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by Walter E. Williams

        The violence, looting and mayhem that this nation has seen over the last several months has much of its roots in academia, where leftist faculty teach immature young people all manner of nonsense that contradicts commonsense and the principles of liberty. Chief among their lessons is a need to attack free speech in the form of prohibitions against so-called hate speech and microaggressions. Here are examples of microaggressions: "You are a credit to your race." "Wow! How did you become so good in math?" "There is only one race, the human race." "I'm not racist. I have several black friends." "As a woman, I know what you go through as a racial minority."
        It is a tragic state of affairs when free speech and inquiry require protection at institutions of higher learning. Indeed, freedom in the marketplace of ideas has made the United States, as well as other Western nations, a leader in virtually every area of human endeavor. A monopoly of ideas is just as dangerous as a monopoly in political power or a monopoly in the production of goods and services.
        We might ask what is the true test of a person's commitment to free speech? The true test does not come when he permits people to say those things he deems acceptable. The true test comes when he permits people to say those things that he deems offensive. The identical principle applies to freedom of association; its true test comes when someone permits others to voluntarily associate in ways that he deems offensive.
        While free speech has been under attack, we are beginning to see some pushback. More than 12,000 professors, free speech leaders and conservative-leaning organization leaders have signed "The Philadelphia Statement."
        The 845-word document says in part: "Similarly, colleges and universities are imposing speech regulations to make students 'safe,' not from physical harm, but from challenges to campus orthodoxy. These policies and regulations assume that we as citizens are unable to think for ourselves and to make independent judgments. Instead of teaching us to engage, they foster conformism ("groupthink") and train us to respond to intellectual challenges with one or another form of censorship. A society that lacks comity and allows people to be shamed or intimidated into self-censorship of their ideas and considered judgments will not survive for long. As Americans, we desire a flourishing, open marketplace of ideas, knowing that it is the fairest and most effective way to separate falsehood from truth. Accordingly, dissenting and unpopular voices -- be they of the left or the right -- must be afforded the opportunity to be heard. They have often guided our society toward more just posi!
 tions, which is why Frederick Douglass said freedom of speech is the 'great moral renovator of society and government.'"
        The recognition of the intellectual elite attacking free speech is not new. In a 1991 speech, Yale University President Benno Schmidt warned: "The most serious problems of freedom of expression in our society today exist on our campuses. The assumption seems to be that the purpose of education is to induce correct opinion rather than to search for wisdom and to liberate the mind."
        Tyrants everywhere, from the Nazis to the communists, started out supporting free speech rights. Why? Because speech is important for the realization of leftist goals of command and control. People must be propagandized, proselytized and convinced. Once leftists have gained power, as they have in most of our colleges and universities, free speech becomes a liability. It challenges their ideas and agenda and must be suppressed.
        Attacks on free speech to accommodate multiculturalism and diversity are really attacks on Western values, which are superior to all others. The indispensable achievement of the West was the concept of individual rights, the idea that individuals have certain inalienable rights that are not granted by government. Governments exist to protect these inalienable rights. It took until the 17th century for that idea to arise and mostly through the works of English philosophers such as John Locke and David Hume. And now the 21st century campus leftists are trying to suppress these inalienable rights.
        Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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by John Stossel

        Recently, I released a video that called California's fires "government fueled."
        A few days later, Facebook inserted a warning on my video: "Missing Context. Independent fact-checkers say this information could mislead."
        Some of my viewers now feel betrayed. One wrote: "Shameful, John... what happened to you!!? Your reporting was always fair... (but) your... fires story was so... unfair, even Facebook tagged it."
        A "fact-check" from Facebook carries weight.
        Worse, Facebook says that because my video is labeled misleading, it will show my content to fewer people.
        This kills me. My news model counts on social media companies showing people my videos.
        I confronted the fact-checkers. That's the topic of my newest video.
        Facebook's "fact-check" links to a page from a group called Climate Feedback that claims it sorts "fact from fiction" about climate change.
        They post this complaint about my video: "Forest fires are caused by poor management. Not by climate change." They call that claim "misleading."
        It is misleading.
        But I never said that! In my video, I acknowledged: "Climate change has made things worse. California has warmed 3 degrees over 50 years."
        I don't know where Climate Feedback got their quote. Made it up? Quoted someone else?
        Facebook lets activists restrict my videos based on something I never said.
        Now, Facebook is a private company that can censor anything it wants. I understand the pressure they feel. All kinds of people demand that Facebook ban posts they don't like.
        There's no way Facebook can police everything. The site carries billions of posts.
        I wish they'd just let the information flow. People will gradually learn to sort truth from lies.
        But to please politicians, Facebook now lets other people censor their content. Mark Zuckerberg told Congress, "We work with a set of independent fact-checkers."
        That's how Climate Feedback got its power. Facebook made it a fact-checker.
        Facebook says I can appeal its throttling of my video, but my appeal must go to Climate Feedback, possibly the very activists who'd made up quotes from me.
        I tried to appeal. I emailed Nikki Forrester, Climate Feedback's editor. She didn't respond. But two of the three scientists listed as reviewers agreed to interviews.
        The first was Stefan Doerr of Swansea University.
        When I asked why he smeared me based on something I never said, he replied, "I've never commented on your article."
        That was a shock. He hadn't seen my video.
        I referred him to the Climate Feedback webpage that Facebook cited when labeling my video "misleading." The page lists him as a "reviewer."
        "If this is implying that we have reviewed the video," said Doerr, "then this is clearly wrong. There's something wrong with the system."
        There sure is.
        Doerr guessed that my video was flagged because I'd interviewed environmentalist Michael Shellenberger.
        His new book, "Climate Apocalypse," criticizes environmental alarmism. Climate Feedback says Shellenberger makes "overly simplistic argumentation about climate change."
        Their other reviewer was Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist at The Breakthrough Institute. He hadn't seen my video either. "I certainly did not write a Climate Feedback piece reviewing your segment."
        So, I sent him the video. After he watched it, I asked, "Is (misleading) a fair label?"
        "I don't necessarily think so," he replied. "While there are plenty of debates around how much to emphasize fire management vs. climate change, your piece clearly discussed that both were at fault."
        After those confrontations, Climate Feedback's editor finally responded to our emails. She gave us an address where we could file a complaint.
        We did.
        They wrote back, "after reviewing the video" (at least they now watched it), they stand by their smear because the "video misleads viewers by oversimplifying the drivers of wildfires." And both scientists I interviewed wrote to say, yes, we agree, the video downplays the role of climate change.
        That's what this censorship is about. In my video, Shellenberger dares say, "A small change in temperature is not the difference between normalcy and catastrophe." Climate Feedback doesn't want people to hear that.
        It's wrong for Facebook to give these activists the power to throttle videos they don't like.
        John Stossel is author of "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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by John Stossel

       "A pioneer devoted to equality."
        That was The Washington Post's headline about Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
        But when Justice Antonin Scalia died, the headline was, "Supreme Court conservative dismayed liberals."
        When the founder of ISIS was killed, the headline was: "Austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies."
        But when President Donald Trump's brother died, the headline was, "younger brother of President Trump who filed lawsuit against niece, dies."
        At news conferences, Vice President Biden gets softball questions. After an article in The Atlantic claimed Trump called fallen military members "losers," one reporter asked Biden, "What does it tell you about President Trump's soul?"
        "It's not even softball!" complains The Hill's media reporter, Joe Concha. "It's T-ball, except when you put a beach ball on the tee!"
        Trump does get nastier questions.
        What we used to call "mainstream media" is now "woke" media. Many don't even try to be objective. That's the topic of my new video this week.
        Watching CNN during this summer's protests, I noticed that reporters kept calling protests "mostly peaceful," even when reporting violence. CNN posted the words, "Mostly peaceful protests" on the screen when flaming cars were on the street behind their reporter.
        CNN defended itself, citing a study that said "93% of protests were... peaceful."
        But that's silly. When planes crash, we don't put "99% landed safely" on the screen. As Concha puts it, "When people start dying and losing their businesses, that's your story!"
        I push back: "Most people who work there consider themselves journalists. They try to get it right."
        "I don't know if I agree with that, John," Concha replies. "More and more are playing to a crowd."
        CNN once tried to look like a neutral news network. No more. Now it does whatever it can to scare people or make Trump look bad.
        In March, CNN sneered at the president for misleading people by claiming the U.S. did more COVID-19 tests than any other country. They, correctly, pointed out that per capita, "South Korea and Italy tested many times more."
        CNN was right to adjust for population. But then, to make Trump look worse, CNN suddenly stopped adjusting for population.
        They scolded the president, saying, "The U.S. had more coronavirus cases than any country in the world!"
        But that's just wrong! Adjusted for population, 28 countries, including France, England, Ireland and Norway had more cases.
        CNN sneers at Trump all day.
        I asked their spokesperson if CNN considers its reporting objective. No response.
        During the Democratic National Convention, CNN didn't bother fact-checking Democrats' speeches. But during Trump's speech at the Republican Convention, CNN suddenly put up a black ticker tape "fact-check" across the screen.
        Why not fact-check the DNC, too? "There's a reason we didn't fact-check Democrats!" said CNN's Chris Cuomo. "They are not lying the way Trump does."
        But they lie, too.
        Democrats were deceitful enough that the AP and BBC found a need to fact-check.
For example, Michelle Obama complained that under Trump, "children are torn from their families and thrown into cages!" But that border-control policy began under her husband's administration.
        CNN's Van Jones admits that CNN overtly favors Biden, saying after Biden's acceptance speech, "As long as he didn't embarrass himself, we were going to come out here and praise it."
        "Maybe CNN's just being honest," I say to Concha. When I was at ABC, everyone pretended to be apolitical (but nearly all were on the left).
        Concha replies, "CNN's prime-time lineup, Anderson Cooper, Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon, have the title of anchor, not opinion maker."
        Fox at least calls its prime-time anchors "opinion" hosts. News hosts like Chris Wallace and Bret Baier play it pretty straight.
        It's clear that most reporters don't like Trump -- or even Republicans. Last election, 96% of journalists' political donations went to Hillary Clinton.
        Why?
        "Our national media are in two cities, New York and Washington," says Concha. "When you're surrounded by everybody else in a city and newsroom that goes the other way, it's almost impossible not to start to conform."
        John Stossel is author of "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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by Walter E. Williams

        The United States Constitution's Article 2, Sec. 2, cl. 2, provides that the president of the United States "shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States." President Donald Trump has nominated Amy Coney Barrett as U.S. Supreme Court justice who will replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Barrett currently serves as United States Circuit judge of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The 7th Circuit serves the Midwestern states of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.
        It is now the Senate's job to decide whether to confirm Barrett's appointment as an associate justice on the Supreme Court. In thinking about the Senate's criteria for making their decision, we might ask what is the role of a U.S. Supreme Court justice? A reasonable answer is to recognize that our Constitution represents our rules of the game. It dictates what is and is not permissible behavior by government and its citizens. Therefore, a Supreme Court justice has one job and one job only; namely, that of a referee.
        A referee's job, whether he is a football referee, baseball umpire or a Supreme Court justice, is to know the rules of the game and to ensure that those rules are evenly applied without bias. Do we want a referee or justice to allow empathy to influence their decisions? Let us answer this question using this year's Super Bowl as an example.
        The San Francisco 49ers have played in seven Super Bowls in their franchise history, winning five times. On the other hand, coming into the 2020 game, the Kansas City Chiefs had not won a Super Bowl title in 50 years. In anyone's book, this is a gross disparity. Should the referees have the empathy to understand what it is like to be a perennial loser, not winning a Super Bowl in five decades? What would you think of a referee whose play calls were guided by empathy or pity? Suppose a referee, in the name of compensatory justice, stringently applied pass interference or roughing the passer violations against the San Francisco 49ers and less stringently against the Chiefs. Would you support a referee who refused to make offensive pass interference calls because he thought it was a silly rule? You would probably remind him that it is the league that makes the rules (football law), not referees.
        Supreme Court justices should be umpires or referees, enforcing neutral rules. Here is a somewhat trivial example of a neutral rule from my youth; let us call it Mom's Rule. On occasion, my sister and I would have lunch in my mother's absence. Either my younger sister or I would have the job of dividing the last piece of cake or pie. Almost always an argument would ensue about the fairness of the cut. Those arguments ended when Mom came up with a rule: Whoever cuts the cake gives the other person the first choice of the piece to take. As if by magic or divine intervention, fairness emerged and arguments ended. No matter who did the cutting, there was an even division.
        This is what our society needs -- the kind of rules whereby you would be OK even if your worst enemy were in charge. Despite the high stakes of bitterly fought football contests, most games end peaceably, and the winners and losers are civil. It is indeed a miracle of sorts that players with conflicting interests can play a game, agree with the outcome and walk away as good sports. That "miracle" is that it is far easier to reach an understanding about the game's rules than the game's outcome. The same conflict-reducing principles should be a part of a civilized society.
        Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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by Walter E. Williams

    Seventeenth-century poet and intellect John Milton predicted, "When language in common use in any country becomes irregular and depraved, it is followed by their ruin and degradation." Gore Vidal, his 20th-century intellectual successor, elaborated saying: "As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate." Sloppy language permits people to get away with speaking and doing all manner of destructive nonsense without being challenged.
    Let's look at the concept of "white privilege," the notion that white people have benefited in American history relative to, and at the expense of, "people of color." It appears to be utter nonsense to suggest that poor and destitute Appalachian whites have white privilege. How can one tell if a person has white privilege? One imagines that the academic elite, who coined the term, refer to whites of a certain socioeconomic status such as living in the suburbs with the privilege of high-income amenities. But here is a question: Do Nigerians in the U.S. have white privilege? As reported by the New York Post this summer, 17% of all Nigerians in this country hold master's degrees, 4% hold a doctorate and 37% hold a bachelor's degree, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2006 American Community Survey. By contrast, 19% of whites have a bachelor's degree, 8% have master's degrees and 1% have doctorates.
    What about slavery? Colleges teach our young people that the U.S. became rich on the backs of free black labor. That is utter nonsense. Slavery does not have a very good record of producing wealth. Think about it. Slavery was all over the South and outlawed in most of the North. I doubt that anyone would claim that the antebellum South was rich, and the slave-starved North was poor. The truth is just the opposite. In fact, the poorest states and regions of our country were places where slavery flourished: Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, while the richest states and regions were those where slavery was outlawed: Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
    Speaking of holding people accountable for slavery, there is no way that Europeans could have captured millions of Africans. They had African and Arab help. There would not have been much black slavery in the U.S., and the western hemisphere in general, without Africans exchanging other Africans to European slave traders at the coast for guns, mirrors, cloths, foreign alcoholic beverages and gold dust. Congressional Democratic lawmakers have called for a commission to study reparations, but I have not heard calls to hold the true perpetrators of American slavery accountable. Should we demand that congressional Democrats haul representatives of Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Muslim states before Congress to condemn them for their role in American slavery and demand they pay reparations?
    Some of the greatest language mischief is related to terms such as racial "disparities," "gaps" and "disproportionality." These terms are taken as signs of injustice that must be corrected. The median income of women is less than that of men. Black and Hispanic students are suspended and expelled at higher rates than white students. There are other race disparities and gaps all over the place. For example, blacks are 13% of the population but 80% of professional basketball players and 66% of professional football players, and on top of that, they're some of the most highly paid players. To be consistent with leftist ideology, those numbers seem to suggest that there is some kind of injustice toward Asian, white and Hispanic basketball and football players. But before we run off thinking that everything is hunky-dory for black players in football, how many times have you seen a black player kick an extra point in professional football?
    What should be done to address these and other gross disparities? How can we make basketball, football, dressage and ice hockey, classical music concert attendance, not to mention incarceration, look more like America? In general, we should ignore disproportionality. There is no evidence, anywhere in the world, suggesting that people sort out in any activity according to their numbers in the general population.
    The best thing that we can do is clean up our language. That will have the added benefit of straightening out our thinking so that we do not permit leftists to get away with making us feel guilty and believing in utter nonsense.
    Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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