On Monday, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Jim Jordan, R-OH, sent a letter to Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, asking that the first full committee hearing of the session address “cancel culture.”
“The wave of cancel culture spreading the nation is a serious threat to fundamental free speech rights in the United States,” Jordan wrote. “From newsrooms to college campuses to social media giants, we have seen a dangerous trend toward silencing and censoring certain political speech. As the committee entrusted with upholding the Constitution and our fundamental liberties, our first full committee hearing for the 117th Congress must examine this cancel culture sweeping America.”
Moreover, Jordan emphasized that the first amendment has made the country “the envy of the world,” but added that that very right to free speech has been under assault recently, citing several examples of such threats.
“Now our shared commitment to free speech principles is eroding under demands for the censorship and silencing of certain speech. College campuses have canceled lectures because students disagree with the speaker. An editor for America’s newspaper of record was forced to resign for publishing an opinion piece by a Republican Senator with which the newsroom disagreed. Amazon has refused to sell books reflecting certain political views, and Twitter and Facebook have censored and de-platformed prominent conservatives—including the sitting President of the United States. Most recently, two Democrat Members of Congress wrote to twelve cable companies demanding that they not broadcast certain news networks,” he wrote.
“Cancel culture is a dangerous phenomenon whether you agree or disagree with the views being censored. Our society must always promote the free exchange of ideas, not cancel the ideas with which we disagree. If cancel culture continues unchallenged, it is not just the unpopular or controversial viewpoints that are at risk. Every viewpoint and every idea—whether widely accepted now or not—runs the risk of eventually falling into disfavor with the ever-changing standards of cancel culture.”
The letter to Nadler ends with a message of bipartisanship, urging support from both Republicans and Democrats on the issue. Nadler didn’t immediately respond to this reporter’s request for comment. The story will be updated if and when a statement is received.
“As Justice Louis Brandeis counseled almost a century ago, the remedy for ‘falsehoods and fallacies’ is ‘more speech, not enforced silence.’ Cancel culture’s long-term consequences to our democracy and our constitutional framework are serious and substantial. We must fight this trend before it is too late. There is no better issue on which Republicans and Democrats can work together to address in our first full committee hearing than to address the scourge of cancel culture in the United States,” Jordan concludes.
Follow Jennie Taer on Twitter @JennieSTaer
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Cuomo says he’ll ‘fully cooperate’ with NY AG’s review of sexual harassment claims
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Wednesday that he will “fully cooperate” with the state attorney general’s independent review into sexual harassment allegations made against the currently scandal-ridden governor, saying, “I fully support a woman’s right to come forward.”
Last Wednesday, Lindsey Boylan, who served in his administration for over three years, accused Cuomo of suggesting to her on a 2017 flight that they play strip poker, inappropriate touching, and kissing her on the lips without her consent.
Following Boylan’s accusations, 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett alleged the governor indicated interest in having an affair with her while she was serving in his administration as a health policy adviser. In a Saturday New York Times report, Bennett told the newspaper that Cuomo asked her if she had “ever been with an older man,” adding that “age doesn’t matter” in relationships.
At Wednesday’s press briefing, the Empire State governor addressed the accusations leveled against him over the past seven days by three women and New York Attorney General Letitia James’ (D) independent review into those claims, which she announced on Monday was formally proceeding.
“As you probably know, the attorney general is doing an independent review, and I will fully cooperate with that review,” Cuomo said at the beginning of his statement. “Now, the lawyers say I shouldn’t say anything when you have a pending review until that review is over. I understand that, I’m a lawyer, too. But, I want New Yorkers to hear from me directly on this.”
“First, I fully support a woman’s right to come forward,” the governor began. “And I think it should be encouraged in every way. I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly I am embarrassed by it, and that’s not easy to say. But that’s the truth.”
This echoes what Cuomo said in a Sunday statement about the allegations, in which he stated he “may have been insensitive” during his tenure but charged his accusers of misinterpreting his actions, saying, “I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation… I am truly sorry about that.”
During his Wednesday remarks, Cuomo iterated “I never touched anyone inappropriately,” repeated that sentence, then said “I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable” and repeated that one too.
“And I certainly never, ever meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone or cause anyone any pain. That is the last thing I would ever want to do,” he continued. “I ask the people of this state to wait for the facts from the attorney general’s report before forming an opinion. Get the facts, please, before forming an opinion.”
“I also want you to know that I have learned from what has been an incredibly difficult situation for me as well as other people, and I’ve learned an important lesson,” the governor said at the end of his statement. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for whatever pain I caused anyone, I never intended it, and I will be the better for this experience.”
Amid Boylan and Bennett’s allegations, another report of Cuomo sexually harassing a woman has cropped up. On Monday, a woman named Anna Ruch accused the governor of placing his hands on her cheeks—without her consent—at a 2019 wedding reception and asking if he could kiss her. A photograph of the two together at the event has also been circulating on social media.
Asked at Wednesday’s briefing about the pictures that have resurfaced of him being touchy with people, particularly that of him and Ruch, the governor claimed that it is his way of greeting people.
“I understand the opinion of—and feelings of—Ms. Ruch,” Cuomo said. “You can find hundreds of pictures of me making the same gesture with hundreds of people—women, children, men, etc. You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people. […] It is my usual and customary way of greeting.”
Moreover, the governor said that his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, would do the same thing.
“By the way, it was my father’s way of greeting people,” Cuomo said, explaining, “You’re the governor of the state, you want people to feel comfortable, you want to reach out to them.”
He also mentioned that he kisses and hugs legislators and noted that at an event in Queens the other day he hugged pastors and state assembly members.
Furthermore, the governor said that his intent “doesn’t matter,” saying, “What it matters is if anybody was offended by it.”
“But if they were offended by it, then it was wrong,” he added, going on to say that if they were offended or hurt by it, he apologizes.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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