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Thorner: First Amendment threats explored in new movie “No Safe Places”




By Nancy Thorner - 

Photos by Mark Weyermuller 

A special advance screening of the movie No Safe Spaces was presented at The Heartland Institute Wednesday, June 5th, 2019, to a full house in the Andrew Breitbart Freedom Center. Starring comedian Adam Carolla, host of the number one podcast in the world the Adam Carolla Show and national Salem Radio host Dennis Prager, the team collaborated on the 90-minute film. Not yet in its final version, a few more tweaks are needed before the film's September release in theaters. Heartland’s advance screening of the film was the only Illinois screening prior to its release.

Despite coming from different backgrounds, Prager and Corolla both share a deep concern about the direction of our country and love for the First Amendment. They both believe what's happening on college campuses today is the bleeding edge of our cultural decline. The film takes Prager and Carolla to college campuses across the country, interviewing students and professors, comedians and commentators on the Left and Right, and those who have been impacted by the silencing of different voices on campus, analyzing the value of so-called “safe spaces.”

We see in the news almost every day, entitled snowflakes on college campuses raging and screaming every time they encounter an idea they disagree with. These stories might be somewhat amusing if they weren’t such a dangerous indication of what’s to come. Trigger warnings, micro-aggressions, the suppression of free speech, and other illogical ideas born on campuses are proliferating and spreading out into the real world. Today’s campus snowflake is tomorrow’s teacher, judge, or elected official. And if that doesn’t scare you, maybe you should reconsider. No matter where you live or what you do, if you don’t think the way they do, they will attempt to silence and punish you.

The film uses animation, recreations of Carolla when 10 years old and Prager when 21, and features free speech champions of the First Amendment from the left and the right, among them: Tim Allen, Ben Shapiro, Dave Rubin, Van Jones, Cornell West, Alan Dershowitz, Sheryl Atkinson, and Bryan Callen.  

See here the 2.35 minute you-tube film clip of No Safe Places.

Producer Mark Joseph

The producer of No Safe Places, Mark Joseph, also an author, was on hand to introduce the movie and for a Q&A session following the film.   

From 2000 to 2005, Joseph worked in development for Walden Media and Crusader Entertainment and managed a nine-member grass roots marketing team. Feature films he’s produced include Reagan, Max Rose, Silence Patton, and Doonby.  Joseph has also worked in the development and/or marketing of 40 films including The Chronicles of Narnia, Ray, Holes, I Am David, Because of Winn Dixie, Son of God, Little Boy and others.

Heartland Director of Communications and Interim President of The Heartland Institute, Jim Lakely, sat down with Mark Joseph to produce this podcast well worth hearing.

As to Mr. Joseph's conservative leanings and what it's like to be a conservative in Hollywood, Joseph sees himself as a normal, mainstream American in a town which is not very mainstream, not as a conservative. As he learned from Ronald Reagan when Reagan was asked whether he considered himself a Goldwater conservative, Reagan didn't use the “Goldwater conservative” term because it would have kept him apart from those he wished to reach.

Mr. Joseph cited the year 2013 (pre-Trump) when something came into the ecological system that made it perfectly fine to shut people down if you don't like what they have to say.  Joseph fears that this same ethos happening now on college campuses will be coming to society at large. 

Free speech is as American as apple pie

There is nothing wrong with debate. What has been lost is the art of strongly disagreeing with one other, yet still being able to get along and even remain friends. Mr. Joseph hopes his film will expose viewers to what is happening on college campuses and what free speech is all about. As to whether free speech can be saved, Mr. Joseph does express some hope, but big names in the Democrat Party who uphold the First Amendment must become involved.

Mr. Joseph noted that 95 percent of Americans don't frequent movie theaters, yet attendance at a movie determines its continuation in theaters. This means we should go to movies that are good. By so doing we voice our opinion about the movie. Spread the word for September’s opening of No Safe Spaces, most likely to have a PG-13 rating, to keep the theaters packed for a long run in movie theaters.

Matthew Erich “Mancow” Muller of WLS-AM in Chicago, made a surprise appearance near the end of the event with comments that berated Illinois and its foolhardy legislators and governor.


Evaluation of movie

No Safe Spaces is a movie worth seeing in September, but there was some important "no safe place" news left out by producer Mark Joseph.

For instance, there was no mention of Steven Crowder, commentator, actor, and comedian. Crowder is the host of Louder with Crowder, a late-night style comedic television show covering news, pop culture, and politics on his own site. A one-hour podcast, also titled Louder with Crowder, is uploaded to iTunes and YouTube.  In February of 2018, DePaul (in violation of free speech) banned Steven Crowder because, as the administration put it, his style does not “align” with DePaul's “educational mission.”  

In June, YouTube investigated Crowder for supposedly using racist and homophobic slurs targeting Carlos Maza in multiple videos reacting to the Vox series Strikethrough, which Maza hosts.

The mobbing of Steven Crowder, however, shows the perils of PC culture. Leftist censorship continues to get worse and worse. Steven Crowder’s unfiltered style has made him the target of a de-platforming campaign.

There was also no mention in No Safe Spaces of the March 11, 2016 cancellation of the Trump rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago because of paid protests, anarchists, violence, and criminal disruptors. There were few to no arrests. At the time, the FBI was asked to investigate political operatives who may have played a role in paying protesters. Evidence from Project Veritas, run by James O’Keefe, alleges Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and her husband Bob Creamer were involved.

All the more strange is that Mr. Joseph didn't even know about the protested 2016 Chicago rally, which even merited a Wikipedia entry. Stranger yet is that any reference to President Trump is missing in the movie. [Here is a link to story on UIC event.] 

Dennis Prager, despite his love for the First Amendment, is himself battling a free speech issue in court. Prager University (PragerU) has filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California to stop Google and YouTube from unlawfully censoring its educational videos and discriminating against its right to freedom of speech. 

The lawsuit cites more than 50 PragerU videos which have either been “restricted” or “de-monetized” by Google/YouTube. The PragerU videos range on various subjects presenting a conservative point of view, and even includes a video by noted Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz on the founding of Israel.


First Amendment vs. Free Speech

Not to be challenged is that the First Amendment and free speech are essential to our way of life in this country. There are legal experts who believe a delicate balance exists between the context of the First Amendment and the free speech issue, and that an effort must be made to accommodate both interests as much as possible. 

Attorney Alan Dershowitz, featured in No Safe Spaces, even back in 2015 criticized the creation of “safe zones” on college campuses, arguing that a “fog of fascism is descending quickly over many American universities.” As Dershowitz said in a 2015 Fox News article:

“These are the same people who claim they are seeking diversity. The last thing these students want is real diversity, diversity of ideas. They may want superficial diversity, diversity of gender, diversity of color, but they do not want diversity of ideas. It is the worst kind of hypocrisy," he said.

"They want complete control over their personal lives, over their sex lives, over the use of drugs, but they want mommy and daddy dean to please give them a safe place, to protect them from ideas that maybe are insensitive, maybe will make them think. It is free speech for me, but not for thee. Universities should not tolerate this kind of hypocrisy, double standard.”


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  1. Good report, Nancy. I was just blocked for the first time on Facebook today. As the presidential election gets closer there’ll be more and more of it ‘screening’ as the liberal leftist Democrats are desperate.
    Also the ghoulish baby killers who want to silence people of faith [and others] who want to save the innocent unborn. Today New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand suggested that opposition to abortion is akin to racism.The opposite is true because the racist-Margaret Sanger- in the 60s wanted to limit black babies began the cycle …

  2. Once I was flying from Brazil to Moscow via Zurich and Budapest. When I arrived in Zurich. The newspaper head lines said Korea airline shot down in Soviet air space. I bought several of the papers. When I arrived in Moscow. None of my people new of the event. Two weeks later. A very short article stated a Korea airline crashed in Soviet air space. The Soviet article was accurate. But not complete. Really fake news.
    Love Saves Lives
    Carl Lambrecht