free speech now alerts


Tuesday 27 May 2014

Trigger warnings stifle free speech on campus

Today, Robert Shibley and Araz Shibley of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) said that the increasing use of trigger warnings was threatening free speech on college campuses and treating both students and lecturers like children. A ‘trigger’ is anything that ‘recalls a traumatic event to an individual’ and many universities are now warning students that certain books or classes may be distressing to them. They wrote: ‘When a college places limits on the topics their students can encounter, it effectively robs them of a complete education.’ Professors are now advised to ‘educate [themselves] about racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of oppression’.

 

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Tuesday 27 May 2014

US couple sued for unfavourable online review

A couple in the United States have been unsuccessfully sued for breaching a so-called non-disparagement clause after writing an unfavourable review of a company online. John and Jen Palmer of Layton, Utah, bought products from the gadget website Kleargear.com which were never delivered. They subsequently wrote a scathing review on the website RipoffReport.com. The couple were then contacted by Kleargear.com and instructed to take the review down or face a $3,500 fine for breaching the terms of the sale. The case was thrown out of court, but this was due to a legal technicality and not because the legal action breached the Palmers’ First Amendment rights. Kleargear.com said it would continue to fight the court’s judgement.

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Tuesday 27 May 2014

Yorkshire police chief calls for ban on far-right demonstrations

The chief constable of South Yorkshire, David Crompton, has called for a ban on demonstrations by far-right groups like the English Defence League on the grounds that each demonstration costs the police £500,000. He told the Yorkshire Post: ‘Either somebody changes the law so that it’s less easy to do this or alternatively there are some funds available that we can tap into.’ It’s seems that in Crompton’s view, one’s measure of free speech should be proportional to the funding of one’s local constabulary.

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Monday 26 May 2014

Blogger 'Old Holborn' defends offensive tweets

A former Essex recruitment consultant, Robert Ambridge, is being investigated by detectives for online messages sent to an independent councillor in Liverpool, Jake Morrison. Better known by his Twitter handle, Old Holborn, Ambridge told the Liverpool Echo he was unrepentant about his trolling activities. ‘I’m passionate about free speech’, said Ambridge. ‘Twitter is possibly the greatest tool that free speech has ever possessed and is quite literally capable of bringing down tyrants and despots. Governments are desperate to control it, censor it, silence it – and if a few unwelcome trolls are the price we pay for every voice on the planet being free, it’s a price worth paying.’

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Monday 26 May 2014

Twitter 'micro-censors' Ukrainian neo-Nazis

PandoDaily reported last Friday that Twitter has apparently agreed to a request from the Russian government to take down the accounts of two members of a Ukrainian neo-Nazi group, Right Sector. According to PandoDaily, ‘both users’ feeds are filled with extremist tweets and retweets, including calls to armed violence and gleeful posts about the deaths of anti-Kiev rebels. One tweet favorably quotes Chechen warlord/terrorist Shamil Basayev, who was responsible for a series of brutal terrorist attacks on Russian soil, including Moscow. Another tweet calls on people to join the ranks of Right Sector.’

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Voices from history

On the freedom to shout fire in a crowded theatre

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes on the use and abuse of that quote.