Free Speech

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Where Are All These Communists the Tories Claim Are Threatening Britain?

Okay, I might be a bit slow here, but I am starting to wonder what planet Nigel Farage, Priti Patel and the Tory party and press are on when they start screaming that British society is under threat from a resurgent, but covert Marxism? About a week or so ago now Zelo Street posted a piece about the McCarthyism that now seemed set to grip the nation. The smirking, odious, racist Priti Patel had announced that MI5 were looking into renewed threats from the Fascist far right and the Marxist left. According to her, the Socialist Party, or the Socialist Workers’ Party as it used to be known, might be infiltrating Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion. Yup, as in the days of the Cold War, the Commies and Trots are at it again, trying to infiltrate other left-wing groups and take them over.

In fairness, this was a tactic of the Socialist Workers Party, which practised something called ‘revolutionary entryism’. The idea was to infiltrate other left-wing organisations and try to turn them into front organisations for the party in an attempt to make Trotskyite Marxism something like a popular mass movement. They did it in the 1970s/80s to Rock Against Racism, which had been set up to challenge the rise of the NF, BNP and other Fascist scumbags. All that it achieved, however, was the collapse of the organisation as the majority of its membership left. They weren’t interested in Trotskyite Marxism. They simply wanted to hear some great bands while combating Fascism and racial hatred. It’s because of its antics attempting to infiltrate and take over every vaguely left-wing organisation, or capitalise on every left-wing issue at the expense of other organisations, that many on the left, from the moderate, reformist Labour Party to various anarchist groups, don’t trust the SWP.

Besides this is the fact that Black Lives Matter, or at least its American parent, is already a Marxist organisation. If the Socialist Workers were trying to infiltrate it, it would be a case of one Marxist group trying to take over another. It’s possible, but seems unlikely. It sounds like something from the Illuminatus! books by Robert Anton Wilson and O’Shea, about warring secret societies plotting against and trying to infiltrate each other.

As for Extinction Rebellion, from what little I’ve seen of its broader political content – and this comes from idly looking at one of the organisation’s posters put up on a wall while waiting for a taxi – it does seem to be a radical left organisation. It’s very anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-capitalist. But it seems to me that this comes from the very radical programme adopted by parts of the Green movement. When it first emerged in the 1980s or so, the German Green Party – Die Gruenen – included as one of its leading members the lawyer for the Bader-Meinhof gang. There’s a section of the anarchist movement that is also very ecologically aware. The American anarchist intellectual, Murray Bookchin, was advocating a green, eco-friendly anarchism back in the 1980s and in the 1990s there was a British anarchist mag called Green Anarchist, I believe. You don’t need to invoke the Trotskyites of the SWP to explain Extinction Rebellion’s socially radical, anti-capitalist programme.

Would the SWP be interested in infiltrating Extinction Rebellion? I don’t know. Possibly. But they aren’t nearly as strong as they were. I think Marxism as a whole suffered a loss of credibility with the fall of Communism, which might be why radical anti-capitalists seemed to switch to anarchism or else an undefined ‘anti-capitalism’ that could take in a range of socialist and radical left views. The Socialist Workers, now renamed as the Socialist Party, are still about. You can find their videos on YouTube. But even before the lockdown they didn’t seem to be the visible presence on the streets they used to be.

The Tories and their press need to scare people with a threat from the radical left. I remember that in the late ’80s and ’90s they switched from trying to frighten people with the bogeyman of Communist infiltration – although they’d done that with the Labour Party in the 1987 election – to anarchism with the rise of Class War. Now that Class War has also gone the way of many radical movements and fizzled out, the Tories in Britain and the Republicans in America have turned once again to invoking the spectre of Communism.

And because of the very anti-racist, anti-sexist, pro-LGBTQ+ policies adopted by some universities, they’re now trying to claim that western education is under threat from Marxist infiltration. Nigel Farage apparently was in the pages of the Depress a few days ago, writing that the Marxist takeover of our education system was nearly complete. Really? I must have missed all that. There are Marxists in the universities, and have been for a very long time. And some of them are excellent scholars. I got a feeling that Vere Gordon Childe, the Australian archaeologist who first devised the notion of the Neolithic Revolution – the idea that agriculture and the rise of the first settled societies were linked and constituted a radical break with the hunter-gatherer societies of the Paleo- and Mesolithic – was a Communist. He was, however, a brilliant archaeologist and highly influential, even if recent excavations in Turkey have demonstrated that people were settling down into villages before the invention of agriculture. And yes, there are and have always been academics with very pronounced left-wing views. I can think of a number from my own experience as a student. But many others, probably the vast majority, aren’t. And some academics, who privately hold left-wing views, are very careful to keep them separate from their teaching. And whatever their political views, I think the main concern of all teaching staff, from university academics to school teachers, is simply to teach, not to indoctrinate students.

In any case, there are laws against political or religious indoctrination anyway. I think it was introduced by Blair. Teachers are not supposed to teach their political or religious opinions as fact. They are to avoid this as much as possible. If they can’t, then they are supposed to make clear that this is just their opinion. This legislation has been around since at least the middle of the last decade, if not earlier. It should provide sufficient protection already from attempts by the politically motivated to indoctrinate their students.

All these claims of a surreptitious takeover of the education system by Marxists seems to be a return to the days of Maggie Thatcher, when rags like the Depress, the Heil and the local paper for Bristol, the Evening Post, ran stories about Communist teachers indoctrinating their students. The Scum attempted to titillate and scare its readers with a tale about children in various London boroughs – possibly Brent – being taught to sing ‘Ba Ba Green Sheep’ as an anti-racist version of ‘Ba Ba Black Sheep’. This is supposed to have been invented by the wretched rag, but I’ve talked to people, who’ve claimed that it was done in their former school, so who knows? At the same time, I’ve heard that Thatcher also introduced legislation with the intention of purging Marxists from the education system. In fact the Marxists got round it by claiming to be ‘Marxian’. They were only Marxists in culture. It was a fine distinction, but it allowed them to retain their jobs.

But apart from this, university is supposed to be a place for the formulation and discussion of a wide range of views. A vital part of the university experience is the exposure to different opinions and encouragement to form their own views. The current scaremongering about the Marxists trying to takeover the education system is the opposite of this. It’s an attempt to limit free speech and discussion, as Zelo Street pointed out, only the approved Tory views will be heard. Hence the appointment of a ‘free speech tsar’.

Now I will concede that some student bodies are intolerant with protests against talks by visiting personalities they believe hold unacceptable views. Gender critical feminists and their allies, for example, have found themselves blocked from speaking at some universities because their views are held to be bigoted against the transgendered. But there’s also a cancel culture on the right. The estimable Tony Greenstein put up a piece last week about attempts by the Board of Deputies and Bristol University’s Union of Jewish Students to have one of the lecturers, David Miller, banned as an anti-Semite. This is not because of anything Miller has said against Jews. His cardinal sin is saying that Zionism must be destroyed. As we’ve seen, the Board and the other, establishment Jewish organisations are fanatically pro-Israel and conflate opposition to that nation, or simply criticism of its barbaric treatment of the indigenous Palestinians, with real Jew hatred. But Zionism has never been synonymous with Judaism. For many Jews, it’s diametrically opposed, as the graffiti on a wall in Jerusalem had it. Zionism is an ideology, not a people. Stating that Zionism needs to be destroyed is a contentious viewpoint, but it does not mean that the speaker wishes harm to the Jewish people.

Who is the free speech tsar, who will defend lecturers like David Miller? I think it would be a very brave politician who would risk damaging his or her career by doing so in the present political climate. Even if they had the inclination to do so, which the political establishment doesn’t.

I do find some of the radical policies now being implemented in some universities alarming, like the reports that students in some places of learning will be required to take compulsory anti-racism training in order to combat anti-Black racism on campus. It’s obviously very well intentioned, but as I’ve said, racism really isn’t simply a case of White on Black, and I am afraid such mandatory courses are based on a very simplistic view of Whites that sees White culture as innately racist, or inclined to racism. But I see absolutely no evidence that Marxists are behind it.

All this nonsense by Patel and the Tory press about Marxist infiltration is just another Red Scare in order to whip up support for legislation designed to purge the universities of anything that contradicts received Tory ideology. They are trying to destroy free speech, not defend it, and the appointment of a ‘free speech tsar’ is in many ways dangerous and hypocritical.

For further information, see:

Zelo Street: Free Speech Champion WON’T BE (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Zelo Street: War On Woke = Government Censorship (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Defend Bristol University’s Professor David Miller – Defend Academic Freedom – Defend Free Speech – Tony Greenstein

If you wish to defend Dr Miller from these outrageous allegations, you can sign a petition at Change.org here, as I have done.

http://chng.it/rTqY9r2FgM

Larry Flynt

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/02/2021 - 4:02am in

In this episode, Neil, Niki, and Natalia discuss the life and legacy of pornographer and free speech champion Larry Flynt....

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Jewish Groups Warn of Fallout from Anti-Semitism Label for Criticism of Israel

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 29/01/2021 - 7:58am in

Jerusalem —Not even a week after violent, anti-Semitic rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol building, a collective of Jewish groups urged then President-elect Joe Biden to target activism critical of Israel.

The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations (CoP) sent Biden a letter on January 12, urging the incoming administration to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism across “all federal departments and agencies.”

As the nation was reeling from a historic insurrection swarming with Camp Auschwitz attire and Confederate flags, CoP decided to instead focus their efforts on pro-Palestine activity in universities.

“[A]ntisemitism on college campuses is a serious problem,” the Jewish leaders wrote, emphasizing that previous administrations understood “some anti-Israel activity is simply a modern form of antisemitism.”

Two days after CoP sent their letter, the Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) joined the call and urged Biden to adopt the IHRA definition in a press release.

DMFI IHRA letter

The Democratic Majority for Israel’s press release from January 14, 2021

“[T]his is no time to give cover to antisemites who attempt to disguise their Jew hatred as mere criticism of Israel,” the DMFI statement read. The pro-Israel organization then countered any objections to the IHRA definition by determining countries who adopted this definition have not “become hotbeds of anti-free speech activity.”

CoP and DMFI did not respond to requests for comment.

 

How IHRA can suppress free speech

Donald Trump’s presidency was marred with anti-Semitic rhetoric from the very beginning. The disgraced president defended white nationalists shouting “Jews will not replace us” and ended his term sending a racist riot to Congress’ doorstep. Yet somehow the Israel lobby turns a blind eye to his flagrant bigotry because of Trump’s 2019 executive order adopting the IHRA definition.

On Dec. 11, 2019, Trump signed an executive order requesting federal departments and agencies tasked with enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 look to the IHRA definition.

Free speech advocates slammed the executive order as an attempt to quell legitimate criticism of Israeli policy. And shortly after the executive order was issued, that’s exactly what happened.

“It was never intended to be a campus hate speech code, but that’s what Donald Trump’s executive order accomplished,” Kenneth Stern, one of the original drafters of the IHRA definition, wrote in a Guardian op-ed following Trump’s order.

Weeks after the executive order was enacted, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights opened two investigations into Palestine advocacy at UCLA—the National Students for Justice in Palestine conference and a professor’s lecture on Islamophobia that discussed Zionism.

As Stern rightly pointed out in his editorial, conservative Jewish groups are not using the IHRA definition to combat growing anti-Semitism. Rather, it’s become a tool to suppress conversations surrounding the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in academia.

Now, as influential Jewish groups press Biden to adopt the IHRA definition, critics worry free speech and academic freedom will be increasingly targeted.

 

American Jewry’s debate over IHRA

The members of CoP include 53 Jewish organizations. Yet only six (including the heads of CoP) signed the letter. The signatories included the Jewish Federations of North America, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, and the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center.

CoP member Americans for Peace Now (APN) came out against adopting the IHRA definition.

“The part that is problematic to us is the efforts to use this and use the call of anti-Semitism as a weapon to squash criticism of Israeli government policy, which is not anti-Semitism,” Hadar Susskind, president and CEO of Americans for Peace Now, told MintPress News.

The IHRA definition states: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Susskind explained APN doesn’t take issue with this basic definition. Instead, it’s the definition’s accompanying examples that are concerning.

“It comes very intentionally with a list of examples. And we’ve seen already across the U.S. and in other parts of the world, the way in which this is used to declare that anybody criticizing the [Israeli] occupation, anybody criticizing various elements of the Israeli government policy is deemed anti-Zionist. And by definition, then, anti-Zionist is deemed anti-Semitic.”

Susskind emphasized that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are not one in the same. Anti-Semitism is the hatred of Jews. Anti-Zionism, however, is a political ideology opposing Zionism, a settler-colonialist movement advocating for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The two terms, however, are often confused given Israel and the Israel lobby conflates them together.

“If someone is an anti-Zionist and they don’t believe there should be a state of Israel, I would disagree with them, but that’s not by definition anti-Semitic,” Susskind said. “And it’s damaging, frankly, to the very important fight against anti-Semitism to sprinkle that term so widely.” For Susskind, anti-Zionism and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement are legitimate free speech and should be treated as such.

Since CoP and DMFI’s statements, several Jewish groups have denounced these attempts to codify the IHRA definition into law.

The Progressive Israel Network—made up of APN, Ameinu, Habonim Dror North America, Hashomer Hatzair World Movement, Jewish Labor Committee, J Street, New Israel Fund, Partners for Progressive Israel, Reconstructing Judaism, and T’ruah—released a counterstatement.

In it, they warned the IHRA definition’s examples “[risk] wrongly equating what may be legitimate activities with antisemitism.”

The Progressive Israel Network called on the Biden administration to “refrain from legislating bans on constitutionally-protected speech and legitimate activism, which often wrongfully target those who harbor no hatred towards Jews, and which make it more difficult to identify and confront genuine instances of antisemitism.”

And Jewish activist groups, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and IfNotNow (INN) published petitions telling Biden to reject any potential misuse of the IHRA definition in silencing Palestinian rights activists.

This week, on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, CoP and 51 member organizations announced they adopted the IHRA definition in their work.

The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) was one of the member organizations to endorse using the definition, but it also released a statement advising against its codification into law.

Like JVP and INN, the organization warns a more pressing anti-Semitic threat stems from right-wing, white nationalists—like those who breached the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“[W]e fully recognize that antisemitism today emanates from the left and the right and the threats from all sources must be addressed,” URJ said. “The [IHRA’s] examples’ focus on Israel must not divert attention from the more frequent manifestations of antisemitism, too often violent, emanating from new streams in the hate movements that have threatened synagogues and other Jewish and non-Jewish community institutions in the U.S. today – streams primarily associated with the far right.”

And APN’s Susskind supports distinguishing how anti-Semitism on the right and the left materializes.

“They’re not the same, and they’re not an equivalent problem or equivalent threat,” Susskind said. “And what we see in the political discourse too often is people making these false equivalencies, such as ‘I heard about a college student on campus who said they were Zionist and somebody said something mean to them’ versus somebody has gone in and shot and killed people in the synagogue.”

So, as the Israel lobby pushes to erase pro-Palestine activism on college campuses, it not only risks endangering free speech but allowing far-right hatred to spread unchecked.

Feature photo | Israeli activists hold a banner during a protest on Israel Gaza border, Oct. 5, 2018. Writing in Hebrew reads “Free Gaza ghetto.” Ariel Schalit | AP

Jessica Buxbaum is a Jerusalem-based journalist covering Palestine, Israel and Syria. Her work has been featured in Middle East Eye, The New Arab, and Gulf News.

The post Jewish Groups Warn of Fallout from Anti-Semitism Label for Criticism of Israel appeared first on MintPress News.

Free Speech. Really?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 24/12/2020 - 11:58am in

Bill Moyers talks with journalist and writer Ellis Cose whose most recent book is THE SHORT LIFE & CURIOUS DEATH OF FREE SPEECH IN AMERICA. Continue reading

The post Free Speech. Really? appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

QAnon Legal Battle Against YouTube Could Transform Free Speech Online

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 12/11/2020 - 4:07am in

The welding of American politics with social media may be the defining moment of a sea change that is taking place at the very top echelons of power in the United States and the world. In the run-up to the 2020 U.S. elections, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube all revealed their inescapable ties to the establishment when they launched an information warfare campaign against their own users and content creators in a bid to shape perceptions and control national discourse on the government’s behalf.

As the most contentious election in living memory drags on days after the vote, itself, the massive purge of profiles and content deemed politically dangerous carried out by the most popular social media platforms just over two weeks before Election Day, went practically unnoticed by everyone other than those who were actually de-platformed and their followers.

In mid-October, Google-owned YouTube and other social media giants purged the accounts of the most popular QAnon channels, spurring a class-action lawsuit against the video streaming platform filed in the Northern District of California later that month.

 

The case

A total of eight QAnon YouTube stars and seven more unnamed plaintiffs brought a first amendment suit against Google and its subsidiary YouTube on October 26, alleging a violation of their constitutional right to free speech and of the companies’ own terms of service (TOS) agreements. Among those named in the complaint are Polly St. George, who despite being fairly new on the scene has accumulated a considerable following and Dave Hayes, a.k.a Preying Medic, who is one of QAnon’s more popular “Q drops” interpreter, deciphering the supposedly coded messages for the masses of Q followers.

After a curious request by the plaintiffs for a change on the bench, the trial came to a quick conclusion on November 3, when the judge dismissed the complaint on the grounds that they were unlikely “to succeed with claims that YouTube violated its terms of service.”

Given how the trial unfolded and other notable details surrounding the case, it is more than likely that the QAnon cohort suing YouTube was looking for a quick and unfavorable result in the district court in order to pursue its constitutional argument in a higher court on appeal; a tactic developed by legal teams funded over decades by a network of conservative billionaires, like Charles Koch, to change the laws in favor of their business enterprises at the expense of the common interest.

Despite the extensive arguments made in the complaint over free speech and of YouTube’s infringement on First Amendment rights, the filing only sought an emergency injunction to compel the company to reinstate the deleted channels and content. Their true intentions, however, became manifest when the plaintiffs divorced their constitutional arguments from the current legal action, prompting the judge to rule on a different basis and allow the QAnon stars to pursue these “at a later time.”

 

The bill

Classified as a civil rights case, the lawsuit centers around the timing of YouTube’s QAnon channel purge, which followed a resolution condemning QAnon specifically and called for the FBI and all federal law enforcement agencies to “focus on preventing” the proliferation of “fringe political conspiracy theories” such as QAnon.

H.R. 1154 was passed by the House Judiciary and Intelligence committee on October 2. Several days later, all the major social media networks began removing QAnon-related content from their platforms. As far as the plaintiffs in the case are concerned, this constitutes “state action” by YouTube, which capitulated to “government coercion to terminate” their accounts and, therefore, a violation of their constitutional right to free speech.

The plaintiffs further argue that YouTube breached its own TOS agreement when it suspended their accounts without cause and failed to provide a reason in accordance with their TOS. It was upon these secondary allegations that the judge based her decision to deny the group of QAnon stars the emergency restraining order to have their channels reinstated.

“Upon reviewing YouTube’s TOS agreement in totality, the court agrees with [Google],” Judge Beth L. Freeman wrote in her decision, which couldn’t have come as a surprise to the prosecution given Freeman’s penchant for siding with Big Tech. Nevertheless, Freeman, who had the case reassigned to her by the plaintiff’s own request, left the main thrust of the lawsuit intact and the door wide open for a new action.

 

The Rise of the Uniparty

Denver Riggleman is one of five co-sponsors of House Bill 1154, and one of the most outspoken in the media about QAnon, expressing his low opinion of the phenomenon on corporate news outlets on many occasions. “I might as well piss everyone off,” Riggleman told NBC’s Chuck Todd. “The fact that we’re trying to appeal to them is ridiculous. I guess I scratch my head, as a former intelligence officer, Chuck — is what are we doing here?”

The former intelligence officer should not be surprised that he just lost his congressional seat to another Republican whose views more closely align with the momentum far-right positions have gained throughout a sizable portion of the country’s population. Public offices from Utah to North Carolina are being filled with politicians who either sympathize with, or pay lip service to, QAnon followers.

In the wake of his recent defeat, Riggleman says he might run for governor of Virginia but claims to be unsure whether that will be as a Republican or as an independent. The ousted congressman believes QAnon will destroy the two-party system and muses about the emergence of a new centrist “third” party.

The former representative might be correct about his prediction, but with a few exceptions. That new, centrist party is already here as the Donald Trump effect brings the worst of the neoliberal Democrats and neoconservative Republicans together under the still uncertified Biden administration in which people like Mitt Romney and are floated as serious contenders for a cabinet position in a Democratic White House.

 

#ThemToo

The examples cited in the bill sponsored by Riggleman and four others that underlies the free speech case brought against YouTube range from plotting an armed raid to blocking traffic and making accusations against a political figure – namely Joe Biden.

Based on these incidents, and a strong emphasis on the anti-Semitic undercurrents of the QAnon quasi-ideology, the resolution goes on to condemn QAnon, but also “all other groups and ideologies, from the far left to the far right,” and singles out QAnon to be probed by the American intelligence community to identify “any foreign support, assistance, or online amplification” of its message.

There is an outside chance that the plaintiffs don’t pursue their cause in a different court. But, the re-assignment of the judge in this case at the plaintiff’s request strikes as a prelude to just that.

Judge Virginia K. DeMarchi, who was originally assigned to the case seemed like a perfect choice for the prosecution. A Trump-appointed Magistrate judge who had shown a soft spot for White supremacists when she released a Sonoma chapter president of the Hells Angels criminal organization on bail in an ongoing murder trial.

Her replacement, an Obama appointee, made quick work of the initial complaint by stripping the case of any challenge to Google’s corporate right to ban, remove, or de-platform any user they wish. All that remains is a constitutional argument with no teeth, which the plaintiffs are very likely to chase all the way to the Supreme Court if they can.

Their lawyer, M. Cris Armenta from Armenta & Sol, PC, knows a thing or two about high profile, high publicity social media trials. She is one of the lawyers representing hundreds of Hollywood actresses in the first class-action lawsuits brought against Harvey Weinstein and the launching pad of the #MeToo hashtag social media movement, as well as plaintiffs in the Innocence of Muslims film case against Google in 2015.

Feature photo | A Trump supporter holds a QAnon sign during a rally in Rochester, Minnesota, October 30, 2020. Carlos Barria | Reuters

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

The post QAnon Legal Battle Against YouTube Could Transform Free Speech Online appeared first on MintPress News.

Blasphemy Laws and the Muslim Protests Against France

Over the past week or so we’ve seen mass protests across the Islamic world, including the Islamic community in Britain, over the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. These have followed the assassination of school teacher Samuel Paty for simply showing his class the cartoon as part of a lesson about free speech. It’s been pointed out in articles in the I that Paty was far from a racist or Islamophobe. He had taken lessons in Islam in order to understand his Muslim students better, and had warned the Muslims in his class what he was about to do so they could leave to avoid being offended. One girl remained, told her father, her father told the local mosque, the mosque told the community. And a Chechen Islamist heard them, and took matters into his own hands. Other Islamists have carried out further attacks on innocents, who had absolutely no part in the affair. Three people, including a priest, were stabbed to death in a church, simply for being Christians, and there have been shootings in other nations.

The murders of these innocents has not been denounced by the Muslim protesters, however. Instead we have seen former cricketer Imran Khan, now leader of an Islamic party and the president of Pakistan, denounce Macron for the publication of the cartoon. He has been joined by Turkish president Erdogan, another leader of a Muslim party Who wouldn’t know free speech if it came up and bit him on the elbow. Tunisia has also denounced France, and when I looked online last night, Islamists in Bangladesh were giving their government a few hours to sever links with France.

It’s been reported that Khan has been complaining about the hurt felt by Muslims around the world about the publication of the cartoons. Supposedly the right to free speech does not mean the right to offend. But others have pointed out over and over again that that is precisely what it means. The type of free speech that only permits what is inoffensive is no free speech at all.

At the heart of this are the Muslim blasphemy laws. This is an attempt to impose them on France and, by implication, other western nations. However, Muslim are a minority in Europe and so the only arguments Khan and the others can use against Europeans is that their feelings are hurt, and that there will be political repercussions.

I looked up the article on blasphemy in The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, ed. by John Bowker (Oxford: OUP 1997). This provides information on the concept of blasphemy in Christian, Judaism and Islam, its punishments, and the problems of enforcing such laws in Britain. It runs

Blasphemy (Gk: ‘speaking evil’ ). Impious or profane talk, especially against God; and in many western legal systems , the offence of reviling God or Jesus Christ or an established church. To be blasphemous a publication must be intended to shock and endanger the moral fabric of society; one that is merely anti-religious (e.g. denying the existence of God) is not. In England in 1977 the editor of Gay News was convicted of blasphemous libel for publishing a poem which portrayed Christ as a practicing homosexual. This was the first successful prosecution for blasphemy since 1922, and showed the difficulty of objectively applying the common law definition. The appearance of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, raised the issue whether blasphemy should be extended to become a more general offence (in the UK), or whether it is an offence in the domain of inciting unrest.

‘In Judaism, ‘blasphemy’ is speaking scornfully of God (Heb. gidduf, heruf) and is described euphemistically as birkat ha-shem (‘blessing the name’, i.e. God). According to Leviticus 24. 10-23, the penalty for cursing God is death, but in discussing this passage, the rabbis defined blasphemy in such a way that it became an improbable crime-and thus the death penalty did not need to be invoked. Excommunication (herem) became the punishment in any case once legal autonomy had been lost…

‘The nearest equivalent in Islam is sabb, offering an insult to God. Qur’an 9.74 condemns those who sear by God that they said nothing but in fact spoke a word of rejection (kalimat al-kufr) after they had become Muslims. This relates blasphemy closely to apostasy (ridda). The expression of contempt for God, the Prophet Mohammed, the angels, or the traditional explications of revelation constitute the offence. Accidental blasphemy is not usually excusable (though Malikites allow it if it is expressed by a recent convert to Islam).. The punishment varies between different Schools of Islamic Law -e.g. the Hanafites remove the offenders legal rights, declare his marriage invalid, and declare any claims to inheritance or property void; the Malikites demand immediate execution of the death penalty.,’

The British prosecution for blasphemy mentioned in the article was brought by Mary Whitehouse, who made it her professional duty to be offended about everything. The gays on the opposite side took this as an attack on them, and launched their own protests against Whitehouse. There’s a comic aspect to this, as Whitehouse recalled that she woke up one morning to find militant gays marching about her garden waving placards.

I think the enforcement of the blasphemy laws is more or less impossible. They’re a dead letter, if they haven’t been repealed. As an example, just consider how many TV comedians since then have expressed their own contempt for Christ and his followers. The comedians Lee and Herring regularly did so on their BBC 2 programme, Fist of Fun. It came as a surprise to me a few years ago when Muslims around the world were again up in arms demanding the execution of blasphemers because of something Pope Benedict said about Mohammed in a speech when one of the two appeared on television attacking Islam. When they were interviewed by the short-lived mag Comedy Revue in the 1990s, they were asked about their attacks on Christianity and whether they would do the same to Islam. They laughingly made it clear that they definitely wouldn’t because they were afraid of violence and attempts on their lives. And thought themselves very clever for doing so. Which shows the British media establishments general attitude to Christianity.

The Muslim blasphemy laws are extremely dangerous. At the moment there are 200 people on death row in Pakistan on charges of blasphemy. Most of these are probably entirely spurious. They’re brought for entirely cynical reasons, such as getting rid of an opponent in a dispute over a completely unrelated issue. Muslims have also claimed that their attacks on Christians were also motivated by the outrage they felt at blasphemies committed by their victims. But some of it seems to me to be an attempt to enforce the Pakistani caste system. Indian and Pakistan Islam has a caste system like Hinduism, only not as severe. Most of the Christian community in Pakistan are of the lowest caste, and many are bonded labourers in brickyards, effectively slaves. One of the Christian women accused of blasphemy was accused after she brought water from a well to a group of Muslim women. Along the way she took a sip of the water. It looks to me that the real crime here was that she broke their laws of caste purity, and that the accusation of blasphemy was added on after this offence.

The ex-Muslim vloggers the Apostate Prophet and Harris Sultan have also pointed out the hypocrisy in Khan’s denunciations. When western countries have criticised Pakistan for human rights abuses, Pakistan has simply told them to mind their own business. But when France defends the publication of cartoons Pakistan and its Islamic leadership find offensive, suddenly he’s justified in interfering in their affairs. He has also denounced the closure of radical mosques and the expulsion of extremist imams as an attack on Islam. It isn’t. It is simply France protecting itself against Islamist violence, in the same way right-wing terrorist groups are banned. And Khan is again being hypocritical in his denunciations. When the Taliban made a series of bloody attacks in Pakistan a few years ago, the armed forces and security services cracked down hard. According to the two above vloggers, they went from house to house in the province of Waziristan arresting anyone with a beard. I haven’t linked to the two because I don’t want to offend any Muslims reading this blog. But you can Google the articles on YouTube if you want to find out more.

Macron should stand firm against all this. Blasphemy laws are a severe attack on free speech, and the penalties inflicted for it and the flagrant abuse of such accusations are particularly dangerous. Freedom of speech and conscience, including that of Muslims, is far too important to be sacrificed because of hurt feelings and outrage.

“Sin Begets Sin:” The Fall of Jeremy Corbyn Will be Felt Around the World

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 03/11/2020 - 4:22am in

There can be little doubt that the ousting of Jeremy Corbyn from the UK Labour Party was the result of a well-planned strategy by a coalition of Zionist organizations, which includes the state of Israel’s own Ministry of Strategic Affairs. And while Corbyn is undoubtedly not anti-semitic, nor racist in way shape, or form, he made one colossal strategic mistake. He did not fight the Zionist propaganda levied against him nor did he fight the outrageous accusations of anti-semitism that were laid upon him and so many other good hard-working anti-racist members of his Party.

 

The IHRA

Israel is a racist, violent state that peddles enormous amounts of sophisticated weapons to the darkest regimes on earth. It holds thousands of political prisoners, denies people water, medical care, food, and even the basic most freedoms, simply because they are Palestinian.

In order to shield the country from those who would expose that racism and violence, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, or IHRA, created what it calls a working definition of anti-semitism. It is a new definition that exists to protect Israel from its critics.

The question that immediately comes to mind is what was wrong with the “old” definition of anti-semitism which defined anti-semitism as racism against Jews. The answer: It was not broad enough to include Israel or Zionism. Since Israel is a major violator of international law and human rights and has been so from its inception in 1948, it needed some sort of blanket protection that would shield it and paint its crimes as protection of Jews. It also needed a tool that would allow it to attack its critics by weaponizing the term anti-semitism.

In an attempt to conflate anti-semitism (or racism) with criticism and rejection of Zionism, which itself is a racist ideology, the IHRA released its “working definition of antisemitism.” That definition is a rather sophisticated mechanism that provides blanket protection for Israeli government crimes. If rejecting Zionism is anti-semitism, as the new definition claims, then all of Israel’s critics can be labeled racists, and the so-called “Jewish state,” can claim to be a victim of racism.

 

How to silence a conversation

The following portions of the IHRA’s new definition touch on the state of Israel itself. They are written in a way that places anyone who rejects their premise on the “wrong” side of the issue. The problem is never the issue, but rather pointing it out. Here are a few examples.

Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.“

This definition does not actually address Holocaust denial as one might think. The issue here is that Israel partisans have their own version of what took place during the Holocaust and do not want it to be challenged.

According to the Zionist version of events, the creation of the state of Israel was the answer to the Holocaust, even though the majority of Holocaust survivors initially chose not to go to the nascent state and many rejected Zionist ideology altogether. Israel’s backers also want to associate Palestinian resistance with Nazis and to conflate Palestinians rejection of its right to exist on their land with the Nazi desire to eliminate the Jewish people.

Israel’s apologists also want to silence any conversation about the Holocaust that they are not comfortable with. Rescue efforts attempted by non-Zionist Jewish organizations in the wake of the Holocaust were ultimately foiled by Zionist groups and discussing the topic often sparks accusations of anti-semitism. Interestingly, most, if not all of the Jewish people I have spoken to whose families perished in the Holocaust see no problem debating these issues. During a conversation I had with Rabbi Dovid Feldman of Monsey, New York, the Rabbi asked, “why would we not want to discuss these issues?”

Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.”

According to strict Jewish law, Jews must be loyal citizens to whatever countries they reside in, and because of the racist and violent nature of the state of Israel, supporting it is a violation of international law and in some countries, contravenes the laws of the land. Providing the Israeli government with weapons and funds even contravenes U.S. law due of its use of weapons against unarmed civilians,

Zionist organizations that lobby their governments, elected representatives, and civic organizations to support Israel are, in fact, placing the Israeli government above the interests – and indeed the laws – of the countries they live in.

Jewish citizens from Western countries even volunteer to serve in the Israeli army, an army whose de facto purpose is the oppression, dispossession, and killing (or in other words, the terrorizing) of the Palestinian people. It is, therefore, not about Jewish people in general, but about Zionists in particular.

Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

To begin with, Israel is not an expression of Jewish self-determination, it is an expression of Zionist and Israeli self-determination. Jewish people have historically rejected Zionism and there are still large communities and countless individuals who do so today. The IHRA’s attempts to conflate Zionism and Judaism are obvious.

As for Israel being a racist endeavor, immediately upon its creation, Israel brutally forced Palestinians out of their country and replaced them with Jewish migrants from around the world. Israel took the land, homes, private and common property, cultivated fields, crops, machinery, livestock, and even the bank accounts of displaced Palestinians. They then banned their return.

Palestinians became stateless practically overnight while the new state enriched its coffers with stolen property, money, and goods. Israel then defined citizenship in the newly created state as almost exclusively for Jews. This definition is meant to shield Israel by criminalizing those dare claim that it is a racist endeavor.

Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

This accusation is little more than an attempt to silence critics of Israel by asking, “why don’t you also criticize Saudi Arabia?” The idea that one must list every country that is a violator of human rights when discussing some other regime accused of violating them is absurd. It is an attempt to shift the conversation away from the issue of Israeli crimes and Zionist racism.

In short, the IHRA’s new definition of anti-semitism includes almost everything that Zionists have been accused of doing and defines even pointing out that fact as anti-semitism.

 

“Sin Begets Sin”

One thing leads to another, or as Jews say, “Sin Begets Sin.” The sin here is not anti-semitism, but the capitulation of progressive anti-racist forces in the face of an obvious smear campaign by a racist state and the institutions that represent it in the United Kingdom.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews claims to represent all Jews in the UK, in reality though, it only represents Zionist Jews. It is a Zionist organization that places Israeli interests above all else. How else can one explain its support for the smear campaign against Corbyn and other public servants on one hand, and its silence in the face of Israeli crimes on the other?

The fall of Jeremy Corbyn at the hands of Zionist organizations is not an issue exclusive to the UK, and its international ramifications are enormous. There can be no doubt that the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs, the Israeli Embassy in London, the Jewish Labour Movement, and other Zionists groups that were behind the smear of Corbyn were popping champagne when they heard that he had been suspended from the Labour Party.

The capitulation of Labour was, in fact, an act of suicide. Under Corbyn’s leadership, the party had reached an unprecedented number of members and enjoyed tremendous support. The creation of the IHRA’s new definition of anti-semitism, followed by demands that it be accepted by the Labour Party, and the defamation of Jeremy Corbyn and Labour’s top echelon (people like Ken Livingston and Chris Williamson), were all part of a well-planned strategy to punish those who oppose Zionist crimes in Palestine.

Feature photo | Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, right, and now-former Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn, walk through the Commons Members Lobby, during the state opening of Parliament, in London, Dec. 19, 2019. Kirsty Wigglesworth | AP

Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The post “Sin Begets Sin:” The Fall of Jeremy Corbyn Will be Felt Around the World appeared first on MintPress News.

From a Wealthy Socialite to an Israeli Govt Censor, Facebook’s New “Free Speech Court” Is Anything but Independent

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 28/10/2020 - 3:30am in

Days away from the most polarized electoral contest in American history, social media companies like Facebook have vowed to censor any voices which they and their partners in the federal government consider inconvenient. According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook is ready to implement election information strategies that have been in the works for years.

Company spokesman Andy Stone told the WSJ that the social media giant will be applying the “lessons” learned from previous elections in accordance with the designs of “hired experts” and vague references to “new teams,” who are leveraging their “experience across different areas to prepare for various scenarios.”

Mark Zuckerberg’s de facto monopoly over online peer-to-peer communication tools has given Facebook an inordinate amount of influence over the political narratives at both national and regional levels, which it has shown a willingness exercise with topics like the Philippines and Palestine.

Last week, the company took a major step in solidifying its grip over the content purveyed on its platform with the official launch of the Facebook Oversight board. A body that is to function like a ‘Supreme Court’ for chat rooms, if you will, with the power to review any decisions regarding post removals or deplatforming and to make policy recommendations. Members have been drawn from “law experts… rights advocates” and journalists from around the world. The oversight board currently boasts 20 members.

Four members – two of which have extensive experience in the U.S. judicial system – serve as the board’s co-chairs and were handpicked by Facebook, according to The Guardian. Other board members include former Danish prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who is also a co-chair and is perhaps only remembered outside of Denmark for her selfie faux pas at Mandela’s funeral in 2013 when she was photographed taking a group photo with Barack Obama and David Cameron during the commemoration.

 

Judges of little character

Thorning-Schmidt’s insensitive moment at the laying-in-state of one of the most significant figures of the 20th century may be less damning to her presence on a social media oversight board than the tax-evasion scandal involving her husband – a British MP –, which ended up costing her re-election. When confronted over the accusations, she retorted that if her intention had really been to evade taxes, she would have done so “much more elegantly.” Despite these questionable instances and her reputation as an “extravagant” woman with expensive tastes, Thorning-Schmidt remains among the least objectionable figures on the oversight board.

Emi Palmor, for example, presents a much more alarming profile. One of 16 non-chair members of the board, Palmor is a former General Director of the Israeli Ministry of Justice, she was directly responsible for the removal of tens of thousands of Palestinian posts from Facebook. Before being fired from that job, Palmor had created the so-called “Internet Referral Unit” at the ministry; a cybersecurity team that deliberately targeted and took down the aforementioned content, and whose nomination to the Facebook oversight board was loudly protested by pro-Palestinian advocacy groups back in May.

Emi Palmor Facebook

Palmor posing with Israeli Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu in 2016. Photo | Israeli Government Press Office

Inviting a literal state censor from a country with such an atrocious record of oppression and overt ethnic cleansing policies to serve in a supervisory role at one of the largest content networks in the world, should be reason enough for concern. Perhaps, even reason enough to call for the board’s dissolution given that such an egregious choice of personnel reveals an unacceptable political bias in an ostensibly impartial quasi-judicial body.

 

A clear agenda

A look at the other co-chairs on the oversight board leaves no doubt as to which interests Facebook intends to further through its sham social media traffic court. It might not be a surprise to learn that an American company would tap American legal minds to form part of a dispute resolution body, as Jamal Greene, an oversight board co-chair, describes it.

Greene is a Dwight Professor of Law Columbia Law School who served as an aide to Sen. Kamala Harris during the highly-controversial Senate confirmation hearings of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Prior to this, he was a law clerk for late Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the 1997 Internet decency controls decision that shot down legislation that sought to regulate online speech. An auspicious sign, perhaps, but tempered by Steven’s own pragmatist views on free speech, leaving the door open to context when protecting the “public interest” surrounding the first amendment.

Sitting alongside Greene and Helle Thorning-Schmidt on the oversight board’s co-chairmanship is Michael McConnell; a constitutional law scholar who served seven years as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit court. McConnell wrote the dissenting opinion in the seminal “Ten Commandments” case, which centered around the government’s authority to decide which monuments can be erected in a public park.

Judge McConnell, who has been floated as a potential Supreme Court nominee more than once and is “highly regarded for his writing on church-state law,” argued in favor of the government’s discretionary powers, claiming that private donations to public facilities – like the ten commandments monument in a public park in Utah, that spurred the case – became “government speech” and, therefore within the purview of governmental authority.

Rounding out the co-chair suite is Catalina Botero Marino, a Colombian attorney and former special rapporteur for freedom of expression at the Organization of American States (OAS); an organization well-known for being Washington’s mouthpiece for D.C.-aligned policy in Latin America.

Botero expressed her position on the very topic she will be dealing with first-hand in her new position as co-chair of the Facebook oversight board in a 2019 paper titled “Towards an Internet Free of Censorship: standards, contexts, and lessons from the Inter-American Human Rights System.” In it, Botero reveals why she was tapped to join the make-shift panel of social media judges when she defines freedom of expression as “individual and collective self-government” and highlights her “utmost concern” over the “deliberately false circulation of information, created and put into circulation with the purpose of deceiving the public” in electoral processes.

Feature photo | Graphic by MintPress News

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

The post From a Wealthy Socialite to an Israeli Govt Censor, Facebook’s New “Free Speech Court” Is Anything but Independent appeared first on MintPress News.

World-Burning, Intestine-Strangling, Death Threats, and Free Speech (updated w/ remarks from Jun)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 06/10/2020 - 1:22am in

“I want the entire world to burn until the last cop is strangled with the intestines of the last capitalist, who is strangled in turn with the intestines of the last politician.”

That’s what Nathan Jun, professor of philosophy at Midwestern State University in Texas, wrote in a comment on a friend’s Facebook page.

It was intended as a riff on a quote from Diderot—“Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest”—and was made in regard to the killing of George Floyd this past May, according to Jun (as reported by Times Record News).

Jun’s comment was screenshot and circulated widely, making him the target of harassment by “a group of local far-right extremists” over the past several months, he says, with news of his words now being discussed nationally by Rush Limbaugh and others. According to The Washington Examiner, Jun says that his home was vandalized and that he has received over 300 death threats.

In late September, Jun’s university responded the controversy around his remarks by defending his freedom of speech:

“As a public university, we recognize and protect individuals’ free speech rights under the First Amendment so that ideas and information may be freely exchanged and examined without the threat of censorship or retaliation. Occasionally individuals will express opinions that may be offensive and even shocking, but are nonetheless entitled to First Amendment protection.”

However, last Thursday, Suzanne Shipley, the president of Midwestern State, wrote in a Facebook post that the university was now consulting with the Attorney General of the State of Texas and said that the university “will take decisive action if a line is crossed beyond that of speech protected by the First Amendment.” She added: “no students will be required to enroll in or complete Professor Jun’s courses. Alternatives will be provided even now if the student requests them.”

Here’s her whole post:

According to the Times Record News, Jun said:

In the 12 years I have worked at MSU I have never made any secret of my politics, nor have I shrank from expressing my political beliefs publicly, often in an inflammatory and provocative manner… All of this being said, I realize that I have put MSU in an unprecedently difficult situation and have indicated my willingness to help ameliorate the damage I have caused by whatever means are available.

(via Inside Higher Ed)

UPDATE (10/6/20): Professor Jun writes:

I am very grateful to Professor Weinberg and Daily Nous for drawing attention to my plight. Although I leave it to readers to arrive at their own conclusions concerning my actions and MSU’s response thereto, I would respectfully urge sympathetic colleagues to express their concerns to the university administration directly. Public statements of support and solidarity, as well as donations to my legal fund, will also be greatly appreciated. I am happy to answer questions and/or provide additional details concerning the broader context of the case; please feel free to contact me at (nathan [dot] jun [at] msutexas dot [edu]).

Contact information for MSU President Suzanne ShipleyProvost and Vice President for Academic Affairs James Johnston, and Board of Regents.

 

The post World-Burning, Intestine-Strangling, Death Threats, and Free Speech (updated w/ remarks from Jun) appeared first on Daily Nous.

Cartoon: Je suis CHARLIE *

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 20/02/2015 - 9:50am in

Matt Wuerker
(Click for larger image)

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