Georgia college students started burning books because someone called them white

Latina author Jennine Capó Crucet recently spoke to students at Georgia Southern University about her novel Make Your Home Among Strangers, about an Hispanic girl who feels out of place at a predominantly white college. According to the student newspaper The George-anne, the conversation was quickly derailed by angry college students who think it's racist to point out when things are racist:

"I noticed that you made a lot of generalizations about the majority of white people being privileged," one respondent said into the microphone. "What makes you believe that it’s okay to come to a college campus, like this, when we are supposed to be promoting diversity on this campus, which is what we’re taught. I don’t understand what the purpose of this was."

For the record, Georgia Southern University has about a 6 percent Hispanic population.

After the event, several students called the author out even more explicitly on Twitter (although those tweets have been deleted, The George-Anne still has the screenshots). Then they gathered together outside of a dormitory and did what awful mobs throughout history have always done: they burned books.

College kids do dumb stuff sometimes. Read the rest

Here's what happened to the guy who got arrested for an "I Eat Ass" sticker on his car

In May 2019 Dillon Shane Webb bought a sticker that read "I EAT ASS" and affixed it to the back window of his truck. A cop didn't like it, and pulled Webb over. Webb argued with the cop and was arrested. Vice has a video of how the arrest turned Webb into an unlikely free speech icon. Read the rest

Police dashcam video of Florida driver cited for "I EAT ASS" window sticker

Mark reported earlier this week that a Florida man was charged with a crime over the "I EAT ASS" window sticker on his truck, and with resisting arrest for refusing to remove it; here's the dashcam video.

I EAT ASS window sticker [you bet your ass that's an Amazon link] Read the rest

Student painting depicting police office as pig pulled from art show at government building

At the Madeira Municipal Building in Ohio, a high school student's artwork depicting a pig in a police uniform was taken down by the organizers of an annual student art show. In the artwork, the pig is standing in front of collaged newspaper headlines about police using deadly force. Guess what? People complained.

The unnamed student created the artwork as a response to the following assignment:

“Take current event articles published in newspapers or magazines on a similar topic and then summarize those articles into a visual representation of the feelings and emotions within the articles selected.”

The Madeira Police Department would not confirm or deny whether they asked for the painting to be removed. From WCPO:

“The members of the Madeira Police Department fully respect and support the student’s right to free speech and recognize that this young artist is very talented,” (a police) statement reads. “However, officers are troubled by the perceived message of the student’s art project.”

So was Lt. Dan Hils, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police and a frequent defender of Cincinnati officers whose use of force becomes the subject of public discussion. On Monday night, Hils said he was saddened by the piece but would not have asked for it to be removed.

“For me, the word I think of is just a little disappointed — disappointed that there is youth that believe that of police officers,” he said, adding: “It’s a beautiful thing our country has — the ability for people to express how they feel and this young person was expressing how they feel.

Read the rest

EFF is hiring an international policy director!

[[Editor's note: I was the Electronic Frontier Foundation's first-ever European Director, which was a crazy and amazing job at a time when the organization was much smaller; now EFF is much bigger, and international issues are a much bigger deal for us, with bad policy ideas ricocheting around the globe and needing a coordinated response; the below is from my colleague Rainey Reitman, EFF's Chief Program Officer; you can find the formal listing here -Cory ]]

Read the rest

Moderators for large platform tell all, reveal good will, frustration, marginalization

Alex Feerst, Medium's head of trust and safety, conducted a long, wide-ranging interview with senior content moderation staffers with experience at Dropbox, Google, Facebook, Reddit, Pintrest, and many unnamed platforms; the interview is very frank and reveals a group of people with a deep, real-world commitment to protecting users as well as defending free speech. Read the rest

Court sides with cheerleader punished for writing "fuck cheer"

A cheerleader in Pennsylvania has won a free-speech case against her school, which tried to punish her for insulting it on social media.

The case involves a First Amendment challenge to the Mahanoy Area High School’s “Cheerleading Rules,” which prohibit cheerleaders from posting any “negative information” about cheerleading online. B.L. was kicked off the junior varsity cheerleading squad for posting a Snap to Snapchat on the weekend that school officials believed was “negative,” “disrespectful,” and “demeaning.” ... On March 21, 2019, the court granted the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, finding that the school did not have the authority to discipline her for her off-campus speech and that the school was in violation of the First Amendment..

"fuck school fuck softball fuck cheer fuck everything," to quote the magnificent B.L., but most of all fuck the Mahanoy Area High School for trying to silence its students off-campus.

Photo: Brook Robinson / Shutterstock Read the rest

Satanic statue part of holiday decorations at Illinois Capitol

The Satanic Temple of Chicago has installed a stately and elegant statue at the Illinois Capitol between the Christmas tree and Hanukkah menorah. Predictably, some people are pissed. Approximately 4.5 feet tall, the statue features a snake around an arm with the hand clutching an apple. The pedestal is emblazoned with the statement "Knowledge is the greatest gift." From CNN:

"We feel it's a First Amendment issue, we have other displays there -- a Hanukkah menorah and Nativity scene," (Secretary of State's office spokesperson Dave) Drucker said. "If you have displays of one type you need to be consistent and allow everyone to do so, aside from hate speeches and other unacceptable things."

The Satanic Temple says that its members are atheists who are often interested in community activism, according to the group's website.

"We do not promote a belief in a personal Satan," the website says. "To embrace the name Satan is to embrace rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions." The group says it embraces the "struggle for justice" and believes people should "strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures," according to its website.

Read the rest

Wikileaks threatens to sue "fake news producers"

Wikileaks, furious about a report in The Guardian claiming that founder Julian Assange met with Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, said that it plans to sue it for libel. Moreover, it expects to create a "business model" from such lawsuits.

NEW RULES: WikiLeaks is going make suing fake news producers like the Guardian a central part of its business model. Since libels are the most predictable response to the power and accuracy of a WikiLeaks' publication, our analysis is that this is a stable, scalable income stream

Hey, at least someone gets to see him in court. Read the rest

Russian feminist blogger faces 5 years for "inciting hatred" against men

Kazakh blogger Lyubov Kalugina has been charged under Russia's Article 282, an "anti-extremism" law now being used by men who claim women sharing jokes and memes offend them. Via Quartz: Read the rest

How to: beat Chinese social media image-filtering

Researchers from the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab (previously) have published an extensive report on the image filtering systems used by Chinese messaging giant Wechat to prevent the posting of banned political messages and other "sensitive" topics that are censored in China. Read the rest

The platforms control our public discourse, and who they disconnect is arbitrary and capricious

Look, I'm as delighted as you are to see Alex Jones' ability to spread hatred curtailed -- because in a world where all the important speech takes place online, and where online speech is owned by four or five companies, being kicked off of Big Tech's services is likely to be an extinction-level event. Read the rest

Inside the triumphant Alex Jones banned everywhere story is a worrying nuance about free speech and platform dominance

When we worry about free speech, we mostly worry about governments suppressing speech, not private actors. It's one thing to say that the US government shouldn't have the ability to arbitrarily censor some speech, but it's another altogether to say, that, for example, Boing Boing shouldn't be able to kick jerks off its message boards -- that has as much to do with "compelled publication" as it does with "free speech." Read the rest

The UN's top free speech expert just denounced the new EU copyright plan as a "potential violation of international human rights law"

David Kaye (previously) is the UN's Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression; he just released a detailed report on the catastrophic free speech implications of Article 13, the EU's proposed copyright rule that would make sites filter everything their users post to check for copyright violations. Read the rest

Tanzania's independent websites, podcasts and video channels have gone dark as the country's new blogger tax goes into effect

As of this Friday, anyone operating an independent online presence in Tanzania will have to pay a licensing fee equivalent to an average year's wages, and submit to a harsh set of censorship rules, as well as an obligation to unmask anonymous posters and commenters, with stiff penalties for noncompliance. Read the rest

Koch-funded "academic freedom" grifters run into trouble at Wellesley

Reactionaries of every stripe have latched onto "academic freedom" for self-promotion as speakers on college campuses, but Wellesley College's Koch-funded Freedom Project came under scrutiny thanks to student activists and journalists. Now the program's head is taking a year off to teach "elsewhere." Read the rest

ACLU steps in to defend anti-Trump mural in New Orleans

A mural quoting a sexual assault comment made by the President of the United States led to a threat of jail time from the city of New Orleans. Neal Morris, owner of the property and commissioner of the work, got the ACLU involved. Read the rest

More posts