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PODCAST: Doctor Video Suffers from Acute Censorship

The who’s who of Big Tech took a turn before Congress this afternoon — and not a moment too soon, considering the mess they’re making of free speech. The men behind Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon have a lot of questions to answer about censorship, if House leaders will let Republicans ask. And the first one, considering what happened this week with the frontline doctors’ conference ought to be: Why are you letting your political agenda get in the way of the coronavirus facts?

By the time Facebook had taken it down, their news conference on COVID had beaten out some of the biggest names on the platform. With 17 million views, even the group — America’s Frontline Doctors — was surprised at how desperate people were for information. They’d come to D.C. with one goal: to address some of the rumors about the pandemic and share their views on the best ways to fight it. As men and women who’d spend the last several months treating patients with COVID, their opinion was valuable — to everyone, it turns out, but Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg’s platform pulled the video, insisting it was full of “false information about cures and treatments for COVID-19.” Twitter and YouTube soon followed suit. Dr. Teryn Clark, one of the participants who joined me on Washington Watch yesterday, was “shocked.” First, because the event got so much attention, and then because it was considered controversial. Their intention, she insisted, was only to help answer people’s questions. “The numbers are starting to look like they don’t add up, people are living in fear. There have been a lot of deaths, but recently, more of the people who have … tested positive with this have not had symptoms, have been younger, healthier, and recovered more quickly. So I think there is really a curiosity in our society as well. ‘It’s not looking like in my community, like it’s supposed to look and like it looks on the news. So what’s the story here?'”

Their main goal, Teryn said, was to share what they’d see up close. “We had, as you said, millions and millions of viewers. And then we were equally surprised when we woke up and all of it had been taken down.” Even the website that hosted their conference was gone, along with all the links to the studies that have been done on hydroxychloroquine. That, she shook her head, is where so many people seem intent on shutting down debate. There are papers, she explains, from our own government talking about the drug’s effectiveness in treating other COVIDs. “I don’t know how it’s controversial that we’re looking at NIH paper [from] the time Anthony Fauci was at the NIH.”

The facts, Teryn argued, are being ignored. And she knows it, because she’s treated actual patients and watched them recover. “I was referring people to the CDC’s own website,” she said, which has a two-page fact sheet on the drug, and even that is cause for censorship. Look, Teryn argued, the medical community has studied this drug for years. “It’s been around a really long time… So it’s not a mystery. It’s not unsafe. It’s effective immediately… I just don’t know how it could be seen that we’re [advocating something] dangerous.”

These 20 physicians, from across multiple specialties, aren’t doing this for media attention. “We don’t have a dog in the fight. We have nothing to gain financially… We’re motivated because we want to help people and we want to [cut] through what some of the medical boards are doing with this medication.” It’s so out-of-control, she explained, that pharmacists refusing to fill the prescriptions. “I’ve never been questioned about a prescription,” she said. “[I could probably write a prescription] for a crazy amount of opioids and get less pushback than I get on this for 20 tablets of this medicine.” It’s unprecedented.

What’s driving this “unusual behavior” in the medical community? Teryn doesn’t know. What she does know is that these social media platforms are just as committed to covering up the facts as anyone. And it’s time to call them out.

RELATED VIDEO: Ron Paul on Why Did They Censor ‘America’s Frontline Doctors’?

EDITORS NOTE: This FRC-Action podcast is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

VIDEO: Donald J. Trump. Jr. on Twitter’s Dialectical Negation of Conservatives No Matter What They Say

Dialectical negation:

The dialectical movement involves two moments that negate each other, something and its other. As a result of the negation of the negation, “something becomes its other; this other is itself something; therefore it likewise becomes an other, and so on ad infinitum”.


Tucker Carlson speaks with Donald J. Trump, Jr. on Twitter’s dialectical negation of conservatives no matter what they say.

This video published by on the Vlad Tepes Blog is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

VIDEO: China Shuts Down American Teen on Tik Tok

Sandwiched between a makeup tutorial, 17-year-old Feroza Aziz used her Tik Tok account to turn her beauty vlog into an awareness campaign about China’s severe abuse of the Uighur (Muslim) population. She quickly felt the brunt of the long arm of China’s ever-increasing censorship.

To learn more about the horrific abuse of the Uighers by China, see below

Aziz made a series of viral videos on her Tik Tok account @getmefamouspartthree exposing the abuse, Aziz found that her account had been suspended. The videos begin as makeup tutorials but quickly switch to exposing how the Chinese are putting the Uighurs into “concentration” camps, separating family members from each other, raping and murdering them.

Business Insider explains:

“[Aziz’s videos] are designed in such a way in an attempt to fool TikTok’s moderators from cracking down and removing her content. TikTok — an app not available in China but owned by the Chinese company ByteDance — has faced increasing scrutiny over fears it censors content considered “culturally problematic” and offensive to the Chinese government.”

Here is one of Aziz’s videos that Tik Tok shut down:

For its part, TikTok said her account was suspended because it was connected to another accounts of hers (@getmefamousplzsir), which the platform said it banned for “violating rules.”

But after the teen took to Twitter to publicize her suspension, Tik Tok reinstated her account and issued a public “apology.”

While it was not much of an apology (the company stood behind its initial decision to suspend Aziz’s account), they did admit that their review process “will not be perfect.”

Americans felt the brunt of Chinese censorship last month when the general manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, tweeted an image with the caption, “Fight for Freedom. Stand for Hong Kong.”

Chinese companies immediately suspended their ties with the Rockets, and the Chinese Basketball Association ended their cooperation with the team.

In response, Morey and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver groveled, issuing apologetic statements distancing themselves from the protesters in Hong Kong who are demanding democracy and freedom from China.

Again, Business Insider explains:

“With a population of roughly 1.4 billion people, China is the NBA’s most important international market.”

Although TikTok insists it is independent from China, many have noted that there have been no videos documenting the unrest in Hong Kong, but many have appeared telling a whitewashed story of the region.

Who Are the Uighurs and Why is China Putting Them in “Reeducation” Camps?

Ethnically, the Uighurs are Turkish Muslims. Eleven million Uighurs live in Xinjiang, a territory in northwest China. As Clarion Project has documented since 2013, the Uighurs are under systematic persecution from China in what can authentically be labelled Islamophobia.

Where as a privileged Muslim population in the West will cry Islamophobia if they didn’t get their Diet Pepsi on a airline flight, one million Uighurs are experience actual psychological and physical torture.

The world has been watching stunned as horror story after horror story comes out about exactly what goes on in the Chinese government-run detention centers about one million Uighurs are forced into.

The abuse of the Uighurs is also happening to their children:

Leaked videos have shown children as young as four- or five-years old that are separated from their parents and placed 20-30 at a time in a single room with a fraction of that number of beds and nothing else — languishing, their childhoods wasted, their potential crushed.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Clarion Project column with videos is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

VIDEO: YouTube Won’t Let a Medical Doctor Say This Sentence . . .

“See, if you want to cut off a leg or an arm, you’re mentally ill, but if you want to cut off healthy breasts or a penis, you’re transgender.”

Those are the words of Dr. Michelle Cretella, a pediatrician with many years’ experience and the executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, in a Daily Signal video published in 2017.

It’s a sentence YouTube will not allow the doctor to say about children and gender identity issues.

The Daily Signal recently learned that our video of Cretella had been removed from YouTube. In its place, YouTube displayed this message: “This video has been removed for violating YouTube’s policy on hate speech.”


The demand for socialism is on the rise from young Americans today. But is socialism even morally sound? Find out more now >>


Over the past few months, The Daily Signal worked with YouTube to try to reach a resolution. Ultimately, we were told the only way we could get the video back on YouTube was to delete the previously mentioned sentence.

In other words, we had two choices: censor the doctor’s words or have no video on the world’s biggest video platform.

This should horrify every YouTube user—and anyone who values the importance of a public square featuring a variety of perspectives.

Cretella’s words are no doubt controversial. She is no stranger to criticism, and neither is The Daily Signal. We welcome debate.

But we don’t want to be censored.

We agree with the spirit behind YouTube’s hate speech policy, which states, “Hate speech is not allowed on YouTube. We remove content promoting violence or hatred against individuals or groups based on any of the following attributes” including “Gender Identity and Expression” and “Sex/Gender.” We believe transgender individuals, and any individual struggling with gender identity issues, should be treated with love and respect.

But we also believe that on a topic where medical treatments have such serious ramifications, from infertility to permanent alteration of body parts, it is worth having a robust, fact-driven discussion.

Cretella is a doctor. She is making a point in that sentence that may not be popular but remains true: There is no society-wide push right now to allow patients suffering from Body Integrity Identity Disorder to amputate limbs.

Furthermore, just this May—18 months since Cretella’s video was published—the World Health Organization removed transgenderism from its list of “mental disorders,” moving it to a section about sexual health.

But as of July, Cretella’s sentence—which did not even state transgenderism was a result of mental illness, but simply pointed out that our culture sees amputation of body parts differently depending on the body parts in question—is apparently so outrageous YouTube can’t fathom allowing it on its platform.

That is unbelievable.

We are especially disappointed with YouTube’s decision because other social media platforms have allowed the video on their platforms. In fact, the video has more than 70 million views on Facebook. It might have even more if Facebook hadn’t temporarily removed it in July 2018. After our appeal to Facebook, it was quickly restored and remains on The Daily Signal’s page today.

Here at The Daily Signal, the multimedia news arm of The Heritage Foundation, we believe that private companies, including YouTube, should be allowed to set and enforce their own rules.

But we also believe consumers have a right to protest. And if you are upset that YouTube—the biggest video platform in the world—is refusing to let a doctor speak without censorship on gender identity and children, please reach out to YouTube and its parent company, Google.

Tweet at them: @YouTube and @google. Leave a message on Google’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Google/) or YouTube’s (https://www.facebook.com/youtube/).

Make it clear that while we may often be silent, many, many people want to have a free debate on controversial topics.

Join us in calling on YouTube to reverse this decision and allow this doctor to speak her mind freely on this vital issue.

This is not about how you think children experiencing gender identity issues should be treated, but whether you think there should be an open conversation on this topic, so that parents can make informed decisions about what’s best for their child.

Censoring a medical doctor doesn’t put YouTube on the right side of history. It just shows that it’s a big tech company prioritizing the preferences of the activist left over free speech for all.

This article has been corrected to reflect that Cretella is the executive director of the American College of Pediatricians.

COMMENTARY BY

Katrina Trinko is editor-in-chief of The Daily Signal and co-host of The Daily Signal PodcastSend an email to Katrina. Twitter:

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A Note for our Readers:

With the demand for socialism at an all-time high among our young people—our future leaders and decisionmakers—the experts at Heritage stopped and asked a question that not many have asked:

Is socialism really morally sound?

The researchers at The Heritage Foundation have put together a guide to help you and our fellow Americans better understand the 9 Ways That Socialism Will Morally Bankrupt America.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!

GET YOUR FREE COPY NOW! >>


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal video with commentary is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

Tommy Robinson and the Death of Britain

Sharia justice in the UK. My latest in FrontPage:

As Tommy Robinson headed into court for his sentencing Thursday, he wore a t-shirt that read: “Convicted of Journalism.” And it’s true. Tommy Robinson is heading back to jail for doing what journalists routinely do: ask questions of defendants heading into courtrooms. The gaggle of establishment media journalists who peppered Tommy himself with questions as he entered the court have not been arrested.

British authorities claimed that Tommy Robinson had prejudiced the outcome of the trial of several members of a Muslim rape gang. This is arrant nonsense: the trial had been completed, and Tommy was asking them what they thought of their having been convicted. There was, however, a gag order on the proceedings, and it was on the basis of the claim that Tommy violated that gag order that he is now back in prison.

Why was the gag order put into place? The obvious reason is that the British government and law enforcement authorities are deeply embarrassed by their abysmal record in dealing with Muslim rape gangs. In just one city, Rotherham, British officials “described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought as racist; others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so.”

Nor did this happen only in Rotherham; all over the country, authorities let Muslim rape gangs run rampant for fear of being charged with “racism” and “Islamophobia” if they did anything about them. That is just what happened to Tommy Robinson when he dared to call attention to these gangs and the Islamic motivation behind their activities. The Muslim rape gangs went unreported, unprosecuted, and in general unstopped because of far-Left organizations including Hope Not Hate, Faith Matters, and Tell Mama, which waged relentless war against anyone and everyone who spoke out about this issue. They demonized as “Islamophobic,” “hateful” and “bigoted” anyone who said that there were Muslim rape gangs at all, and that they had to be stopped. They led the campaign to ban Pamela Geller and me from entering the country, when one of the events we had discussed going to was a rally against the Muslim rape gangs.

Hope Not Hate has scrubbed the evidence, but it used to be possible to search for “grooming” (as these gangs are usually called “grooming gangs” in the British media) at Hope Not Hate’s site. You would have seen that the vast majority of the articles mentioning this practice were attacking those who were calling attention to it and protesting against it.

The lives of tens of thousands of British girls are ruined today because of fascist “anti-hate” crusaders Nick Lowles and Matthew Collins of Hope Not Hate, Fiyaz Mughal of Faith Matters and Tell Mama, and their friends, supporters, and allies. Yet it is Tommy Robinson who is in prison. If Britain were even close to being a sane society today, Lowles, Mughal, and company, not Tommy Robinson, would be being subjected to scorching criticism, and there would be a thorough public reevaluation of how much the Left’s alliance with Islamic supremacism and smear campaign against foes of jihad terror has harmed the nation and its people.

But Britain is not a sane society today, and these sinister individuals — Lowles, Mughal, and the rest of them — continue to wield their considerable power and influence in British society. If Britain is ever to recover itself and stave off chaos, civil war and Sharia, Lowles, Collins, Mughal and others like them must be decisively repudiated and removed from all positions of influence, and their organizations exposed for what they are.

Instead, Tommy Robinson is back to jail, with a sentence that could be a death sentence at the hands of Muslim inmates who threatened and menaced him when he was in prison before.

The British government is clearly making an example of him in order to try to deter more Britons from protesting against its policies of mass Muslim immigration and its covering up of crimes perpetrated by Muslims in the name of Islam and in accord with its teachings. This conviction and sentencing shows not Tommy Robinson’s contempt of court, but the contempt of the British government for its own citizens, and particularly for the victims of Muslim rape gangs.

Britain has become a shabby little police state in which it is illegal to criticize Islam and mass Muslim migration in Britain today. Its death as a free society is by its own hand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.

Video Message To President Trump: Pass Law Against Censorship & Political Discrimination

It is impossible for most people to participate in the modern world without the internet and dominate platforms. It is the town square. Big tech and major social media platforms are banning and discriminating against those on the right. I have a message for Trump.

Help us in one of these ways:

Get one of our t-shirts from lanasllama.com or redice.tv/store

Send donations to Henrik or Lana:
520 Folly Rd STE 25 PBM 334
Charleston, South Carolina
29412

EDITORS NOTE: This column with video and images is republished with permission.

We Know Something that most Americans Don’t — How I became a thought-criminal

This morning I received an email from Piotr Jankowski, managing editor of a Polish-language news website in Warsaw, telling me about an article they had just posted about me, my work, and my recent arrest at GMU by the politically correct campus police. The article was titled, Persecuted: in USSR for anti-communism, in USA for anti-Islamism.

Surfing their site, it didn’t take long to discover close to a dozen People’s Cube images and parodies by me and other Cubists from several years back, translated into Polish.

Since my grandfather was Polish, we had a Polish dictionary and a language manual in the family library. Polish is also close enough to my native Russian and Ukrainian, so with some practice I was able to read Polish magazines, which were more interesting than the Soviet ones.

As a kid, I loved the Polish satirical magazine Szpilki. It wasn’t widely available and their cartoons were often a lot more sexually charged than those in the Soviet print media, so my parents tried to keep them out of my sight. But seeing just one issue was enough to make me wonder why such things didn’t exist in the Soviet Union. It was possibly then that I first experienced adult thoughts about the existence of censorship. Seeing those magazines today wouldn’t probably impress me that much, but at the time they turned me into a thought-criminal. I realized that a world without censorship was more fun to live in.

Granted, Poland was a reluctant Soviet satellite with heavily censored press. And yet Polish movies and books seemed more honest and revealing in just about anything, from sex to politics. Apparently the Poles enjoyed a little less censorship and a little more freedom that we in the USSR did. It was logical to conclude that if a little less censorship meant a little more fun, a world without any censorship whatsoever would be a blast. And that world existed just west of Poland – in Europe, America, and the rest of what we call Western societies.

Ever since I imagined a world without censorship, I wanted to live in it. My own country began to feel less like the Motherland and more like an obstacle to freedom. As a teenager, whenever the Motherland’s embrace felt especially stifling and cold, I stayed warm thinking about parts of the world where people were free. I imagined I was one of them and it made me felt better. These people could speak their mind without the fear of being overheard. They could write and read books, make and watch movies, play and listen to the music without government’s permission. They gave me hope.

The sounds of the Beatles and other rock and roll music of the 1970s also helped. Turning on the tape recorder provided an instant immersion into that free world, a temporary escape from the stuffy Soviet reality. I believe that was a common experience for many young people of the Eastern Bloc. Owning an overpriced pair of blue jeans and listening to Western music went way beyond mere aesthetics; it was a non-verbal expression of our longing for freedom and an analgesic relief from the daily ideological bullying and brainwashing by the Communist regime.

It felt as though all those uncensored cartoons, music, and blue fade-out apparel were made especially for us. Communist propagandists agreed, telling us that all those “Western things” were masterminded by capitalist propagandists with the sole purpose of subverting the Soviet youth and weakening our communist resolve. We laughed at their paranoia, and yet the feeling of some secret messaging addressed to us was inescapable. Living in a totalitarian society will do that to you.

Everything the Communists did had a special political purpose, and they projected the same on their “capitalist adversaries,” claiming that all those “Western things” were part of a clandestine anti-Soviet operation. Later it came almost as a revelation to many Soviets that it wasn’t so. The superior consumer goods were the natural outcome of the capitalist economy, the uncensored art was the outcome of freedom, and rock and roll was a scream of joy that resulted from it. Whatever political messaging the Soviets attached to those things would have most likely surprised their creators.

As for me, I just wanted to experience a world where things were appreciated merely for their beauty, without any political weight clinging to them after they’d been dragged through the garbage of false totalitarian narratives.

Then I finally came to live in the U.S. and discovered a country chained by political correctness, which has become America’s new zeitgeist. Censorship came not as much from the government as from the media denouncements, which were then universally repeated by the mindless adepts of “progressivism.” Wherever I look I see a never-ending buildup of false narratives in an increasingly unfree society, where few things remain to be enjoyed for their beauty without the political ball and chain attached to them. One can’t even buy a chicken sandwich or watch a TV show, let alone read the news, without thinking about political messaging, symbolism, or ulterior motives.

The perpetrator is, once again, leftist ideology. It may not be a replica of the Soviet ideology, but it is nonetheless aligned with the general delusional idea of a world-wide socialist Utopia achieved through a totalitarian rule of “benevolent” elites. And now the totalitarian leftists are teaming up with the totalitarian Islamists. The censorship in Western societies has redoubled since Islam came into play. Apparently the leftists are hoping that Islamic supremacism will quietly go away once it helps them to conquer the world. That is, of course, yet another dangerous delusion.

I hate politics as much as a soldier hates the war but continues to fight because it’s the only way to victory. I’d rather live my life enjoying beautiful things without any politics attached, but today that seems like an impossible dream. The alternative to fighting is a surrender to the stifling totalitarianism and censorship, which will be a lot worse than going back to the Soviet days. The West’s surrender to the leftist agenda means that there will be no other parts of the world left to give us the hope of freedom. Nowhere to smuggle uncensored books, tapes, or cartoons from. Nowhere to run to.

This is why I do what I do. And this is what also drives the people in the far-away Warsaw to do what they do, including the translation of the People’s Cube satires into Polish.

Having grown up in an unfree world, we know something that most Americans don’t.

EDITORS NOTE: This column was first published in the alt-media FrontPage Magazine.

Federal Government Authorizes Facebook, Twitter, YouTube to Censor ‘Anti-Islam’ Speech

The censorship and discrimination against voices of freedom, along with consistent failure to act against jihad advocates and recruiters, on increasingly important social media platforms has gone on long enough. We’re suing. Pamela Geller weighs in here. AFDI press release here.

“Federal Government Authorizes Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to Censor ‘Anti-Islam’ Speech; Lawsuit Filed,” American Freedom Law Center, July 13, 2016:

Today, the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) under the First Amendment.

Section 230 provides immunity from lawsuits to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, thereby permitting these social media giants to engage in government-sanctioned censorship and discriminatory business practices free from legal challenge.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and Jihad Watch.

As alleged in the lawsuit, Geller and Spencer, along with the organizations they run, are often subject to censorship and discrimination by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube because of Geller’s and Spencer’s beliefs and views, which Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube consider expression that is offensive to Muslims.

Such discrimination, which is largely religion-based in that these California businesses are favoring adherents of Islam over those who are not, is prohibited in many states, but particularly in California by the state’s anti-discrimination law, which is broadly construed to prohibit all forms of discrimination.  However, because of the immunity granted by the federal government, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are free to engage in their otherwise unlawful, discriminatory practices.

As set forth in the lawsuit, Section 230 of the CDA immunizes businesses such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube from civil liability for any action taken to “restrict access to or availability of material that” that they “consider[] to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”

Robert Muise, AFLC co-founder and senior counsel, issued the following statement:

“Section 230 of the CDA confers broad powers of censorship upon Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube officials, who can silence constitutionally protected speech and engage in discriminatory business practices with impunity by virtue of this power conferred by the federal government in violation of the First Amendment.”

Muise went on to explain:

“Section 230 is a federal statute that alters the legal relations between our clients and Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, resulting in the withdrawal from our clients of legal protections against private acts.  Consequently, per U.S. Supreme Court precedent, state action lies in our clients’ challenge under the First Amendment.”

David Yerushalmi, AFLC co-founder and senior counsel, added:

“Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have notoriously censored speech that they deem critical of Islam, thereby effectively enforcing blasphemy laws here in the United States with the assistance of the federal government.”

Yerushalmi concluded:

“It has been the top agenda item of Islamic supremacists to impose such standards on the West.  Its leading proponents are the Muslim Brotherhood’s network of Islamist activist groups in the West and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which co-sponsored, with support from Obama and then-Secretary of State Clinton, a U.N. resolution which called on all nations to ban speech that could promote mere hostility to Islam.  Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are falling in line, and we seek to stop this assault on our First Amendment freedoms.”

AFLC Co-Founders and Senior Counsel Robert J. Muise and David Yerushalmi, along with the plaintiffs in this case, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, will hold a Press Call from 2:00-2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 13.  To access this press conference call, dial (641) 715-3655 and enter code 111815.

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Censorship Is an ‘Unjustifiable Privilege’ by Chris Marchese

Free Speech Is about the Power to Challenge the Status Quo!

Free speech is the great equalizer in our society. It doesn’t matter about your race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, class — you get the point — the First Amendment protects your right to speak freely. Despite this, some student activists — perceiving unequal social conditions, including at institutions of higher education — are fighting for social change at the expense of free speech. The sad irony, however, is that free speech only becomes privileged when it’s restricted, which is why free speech must remain a right equally applicable to all.

To understand why, consider Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s commencement speech at Wellesley College in 2015. In it, she said, “You, because of your beautiful Wellesley degree, have become privileged, no matter your background.” But, she added, “Sometimes you will need to push [this privilege] aside in order to see clearly,” because “privilege blinds” you to those who are different.

Students calling for speech restrictions are particularly blinded by their privilege, which leaves them unable to see the unjust privilege that restricting speech would further confer upon them. This is dangerous and counterproductive to their cause.

Restricting Speech Is an Unjust Privilege

First, to support restrictions on certain kinds of speech, activists must have (or at least project) unwavering confidence in both themselves and the system in which they are operating — the university in this case — to discern what’s offensive. Even if they see gray areas in expression, they are forced to present issues in absolutist terms if they are to have the perceived moral authority to police and punish those who offend.

Turning again to Adichie’s speech, we can see why this is wrong. As she said, “I knew from … the class privilege I had of growing up in an educated family, that it sometimes blinded me, that I was not always as alert to the nuances of people who were different from me.”

Sometimes, people are genuinely racist (though what’s considered racist varies widely from place to place) and their speech is identifiable as such. But what about the student who isn’t aware of the offense he or she may cause by wearing a sombrero at a party, which some consider cultural appropriation? How about the student who is aware but disagrees that it’s offensive? Should he or she be censored and punished based upon some activists’ standards of right and wrong? Different people have different experiences and different views. Because of this, nuance matters.

Second, while it can be tempting to argue that free speech maintains inequality because it protects offensive speech, this argument fails to distinguish between people and their views. That is, when you censor people — even for offensive speech — you are denying them equal access to, and protection of, the First Amendment and you are doing so from a position of privilege.  The right to free speech gives everyone an equal right to voice his or her opinions — but it does not mean that such opinions will win or even register in any given forum.

Restrictions on free speech, on the other hand, make both people and ideas unequal by subjugating them to someone else’s understanding of what’s right and therefore allowable. Indeed, to assume one’s views are so infallible as to warrant imposition on others and to assume there is no legitimate debate left to be had on certain topics — and the language used in discussing those topics — is a privilege that oppresses not only the hated racist, but the honest dissenter and everyone in between.

Lastly, some students claim that free speech is about power — that it enables and sustains privilege for some but not all. Let’s be clear: free speech is about power. It’s about having the power to challenge the status quo, question society’s deeply held beliefs, and call others to task. But free speech only becomes privileged when it’s restricted.

Understanding the Would-Be Censors

Of course words can have consequences. (If they couldn’t, nobody would bother speaking.) It would be hypocritical to argue that offensive speech will never cause harm, at least to feelings or interests, while also maintaining that speech is so vital it requires robust protection. One could also argue that the marketplace of ideas — like all markets — has negative externalities. The most evident, as campus activists assert, is that offensive speech is protected and those it’s directed at — typically thought to be minorities — are disproportionately burdened by it.

Moreover, restricting or punishing speech provides instant gratification. It’s an immediate and swift response to views one finds abhorrent. It gives the impression that justice has been served. For those who believe society is stacked against them, it’s a small beacon of hope. Restricting speech, then, isn’t seen as infringing upon someone else’s liberty, but rather righting a wrong. The emotional appeal is understandably strong.

But this is not right.

A Just Alternative

The best way to counter hateful, offensive speech is with more speech. Think of it this way: restricting speech treats the symptoms of bigotry by making its manifestations less visible. Conversely, more speech acts as a cure by attacking the underlying disease. The former method may seem effective in the short term, but it’s dangerous in the long run.

As FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff has argued, when offensive speech is banned, it drives those with potentially dangerous views (however determined) underground, making them harder to identify, while also potentially making them more extreme. It also gives a false sense of social progress. And who ultimately pays the price? The people the bans were meant to help, when it turns out society wasn’t as friendly as they believed.

Countering hateful speech with more speech is not seamless. It’s hard work, and it’s not instant. It doesn’t guarantee the flushing of all bigoted and hateful opinions from society, and it often works slowly. Nevertheless, it is the only method that is both just and that makes progress last. Engaging with people who express views different from one’s own moves beyond the superficial to challenge core beliefs, assumptions, and biases — and can help a person identify and recognize his or her own. Consider the case of Megan and Grace Phelps, granddaughters of the pastor who founded the Westboro Baptist Church. After interacting with a Jewish man by email and on Twitter, the sisters decided their views were wrong and decided to leave the WBC, which also meant being excommunicated by their family.

The marketplace of ideas won’t always work this way, and not everyone is destined to see the light. But restricting speech is a privileged response that neither makes society more equal nor has any tangible benefit other than providing a false sense of justice, which, in the long term, only fuels underlying problems. We cannot afford to be blind to this reality.

None of this should be construed as a plea to accept the status quo or to disengage. Rather, it’s a call for college students who support restricting speech to recognize their own privilege. Education is a gift, and college students should use the privilege it confers to advocate for change. But this means realizing free speech is not the enemy of progress, and that restricting it will not make society more equal. To do otherwise — to restrict and punish speech — is to be so willfully blind to privilege as to become the oppressors.

This article first appeared at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

Chris Marchese

Chris Marchese is a communications assistant at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

Where Is Speech Most Restricted in America? by George C. Leef

A good argument can be made that free speech is least safe on private college campuses.

At public universities, the First Amendment applies, thus giving students, faculty members, and everyone else protection against official censorship or punishment for saying things that some people don’t want said.

A splendid example of that was brought to a conclusion earlier this year at Valdosta State University, where the school’s president went on a vendetta against a student who criticized his plans for a new parking structure — and was clobbered in court. (I discussed that case here.)

But the First Amendment does not apply to private colleges and universities because they don’t involve governmental action. Oddly, while all colleges that accept federal student aid money must abide by a vast host of regulations, the Supreme Court ruled in Rendell-Baker v. Kohn that acceptance of such money does not bring them under the umbrella of the First Amendment.

At private colleges, the protection for freedom of speech has to be found (at least, in most states) in the implicit contract the school enters into with each incoming student. Ordinarily, the school holds itself out as guaranteeing certain things about itself and life on campus in its handbook and other materials. If school officials act in ways that depart significantly from the reasonable expectations it created, then the college can be held liable.

As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) puts it, “There is a limit to ‘bait-and-switch’ techniques that promise academic freedom and legal equality but deliver authoritarianism and selective censorship.”

With that legal background in mind, consider a recent case at Colorado College. If Franz Kafka or George Orwell had toyed with a similar plot, they’d probably have rejected it as too far-fetched.

Back in November, a student, Thaddeus Pryor, wrote the following reply to a comment (#blackwomenmatter) on the social media site Yik Yak: “They matter, they’re just not hot.” Another student, offended that someone was not taking things seriously, complained to college officials. After ascertaining that the comment had been written by Pryor, the Dean of Students summoned him to a meeting.

Pryor said that he was just joking. What he did not realize is that there are now many things that must not be joked about on college campuses. Some well-known American comedians have stopped playing on our campuses for exactly that reason, as Clark Conner noted in this Pope Center article.

In a subsequent letter, Pryor was informed by the Senior Associate Dean of Students that his anonymous six word comment violated the school’s policy against Abusive Behavior and Disruption of College Activities.

Did that comment actually abuse anyone? Did it in any way disrupt a college activity?

A reasonable person would say “of course not,” but many college administrators these days are not reasonable. They are social justice apparatchiks, eager to use their power to punish perceived enemies of progress like Thaddeus Pryor.

For having joked in a way that offended the wrong people, Pryor was told that he was suspended from Colorado College until June, 2017. Moreover, he is banned from setting foot on campus during that time. And in the final “pound of flesh” retribution, the school intends to prohibit him from taking any college credits elsewhere.

With FIRE’s able assistance, Pryor is appealing his punishment. Perhaps the college’s attorney will advise the president to back off since its own “Freedom of Expression” policy hardly suggests to students that they will be subject to severe punishment for merely making offensive jokes on a social media site. If the case were to go to trial, there is a strong likelihood that a jury would find Colorado College in breach of contract.

Even if the school retreats from its astounding overreaction to Pryor’s comment, the administration should worry that alums who aren’t happy that their school has fallen under the spell of thought control will stop supporting it.

This incident is emblematic of a widespread problem in American higher education today: administrators think it’s their job to police what is said on campus, even comments on a social media app. Many colleges and universities have vague speech codes and “harassment” policies that invite abuse; those positions tend to attract mandarins who are not scholars and do not value free speech and unfettered debate. They are committed to “progressive” causes and will gladly use their power to silence or punish anyone who doesn’t go along.

American colleges have been suffering through a spate of ugly protests this fall. Among the demands the protesters usually make is that the school mandate “diversity training” for faculty and staff. Instead of that, what most schools really need is tolerance training, with a special emphasis on the importance of free speech. Those who don’t “get it” should be advised to find other employment.

George C. Leef
George C. Leef

George Leef is the former book review editor of The Freeman. He is director of research at the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.