Showing posts with label anti-discrimination laws. Show all posts
Showing posts with label anti-discrimination laws. Show all posts

Sunday, February 3, 2019

U.S. District Judge Rules Twitter is a Public Forum Setting New Precedent for Free Speech and Censorship

Sources: Duke Chronicle, Cornell Law Dictionary

Last year, several twitter critics of the sitting President sued Trump for blocking them and won. U.S. District judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, of the Southern district of New York, ruled that Trump had violated the plaintiffs' first amendment rights by excluding them from voicing their opinion on a 'public forum.'

We hold that portions of the @realDonaldTrump account—the 'interactive space' where Twitter users may directly engage with the content of the President’s tweets—are properly analyzed under the 'public forum' doctrines set forth by the Supreme Court, that such space is a designated public forum, and that the blocking of the plaintiffs based on their political speech constitutes viewpoint discrimination that violates the First Amendment.

This ruling should have wider implications than preventing Trump from blocking prominent twitter critics like Dr. Eugene Gu, who filed the lawsuit. Besides, Trump isn't the only politician that uses twitter to communicate with his constituents. Almost every representative, senator, justice and bureaucrat uses twitter to get their message out. In this sense, the 'private' social media platform could be considered a designated public forum for political discourse, and therefore should be open to all viewpoints. Unfortunately, there is no legal definition for online public forums. The Supreme Court outlined 3 types of public forums in the 1983 case of Perry Education Association v. Perry Local Educators' Association and all of them are defined in terms of physical space and restrict government officials from discriminating against certain viewpoints rather than public corporations like Twitter and Facebook. This could be a major problem when it comes to twitter itself banning or suspending certain users for unpopular political opinions or selectively enforcing their nebulous terms of service. Twitter's discriminatory actions keep people form engaging with their elected representatives all the same as being directly blocked by their elected representatives; the only difference is that the censorship is done by a corporation rather than a government agency or official. However, as I pointed out in a previous post, corporations are established by governments for the benefit of the public, and have no right to discriminate on the basis of race, sex, national origin, religion or any other protected class. It's only logical to add political affiliation and viewpoint, especially given the pertinence of twitter and other big social media platforms in our day and age.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Corporations Have No Right To Discriminate

Corporations are the greatest threat to freedom of speech. This is a very succinct video from the Ghettoman. I've been following his work since December when he joined Steemit (he has since left) and he doesn't seem to have taken off yet, so I do whatever I can to promote him and his work. The issue at stake here is whether corporations, specifically social media companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter have a right to discriminate on the basis of political views, that is, to treat political views differently by, for instance, enforcing terms of service selectively and defining political views they disagree with as hate speech, which isn't a legal term. I say they don't based on previous civil rights legislation prohibiting discrimination on other protected bases, like religion, and the fact that these conglomerates have a virtual monopoly on online political content, which is where the vast majority of people congregate nowadays. Furthermore, as the Ghettoman points out, corporations are charted by the state for the benefit of the public, which includes everyone on the political spectrum. And as I pointed out earlier they have a virtual monopoly on online political content making their bias against certain political views no different from censorship in practice. Social media platforms should therefore be considered public forums.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Liberal Diversity Law Keeps Minority Students From Receiving a Decent Education

Sources: Pacific Legal Foundation, Data USA: Hartford, CT, Sheff v. O’Neill Settlement, Hartford Courant

The ongoing case of Robinson v. Wentzell contests a Connecticut law that imposes race based quotas on Hartford magnet schools. The city of Hartford runs several world class magnet schools that are in such high demand that a lottery, run by the state’s Regional School Choice Office, is used to determine which applicants can attend these schools. However, there is a catch. Connecticut state law requires the student body of magnet schools to be at least 25% white and asian and no more than 75% black and hispanic, even if it means some seats in these schools remain empty. This is a problem in Hartford, CT where only 15.4% of the population is white, and a measly 2.6% are asian. On the other hand, over 35% of the population is black and close to 45% of the population is hispanic. Thus, the lottery is deliberately rigged in favor of white and asian applicants.

Checking the race and ethnicity of students at the front of waitlists — welcoming them if they are white; denying them seats if they are black or Latino — may be the most startling piece of the magnet-school selection process. But it is not the only way the system suppresses minority enrollment in high-performing Sheff schools.

This is perhaps another example of the law of unintended consequences at work. The law in question stemmed from a 1996 state supreme court decision in Sheff v. O’Neill holding that all school children should have substantially equal educational opportunities and urging the legislature to curb racial segregation and discrimination in public schools. As a result, the Connecticut General Assembly passed and then governor John Rowland enacted Act 97-290, which put into motion several recommendations made by the governor’s Education Improvement Panel including the creation of 8 interdistrict magnet schools in Hartford and a mandate that at least 25% of the students enrolled in these schools be white or asian. The law was intended to reduce racial segregation but it has had the opposite effect by denying minority children in the applicant pool admission and keeping them in segregated, woefully underfunded neighborhood schools. Even some of the plaintiffs to the original sheff case have turned against the law that resulted from it.

"I do not think that a child has to sit next to any specific type of child or race of child or religion of child to get a good education. So those seats are empty? Fill them up!" said Best, who was a young mother when she and her daughter Neiima signed on as plaintiffs. "Let's think out of the box and let's just say, 'OK, we tried this. We offered this. Now who wants to come here?' And fill up the seats."

This is not the first time that liberal policies have backfired on the minority groups they were meant to help. It happens more often than most people notice. The same liberals championing affirmative action on college campuses also admit that it disproportionately benefits white women. If that is so, why keep it around? Women already out number men nearly 2 to 1 on college campuses. The war on drugs was just as much a liberal effort to clean up the inner city as it was an initiative of the Nixon admin. At its outset, it was supported by the congressional black caucus and high profile liberal politicians like Nelson Rockefeller, Jerry Brown, Joe Biden, Bill Clinton etc. And yet liberals today tell us that enforcement of the Controlled Substances Acts disproportionately harms minority communities and that the laws are racist. The same could be said of the current liberal effort to legalize pot. Although not as overtly authoritarian as the war on drugs, it is by all measures an attempt to tighten state control over what people can put in their own bodies, and as an unintended side effect black people are still twice as likely to be arrested for cultivating cannabis.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

RE: TJ Kirk's Hypocrisy Test

TJ Kirk, formerly known as the amazingatheist in the haydays of the evolution-creationist debates on Youtube, put forth the following question, presumably to conservative christians.

Fast forward to 5:40

This is a test to find out if you're a hypocrite. If a Christian baker doesn't want to bake a gay wedding cake, is that their right? I say it's not. Maybe you say it is, but that's not the test. This is the test: gay coffee shop owner kicks christians out of cafe, goes on vulgar rant. Do you think this gay coffee shop owner has the right to kick Christians out of his establishment just for being christians? If you're answer for this is different than your answer to the previous question, you've tested positive for being a fucking hypocrite. In my view businesses don't have the right to discriminate on the basis of religion or sexuality in either direction.

The question is based on a false premise though. The gay coffee shop owner in question kicked them out over anti-abortion flyers they had been handing out prior to entering his establishment, not simply because they were Christians. From the UK Mirror:

'A cafe owner kicked a group of Christians out of his coffee shop because he was 'offended' by their leaflets calling for the abolition of abortion.

Members of the Abolish Human Abortion group decided to take a break from leafleting at Seattle's Bedlam Cafe, but when the owner realised who was drinking in his shop, he reacted furiously.

Ben Borgman told the group to leave because he is gay .

In the video of the rant, he says: "I'm gay, you have to leave."

Asked if he is denying them service, he says "yes".

He continues: "This is offensive to me. I own the place. I have the right to be offended
"Do you tolerate my presence?

"If I got my boyfriend and f*** him right here would you tolerate it?"

The group members respond by saying they would tolerate it, and saying it is his choice, and point out that they have gone into his shop without making a fuss.

The coffee spot is decorated with the LGBT rainbow flag outside.

But that does not calm the furious Mr Borgman and he tells them they, and any of their friends, are not welcome.

The leaflet in question depicted rainbow colored hands dripping blood over a dismembered fetus and read 'This is the truly oppressed person in our Idolatrous culture of death.'

It's easy to see how Mr. Borgman could have taken offense to the flyer as it seems to convey the message that gays are responsible for abortion which the Christian group equates to genocide. Also, Christian bakers don't refuse service to gay customers just for being gay; typically, it's a conscientious objection to baking a cake tailored to a gay wedding e.g. with two grooms on top. Most wouldn't mind giving them a plain cake for them to decorate themselves.

And what is a right? Liberals don't seem to have a working definition for the term 'rights' and much less so a coherent theory of ethics. When they use the term 'rights', it usually means a gibsmedat e.g. I have a right to food, a house, a phone, free beer etc. and the rest of their argument is filled in with vacuous appeals to emotion and ad hominems.
TJ's thought experiment is at best a naive musing about something that could only occur in an ideal world with perfect justice; the stark reality is that all laws are either selectively enforced or not enforced at all; in the former case someone always gets the short end of the stick. Governments are nearly always discriminatory in enforcing their laws; sometimes its along ethnic and religious lines and other times its in favor of other public officials. Adding further laws tends to create more legal inequalities. This is readily noticeable with so called anti-poaching laws. Actual poachers and criminal syndicates involved in the ivory trade usually have enough money to bribe public officials. The indigenous tribes that hunt for subsistence do not, so they end up getting nailed for poaching. The short answer is that you shouldn't patronize people who hate you on the basis of whatever arbitrary categories you listed. Why would you support people who are against your existence? Bakeries and coffee shops are a dime a dozen, if one of them refuses you, go around the block and find another one.