Outlawing visits to websites

ISIS and other jihadist groups are using the internet to spread their message and recruit new members.  To combat this, Eric Posner, a prominent law professor from the University of Chicago, says that we need to put limits on freedom of speech.  Specifically, he proposes in Slate that we make it illegal for anyone to visit or link to or point other people to jihadist websites.

Again, note the syndrome:  Our security is at risk, so eliminate civil liberties!  Fear as the pretext for doing away with freedom. [Read more…]

Freedom and the new comment system

Thanks, everybody, for trying out the new World Table comment system.  I can relate to the frustrations some of you are registering.  Thanks also to Jack Donaldson of World Table for commenting on the various threads.  We should rate him as “helpful,” “strongly agree.”  He wrote me an e-mail with the subject “Wow! Loving your community!”  That shows a great attitude, given how many of you were “rating” his system rather poorly, but he is right to be impressed with your thoughtfulness and your high level of discourse.  He said this:  “Great feedback coming in so far. I’ve been in the thread answering people’s questions this morning. So far, most everything mentioned is in the works, but we are feeling the pressure, having heard a ton of feedback from your folks.”  We’ll see what happens with all of this.

Anyway, one larger point was raised that deserves discussion in itself.  Is this attempt to create a climate of civility by means of an algorithm part of the same syndrome that has given us politically correct speech codes, trigger warnings, and the hypersensitivity to being offended that shuts down the freedom of speech?  The syndrome that we have mocked and criticized on this very blog?  Do we have such thin skins that we need to be protected from other commenters, lest our feelings be hurt?

I’d like to hear what you think about this, but I think there is a difference in what this new comment system is trying to do, which I will explain after the jump. [Read more…]

Prosecute global warming skeptics?

A group of 20 scientists is urging the president to prosecute scientists and organizations  that question global warming. Now a Rasmussen survey has found that 27% of Democrats agree with that approach.  So do 11% of Republicans and 12% of Independents. [Read more…]

Newspaper won’t allow opinions against gay marriage

Where we are already, after the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling:  A Harrisburg, PA, newspaper has announced that since  the gay marriage issue is now “settled,” it will not print op-ed pieces or letters to the editor that oppose gay marriage or say that homosexual acts are immoral or unnatural.  We won’t print racist, sexist, or anti-semitic letters, the editor explained.  “To that we add homophobic ones.” [Read more…]

Totalitarian discourse

Charles Krauthammer gives the name for handling disagreements by silencing and punishing those who hold opposing ideas:

The left is entering a new phase of ideological agitation — no longer trying to win the debate but stopping debate altogether, banishing from public discourse any and all opposition.The proper word for that attitude is totalitarian. It declares certain controversies over and visits serious consequences — from social ostracism to vocational defenestration — upon those who refuse to be silenced. [Read more…]

Letting churches endorse candidates?

A commission is recommending to Congress that churches and other  501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations be allowed to endorse political candidates without losing their tax-extemptions.  Here is the report.  Details after the jump.

I decry the politicization of churches.  And yet I also decry the federal government using the tax code to squelch political speech, which seems to me to deserve particular protection under the 1st Amendment.  Which also protects religious liberty, and some religions do emphasize political action, whether from the right or from the left.

What do you think about this? [Read more…]