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This Dad Lost Everything To Hurricane Harvey. His Response? ‘We Thank God’

Jeremiah’s son can look upon his father and see gratitude, humility, and strength during Hurricane Harvey; not the grievance and victimhood that is celebrated in our political life today.

This Dad Lost Everything To Hurricane Harvey. His Response? ‘We Thank God’

“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have—life itself.” Walter Anderson, 1885-1962

Twenty trillion gallons of water have fallen on Texas since Thursday afternoon. Eighteen people have been killed, and some 30,000 displaced; and there’s more rain still to come. As levees are breached, and lives are swept away, some have taken to social media to heckle and harass the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

This Dad Lost Everything To Hurricane Harvey. His Response? ‘We Thank God’

This Dad Lost Everything To Hurricane Harvey. His Response? ‘We Thank God’

This Dad Lost Everything To Hurricane Harvey. His Response? ‘We Thank God’

This Dad Lost Everything To Hurricane Harvey. His Response? ‘We Thank God’

This despicable behavior puts on full display the cold and empty chambers of the heart of identity politics. With this in mind, I’d like to you to meet a man named Jeremiah from Hurricane Harvey:  https://t.co/c8WRl5B43P

n the video Jeremiah is walking hand in hand with his six-year-old son. They’ve just been rescued from the storm. A reporter approaches, asking what happened. Jeremiah talks about the rain, and of being rescued. He then looks straight into the camera and says, “We thank God. We thank God. This all we got. We lost the car, all the clothes, school clothes, everything’s gone. Everything’s gone.”

The reporter asks where they’ll go next.

“We don’t know,” Jeremiah says.

“But you’re thankful?” the reporter asks, clearly taken aback by Jeremiah’s gracious thanksgiving to God in the wake of losing everything.

“Yeah, we’re thankful.”

Comic book writer J. Michael Straczynski once said, “For a lot of people, Superman is and has always been America’s hero. He stands for what we believe is the best within us: limitless strength tempered by compassion, that can bear adversity and emerge stronger on the other side. He stands for what we all feel we would like to be able to stand for, when standing is hardest.”

This is Jeremiah. He’s not pulling someone from a sinking car. He’s not the Cajun Navy. He’s not a first responder working 20 straight hours saving lives. He can’t be. He has a son to take care of, and in that brief exchange Jeremiah gave us an honest glimpse of the private conduct of a father. His son can look upon his father and see gratitude, humility, and strength; not the grievance and victimhood that is celebrated in our political life today. And I believe he will better off for it.

As I write this, I’m sitting on a porch in Tennessee with a couple of dogs at my feet. The sky is blue and the breeze is warm. My children are at school. My wife and I are sending flirtatious text messages to each other. It’s a good day for us, and I can’t recall the last time I felt truly thankful.

Later tonight we’re going to box up the supplies that we bought for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Toothbrushes, protein bars, water, ramen. The kids picked out some candy bags for kids like Jeremiah’s son. It’s not much, but it’s everything we could do. Once the box arrives in Texas, we have no idea who will open it or receive the supplies inside. Perhaps those protein bars will be handed to a Bernie Sanders supporter. Maybe a member of Antifa will get one of the toothbrushes.

Jeremiah’s words are a welcome challenge: What will we show the world? When we reach the end of our rope, will we tie a knot and hang on, as Abraham Lincoln once advised? When you see Jeremiah, do you see a Trump supporter getting his just deserts? Is Jeremiah deserving of misfortune for his faith in God? Does his opinion on tax reform warrant the loss of his home and everything in it?

As my wife and I teach our children to navigate through disaster, we’ll think of Jeremiah making his way down the road, holding the hand of his young son, and we’ll thank God, too. We’ll thank God for men like Jeremiah.

Source:  TheFederalist.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

Sarah Palin Should Appeal The Dismissal Of Her NYT Defamation Lawsuit

The judge’s narrow reading of the precedents shouldn’t end Sarah Palin’s quest for vindication against the latest vicious, untrue smear, defamation in particular, by a media establishment that has long detested her.

Sarah Palin Should Appeal The Dismissal Of Her NYT Defamation Lawsuit

On Tuesday, federal district court judge Jed S. Rakoff dismissed Sarah Palin’s defamation suit against The New York Times, holding that her complaint failed to allege the actual malice she was required to show in order to proceed with the suit.

His narrow reading of the precedents ends—barring a successful appeal—Palin’s quest for vindication against the latest vicious, untrue smear by a media establishment that has long detested her. It also lends legitimacy to the falling standards in the media wrought by the rise of the Internet and the decline of thorough, old-fashioned journalism.

Palin’s case arose in the aftermath of the congressional baseball shooting by an unhinged leftist on June 14. The shooter, who specifically targeted Republicans, left several people injured before being killed. In an editorial published later that same day, the Times referred back to the 2011 shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords by Jared Lee Loughner, and attempted to blame the deaths that day on Palin, while downplaying the connection between the 2017 shooter and his publicly professed radical politics.

The editorial stated that in the 2011 incident “the link to political violence was clear. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.” After an outcry at the mischaracterization, the defamatory statements were corrected, but not until the next day. Palin filed suit against the Times and Rakoff, a 1996 Clinton appointee to the district court for Southern District of New York, was assigned to the case.

Balancing Free Speech and Defamation

Rakoff’s decision in the Palin case begins by professing respect for America’s robust tradition of free speech under the First Amendment that allows wide latitude in publishing political opinions. As he writes in his opinion, “Nowhere is political journalism so free, so robust, or perhaps so rowdy as in the United States.” This freedom separates us from the other nations—even ostensibly free nations—where censorship occurs every day.

But defamation as a cause of action must always co-exist with free speech and, while the government may not fine or jail people for what they say, when a newspaper prints falsehoods that damage a person’s reputation, that person must be allowed to sue for damages, just as she would for any other injury. In deciding her claim before it gets to a jury, Rakoff does Palin, and all people who find themselves on the wrong side of an editorial board, a disservice.

The law of defamation is most profoundly influenced by the rules set forth in New York Times v. Sullivan, a 1964 Supreme Court case that drastically reduced the scope of defamation suits, especially for public figures like Palin. For Palin to prevail in a libel suit under Sullivan, she must prove that (1) there was a written defamatory statement about her, (2) that the statement was published, (3) that the publishers did so with “actual malice,” (4) that the statement was false, (5) and that the publication caused damage to her reputation.  Clearly defamation.

The Times’ attorneys argued that Palin’s claim could not fulfill all of these elements even if everything she alleged were true. Rakoff agreed that four of the five elements could possibly be proven at trial. On the third element, however, he held that Palin could not possibly prove that the Times and the primary author of its unsigned editorial, James Bennet, acted with actual malice. As a result, he dismissed the case.

What Is ‘Actual Malice’?

“Actual malice” is a tough requirement to meet, and purposely so. The court in Sullivan wanted to ensure that libel suits did not stifle free speech, especially where the subject of the speech is a public figure of the type about which newspapers should be expected to publish opinions. They held that the statement in question must have been published “with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”

Palin alleged that Bennet, the brother of Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, had a motive to defame her, both out of political animus and of a desire to please the Times’ subscribers. Whether or not political disagreement alone is sufficient to prove animus—and Rakoff rightly says that it is not—it is useless to deny that the Times opposes Palin and other social conservatives. Palin needed to prove that such opposition led Bennet and others either to ignore what they knew (that the connection to Loughner was false) or that they recklessly made no effort to even verify their wrong assumptions.

Rakoff held an evidentiary hearing to look into what Bennet knew about the five-year-old falsehood. Even holding such a hearing arguably shows that the facts of the matter are in doubt and should be heard by a jury—which rules on the facts—rather than a judge, who rules on the law. By holding that hearing, questioning Bennet, and weighing the evidence, Rakoff stepped into the role properly granted to jurors.

While there were reasons for the hearing, such as finding out who, specifically, was responsible for writing the unsigned editorial, that should have been the limit of the court’s findings. Instead, the judge discovered Bennet’s role in the process, then took the additional step of absolving him of responsibility.

Different Times, Different Facts

The court’s application of the precedent in Sullivan is flawed in two ways. In the 1964 case, the Times published assertions about the actions of Alabama law enforcement personnel that were provably false, exaggerating the extent to which they had acted against civil rights protestors. The Alabamians believed the Times should have known that the statements were false, yet published them anyway. The Supreme Court held that showing the newspaper to have previously published the true version of events “supports, at most, a finding of negligence in failing to discover the misstatements, and is constitutionally insufficient to show the recklessness that is required for a finding of actual malice.”

That may have been true in 1964, but today, when every word published by the New York Times is almost instantly searchable in the newspaper’s online archives, calling it negligence falls short of the mark. With the most minimal of efforts, Bennet and his staff could have accessed their own coverage of the 2011 shooting and seen that the connection to Palin’s PAC, alleged in the immediate aftermath of that day’s events, was very quickly debunked, and that no evidence has ever emerged that Loughner had even seen the item that supposedly inspired him. It would have taken mere minutes of fact-checking to sort out their error (if indeed it was an error,) but they neglected even that level of diligence. Is it unreasonable to believe that a jury might find that level of neglect to have been a reckless disregard for the truth?

The other difference between the Sullivan case and Palin’s is in the nature of the publication. Rakoff quotes from Sullivan in his ruling (at page 22), saying, “The mere presence of stories in the files does not, of course, establish that the Times ‘knew’ the [publication at issue] was false.” The bracketed section draws the eye, but is not uncommon in legal writing, often used to exclude extraneous information not essential to the point of the citation. But compare it to the original sentence from Sullivan, and a problem emerges:
The mere presence of the stories in the files does not, of course, establish that the Times ‘knew’ the advertisement was false, since the state of mind required for actual malice would have to be brought home to the persons in the Times’ organization having responsibility for the publication of the advertisement. (emphasis added)

There lies an important distinction between Sullivan and this case: the defamatory publication in Sullivan was an advertisement, not an article or editorial written by the Times staff. The court in Sullivan held that it was not malicious for the advertising department to accept an ad without cross-checking it against all of the newspaper’s previously published articles. That’s a reasonable point: the advertising department’s job is to sell ads, not to fact-check stories, a labor-intensive process in those days.

Compare that to Palin’s case. The editorial Bennet wrote was not a third-party ad, it was a product of the Times’ own staff. Not only is research and fact-checking easier in 2017, but the editorial was the product of the part of the newspaper’s staff that should be used to getting things right.

That the ad salesmen might not know about the exact details of the civil rights movement in Alabama is plausible; that the editorial board was ignorant of the basic facts of a recent high-profile news story beggars belief. Add to that the coincidence that the “mistake” just happened to defame a political figure reviled by the mainstream media establishment and it might not immediately prove malice, but it is certainly enough to get the case to trial and let a jury decide.  Battling defamation is worth the fight.

New Media Doesn’t Care About Facts

Rakoff describes the case this way: “What we have here is an editorial, written and rewritten rapidly in order to voice an opinion on an immediate event of importance, in which are included a few factual inaccuracies somewhat pertaining to Mrs. Palin that are very rapidly corrected.” That statement describes journalism in twenty-first-century America and is a serious indictment of the profession. The state of affairs in journalism these days is to publish first and fact-check later, and this decision helps legitimize the slapdash approach to writing that has spread from bloggers to once-venerable newspapers.

When newspapers, including the Times, are laying off editors left and right, the result will necessarily be a weaker work product. Newspapers have always competed with each other to publish a news story first, and in breaking news errors will always be made. What has changed is that fewer editors and fact-checkers now intermediate between a reporter’s pen and the published product. Firing those people no doubt saves money, but only at the cost of accuracy and legitimacy.

In an editorial, this is doubly absurd. The news might “need” to be published as it happens, but opinions can and should wait until facts are known and sober judgment is applied. When editorial writers choose speed over accuracy, they leave readers ill-served. They also risk misstating facts in a way that has real-life consequences.

Inaccuracy in the June 14 editorial was a choice, born of laziness and closed-mindedness, and one that the slightest effort would have easily avoided. Palin would do the news industry a favor by appealing this decision and reminding them they are responsible for what they publish and required to make an effort, at least, to tell the people the truth.  Defamation should not be allowed without punishment.

Source:  TheFederalist.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

A Roadmap for Defending Free Speech: After Backlash, SMU Restores 9/11 Memorial

If you thought Texas was immune to the campus madness spreading near-daily across America, consider the case of Southern Methodist University (SMU). This summer, the Dallas university seemed ready to leap aboard the bandwagon of censorship and intolerance. That it ultimately retreated from this illiberal undertaking should give confidence to its friends and alums and, more importantly, to friends of free speech everywhere.

A Roadmap for Defending Free Speech: After Backlash, SMU Restores 9/11 Memorial

 

As reported on its website, in July, the SMU chapter of the conservative student group, Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), filed a request for the use of “Dallas Hall Lawn, a central location on campus” where, for the past two years, YAF has hosted the “9/11: Never Forget Project.” The Project display consists of 2,977 American flags, which “represent each of the 2,977 Americans murdered by Al Qaeda terrorists in September 2001.” There appeared to be no reason why this, its third request, would not be approved again.

However, on July 24, YAF received an email from SMU’s administration announcing that the school had altered its policy. “The email informed YAF that displays are now forbidden on Dallas Hall Lawn, and would instead be relegated to MoMac Park,” which YAF regards as “a location unquestionably less visible and further removed from students’ everyday activities. Dallas Hall Lawn is a busy thriving hub of activity,” which “functions as the central forum of SMU’s campus. MoMac Park does not.”

Why the change in policy? This is where things appeared to go from bad to worse—before they got much better—for the administration.

To provide some background, SMU—according to the nonpartisan free-speech watchdog, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)—already is suspect when it comes to protecting free speech. FIRE grades SMU with a “speech code rating Yellow,” which indicates that the school has “at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application.” To be fair, there is a worse grade that FIRE provides—a “Red Light,” which a number of Texas universities currently receive, among them, two publics, UT-Austin and the University of Houston, and one private, Rice University. A “Red Light” rating means, quoting FIRE’s website, that the school “has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.”

This is not the first time that SMU has tussled with YAF; the latter’s website avers that the school had objected to a prior version of the Memorial, citing scheduling and logistical obstacles. The new policy, announced at the end of July, stated, “While the University respects the rights of students to free speech, the University respects the right of members of the community to avoid messages that are triggering, harmful, or harassing” (emphasis mine).

For the sake of not offending anyone, the Memorial would be moved from its prior place of prominence.

But then, something peculiar seems to have happened. Perhaps someone in the administration realized that the new campus obsession with “triggering speech” does not play well, nor should it, in a country founded on the principle that freedom of speech includes “offensive” speech, as a number of Court decisions have affirmed. Although SMU, as a private school, is not legally bound to uphold the First Amendment—as UT-Austin, the University of Houston, and all public universities are—SMU’s Mission Statement “affirms its historical commitment to academic freedom and open inquiry.”

For some reason, on August 1, SMU announced an additional revision to its just-revised policy on public displays. The Dallas Morning News accordingly updated its coverage with the following explanatory note: “Revised to include that SMU has updated its campus expression policy by removing language about ‘harmful or triggering messages.’ An earlier version of this article incorrectly said the university had ruled the 9/11 memorial must move because it could be triggering to students. The university’s policy requires all displays to move to the new site.”

By insisting that it “incorrectly” asserted that the university would move the 9/11 memorial “because it could be triggering to students,” the Morning News update appears to be practicing interpretive charity, which is always a noble stance; but in this instance is it more charitable than accurate? After all, SMU’s “revision-of-the-revision” expressly states its purpose is “to remove” its “poor wording regarding triggering or harmful messages.”

Whatever the case, if the school thought that its speedy deletion of the term, “triggering”—while still holding to its decision to relegate the Memorial to a less-trafficked location—would end the controversy, it was mistaken. On August 2, the Lone Star State’s Republican governor, Greg Abbott, sent the school a public letter asking President R. Gerald Turner to permit his students to place the Memorial flags in their “traditional place of honor” on the “Dallas Hall lawn,” adding, “This display is not political. It is not partisan. It is not controversial. This is about our nation united.”

Alas, we are far from a nation united these days—from Charlottesville, to Berkeley, to Yale, to Middlebury, to Evergreen State College, and beyond—our campuses and country are roiling with ideological conflict. The cause? Much of it owes to the rise in “hypersensitivity,” the public venting of which has sometimes been met by guilt-induced servility on the part of administrators, as I argue here and here.

As a former professor and senior university administrator, it is not difficult to imagine the genuine angst with which SMU’s leadership struggled to satisfy both sides of a battle not of the school’s making. From this unplanned war there would be no easy exit—someone would be offended by the school’s choice, whichever way it went: Some could be expected to decry the perceived insensitivity of the Memorial; others, to rail at what appeared to them as not only an infringement on free speech, but a slighting of the slaughtered of 9/11.

I sympathize with SMU’s plight. At the same time, it is unclear that its first attempted solution—to move all displays to MoMac Park—would have bought the peace it sought at the price of its “historical commitment to academic freedom and open inquiry.” In time, thoughtful members of the SMU community might come to wonder just what exactly the school stands for anymore, and why.

But then came the good news. Unlike a number of state officeholders nationwide, who have attempted, and largely failed, to convince their states’ campuses to protect free speech, Abbott’s entreaty hit pay dirt. A few days after the governor sent his admonition, SMU announced that it had reversed its prior decision, and would now restore the 9/11 Memorial and “all displays to the traditional location on the lawn.”

In this effort, the governor was aided by a free-speech-friendly coalition that, with YAF, included “leaders from the College Democrats, College Republicans, Feminist Equality Movement, Mustangs for Life and Turning Point USA.” Their joint letter to President Turner opined: “People absolutely have to have a right to their own opinions, but this does not come with a right to be shielded from opposing ideas, especially in an environment dedicated to the learning, sharing and developing of new ideas.”

One can approach this happy resolution in one of two ways. On the one hand, some might lament that students had to band together to teach their university elders that the intellectual excellence at which higher education aims depends ineluctably on the protection of free speech and debate.

One the other hand, others, this writer included, may eschew lamentations and instead take SMU at its word. After announcing its reversal, President Turner offered this statement: “I thank the students from across campus who came together in the spirit of mutual respect and civil discourse to achieve this outcome. Throughout these discussions, students have expressed their commitment to freedom of expression — a value the university shares.”

A no-less magnanimous postmortem on the saga was offered by Grant Wolf, Chairman of SMU’s YAF: “We have not fought against our university. We have fought for America. And America has won.”

I agree with and admire both Turner’s and Wolf’s assessments. In the end, SMU resisted PC/SJW’s gravitational pull, which has caused too many other schools to spin way from their core mission. At such schools, the “Social Justice” enterprise has already inclined their campuses in the totalitarian direction depicted in George Orwell’s 1984“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.

Unlike so many campus meltdowns of the past few years, in this case, what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature” prevailed. Let us hope that the triumph of freedom at SMU will stand as a model for other schools confronting similar stumbling blocks to the freedom to learn.

Source:  Forbes.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

 

A Handful of Tech Companies Decide Who Has Free Speech Online. That’s Not Good.

Conservatives and others outside the Silicon Valley consensus are right to be paranoid.  On August 18, statistics professor and researcher Salil Mehta discovered his Google account had been shut down. Not only did he lose access to his email, but his popular blog Statistical Ideas was inaccessible — right after The New York Times had linked to it, directing a stream of readers his way. Google’s automated message told Mehta that he had violated the Terms of Service, but didn’t specify how and offered little recourse.  Insert:  The tech giants do not have to provide any reasons for shutting you down whether related to free speech or not.

A Handful of Tech Companies Decide Who Has Free Speech Online. That's Not Good.

Too Easy?

The incident came soon after Google fired software engineer James Damore for his outspoken views on diversity in the tech industry. In the tense atmosphere, Mehta assumed that writing he had done about electoral politics was the cause. “Apparently if you show [p]robability work like Hillary having lower election odds, then this is new definition of hate speech,” he tweeted in frustration. Mehta’s plight went semi-viral after Ricardo Blanco, a Tesla communications manager and himself a former Google executive, signal-boosted Mehta’s complaint, as did bombastic economics author Nicholas Nassim Taleb.

Like Damore, who saw himself as merely presenting scientific data showing differences between populations, Mehta did not think of himself as an ideological bomb-thrower. He told ZeroHedge, “I am not promoting any specific viewpoint. I teach probability math and that’s it.”

Mehta was lucky. The public outcry and press attention prompted Google to manually review his case. A Google spokesperson told Inc. that Mehta mistakenly marked some of his own email as spam, which confused the algorithm and triggered the shutdown. By August 21, the account had been fully restored.

It could have turned out differently. Without his impressive credentials and far-reaching network, Mehta never would have found out why his Google account was shut down. He wouldn’t have been able to access his correspondence or restore his blog, which he says has been read by the likes of Elon Musk and Warren Buffett.

After regaining access to his blog, Mehta published an out-of-character post. Instead of talking about math, Mehta discussed the societal danger posed by artificial intelligence. He pointed out that algorithms constructed by ideologically homogenous groups will reflect that homogeneity — an argument that is common among technology critics and activists of all political persuasions.

“Risk-taking off the backs of billions of citizens, an increasingly unstable segment of whom are fuming at the moment,” Mehta called the practice.

Mehta’s experience with Google illustrates just how little some of us trust our digital gatekeepers. Anyone who is right of center — or otherwise holds views that don’t jibe with the dominant Silicon Valley paradigm — can’t help but feel antsy in 2017. This anxiety exploded into public view last year after Facebook was rumored to be suppressing conservative articles in its “Trending Topics” module. People are worried about being no-platformed; about losing their ability to advocate for themselves and their communities.

“Despite their participatory rhetoric,” media critic John Herrmann wrote in The New York Times, “social platforms are closer to authoritarian spaces than democratic ones.” Users have no ability to vote in new CEOs, and the shareholders who do are more concerned with earnings and dividends than free speech rights. Your whole life could be tied up in an account, and then a fluke mistake could get you banned. There would be nearly nothing you could do about it. Unless you’re prominent enough for the media to care, you’ll be hard-pressed to get human eyes on your case.

Tech companies that offer free consumer products get away with promising very little to their users. Due process is not part of the deal. Platforms like Google and Facebook go through the rigmarole of establishing official policies, but they can break them arbitrarily whenever they want. The backend infrastructure of the internet, made up of hosting companies and DNS registrars, is also governed by what boils down to whim.

Sometimes the affectation is broken. Cloudflare’s CEO Matthew Prince caused a stir when he reversed the company’s policy of content neutrality in order to ax a neo-Nazi site. In a sorry-not-sorry email to Cloudflare staff, Prince wrote, “Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the internet.”

To his credit, Prince recognized his exercise of power as problematic and attempted to use it as a teachable moment. “Firing a Nazi customer gets you glowing notes from around the world, thanking you for standing up to hate,” he subsequently noted in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. “But a week later, I continue to worry about this power and the potential precedent being set. The reality of today’s internet is that if you are publishing anything even remotely controversial, your site will get cyber-attacked. Without a massive global network similar to Cloudflare’s, it is nearly impossible to withstand the barrage.”

Prince added, “The upshot is that a few private companies have effectively become the gatekeepers to the public square — the blogs and social media that serve as today’s soapboxes and pamphlets. If a handful of tech executives decide to block you from their services, your content effectively can’t be on the internet.”

Conservative writer David French critiqued Prince’s decision in National Review, and came to the same conclusion:

“This was an ominous development for free speech — and not because there is anything at all valuable about The Daily Stormer’s message. It’s an evil site. Its message is vile. Instead, The Daily Stormer’s demise is a reminder that a few major corporations now have far more power than the government to regulate and restrict free speech, and they’re hardly neutral or unbiased actors. They have a point of view, and they’re under immense pressure to use that point of view to influence public debate.”

Everyone is on edge. Even rote decisions made by algorithms — like the one that booted Salil Mehta from his Google account — are easy to interpret as ideology-driven malice. In most cases, users are disenfranchised to the extent that they’ll never find out either way.  Talk about free speech rights being stompled by Big Tech.

Source:  Inc.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

 

After melees, Berkeley mayor asks Cal to cancel right-wing Free Speech Week

In the aftermath of a right-wing rally Sunday that ended with anarchists chasing attendees from a downtown park, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin urged UC Berkeley on Monday to cancel conservatives’ plans for a Free Speech Week next month to avoid making the city the center of more violent unrest.

After melees, Berkeley mayor asks Cal to cancel right-wing Free Speech Week

 

“I don’t want Berkeley being used as a punching bag,” said Arreguin, whose city has been the site of several showdowns this year between, on the one hand, the left and its fringe anarchist wing, and on the other, supporters of President Trump who at times have included white nationalists.

“I am concerned about these groups using large protests to create mayhem,” Arreguin said. “It’s something we have seen in Oakland and in Berkeley.”

The mayor wants UC Berkeley to halt plans by a conservative campus group, the Berkeley Patriot, to host right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos during its scheduled Free Speech Week from Sept. 24-27. Berkeley’s right-vs.-left cage matches began with an appearance that Yiannopoulos was to have made in February at a campus hall, an event that was aborted when black-clad anarchists like those who broke up Sunday’s downtown rally stormed into Sproul Plaza, smashed windows and set bonfires.

Trump himself denounced UC Berkeley in a tweet the next day, and his supporters have since made a point of bringing their fight to the famously liberal college town.

There have been reports that the Berkeley Patriot is also trying to lure ousted White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and right-wing commentator Ann Coulter to appear on campus during its Free Speech Week. Bryce Kasamoto, a spokesman for the group, said Monday, “We are still working out the logistics of this event with the university and law enforcement. Once we have worked out final specifics, we will be able to confirm speakers for Free Speech Week.”

Arreguin is wary of the whole idea.

“I’m very concerned about Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter and some of these other right-wing speakers coming to the Berkeley campus, because it’s just a target for black bloc to come out and commit mayhem on the Berkeley campus and have that potentially spill out on the street,” Arreguin said, referring to militants who have also been called anti-fascists or antifa.

The anti-Yiannopoulos protesters inflicted $100,000 worth of damage to the school’s student union in February before taking to the streets of Berkeley, where several businesses’ windows were smashed. Arreguin said inviting the former Breitbart News editor and other right-wing speakers was setting up a possible repeat of that destruction.

“I obviously believe in freedom of speech, but there is a line between freedom of speech and then posing a risk to public safety,” the mayor said. “That is where we have to really be very careful — that while protecting people’s free-speech rights, we are not putting our citizens in a potentially dangerous situation and costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars fixing the windows of businesses.”

UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said the university is working with the Berkeley Patriot to come up with a time and location for Yiannopoulos’ appearance. He emphasized that UC Berkeley wasn’t the one extending the invitation, but that “we have neither the legal right nor ability to interfere with or cancel (students groups’) invitations based on the perspectives and beliefs of the speakers.”

“Where we do have discretion is around everything that has to do with the safety of our communities, and the well-being of those who may feel threatened or harmed by what some of these speakers may espouse,” Mogulof said. “We can assure you that those priorities, along with our commitment to free speech, remain at the center of our planning and priorities.”

Also on tap for next month is a campus appearance by Ben Shapiro, another former Breitbart News editor, who is scheduled to speak Sept. 14 at the 1,900-capacity Zellerbach Hall. His appearance is sponsored by Berkeley College Republicans.

Shapiro told The Chronicle last week that he would welcome anyone who wanted to protest his appearance, but that “I’m actively telling people not to show up to defend my free speech. That’s the police’s job.”

UC Berkeley is charging the organizers of Shapiro’s appearance $15,000 for the campus’ security costs.

Source:  SFchronicle.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

No, Jesse Jackson, The Electoral College Isn’t Racist

Rev. Jesse Jackson has made headlines saying that as we get rid of Confederate statues we should also get rid of the Electoral College.

No, Jesse Jackson, The Electoral College Isn’t RacistRecently, Rev. Jesse Jackson made headlines saying that as we get rid of Confederate statues we should also get rid of the Electoral College. He complains that the historic institution, by which America chooses its presidents, has twice stolen the White House from Democrats, but the overall implication of his claims is that the Electoral College is racist.

He’s wrong on two fronts.

First, the college didn’t steal the elections from Al Gore in 2000 or Hillary Clinton in 2016. Neither Gore nor Clinton received more than 50 percent of the popular vote, and we don’t know how the more than four million Gary Johnson voters or three-quarter million Evan McMullin voters would have voted in a runoff between Trump and Clinton. More importantly, absent the Electoral College candidates would have campaigned differently. Clinton lost because she neglected too many non-coastal states.

The second charge, the charge of racism, is more subtle. The claim that the college is racist can be made two ways. First, that the college was designed as racist by giving more clout to slave states than they would have had under a popular vote model. Second, that boosting the influence of low-population states today effectively boosts the whiter states in the nation.

The former claim is plausible because Southern states did effectively have more representation through the college than they might have had under a popular vote of all free persons. But the oft-maligned Three-Fifths Clause was designed to limit the influence of slave states in congressional apportionment. Since congressional apportionment determines the number of a state’s electors—one for each representative and senator in Congress—limiting Southern representation in Congress limited their representation in the Electoral College.

A popular vote for president was not a viable alternative to the Electoral College considered at the Constitutional Convention. Convention delegates feared that popular executives could too easily turn into popular autocrats, as the annals of history repeatedly show. Additionally, the delegates weren’t convinced the average voter would know enough about the requirements for office or the qualifications of candidates to be able to make an informed decision. The Electoral Compromise was a compromise that allowed people to choose representatives—electors—to elect the president on their behalf.

The proponents of the college weren’t motivated by racism. Oliver Ellsworth, the “Father of the Electoral College,” twice asked the Convention to consider banning slavery in the Constitution. Northern states supported the institution, while the only votes against it came from Southern states.

Since the abolition of slavery under the Fourteenth Amendment (passed due to the efforts of Abraham Lincoln, who won in 1860 with less than 40 percent of the popular vote), the institution of slavery cannot pervert the Electoral College system.

The idea that the college is racist today because it boosts the influence of predominantly white, rural states is also flawed. The college supports low-population states regardless of their racial makeup. While Wyoming, Montana, the Dakotas, and Vermont are disproportionately white, the college also boosts Delaware, Washington DC, Alaska, Hawaii, and New Mexico, some of the most diverse regions of the country. Without the Electoral College, all of these states would have their influence subsumed under large population centers like New York and Los Angeles. No state would have signed on to a system that stripped them of any chance of influence, and no state should want that now.

The Electoral College facilitates the joining of the states in union. The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and the Voting Rights Act made it better still. If we also want it to check demagogues we should consider restoring the independence of electors to serve as real intermediaries between the popular will and the presidency.

Source:  TheFederalist.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

Birthplace of free speech movement braces for possible fight

The California city that birthed the American free speech movement is preparing for potential clashes even though the person behind a right-wing rally scheduled for Sunday has pleaded with supporters to stay away, saying that she fears violence.

Birthplace of free speech movement braces for possible fight

Protesters march in San Francisco, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017. Officials took steps to prevent violence ahead of a planned news conference by a right-wing group.

The “No to Marxism in America” rally in downtown Berkeley comes a day after a controversial freedom rally planned by a right-wing group fizzled amid throngs of counter-protesters in San Francisco. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee declared victory over a group he branded as inviting hate.

Both Amber Cummings and Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson have repeatedly denounced racism. Cummings canceled her Sunday event and Gibson called off his Saturday rally late Friday, saying that demonization by mayors in both cities and left-wing extremists made it impossible to speak out.

Cummings said she would be the sole attendee. In a message to the media Saturday she said she might be forced to cancel if she is not provided police protection.

It’s uncertain if supporters’ or opponents’ will show up. The left-wing group By Any Means Necessary, which has been involved in violent confrontations, had vowed to shut down the rally at Civic Center Park. Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin has urged counter-protesters to stay away.

Berkeley police were planning for a number of contingencies, police spokeswoman Jenn Coats said in an email Saturday. The city has banned a long list of items from the park, including baseball bats, dogs and skateboards. People at the park are also not allowed to cover their faces with scarves or bandanas.

Cummings is a transgender woman and supporter of President Donald Trump who has said on social media and in media interviews that Marxism is the real evil and that members of the anti-fascist movement are terrorists.

“I’m not safe to walk down the road with an American flag in this county,” she said to reporters in Berkeley last week, her face covered with a bandana to make a point about masked anti-fascist members.

“We’ve had enough,” she said. “We have the right to speak patriotism, we have the right to speak about our country. We have the right to be proud of our country.”

Cummings called off her event in a lengthy statement issued via Facebook, saying that she had “grave concerns for the safety of the people attending my event.”

Asked Saturday whether he had any plans to go to Berkeley, Gibson, the leader of Patriot Prayer, said he would “analyze the situation.”

Gibson downgraded his Saturday rally into a news conference at a San Francisco park, but was thwarted when police swarmed the park and city workers erected a fence around it. He and several other people scheduled to speak at the rally were forced to travel to a suburb to hold their news conference.

Will Johnson, who is African American, said he is obviously not a white supremacist and was frustrated about the use of the term in connection with Patriot Prayer and the rally. “We’re here in the middle of nowhere because we don’t want the violence,” he said.

The pivots by the group didn’t deter more than 1,000 left-wing counter-protesters from descending on Alamo Square park, where they suspected right-wing supporters still might show up.

Student activism was born during the 1960s free-speech movement at Berkeley, when thousands of students at the university mobilized to demand that the school drop its ban on political activism.

However, the deadly confrontation in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12 during a rally of white supremacists led San Francisco police and civil leaders to rethink their response to protests.

Source:  DenverPost.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

Black-clad anarchists storm Berkeley rally, assaulting 4

Black-clad anarchists on Sunday stormed into what had been a largely peaceful Berkeley protest against hate and attacked at least four people, including the leader of a politically conservative group who canceled an event a day earlier in San Francisco because of fears violence could break out.

Black-clad anarchists storm Berkeley rally, assaulting 4

Demonstrator Joey Gibson, second from left, is chased by anti-fascists during a free speech rally Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif. Several thousand people converged in Berkeley Sunday for a “Rally Against Hate” in response to a planned right-wing protest that raised concerns of violence and triggered a massive police presence. Several people were arrested for violating rules against covering their faces or carrying items banned by authorities.

The group of more than 100 hooded protesters, with shields emblazoned with the words “no hate” and waving a flag identifying themselves as anarchist , busted through police lines, avoiding security checks by officers to take away possible weapons. Then the anarchists and blended in with a crowd of 2,000 largely peaceful protesters who turned up to demonstrate in a “Rally Against Hate” opposed to a much smaller gathering of right-wing protesters.

Among those assaulted by the anarchists was Joey Gibson, the leader of the Patriot Prayer group, who canceled a rally Friday and was prevented from holding a news conference on Saturday when authorities closed off the public square Gibson planned to use. Gibson has said he launched Patriot Prayer after several supporters of President Donald Trump were beaten at a Trump campaign stop in San Jose, California last year.

After the anarchists spotted Gibson at the Berkeley park, they pepper-sprayed him and chased him out of it as he backed away with his hands held in the air, accompanied by a masked man wearing football shoulder pads. Gibson and the man went behind a line of police wearing riot gear, who set off a smoke bomb to drive away the anarchists.

Earlier in the day, another group of left-wing demonstrators dressed in black attacked at least three men in the park, kicking and punching them until the assaults were stopped by police. Police also used a smoke grenade to stop one scuffle.

Police in the San Francisco area have been braced for violence and trying to prevent protests that draw left-wing and right-wing opponents since the deadly confrontation in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12 during a rally of white supremacists.

Berkeley authorities did not issue a permit Sunday’s gathering of right-wing protesters and Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin had urged counter-protesters to stay away.

It had been canceled by organizer Amber Cummings, who encouraged supporters to stay away but said she would attend on her own.

By mid-afternoon Cummings had not appeared and left-wing protesters far outnumbered right-wing supporters.

Earlier in the day, police had set up barricades around park and checked people who entered to make sure they did not have prohibited items like baseball bats, dogs, skateboards and scarves or bandanas they could use to cover their faces.

Several people were arrested for violating rules against covering their faces or carrying items banned by authorities.

At one point, an anti-rally protester denounced a Latino man holding a “God Bless Donald Trump” sign.

“You are an immigrant,” said Karla Fonseca. “You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Several other people also yelled at the man, who said he was born in Mexico but supports Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the southern border.

Police pulled one supporter of President Donald Trump out of the park over a wall by his shirt as a crowd of about two dozen counter demonstrators surrounded him and chanted “Nazi go home” and pushed him toward the edge of the park. At least two people were detained by officers for wearing bandannas covering their faces.

Anti-rally protesters chanted slogans “No Trump. No KKK. No fascist USA” and carried signs that said: “Berkeley Stands United Against Hate.”

A separate group of counter protesters had assembled earlier Sunday at the nearby University of California, Berkeley campus and then marched park to merge with the anti-rally protesters who had already gathered there.

Both Cummings and Gibson have disavowed racism and say they wanted to hold the rallies to bring conservative voices to the liberal San Francisco Bay Area.

Student activism was born during the 1960s free-speech movement at Berkeley, when thousands of students at the university mobilized to demand that the school drop its ban on political activism.

However, the violence in Charlottesville led San Francisco area police and civil leaders to rethink their response to protests.

Source:  TheFederalist.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

San Francisco shuts down ‘free speech’ group

Protesters opposing a right-wing gathering in liberal San Francisco claimed victory Saturday when the event was canceled after city officials walled off a city park — a move that the event’s organizer said was more about silencing his group’s free speech message than preventing a violent clash.

San Francisco shuts down 'free speech' group

Civic leaders in San Francisco — a cradle of the free speech movement that prides itself on its tolerance — repeatedly voiced concerns that the event organized by Patriot Prayer would lead to a clash with counter-demonstrators.

Joey Gibson, who is Japanese American and leads Patriot Prayer, said his group disavows racism and hatred and wanted to promote dialogue with people who may not share its views. He canceled a planned rally Saturday at a field under the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge after he said his members received anonymous threats on social media and feared civic leaders and law enforcement would fail to protect them.

He said Saturday in a phone interview that he felt like San Francisco’s Democratic leaders had shut him down.

Earlier in the week, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee raised concerns that Patriot Prayer would attract hate speech and potential violence.

Gibson and other scheduled speakers at the rally said at a news conference that Lee wrongly labeled them a hate group, needlessly raising tensions and stirring emotions in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Lee defended his characterization of the group and the city’s response, which included ordering all available police officers to duty.

He said that “certain voices” will find it difficult to be heard in San Francisco, and that people who want to speak need to have a message that “contributes to people’s lives rather than find ways to hurt them.”

U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a fellow Democrat who represents San Francisco, called the planned rally a “white supremacist” event.

“They’re definitely doing a great job of trying to make sure my message doesn’t come out,” Gibson said.

San Francisco officials closed the park where Gibson had planned a news conference after cancelling the rally at Crissy Field. City officials surrounded Alamo Square park with a fence and sent scores of police officers — some in riot gear — to keep people out. Mayor Ed Lee defended the city’s response.

“If people want to have the stage in San Francisco, they better have a message that contributes to people’s lives rather than find ways to hurt them,” Lee said. “That’s why certain voices found it very difficult to have their voices heard today.”

Gibson later spoke in suburban Pacifica with a handful of supporters that included African Americans, a Latino and a Samoan American. Several said they support President Trump and want to join with moderates to promote understanding and free speech.

More than 1,000 demonstrators against Patriot Prayer still turned out around Alamo Square Park waving signs condemning white supremacists and chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets!” Hundreds of others took to the streets in the Castro neighborhood.

“San Francisco as a whole, we are a liberal city and this is not a place for hate or any sort of bigotry of any kind,” Bianca Harris said. “I think it’s a really powerful message that we’re sending to people who come here to try to spew messages of hate that it’s just not welcome in this city.”

Benjamin Sierra, who organized counter protesters, said the demonstration had become a “victory rally.”

Lee said Saturday’s protests against a right-wing “freedom rally” (insert:  free speech rally) that never happened were peaceful celebrations of love.

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said there was one arrest Saturday —for public intoxication.

The San Francisco Bay Area has nurtured freedom of speech, and police in San Francisco have traditionally given demonstrators a wide berth.

Student activism was born during the 1960s free-speech movement at Berkeley, when thousands of students at the university mobilized to demand that the school drop its ban on political activism.

However, the deadly confrontation in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12 during a rally of white supremacists led San Francisco police and civil leaders to rethink their response to protests.

Gibson had said his followers would attend an anti-Marxist rally on Sunday in Berkeley. But a short time later, the organizer of that rally, a transgender woman named Amber Cummings, called it off. The left-wing group By Any Means Necessary, which has been involved in violent confrontations, had vowed to shut down the event at Civic Center Park.

Asked Saturday whether he had any plans to go to Berkeley, Gibson said he would “analyze the situation.”

Berkeley police were planning for a number of contingencies, police spokeswoman Jenn Coats said in an email.

The city has banned a long list of items from the park, including baseball bats, dogs and skate boards. People at the park are also not allowed to cover their faces with scarves or bandanas.

Source:  TribLive.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

No, It’s Not The Onion: Pregnancy Center Attacked For Candle That ‘Smells Like A Baby’

That’s right, ‘Candlegate’ is upon us. Run for your lives.

In an apparent attempt to cash in all remaining credibility, pro-abortion warriors are reporting breathlessly on what may be the most absurdly non-newsworthy story of the week: a Facebook post about candles. That’s right, “Candlegate” is upon us. Run for your lives.

Credit—or blame—for “breaking” this “news” goes to Broadly, which ran a story on its website Tuesday claiming that Stanton Healthcare’s Belfast, Ireland location was in “hot water” for posting a picture of baby powder-scented Yankee Candles to its Facebook page.

No, It’s Not The Onion: Pregnancy Center Attacked For Candle That ‘Smells Like A Baby’

Quite unassumingly, the post read, “Stanton Healthcare would recommend to all crisis pregnancy centre’s the new baby powder yankee candle. It just smells like a new born baby. #lovelife #lovebabies #protectthemboth #loveyankeecandles”

Shocked that a pregnancy center that serves—well—pregnant women, would dare light a candle that smelled like a baby and then have the nerve to encourage others to do likewise, Broadly was able to connect with The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), a pro-abortion group that has made a habit of demonizing Stanton Healthcare and other alternatives to abortion in Ireland.

Naturally, BPAS was outraged.

“Not only is this a rather cruel attempt to manipulate women who may be in incredibly desperate circumstances, it is also profoundly patronizing,” BPAS spokesperson Katherine O’Brien told Broadly. “The majority of women who have an abortion are already mothers—they know perfectly well how a newborn baby smells, and the idea that any woman could be convinced to have a child by the mere presence of a scented candle is just insulting.”

Sending Faux-Journalists To Their Fainting Couches

Of course, no sane reading of the Facebook post even remotely allows for the idea that the candles will somehow magically “manipulate” a woman into choosing life, but O’Brien’s statement is also patently false on another, far deeper level: every pregnant woman, not just “the majority” who resort to abortion, is already a mother. That’s what pregnancy is. That this escapes the attention of a woman speaking for a so-called “pregnancy advisory” group is just as telling as the tortured rendering of the Facebook post itself.

Within just 10 minutes of Broadly’s initial coverage, “Candlegate” was in full swing, sending reporters at Romper and Revelist and Teen Vogue to their respective fainting couches—quite the feat in the case of the latter outlet, which is making a name for itself by encouraging teens to engage in anal sex and bring vibrators to school in the past month alone.

The feigned outrage even drew an official statement from Yankee Candle, distancing itself from Stanton Healthcare, lest faux-journalists get the wrong impression via a Facebook post featuring one of their products.

“Yankee Candle is not affiliated with Stanton Healthcare Belfast. We are currently addressing the issue,” the company told Broadly. Brandi Swindell, who founded Stanton Healthcare in 2006, said her team had yet to hear directly from Yankee Candle as of Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s probably conservative grandmothers and pro-life pregnancy centers who buy most of their candles,” Swindell laughed. “If we weren’t dealing with abortion here, this would be one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard.”

‘Women Get The Quality Health Care They Deserve’

With its sights set on replacing Planned Parenthood as the go-to provider of women’s health, Stanton Healthcare has two locations Idaho—in Boise and Meridian—as well as Belfast. The organization is named after suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who, like her contemporaries including Susan B. Anthony, opposed abortion and referred to it as “child murder.”

Stanton Healthcare’s Belfast location—the group’s first non-U.S. site—has been a lightning rod of controversy in recent years, as abortion promoters have fought to legalize the lethal procedure in Ireland. Abortion is currently illegal under the Eighth Amendment of Ireland’s constitution, which recognizes the equal right to life for both mothers and unborn children. Abortion activists have engaged in a pitched battle to overturn the law for the past three years.

Stanton Healthcare’s Belfast location and other pro-life centers in the nation have been accused of lying to women as part of the campaign, which has enlisted the likes of film star Liam Neeson and late-night comic James Corden.

“We have it bad enough in America, but Europe has become so secular, and the battle that they face in Belfast is just so snarky, but they’ve done a great job of dealing with that,” Swindell said. “The Belfast center is beautiful and it’s professional, and it’s truly helping women. It’s the exact model and approach we want, where women get the quality healthcare they deserve.”

Not Even Candles Are Safe

Stateside, Stanton Healthcare is fighting a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood, which complained that Stanton’s mobile medical unit was serving women in a parking lot shared by both organizations.

The latest kerfuffle, Stanton said, is a perfect indicator of just how motivated and unhinged the abortion lobby is becoming. It also provides those who identify themselves as pro-choice to get a glimpse into the revved-up mindset of abortion absolutists.

“It shows that they really don’t care about women,” Swindell said. “When they’re willing to stoop to the level of diminishing our work because of a candle, it shows they’ll stop at nothing to fight the work of pregnancy care centers and life-affirming women’s medical clinics—not because they care about women, but because they truly hate us and they can’t stand any other options or choice for women other than abortion.”

Source:  TheFederalist.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.