Day: March 15, 2017

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Free speech under attack at UK colleges, report says


Censorship of free speech and cultures that have become increasingly “PC” are not just phenomena on campuses across the U.S. – a new report shows that they are also having a “chilling” effect on more than half the campuses in the United Kingdom.

The British Internet magazine spiked, which focuses on politics and society, released its third-annual report on campus censorship in the United Kingdom, and the results paint a grim picture.

The Free Speech University Rankings (FSUR) looked at 115 universities throughout the U.K. using a “traffic-light” system—red light, being the worst, marks a prohibition on a certain type of speech; the yellow category prevents speech from being too provocative; and a green light rating marks a “clean bill of health”.

The 2017 analysis showed that 63.5 percent of universities in the United Kingdom actively censor speech, and 30.5 percent stifle speech through excessive regulation, creating what the magazine calls a steady rise in censorship during the past three years. Only 6 percent of universities in the U.K., the study says, are “truly free.”

“They are regulating speech to a chilling degree across the board by restricting discussion of religion, transgenderism, ‘offensive’ Halloween costumes—you name it –and it’s cutting through most of the university sector,” 25-year-old Tom Slater, coordinator of the Free Speech University Rankings at spiked, told Fox News. “The underlying problem is political correctness. And, the problem is, if you allow that kind of censorship on campus, it tends to go unchecked and then it’s going to spread, with more and more people latching on.”

Spiked said the report’s results were produced through Freedom of Information requests and analysis of university student unions, published documents and policies, along with executive bans for universities over the past three years.

Examples of the regulations on free speech, according to Slater, including the ban of tabloid newspapers like The Sun as well as the censoring of Robin Thicke’s single “Blurred Lines,” which was banned at 25 universities in the U.K.

Greg Lukianoff, president and CEO of U.S.-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, told Fox News that political correctness is an “American thing” that has spread to Britain in the last five years.

“Britain is in a dead sprint trying to catch up to American universities, and the problem is that [the U.S.] is protected by the First Amendment and they’re not,” Lukianoff told Fox News. “It’s hard to directly compare to the U.K., but is there a problem there? Yes. Absolutely.”

Both Slater and Lukianoff said the type of censorship being seen on college campuses is “chilling.”

“If you make people have to guess whether or not they’ll be arrested for something they say, that is a chill on the First Amendment and on free speech,” Lukianoff said.

Slater said the suppression of free speech at U.K. universities was further fueled by the election of President Trump, which “poured gasoline over a problem that was already there.” But it is social media, he said, that created and spread the PC-culture in the U.K.

“The Trump phenomenon has just brought to the surface the quite hysterical approach people have to opposing views,” Slater said. “Social media has played a role, because it lets politicos on both sides of the pond share ideas, and that has been somewhat of a catalyst.”

Slater said that students in the U.K. suppress speech in the name of “liberalism and progressivism.”

“Things have gotten so bad and everyone has gotten caught up in this,” Slater said. “But I don’t see anything liberal—or progressive—in offending free speech.” 

Brooke Singman is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.



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‘Bachelorette’ stars speak out


At a star-studded “Bachelor” season finale viewing party, former contestants Robby Hayes and Josh Murray took time to reflect back on their time on “The Bachelorette.”

Hayes told Fox News that the show “100 percent” changed his life and that “even knowing how it ended with me getting my heartbroken on national television in front of millions of people I would do it all over again.”

During Monday’s episode, Nick Viall seemed to have found love on “The Bachelor,” as he proposed to Vanessa Grimaldi.

“The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” shows have been big successes for ABC and Hayes said a lot of that has to do with the growing fanbase.

“Not only has it been successful but you get more and more viewers every year… it’s nuts,” Hayes said. “I think they do a great job pleasing their fans. Once they get fans in they know how to bring them back. One perfect example is when they reused JoJo  [Fletcher] from the season with Ben [Higgins] to be the Bachelorette. She’s already developed half a million followers… and I think that method is how they keep building what they’ve already built.”

Murray added that producers “push” the show a certain away.

“There is a lot of pushed drama for sure,” he said. “There [are] a lot of people that are like puppets so they do whatever people want them to do and that creates the drama. You gotta do it.” 

Hayes said the stars of the show don’t have to listen to producers’ wishes.  

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“I mean they (producers) will push for something but you don’t have to give it to them,” he said. “If they want you to say something you can say exactly how they want it in your own words or you don’t have to say it at all.”

And this season has made headlines for being a bit racier than others and Hayes attributes that to one particular contestant, Corrine.

“I think it started out racy, it’s gotten a lot better since,” he said “Corrine made a good point…like things like that, her being a little edgy get noticed. Like obviously look at her, she’s doing great. Nick appreciated the fact that she would get out of her comfort zone…”

You can follow Blanche Johnson on Twitter @blancheFOXLA.



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McDonald's slammed for tweet


It’s that time of year again, when McDonald’s iconic minty-vanilla green Shamrock Shake starts popping up just ahead of St. Patrick’s Day. 

But this year, the golden arches chain managed to offend more than a few lovers of authentic Irish culture with a promotional tweet for its new chocolate-swirled Shamrock shakes, that has since been deleted. 

The original post, which went up March 9, read “When your Shamrock Chocolate Madness plays all the right chocolatey-mint notes. #ShamrockSeason.”

The text was accompanied by a 10 second video of a bearded redheaded man, drinking his shake through a straw while wearing a tartan-looking hat (traditionally worn by Scots) and playing the straws like a bagpipe (yet another Scottish pasttime)– while standing in front of England’s Stonehenge.

The unusual post had many questioning whether McDonald’s even knows where Ireland is or if it understands the difference between various cultures in the U.K. 

Shortly after the tweet was posted, many did not hold back, declaring that the chain should brush up on some real Irish culture immediately.

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But plenty of posters found humor in the supposedly out-of-touch ad and added that they though it was nothing more than a clever publicity meant to generate more buzz about the limited-edition green treat. 

Whether it was a cultural blunder or successful stunt, the post certainly got the social media sphere talking. 

A representative for McDonald’s was not immediately available for comment. 



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