The Growing Contempt For Freedom Of Speech

Walter E. Williams posted an article at Newsbusters today about the attack on free speech.

The Professor notes:

The First Amendment to our Constitution was proposed by the 1788 Virginia ratification convention during its narrow 89 to 79 vote to ratify the Constitution. Virginia’s resolution held that the free exercise of religion, right to assembly and free speech could not be canceled, abridged or restrained. These Madisonian principles were eventually ratified by the states on March 1, 1792.

Gettysburg College professor Allen C. Guelzo, in his article “Free Speech and Its Present Crisis,” appearing in the autumn 2018 edition of City Journal, explores the trials and tribulations associated with the First Amendment. The early attempts to suppress free speech were signed into law by President John Adams and became known as the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. Later attempts to suppress free speech came during the Civil War, when President Abraham Lincoln and his generals attacked newspapers and suspended habeas corpus. It wasn’t until 1919, in the case of Abrams v. United States, when the U.S. Supreme Court finally and unambiguously prohibited any kind of censorship.

Unfortunately many of our college campuses have lost the concept of free speech and open debate.

The article reports:

Today, there is growing contempt for free speech, most of which is found on the nation’s college and university campuses. Guelzo cites the free speech vision of Princeton University professor Carolyn Rouse, who is chairperson of the department of Anthropology. Rouse shared her vision on speech during last year’s Constitution Day lecture. She called free speech a political illusion, a baseless ruse to enable people to “say whatever they want, in any context, with no social, economic, legal or political repercussions.” As an example, she says that a climate change skeptic has no right to make “claims about climate change, as if all the science discovered over the last X-number of centuries were irrelevant.”

Rouse is by no means unique in her contempt for our First Amendment rights. Faculty leaders of the University of California consider certain statements racist microagressions: “America is a melting pot”; “America is the land of opportunity”; “Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough”; and “There is only one race, the human race.” The latter statement is seen as denying the individual as a racial/cultural being. Then there’s “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.” That’s “racist” speech because it gives the impression that “people of color are given extra unfair benefits because of their race.” Other seemingly innocuous statements deemed unacceptable are: “When I look at you, I don’t see color,” or “Affirmative action is racist.” Perhaps worst of all is, “Where are you from, or where were you born?”

We should reject any restriction on free speech. We might ask ourselves, “What’s the true test of one’s commitment to free speech?” It does not come when people permit others to say or publish ideas with which they agree. The true test of one’s commitment to free speech comes when others are permitted to say and publish ideas they deem offensive.

I hated it when the neo-Nazis were allowed to march in Skokie, Illinois, but that is what free speech means. The concept of hate speech is the antithesis of free speech–it is an excuse for censorship. If you are not comfortable enough in your own ideas to be willing to let others who do not share those ideas speak, then maybe living in a free country isn’t your cup of tea.

The Court Gets It Right

The Guardian is reporting today that an Australian court ruled James Cook University had unlawfully sacked a professor who had criticised scientific research about the climate change impact on the Great Barrier Reef. Peter Ridd was a professor at James Cook University in Australia before he was fired for his criticism of some of the research on climate change.

The American Thinker posted an article today noting the following:

The greatest “tell” for non-scientists evaluating the likelihood that the anthropogenic global warming theory is a fraud is that instead of critically examining the facts, warmists try to silence skeptics, with some of them even demanding jail for the thought-crime of questioning their unproven theory.  So thorough has been the pressure to keep the fraud going and keep the billions of dollars a year in research funds flowing to universities and other research institutions pushing the party line that skeptics are under threat of firing — and some have been fired.

The Guardian explains:

Judge Salvatore Vasta ruled on Tuesday the 17 findings made by the university, the two speech directions, the five confidentiality directions, the no satire direction, the censure, the final censure and the termination of Ridd’s employment were all unlawful.

…Judge Vasta said the university has not understood the whole concept of intellectual freedom.

“[The] university has ‘played the man and not the ball’,” he said.

 “Intellectual freedom is so important. It allows academics to express their opinions without fear of reprisals. It allows a Charles Darwin to break free of the constraints of creationism. It allows an Albert Einstein to break free of the constraints of Newtonian physics. It allows the human race to question conventional wisdom in the never-ending search for knowledge and truth.”

The Townsville-based university’s provost professor, Chris Cocklin, noted the judgment does not refer to any case law.

“We disagree with the judgment and we maintain we have not taken issue with Dr Ridd’s nor any other employee’s rights to academic freedom,” Cocklin said in a statement.

“Dr Ridd was not sacked because of his scientific views. Dr Ridd was never gagged or silenced about his scientific views, a matter which was admitted during the court hearing.”

The case has been adjourned for a further hearing to award a penalty.

My biggest problem in science classes was jumping to conclusions without examining all the facts. I think the entire concept of man-made global warming rather than natural climate cycles is a result of that sort of thinking.

 

There Are Some Precedents Being Set Here That Are Dangerous

There are some legal aspects of the charges against Judge Kavanaugh that are being left out of the discussion. A lawyer friend of mine posted a few comments on the subject on Facebook:CNS News posted an article about the attempts to give the accused a chance to face his accuser.

The article reports:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told a news conference Tuesday that Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser “certainly does deserve a right to be heard,” but at the same time, he called it “disturbing” that Democrats decided to withhold her accusation until the last minute.

Later, an attorney for the accuser, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper her client “is prepared to cooperate with the committee” — but not on Monday, and not until the FBI does a full investigation. “There shouldn’t be a rush to a hearing,” attorney Lisa Banks said.

The FBI has already done extensive background checks on Judge Kavanaugh for his previous positions. None of these charges have ever surfaced. Now, when the Committee was ready to vote, the accuser comes forward, not remembering the year, the place, or how she got home. There is also a discrepancy between what she told her therapist and what she is saying now (four boys in the room instead of two boys in the room). The whole thing looks like a delay tactic. It is also really scummy to bring forth a thirty-five-year-old charge that cannot be proven one way or the other. The accuser has also refused to appear before Congress to confront Judge Kavanaugh until an FBI investigation has been conducted. There is no way the FBI can investigate a thirty-five-year-old charge where the accuser doesn’t know what year it was, where it was, and is fuzzy on the details. That is ridiculous.

This is a portion of Senator Grassley’s letter to Professor Ford’s attorney:

Ranking Member Feinstein first received a letter with allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh from Dr. Ford in July. However, Feinstein neglected to notify Committee Republicans of the letter until the day of the first Committee markup, six weeks after receiving the letter and well after the vetting and hearing process had concluded. Feinstein referred the letter to the FBI, which added it to Kavanaugh’s background investigation file. She should have treated these allegations seriously, as Grassley has done, in immediately acting upon hearing of them.

The FBI has indicated to the committee and in public statements that it considers the matter closed. The FBI does not make credibility determinations. The FBI provides information on a confidential basis in order for decision makers to determine an individual’s suitability. The Senate has the information it needs to follow up with witnesses and gather and assess the relevant evidence.

Grassley’s staff has sought to work with the Democratic staff to reach out to relevant witnesses. The Democratic staff declined to participate in a follow-up call with Judge Kavanaugh Monday regarding these allegations. And they have declined to join efforts to conduct a bipartisan investigation of the allegations.

I have a few observations. I know the Republicans are afraid that if they move forward, they will lose the women’s vote in the mid-terms. I have a word for the Republicans. As many women can identify with the idea of a woman coming forward with a career-destroying accusation against their husband thirty-five years later as can identify with the accuser. If the Republicans do not move forward with the vote immediately, they will lose more votes in the mid-term than they gain. Radical feminists are not going to vote Republican anyway, and they are the only women who ascribe any credibility to this charade. Republicans, this is your moment–either you have a spine or you don’t. If you don’t, you will lose more votes than you will gain.

Freedom Of Viewpoint Upheld

College campuses are not known for their conservative speech. In more than one instance, conservative speakers have been banned from college campuses or shouted down. Conservative professors have also been known to have a hard time.

The American Thinker posted an article today about University of North Carolina Wilmington professor Mike Adams, who sued the school for discrimination.

The article reports:

A federal court Wednesday ordered the University of North Carolina-Wilmington to promote and give $50,000 in back pay to a conservative professor in what is described as a landmark anti-discrimination case.

The restitution was ordered three weeks after a jury found the university guilty of retaliating against criminology professor Mike Adams, a popular conservative columnist on Townhall.com, after denying him a promotion to full professor in 2006.

“This ruling sends a message to public universities: Academic freedom isn’t just for the Left, it’s a constitutional right for all professors — even Christian conservatives,” said David French, senior counsel at the conservative American Center for Law and Justice, which represented Mr. Adams.

College campuses used to be known as places where different ideas were debated. In recent years, they have become more interested in promoting a single point of view. It is nice to see at least one university held accountable.

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