It's time for Popehat's annual-when-I-get-around-to-it Censorious Asshat of the Year contest!
As always, only asshats we have written about are eligible. Candidates have been narrowed down through a process involving caprice, short attention spans, and alcohol.
It's a strong field this year, ladies and gentlemen. Here are the candidates:
The New York Times: An institution that won't print satirical cartoons at the heart of worldwide murders and death threats because they might hurt feelings. In aggravation: A complete abdication of support for free speech, badly supported by a appeal to feels that is not consistently applied across potentially offended groups. In mitigation: This is only self-censorship, which isn't really censorship at all, properly. The Times has a right to be craven and unserious if it wants.
Ohio Judge Tim Grendell: An overpromoted, thin-skinned thug who abuses the contempt power to harass critics and offers bad excuses for it. In aggravation: Proudly and wantonly abusing judicial office out of personal spite. In mitigation: Deserves the obscurity that his mediocrity had previously earned him.
Dr. Mario J. Saad: Saad was sad about the part of peer review where someone questions his work, and unsuccessfully sued to suppress scientific dialogue on breathtakingly frivolous grounds. In aggravation: Actually interfered with the peer review process that helps promote human scientific knowledge. In mitigation: As a doctor, probably completely unfamiliar with anyone telling him no.
Michigan Judge Lisa Gorcyca: This evil, vicious brute reviled and threatened children who didn't want to meet with their estranged father. In aggravation: “You want to have your birthdays in Children’s Village? Do you like going to the bathroom in front of people?" In mitigation: Really more of a regulation of conduct than speech.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Assistant U.S. Attorney Niketh Velamoor: Issued a grand jury subpoena to Reason Magazine to determine the identity of commenters making patently hyperbolic political comments on the pretext that they were threats, and sought and obtained a gag order preventing Reason Magazine from reporting on the fact that it was being subpoenaed and gagged on no rational grounds whatsoever. In aggravation: The part where they silenced a magazine that writes about government abuse of power from talking about their government abuse of power. Seriously. In mitigation: Total failure of substantive judicial oversight was akin to bad parenting. It's sort of like affluenza, except with unchecked prosecutorial power instead of weath and shrugging judges instead of awful parents.
Donald Trump: Prone to issuing frivolous defamation threats and filing bogus defamation suits to soothe his chafe over being criticized. In aggravation: Career abuser of the judicial system. In mitigation: Surrounded by sycophants who encourage his misunderstanding of free speech.
City of Inglewood, California: Filed an abusive and unsuccessful copyright infringement suit to attack someone who put city council proceedings on YouTube. In aggravation: In addition to harassing a critic, wasted a vast amount of taxpayer dollars in a predominantly impoverished city. In mitigation: Low expectations of local government has cultivated lawless atmosphere.
Eric Posner: Long-time dedicated foe of the First Amendment continued his unprincipled assault on it. In aggravation: America's most prominent academic champion of censorship. In mitigation: Has never actually persuaded anyone to censor anything.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: Tirelessly employs the mechanism of his brutal government to harass and oppress even the most mild and lighthearted of critics. In aggravation: Actual tyrant who actually has people imprisoned for speech. In mitigation: Check your Western privilege. He's not from a culture with a tradition of freedom of expression.
Mecosta County District Court Judge Peter Jaklevic: Ordered clearly unconstitutional arrest of jury nullification advocate in a fit of pique. In aggravation: Abuse of judicial office. In mitigation: As a recent former prosecutor, never taught to view rule of law as a set of mutually agreed-upon limitations on power, as opposed to an obstacle.
Goddamn college students on my lawn: Doing their best to push the idea that universities should punish and silence people who say things they don't like, think that hurty words are "silencing" but closing student newspapers or forcing students into reeducation classes isn't. In aggravation: Insufferably fanatical; fanatically insufferable. In mitigation: Never taught any better.
Chuck C. Johnson: Bumbling his way through a frivolous lawsuit against Gawker, and others, for making fun of him. In aggravation: Incessantly wraps himself in the First Amendment while simultaneously making frivolous defamation threats. In mitigation: Gawker is awful. Also, he's pretty good comic relief.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
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