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Full speaker list released for FREE SPEECH WEEK at UC Berkeley

Milo Yiannopoulos confirmed Thursday a full list of speakers scheduled to appear at UC Berkeley during Free Speech Week from Sept. 24-27.

Full speaker list released for Free Speech Week at UC Berkeley

The organization originally intended to release the list of confirmed speakers slowly over a period of two weeks, but decided to release the entire list of names at once because reactions to the announcement of former White House chief strategist and Breitbart editor Steve Bannon’s confirmation were “so huge,” according to a press release issued Thursday by Yiannopoulos. Free Speech Week, a joint effort between Yiannopoulos and a conservative campus publication, The Berkeley Patriot, will encompass a variety of themes.

“Berkeley Free Speech Week will be an amazing experience for people of all viewpoints to come together in a festival environment and freely exchange ideas,” Yiannopoulos said in the press release.

The Berkeley Patriot, however, has been having some trouble confirming every speaker on the list, according to Berkeley Patriot news editor Pranav Jandhyala.

Yiannopoulos is scheduled to appear every single day. Other prominent speakers include Bannon; Ann Coulter, whose planned appearance at UC Berkeley fell through two days before; and right-wing InfoWars radio show host Mike Cernovich.

James Damore, the former Google employee who was fired recently for an internal memo mocking the company’s diversity policies, is also scheduled to speak on the second day, “Zuck 2020.”

According to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof, however, the campus administration is currently unable to confirm a list of speakers. Only three of the speakers have contacted the campus or UCPD to make security arrangements, which is required for all campus events.

Additionally, rental fees for available indoor venues have not been paid, and no venue contracts have been signed.

“To date a number of key deadlines have been missed,” Mogulof said in an email. “While campus officials and venue managers are working diligently to assist the Berkeley Patriot group with its proposed events, the group’s failure to meet important deadlines is making it increasingly difficult to ensure a safe and secure program.”

Below is the list of speakers confirmed to speak on each day of the four-day-long event.

Sept. 24: “Feminism Awareness Day”

  • Miss Elaine
  • Lucian Wintrich
  • Lisa DePasquale
  • Chadwick Moore
  • Milo Yiannopoulos

Sept. 25: “Zuck 2020”

  • Heather Mac Donald
  • Monica Crowley
  • SABO
  • Professor Jordan Peterson
  • James Damore

Sept. 26: “Islamic Peace and Tolerance Day”

  • Michael Malice
  • Raheem Kassam
  • Katie Hopkins
  • Erik Prince
  • Pamela Geller
  • David Horowitz
  • Milo Yiannopoulos

Sept. 27: “Mario Savio is Dead”

  • Mike Cernovich
  • Charles Murray
  • Ariana Rowlands
  • Stelion Onufrei
  • Alex Marlow
  • Milo Yiannopoulos
  • Steve Bannon
  • Ann Coulter

The time and location of these events will be released next week, according to Yiannopoulos’s press office.

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

Free Speech is Necessary

The right to freedom of speech is the hallmark of the American democratic experiment. The United States was the first nation to guarantee an individual’s right to speak freely and openly about one’s thoughts and ideas. It was, and remains, a radical concept. Today, speech is constantly restricted — even in the most democratic of societies. And it appears as if the restrictions that chain free speech are beginning to wash upon our shores as well.

The events in Charlottesville, Va. were, quite clearly, an egregious and despicable act of hatred, bigotry and racism. Any sensible person would agree that the actions taken by the radical neo-Nazis and white nationalists that occupied Charlottesville’s streets represent all that is wrong and evil with our society. However, even these radicals have a right to free speech.

Obviously, I would rather that these deranged lunatics keep their mouths shut and mind their own business. It would be ideal if those who harbor the most deplorable of thoughts and philosophies were to just disappear and leave us all to live our lives in peace. Yet if we try to achieve this ideal by preventing freedom of expression, we risk running a very slippery slope.

If the government, or any body for that matter, has the ability to censor one group of people, a door is opened to future suppressions. The history of tyranny is laden with examples of governments removing freedoms of expression from fringe groups, and then using such removals as justification for steadily removing the freedoms of more and more groups. In essence, the protection of a white nationalist’s freedom of speech is the protection of our own right to speak freely. But there are issues that are boiling that extend well beyond the range of white nationalism.

Free Speech is Necessary

Condoleezza Rice

In 2014, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to speak at Rutgers University. Yet this decision greatly angered students, who were upset at Rice’s involvement in the Iraq War. As a result, students launched a massive — and ultimately successful — effort to pressure Rice to rescind the convocation invitation. This event marks one of the most troubling and disturbing attacks on freedom of thought and speech.

Surely most Americans agree that the Iraq War was an unmitigated disaster and a largely unnecessary conflict. And it is quite clear that as President Bush’s national security advisor, Rice played a role in facilitating American involvement in the region. Yet a poor policy decision does not discredit the ideas of an individual — especially an intellectual powerhouse such as Rice.

By forcing Rice to rescind Rutgers’s speaking invitation, the students at the university were essentially stating that anyone who does not align with their political views is not welcome to speak. And, unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. From Ann Coulter at Berkeley to Ben Shapiro at Cal State, college campuses across the nation are beginning to embrace these sorts of restrictions. If one does not possess the political views of the students, they are unwelcome to speak on their campus.

This philosophy is disturbing on a number of grounds. First of all, these refusals to listen to another person’s ideas and opinions carry a sort of medieval ignorance. Ostracizing those who do not adhere to the majority view is the sort of thinking that led to Galileo and Darwin’s rejection from society. Furthermore, refusing to listen to someone else’s ideas doesn’t make you principled — it makes you weak and insecure. Those who are truly grounded in their ideals and principles are those who truly understand the other side of the argument.

But perhaps the most concerning aspect of this philosophy is that further deepens the divide of this country. You may think that Ann Coulter and Ben Shapiro’s ideas are outlandish — but nearly half the country agrees with these people. By refusing to listen to their thoughts and ideas, you are effectively refusing to understand how the other half of this country thinks.

Yet this suppression of free speech is not just limited to college kids on liberal campuses — conservatives are just as guilty as liberals at silencing those they disagree with. Many conservatives seem to genuinely believe that American liberalism is a sort of disease. They believe that liberalism is an ideology whose sole purpose is to hurt hard-working Americans and benefit those who contribute nothing to society (think welfare recipients, college students and the unemployed). Because of this mentality, they too refuse to allow liberals to speak their mind.

As a moderate, I tend to see both sides of the argument. And as someone who personally knows a great deal of liberals and conservatives, I know for a fact that their hatred of one another is driven by their unwillingness to respect the other’s right to speak freely. Each side refuses to truly listen and understand the other side — and as a result, misinformation is spread and people get very, very angry. A fellow student in one of my classes once stated that people who are pro-life want to punish a woman for having sex; a conservative once tried to convince me that liberals want to let Muslims enter the country so that they can establish Sharia law. These utterly ridiculous, offensive and wrong claims are the product of a repression of a free and open dialogue. If civility is to return to our civic discourse, then freedom of speech — and the willingness to actually listen to others’ ideas — must reign as the core of our nation’s principles.

Michael Glanzel is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at mglanzel@cornellsun.com. Cornell Shrugged appears alternate Mondays this semester. 

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

James Madison’s Lesson on Free Speech

For the people to rule wisely, they must be free to think and speak without fear of reprisal.  Those that disagree with free speech and free thought should be fought with more free speech and free thought.
James Madisons Lessons on Free Speech
The broad middle of this country seems caught between a rock and a hard place. On the far left, the “Antifa” movement has taken to protesting — often quite violently — ideas that do not conform to their transitory notions of social justice. On the other extreme, the alt-right has become indistinguishable from white-supremacist and neo-Confederate movements that have their origins in the seedy underbelly of American political history.
In light of this, it is seductive to question the utility of free speech. After all, speech is not entirely free in Europe. There are certain views you are prohibited from publicly expressing there, and they seem to have well-functioning democracies. Why must we hold to such an absolutist view? Are we not giving aid and comfort to the opponents of the republic by allowing them to utter such vile words? Is it not wiser to leaven the First Amendment with a prudent disregard for the fringes?
If we understand free speech in purely liberal terms — i.e. as a self-evident right — then these questions seem to have merit. After all, we restrict other rights for the sake of the public welfare. Most of them can be taken away, so long as it is done so with “due process.” And the process that is due, in many respects, is conditioned by the political, social, and economic climate of the day. Why not speech?
But the First Amendment is not merely an expression of liberal freedom, but of republican freedom as well. The liberal conception of liberty defines it as absence of government interference from your life — or, in its 20th-century evolution, liberty means that the government provides for a certain standard of living. But the republican notion of liberty is different. A free republic is one in which people are governed by laws that they themselves have a hand in making. From this perspective, freedom of speech needs to remain nearly absolute.
To appreciate this, consider the efforts of the man most responsible for the Bill of Rights, James Madison.
Madison was not so much the author of the Bill of Rights, but its editor. He was initially opposed to the project; the structure of the Constitution offered sufficient protection for civil liberty, he thought, and he feared that an enumeration of rights would imply a limitation to them. But the ratifying conventions in many states had approved the Constitution, with suggested revisions. Madison, who viewed these conventions as tribunes of the popular will, took their recommendations seriously. As George Washington’s de facto prime minister during the first session of the First Congress, he refined the wide array of proposals into what ultimately became the Bill of Rights.
In The Federalist Papers, Madison can come across as deeply suspicious of popular government. In Federalist No. 10 he bemoaned the “violence of faction” and sought to design a government that can corral the inherently selfish passions of humanity. In Federalist No. 51, he added checks and balances as “auxiliary precautions” to further thwart misrule.
Yet this is only one side of the Madisonian coin. Admittedly, he wanted to slow the tempo of government down to a crawl, to prevent fractious majorities from railroading minority rights and undermining the public welfare. But he also hoped to promote a robust intercourse of sentiments, so that — in due course — public opinion would cohere around principles of justice and the general welfare. Government had to move slowly and cautiously, but public discourse should be vigorous and unfettered.
“Public opinion,” he wrote in the National Gazette, in December 1791, “sets bounds to every government, and is the real sovereign in every free one.” But in a large republic such as the United States, it is “less easy to be ascertained, and . . . less difficult to be counterfeited.” It was thus key, he argued, to facilitate “a general intercourse of sentiments,” which included roads and commerce, as well as “a free press, and particularly a circulation of newspapers through the entire body of the people.”
In Madison’s view, a free republic depends ultimately upon public opinion. A Constitution could divide power this way and that, but in the end it is the people, and only the people, who rule. And for the people to rule wisely, they have to be able to communicate with one another — freely, without fear of reprisal. Thus, freedom of speech and press were not, for Madison, merely God-given rights. They were preconditions for self-government.
Conversely, Madison believed that those who sought to restrict speech revealed themselves to be opponents of republicanism. They wished to prevent public opinion from cohering, thus making it easier to counterfeit. This is why Madison and Thomas Jefferson — Jefferson himself was a staunch republican — reacted so strongly to the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, which restricted immigration and made it a crime to print “libelous” comments about government officers. Madison and Jefferson’s Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions called for state intervention to correct the abuses of the government (for Madison this implied “interposition,” but for Jefferson it could include “nullification”). Decades later, their resolves would be repurposed for the cause of secession, but they were actually an effort to prevent the Federalist party under John Adams from undermining the very basis of the national republic itself.
Madison’s tenure as president — 1809 to 1817 — has come in for a good bit of criticism over the years. It was, in many respects, an unspectacular administration, in no small part because of the disappointments of the War of 1812. But it is easy to overlook that although Madison was managing a relatively unpopular and difficult conflict, he did not sanction the abridgement of civil liberties. On the other hand, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin Roosevelt — all of whom tend to score higher in historical rankings — did not show such restraint. This speaks well of Madison’s commitment to the importance of free speech.
None of this means that we should excuse the boorish and ignorant among us, those who seek to incite popular unrest for the sake of their small-minded prejudices. Instead, Madison’s commitment to free speech should serve as a reminder that, while people say things that we might find personally offensive, we should never wish the state to squash their right to do so. Our First Amendment freedoms combined — freedom of religion, of assembly and petition, of press and speech — give us the right to think what we like and say what we please. And if we the people are to govern ourselves, we must have these rights, even if they are misused by a minority.
As we confront those who use their right to free speech to abuse the norms of decency and civility, we should calmly recall Jefferson’s admonition from his first inaugural address. “If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”
Source:  NationalReview.   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.

 

UC Berkeley Chancellor Christ: Free speech is who we are

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ sent this message today to the campus community:

Dear students, faculty and staff,

This fall, the issue of free speech will once more engage our community in powerful and complex ways. Events in Charlottesville, with their racism, bigotry, violence and mayhem, make the issue of free speech even more tense. The law is very clear: Public institutions like UC Berkeley must permit speakers invited in accordance with campus policies to speak, without discrimination in regard to point of view. The United States has the strongest free speech protections of any liberal democracy; the First Amendment protects even speech that most of us would find hateful, abhorrent and odious, and the courts have consistently upheld these protections.

Chancellor Carol Christ: Free speech is who we are

Chancellor Carol Christ – Carol Tecla Christ (born 1944 in New York City) is an American academic. In March 2017, she was named the 11th Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, the first woman to hold that position. She replaced Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks on July 1, 2017.

But the most powerful argument for free speech is not one of legal constraint — that we’re required to allow it — but of value. The public expression of many sharply divergent points of view is fundamental both to our democracy and to our mission as a university. The philosophical justification underlying free speech, most powerfully articulated by John Stuart Mill in his book On Liberty, rests on two basic assumptions. The first is that truth is of such power that it will always ultimately prevail; any abridgement of argument therefore compromises the opportunity of exchanging error for truth. The second is an extreme skepticism about the right of any authority to determine which opinions are noxious or abhorrent. Once you embark on the path to censorship, you make your own speech vulnerable to it.

Berkeley, as you know, is the home of the Free Speech Movement, where students on the right and students on the left united to fight for the right to advocate political views on campus. Particularly now, it is critical that the Berkeley community come together once again to protect this right. It is who we are.

Nonetheless, defending the right of free speech for those whose ideas we find offensive is not easy. It often conflicts with the values we hold as a community — tolerance, inclusion, reason and diversity. Some constitutionally protected speech attacks the very identity of particular groups of individuals in ways that are deeply hurtful. However, the right response is not the heckler’s veto, or what some call platform denial. Call toxic speech out for what it is, don’t shout it down, for in shouting it down, you collude in the narrative that universities are not open to all speech. Respond to hate speech with more speech.

We all desire safe space, where we can be ourselves and find support for our identities. You have the right at Berkeley to expect the university to keep you physically safe. But we would be providing students with a less valuable education, preparing them less well for the world after graduation, if we tried to shelter them from ideas that many find wrong, even dangerous. We must show that we can choose what to listen to, that we can cultivate our own arguments and that we can develop inner resilience, which is the surest form of safe space. These are not easy tasks, and we will offer support services for those who desire them.

This September, Ben Shapiro and Milo Yiannopoulos have both been invited by student groups to speak at Berkeley. The university has the responsibility to provide safety and security for its community and guests, and we will invest the necessary resources to achieve that goal. If you choose to protest, do so peacefully. That is your right, and we will defend it with vigor. We will not tolerate violence, and we will hold anyone accountable who engages in it.

We will have many opportunities this year to come together as a Berkeley community over the issue of free speech; it will be a free speech year.  We have already planned a student panel, a faculty panel and several book talks. Bridge USA and the Center for New Media will hold a day-long conference on Oct. 5; PEN, the international writers’ organization, will hold a free speech convening in Berkeley on Oct. 23. We are planning a series in which people with sharply divergent points of view will meet for a moderated discussion. Free speech is our legacy, and we have the power once more to shape this narrative.

Sincerely,

Carol Christ
Chancellor

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

Why Even Nazis Deserve Free Speech

The First Amendment is under threat—and you should be worried.  The events in Charlottesville last weekend have provoked understandable fear and outrage. Potential sites for future “alt-right” rallies are on edge. Texas A&M University, the University of Florida and Michigan State University have all decided to cancel or deny prospective events by white nationalist Richard Spencer. All cited safety concerns. All raise serious First Amendment free speech issues.

Why Even Nazis Deserve Free Speech

Even though we’ve been called “free speech absolutists”—sometimes, but not always, as a compliment—we will not pretend that Spencer’s speaking cancellations make for a slam-dunk First Amendment lawsuit. Yes, hateful, bigoted and racist speech is fundamentally protected under the First Amendment, as it should be. However, if we’re honest about the law, we have to recognize that Spencer faces tough—though not insurmountable—legal challenges.

First, he is not a student at any of the aforementioned universities and was not invited to the campuses by students or faculty. He was seeking space on campus that is available to the general public to rent out. In at least some cases, courts have found that public colleges have a somewhat freer hand to regulate the speech of non-students on campus who are not invited by students or faculty.

Second, although a general, unsubstantiated fear of violence is not enough to justify cancelling an approved speaking event, recent violence in Charlottesville and the fact that one of the organizers of the Texas A&M rally used the promotional tagline “TODAY CHARLOTTESVILLE TOMORROW TEXAS A&M” make security concerns more concrete, at least in the short term. The more concrete the security concerns are, the easier it is to justify the cancellation or denials.

Third, as David Frum, Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern point out, judges might decide cases differently when protesters are liable to show up brandishing guns, as happened in Charlottesville. Bad facts make bad law, so the saying goes. The general legal standard now is that if a public college opens itself up to outside speakers, it cannot engage in viewpoint discrimination. Most cases of prior restraint censorship will fail in court under this standard. But in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy in Charlottesville, judges may look differently at these facts.

And that should trouble us: If a court decides in favor of the prior restraints, it could set a precedent that would do considerable harm to the free speech rights of speakers, students and faculty far beyond Spencer.

But what happens in a court of law is one thing. What happens in the court of public opinion is perhaps more important. As the famous jurist Learned Hand once said, “Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it.”

And, unfortunately, there is evidence that freedom of speech needs a pacemaker.

If your social media newsfeed doesn’t provide ample anecdotal evidence that free speech is suffering a public relations crisis, look to the polling: A recent Knight Foundation study found that fewer than 50 percent of high school students think that people should be free to say things that are offensive to others.

The New York Times opinion page, for its part, has run three columns since April questioning the value of free speech for all, the most recent imploring the ACLU to “rethink free speech”—the same ACLU that at the height of Nazism, Communism and Jim Crow in 1940 released a leaflet entitled, “Why we defend civil liberty even for Nazis, Fascists and Communists.” The ACLU of Virginia carried on this honorable tradition of viewpoint-neutral free speech defense in the days before the Charlottesville protests. However, the Wall Street Journal reported this week that the ACLU “will no longer defend hate groups seeking to march with firearms.”

And how is the birthplace of the 1960s free speech movement faring? In the wake of the riots that shut down alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos’ speech at the University of California, Berkeley on February 1, multiple students and alumni wrote that the violence and destruction of the Antifa protests were a form of “self-defense” against the “violence” of Yiannopoulos’ speech. Watching videos of the protest, it is fortunate nobody was killed.

What’s to account for this shift? One of our theories is that this generation of students comprises the children of students who went to college during the first great age of campus speech codes that spanned from the late 1980s through the early 90s. This is when colleges and universities first began writing over-broad and vague policies to regulate allegedly racist and sexist speech. Although that movement failed in the court of law, these codes have stubbornly persisted, and the view that freedom of speech is the last refuge of the “three Bs”—the bully, the bigot and the robber baron—found a home in classrooms.

When we speak on college campuses, our explanations of the critical role the First Amendment played in ensuring the success of the civil rights movement, the women’s rights movement and the gay rights movement are often met with blank stares. At a speech at Brown University, in fact, a student laughed when Greg pointed out that Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall was a steadfast defender of freedom of speech––as if it were impossible for a black icon of the civil rights movement to be a free-speech champion.

However, we don’t fault students for holding these opinions. The idea of free speech is an eternally radical and counterintuitive one that requires constant education about its principles. Censorship has been the rule for most of human history. True freedom of speech is a relatively recent phenomenon. It perhaps reached its high point in the United States in the second half of the 20th century.

Most Americans claim that they venerate free speech in principle. So do most world leaders. Even censorial dictators like Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan sometimes feign support for it. Despite this, it’s common for people to have their exceptions in practice: their “I believe in free speech, but …” responses. But even the “free speech, but …” responses seem to be falling out of favor. In the last few years—and especially after Charlottesville—we have observed increasing squeamishness about free speech, and not just in practice; also in principle.

So how do we respond to the calls for censorship after Charlottesville?

For most of our careers, the charge “what if the Nazis came to town?” has been posed as a hypothetical retort to free speech defenses. (Godwin’s law extends to free speech debates, too.) But the hypothetical is no longer a hypothetical: In Charlottesville, neo-Nazis carried swastikas through the streets and revived the Hitler salute.

If you were to listen to scholars like Richard Delgado, the response should be to pass laws, to put people in jail, to do whatever it takes to stop the Nazi contagion from spreading. It’s a popular argument in Europe and in legal scholarship, but not in American courts.

There are a few problems with this response that free speech advocates have long recognized. For one, it doesn’t necessarily work; since the passage of Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism laws in Europe, rates of anti-Semitism remain higher than in the U.S., where no such laws exist. In fact, the Anti-Defamation League found that rates of anti-Semitism have gone down in America since it first began measuring anti-Semitic attitudes in 1964.

What’s more, in the 1920s and 30s, Nazis did go to jail for anti-Semitic expression, and when they were released, they were celebrated as martyrs. When Bavarian authorities banned speeches by Hitler in 1925, for example, the Nazis exploited it. As former ACLU Executive Director Aryeh Neier explains in his book Defending My Enemy, the Nazi party protested the ban by distributing a picture of Hitler gagged with the caption, “One alone of 2,000 million people of the world is forbidden to speak in Germany.” The ban backfired and became a publicity coup. It was soon lifted.

We cannot forget, too, that laws have to be enforced by people. In the 1920s and early 30s, such laws would have placed the power to censor in the hands of a population that voted in large numbers for Nazis. And after 1933, such laws would have placed that power to censor in the hands of Hitler himself. Consider how such power might be used by the politician you most distrust. Consider how it is currently being used by Vladimir Putin in Russia.

What does history suggest as the best course of action to win the benefits of an open society while stemming the tide of authoritarians of any stripe? It tells us to have a high tolerance for differing opinions, and no tolerance for political violence. What distinguishes liberal societies from illiberal ones is that liberal societies use words, not violence or censorship to settle disputes. As Neier, a Holocaust survivor, concluded in his book, “The lesson of Germany in the 1920s is that a free society cannot be established and maintained if it will not act vigorously and forcefully to punish political violence.”

But we should not be so myopic about the value of freedom of speech. It is not just a practical, peaceful alternative to violence. It does much more than that: It helps us understand many crucial, mundane and sometimes troubling truths. Simply put, it helps us understand what people actually think—not “even if” it is troubling, but especially when it is troubling.

As Edward Luce points out in his excellent new short book The Retreat of Western Liberalism, there are real consequences to ignoring or wishing away the views that are held by real people, even if elites believe that those views are nasty or wrongheaded. Gay marriage champion and author Jonathan Rauch reminds us that in the same way that breaking a thermometer doesn’t change the temperature, censoring ideas doesn’t make them go away—it only makes us ignorant of their existence.

So what do we do about white supremacists? Draw a strong distinction between expression and violence: punish violence, but protect even speakers we find odious. Let them reveal themselves.

As Harvey Silverglate, a co-founder of our organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, says, it’s important to know who the Nazis are in the room.

Why?

Because we need to know not to turn our backs to them.

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

Free speech does not incite violence

The First Amendment is probably the most quoted and one of the most important amendments to many Americans. It includes freedom of religion, freedom of free assembly and freedom of speech (free speech). Unfortunately, we are discovering that a few people in this nation think that freedom of assembly and freedom of speech includes inciting actions of hate and violence.

Free speech does not incite violenceThe Daily Journal, Fergus Falls, Minnesota, under no circumstance, believes that with free speech comes violence. As a community newspaper, we hold the freedom of speech close and regard it with the utmost respect. Just this past Monday, along with over 200 Minnesota newspapers, The Daily Journal printed a blank front page. Without our readers and the content they provide us to cover, we wouldn’t have a paper. Without the freedom of speech, we would not be able to feature the stories that inform, influence and touch our audience.

Having the freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and freedom of press allow us to stand up for what we believe is right, keep ourselves informed and provides a check and balance for those who are in power. One great benefit of the First Amendment is that it allows for a marketplace of ideas, beliefs and values. It diversifies our cultures and our politics. It is when individuals take the privileges of the First Amendment beyond its definition and twist it’s meaning that people believe free speech; freedom of assembly justifies violent acts.

A strong community can be built upon various opinions, ideas and values. We do not believe that the differences found in each other should be grounds to use that speech to discriminate, demean or intentionally harm others. Protest for a change in your government or community, counter protest and send letter to the editors. But don’t vandalize, don’t maim or hurt one another.

The Daily Journal is proud and grateful for the community it serves. We hope that any other communities, who find themselves affected by those who believe violence and hatred is the answer, will find the strength and perseverance to stand in the face of that violence and let their voices and actions ring out for justice and respect.

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

City Issues Permit For ‘Free Speech Rally’ On Boston Common, Boston Free Speech Coalition

A controversial, self-described free speech rally is set to go forward on Boston Common Saturday by Boston Free Speech Coalition. The city issued a permit for the event on Wednesday afternoon.

City Issues Permit For 'Free Speech Rally' On Boston Common, the Boston Free Speech Coalition

John Medlar, a spokesman for the Boston Free Speech Coalition, at WBUR

According to a statement from Mayor Marty Walsh, the Boston Free Speech Coalition met with police Wednesday morning “to work on a safe pathway forward and agreed to specific stipulations” for the rally.

John Medlar, a spokesman for the coalition, said his group is not affiliated with the people behind last weekend’s deadly white supremacist rally in Virginia, though some people who appeared in Charlottesville had been scheduled to speak at the Boston rally.

Earlier this week, Boston officials had said they hoped to encourage the rally organizers to reschedule their event, in light of the violence in Charlottesville.

In a phone interview with WBUR’s Newscast Unit on Wednesday morning, Medlar said his coalition is concerned about what he called radical fringe groups from both the left and right. And he said canceling his group’s rally now would be unsafe.

“If we weren’t there to direct things, to keep out the fringe radical groups that we’re worried about trying to disrupt things, then we’re worried that that would only be all the more dangerous,” he said.

Medlar said that as of Wednesday morning, four speakers are scheduled to speak at the Saturday rally, including Republican U.S. Senate candidate Shiva Ayyadurai.

Medlar said the rally is meant to be peaceful and productive.

“What we want to do is to try to get the left and the right to exchange words instead of fists again,” he said.

In his statement, Mayor Walsh said that city officials “made it clear that we will not tolerate incitements to violence or any threatening behavior. I ask that everyone join me in making Boston a more inclusive, welcoming, love-filled city for all.”

City officials are expecting counter-demonstrators on Saturday.

Boston police are urging people not to bring backpacks, sticks or anything that can be used as weapons. Police are planning to have extra officers on hand, as well as barriers to separate demonstrators and counter-demonstrators.

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

Illinois’ abortion notification law harms free speech

Few issues evoke stronger feelings or more basic divisions than abortion. Those who think it should be legal regard it as part of women’s basic autonomy and liberty. Those who think it should be outlawed in all or some cases see it as the deliberate and unwarranted taking of a human life. Forty-four years after the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision, the two sides remain as opposed as ever.

Illinois' abortion notification law harms free speechThe right to abortion, as the court ruled then, is protected by the constitutional right of privacy. But that leaves other questions unanswered. The one posed by an Illinois law is: To what extent can medical professionals who are morally opposed to the procedure be forced to facilitate it?

A state law passed in 1977 provides broad coverage for rights of conscience. It says no doctors or nurses may be required to “perform, assist, counsel, suggest, recommend, refer or participate in any way” in any procedure that violates their moral convictions. But last year, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill mandating that any medical professional who declines to provide abortion must, on request, give the patient a referral or information on where to get an abortion.

A group of medical clinics and professionals challenged the law in court, arguing that providing the required information would make them complicit in what they see as destroying human life. And last month, a federal court ruled in their favor.

One essential component of freedom of speech is the freedom not to speak. In 1943, the Supreme Court ruled that public school students could not be forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. In 1977, it said the state of New Hampshire could not require motorists to display its “Live Free or Die” motto on their license plates. The First Amendment, it said in that case, protects the right of all people “to refuse to foster … an idea they find morally objectionable.”

Judge Frederick Kapala found that the Illinois law likewise infringes on the right of medical professionals who object to abortion — “by compelling them to tell their patients that abortion is a legal treatment option, which has benefits” and “to give their patients the identifying information of providers who will perform an abortion.” The judge blocked enforcement of the law.

We think the court got it right. And the decision is one abortion-rights advocates should approve, if only because the principle upheld here protects them. That’s clear from a 2014 federal appeals court decision invalidating a North Carolina law requiring abortion providers to show each patient ultrasound fetal images and deliver a message meant to discourage her from having an abortion.

“While the state itself may promote through various means childbirth over abortion,” the court said, “it may not coerce doctors into voicing that message on behalf of the state in the particular manner and setting attempted here.” The Supreme Court let the ruling stand.

In either instance, the state is free to use its own resources and outlets to convey the information it thinks patients should have. But it can’t make private individuals do that job. Government-compelled speech is a bad idea — no matter which side is being compelled.

Source:  ChicagoTribune.

We Support Free Speech, But…

In his post on Google’s diversity dust-up (free speech dust-up?), Robert highlighted this quote from the company’s VP for Diversity:
Part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions. But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws [bold added in this quote and all the rest].
We Support Free Speech, But...

Danielle Brown is the new diversity chief at Google.

Notice the but. There is almost always a but or however or some other qualifier in these kinds of statements. The censors start by praising free speech and open discussion, then clarify that they do not support free and open discussion. The formulation has become so popular that a different Google VP used it in his own statement:

Questioning our assumptions and sharing different perspectives is an important part of our culture, and we want to continue fostering an environment where it’s safe to engage in challenging conversations in a thoughtful way. But . . .
It rarely matters what comes after the but, since it will just be some form of special pleading — “but this speech is harmful,” “but this speech is intimidating,” “but this speech is wrong,” etc. In fact, once you see the qualifier, you can usually complete the rest of the sentence on your own. Remember when Charles Murray faced violent protesters at Middlebury College earlier this year? A letter signed by 450 alumni explained why he never should have been allowed to visit:
We think it is necessary to allow a diverse range of perspectives to be voiced at Middlebury. In college, we learned through thoughtful, compassionate and often difficult discussions inside the classroom and out — conversations in which our beliefs were questioned and our assumptions challenged. We fully support the core liberal arts principle that contact with other intellectual viewpoints and life experiences than one’s own is integral to a beneficial education. However . . .
This is how the faculty of the Africana Studies department at Virginia Tech denounced Murray’s presence on their campus:
Academic freedom is a crucial value within any university. Indeed, given the critical nature of Africana Studies as a field, we are especially invested in upholding it as a core tenet. However . . .
During the 2016 election season, the mayor of West Hollywood declared that Donald Trump is not welcome to campaign in his city. When asked for specifics, the mayor responded:
As a city we have historically welcomed campaigns on both sides of the aisle to come to West Hollywood. Again, we’re not trying to shut down anyone’s speech. But . . .
Using chalk to write political messages is common on college campuses, but when people started chalking “Trump 2016” around Emory University, the school’s president became concerned:
As an academic community, we must value and encourage the expression of ideas, vigorous debate, speech, dissent, and protest. At the same time . . .
Last year a science conference disinvited Richard Dawkins because he retweeted something critical of feminism. The organizers helpfully explained:
We believe strongly in freedom of speech and freedom to express unpopular, and even offensive, views. However . . .
At the heart of all of these statements is the Orwellian notion that censors can be free-speech advocates. That’s why Mozilla gave this cryptic justification for firing Brendan Eich over his opposition to same-sex marriage:
Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.
It’s also the stated reason that NYU’s medical school disinvited James Watson from giving a lecture:
At NYU, we have a strong commitment to equality as well as freedom of speech, and the right balance between these is not always easy to determine. While we may have differences of opinion, we also have tolerance.
It would be more accurate and honest for these organizations to simply declare, “We do not believe in free speech, period.” So why don’t they? Well, they strongly support accuracy and honesty, but . . .
Source:  NationalReview.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.