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Category Archives: Free Speech

Freedom in the World 2021 Democracy under Siege

 Freedom in the World 2021: “As a lethal pandemic, economic and physical insecurity, and violent conflict ravaged the world in 2020, democracy’s defenders sustained heavy new losses in their struggle against authoritarian foes, shifting the international balance in favor of tyranny. Incumbent leaders increasingly used force to crush opponents and settle scores, sometimes in the name of public health, while beleaguered activists—lacking effective international support—faced heavy jail sentences, torture, or murder in many settings. These withering blows marked the 15th consecutive year of decline in global freedom. The countries experiencing deterioration outnumbered those with improvements by the largest margin recorded since the negative trend began in 2006. The long democratic recession is deepening. The impact of the long-term democratic decline has become increasingly global in nature, broad enough to be felt by those living under the cruelest dictatorships, as well as by citizens of long-standing democracies. Nearly 75 percent of the world’s population lived in a country that faced deterioration last year. The ongoing decline has given rise to claims of democracy’s inherent inferiority. Proponents of this idea include official Chinese and Russian commentators seeking to strengthen their international influence while escaping accountability for abuses, as well as antidemocratic actors within democratic states who see an opportunity to consolidate power. They are both cheering the breakdown of democracy and exacerbating it, pitting themselves against the brave groups and individuals who have set out to reverse the damage…

For most of the past 75 years, despite many mistakes, the United States has aspired to a foreign policy based on democratic principles and support for human rights. When adhered to, these guiding lights have enabled the United States to act as a leader on the global stage, pressuring offenders to reform, encouraging activists to continue their fight, and rallying partners to act in concert. After four years of neglect, contradiction, or outright abandonment under Trump, President Biden has indicated that his administration will return to that tradition. But to rebuild credibility in such an endeavor and garner the domestic support necessary to sustain it, the United States needs to improve its own democracy. It must strengthen institutions enough to survive another assault, protect the electoral system from foreign and domestic interference, address the structural roots of extremism and polarization, and uphold the rights and freedoms of all people, not just a privileged few…

Former Harvard Law Dean Who Wants Government to Save the News Business

Washington Monthly – “In an interview, Martha Minow argues the constitution doesn’t merely allow government to keep journalism outlets afloat, but requires it…In her new book, Saving the News: Why the Constitution Calls for Government Action to Preserve Freedom of Speech, Harvard Law professor (and former dean) Martha Minow argues that government policies to keep… Continue Reading

Event Highlights and Action Items: 25 Solutions From The Social Media Summit @ MIT

“On April 22, 2021, the IDE hosted The Social Media Summit @ MIT (#SMSMIT), which attracted more than 20,000 virtual attendees to learn about the most-pressing topics of the day. The event brought together business, policy, and academic experts to discuss social media trends and to offer actionable solutions that—as moderator Sinan Aral pointed out—can help “steer us… Continue Reading

Top 4 Unbiased Independent World News Sources

Make Use Of: “Unbiased news sources are rare, but they do exist. Here are the best news websites that are free from true censorship….The Associated Press was founded in 1846. The renowned global news organization has 53 Pulitzer Prizes under its belt. It is and has always been the epitome of clear and unbiased news… Continue Reading

New Documents Show Trump Repeatedly Pressed DOJ to Overturn Election Results Before Inciting Capitol Attack

House Committee on Oversight: “Ahead of Hearing on Insurrection, Oversight Committee Releases New Evidence and Seeks Transcribed Interviews with Key Officials Washington, D.C. (June 15, 2021) — Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, released new documents showing President Trump’s efforts to pressure the Department of Justice (DOJ)… Continue Reading

Americans and ‘Cancel Culture’: Where Some See Calls for Accountability, Others See Censorship, Punishment

“People have challenged each other’s views for much of human history. But the internet – particularly social media – has changed how, when and where these kinds of interactions occur. The number of people who can go online and call out others for their behavior or words is immense, and it’s never been easier to… Continue Reading

Twitter’s latest bot will flag “harmful” language before you post

Ars Technica: “Want to know exactly what Twitter’s fleet of text-combing, dictionary-parsing bots defines as “mean”? Starting any day now, you’ll have instant access to that data—at least, whenever a stern auto-moderator says you’re not tweeting politely. On Wednesday, members of Twitter’s product-design team confirmed that a new automatic prompt will begin rolling out for… Continue Reading

The U.S. Supreme Court’s Characterizations of the Press: An Empirical Study

Andersen Jones, RonNell and West, Sonja, The U.S. Supreme Court’s Characterizations of the Press: An Empirical Study (February 17, 2021). University of Georgia School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Forthcoming, University of Utah College of Law Research Paper No. 419, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3787709 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3787709 “The erosion of constitutional norms in the United… Continue Reading

Libraries and Pandemics: Past and Present

JSTOR: “The 1918 influenza pandemic had a profound impact on how librarians do their work, transforming libraries into centers of community care. In 1918, World War I was coming to a close, and widespread changes were afoot. It was in some ways a moment similar to today: rapid technological development brought sweeping changes to workplaces… Continue Reading

Columbia Launched Democracy Reform and Voting Rights in the United States Web Archive

“Columbia University Libraries is pleased to announce the launch of the Democracy Reform and Voting Rights in the United States Web Archive. The ongoing struggle in the United States between advocates for voting rights and official proponents of voter suppression measures intensified in 2020 during a bitter presidential election campaign conducted amidst the substantial additional… Continue Reading

Corporate America Bankrolls Voter Suppression

“Some of the biggest names in corporate America are backing state lawmakers who are pushing bills to make it more difficult to vote, a new Public Citizen report shows. Corporations have contributed $50 million since 2015 to state legislators supporting anti-voter bills, including $22 million over the past two years, according to the report, “The… Continue Reading