free speech

Home » free speech

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 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.

Fear Shouldn’t Dictate Action

in Education, Elections and Politics, First Amendment, Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

Fear Shouldn’t Dictate Action

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 student protests on college campuses have called for everything from supporting the #BlackLivesMatter movement to demanding that school administrators address microaggressions on campus. From Mizzou to Yale University and Occidental College, these
demands have garnered national attention.

ClevelandBut one of the most recent incidents that happened on a college campus? A “safe space” that was provided by Case Western Reserve University in order to “assist those psychologically or physically traumatized by the prospect of Republicans being in Cleveland and giving speeches,” that hardly anyone utilized.

Located a few miles from where the Republican National Convention was held, the university made a statement in The Daily, that the private school’s Social Justice Institute “will host a ‘safe space’” in the basement of Crawford Hall for the duration of the convention.

“After extensive consultation among our leadership team and discussions in last week’s open forums, we have decided that the university will reduce its on-campus operations significantly from Monday, July 18, through the close of the convention Thursday, July 21,” the statement explained.

Classes were cancelled or moved off campus. Essentially, faculty, staff, and students were told to take the week off. The statement also reminded students that University Counseling Services would “continue to offer walk-in services for students who want to talk with someone about their concerns related to recent events and/or the upcoming convention.”

According to The College Fix, Case Western closed down most of that week because it allowed hundreds of police officers to stay in their residence halls for the duration of the RNC. (And that made a few groups very unhappy.)

“Recent events” in the university’s statement must have referred to the number of altercations between police officers and civilians this summer. The deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and officers in Baton Rouge and Dallas have had this country on edge. Protests leading up to and during the Republican National Convention were expected to be large and violent, but according to The Washington Post, they were small and uneventful.

It’s understandable that the university wanted to look out for the safety of faculty, staff, and students. But as an institution of higher education, isn’t it important to teach young people that fear should never win or dictate action?

Instead of using current events as a teachable moment, the “better safe than sorry” mentality only succeeded in drawing attention away from what was really important for students – their education.

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.

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?

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.

College Holiday Party? Better Skip the Props

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

College Holiday Party? Better Skip the Props

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

Ah, today is St. Patrick’s Day. In college towns across America, students are probably skipping class to drink and attend parties while dressed in every green piece of clothing they own.

SombreroShamrock glasses and “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” tee shirts are usually the norm for St. Patrick’s Day party goers. But, as holidays come and go, traditional shirts and accessories could be another opportunity for college administrators and perpetually offended student protesters alike to bypass free expression rights as part of a misguided effort to prevent offense and hurt feelings.

Case in point, a tequila-themed birthday party at Bowdoin College caused quite the uproar a few weeks ago due to guests wearing…tiny sombreros.

When photos appeared on social media of the party and its guests, the entire campus took action.

Bowdoin administrators sent multiple school wide emails notifying the students about an “investigation” into a possible “act of ethnic stereotyping.”

A few days later, the Bowdoin Student Government unanimously adopted a “statement of solidarity” to “[stand] by all students who were injured and affected by the incident,” and recommend that administrators “create a space for those students who have been or feel specifically targeted.” The statement deemed the party an act of “cultural appropriation,” one that “creates an environment where students of color, particularly Latino, and especially Mexican, students feel unsafe.”

A week later, BSG introduced articles of impeachment against two student representatives that attended the party. However, impeachment proceedings were postponed until further notice by the BSG President, Danny Mejia-Cruz, and then later rescinded.

As for the rest of the others? According to The Bowdoin Orient:

“They will participate in an educational program facilitated by a faculty member, attend Active Bystander training and write a letter or paper on these experiences—other aspects of their punishment seem arbitrary. They were forced to move out of their room in Stowe Hall and relocate to doubles in Chamberlain Hall and they are banned from Ivies and Spring Gala.”

However, on the very same night of the “tequila party,” Bowdoin held its annual, administration-sanctioned “Cold War” party. Students wore fur hats and coats to represent Soviet culture and one referred to herself as “Stalin,” making light of a particularly painful era in Slavic history.

What makes one party deserving of school sponsorship while participation in the other will get you kicked out of your dorm room? The mixed messages are even more troubling considering an event last year in which the university provided students and alumni with sombreros and other hats and props for a photo booth. Those photos are still available on the school’s public Facebook page.

It is concerning that Bowdoin can argue that these “tequila party” attendees should have known better than to treat sombreros as silly props if the administration itself didn’t either.

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.


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.


“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.

Charles Koch Blasts Corporate Welfare

in Economic Liberty, Economics, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Jackson Jones Comments are off

Charles Koch Blasts Corporate Welfare

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

It’s amazing how Charles and David Koch have become the boogeymen of progressives. Democratic politicians, in their class warfare messaging, often reference the multi-billionaire brothers, who frequently contribute to free market causes and Republican candidates.

In reality, the Koch brothers, both of whom are libertarians, hold views that are overlap with progressive thought. They’re skeptical of the United States’ foreign policy, support same-sex marriage, and are critical of corporate welfare.


Writing in Time on Wednesday, Charles Koch repeated his criticism of corporate welfare. “According to a New York Times poll released earlier this year, most Americans believe only the wealthy and well-connected can get ahead these days, leaving everyone else to fall farther behind,” Koch wrote. “I find this very disturbing – because they are right.”

The difference between Koch and progressives is that he doesn’t see government regulation and mandates as the answer to this problem; he sees the government as the problem.

“I have devoted most of my life to this cause. For more than 50 years, I have sought to understand the principles that make free societies the most successful at enabling widespread well-being for everyone – especially the least advantaged. These principles include dignity, respect, tolerance, equality before the law, free speech and free markets, and individual rights,” Koch explained. “If we want to create greater well-being and opportunity for all Americans, we must re-establish these principles. The benefits will be incalculable, flowing to people at every level of society – not just the politically connected.”

“To achieve this vision,” he continued, “we must undo decades of misguided policies that tend to fall into two broad categories: barriers to opportunity for the many and special treatment for the few.”

Koch said, “[T]he role of business is to provide products and services that make people’s lives better.” But, he notes, businesses often bring “harm” on people by taking handouts from the government. What Koch said may shock some.

“The tax code alone contains $1.5 trillion in exemptions and special-interest carve-outs. The federal government also uses direct subsidies, grants, loans, mandates, bailouts, loan guarantees, no-bid contracts and more to help the lucky few with the most lobbyists,” he wrote. “Overall, according to George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, corporate welfare in Washington, D.C. costs more than $11,000 per person in lost gross domestic product every year—$3.6 trillion lost to special favors for special interests.” He added that this doesn’t include regulations promulgated to benefit certain special interests.

Whether progressives like it or not, the Koch brothers are much more than they’ve been made out to be. Of course, as noted, they don’t believe government is the answer and, let’s be honest, it’s not. The problem is, far too few in Washington, including many self-identified progressives, aren’t interested in taking on special interests, largely because they’ve been bought and paid for by them.

New Poll: Millions of Voters Say They’re Libertarian

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

A new poll from YouGov brings exciting and unprecedented news for libertarians. Millenial Poll - Libertarian

Asked “Would you describe yourself as a libertarian or not?” fully one in five of likely millennial (ages 18-29) voters said yes — thus self-describing themselves as libertarians.

YouGov found that young Americans are more likely than any other age group to accept the label libertarian — great news for a growing political movement. And there is room for this figure to grow significantly as libertarian ideas spread, because, in addition to the 20% who self-identify as libertarians, another 42% said they were “not sure.” Only 39% rejected the label.

Among older voters, 17% of 30- to 44-year-olds, 15% of 45- to 64-year-olds and 9% of those 65 and older say that the word “libertarian” described their views.

More great news: a majority Americans are, broadly, embracing libertarian ideas of limiting government. Fully 51% say they want to shrink the size of government. A whopping 30% of Americans even agree with the radical libertarian statement that “Taxation is theft.” (It probably didn’t hurt that the poll was conducted April 8-9 — a week before Tax Day.)

But what is most remarkable about the YouGov poll is that it has found so many millions of voters who accept the libertarian “brand” as a label for their political views — something inconceivable just a few years ago.

Nor are these self-described libertarians tied to either of the two older political parties. The libertarian vote is up for grabs to the candidate or party that appeals most to it. Writes YouGov: “There is little difference between partisans when it comes to identifying as libertarians. Republicans (13%) are essentially no more likely than Democrats (12%) to identify as libertarian, while 19% of Independents describe themselves as libertarian.”

Notes’s Nick Gillespie: “Let’s be clear about a couple of things: First, the fact that YouGov and other groups are hunting down the number of libertarians afoot — Pew even went ‘In Search of Libertarians’ just last year — is itself a sign that something new and different is happening. When you start touting up the way many things are breaking in a libertarian direction — the energy surrounding Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012, majority acceptance of pot legalization and gay marriage, serious efforts at criminal justice reform, plummeting numbers for faith in government, the rise of school choice, embrace of a sharing economy that routes around old-style regulation, general acceptance of free trade and free speech as positive values, and much more — it’s fair to call attention to what we’ve dubbed here as ‘The Libertarian Moment.’”

For more excellent commentary on the YouGov poll see “Millennials Are More Likely to Identify as Libertarians” by Robby Soave,

Two Questions on Blackmail

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Liberator Online, Libertarian Answers on Issues by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

(From the Ask Dr. Ruwart section in Volume 20, No. 3 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

BlackmailQUESTION: I am concerned about the problem of blackmail. Some libertarians, as you recently discussed, consider blackmail simply an economic interaction involving the exchange of information that, however distasteful, does not involve direct use of force against others, and therefore should be legal. However, I am hard pressed to think of any instance of blackmail where no one is being harmed. As libertarians shouldn’t we base our actions upon sober observation of what is actually happening in a given situation, not on some abstract concept of free speech?

Please comment on these two examples:

EXAMPLE ONE: A gay man lives in a conservative neighborhood, but loves his community. His friends would not understand his orientation. I find out, and offer to not tell anyone — for a fee. Is it just a business interaction that I hold the threat of ruining his life over his head to coerce him into giving to me what belongs to him, when he has harmed no one?

MY SHORT ANSWER: I suspect that not all libertarians would have the same answer to this question. Here’s mine:

If you simply told this man’s friends that he was gay, you would only be saying what is true. It would be his so-called friends who harm him by shying away from him because of that truth. This very scenario undoubtedly happens a lot. The only reason that you would share this information is to disrupt this man’s life by revealing something he has kept private. While that’s certainly unkind, it isn’t legally actionable.

Sexual orientation is something that most of us would consider private, and not something that neighbors and friends should necessarily be privy to. But If the man wants to pay you not to reveal the truth to his friends, you aren’t coercing him.

Of course, someone could make a living discovering things about people that they wouldn’t want broadcast and suggesting that they pay him not to tell unsavory truths. That could backfire if one of his “clients” decided to share just how this person made his money, leaving few people excited about interacting with him.

EXAMPLE TWO: A young woman is assaulted and I know who did it. I offer to keep silent for a fee. Is it merely a business interaction if I allow a rapist to continue to prey on the community so I can get paid?

MY SHORT ANSWER: No. In this case, you know the identity of an aggressor. In today’s society, and most likely in a libertarian one, you would be considered an accomplice if you let the aggressor pay you to keep silent.

The principle here is not, in my opinion, free speech, but whether you are using first-strike force, fraud, or theft against your neighbor. In the case of accepting money from the rapist, you are colluding with an aggressor so that he can continue to perpetrate harm on others. That would make you, in most people’s eyes, an aggressor too.

LEARN MORE: Suggestions by Liberator Online editor James W. Harris for further reading on this topic:

* “Defending the Blackmailer” by Walter Block. Walter Block has been writing about libertarianism and blackmail for decades. His collected writings on this topic are in his 2013 book Legalize Blackmail. This provocative selection is a chapter from his classic 1976 book Defending the Undefendable, which you can download as a free ebook from the Mises Institute.

Excerpt: “What exactly is blackmail? Blackmail is the offer of trade. It is the offer to trade something, usually silence, for some other good, usually money. If the offer of the trade is accepted, the blackmailer then maintains his silence and the blackmailed pays the agreed-upon price.

“If the blackmail offer is rejected, the blackmailer may exercise his rights of free speech and publicize the secret. There is nothing amiss here. All that is happening is that an offer to maintain silence is being made. If the offer is rejected, the blackmailer does no more than exercise his right of free speech.”

* Anarchy, State and Utopia by Robert Nozick. Nozick was a libertarian and one of the premiere philosophers of the twentieth century, and Anarchy, State and Utopia is widely regarded as one of the most important philosophical books of the century. Nozick briefly discusses blackmail and the case for prohibiting it near the end of chapter four, but unfortunately I cannot find an excerpt online. You can read a summary of Nozick’s argument in “Blackmail, Extortion and Free Speech: A Reply to Posner, Epstein, Nozick and Lindgren“ by Walter Block and David Gordon, who disagree with it and offer opposing arguments.

Short Answers to the Tough QuestionsGot questions?  Dr. Ruwart has answers! If you’d like answers to YOUR tough questions on libertarian issues, email Dr. Ruwart

Due to volume, Dr. Ruwart can’t personally acknowledge all emails. But we’ll run the best questions and answers in upcoming issues.

Dr. Ruwart’s previous Liberator Online answers are archived in searchable form.

Dr. Ruwart’s latest book Short Answers to the Tough Questions, Expanded Edition is available from the Advocates, as is her acclaimed classic Healing Our World.

See You at the World’s Largest Gathering of Libertarian Students!

in Liberator Online by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 20, No. 2 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Mark your calendar!

ISFLC 2015The 8th Annual International Students For Liberty Conference will be held in Washington, DC, Friday, February 13 through Sunday, February 15.

And it’s going to be an event to remember.

Students For Liberty describes the conference as “the premiere event of the year for students dedicated to liberty and advancing freedom on campus.” Last year’s conference featured over 1,200 attendees from 26 countries — and SFL expects this year’s to be bigger and better than ever before.

The Advocates will have a booth there, and we’re looking forward to meeting friends new and old and sharing Advocates tools and programs like Operation Politically Homeless (now FREE for campus groups) with students and other attendees.

The conference is opening with a bang — a Friday night conversation between Ron Paul and Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, moderated by Nick Gillespie, editor of and

And that’s just the start. The conference has lined up a stellar list of speakers. Among them: John Stossel, Congressman Justin Amash, Cato’s David Boaz and Tom G. Palmer, Jeffrey Tucker of, Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks. Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, Libertarian Party executive director Wes Benedict, The Freeman editor Max Borders, the Marijuana Policy Project’s Rob Kampia… and that’s just a few of the outstanding speakers you’ll have a chance to hear. See the whole list of speakers here.

In addition to main-stage speakers, the weekend will feature over 80 breakout sessions on topics such as the militarization of police, the War on Drugs, free speech, and Bitcoin. The conference will also have an ongoing liberty fair with over 60 sponsor organizations. Plus there are networking opportunities with potential employers, and socials where you’ll have a great chance to meet with fellow lovers of liberty.

PS: You don’t have to be a student to attend. SFL says that, while the conference (as with other SFL programs) is focused on students, everyone is welcome to attend no matter what your age or status as a student might be.

Learn more and register at the conference website.

Hope to see you there!

To the Death

in Liberator Online by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 20, No. 1 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“Je ne suis pas d’accord avec ce que vous dites, mais je me battrai pour que vous ayez le droit de le dire.”

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

This magnificent declaration of free speech, tolerance, and liberty, attributed to the great 17th century French champion of liberty Voltaire, is now whirling around the globe in French and English, in print and online, in tweets, memes, newsfeeds and editorials.

The outcry over the murder of 12 people at Charlie Hebdo — killed for exercising their right to speak freely, killed for creating satire, killed for drawing cartoons — has thrust those words and the principle behind them into the minds of millions.

It is heartening to see such an overwhelming response in favor of freedom of speech, one of the most important and sacred of rights.

Freedom of speech has not always been tolerated well even here in America. Right up through the 1960s many novels, including books now considered masterpieces by authors like Henry Miller and William Burroughs, were illegal to sell. For most of America’s history, some words were unprintable, and writing about some ideas — birth control, for example — was forbidden. In the 1960s, Lenny Bruce, one of America’s greatest and most incisive comedians, was constantly harassed and arrested merely for using four-letter words in nightclubs; in despair, he died of a heroin overdose. Theater owners were arrested for showing sexually explicit films, convenience store clerks arrested for selling adult magazines.

Those who stood for freedom of expression in the past, even here in tolerant America, often fought a lonely and difficult struggle. All of us have benefited tremendously from their courage and passion.

Even today, even in America, those on the cutting edge of speech face threats. In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo murders, Joe Randazzo, former editor of the satirical publication The Onion, wrote at MSNBC: “I’ve personally spoken on the phone with at least two individuals who threatened to rape me and kill my family” because of his writing.

Randazzo continues: “Satire must always accompany any free society. It is an absolute necessity. Even in the most repressive medieval kingdoms, they understood the need for the court jester, the one soul allowed to tell the truth through laughter. It is, in many ways, the most powerful form of free speech because it is aimed at those in power, or those whose ideas would spread hate. It is the canary in the coalmine, a cultural thermometer, and it always has to push, push, push the boundaries of society to see how much it’s grown.”

Around the world, crowds numbering in the thousands have gathered in defense of this most fundamental of freedoms, some waving pencils and pens, some holding signs reading “Je Suis Charlie” — “I Am Charlie.” Cartoonists worldwide have rallied to honor their fallen brothers-in-ink with an outpouring of creative and defiant tributes.

How glorious, how thrilling to see such passionate defense of free speech in response to those who would use violence to shut out views they disagree with.

Free speech is a value millions hold dearly. But that wasn’t always true. We believe so strongly in free speech today because of the centuries of political activism that won that freedom, defined it, argued for its value, and made it a central part of our lives.

As we libertarians build a consensus on other fundamental freedoms — peace, the right to control our bodies, the right to own and keep the fruits of our labors — we will see these ideas, too, embraced by the people of the world, and vigorously defended when attacked.

I’ll end with another quote from Voltaire, with a message I hope will be taken up one day soon with the same passion as the one at the beginning of this column:

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”

Online Liberty Campaign: “Reset The Net” on June 5, 2014

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 8 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Sick of government surveillance spoiling the freedom and fun of the Internet?

Reset The NetYou’re not alone. And now there’s something you can do about it.

On June 5th, 2014 — the anniversary of the first NSA surveillance story revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden — a worldwide coalition of tens of thousands of Internet users, companies and organizations is pledging to “Reset The Net.”

Reset The Net is a day of global action to secure and encrypt the web to shut out the government’s mass surveillance capabilities. Tens of thousands of Internet activists, companies and organizations — from across the political spectrum and across the technology industry — have committed to preserve free speech and basic rights on the Internet by taking simple steps to shut off the government’s mass surveillance capabilities. And you can join them.

Participating organizations, sites and companies include the Libertarian Party, Fight For The Future (who initiated the campaign), reddit, CREDO Mobile, Namecheap, Imgur, Greenpeace, FireDogLake, Thunderclap, DuckDuckGo, Disconnect.Me, Demand Progress, Access, Free Press, Restore the Fourth, AIDS Policy Project, PolitiHacks, OpenMedia, Free Software Foundation, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Code Pink, Popular Resistance, Participatory Politics Foundation, BoingBoing, Public Knowledge, Amicus, New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Student Net Alliance, and the Center for Democracy and Technology.

These and other organizations will participate by publicizing the effort and by improving their own security and/or promoting privacy tools to their followers.

Individual Internet users can act with Reset The Net in several important ways. They can get and install a free “privacy pack” of safe open-source software tools that make end-to-end encryption easy, as well as learning other ways to secure their online life against intrusive surveillance. Information on how to do this will be available from Reset The Net.

Individuals are also invited to sign a petition supporting online freedom and pledging to participate in the campaign. So far nearly 20,000 people have done so. Reset The Net hopes to have at least 50,000 signatures by the June 5 kick-off date.

Reset The Net will offer supporters a splash screen they can run at their web sites on June 5. These screens will potentially reach millions with a call for privacy and a link to the privacy tools pack.

Twitter users can join the #ResetTheNet Twitter brigade to further publicize the idea. Still more suggestions are at the Reset The Net website.

“The NSA is exploiting weak links in Internet security to spy on the entire world, twisting the Internet we love into something it was never meant to be,” says Reset The Net. “We can’t stop targeted attacks, but we can stop mass surveillance, by building proven security into the everyday Internet.”

For more information watch the short campaign video and visit

“The Libertarian Party enthusiastically joins Reset the Net,” said Carla Howell, Political Director for the Libertarian National Committee. “Over thirty Libertarian candidates running for federal office this year have pledged to shut down the NSA and invite Edward Snowden to return home a free man. He should be granted an immediate presidential pardon, awarded the American Medal of Freedom, and applauded for blowing the whistle on the NSA’s abuse of the Constitution.”

“Freedom to be yourself is everything. No government can take that away from us, so we’re going to use the power we have to take it back,” said Tiffiniy Cheng, co-founder of Fight for the Future. “Now that we know how mass surveillance works, we know how to stop it. That’s why people all over the world are going to work together to use encryption everywhere and make it too hard for any government to conduct mass surveillance. There are moments in history where people and organizations must choose whether to stand on the side of freedom or tyranny. On June 5th, the Internet will show which side it’s on.”

Libertarianism and Forced Testimony in Courts

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Liberator Online, Libertarian Answers on Issues by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

(From the Ask Dr. Ruwart section in Volume 19, No. 3 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

QUESTION: In a libertarian society, when marriage becomes a private institution, what will happen to the right of a person not to be forced to testify against their spouse in a court of law?

MY SHORT ANSWER: In a libertarian society, no peaceful person could be forced to do anything, including testify against another. Today’s government simply threatens people with prison and fines unless they give information, often at great cost to themselves (e.g., missing work).

Does this mean if you were charged with murder that the witness who could save you wouldn’t testify? Probably not. Witnesses could be reimbursed for lost work and other expenses for testifying, so their cost would be minimal. Withholding crucial information would likely be considered socially unacceptable. Few people would want to be embarrassed by a public announcement that they had done so — and caused an innocent person to suffer.

Even today, it’s almost impossible to force someone to testify truthfully. Witnesses lie to protect themselves and others, even under oath. That’s probably the real reason that spouses can’t be forced to testify today: they are the ones most likely to twist the truth for the benefit of their loved ones.

LEARN MORE: Suggestions for further reading on this topic from Liberator Online editor James W. Harris:

Free or Compulsory Speech“ by Murray N. Rothbard. The great libertarian thinker Murray Rothbard explores this issue with his characteristic vigor and consistency in this article, which first appeared in Libertarian Review in November 1978.

Excerpt: “The most flagrant example of continuing compulsory speech takes place in every courtroom in our land: the compulsory bearing of witness. Now surely each person is the absolute owner of his or her own body; as the owner of his own body, only the individual should decide on whether or not to speak in any given situation, and there should be no compulsion upon him to talk or not to talk. And yet in every court, witnesses are dragged in by force (the subpoena power) and compelled to bear witness for or against other people.”

Page 1 of 212