July 11, 2020

USA: An Open Letter Endorsing Free Speech And Pushing Back Against The "Stifling Atmosphere" In Some Corners Of The Media Drew Public Backlash This Week. 👉🏼 Hate Speech Doesn't Exist. 👈

Washington Free Beacon
Open Letter Endorsing Free Speech Sparks Civil War at Vox
written by Graham Piro
Tuesday July 7, 2020

Vox editor and cofounder Matthew Yglesias is drawing public backlash from colleagues after signing an open letter endorsing free speech and pushing back against the "stifling atmosphere" in some corners of the media.

Vox critic at large Emily VanDerWerff tweeted a letter she said she had sent to Vox editors stating that Yglesias's decision to sign the letter—which she said was also signed by several "anti-trans" critics—made her feel "less safe" at the publication.

"The letter, signed as it is by several prominent anti-trans voices and containing as many dog whistles toward anti-trans positions as it does, ideally would not have been signed by anybody at Vox, much less one of the most prominent people at our publication," she wrote.
VanDerWerff's criticism is indicative of a growing movement among journalists to replace objectivity in reporting with progressive values. The most prominent flashpoint in this debate occurred when New York Times opinion editor James Bennet resigned after employees said publishing an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) put black staffers "in danger."

"A Letter on Open Justice and Debate," published in Harper's Magazine, denounced the "intolerant climate" in media and advocated for "the possibility of good-faith disagreement" without fear of professional retribution. The letter was signed by left-wing figures such as Noam Chomsky, New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg, and The Handmaid's Tale author Margaret Atwood. The main point of the letter was to support the free exchange of ideas and push back on retribution in response to "perceived transgressions of speech and thought."

"The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away," the letter stated. "As writers we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk taking, and even mistakes."

Others at Vox voiced their support for VanDerWerff. Katelyn Burns, a political reporter at the site, said she took issue with many of the signatories' "anti-trans" stances and argued the letter's text was aimed at transgender critics.

"The sheer number of signatories who have waded into the transgender debate on the anti-trans side is astounding. I read many of the references to specific gripes in the letter's text as specifically directed at trans critics," she wrote.

Vox engagement editor Nisha Chittal wrote that the letter was from "a bunch of mostly white people with platforms at prestigious media outlets complaining that minorities are silencing them." Former Vox video producer Carlos Maza also noted disapprovingly that he was not surprised about Yglesias's signature on the letter.

But Vox senior correspondent German Lopez defended the letter by saying that the heated reaction to it proves its point.
Jennifer Williams, Vox‘s senior foreign editor, also threw her support behind the content of the letter, saying it aligns with "what I personally see happening in the media and public discourse."

Vox did not respond to a request for comment on the controversy.

PragerU published August 5, 2019: Hate Speech Doesn't Exist.

Joy Behar thinks people can be charged with "hate speech."

Should offensive speech be punishable by law?

Where should we, as a society, draw the line where permitted speech is on one side, and forbidden speech is on the other? Should we even have that line? And should free speech be limited by things like trigger warnings and penalties for microaggressions? Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, answers these questions and more.

This video was made possible thanks to the generous support of Dr. Bob.

👇 I typed a transcript for you below 👇

The video opens with Whoopi Goldberg saying on The View: What he's doing is possibly inviting violence towards these women and women who are saying this is wrong, I don't like this. This involves every female in this country.

Then Joy Behar replies: Why can't he be brought up on charges of hate speech? Why can't he be sued by the ACLU for hate speech? I don't get it. How does he get away with this?

PragerU: Well Joy Behar, we have an answer for you.

Greg Lukianoff for PragerU:

Freedom of Speech, the ability to express yourself. It's a cherished idea as well it should be.

Most of us who live in liberal Western Democracies think of it as a basic human right. People have fought and died for it. But now we may be in danger of losing it. The threat is not coming from without, from external enemies, but from within.

A generation is being raised not believe in freedom OF speech but rather that they should have freedom FROM speech they dislike.

This is a threat to both pluralism and democracy itself.

We see this in Europe where sensitivity based censorship attempts to ban anything deemed hateful and even just hurtful and to ban criticism of religion, especially Islam.

But the United States despite its strong constitutional protections and the bill of rights is far from immune from the rising trend of suppression of speech or what is sometimes called "political correctness".

This is especially true at American's colleges and universities the place where our future leaders are educated and where you'd expect speech to be the most free. Highly restrictive speech codes are the norms on campus not the exception.

According to a study by my organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), 54% of public universities and 59% of private universities currently impose politically correct speech codes on their students. And thanks to recent Department of Education Guidelines, 100% of colleges may adopt speech codes in the coming years.

How bad is it? At a public campus in California on Constitution Day in 2013, a student who also happens to be a decorated military veteran, was told he could not hand out copies of US constitution to his fellow students. The objection from the university was not ideological, it was out-of-control bureaucracy imposing limits on speech.

That same day another college student in that same state was told he could not protest NSA surveillance outside of a tiny free speech zone. An area that comprised only 1.37% of the campus.

Months later college students in Hawaii were told both they could not hand out the US constitution to their fellow students and that they could not protest NSA policies outside the school's free speech zone.

FIRE took these colleges to court. But the fact that we had to shows you how bad it has become.

Recently, students and sympathetic faculty have joined forces to exclude campus speakers whose opinions they dislike. At FIRE disinvitation season. Although the season lasts all year round.

Since 2009, there has been a major uptick in the push by students and faculty to get speakers they dislike disinvited. These speakers have included former Secretary of State Condolezza Rice, the Somali born Feminist and critic of Islam Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the Direct of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde. And that's only the obvious part of the disinvitation problem.

Few conservative speakers are invited to speaker less they have to be disinvited later.

The newest threat to speech comes from so-called "trigger warnings". Alerts that warn students that they're about to read or hear something that triggers a negative emotional response.

A 2014 New York Times article cited the example of a Rutgers student requesting trigger warnings for the classic American novel, The Great Gatsby, because it "possesses a variety of scenes that reference abusive, misogynistic violence."

Recently, Oberlin college attempted to institute a policy that heavily encouraged the faculty to avoid difficult topics and to employ trigger warnings as a means of making classrooms safer.

Safety has been watered down to essentially mean, the right to always feel comfortable.

New demands for trigger warnings are popping up on campuses across the country. Add in popular academic theories that encourage students to scrutinize speech for microaggressions. Any statement that might be construed as racially insensitive, classist, sexist, otherwise un-PC and it's clear that campuses are teaching students to police what they say.

This is precisely the opposite of what is needed. Our society needs candor and it needs freedom of speech NOT freedom from speech. Intellectual comfort is not a right! Nor should it ever be. Not if we want freedom of speech. Let's just call it freedom to survive.

I'm Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for Prager University.

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