Tag Archives: Free Speech

Rebelling against Castro… with spray paint

For many, graffiti is just another form of street art, but for Danilo “El Sexto” Maldonado it is a way to dissent from and protest against the Cuban Communist Party. Through his art, he criticizes the human rights abuses the Cuban people suffer at the hands of the Castro regime.

As a young kid in Cuba, Maldonado always knew he wanted to be an artist. Yet throughout school he was constantly indoctrinated with the country’s revolutionary ideology and saw himself unable to express his thoughts through art. As he grew older, he eventually found the artistic medium that would give him voice: graffiti. However, his artistic expression came at the price of his freedom—he is now one of Cuba’s most detained artists.

The world noticed Danilo when, in December 2014, he performed one of the most subversive acts seen in Cuba in the last couple of years. He was arrested for attempting to stage a performance involving two pigs; one painted with the name of Raúl, while the other read Fidel. As part of his act, he planned to release the pigs in Havana’s central park for people to try and catch them. His main inspiration: George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Danilo never made it to his performance. He was detained on his way to the central park. The Cuban Communist Party accused him of contempt for the leaders of the Revolution—a crime in Cuba that can cost you up to three years in jail. When talking about his arrest, Danilo believes he was arrested “simply because [he] made fun of the highest leaders of this revolution.”

Danilo was not given a trial. He was never officially charged. Simply for trying to express his art, he was held for 10 months in a Cuban prison.

To him, and to the rest of the world, his imprisonment only confirmed the harshness of the dictatorship. While he was in jail, several international human rights organizations picked up his case. Each day he remained imprisoned, more joined his cause. He was classified as a prisoner of conscience by both the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba and Amnesty International. The Human Rights Foundation awarded him with the Vaclav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent.

With his story in the spotlight, Danilo was eventually released in October of 2015. Since then, not only has Danilo continued to draw graffiti, but he has become one of the island’s leading human rights activists.

Read the full article at Dissident, here.

Milo’s appeal has nothing to do with “White identity politics”

The ever-growing battle over campus free speech has a new combatant, with SFL’s own Matthew Needham last week decrying the growing popularity of Milo Yiannopoulos amongst libertarians.

Unfortunately, Needham’s analysis entirely misses the point.

Linking Milo’s provocative, anti-PC style, with the rise of Donald Trump, Needham despairs that this opposition to political correctness distracts from the principles of “individual rights, the rule of law, and limits on government power.”

Needham is particularly perplexed at how so many of his friends support this fight, with some even risking disastrous trade, economic, and foreign policies, by supporting Donald Trump. His explanation is that these friends—and presumably other Milo supporters—must have “bought in to white identity politics.”

I am not one of these friends who support Trump. I view Trump as the most dangerous presidential candidate in living memory, and have previously written that even Bernie Sanders would make a better president.

Having said that, the claim that support for Milo’s antics, and even Trump’s anti-PC style, represents an acceptance of so-called “white identity politics” is nonsense.

The popularity of Milo’s trolling amongst libertarians* has nothing to do with identity politics. It is motivated by a rejection of the infantilizing, anti-free speech culture pervading western societies.

Continue reading

Laying waste to our history

On the surface, the University of New South Wales banning the use of language deemed ‘offensive’ towards Indigenous Australians seems like the kind of well-meaning measure that’s hard to disagree with. After all, who doesn’t want to give the role of Indigenous Australians in our nation’s history the recognition it deserves?

However, by policing the words staff and students use to discuss a topic as broad and complex as Australia’s history, UNSW’s ‘diversity toolkit’ goes far beyond teaching respect for the story of Indigenous people in our past. Indeed, it uses language as a fillip for imposing ideological conformity.

It’s one thing to try make a taboo out of words like ‘aboriginal’ and ‘dreamtime’ that have long since become uncontroversial parts of our nation’s vernacular.

Read the rest on The Spectator, here.

University debate around ‘settlement v invasion’ of Australia is creating ‘bubble-wrapped’ students

Australian university students are shutting down ideas, covering themselves in bubble wrap, for fear that they be made to feel uncomfortable or offended.

The LaTrobe Student Union mandates 57 trigger warning issues, including “gore”, “chewing”, “slimy things”, and “food”.

It is compulsory to provide warnings before discussing any of these topics at the Union, for it may “negatively alter [the] wellbeing” of students.

Trigger warnings, disclaimers before potentially discomforting content, are the perfect exemplar of a new generation of student who seeks to avoid ideas that make them feel uneasy.

Read the rest on the Herald Sun, here.