Langue Verte

Using history to move forward the public dialogue on free speech and social justice.

Republicans have just shown how thin their support for free speech really is

The ongoing right-wing censorship wave targeting schools, marginalized groups, protestors and activists has continued to gain steam. The latest targets are the peaceful protestors voicing their opposition to the recent leaked Supreme Court opinion which would overturn Roe v. Wade and result in abortion becoming de facto or de jure illegal in many states overnight. These protests have included a chalk drawing outside the home of Republican Senator Susan Collins, and protests at the home of right-wing justices John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, and Samuel Alito. While a few Republicans have noted that peaceful protest is protected by the First Amendment, more have come out, and come out strongly, against such protests calling for protesters to be arrested.1

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Free Speech News Round Up || Russian Invasion of Ukraine (2) and More

Ample news about censorship and free speech has continued to come out as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues. There have also been unrelated free speech news items around the world worth highlighting.

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Free Speech News Round-Up: Russian Invasion of Ukraine

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has sparked multiple events regarding free speech and censorship around the world.

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Free Speech News Round-Up 11 || February 24, 2022

The big news today was the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Seeing the numerous protests in Russia in opposition to the war has given me hope in this bleak moment, so I'd thought it would be a good time to dive into some free speech news headlines.

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An Inquiry for Dr. Kanelos Part 2: George Bush Chastises Michigan

One week later, if anyone asks, I am continuing the research I started in a previous post. In that post, I looked at Dr. Pano Kanelos's announcement of the new University of Austin and his hope that historians would investigate how universities have come to be bastions of intolerance and conformity rather than open inquiry. I challenged the evidence he used to argue that this was indeed the case, and proposed instead that his idea is largely a fiction, but one that seems widely believed. Being unable to investigate something that is not the case, instead I will be looking at how the media narrative of political correctness came to be and then came to dominate so much political discourse. Rather than answer this question completely in one post, I'll be breaking it up over several. This is in part because there is a lot of evidence to consider and I don't want to write a book (here). This is also in part because the time it will take to find, assess, and evaluate every source is far longer than I want to wait to follow up on my initial post.1

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Art Spiegelman and Maus: Censorship Past and Present

On January 10, 2022 the McMinn County School Board in Tennessee voted unanimously to ban Art Spiegelman's Maus, a comic depicting his family's experience during the Holocaust.1 The book was taught as part of the eighth grade language arts curriculum, helping to make the horrors of the Holocaust understandable to teenagers. Board members objected to the book's depictions of nudity, profanity, and violence, implying that teaching the book was tantamount to promoting what it shows. This censorship was met with widespread backlash, with some young people now distributing copies of Maus alongside other banned books like Toni Morrison's Beloved.2

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Wave of Right-Wing Censorship Continues, but It Isn't New

The wave of right-wing censorship that is pummeling classrooms and school libraries across the country continues to grow. Over the last year, censorship efforts have reached a fever pitch – with the American Library Association recording 330 challenges to books, “in the last three months of 2021 alone.”1 These challenges have primarily targeted books about people of color, LGBT people, and other marginalized groups and perspectives, and they have been funded by wealthy, secretive groups and donors. None of this is a new phenomenon, however, and looking back at previous waves of censorship provides some lessons for all those who actually believe in free speech to fight back.

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Republicans Once Again Threaten Freedom of Speech

Virginia's new Republican Governor, Glenn Youngkin, has once again demonstrated that Republicans are not at all on the side of free speech, as they often pretend. On his first day in office on January 15th, Youngkin passed sweeping executive orders banning the “use of inherently divisive concepts” in public schools. The order, which does not define the term “inherently divisive” is meant to target the bogeyman of “critical race theory,” which is not taught in Virginia public schools. Nonetheless, the Youngkin campaign used it as a buzzword in the last election and his executive order is a follow through on his promise to ban it.

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Suppression and Free Speech in Concord in 1926

While helping to transcribe and review documents for the By the People program set up by the Library of Congress, I came across an opinion piece entitled, “The Free Speech Point of View: Some Reflections on Concord,” written under the pen name Lathrop Loring, really, Lucia Ames Mead. It took getting random documents only three times until I got one about free speech; it really goes to show how ubiquitous it has been in American history — and, as historians know all too well, there is nothing new under the sun.1

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State of the Debate || A Few New Statistics on Free Speech

Some new statistics have come out lately which touch on topics we've covered several times,

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