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Law and Justice in Real Time Privacy, Security, and Freedom of Speech

Islamophobia: The Stereotyping and Prejudice Towards Muslims Since 9/11

The United States has a long history of discrimination and prejudice that has led to a lot of struggles and negativity for a lot of groups. Currently, our nation holds discriminatory attitudes and practices towards many minority communities. A lot of this can derive from ethnic, religious, racial, and gender prejudices that set our nation back. Ever since the horrific events of September 11, 2001 (the day our nation was under attack), the Muslim community has been under strict scrutiny when it came to people’s fears and paranoia. After the terrorist attacks, Muslims across the nation were immediately looked down upon and many even saw themselves being watched by the American government. During this time (War on Terror), America was essentially seeing a rise in Islamophobia (dislike/prejudice against Islam/Muslims) that would eventually hurt community relations, and scrutinize innocent Muslim Americans. Now with the continued War on Terror (fight with ISIS), America sees itself heading in the same direction with negative Islamic attitudes, as well as outrageous political bans. In order for terrorism to cease and Islamophobia to end America (the government and the rest of non-Muslim society) has to be in more effective community relations with Muslim communities to ensure prosperity, security, and freedom for all is obtainable.

After the 9/11 attacks, many blamed the whole religion of Islam for preaching destruction and violence, without even considering that these hijackers (terrorists) were extreme radicals. In the Times article, “The True, Peaceful Face of Islam,” author Karen Armstrong explains that the the very word Islam is related to a longing for peace (Armstrong, 2011). When the Prophet Muhammad brought the inspired scripture known as the Koran to the Arabs in the early 7th century A.D., a major part of his mission was devoted precisely to bringing an end to the kind of mass slaughter we witnessed in the 9/11 attacks (Armstrong, 2011). However, American society does not tend to see this peaceful side of Islam, but rather mostly sees the skewed version of it from radicals. There are those in American society who see a correlation between terrorism and Islam, yet they fail to understand the idea that there are people who misinterpret scripture and take it to the extreme. Some of these extreme radicals who skew the religion of Islam (to tailor their need to kill innocent in order to get their point across) are considered fundamentalists. Fundamentalists of any religion are the one’s who take the idea of warfare and self-defense to the extreme (making them radical) without even considering a peaceful option (such as Islam proclaims). As Armstrong notes, it would be as grave a mistake to see Osama bin Laden as an authentic representative of Islam (Armstrong, 2011). From already knowing that the many American citizens see Osama Bin Laden (mastermind of 9/11) as a representation of Islam is disturbing, and is the kind of mindset that leads to prejudice, discrimination, and scapegoating of millions of Muslims who wish to cause no harm.

The religion of Islam is often unfairly presented as hateful and violent, which leads to a lot of prejudice and hatred towards Muslims in America. Currently, Americans are tending towards less favorable views of Islam which has led to a lot of negativity in U.S. communities (Zaal, 2015). According to the Council on American Islamic Relations, civil rights violations targeting Muslims in the workplace, at religious institutions, and in schools have escalated (Zaal, 2015). Sadly, many Muslims have overall been looked down upon, and have often been seen as second class citizens. The media is also a big factor in spreading Islamophobia, that includes spreading fear across the nation. Hundreds of images (media) portray Arabs as violent and barbaric (Zaal, 2012). These inaccurate depictions sometimes lead to people taking part in hate crimes against Muslims. Hate crimes against Arab and Muslim Americans have even increased dramatically in the months and years following September 11, 2001 (Cavendish, Disha, King, 2011). Many of these anti-Islamic attitudes showcases people acting in physical and psychological harm, with many Muslims often in fear for their lives. The threats of burning copies of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11 suggest that stereotypes portraying Arabs and Muslims shows that’s negative attitudes towards Muslims is still consistent in American society (Cavendish, etc, 2011). In the eyes of many non-Arabs, a relatively large concentration of Arabs or Muslims may trigger fears of terrorism or mass violence (Cavendish, etc, 2011). Gallup polls have even indicated that almost a quarter of Americans singled out Arabs as being suspicious (Cavendish, etc, 2011). This suspicion that a lot of Americans have would mean that many would want Muslim (Middle-Eastern) people to be consistently watched and checked, as if they can never be trusted. 58 percent of Americans favored a requirement that Arabs have a special and more intensive screening process at airports (Cavendish, etc, 2011). This would mean that Homeland Security officials (TSA) could have Muslim people step aside, which increases racial profiling and prejudice. The animosity towards Muslim people is a huge problem that creates divides in our society and often discriminates (and persecutes) people, which leads to frustration on both sides.

Currently, different political leaders are pushing stereotypes forward. Right now we see some political (presidential) candidates who want to create more barriers for Muslims in our country and around the world. When these negative labels and stereotypes are compared to the actual radicals (of any religion or background) who wish to cause harm and destruction, those radicals can actually use the stereotypes to their advantage. When looking at Trumps ban on Muslims entering the U.S., it’s not only morally wrong to prevent a certain group from coming in, but it can also backfire on our nation. While Trump assumes that stopping Muslims from entering the U.S. would boost domestic security, experts say such rhetoric bolsters the message of extremist groups like ISIS, and ultimately increases animosity and potential retribution attacks against the U.S. (Salhani, 2015). If we ban a specific group of people, its very likely that we will see negativity and retaliation brought onto the United States. Even though Trumps plan only calls for banning Muslims who are currently trying to come into the U.S, it still will lead to a harsh divide (lot of problems) since many of them are political refugees trying to find safety amidst chaos. If a country (America) denies them (based on fear that terrorists will hide within the refugee population), refugees would likely have to turn back and be in the midst of danger; which might lead to being brainwashed to join the terrorists cause. ISIS often gains support by convincing vulnerable youths prone to ideological radicalization that the west is against Islam and the Muslim way of life (Salhani, 2015). Statements like Trump’s latest only reinforce that perception and potentially influences people who are susceptible to ISIS propaganda (Salhani, 2015). By creating these divides with Muslims in our community and around the world, we ultimately make social barriers which might point these people to going in the direction of radicalism.

Discrimination and prejudice is all too common to the United States. Many people of different backgrounds have seen various types of discrimination that have led to a lack of trust and truly understanding one’s culture/background. All American citizens need to realize that our nation is one big melting pot (all sorts of backgrounds coming together) and that there’s no room for stereotyping and prejudice. In some ways, when we hear of a terrorist attack, we automatically think of Islamic people who hold the ideology of seeing America being in ruins (destroyed). However, American society doesn’t realize that these radicals (extremists) can come from any background or religion. As non-Muslim American citizens approach this serious topic of terrorism, they often find themselves fuming in negativity towards Muslim communities. This type of hatred only slows down the process of integration for millions of Muslims who are innocent and believe in American values. Scapegoating Muslims also feeds into the negativity that terrorists groups (like ISIS) preach, which could ultimately make them stronger if Islamophobia persists. Its up to our nation to create more community alliances with Muslims in the U.S. and abroad so that they can feel less persecuted against. America is the land which should symbolize safety and security for anyone, no matter what background he or she comes from.


Armstrong, K. (2001, September 23). The True, Peaceful Face of Islam. TIME.

Disha, I., Cavendish, J. C., & King, R. D.. (2011). Historical Events and Spaces of   Hate: Hate Crimes against Arabs and Muslims in Post-9/11 America. Social           Problems, 58(1), 21–46.

Salhani, J. (2015, December 8). Trump’s Muslim Ban Is Exactly What ISIS Wants. Think Progress

Zaal, M. (2012). Islamophobia in Classrooms, Media, and Politics. Journal of     Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 55(6), 555-558. content/uploads/2012/03/muslim-prayer-1.jpg

Tolerance & Censorship on College Campuses



First, I would like to make it very clear that I believe every student should feel safe in their academic environment. I do not intend to discredit the various movements for inclusiveness happening at colleges across the country, or discount the oppression that any student currently feels or has felt in the past. I do not claim to be in any position to say how someone has or has not been affected by attacks on their identity, no matter how subtle, perpetuated by the culture of college campuses, their peers, or society as a whole. That being said, I think that encouraging tolerance on college campuses can in fact cross the line and infringe on peoples first amendment rights. Studies done over the past six decades have repeatedly shown that people are more likely to support free speech when described in abstract terms, but when given specific scenarios, their support for free speech decreases. The problem with that is that the first amendment should be applied in all scenarios in which the speech is protected.

At Wesleyan University, a known liberal campus, students were outraged at an opinion piece published in the school newspaper that criticized some of the tactics, related to the Black Lives Matter movement. The article did not comment on the motivations of the movement. The paper issued an apology after so many people were upset and pledged to provide a “safe space for students of color on campus” but students started a petition and the entire newspaper was ultimately shut down. At Amherst college, students made a list of demands for the school administrators that included punishing students who expressed dissenting opinions- for example, holding signs that said “all lives matter” and that the schools honor code be rewritten to include a zero-tolerance policy for racial insensitivities. If there is anything I’ve learned as a criminal justice student, its that zero tolerance policies can do more harm than good. At a University in California the board of Regents considered implementing a “tolerance policy”. The idea is that students should be “free from acts and expressions of intolerance” while yes, that would be great-universities should not control what their students and faculty say. Nobody should be afraid to speak their mind or express their opinions. Students should not be guaranteed the right to not be offended.

I think these examples illustrate when the demand for tolerance becomes a demand for censorship. Implementing speech codes or tolerance policies, are not the answer. The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, has long protected the rights of free speech, even in defense of bigotry, racism, sexism and homophobia because “free speech rights are indivisible…the same laws or regulations used to silence bigots can be used to silence you”. The ACLU has also spoken specifically against the use of free speech codes on college campuses stating that they “have proven ineffective at best and counter-productive at worst”. Historically, speech codes have even been used against the people they are intended to protect. imageedit_2144_6694143902

My argument is not against the substance of the protests or the beliefs behind the demands of speech codes and tolerance policies. Nor is my intent to tell people how they should or should not express their beliefs or feelings or further oppress those who are actively speaking out against such oppression. But, in the interest of social change, which I do believe to be the ultimate goal of such protests, there needs to be open debate. As Connor Freidendorf, writer for The Atlantic articulates:

how can one fully understand student activists without attentively listening and then engaging in conversation and, where there is disagreement or lack of clarity, debate? Without a culture of free speech there cannot be constructive dialogue.

This is by no means implying that the burden to engage in debate or encourage public discourse should be put solely on the groups who are protesting. Instead, I believe this is where university administrators should step in. That being said, I do not believe any argument is well-served by attempts to punish or completely block dissenting viewpoints.

I agree with the Supreme Courts’ sentiment that “the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express ‘the thought that we hate’”. Students of all backgrounds, beliefs, identities and viewpoints should have the freedom to speak their mind and engage in healthy debate and critical thought without facing censorship or oppression. Not only is this the nature of higher learning but it is the more effective method for ensuring long term social change. As supported by cultural cognition, misperceptions of facts surrounding free speech are normal to human cognition
but they should not drive policy. Universities can foster an environment of respect and tolerance by raising awareness, promoting dialogue and speaking against discrimination and bigotry without taking away anyone’s rights. Finally, securing and supporting the right to free speech by speaking against the implementation of speech codes or tolerance policies does not inhibit the discourse on inclusion or marginalization but instead vital too it; “speech codes don’t really serve the interests of persecuted groups. The First Amendment does”.

Oscar Pistorius: Perceptions of Disability and Masculinity

Now that you all already know the main facts of the Oscar Pistorius’ case — that he fatally shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2013, in the bathroom of his estate in Pretoria, South Africa – and especially now that the sentence has changed, I thought that I would delve deeper into Oscar Pistorius’ intent on murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. I think that we can all agree that Oscar Pistorius shot through the bathroom of his estate four times and that his girlfriend ended up dead because of it; however, there has been some controversy over whether the homicide was pre-meditated, with him knowing full well that his girlfriend was in the bathroom, or if it was accidental, with him thinking that an intruder was in the house, just chilling out in the bathroom with the door shut. It is completely possible that an intruder could have been in the house that night, given the high crime rate, especially in gated communities. The following image states the order of events that happened the night of the shooting.

Source: National Post,
Source: National Post,

From here on out, I am going to assume that his testimony of what happened that night was completely truthful. However, regardless of whether he thought that he was shooting an intruder or if he thought that he was shooting Reeva Steenkamp, his intentions were the same. There was no way that he could shoot a person four times through a small bathroom with nowhere to go and not kill them. However, the act of grabbing a gun when he heard sounds coming from the bathroom was likely the result of the fact that he was disabled and was more likely to experience fear and feel that his life was being threatened.

Q: Is the fact that Oscar Pistorius is disabled an excuse for him to kill his girlfriend? Are there any excuses for him for shooting Reeva Steenkamp?

No, even though disabled people feel more threatened than able-bodied individuals due to the fact that when they are in high-stress situations, they are less mobile and less likely to get out of the situation, just because he does not have the bottom half of his legs is no excuse to committing murder. He still has two working eyes and he could see if his girlfriend was in bed with him before shooting up a bathroom door.

It is also believed that Pistorius’ disability led him to feel emasculated, because disability is often considered feminine. He used women, sports, and guns to develop his masculinity. He was involved in relationships with attractive blonde women to satisfy any inadequacies in his life. He probably engaged in younger, thin, blonde women thinking that they would be insecure and that he could diminish his insecurities by controlling them and being the “man” in the relationship.

The Most Important Question: Did the emasculation from his disability cause Oscar Pistorius to shoot Reeva Steenkamp?

Q: If you were in the same situation as Oscar Pistorius, would you do the same thing that he did? Why or why not?

Personally, I would not have done what he did. First, I would have looked to see if my significant other was still in bed and then when I saw that she was not in bed, I would have just assumed that it was her in the bathroom and gone back to sleep.



Abrahams, N., Jewkes, R., & Matthews, S. (2010). Guns and Gender-Based Violence in South Africa. South African Medical Journal, 100 (9), 586-588. Retrieved from

Breetzke, G. D., & Cohn, E. G. (2013). Burglary in Gated Communities: An Empirical Analysis Using Routine Activities Theory. International Criminal Justice Review, 23 (1), 56-74. DOI: 10.1177/1057567713476887

Cherney, J. L., & Lindemann, K. (2014). Queering Street: Homosociality, Masculinity, and Disability in Friday Night Lights. Western Journal of Communication, 78 (1), 1-21. DOI: 10.1080/10570314.2013.792388

Hickey-Moody, A. (2015). Carbon Fibre Masculinity: Disability and Surfaces of Homosociality. Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 20 (1), 1-17.

Onishi, N. (2015, December 3). Oscar Pistorius Guilty in Murder of Reeva Steenkamp, Appeals Court Rules. The New York Times. Retrieved from

(2014). Oscar Pistorius Trial: Evidence. BBC News. Retrieved from

The Complexity of the Planned Parenthood Shooting

Unfortunately, mass shootings seem to be the the main headlines in the news on a regular basis recently. There is mourning and prayers sent to those who lost their lives, then we wait for the next shooting to happen and just repeat the cycle. Last month, on November 27, there was a shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs that killed three people. One police officer and two civilians lost their lives. This shooting surfaces a plethora of problems, due to the complexity of the intent of the shooter, Robert Dear. The recent shooting at Planned Parenthood forces us to take a closer look at abortion and women’s rights, domestic terrorism, and gun control and violence.

The obvious issue, gun control, is an issue that has been on the mind of many Americans lately. The map below shows the mass shootings since the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. There is a need to protect American’s right to the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, but there is an extremely large need to find a way to protect citizens from the overwhelming amount of gun related violence. President Obama has addressed two key focuses to this issue: to expand the background checks needed to obtain a gun and to fund research to recognize the causes of these mass shootings (Mitka, 2013). Robert Dear had a fairly extensive record, including animal abuse and charges of domestic abuse that were dropped, but was still able to be a licensed gun owner. The link between gun control and violence seems to be evident, but there needs to be steps taken to control this violence while permitting Americans to their Second Amendment rights.

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 12.23.19 PM

(Lopez & Oh, 2015)

While mass shootings seem to be the cause of someone who is mentally ill, Robert Dear outspokenly had political motives behind his attack. After his arrest, Dear is quoted to be saying, “Protect the babies,” a clearly anti-abortion and pro-choice expression (Vercammen & Yan, 2015). This raises the issue for many that this attack could qualify as domestic terrorism. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the following is the definition of domestic terrorism:

  1. Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law
  2. Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
  3. Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.
    (Definitions of Terrorism in the U.S. Code, 2013).

This attack was clearly dangerous to human life, killing three people. It was intended to intimidate the Planned Parenthood population, influence the abortion policies of the government, and affected the government by a mass killing. The attack occurred within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States. This attack seemingly falls into the definition of domestic terrorism, however officials are so hesitant to label it as such. Perhaps we are quick to label those who are not the majority in our nation, for example Muslims, as terrorists, but are fearful to label a white Christian man such as Dear as a domestic terrorist because he represents the majority population.

Below the surface of this attack, the morality of abortion and the rights to healthcare women have is brought to debate. De-funding Planned Parenthood has been a heavily debated topic in legislation today. However, de-funding clinics such as Planned Parenthood would leave women and particularly low-income minority women, disadvantaged and without access to affordable healthcare. Concerning the right for a women to choose an abortion, it could be seen as being protected under the First Amendment. Many religions, including Christianity, the predominant religion in the United States, see abortion as immoral. However, the First Amendment protects freedom of religion, meaning that religious beliefs and morals cannot be used to influence laws, such as an anti-abortion law. On top of that, women are autonomous agents, meaning that they have the right to make decisions regarding what happens to their body. These women have the same rights as anyone else to affordable healthcare, which includes access to the choice of abortion, and defunding clinics such as Planned Parenthood would disproportionately effect women, particularly minority women.

Ultimately, these mass shootings, particularly this shooting at Planned Parenthood, surfaces critical issues towards the safety and rights of Americans. Citizens should know what constitutes as domestic terrorism, and evaluate what changes we need to make in response to domestic terrorist attacks. The debate over abortion rights and the funding of Planned Parenthood will continue, but it is important to keep in mind the rights that the Constitution provides. The link between these mass shootings and gun control is apparent, and it is evident to see that there needs to be a change. These mass shootings, particularly one like the Planned Parenthood shooting that have a political motive, bring rise to all of these issues, and make it evident to see that policies need to be changed for the safety of citizens. Mass shooting front page headlines should not be a regular occurrence.



Lopez, G., & Oh, S. (2015). Mass shootings since Sandy Hook, in one map. Retrieved December 16, 2015, from
Mitka, M. (2013). Search for Ways to Reduce Gun Violence Spurred by Toll of Recent Shootings. JAMA, 309(8), 755-755.
Vercammen, P., & Yan, H. (2015, December 10). Planned Parenthood suspect Robert Dear has outbursts – Retrieved December 16, 2015, from

Final Blog Post: Freedom of Speech or Freedom of Hate?

Freedom of speech is one of the most debatable amendments of the United States Constitution. Questions over what freedom of speech protects, where hate speech falls in lines of the First Amendment and what implements the use of censorship are often controversial topics. One thing that is certain is freedom of speech has become less used for its intended purposes than those who ratified it in 1791. The stance on hate speech is commonly argued because what one sees as hurtful, another may deem appropriate. Censorship is often debated to be an injustice rather than protecting the people as well.

When freedom of speech is often thought of, many just think about it as another amendment in the U.S. Constitution. Many neglect to remember just how important it is to be able to have a voice and not have the government stop you from saying what you feel. In a recent study, a survey was conducted to see who found freedom of speech to be important in society today. The study found that freedom of speech was viewed positively in relation to intellect, individualism and separate knowing while it was viewed negatively in relation to hate speech and liberalism (Downs & Cowan, 2012).

When the first amendment was ratified, the argument of free speech was meant to protect those who engaged in debate for the common good of the people. However, now we see many cases of freedom of speech being used to cyber bully or throw racial slurs at people. One common occurrence where hate speech is spewed is on college campuses. The irony is that college campuses are where people become educated and develop vast knowledge that encourages them to voice their opinions on a respectable platform. However, during times of protest or public speaking, others will take this opportunity not to support their fellow peers but slander and throw vicious attacks on the content they are presenting. Hate speech has been a tough problem to solve as it mainly targets oppressed groups. There are those who argue that since hate speech is targeting an oppressed group, it would create an inconsistency in justice as it puts an oppressed group above “other groups”.

This is where censorship becomes a common alternative to acts that violate or harm free speech. Censorship is commonly used within the media and noticed for the protection that it gives children from seeing unnecessary content. There are also those who argue against censorship stating that it does not prevent harm, but sets children up for unrealistic expectations of the world when they become adults. Hate speech and pornography are common debatable examples of what should be censored. In a recent study, older individuals were against censorship unless it was to censor pornography, which they then believed required government regulation. Those who obtained education at the higher level (after high school) were against censorship of hate speech and pornography. Women also were more likely to support censorship of hate speech and pornography than men.

With freedom of speech, there are many controversial topics, solutions and overall opinions about what should or should not be done. Freedom of speech was most commonly used for a buffer amongst debates. However, while still used for the common good of the people, there are more moving parts into what constitutes free speech or not. The conclusion can be made that free speech is always changing and the idea of censorship is more commonly viewed as unnecessary amongst people. There are many factors that go into considering how justifiable hate speech and censorship are such as education, gender, age, and political views. Freedom of speech has become more commonly a freedom of hate as this use of a free platform has been used to cause harm than obtain a common good.


Downs, D., & Cowan, G. (2012). Predicting the Importance of Freedom of Speech and the Perceived Harm of Hate Speech. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 42(6), 1353-1375.

Hatfield, K., Schafer, K., & Stroup, K. (2005). A Dialogic Approach to Combating Hate Speech on College Campuses. Atlantic Journal of Communication, 41-55.

Lambe, J. (2004). Who Wants to Censor Pornography and Hate Speech? Mass Communication and Society, 7(3), 279-299.

Suedfeld, P., Steel, G., & Schmidt, P. (1994). Political Ideology and Attitudes Toward Censorship. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 24(9), 765-781.

FINAL POST: Permission to Speak Freely


Why would a government, organization or a particular person institute censorship policies in the United States? The Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights clearly take after notable values of the Enlightenment, including the creation of democratic institutions, the rejection of dogmatic policies and the freedom of speech and expression. A curious by product of these values was the acceptance and promotion of free and open debate. The idea that all ideas must be allowed to be brought forwarded so they could undergo the brutal trials of public discourse. This was a form of ideological naturalism, in which only the ideas that stood up best to scrutiny would survive. It is by this process that scientific progress is made and by extension, evolutionary naturalism is exactly the way species better able to adapt become more successful while weaker species die off. Universities developed from scientific research academies and were groomed to idealize and promote the ideological naturalism that drives human innovation and true progress. However, throughout the 1990’s, colleges and universities quietly created speech codes, in the name of political correctness and ‘safe speech’,  and now target both student and faculty who practice their First Amendment rights. These practices are antithetical to not only what it means to be a free society, but also it prevents colleges and universities from fully promoting a true exchange of ideas.


The black gentleman whose comedy musical was interrupted by administration supported hecklers, is Chris Lee, who attended Washington State University in 2005, and was harassed by the University and University supported hecklers. Chris’s musical was entitled Passion of the Musical and was a tongue in cheek, ‘South Park-esqe’, kind of play that found the offense Christian groups on campus. After Mr. Lee contacted the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education it was revealed that the administration had both paid for and trained the hecklers to scream ‘I’m offended’ and making threats towards the actors until they had to shut the play down. After formal warning from FIRE and public outrage at the violation, WSU changed course and allowed Mr. Lee to perform his play, and warned the hecklers to cease there outbursts. As a Catholic, a student and an American citizen, I found the behavior of these Christian groups, which included Catholic Student Center, absolutely deplorable.

So what prompted all of these speech codes to come about in the 90’s and why were they instituted? This goes back to the emergence of political correctness culture and a strive for greater diversity. In his book Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and The End of American Debate, Greg Lukianoff explains that these speech codes were sought by campus administrations not with the intent of silencing certain opinions but rather creating a safer atmosphere for students of historically marginalized groups. Lukianoff refers to this as ‘GIRA’ or “Good Intentions Run Amok”. We are even provided several historical examples throughout the history of the US.

“John Adams thought he was saving the country the country from ruin by instituting the Alien and Sedition Acts…  Northerners believed that abolitionists needed to be silenced thought they were preventing a bloody civil war… the communist-hunters of the two red scares thought they were guarding the nation from totalitarianism and, eventually, nuclear destruction.”

Some may ask, isn’t worth censoring someone or something to create a sense of safety and to protect students from potentially harmful language or offending ideas? I argue absolutely not. We already saw in the video above that only 30.3% of seniors in college would say its safe to hold unpopular opinions on campus and only 18.8% of faculty would feel safe holding unpopular opinions. So clearly a sense of safety is not being fostered at universities. Students must constantly be aware of what they say, because, as it is currently, a misplaced opinion or a slip of the tongue can get you reprimanded, suspended or expelled. The purpose of these speech codes was to make campuses more inviting and diverse, ironically to promote greater intellectual and ideological diversity. In a crude way they have cut off their nose to spite their face. College and university campuses have attained a great amount of diversity that is ultimately meaningless because students are either policed into thinking a certain way or they are banned from talking about the subject all together. It is incredibly insulting because it essentially treats adult United States citizens as weak and infantile. One example, covered in the magazine Dissent an African American student argued against a mostly white rally at N.Y.U, calling for safe speech. “The black student then looked at his white colleague and said that it was condescending to say that blacks have to be “protected” from racist speech. “It is more racist and insulting,” he emphasized, “to say that to me than to call me a n****r.”

By limiting what can be discussed universities are not only belittling us, as grown students, but also they are standing in the way of human progress and ideological naturalism. Potentially enlightening debates, conversations and movements are being silenced and banned for the sake of political correctness and ‘safe speech’. We must protect the free speech of everyone because we you never know when your opinion and speech will become the unpopular view point on campus. Professor Alan Charles Kors, co-founder of FIRE, illuminates why free speech is vital to campuses and why the free speech of all must be protected. It is a fairly long interview, so if you find extra time or need background noise, I highly suggest you listen in. This should be the position we all have on our freedom of speech.

I know that this blog went on for a fairly long while and thank you guys for reaching the end. I have posted my resources and questions below. Hope you all have a wonderful Winter Break and a happy New Year.



Do you believe that there should be censorship on campus? What about in general society? If so how far should it go and why?

Do you believe that the Founding Fathers meant for any kind of censorship when they drafted the Bill of Rights?

Have you ever felt censored on campus or that it may not be safe to express an unpopular opinion?



Encounter Books; Campus Censorship and The End of American Debate, Nov. 13, 2012 (

theFIREorg; Free Speech is Under Attack, May 26, 2011 (

FIRE. (2005). Washington State University: Administrative Support for Heckler’s Veto of Student Play. Retrieved from Foundation for Individual Rights in Education:

Hentoff, N. (1991). “Speech Codes” On The Campus And Problems Of Free Speech . Dissent, pp. 546-549.

Kors, P. A. (2013, August 14). Who’s Too Weak to Live With Freedom? Prof. Alan Charles Kors on His Fight for Free Expression. (F. f. Education, Interviewer)

Lukianoff, G. (2012). Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and The End of American Debate. New York: Encounter Books.

FINAL POST: Security Implications of the Refugee Crisis


As some of you may know, there is a refugee crisis going in Europe. A majority of the refugees are coming from Syria and Iraq, fleeing the barbaric violence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, commonly known as ISIS. These violent religious extremists are trying to expand their control over the region between both Syria and Iraq to install what their name implies, an Islamic State. The problem is that while they expand, they are killing those who do not adhere or adopt their extremely harsh version of the Islamic faith. On top of this, the Syrian government is also killing those they deem as rebels, and those who support them. The combination of violence from both parties has left many cities in ruin, with the dead in mass graves to demonstrate what happens to those who oppose them. Those who do not want to fight against either party take their families, and run. They move from one city to the next, trying to find safety, anticipating when ISIS soldiers will come to their city next. After months of doing this, many families find themselves at the border of another country.

Several governments throughout Europe have made an effort to house the refugee population. Turkey has been able to house a majority of the refugees, but are seeking financial assistance from the countries who refuse to give the refugees asylum. A massive amount of money is needed in order to give the new population the social services they need. Since over half of the refugee population are children under the age of 18, who need to continue their education. Turkey recognizes that the majority of refugees are educated individuals who also need jobs, which Turkey is happy to oblige with. Given the wave of recent attacks in Paris and Beirut, countries accepting refugees are increasingly concerned with the prospect of having ISIS operatives concealing themselves within the refugee population, waiting to stage an attack.

Ever since the war in Syria has begun, there have been people leaving their home countries to fight. A current estimate is that 20,000 fighters from western countries have gone to the either Syria or Iraq for these purposes. Since the sides of the conflict are so blurred together, it is easy for ISIS recruiters to convince foreign fighters to fight on their side, convincing them that they are the “good guys”. Once a member of their organization, they are sent to various battle grounds and fed increasingly intense propaganda to brainwash them into accepting their extreme ideologies. As we saw in the Paris attack, a majority of the attackers were French or European citizens who returned from Syria and launched the type of attack world governments were afraid of. It is understandable for the citizens of the governments accepting refugees to be concerned over this particular security threat. This is has been especially evident in our own country with our recent political debates being over the 10,000 additional refugees coming into our country. However, this fear is being inflated considering that after 2009, the security screening of refugees has made it so only 1% of global asylum seekers get admitted into the United States. Then only after one year do they get to apply for citizenship, which subjects them to even more security screening. All of which is conducted by a host of three and four letter agencies with the greatest amount of intelligence assets in the world.


This video is heavily biased against refugees, relying on heavy fear mongering, but it does portrays very real security concerns -however inflated they may be-.

Since the war on terrorism began, the US has chosen a new target for racism. Although we hate to admit it, this is completely normal; unacceptable, but normal. During each and every conflict the US had partaken in, we demonize the ethnic group that we are at war with. In this current war, it happens to be the Muslim population, and anybody that looks like them. Things have gotten so out of hand that Mosques an US citizens have been attacked on the streets simply because of their religious beliefs. Additionally, there is an increased demand for security from all aspects of society. People want to be protected from the next boogey-man. After 9/11, the US gave up a huge amount rights in order to feel more secure. The implementation of the Patriot Act, made it so the government can surveil a majority of the population in the hopes of preventing another attack. But as information gets leaked out about how much spying the government actually does on us, the more uneasy we get about how much power we granted to them. Given the current climate of fear after the San Bernardino shooting, we then have to ask ourselves how much more freedom we are willing to give up. Are we willing to arm the police with so much weaponry in the name of national security that we have armed patrols walking down the streets, giving the 2nd Amendment advocates something legitimate to worry about; after all, the difference between an offensive and defensive weapon is the direction the muzzle is pointed. How far will we allow our fear of a terrorist attack to go if it means giving up more rights of our fellow citizens, and preventing a suffering population to wait out in the cold as we decide whether they can be trusted? If we allow ourselves to succumb to the fear of the unknown, we are giving up what it means in this country to be an American. What will the land of the free and the home of the brave do in the face of adversity? Close its’ doors, or open them?



Doocy, S., Lyles, E., Delbiso, T. D., & Robinson, C. W. (2015). Internal Displacement and the Syrian Crisis: and analysis of trends from 2011-2014. Health And Conflict, 9(33), 1-11.

Jenkins, B. M. (2015). The Implications of the Paris Terrorist Attack for American Strategy in Syria and Homeland Security. Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs United States Senate. Washington D.C.: The Rand Corporation.

Jones, S. G. (2015). The Syrian Refugee Crisis and U.S. National Security. Committee on Judiciary Subcomittee on Immigration and Border Security United States House of Representatives. Washington D.C.: The Rand Corporation.

Kazem, H., & Dart, T. (2015, October 9). US Muslim leaders brace for protests with potentially armed demonstrators. Retrieved from The Guardian:

Moodliar, S. (2014). Militarism, Mass Surveillance and Mass Incarceration. Socialism and Democracy, 28(3), 77-83.

Pierini, M., & Hackenbroich, J. (2015, July 15). A Bolder EU Strategy for Syrian Refugees. Retrieved from Carnegie Europe:

Piggott, M. (2015, November 14). Paris Attacks: Anti-Islam protesters disrupt peaceful demonstration in Lille, France. Retrieved from International Business Times:

Pope, A. (2015, November 17). How We’re Welcoming Welcoming Syrian Refugees While Ensuring Our Safety. Retrieved from

Roussell, A., & Neuilly, M.-A. (2015). Lecture. Washington State University. Pullman.

Sedgwick, R. (2015, October/November). Primer on the Islamic State. CIAO Focus.

Taras, R. (2013). ‘Islamophobia never stands still’: race, religion, and culture. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 36(3), 417-433.


Donald Trump’s Ban on Muslims: Unconstitutional


Donald Trump was publicizing his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.- and he was standing on stage at an event honoring Pearl Harbor.  Trump and his supporters came together this week on the deck of the USS Yorktown, and the occasion was the 74th anniversary of the “date which will live in infamy.”  On December 7, 1941, the air and naval forces of Japan struck the U.S. naval base in Hawaii, killing more than 2,400 U.S. service personnel and sinking eight battleships.  The post-Pearl panic in America prompted the White House decision to remove Japanese-American families from their homes and detain them in makeshift camps for years (a decision the U.S. has been apologizing for ever since).

Now, I know that trump was born after World War II, but he knows the basic story of this period.  He even referred to it with APPROVAL this week in his speech about barring Muslims, saying that Franklin D. Roosevelt had done the right thing at the time.  Trump used The Supreme Court’s decision NOT to interfere when reviewing Roosevelt’s for his internment policy as good precedent for his ban on Muslims entering the U.S.

This lashing out on Trump’s end has created a raw edge for the debate over immigration and terrorism in our time and for his followers, it was another instance of “common sense”  and Trump playing on people’s fears than concerns of about being “politically correct.”  Trump, had previously called for surveillance against mosques and said that he was open to establishing a database for all Muslims living in the U.S. (  His message comes in the wake of the deadly mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, by suspected ISIS sympathizers and the day after President Barack Obama asked the country not to “turn against one another” out of fear.

But isn’t that EXACTLY what Trump is telling us to do?  Well it is working, and it showed at his rally on Monday night where you will see in this video below many of his supporters being enthusiastic about his proposal.

The Muslim travel ban will most likely do a small dent to Trump’s popularity amongst Republican primary voters.  Despite repeated controversies, the billionaire businessman has dominated the GOP contest for months.  What does this say about the American people?

“Without looking at various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension.  Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.” – Donald Trump




Obama’s administration condemned Trump’s proposal as being completely contrary to our values as Americans.  Obama’s deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, pointed to the Bill of Rights’ protection of freedom of religion and emphasized the “extraordinary contributions” Muslim Americans have made to the U.S.  Trump’s proposal contradicts U.S. security. Rhodes stated that, “ISIL wants to frame this as a war between the United States and Islam, and if we look like we’re applying religious tests to who comes into this country, we’re sending a message that essentially we’re embracing that frame and that is going to make it very difficult to partner with Muslim communities here in the United States and around the world to prevent the scourge of radicalization that we should be focused on” (

In London, there is a petition calling for Donald Trump to be banned from entering the UK and has attracted more than a quarter of a million signatures (which is more than enough for a committee to consider sending the motion for a parliamentary debate).  To ban Trump from the UK would allow British residents the opportunity to stand up against hate speech.

Donald Trump’s proposal is unhinged and offensive, but the worst part is that there is a way for it to be legal.  Trump has yet to release many details regarding his policy, but if elected president, President Trump would have to persuade Congress to take up his cause and Congress could pass a law barring foreign Muslims from entering the country and it would be constitutional.  This may be true, however barring Muslims who are American citizens from re-entering the country would violate the Constitution.   Scholar and constitutional expert, Michael C. Dorf states that “Odious discrimination in immigration law is unconstitutional, as the House of Representatives itself tacitly recognized when just three years ago passed a resolution expressing regret for Chinese exclusion laws, which were based on ethnic prejudice.  Immigration policy based on religious prejudice would be equally odious, and thus unconstitutional.” Almost all of what Trump is saying is stupid, and a majority of it is un-American, but some of it is constitutional, which is a very scary thing.



  1. How does Trump’s plan to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. further militarization in the U.S.?
  2. Is Donald Trump’s call for a ban appropriate?
  3. Is Trump playing on peoples fears or is Obama administration acting out of fear?
  4. Would you vote for a Muslim President?
  5. Will Trump remove himself from the presidential race?
  6. What do you think will happen to America if Trump is elected?
  7. How would you compare the U.S. and U.K. reactions to Trump’s proposal?


Diamond, Jeremy (2015).  Donald Trump: Ban all Muslim travel to U.S. Retrieved December 8,2015.

Elving, Ron (2015).  Trump’s Call to Bar Muslims Echoes Crisis From The Past.  Retrieved December 7,2015.

Mazza, Ed (2015).  Petition Seeks To Ban Donald Trump From U.K. Over Hate Speech. Retrieved December 8,2015.

Peralta, Eyder (2015). Trump’s Muslims Plan. Retrieved December 9, 2015.

The Freedom to Find a Job; Prisoner Re-entry and the Struggle of Finding a Job

Prisoner reform is one of the biggest topics being talked about right now by the media and congress.  Once released from prison the recidivism rate for offenders is at a staggering high of 50%.  In NYC, 89% of offenders violate their prole who are unemployed.  60% of offenders do not hold a job a year after release.  Along with that 40% of offenders do not have a GED or high school diploma.  So how do we stop the cycle of recidivism?  It seems like common sense but people with jobs do far less crime then people with jobs.  If we want to reduce recidivism offenders need to be able to find and hold a job.  A lot of offenders though find it hard to find and hold jobs after being released from prison because of discrimination or not having the right education.  The system we have right now sets up offenders to fail.


How does this apply to Privacy, Security, and Freedom of Speech though?  If we were to fix these problems and offenders found it easier to get jobs that means we will have more offenders in the work place.  This could make a lot of people nervous and some people might not feel safe.  Employers are hesitant to hire people with criminal records because they are worried about the safety of their workers and how good of a worker they are.  One of the harder barriers that offenders have to overcome is filling out a job application.  In almost all job application their is a section where you have too fill out if you have been convicted of a felony.  Most jobs will throw your application in the garbage if you fill out yes you have and wont even consider you for the position.  On top of all of this there is a lot of jobs that have restrictions on hiring people with criminal records.  For a small amount of jobs this is not a bad thing but for majority of jobs a reformed offender is just like any person.  This creates a question of how much privacy should offenders get regarding to their criminal record.


1: Would you feel safe if you worked with someone who was once in prison?

2. Do you think that it should be legal to ask people if they have committed a felony on applications for jobs?

3. Should we bar people from certain jobs with criminal records no matter what their crime is?

4. Should the government help offenders find jobs after release?



Gideon, L., & Sung, H. (2011) Rethinking Corrections: Rehabilitation, reentry, and reintegration, Sage Publication, Inc.


Freedom of Speech, Opinion and Censorship

Freedom of speech is a gray area that often many are left confused with as controversial topics arise and test the limits of free speech. In a recent study, nearly 97 percent of self-proclaimed liberal college students found free speech to be important and 54 percent of those same students believed that the Confederate flag is deemed hateful and should be removed from public vicinities (Althoff, 2015). While many of these students have argued that free speech is a right, many surprisingly are more likely to support censorship, leaving confusion over what is free speech. As this survey was taken among 18-24 year old college students, many of the issues of free speech appear more commonly on college campuses.

Wharton college student Luis De Castro began to feel ostracized as word had spread that he was pro-life.  De Castro began to feel that “free speech is limited by the unwillingness of peers to consider the views of others” (Simon, 2015). A history professor from Wharton notes “a growing belief that everyone has the right not to be offended” is what is lending a hand in censorship across campuses (Simon, 2015). One important aspect is that when students attend college they are placed in a world where peoples’ views differ widely from their own and then learn how to deal with it without saying it is impeding on their free speech. De Castro is a “moderate conservative” and explained that people only cared about what his opinion was and not the reasons behind them. Due to this, people on his campus deemed him anti-woman and anti-contraception based on this one aspect.

Another article from Wesleyan University stated that a newspaper was to be defunded after an article about the movement Black Lives Matter was published and many protested against this article. In September, Bryan Stascavage wrote an article about Black Lives Matter arguing about the tactics, and those who are anti-cop. Stascavage’s article did not contain any racial slurs or name-calling, as is typical in such articles. After publication, students began to burn copies of the newspaper and Stascavage received remarks from students calling him “racist” (Rampell, 2015). An apology was published in the newspaper and stated the newspaper would be a “safe space for the colored community” (Rampell, 2015). However, this did not end the outrage as students petitioned to defund the school newspaper that had been present on the Wesleyan campus for 150 years. Stascavage was aware of the college and the majority of liberal views and sought it out to challenge his own views. The student government voted to cut the funding in half for the school newspaper.

Both of these instances happened at liberal colleges. Do you think this issue is restricted to these colleges where there is a majority of same viewed students or is it becoming more prevalent among other universities where people are more diverse?

When should you watch what you say?

As social media becomes more prevalent in the world, the issue of internet censorship has become more controversial. A Freedom House study has found that 29 percent of the 65 countries Freedom House surveyed are “not free” while 27 percent are “free” (Fung, 2015). Attacks on newspaper Charlie Hebdo could be an explanation for the drop of France’s scores as government surveillance began shortly after. Cuba became more flexible, possibly due to the United States relations with Cuba allowing for cheaper Internet as U.S Internet providers are now allowed to do business there (Fung, 2015). Many tech companies have accused law enforcement of allowing the decrease in Internet security with the use of “back doors”, but authorities argued that this is to fight terrorism and crime.

How would you like this wrapped?

Social media websites are often privately owned and they therefore have the right to remove offensive comments or content that violates their terms and services. This has been confused with limiting one’s free speech, but rather it is censorship (Henry, 2012). Many companies believe it to be in their best interest to allow consumers to write reviews, both positive and negative as it can potentially contribute to future developments.

When should censorship be used?

What speech should be protected on the Internet?


Althoff, E. (2015, November 3). YAF study finds liberal students confused by concept of ‘free speech’. Retrieved November 4, 2015.

Fung, B. (2015, October 28). The Internet is getting less and less free. Retrieved November 4, 2015.

Henry, A. (2012, October 22). What Exactly Is Freedom of Speech and How Does It Apply to the Internet? Retrieved November 4, 2015.

Rampell, C. (2015, October 22). Free speech is flunking out on college campuses. Retrieved November 4, 2015.

Simon, C. (2015, October 30). Free speech at Penn: Protected by rules, limited by culture. Retrieved November 4, 2015.