrest, Brutality

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

A man from Atlanta, Georgia is suing an off-duty police officer over an incident that left him with broken bones and a severed artery.

CarnegayThe October 2014 incident, which was caught on camera, shows the off-duty cop beating Tyrone Carnegay. The officer was working as a security guard for Walmart at the time. According to the lawsuit, Carnegay was accused of stealing a tomato by the store’s manager, which prompted the officer’s aggressive reaction. After the encounter, Carnegay was rushed to the hospital with a broken leg and severed artery where he was handcuffed to the bed. After receiving treatment, the victim was sent to jail, where he stayed for three days. Charges were eventually dropped and no evidence of theft was found.

Due to his injuries, Carnegay now walks with a limp because of the titanium rod in his leg.

In an interview to WSB-TV, Carnegay claimed that the officer gave him a command to “get on the ground” while beating him with his baton. According to the footage of the incident, the officer hit Carnegay’s leg at least seven times. The officer reportedly never asked him for a receipt before the attack, but once Carnegay was subdued and placed in handcuffs, the officer allegedly reached into his pockets where he found a receipt showing Carnegay had paid for the tomato.

According to Craig Jones, the victim’s attorney, this incident could have been avoided if the officer had asked Carnegay a simple question. Instead of asking the customer for a receipt, “the officer went into Robocop mode and beat the crap out of him,” Jones told news organizations.

The lawsuit names the store’s manager, the officer, and Walmart, but the Atlanta Police has not been involved.

This is not the only wrongful arrest story to have hit the news recently.

According to the Baltimore Sun, six men who were arrested during last year’s Baltimore protests against police brutality have recently filed a lawsuit against the Baltimore Police Department. The suit alleges the six men were wrongfully arrested in what the plaintiffs claim to be an unconstitutional violation of their protected speech rights.

While the circumstances under which these men were arrested are different from Carnegay’s, both cases showcase an issue prompted by the country’s ongoing overcriminalization efforts.

As the nation struggles to abandon its addiction to passing too many laws, law enforcement agents are trained to act as if civilians are the enemies in an undeclared war against the individual.

Unless we address this issue by helping others understand the importance of limiting government bodies, not individual liberties, the issue of police brutality will never be fully tackled.

In a column for Bloomberg, Yale Law School Professor Stephen Carter wrote that, on “the opening day of law school,” he always counsels his “first-year students never to support a law they are not willing to kill to enforce.”

Are they listening?

It’s About Liberty, Not Technology

in Communicating Liberty, First Amendment, Liberator Online, Libertarianism, One Minute Liberty Tip, Philosophy by Sharon Harris Comments are off

It’s About Liberty, Not Technology

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Last month actor Mark Hamill, an advocate of gun control, posted this tweet to his nearly one million followers:

“Don’t get me wrong, as a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment [sic]—I believe in every American’s right to own a musket.”

right-to-bear-musketsIn doing so, Hamill was repeating an anti-gun argument that’s frequently heard and is surprisingly widespread.

This argument says that the Second Amendment was written over two centuries ago, before today’s modern firearms had been invented. Therefore, the Second Amendment only protects a right to keep and bear muskets and other primitive firearms common at the time.

You might think that this is a satirical remark, more snarky than a real argument.

Yet many opponents of the right to keep and bear arms actually intend this as a serious argument. Even those who use it half-jokingly often believe it makes a legitimate point.

For example, journalist Piers Morgan tweeted this in 2012:

“The 2nd amendment was devised with muskets in mind, not high-powered handguns & assault rifles. Fact.”

I could cite many more. Versions of this argument are circulating on the Internet.

How might libertarians effectively respond to this? One obvious way is to apply the same logic to other amendments.

The First Amendment, which defends freedom of speech and freedom of the press, was written before the Internet, television, radio, DVDs, cell phones and other forms of personal and mass communication.

Yet most Americans, especially liberals and progressives who favor gun control, certainly recognize that the First Amendment protects such modern communication as well.

No First Amendment activist would argue that a newspaper must be printed on 18th century technology to have First Amendment protection. What could be sillier?

Similarly, most reasonable people see that the Fourth Amendment protection of privacy clearly applies to modern technology such as cellphones, laptops, and so on.

In some circumstances, it may also be useful to point out that this issue has already been settled — and quite forcefully — by the Supreme Court.

In fact, in the landmark 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller decision, the Court declared this argument was “bordering on the frivolous.”

Wrote the Court:

“Some have made the argument, bordering on the frivolous, that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are protected by the Second Amendment. We do not interpret constitutional rights that way. Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications… and the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of search… the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.”

The Supreme Court drove the point home just last month in Caetano v. Massachusetts, which concerned a woman who carried a stun gun for self defense:

“While stun guns were not in existence at the end of the 18th century, the same is true for the weapons most commonly used today for self-defense, namely, revolvers and semiautomatic pistols. Revolvers were virtually unknown until well into the 19th century, and semiautomatic pistols were not invented until near the end of that century. Electronic stun guns are no more exempt from the Second Amendment’s protections, simply because they were unknown to the First Congress, than electronic communications are exempt from the First Amendment, or electronic imaging devices are exempt from the Fourth Amendment.”

These are powerful, even devastating, arguments from logic, history and authority that pretty much lay waste to the argument that the Second Amendment is limited to protecting our right to black powder muskets. But… there’s one more important point to make.

We should always remember our purpose as communicators. In most communications and conversations, we should seek to win others to our side, not just to win arguments.

So, rather than just responding with the powerful arguments above, take a moment first to listen to those making these arguments and try to uncover their genuine concerns. Are they worried about our society becoming more violent? Are they fearful of more children being victims of mass shootings? Are they advocates of nonviolence who have adopted an anti-gun position?

These are all legitimate, admirable, understandable concerns. Let your listeners know that you share their concerns (if you do) and then point out that there are libertarian answers — solutions — to all of them. By identifying and addressing the underlying concerns, you can try to win them to our side, or at least to a better and more sympathetic understanding of our views. That’s a lot better than merely winning an argument, but making a permanent enemy.

If the conversation allows it, you could go even further and point out that, to many libertarians, the right to keep and bear arms is rooted in the fundamental libertarian idea that people should be free to do anything they wish as long as they don’t harm others. A conversation that reaches this level can be very rewarding.

There are specific communication methods you can use to respond in such effective ways, and I have compiled many of the best of them in my book How to Be a Super Communicator for Liberty: Successfully Sharing Libertarian Ideas.

Please check it out.

Why Rhetoric Should be Celebrated

in First Amendment, Liberator Online, Libertarianism, News You Can Use, Philosophy by Alice Salles Comments are off

Why Rhetoric Should be Celebrated

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

We often hear that persuasion is an obstacle to freedom. “Rhetoric,” they say, is why we’re in such trouble. After all, voters would make better decisions if they had been better educated about the issues facing the nation.

To Deirdre McCloskey, the celebrated Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, people who scapegoat persuasion are misguided.

PersuasionIn a video for the Learn Liberty series, McCloskey argues that while many people with different points of view on politics all agree that free speech is “sacred,” few agree that persuasion is just as important, if not a feature of a free society.

“Rhetoric,” she tells the viewer, “sounds like a bad word.” Media outlets are the first ones to accuse politicians and key figures of indulging in rhetoric, and never getting to the point. But McCloskey believes that this approach to persuasion is superficial, especially when considering the alternative.

She explains that, persuasion would be bad if the alternative to “sweet-talking” people into believing something or siding with someone wasn’t persuasion through force.

Because we are humans, McCloskey adds, we depend on language. But if we cannot use language, there is another way of persuading people into taking a particular stance: Violence. If I have a gun in hands while telling you to believe in economics and stop arguing with me if you want to stay alive, you will most certainly choose to agree with me, just so you may avoid getting shot in the head. But if there aren’t any guns involved, all we can do to make our point stick is to try to persuade folks by selling our idea the best way we can.

“In a society of free choice, free ideas, free consumption,” McCloskey adds, “you have persuasion as the only alternative to violence.”

Henry David Thoreau once said that “thaw, with her gentle persuasion is more powerful than Thor, with his hammer.” The late, prolific author Gore Vidal once said that advertising is the only art form ever invented in the United States of America. To McCloskey, “a free society is an advertising society,” after all, a free society is where people debate and persuade, rather than threaten others into going along with their ideas. Americans should be proud of this very American tradition.

Instead of demonizing rhetoric by complaining that propaganda alone is the root of our problems, McCloskey seems to argue, we should celebrate the “speaking, rather than violent, society,” and take part in the activity, rather than decry it as the root of all evil.

Why Do College Students Hate Free Speech?

in First Amendment, Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

Why Do College Students Hate Free Speech?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

I had the opportunity to spend some vacation time in Washington D.C. this month. The cherry blossoms were beautiful, the food was excellent, and I found a new favorite museum: the Newseum.

Opinion For a complete news junkie like me, it was the perfect place to spend two consecutive days. Exhibits ranged from interactive media ethics games to every Pulitzer Prize-winning photo since the award was established in 1917. The most interesting exhibits, in my opinion, were centered around free speech around the world and on college campuses.

A giant world map showed which countries had the greatest amount of freedom of the press. A green-colored country meant the most, yellow was somewhat, and red was least to none at all. It was no surprise that the U.S. was green, some of Europe was yellow, and almost all of the Middle East was red.

The other side of the exhibit held interactive multimedia displays that showcased the history of free speech on campus. Highlights included the Civil Rights movement, protests at Kent State and Columbia University, and an ethics game about college newspapers.

One board in particular intrigued me. It asked: “Should college campuses limit free speech to protect students from hateful comments?” Attendees could take a sticker and put it on the “Yes” or “No” side to cast their vote.

I watched two college-aged girls look at the board, pause for a moment, and put their stickers on the “Yes” side.

Although the majority of stickers disagreed with the statement, I really wanted to ask these two why they thought that way. Here they are surrounded, literally, by maps of the most oppressive places in the world for journalists, and they believe that colleges should censor student speech.

It was a little baffling.

So, why do college students hate free speech?

According to a Gallup Poll released on Monday, college students want free speech on their campuses but want administrators to intervene when it turns into hate speech. However, they disagree on whether college campuses are open environments and on how the media should cover campus protests.

Roughly 78 percent of students surveyed said that colleges should allow “all types of speech and viewpoints,” while 22 percent noted that “colleges should prohibit biased or offensive speech in the furtherance of a positive learning environment.”

The survey’s organizers wrote that, “Students do appear to distinguish controversial views from what they see as hate speech — and they believe colleges should be allowed to establish policies restricting language and certain behavior that are intentionally offensive to certain groups.”

However, 54 percent of students said that “the climate on campus prevents some people from saying what they believe because others might find it offensive.”

Along with the Knight Foundation and the Newseum Institute, Gallup conducted another similar survey of college students and found that they are highly distrustful of the press. Students believe that universities should be able to bar the press from campus in some instances. Lastly, they think that schools should be able to restrict students from wearing costumes that stereotype certain racial or ethnic groups.

Although I’m not entirely sure why college students hate free speech, I think it’s safe to say that the majority of them are done a disservice when administrators create “safe spaces” and microaggression reporting systems when they are faced with speech they don’t like. Students would be better served if their campuses truly had open discussions that exposed them to opinions other than their own and that challenged their viewpoints.

Brewery Forced to Drop ‘LSD’ From Label—In America!

in Business and Economy, Economic Liberty, First Amendment, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

Brewery Forced to Drop ‘LSD’ From Label—In America!

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

The war on drugs has finally gone too far.

LSDAleIndeed Brewing, a Minneapolis-based brewery, was recently forced to change the name of their LSD Ale after federal regulators thought it sounded too offensive.

Everything had been going alright for Indeed Brewing while it was only selling its products in Minnesota. But the moment the company decided to start selling LSD Ale across state lines, things went sour.

Once the company started working on the licenses needed to expand and start selling outside of the state, federal regulators realized the beer presented a “threat.” The result? Indeed Brewing had to drop the name or stop expansion.

In an attempt to comply without having to drop the product’s name altogether, Indeed Brewing decided to try different hippie-themed labels that kept the beer’s name somewhat under the radar. That didn’t work.

“Unfortunately,” Indeed Brewing co-founder Thomas Whisenand said, “we sell a regulated product and there’s not much you can do when the feds say no.”

To appease federal regulators, the company had to change the ale’s name to Lavender, Sunflower Honey, Date Honey, dropping the terrifying LSD from its labels.

While the name may sound terrifying to some, it does not indicate that the beer is indeed made with LSD. Watchdog.org reports that, if the beer was, indeed, made with LSD, federal regulators would be concerned with things other than the ale’s name. So why are the feds so invested in how the manufacturers chose to advertise the beer?

In the past, multiple states banned the sale of Founders Brewery’s Oatmeal Breakfast Stout because of the baby that appears on the label. According to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission, the advertisement of alcoholic beverages “shall not depict or make reference in any manner to minors,” which prompted the state to ban the sale of the product locally. But what exactly is Indeed Brewery doing wrong?

Nothing, really.

According to research carried out by the Mercatus Center, barriers raised by the federal and state governments are hurting small breweries more than ever, which hurts consumers as a result. Even if the problem is not drug-related, governments will always find something to pick on. It might be a drug-sounding name, or that you do not have a hood for a food oven in your brewery, even though you do not produce food. Or perhaps the fact that your small craft brewery does not have the equipment to handle raw chicken, even though poultry is not an ingredient to any of your products.

According to Mercatus researchers, brewers often face high costs and long waiting times when attempting to obtain a seal of approval from state and federal governments. As associated costs also rise, brewers are often barred from entering the market simply because they cannot afford to meet the unreasonable standards provided by regulators.

In Virginia, for instance, regulators are authorized to deny a small brewer a license because he or she is “physically unable to carry on the business,” or is incapable of speaking, understanding, reading, and writing “the English language in a reasonably satisfactory manner.”

What that even means is beyond reason.

One Microaggression After Another

in First Amendment, Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

One Microaggression After Another

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Now more than ever, college campuses are offering training, courses and even online portals for students, faculty and staff to understand and report microaggressions. Failure to acknowledge harm caused by microaggressions on college campuses is resulting in the resignation of administrators.

Microaggression Microaggressions are small actions or word choices that seem on the surface to have no malicious intent but that are thought of as a tiny form of violence nonetheless.

For example, by some university guidelines, asking an Asian American where they are from is a microaggression because the questions implies that the person is not a real American.

Occidental College in California is instituting a microaggression reporting system, which comes as a response to recent student protests of President Jonathan Veitch, among other things.

Protests took place this past semester in support of other students of color at The University of Missouri, Yale, and Claremont McKenna College.

Although Veitch did not step down, he agreed to meet students’ demands which included: diversifying the faculty, creating a black studies program, increasing funding for diversity initiatives and training all campus staff on minority student needs, along with the microaggression reporting program.

Agreeing to student demands did not work for Ithaca College’s president, however.

In January, Ithaca College President Tom Rochon announced he would retire in 2017 which, appeased the groups of students and faculty members that called for his resignation. Rochon was accused of improperly handling racist incidents on campus, and offended student-activists and faculty wanted him out.

Really, only two incidents were reported. The first, an alumni panel discussion in which one panelist, an older white man, called another panelist, a younger black woman, a “savage” after the woman described herself as possessing “a savage hunger.” When the older man was told that his comments could be considered racial and malicious, although he did not mean them to be, he apologized. Rochon put out a statement and apologized:

On Thursday, October 8, we conducted a Blue Sky Reimagining kick-off event, featuring a conversation among four alumni followed by work in small groups brainstorming on how to make the Ithaca College educational experience more immersive.

Insensitive comments were made during the conversation. Immediately following the event, I (Tom Rochon) apologized to the alumna to whom the comments were addressed. We regret that what was intended to be a visionary moment for our community was diminished by insensitive comments.

In general, the college cannot prevent the use of hurtful language on campus. Such language, intentional or unintentional, exists in the world and will seep into our community. We can’t promise that the college will never host a speaker who could say something racist, homophobic, misogynistic, or otherwise disrespectful. Even so, we reaffirm our commitment to making our campus an inclusive and respectful community.

We recognize the concerns raised by members of the campus community about the language used during the Blue Sky event. We reiterate our commitment to the principles of respect and inclusion and to the goal of ensuring that Ithaca College is a place where all students, faculty, staff, and visitors feel safe and respected.

The other? A “Preps and Crooks” theme party that was hosted by a fraternity around Halloween. The dress of the “crooks” was racially insensitive according to some students. Ithaca’s vice president did indeed condemn the “destructive impact” of the event, but it did not satisfy Ithaca students.

By playing into student demands, college administrators are doing students a disservice for not adequately preparing them for the real world where one won’t be protected from speech, actions, or non-verbals that they may not like or agree with.

Mizzou Professor Faces Assault Charge, Suspended

in First Amendment, Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online, Personal Liberty by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

Mizzou Professor Faces Assault Charge, Suspended

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

On Nov. 9, 2015, the nation paid close attention to massive protests on the University of Missouri’s campus following the resignation of President Tim Wolfe for his failure to adequately address a series of racial incidents on campus.

Later that afternoon, assistant communications professor, Melissa Click, was filmed by student journalist Mark Schierbecker, in a video that has since gone viral. In the video, Click is seen having a verbal and physical altercation with another student journalist, Tim Tai, who was trying to photograph student protesters who had formed a large circle in the middle of campus.

Click

Claiming that it was a “safe space” for protesters, Click is seen trying to push Schierbecker and Tai away. At one point, Click calls for “some muscle” to remove them both from the protest area. Then, she appears to grab Schierbecker’s camera.

This week, the Columbia, Mo. city prosecutor’s office announced it had filed a Class C misdemeanor assault charge against the professor, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 days in jail. Two days later, the University of Missouri Board of Curators formally suspended her of her teaching duties.

“MU Professor Melissa Click is suspended pending further investigation,” said Pam Henrickson, chairwoman of the University of Missouri Board of Curators. “The Board of Curators directs the General Counsel, or outside counsel selected by General Counsel, to immediately conduct an investigation and collaborate with the city attorney and promptly report back to the Board so it may determine whether additional discipline is appropriate.”

This suspension is appropriate because Click was overly driven to squash the First Amendment rights of the student journalists. As Tai said in the video, he and his colleague had just as much of a right to be there reporting as did the protesters. It is alarming that Click did not seem to understand the basic principle of free speech that she, and members of her former department, were entrusted to teach to budding journalists.

Instagrammers Beware: Your Pot Photo May Land You In Jail

in Drugs, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Instagrammers Beware: Your Pot Photo May Land You In Jail

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

The US drug war initiated during the Nixon administration has been responsible for skyrocketing incarceration rates, the destruction of the black family, and increase in racial disparities in criminal justice. Now, it’s also responsible for a new wave of fear revolving marijuana users’ Instagram accounts.

That’s right.

According to a retired Drug Enforcement Administration agent, posting images of recreational use of marijuana on social media may result in a fine up to $150,000. The individual at fault could also spend 18 months in jail.

Pot

“Even though 23 states have legalized medical marijuana and four states have legalized recreational marijuana,” former DEA agent Patricia D’Orsa-Dijamco said, “marijuana remains illegal federally.”

In an interview for Fox News, the former DEA agent said that nobody should “be posting pictures of themselves smoking pot and using pot-themed hashtags to attract fans and ‘likes’ in any state. People who post pictures of themselves could potentially face criminal charges.”

According to Instagram’s own list of restrictions, users are not allowed to upload “unlawful” content to its site. Images of marijuana use fall under this category.

Despite the potential risks, there has been a rise in images of individuals making use of recreational marijuana on social media. But Instagram users will​ ​continue to be ​targeted by law enforcement if they do not slow down—unless the law changes.

Popular Instagram users like Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, and Wiz Khalifa haven’t suffered any restrictions after posting photos of recreational marijuana use to Instagram. But New Jersey 20-year-old marijuana user Connor Kennedy has.

In July of 2015, Kennedy was arrested by the Winslow Township Police Department after posting photos online of his marijuana use. He was allegedly growing seven marijuana plants in an abandoned backyard down the street from his house at the time.

​ “Concerned citizens” contacted​​ the police​ ​about Kennedy’s behavior​, which prompted the police to​​ catch the young man tending to the plants ​with a hidden​ camera. After this incident, investigators looked him up online. That’s when they found his incriminating photos.

He’s not the only one to have been arrested after posting photos of marijuana on Instagram.

Toward the end of 2015, there was a wave of hope among anti-drug war advocates when reports claiming that Congress had lifted the ban on medical marijuana hit the news. Unfortunately, they were not accurate.

In December of 2014, Congress passed an omnibus spending bill that included a provision keeping the Justice Department from using funds appropriated by that particular bill to fight against states pushing their own marijuana laws. That means that agencies like the DEA would not be able to use the omnibus bill’s funds to prevent states from passing their own marijuana legislation. This same provision was part of the 2015 omnibus bill.

Despite the bill’s wording, the Justice Department has largely ignored the law by prosecuting and seizing the property of countless medical marijuana suppliers. Officials often argue that these actions don’t “prevent” states from passing their own drug laws.

If the Justice Department is given a free pass and officials continue to ignore the laws written by Congress, it’s not hard to see how Americans’ freedom of speech will continue to suffer.

Until Congress tackles the issue directly by putting an end to the drug war and reforming the criminal justice system, Instagram users and marijuana suppliers will remain vulnerable.

“Safe Spaces” Used to Silence Political Speech

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

“Safe Spaces” Used to Silence Political Speech

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

In the last year, dozens of protests on college campuses have called for everything from supporting the #BlackLivesMatter movement to demanding that school administrators address racial microaggressions on campus. These protesters and students alike call for “safe spaces” on campuses so that they can have an open dialogue about these issues. But what they don’t realize is that these “safe spaces” are being used to silence political speech – especially speech that they don’t agree with.

Free Speech

For example, George Washington University police ordered a student to take down a Palestinian flag that was hanging from his dorm window because it was not “respectful of your peers,” according to an administrator.

Ramie Abounaja, a 20-year-old pre-med student, was visited by a GWU police officer in October. The officer claimed he had received “numerous complaints” about the flag and wouldn’t leave the room until it was removed. Abounaja complied, but later questioned whether he had actually violated any university policies.

According to Abounaja:

Then, on Tuesday, to my alarm, I received an email from the Graduate Fellow Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities stating that they “received a report from the GW University Police Department regarding [my] behavior” that I was “found to have had a flag out [my] window” and that the letter “serves as a warning that this behavior is a violation of the ‘Code of Student Conduct and/or the Residential Community Conduct Guidelines.’” The letter also warned me to be “respectful” of my “peers” that “my behavior had the potential to leave a profound impact on the community.” The letter (attached) did not provide any details as to which provision, article or rule I violated.

According to The Intercept’s Andrew Fishman, GWU has no policy barring flags on the inside of dorm rooms, but it does prohibit flags hanging outside of the dorms – even though numerous amounts of flags have been seen flying outside of GWU dorm windows.
It seems as if the police are only called to remove flags that have offended others. Certainly, Abounaja is a victim of viewpoint discrimination. This kind of censorship—censorship of pro-Palestinian speech—is common according to Fishman:

Campus free speech and so-called “political correctness censorship” have been vigorously debated over the last two decades. That topic received particularly intense attention from journalists and pundits this year in response to controversies at the University of Missouri, Yale and other campuses.

In the first half of 2015 alone, Palestine Legal, a U.S. civil rights advocacy organization, has reported 140 instances of suppression of Palestine advocacy, 80 percent of which has happened on college campuses.

A Jewish student at the University of Michigan was recently investigated by a student government ethics commission after Palestinian students took offense at him aggressively criticizing a pro-Palestinian display. According to The College Fix, the commission affirmed that the student had a First Amendment right to question the demonstrators.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fired Professor Steven Salaita for his anti-Israel tweets and his lawsuit is currently moving forward in a federal court. The University of California is attempting to label all criticism of the state of Israel as anti-Semitic hate speech and Occidental College may institute a microaggression reporting system.

The First Amendment rights of everyone are in danger if one person’s freedom of expression can be diminished by an administrator, campus police officer, or an emotional student. The words “hateful” and “offensive” are relative terms. We cannot protect the kinds of speech we find to be agreeable unless we can also protect the kinds of speech we find disagreeable.

December 15: Celebrate Bill of Rights Day!

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online, One Minute Liberty Tip by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 23 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Bill of RightsA little-known but very important U.S. holiday is coming up — one far too many Americans are unaware of. It offers libertarians a great chance to inform Americans of our heritage of liberty and the urgent need today to defend that heritage.

December 15 is “Bill of Rights Day” — a day to celebrate, honor and renew support for our precious Bill of Rights.

It was on December 15, 1791 that the Bill of Rights  — the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution — went into effect.

One hundred and fifty years later, in 1941, December 15 was officially proclaimed Bill of Rights Day. States, cities, and counties across America have passed resolutions honoring Bill of Rights day. Some classrooms will hold special Bill of Rights Day classes, and some citizens and organizations will celebrate Bill of Rights Day.

Still, most Americans remain sadly unaware of the date’s significance.

The Bill of Rights is, of course, the great protector of American liberties. It boldly declares that people have certain inalienable rights that government cannot abridge — fundamental rights like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to keep and bear arms, and more. It also provides procedures for defending those rights — such as fair trials and limits on federal power.

The Bill of Rights doesn’t belong just to America. It has inspired freedom fighters around the world. The Founders viewed their Revolution as the first blow in a struggle to win liberty for all the people of the world. So the Bill of Rights is truly a document for everyone.

Thomas Jefferson made this clear in a letter to James Madison, December 20, 1787: “A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.”

Use Bill of Rights Day to teach family, friends, neighbors and others about our precious heritage.

It’s a great time for a letter to the editor discussing the vital importance of our Bill of Rights freedoms, and urging citizens to speak out against current calls to sacrifice liberty for (alleged) security.

With fundamental Bill of Rights freedom under unprecedented assault in recent years, this has never been more important.

To help with that, here’s a short summary of the Bill of Rights, prepared several years ago by students at Liberty Middle School in Ashley, Virginia. (I’ve added just a few words for clarification.) While this condensed version doesn’t have the majesty, depth and detail of the entire document, it is short and easy to understand, and may be useful to you in discussions and letters:

THE BILL OF RIGHTS

1. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, right to assemble peaceably, right to petition the government about grievances.
2. Right to keep and bear arms.
3. Citizens do not have to quarter soldiers during peacetime.
4. No unreasonable searches and seizures.
5. Rights of the accused.
6. Right to a fair trial.
7. Right to a trial by jury in civil cases also.
8. No cruel and unusual punishments.
9. Unenumerated rights go to the people.
10. Reserves all powers not given to the national government to the states or
the people.

All Americans should be familiar with their Bill of Rights freedoms. Sadly, numerous surveys indicate most are not. Indeed, as journalist James Bovard has pointed out, a 1991 poll commissioned by the American Bar Association found only 33 percent of Americans surveyed even knew what the Bill of Rights was. In one Gallup poll 70 percent did not know what the First Amendment was or what it dealt with.

As Adam Summers of the Reason Foundation observed in The Libertarian Perspective:

“The Founders must be spinning in their graves. Nearly everything the government does today is unconstitutional under the system they instituted. Governmental powers were expressly limited; individual liberties were not. Now it seems it is the other way around.

“If the Bill of Rights is to regain its meaning, we must rededicate ourselves to the principles it asserts and be mindful that a government powerful enough to give us all we want is powerful enough to take away everything we have.”

Let it begin with you. This December 15 is a great time to remind all Americans that we are, as the National Constitution Center puts it, a nation of “Bill”-ionaires.
Happy Bill of Rights Day!

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