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“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.

 

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.

“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.

They Said It… From John Stossel, Judge Napolitano And More

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It… section in Volume 19, No. 17 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

FOX Business' John Stossel

BAN THE BANNERS: “I wonder just how many things social conservatives would outlaw if they thought the public would accept the bans. [Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council] doesn’t approve of gambling, gay marriage, plural marriage, sex work or making a political statement by burning a flag. … Meanwhile, liberals keep adding new things to their own list of items to control: wages, hate speech, high-interest loans, plastic shopping bags, large cars, health care, e-cigarettes, Uber, AirBnB and more. One choice America needs urgently is an alternative to politicians who constantly want to ban more things.” — John Stossel, “Two Anti-Choice Parties,” syndicated column, Sept. 24, 2014.

MADISON WI POLICE CHIEF SAYS LEGALIZE MARIJUANA: 

Madison, Wisconsin Police Chief Mike Koval

“We’ve done such an abysmal job using marijuana as a centerpiece of drug enforcement, that it’s time to reorder and triage the necessities of what’s more important now. …The crusade on marijuana has been a palpable failure — an abject failure. …So let’s acknowledge the failure for what it is, and rededicate ourselves to…a better way to deal with people who have addictions.” — Madison, Wisconsin Police Chief Mike Koval, interviewed in Wisconsin State Journal, Sept. 14, 2014.

THE MILITARIZED USDA: “In May of this year, the USDA Joanna Rothkopf[U.S. Department of Agriculture] Office of the Inspector General filed a request for ‘submachine guns, .40 Cal. S&W, ambidextrous safety, semi-automatic or 2 shot burst trigger group, Tritium night sights for front and rear, rails for attachment of flashlight (front under fore grip) and scope (top rear), stock-collapsible or folding, magazine — 30 rd. capacity, sling, light weight, and oversized trigger guard for gloved operation.’” — Joanna Rothkopf, “Why is the Department of Agriculture asking for submachine guns?” Salon.com

LIBERTY VERSUS PHONY SECURITY:

Judge Andrew Napolitano

“The government can’t deliver the mail, pave potholes, balance the budget, fairly collect taxes, protect us from Ebola, even tell the truth. Who would trust it with personal freedoms?” — Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, “A Euphemism for Tyranny,” Washington Times, Oct. 14, 2014.