Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Free Speech

Is this Diversion mutually exclusive: Race and the Free-Speech?

At issue are a black student’s angry denunciation of a Yale professor and the Missouri protesters’ daft media strategy of blockading reporters from a public demonstration.

Of the many concerns unearthed by the protests at two major universities this week, the velocity at which we now move from racial recrimination to self-righteous backlash is possibly the most revealing.

The unrest that occurred at the University of Missouri and at Yale University, two outwardly dissimilar institutions, shared themes of racial obtuseness, arthritic institutional responses to it, and the feeling, among students of color, that they are tenants rather than stakeholders in their universities.

That these issues have now been subsumed in a debate over political correctness and free speech on campus—important but largely separate subjects—is proof of the self-serving deflection to which we should be accustomed at this point.

Two weeks ago, we saw a school security officer in South Carolina violently subdue a teen-age girl for simple noncompliance, and we actually countenanced discussion of the student’s culpability for “being disruptive in class.”

The default for avoiding discussion of racism is to invoke a separate principle, one with which few would disagree in the abstract—free speech, respectful participation in class—as the counterpoint to the violation of principles relating to civil rights.

This is victim-blaming with a software update, with less interest in the kind of character assassination we saw deployed against Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown than in creating a seemingly right-minded position that serves the same effect.

 Andrew Bossone shared this link

The freedom to offend the powerful is not equivalent to the freedom to bully the relatively disempowered.”

The deflection of the controversies at the University of Missouri and Yale with free-speech arguments is simply victim-blaming with a software update.

In “The Coddling of the American Mind,” Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt argued that too many college students engage in turning common events into nightmarish trials or claiming that easily bearable events are too awful to bear.

After citing examples, they concluded, “smart people do, in fact, overreact to innocuous speech, make mountains out of molehills, and seek punishment for anyone whose words make anyone else feel uncomfortable.” What Yale students did next vividly illustrates that phenomenon.

David French strikes a similar note of democratic indignation about the Missouri protesters in the National Review:

The entire notion that these students need a “safe space” is a lie. (As opposed to vital space?)

They aren’t weak. They don’t need protection. They’re engaged in a classic struggle for power—for now against weak, ineffectual, and cowardly opposition. Why would they debate when they’ve proven they can dictate terms?

Why would they answer tough questions when they have no satisfactory answers? So they simply push the press away, and the press meekly complies. Pathetic

At issue are a black student’s angry denunciation of a Yale professor and the Missouri protesters’ daft media strategy of blockading reporters from a public demonstration.

The conflict between the Yale student and Nicholas Christakis, the master of the university’s Silliman College—whose wife, Erika, the associate master of the college, wrote an e-mail encouraging students to treat Halloween costumes that they find racially offensive as a free-speech issue, in response to a campus-wide e-mail encouraging students to consider whether their costumes could offend—was recorded on a cell phone and posted on the Internet.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a national campus free-speech organization, posted the video to their Web site.

Since then, a young woman who argues with Christakis in the footage has been called the “shrieking woman” by the National Review and subjected to online harassment and death threats.

Surely these threats constitute an infringement upon her free speech—a position that has scarcely been noted amid the outraged First Amendment fundamentalism.

This rhetorical victory recalls the successful defense in the George Zimmerman trial, which relied upon the tacit presumption that the right to self-defense was afforded to only one party that night—coincidentally, the non-black one.

The broader issue is that the student’s reaction elicited consternation in certain quarters where the precipitating incident did not. The fault line here is between those who find intolerance objectionable and those who oppose intolerance of the intolerant.

The upheaval at Yale and the protests that forced the resignation of University of Missouri President Timothy Wolfe and of Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin are both a product of and distinct from the Black Lives Matter moment we currently inhabit.

Students from the University of Missouri participated in protests in Ferguson last year; as the climate on campus became more fraught, activists from Ferguson visited and advised the students.

Six weeks ago, I participated in a forum at Yale on the massacre in Charleston. When the historian Edward Ball pointed out that the shootings had occurred on Calhoun Street, named for the intellectual godfather of the Confederacy, students immediately pointed out that Calhoun was an alumnus and that a college is still named for him.

One member of the audience asked Jonathan Holloway, a civil-rights historian and the dean of Yale College, who has been at the center of the recent events, if he would remove Calhoun’s name from the college. (Holloway, who previously served as the master of Calhoun College, indicated that he had not yet decided how he would handle the matter.)

To understand the real complexities of these students’ situation, free-speech purists would have to grapple with what it means to live in a building named for a man who dedicated himself to the principle of white supremacy and to the ownership of your ancestors.

That this issue has arisen on the rarified grounds of an Ivy League campus doesn’t diminish the example; it makes it a more pointed illustration that no amount of talent or resources or advantage can shield you entirely from the minimizing sentiments so pervasive in this country. (It’s a lesson that has been vividly illustrated in Barack Obama’s two terms.)

Faculty and students at both Yale and the University of Missouri who spoke to me about the protests were careful to point out that they were the culmination of long-simmering concerns. “It’s clear that the students’ anger and resentment were long in coming,” Holloway told me.

“This is not about one or two things. It’s something systemic and we’re going to have to look at that.”

The most severe recent incidents at both institutions—shouts of “nigger” directed at a black student at Missouri, a purported “white girls only” Yale fraternity party—will sound familiar to anyone who works at or even has substantial contact with an institution of higher education.

Last month, women’s and civil-rights groups filed a Title IX complaint that campuses have not done enough to rein in Yik Yak, an anonymous forum that effectively serves as a clearinghouse of digital hostility.

Last year, at the University of Connecticut, where I teach, white fraternity members harassed and purportedly shouted epithets at members of a black sorority; the incident generated an afterlife of hostility on Internet forums, where black female students were derided and ridiculed. Eight months ago, fraternity members at the University of Oklahoma were filmed singing an ode to lynching

These are not abstractions.

And this is where the arguments about the freedom of speech become most tone deaf. The freedom to offend the powerful is not equivalent to the freedom to bully the relatively disempowered.

The enlightenment principles that undergird free speech also prescribed that the natural limits of one’s liberty lie at the precise point at which it begins to impose upon the liberty of another.

During the debates over the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Senator J. Lister Hill, of Alabama, stood up and declared his opposition to the bill by arguing that the protection of black rights would necessarily infringe upon the rights of whites.

This is the left-footed logic of a career Negrophobe, which should be immediately dismissed.

Yet some variation of Hill’s thinking animates the contemporary political climate.

Right-to-offend advocates are, willingly or not, trafficking in the same sort of argument for the right to maintain subordination.

They are, however, correct in one key respect: there are no safe spaces. Nor, from the look of things, will there be any time soon.

 

 

Hypocrisy of the Free Speech Fundamentalists: More on the Charlie Hebdo 

Erkki Tuomioja, Finland foreign minister, said lately:

“You caricature and criticize women, you are a chauvinist

You caricature and criticize Jews, you are an anti-semite

You caricature and criticize  Blacks, you are a racist

You caricature and criticize Islam, you are smack into free expression zone

As a Muslim, I’m Fed Up With the Hypocrisy of the Free Speech Fundamentalists

Posted: 13/01/2015 
Dear liberal pundit,You and I didn’t like George W Bush.

Remember his puerile declaration after 9/11 that “either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists”? Yet now, in the wake of another horrific terrorist attack, you appear to have updated Dubya’s slogan: either you are with free speech… or you are against it.

Either vous êtes Charlie Hebdo… or you’re a freedom-hating fanatic.

I’m writing to you to make a simple request: please stop.

You think you’re defying the terrorists when, in reality, you’re playing into their bloodstained hands by dividing and demonising. Us and them.

The enlightened and liberal west v the backward, barbaric Muslims. The massacre in Paris on 7 January was, you keep telling us, an attack on free speech. The conservative former French president Nicolas Sarkozy agrees, calling it “a war declared on civilisation“.

So, too, does the liberal-left pin-up Jon Snow, who crassly tweeted about a “clash of civilisations” and referred to “Europe’s belief in freedom of expression”.

In the midst of all the post-Paris grief, hypocrisy and hyperbole abounds. Yes, the attack was an act of unquantifiable evil; an inexcusable and merciless murder of innocents. But was it really is a “bid to assassinate” free speech (ITV’s Mark Austin), to “desecrate” our ideas of “free thought” (Stephen Fry)?

It was a crime – not an act of war – perpetrated by disaffected young men; radicalised not by drawings of the Prophet in Europe in 2006 or 2011, as it turns out, but by images of US torture in Iraq in 2004.

Please get a grip. None of us believes in an untrammelled right to free speech.

We all agree there are always going to be lines that, for the purposes of law and order, cannot be crossed; or for the purposes of taste and decency, should not be crossed. We differ only on where those lines should be drawn.

Has your publication, for example, run cartoons mocking the Holocaust? No? How about caricatures of the 9/11 victims falling from the twin towers? I didn’t think so (and I am glad it hasn’t).

Consider also the “thought experiment” offered by the Oxford philosopher Brian Klug. Imagine, he writes, if a man had joined the “unity rally” in Paris on 11 January “wearing a badge that said ‘Je suis Chérif'” – the first name of one of the Charlie Hebdo gunmen. Suppose, Klug adds, he carried a placard with a cartoon mocking the murdered journalists. “How would the crowd have reacted?… Would they have seen this lone individual as a hero, standing up for liberty and freedom of speech? Or would they have been profoundly offended?” Do you disagree with Klug’s conclusion that the man “would have been lucky to get away with his life”?

Let’s be clear: I agree there is no justification whatsoever for gunning down journalists or cartoonists. I disagree with your seeming view that the right to offend comes with no corresponding responsibility; and I do not believe that a right to offend automatically translates into a duty to offend.

When you say “Je suis Charlie“, is that an endorsement of Charlie Hebdo‘s depiction of the French justice minister, Christiane Taubira, who is black, drawn as a monkey? Of crude caricatures of bulbous-nosed Arabs that must make Edward Said turn in his grave?

Lampooning racism by reproducing brazenly racist imagery is a pretty dubious satirical tactic. Also, as the former Charlie Hebdo journalist Olivier Cyran argued in 2013, an “Islamophobic neurosis gradually took over” the magazine after 9/11, which then effectively endorsed attacks on “members of a minority religion with no influence in the corridors of power”.

It’s for these reasons that I can’t “be”, don’t want to “be”, Charlie – if anything, we should want to be Ahmed, the Muslim policeman who was killed while protecting the magazine’s right to exist. As the novelist Teju Cole has observed, “It is possible to defend the right to obscene… speech without promoting or sponsoring the content of that speech.”

And why have you been so silent on the glaring double standards? Did you not know that Charlie Hebdo sacked the veteran French cartoonist Maurice Sinet in 2008 for making an allegedly anti-Semitic remark?

Were you not aware that Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that published caricatures of the Prophet in 2005, reportedly rejected cartoons mocking Christ because they would “provoke an outcry” and proudly declared it would “in no circumstances… publish Holocaust cartoons”?

Muslims, I guess, are expected to have thicker skins than their Christian and Jewish brethren. Context matters, too. You ask us to laugh at a cartoon of the Prophet while ignoring the vilification of Islam across the continent (have you visited Germany lately?) and the widespread discrimination against Muslims in education, employment and public life – especially in France.

You ask Muslims to denounce a handful of extremists as an existential threat to free speech while turning a blind eye to the much bigger threat to it posed by our elected leaders.

Does it not bother you to see Barack Obama – who demanded that Yemen keep the anti-drone journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye behind bars, after he was convicted on “terrorism-related charges” in a kangaroo court – jump on the free speech ban wagon? Weren’t you sickened to see Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of a country that was responsible for the killing of seven journalists in Gaza in 2014, attend the “unity rally” in Paris?

Bibi was joined by Angela Merkel, chancellor of a country where Holocaust denial is punishable by up to five years in prison, and David Cameron, who wants to ban non-violent “extremists” committed to the “overthrow of democracy” from appearing on television.

Then there are your readers. Will you have a word with them, please? According to a 2011 YouGov poll, 82% of voters backed the prosecution of protesters who set fire to poppies.

Apparently, it isn’t just Muslims who get offended.

Erkki Tuomioja, Finland foreign minister

Mehdi Hasan is the political director of the Huffington Post UK and a contributing writer for the New Statesman

‎إنهم يعرفون ... ويحرفون ..!!!!‎

One Student’s Epic Tweets Call Out the Biggest Hypocrites Marching for Free Speech In Paris

Millions of people took to the streets of Paris and cities across France on Sunday to rally in defense of free speech and against terrorism in the wake of Wednesday’s deadly attack on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

The French Interior Ministry told the Associated Press that 3.7 million marched throughout France, making the demonstrations the largest in the country’s history.

Adding to the symbolic weight of the demonstrations, more than 40 world leaders joined the start of the Paris march, linking arms in an act of solidarity. But as Reporters Without Borders points out, their policies at home are far from compatible with the solidarity for free speech on display throughout France. 

The organization said Sunday that it was “appalled by the presence of leaders from countries where journalists and bloggers are systematically persecuted such as Egypt (which is ranked 159th out of 180 countries in RWB’s press freedom index), Russia (148th), Turkey (154th) and United Arab Emirates (118th).”

“We must demonstrate our solidarity with Charlie Hebdo without forgetting all the world’s other Charlies,” Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said in a statement.

“It would be unacceptable if representatives of countries that silence journalists were to take advantage of the current outpouring of emotion to try to improve their international image and then continue their repressive policies when they return home. We must not let predators of press freedom spit on the graves of Charlie Hebdo.”

They’re right.

In what can only be described as an epic series of 21 pointed tweets, London School for Economics Middle East Society co-president Daniel Wickham points out that many of the world leaders who marched Sunday through the streets of Paris are not the world’s biggest advocates for press freedom.

[<a href=”//storify.com/tometty/staunch-defenders-of-free-press-attend-solidarity” target=”_blank”>View the story “These ‘staunch defenders’ of the free press are attending today’s solidarity rally in Paris” on Storify</a>]<span id=”mce_marker” data-mce-type=”bookmark”></span&amp

 

“Politicians worldwide are enacting a slew of laws to impinge on free speech, but are the first to defend it when there’s a body count,” writes the Daily Beast‘s Luke O’Neil. “It is grandstanding for a right rarely protected unless under immediate attack.”

As journalists and human rights activists stand with Charlie Hebdo, they should remember that, across the world, not every journalist is Charlie.

Turkey is one of the harshest persecutor of journalists and its Prime minister participated in the march.

Israel assassinated 17 journalists in Gaza genocide war.

This sums it up:
– Prime Minister Rajoy of Spain, whose government just passed the Ley Mordaza, a gag law placing historic restrictions on the right to protest in Spain.
– Foreign Minister Lavrov of Russia, which last year jailed a journalist for “insulting a government servant” .
– Foreign Minister Shoukry of Egypt, which as well as Al Jazeera staff has detained journalist Shawkan for around 500 days.
– King Abdullah of Jordan, which last year sentenced a Palestinian journalistlist to 15 years in prison with hard labour.
– Prime Minister Davutoglu of Turkey, which imprisons more journalists than any other country in the world.
– Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, whose forced killed 17 journalists in Gaza last year (second highest after Syria).
– Foreign Minister Lamamra of Algeria, which has detained journalist Abdessami Abdelhai for 15 months without charges.
– The Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates, which in 2013 held a journalist incommunicado for a month on suspicion of MB links.
– Prime Minister Jomaa of Tunisia, which recently jailed blogger Yassine Ayan for 3 years for “defaming the army”.
– The Prime Ministers of Georgia and Bulgaria, both of whom have a record of attacking & beating journalists.
– The Attorney General of the US, where police in Ferguson have recently detained and assaulted Washington Post reporters.
– Prime Minister Samaras of Greece, where riot police beat & injured two journalists at a protest in June last year
– Secretary-General of NATO, who are yet to be held to account for deliberately bombing and killing 16 Serbian journalists in ’99.
– President Keita of Mali, where journalists are expelled for covering human rights abuses.
– The Foreign Minister of Bahrain, 2nd biggest jailer of journos in the world per capita (they also torture them).
– Sheikh Mohamed Ben Hamad Ben Khalifa Al Thani of Qatar, which jailed a man for 15 years for writing the Jasmine poem.
– Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who had several journalists jailed for insulting him in 2013.
– Prime Minister Cerar of Slovenia, which sentenced a blogger to six months in prison for “defamation” in 2013.
– Prime Minister Enda Kenny of Ireland, where “blasphemy” is considered a criminal offense.
– Prime Minister Kopacz of Poland, which raided a magazine to seize recordings embarrassing for the ruling party.
– Prime Minister Cameron of the UK, where authorities destroyed documents obtained by The Guardian and threatened prosecution.
– Prime Minister Orbán of Hungary, the autocrat of who Amnesty says has “put an end to the free press in Hungary.”


adonis49

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