Tag Archives: Freedom of Speech

‘Horrifying Precedent’: Penn President Resigns Amid Right-Wing Campus Speech Uproar

“She was coerced into resigning for defending her students’ right to political free speech,” said one critic.

By Julia Conley. Published 12-10-2023 by Common Dreams

Liz Magill, president of University of Pennsylvania, testifies before the House Education and Workforce Committee on December 5, 2023 in Washington, DC. Screenshot: CBS News

Professors at the University of Pennsylvania on Saturday were joined by rights advocates in condemning the attacks that forced university president Liz Magill to resign days after she testified before the U.S. Congress.

Magill had angered lawmakers from both parties by refusing to say students should be punished for hypothetically “calling for the genocide of Jews.”

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Students Demanding Protection for Pro-Palestinian Activism Arrested at House Hearing on Campus Speech

“Palestinian students deserve to speak on the genocide of their families,” said one protester as they were led out of the room by police.

By Julia Conley. Published 11-8-2023 by Common Dreams

A pro-Palestinian rights protester holds a sign saying that “Pro-Palestine is not equal to Antisemitism” at a hearing held by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on November 8, 2023. (Photo: @codepink/Twitter)

The limits of the Republican-led U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s views on freedom of speech were on full display Wednesday shortly after a hearing on “Free Speech on College Campuses” began, when several pro-Palestinian rights demonstrators were removed from the hearing room and arrested for speaking out.

The committee, led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), invited representatives of conservative and pro-Zionist groups including Young Americans for Freedom and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to speak about what Jordan called “hostility towards certain points of view, in particular conservative points of view” amid growing outrage over Israel’s U.S.-backed assault on Gaza and the West Bank.

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Digital Rights Groups Applaud US Supreme Court for Protecting Free Speech Online

“Today’s decisions should be commended for recognizing that the rules we apply to the internet should foster free expression, not suppress it,” said the deputy director of ACLU’s National Security Project.

By Kenny Stancil. Published 5-18-2023 by Common Dreams

Photo: Beatrice Murch/flickr/CC

Civil liberties advocates on Thursday praised the U.S. Supreme Court for a pair of unanimous rulings that they say uphold the right to free speech on online platforms.

The high court’s decisions in Twitter v. Taamneh and Gonzalez v. Google represent “a win for free expression on the internet,” the ACLU tweeted.

Alongside its partners, the ACLU “filed amicus briefs in both cases urging the court to ensure online platforms are free to promote, demote, and recommend content without legal risk in order to protect political discourse, cultural development, and intellectual activity,” the group noted in a statement.

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People Fighting Back Against Rising Autocracy Offers Hope, Says Report

“The level of democracy enjoyed by the average world citizen in 2022 is back to 1986 levels. This means that 72% of the world’s population, 5.7 billion people, live under authoritarian rule,” said V-Dem’s director.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 3-2-2023 by Common Dreams

Lula’s campaign moves through São Paolo, Oct. 2022. Photo credit: Midia Ninja/CC

An annual report released Thursday by researchers in Sweden sounds the alarm about countries that are “undergoing autocratization” but also highlights how people around the world “have reclaimed democracy and stopped negative trends.”

The Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem) at the University of Gothenburg produces the world’s largest dataset on democracy, with over 31 million data points for 202 nations from 1789 to 2022. Its new report focuses on the state of countries last year. Continue reading

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Elon Musk’s Twitter is more dangerous than you think

Beyond Musk’s oft-repeated rants about free speech, may lie shadier plans to recoup the $44bn he paid for the site

By Adam Ramsay  Published 11-11-2022 by openDemocracy

The world is burning and Ukraine is trudging into a winter of war. Prices are spiralling and the NHS is limping. The US and Brazil have held the line against fascism, just, while Italy has fallen to the far right. Watching the disastrous takeover of Twitter by the world’s richest bam can feel a little frivolous. So what if it becomes a rich boy’s toy? It often felt like that anyway.

But the thing is, we can’t solve the world’s problems without talking, and social media has become the way we do that. At its best, a space beyond the increasingly oligarch-owned press where citizens of the world can chatter, gossip, joke and revolt; can organise into new collectives and explore new identities and senses of self. At its worst, well, I don’t need to tell you. Continue reading

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SCOTUS is about to decide whether a public school football coach can pray on the field

When is a prayer after a public-school game constitutional?
TerryJ/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Charles J. Russo, University of Dayton

The Supreme Court has consistently banned school-sponsored prayer in public K-12 schools, whether at the start of the school day, during graduation ceremonies or before football games. Under the Equal Access Act, the Supreme Court has affirmed that students may organize prayer and Bible study clubs during non-instructional hours. Even so, school staff and outside adults may not actively participate.

Lower courts have mostly forbidden public school teachers from openly praying in the workplace, even if students are not involved. Yet the Supreme Court has not directly addressed such a case – until now. Continue reading

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Will Facebook respect international rights or the whims of angry rulers?

A muddle of decisions indicates that Facebook and its ‘Supreme Court’ are making little progress towards a consistent policy on human rights

By Linda Bonyo   Published 10-18-2021 by openDemocracy

Photo: Louis Jadwong/Twitter

Facebook’s ‘Trump ban’ received breathless coverage earlier this year, when the Facebook Oversight Board (FOB) – the supposedly independent entity established by the tech giant to adjudicate its content decisions – ‘ruled’ that the former president’s ban from the social media site should be upheld.

Experts from WIRED’s Gilad Edelman to scholar Kate Klonick have used the Trump decision to argue that the FOB is working.

But buried amidst that coverage – and that surrounding Facebook’s botched handling of COVID disinformation – are a muddle of decisions indicating that Facebook and its Oversight Board are making little progress towards a consistent policy on human rights. In fact, they may be headed towards a showdown. Continue reading

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What public school students are allowed to say on social media may be about to change

Student speech in public schools has less protection than speech by adults in the community at large. Noam Galai/Getty Images

Scott F. Johnson, Concord Law School

After a high school cheerleader in Pennsylvania dropped a series of F-bombs about her school in a Snapchat post over a weekend in the spring of 2017, she was suspended from the cheerleading team and sued the school district, claiming the suspension violated her First Amendment rights.

Social media has an ever-growing presence in students’ daily lives. As a result, schools are increasingly faced with the question of whether they can discipline students for remarks made online about school or school officials. The answer is not entirely clear because of different court decisions in different judicial districts.

The United States Supreme Court agreed in January to hear the Pennsylvania school’s district’s case, and its decision may provide some clarity on the issue. Continue reading

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Sheryl Sandberg and Top Facebook Execs Silenced an Enemy of Turkey to Prevent a Hit to the Company’s Business

Amid a 2018 Turkish military campaign, Facebook ultimately sided with Turkey’s demand to block the page of a mostly Kurdish militia. “I am fine with this,” Sandberg wrote.

By Jack Gillum and Justin Elliott.  Published 2-24-2021 by ProPublica

Sheryl Sandberg. Photo: World Economic Forum/flickr/CC

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

As Turkey launched a military offensive against Kurdish minorities in neighboring Syria in early 2018, Facebook’s top executives faced a political dilemma.

Turkey was demanding the social media giant block Facebook posts from the People’s Protection Units, a mostly Kurdish militia group the Turkish government had targeted. Should Facebook ignore the request, as it has done elsewhere, and risk losing access to tens of millions of users in Turkey? Or should it silence the group, known as the YPG, even if doing so added to the perception that the company too often bends to the wishes of authoritarian governments? Continue reading

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Australian PM Morrison Pledges to Outlaw Climate Boycotts

 “A new breed of radical activism is on the march. Apocalyptic in tone,” said Morrison, an evangelical Christian and a very vocal supporter of US President Donald Trump.

By Common Dreams. Published 11-2-2019

President Donald J. Trump poses for a photo with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison following their dinner at the Imperial Hotel Osaka Thursday, June 27, 2019, Osaka, Japan. Photo: White House

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attacked environmental activists in a speech Friday, warning of a “new breed of radical activism” that was “apocalyptic in tone” and pledging to outlaw boycott campaigns that he argued could hurt the country’s mining industry.

“We are working to identify mechanisms that can successfully outlaw these indulgent and selfish practices that threaten the livelihoods of fellow Australians, especially in rural and regional areas,” Morrison said. “New threats to the future of the resources sector have emerged,” he said. “A new breed of radical activism is on the march. Apocalyptic in tone. It brooks no compromise. It’s all or nothing.” Continue reading

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