- Mizzou campus cops: if you witness “hateful and/or hurtful speech…call the police immediately” [Eugene Volokh, more (ACLU of Missouri says memo runs “counter to the First Amendment”); James Taranto; earlier on Missouri and Yale episodes]
- “Amherst Students Protest ‘Free Speech,’ Demand ‘Training’ for Offenders” [Katie Zavadski, Daily Beast; Eugene Volokh; Greg Lukianoff and Robert Shibley, New York Daily News; while Vox takes a more positive view of recent rounds of racial intimidation]
- “Dear Colleague” letter, other Obama administration actions encouraged university communities to redefine speech as assault or retaliation under Title IX [Samantha Harris via Katie Barrows, FIRE] More: Ramesh Ponnuru, Bloomberg;
- And now, Claremont-McKenna: it’s not going to take many ruined careers to reduce administrations to the intended compliance. [Claremont McKenna Forum, background on controversy via @adamsteinbaugh] Recommended editorial: “We dissent.” [Claremont Independent]
- Conor Friedersdorf responds with far more patience than I would have shown to a truly awful New Yorker piece claiming that campus free speech alarms are a mere cover for racism (Jelani Cobb: “Right-to-offend advocates [are] trafficking in the same sort of [Jim Crow-era] argument for the right to maintain subordination”) [Atlantic, Noah Rothman/Commentary, earlier episode suggesting New Yorker having its collective doubts whether there is too much free speech in America]
- “Protesters Demand Firing Of Tenured Vanderbilt Law Professor Over Publication Of Op-Ed” [TaxProf; Prof. Carol Swain wrote critically of Islam]
- Pro-liberty liberals have played a hero role in past outbreaks of campus insanity. Will that happen again this time? [Paul Horwitz]
- More: What happened in the Dartmouth library [Charlie Lundquist/The Tab, Alex Griswold/Mediaite, @Popehat (“although I generally support screaming obscenities at Ivy Leaguers this seems of questionable persuasiveness”)] And Columbia [Aaron Short, NY Post (students said to be “uneasy and fearful” over social pressure to join protests)]
- Those who want to protect American university life from mob intimidation, speak now or forever hold your peace [Conor Friedersdorf on Yale and Missouri incidents, Greg Lukianoff on Yale, Thom Lambert on Missouri; more on Missouri; John Samples/Cato] “Sorry, kids, the First Amendment does protect ‘hate speech'” [Michael McGough, L.A. Times]
- #ExxonKnew folks, please listen: “engaging in scientific research and public advocacy shouldn’t be crimes in a free country. Using the criminal law to shame and encumber companies that do so is a dangerous arrogation of power.” [Bloomberg View editorial, earlier here, etc.]
- Judge orders Facebook post taken down as campaign contribution improper under Colorado law; while target of enforcement was public charter school, logic of ruling could extend to entirely private entities as well [Megan Geuss, ArsTechnica]
- Did anyone really not see this coming? Hate speech laws give authorities powerful weapon with which to crack down on speech by critics and minorities [Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Reason, on Kenya]
- Cato amicus brief, Kentucky Court of Appeals: printers shouldn’t be forced to print gay-pride messages they don’t agree with [Ilya Shapiro/Cato, Eugene Volokh]
- “That’s not harassing, stalking, libeling or cyber bullying. That’s called reporting.” Florida Man offers to help with online reputation management but digs himself and client in further [Tim Cushing, TechDirt, background]
- Feminist lawprof we’ve met before attacks Internet-protecting Section 230, confusion ensues [Mike Masnick, TechDirt]
After the Feminist Majority Foundation promoted a Title IX complaint against the University of Mary Washington, primarily based on the public Virginia university’s failure to crack down harder on student use of the independent Yik Yak social media gossip platform, UMW President Richard Hurley in June wrote an unapologetic letter crisply refuting many of the group’s contentions. What do you think happened next? Sponsors amended their complaint to allege that Hurley’s letter itself constituted unlawful retaliation against persons invoking Title IX protection. “The [U.S. Department of Education’s] Office for Civil Rights announced its intent to investigate the university this month.” And now a group of 72 women’s and civil rights organizations, including the respectable American Association of University Women and Leadership Conference for Civil Rights, have “announced a campaign to enlist the federal government in pressuring colleges to protect students from harassment via anonymous social-media applications like Yik Yak.” [Eugene Volokh; Hans Bader; Chronicle of Higher Education; Fredericksburg, Va. Free Lance-Star (Hurley letter)] One thing’s for sure, someone is retaliating against something.
More: Eugene Volokh is out with a don’t-miss followup post analyzing the FMF complaints in much more depth, and noting that Hurley is being charged with retaliation for “engaging in normal public debate”:
Readers might recall the recent attempt to use Title IX to shut down critical speech as retaliation, in the Northwestern University / Prof. Laura Kipnis controversy…. This complaint is yet another such attempt.
The Feminist Majority Foundation, though a publisher of a magazine [Ms.], doesn’t seem to care much about the First Amendment rights of students, or of accused university officials. Its complaint goes far beyond constitutionally unprotected and rightly punishable speech, such as true threats of violence.
Instead, it faults the university for not stopping criticism of feminist arguments and feminist arguers, whether vulgar criticism or other criticism. It faults the university for speaking out, without vulgarities or epithets, in its own defense. And the premise of the complaint thus seems to be that one side of a debate has the right to speak — to condemn and to accuse — but the federal government should step in to stop the other side from responding.
In Britain authorities have filed legal charges under “malicious communications” (roughly hate speech) law against a series of persons accused of abrasive and insensitive Tweets and social media posts, often politically charged. The latest target is diversity officer Bahar Mustafa of the University of London, who defends the obnoxious tweet in question (hashtag #killallwhitemen) by reference to the notion that “she could not be guilty of sexism or racism against white men “because racism and sexism describe structures of privilege based on race and gender and therefore women of colour and minority genders cannot be racist or sexist, since we do not stand to benefit from such a system.” [The Independent] Uh-huh.
Ken White: “In a sensible legal system [the tweet] shouldn’t generate anything more than an eye-roll. But in a feels-based legal system, it’s actionable.” As for “you censorious Guardians of Feels on the Left: if you thought that the norms you created wouldn’t be used against your ‘own side,’ …[that] is almost indescribably moronic. Go sit in the corner and think about what you have done.” [Popehat] “Purveyors of speech-scandals of every sort: you think it can’t happen to you?” On the use of the law by powerful people, compare also this George Galloway episode.
- Sheriff’s group wants Facebook to ax “hate speech against police,” “anti-police rhetoric”: what could go wrong? [WDIV, Daily Caller]
- The “Mr. District Attorney” comic book cover at right is from Jim Dedman at Abnormal Use, who as part of his Friday links roundup for years now has featured great law-related comic book covers related to law, crime, and justice. Check out his archive;
- “Under the Microscope: The FBI Hair Cases,” on a major forensic fiasco [Al-Jazeera America documentary, auto-plays, via Scott Greenfield]
- Knock and announce: in case from Eastern Shore of Maryland, Fourth Amendment got SWATted by militarized police [Ilya Shapiro and Randal John Meyer, Newsweek and Cato]
- Of course the intersection of civil asset forfeiture with sex panic is one big disaster area for liberty [Elizabeth Nolan Brown] “Should Prostitution Be Legalized?” [David Boaz, Cato; Reason panel on “sex trafficking” goes on despite threatened activist disruptions]
- Doctrine of qualified immunity shields police officers (and other public employees) from most civil liability. How does it work? [Nathan Burney at Radley Balko]
- The U.S. Department of Justice regularly settles complaints against local police departments by extracting a promise to abide by future negotiated constraints. Federalism and constitutional concerns aside, how well do these consent decrees actually work in reforming conduct? [Marshall Project]
Do you oppose laws banning hateful expression? You might be one of those American “speech nuts,” akin to “gun nuts,” that so puzzle observers in places like Europe where they do things differently [via Greg Lukianoff, Kelefa Sanneh/New Yorker; pushback from Anthony Fisher/Reason, FIRE first and second posts]
At least the police chief in Wallingford, Ct. seems to have a grip on Civics 101 following someone’s decision to call the cops on discovering that merchandise with Nazi and Confederate insignia was for sale at a flea market [WTNH]
- Weirdly, Europe is more willing to legislate against pro-ISIS views than openly to argue against them [Nick Cohen]
- City of Inglewood, Calif. sues for copyright infringement over videos by critic of Mayor Butts [CBS L.A., Volokh, Paul Alan Levy]
- “Department Of Justice Uses Grand Jury Subpoena To Identify Anonymous Commenters on a Silk Road Post at Reason.com” [Ken White/Popehat, Wired, Scott Greenfield]
- Bans on the singing of sectarian songs, as in the Scotland case mentioned here recently, are perhaps less surprisingly also a part of law in Northern Ireland [Belfast Telegraph, BBC] UK government “now arresting and even jailing people simply for speaking their minds” [Brendan O’Neill]
- Broad “coalition of free speech, web publishing, and civil liberties advocates” oppose provisions in anti-“trafficking” bill creating criminal liability for classified ad sites; Senate passes bill anyway by 99-0 margin [Elizabeth Nolan Brown; more from Brown on bill (“What, you mean grown women AREN’T being abducted into sex slavery at Hobby Lobby stores in Oklahoma?” — @mattwelch), yet more on trafficking-panic numbers]
- Group libel laws, though approved in the 1952 case Beauharnais v. Illinois, are now widely regarded as no longer good law, but a Montana prosecutor doesn’t seem aware of that [Volokh] No, let’s not redefine “incitement” so as to allow the banning of more speech [Volokh]
- Supreme Court’s ruling in Elonis, the “true threats on Facebook” case, was speech-protective but minimalist [Ilya Shapiro, Orin Kerr, Ken White, Eugene Volokh]
Most depressing poll of the year? A majority of Democrats and 37% of Republicans say they favor banning so-called hate speech, which would squarely contradict the free speech jurisprudence of the U.S. Supreme Court and thus would implicitly at least call for rolling back the First Amendment to the Constitution. The YouGov numbers favoring such a ban have risen, perhaps influenced by confusion or worse in elite journalistic and academic circles [Edward Morrissey/Fiscal Times, Charles Cooke]
As Ken at Popehat notes in a piece on censors’ tropes: “In the US, ‘hate speech’ is an argumentative rhetorical category, not a legal one.” Related on recent controversies: Paul Berman, Tablet (“it was the Charlie staffers, and not Marine le Pen, whose arrival in New York stirred a protest.”); Art Spiegelman, Time; Mark Steyn (“‘There Is No More Molly.’ Or Luz.”); Erik Wemple, Washington Post (American media’s “crouch of cowardice and rationalization” after Garland attack).
More from commenter DensityDuck:
Given the modern attitude of “anything I don’t like should be illegal”, this isn’t surprising.
When Bradbury wrote “Fahrenheit 451?, he wasn’t suggesting that the government would censor ideas it didn’t like; in his story, it was the people themselves who called for censorship of bad, scary, offensive ideas. Someone who writes of microaggressions and triggers and hate speech would be the bad guys in F451.