College students turn more liberal, OK speech death penalty

Calls for diversity on campuses and in Main Street businesses and banning hate speech, even that protected by the First Amendment , are no longer issues to fight over for college students.

Now, it’s a reason for the electric chair .

In a remarkable shift showing how students, many lining up for President Joe Biden’s loan forgiveness plan, have turned left since the 2020 election, a new Yale survey suggests that America’s best and brightest are giving up on key constitutional freedoms and even embracing socialism.

In the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at Yale University national student survey, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates and provided to Secrets, big majorities want companies to require employees to declare support for workplace diversity just to get a job.

And when it comes to speech, nearly half believe the death penalty is OK to shoot down hate speech.

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Senator Dick Durbin says free speech doesn’t protect “misinformation” that downplays political violence

“Free speech does not include spreading misinformation to downplay political violence,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who also is chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, tweeted – referencing an alleged “uptick in hate speech” since Elon Musk took Twitter private.

“Misinformation” is protected by the First Amendment.

The uptick that Senator Durbin is referencing was a bot campaign that Twitter suggests was used to troll the platform and the media as soon as Musk took control of the company.

Senator’s Durbin’s comments followed Twitter CEO Elon Musk tweeting a link to an article containing claims about the attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul.

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The City of Charlottesville’s new online speech restrictions for employees is likely unconstitutional

The City of Charlottesville passed a new policy for city workers that prohibits them from commenting, offline and online, about a wide range of topics. The policy is a potential violation of employees’ First Amendment free speech rights.

The policy was passed in response to how the city handled Allen Groat, an analyst for the fire and police department, for his involvement in the January 6 2021 riot at the US Capitol. Groat tweeted that he would engage in a “show of force,” and posted a photo of himself and former head of the Proud Boys.

Groat was investigated but was not criminally charged. Mayor Lloyd Snook said that Groat was not going to be fired because he had not been criminally charged. In response to the outrage that followed, Mayor Snook said that the city would review personnel policy.

The new policy, as reported by Fire, which went into effect last week, “requires that employees refrain from conduct, on- and off-duty, that will undermine City government objectives or impair the proper performance of governmental functions.”

That includes conduct that “undermines close working relationships that are essential to the effective performance of an employee’s job duties,” as well as conduct that impairs “discipline or harmony among co-workers.”

The policy heavily restricts city employees from exercising their First Amendment rights. An employee could be punished even for criticizing dangerous working conditions.

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Lawmakers call on Biden to make it more difficult for people to download gun blueprints

Lawmakers in California, led by Congressman Mike Thompson, penned a letter asking the Joe Biden administration to hold manufacturers responsible for homemade ghost guns.

We obtained a copy of the letter for you here.

Currently, it is relatively easy to buy gun parts, or make them at home with a 3D printer, and create an untraceable firearm. Ghost guns allow people to circumvent the background check requirement to own a gun.

“It is far too easy for anyone to download from the internet the computer code to 3D-print unserialized, untraceable, plastic ‘ghost guns,’” the letter said. “These 3D-printed weapons circumvent our system of gun safety rules and regulations, and pose a serious threat to public safety and national security.”

The question of banning the distribution of blueprints for 3D printed guns has been debated over the years, with much speculation that banning the sharing of blueprints is a First Amendment violation.

“President Biden can undo the Trump-era rule that has made the instructions for the 3D-printing of untraceable and deadly ‘ghost’ guns widely available online,” said Senator Markey. “The online distribution of these ghost gun blueprints only increases the risk of these weapons proliferating and poses a serious threat to public safety and national security. President Biden should fulfil his campaign promise and reverse the Trump administration’s weakening of these gun safety regulations.”

“They’re making firearms and they’re shooting and they’re killing people,” Thompson said.

“If you are a danger to yourself or to others, if you’re dangerously mentally ill, if you’re a criminal, you should not be able to get your mitts on a gun,” he added.

CBS13 asked Thompson about gun advocacy groups pushing back against manufacturers being held liable yet they did not commit the actual crimes.

“I have one word for these groups and that’s, ‘tough.’ We need these rules,” he responded.

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Student government VP resigns because First Amendment doesn’t ban ‘hate speech’

The vice president of the University of Illinois Student Government, or ISG, has tendered her resignation because the school will not “take a stand and prohibit hate speech.”

Vindhya Kalipi, a junior studying political science and statistics, made that point in a student government Instagram post put up on October 10.

Kalipi was not pleased about the appearance of Matt Walsh on his “What is a Woman?” tour at which he said challenging transgender ideology is “the hill he is ‘willing to die on’” and that gender transitioning is “castrating” children.

In its statement, the ISG said Walsh’s remarks were “hateful,” “wrong” and “induce[d] pain for many people.”

It also noted that given her beliefs, Kalipi (pictured) “talked to administrators and looked through existing laws and regulations” to ultimately discover there is no First Amendment exception for “hate speech.”

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New York wants to ban the sharing of violent crime videos online

Leaders in the state of New York are calling for the criminalization of sharing videos of violent crime.

While the proposals are seemingly ignorant of the First Amendment, and were spurred by a mass shooting, they also could be used to stop people from sharing videos of crimes that take place in the city.

Overall indexed crime in New York City increased in July 2022 by 30.5% compared with July 2021 and, after a recent uptick in crime in New York over the last two years, social media users are sharing videos of violent crime to draw attention to a reversing trend.

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Panel rules against church leaders who gave bologna sandwiches to homeless

The city of St. Louis did not violate the First Amendment rights of a Christian pastor and his assistant by threatening to prosecute them for handing out bologna sandwiches to the homeless, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

Pastor Raymond Redlich, vice president of the New Life Christian Evangelical Center, and his assistant, Christopher Ohnimus, were distributing bologna sandwiches and bottles of water to the homeless in October 2018 when they were cited by a police officer for violating a city ordinance regulating the distribution by temporary establishments of potentially hazardous food, such as meat, poultry, eggs or fish.

Although the city opted not to prosecute Redlich and Ohnimus for violating the ordinance, they nonetheless sued the city in federal court saying the ordinance violates their rights of free expression and religious exercise under the First Amendment.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Nanette A. Baker in St. Louis granted the city’s motion to dismiss the complaint on summary judgment last year, finding Redlich and Ohnimus did not prove that their fundamental right to association was at issue.

The two men appealed that ruling to the St. Louis-based Eighth Circuit, arguing at a hearing in June that the enforcement of the ordinance against them interferes with their ability to communicate their message about God’s love and concern for those in need.

In Wednesday’s ruling, a three-judge panel ruled government regulation of “inherently expressive” conduct – such as distributing sandwiches to the homeless – does not necessarily violate the First Amendment if the regulation furthers “an important or substantial government interest” unrelated to the suppression of free expression.

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Governor Newsom hopes new social media law will help censorship of “hate speech” and “disinformation”

A bill has been signed into law in California, designed to obligate social media companies to submit enforcement reports twice a year to the state attorney general, and publicly post policies on “hate speech,” disinformation, harassment, and extremism.

After signing the law – AB 587 – Governor Gavin Newsom announced that this is a unique social media “transparency and accountability measure” that is meant to protect Californians from hate and discrimination.

We obtained a copy of the bill for you here.

The reports will require tech companies to explain how and if they define and remove content from a number of categories, such as hate speech or racism, extremism or radicalization, disinformation or misinformation, harassment, and foreign political interference.

The reports are also expected to go into automated moderation, what happens to flagged content, and how many times it has been viewed.

Newsom seems to believe that social media is being weaponized to spread hate, disinformation, harassment, and lies that threaten communities, and vowed that California will not “stand by” as this is happening.

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Alex Jones and the Right to Offend

On Dec. 14, 2012, a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut resulted in the deaths of 20 children and six staffers.  Alex Jones, a controversial far-right talk show host, called the Sandy Hook massacre a U.S. government hoax, staged using crisis actors, to serve as a pretext for gun control.  Parents of one of the slain children filed a defamation suit against Jones, claiming that followers of Jones had harassed them and sent them death threats for years in the false belief that they were lying about their son’s death.

Jones’s defense was his right to free speech and that he was not responsible for the harassment.  He lost.  The jury awarded the parents $45.2 million in punitive damages on top of $4.1 million in compensatory damages — another example of outrageous damage verdicts that plague the legal system.

Freedom of speech is coming under attack from all directions.  The primary assault is based on the existence of a new “right”: the right not to be offended.  It is claimed by many on the left that the right not to be offended is more important than the right to free expression.

Our colleges and universities have fallen victim to this new “right.”  The feelings of students often constitute sufficient justification for campus censorship.  If a conservative speaker offends some of the students, that speaker can be denied a platform.  “The belief that free speech rights don’t include the right to speak offensively is now firmly entrenched on campuses and enforced by repressive speech or harassment codes,” wrote attorney Wendy Kaminer in The Atlantic.

The problem is spreading to the mainstream.  In the 2010 case of Nurre v. Whitehead, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld lower court rulings that school authorities can deny students’ rights to free speech just to keep other students from being offended.  The courts are “allowing schools the discretion to let an offended minority control a cowed majority,” constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead wrote in the Huffington Post.  “There is no way to completely avoid giving offense,” he said.  “At some time or other, someone is going to take offense at something someone else says or does.  It’s inevitable.  Such politically correct thinking has resulted in a host of inane actions, from the Easter Bunny being renamed ‘Peter Rabbit’ to Christmas Concerts being dubbed ‘Winter’ Concerts.”

In a democratic republic, there can be no right not to be offended.  If anyone can prohibit another person’s speech because it’s offensive, there is no limit to the restrictions that can be placed on free expression.  As the late author Christopher Hitchens said, “[f]reedom of speech must include the license to offend.”

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He Heckled a District Attorney on TV. Now He Faces 10 Years Behind Bars.

On Wednesday morning, Joao DePina will walk into a Massachusetts courthouse to learn whether he could face the possibility of spending a decade behind bars.

His alleged crime? Heckling a district attorney from afar during a live press conference.

DePina repeatedly interrupted then-Suffolk County D.A. Rachael Rollins during a November press conference to criticize Rollins’ professional and personal behavior. His shouts were picked up on local news broadcasts, and Rollins paused on several occasions to ask DePina to stop interrupting her attempt to give an update on two cops who had been shot earlier that day. DePina also livestreamed his tirade, during which he criticized Rollins’ nomination to be a U.S. attorney (she was confirmed to the post in December, becoming the first black woman to be U.S. attorney for Massachusetts).

While DePina’s behavior during the press conference was clearly uncivil and rude, prosecutors say it’s also criminal. DePina was charged in November with one count of witness intimidation in connection to his antics at Rollins’ press conference. He could face between 2.5 and 10 years in prison if convicted.

“This is the most grossly unconstitutional thing I have seen in my entire career,” Marc Randazza, a free speech attorney who is representing DePina, tells Reason. “If the First Amendment means anything, Joao walks free.”

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