29 Comments

Hi.... Where is the link to RSVP for the event on December 13? I don't see it anywhere.

Thank you....Martha Cohen Roe in Seattle

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Dec 7, 2023Liked by Simon Rosenberg

I wish I could say that this is a complicated issue, but to me, it is not. If a group of white nationalist students marched around the campus shouting, “blacks must die “ or “genocide to gays,” it would take less than one second for people to understand that this is not just speech, but threatens physical violence. It speaks volumes that some very fine university presidents have been unable to understand that point when it comes to calls for “genocide,” which, in English, means murder of everyone in a particular group.

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For Liz Magill and the other University presidents they get a thank you for changing their position after the fact, but not a pass. An educated professional leader should have been able to answer the simple questions presented to her. This is not an “I forgot my homework moment.” Her responses were shameful.

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Dec 7, 2023Liked by Simon Rosenberg

Hey Simon, I have not seen you mention it but it might be worth adding to your list that Biden is currently on tract to have the fewest Layoffs and Discharges of any Presidential term since the Fed started keeping records. (At least as far as I can tell)

I think layoff data might mean more to people than some other measures. Everyone knows someone who has been laid off and can see how devastating that is to people and communities. I know that some people point to insecurity in the job market long term, as a reason for economic uncertainty. More knowledge of the Layoff data being at historic lows might be an easy to show and feel measure.

It might also resonate more than something like Unemployment because it is a confusing measure that sometimes goes up in good times and down in bad.

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/JTSLDL

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Free Speech, as protected by the first amendment, has been gutted by the abhorrent behavior of Donald Trump. He and his many minions have destroyed the seemingly clear guard rails erected around this particular freedom. University presidents are struggling with how to address the ugliness bubbling up on their campuses. President, Santa Ono at the University of Michigan is exactly in the same position. Simon, could you please thoroughly review, once again for us, the plain language of the first amendment, as well as the legal protections against dangerous and illegal speech? Thank you.

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During the Cold War being a Communist was effectively outlawed despite being supposedly protected political speech. As a nation we can put reasonable limits on speech that has a high likelihood to incite or glorify violence, which should include that from Nazis and the Klan. The slippery slope argument is thrown around too much and I think we’re all smart enough to thread the needle between protecting legitimate political dissent and stopping literal Nazis.

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Free speech issues are tough and complex, so I thought I would give the University President Liz Magill the benefit of the doubt, thinking that she could have been responding to a question that was nuanced. I watched a bit of the university presidents' testimony, in particular the questioning by Rep Elise Stefanik (who, ironies of ironies, cannot find the courage to hold TFG accountable for his own inciteful violent speech, but I digress). Stefanik was pretty condescending (and, dare I say, bullying) to the witnesses throughout the hearing, IMO, but the question she asked was clear. "Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Penn's rules or code of conduct?" No nuance really about it. One explanation for Magill's response is that she was being overly cautious and giving a "context matters" response usually works with free speech. But I would think "calls for genocide" should pretty clearly violate any university's code of conduct.

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Simon, I would love to get your take (in a future column) on the GOP retirements (aka desertions?) from the House. I read that another GOP house congressman accepted a position in academia which requires him to resign from Congress before the end of the term. (His name escapes me at the moment). Then of course there is McCarthy pouting and taking his marbles home of the end of the year instead of the end of the term, as I was expecting.

I also read that one of the declared GOP candidates for George Santos' house seat, Philip Sean Grillo, was found guilty of five charges in the Jan 6th insurrection. just when you thought they couldn't dig any deeper in thate barrel....

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I read also today that the CEO of Home Depot will support Trump even if he's convicted. I'm worried about corporations not supporting our Constitution and our democracy. I'm very happy also for Mrs Cox’s ruling in favor of her abortion!!!

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Simon, 🙏 for your thoughtful comments on campus anti-semitism and free speech. What the college presidents’ said is true: calls for ethnic genocide divorced from specific threats or actions are protected by the first amendment and as such do not violate their schools’ codes of conduct.

The presidents’ conceit is in the implication that permitted speech is consequence-free on campus. Academia is not today, nor has it ever been, an unfettered marketplace of ideas. Universities have always selected faculty and students in part based on belief. More recently, they have placed many, many guardrails on speech in the service of inclusion.

Acknowledging that it regulates speech would force academia to critically examine its choices and their consequences. Why are explicit calls for the elimination of the Jewish state tolerable where use of birth-assigned pronouns is verboten? Let’s bring the assumptions and goals behind these choices into the light, celebrating those that withstand scrutiny.

One final thought. President Biden’s clear and courageous statements and actions since the October 7th attacks stopped discussion of this issue from being one more hyper-partisan yelling match. Thank you, Mr. President, for your unequivocal and non-partisan support of Israel’s self-determination. You are in this case the grown up, and we are lucky for your leadership.

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Hi Sheila I'm following you back. From what I’m reading I also campuses are in trouble. And I’m glad you contacted Mr Rosenberg about this. Ty

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Simon I won’t shed a tear for Liz Magill, except that I don’t think her successor will be any more able to stand up for herself and her values because ultimately what the trustees want is a yes-person. They got what they asked for.

But let me say this: in the time I spent at Penn, every single Friday a man and his assistants would haul a loudspeaker and a bunch of handmade “God hates f*gs” signs onto the campus in front of the library and preach for hours against me and my people. (This isn’t decades ago—this was just in the last few years, before and after the pandemic.) Some students tried to argue with him, most just ignored him. Maybe it didn’t bother most of them, or the administration or faculty, because after all, this guy and his friends are just town loonies with no real power other than petty harassment, and whether homosexuals have a right to exist has always been a legitimate subject of debate, amirite? We wouldn’t want to trample on this man’s free speech, would we? I mean, I’ve been hearing calls for my genocide my entire life. I guess I’m used to it, as one gets used to trauma and endlessly calculating what’s safe to reveal about yourself.

And so I have to admit to feeling a little bit nonplussed that some members of the Jewish community seem to be just now discovering what it’s like to be always and ever a target of hate. Rest assured, it’s not just you. It’s a lot more of us than you think who face this.

To turn this into a positive, I hope you please don’t ever think you’re alone in this. You’re in good company.

And my advice, which I’m sure you don’t need but I’ll say it anyway, is: be wary of ambitious bullies like MAGA Trumpist Elise Stefanik, who take advantage of our fears and vulnerabilities to advance their own nefarious ends. As long as she stands with Trump, she’s no ally.

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Thanks

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"Is there any political speech in America that is a direct threat of death to a particular group here? " I think people wearing KKK regalia counts. I suspect my African American friends feel as threatened by that as my Jewish friends feel seeing people in Nazi outfits.

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Regarding the economic stats you have noted Simon, I believe that swing voters are turned off when Democrats take credit for the jobs that returned in 2021. Those jobs would have come back regardless of who was in office, and everyone understands that. 2022/23...Those are Joe/Dem jobs for sure. Another turn off is saddling DJT with the pandemic job losses. If we are 1% disingenuous in our arguments, we lose people. The fair playing field in my view, starting with Obama, is to start with O in 2010, DJT gets the first three years of his tenure, and Joe gets 2022 forward. Dems still destroy Reps easily and we gain credibility when we present the argument this way.

How many Americans know that O created 8mm jobs in his last three years vs. only 6mm for T in his first three? I have the under at 10%. Let's form a national plan th change that! GCO

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I’m late to comment here, but the Texas abortion ruling seems to be very significant in undermining the belief that “anti-abortion” is “pro-life”. It also seem to be excellent “future lawsuit” basis for arguing for full abortion access / let a pregnant person make the best choice for their life. How much time and money did the woman have to spend to “get Texas to allow the abortion she needed”? How many resources did Texas have to spend to stop this woman from freely making the logical choice for her life, reproductive future, and family of existing, wanted and cared for children? Why should any pregnant person have to shoulder this oppression and prohibition of liberty? Why does the State of Texas get to dictate her reproductive health choice? It was the luck of the draw that this pregnant woman had her case decided by a judge that showed a modicum of humanity. Most abortion seeking Texans are not that lucky. They are little uteruses owned by the State. Yet this decision belies the falseness of the whole “pro-life” movement. Abortion is necessary Reproductive Healthcare

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