Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Sunday Preview

News Shows

1. Meet The Press: Special edition devoted to rising gas prices. Guests include Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman, American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Red Cavaney, CNBC's Jim Cramer, Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) and energy analyst and author Daniel Yergin.

2. This Week: (a) Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice talks to host George Stephanopoulis about the new Iraqi government's viability and potential sanctions imposed against Iran. (b) debate between former Senator Bennett Johnston (D-Louisiana) and Chuck Schumer (D-New York) about the rising oil prices. (c) Roundtable discussion includes George F. Will of The Washington Post, Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek, Claire Shipman of ABC News, and Jay Carney of Time Magazine. (d) Actor George Clooney shares his thoughts and trip to Darfur, Sudan.

3. Face The Nation: Iran, Iraq, and gas prices. Guests include Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Senator Lisa Murkowski, and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington).

4. Fox News Sunday: Interview with White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and new White House Press Secretary Tony Snow.

5. Late Edition: Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice on whether the incoming Iraqi government will be able to end the civil strife and the potential American/West-led response to Iran's nuclear defiance. Other guests include Senator Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) of the Select Intelligence Committee, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) of the Foreign Relations Committee, former Mossad director Efrain Halevy, and former CIA director James Woolsey.

Other Talk Shows


1. The Chris Matthews Show: (a) whether Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York) can survive the 2008 Democratic primary. (b) whether Senator John McCain can successfully make the transition from Republican outsider to conservative insider. (c) whether former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani will make a run for the White House.

2. Fox News Watch: (a) press coverage on the rising gas prices. (b) White House Press Secretary Tony Snow and the press. (c) Prime Time and a confrontration caught on tape.

3. CBS Sunday Morning: (a) report on doctors who misdiagnose patients' medical problems, how many people die as a result, and the limited discussion surrounding it among doctors and patients. (b) report of Museum of Modern Art exhibit of Edward Munch. (c) Opus Dei v. "The Da Vinci Code." (d) profile of musician James Blunt. (e) Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) on his two recent books.

4. Heartland: (a) interview with former FEMA Director Michael Brown on whether the United States is prepared for another hurricane. (b) the latest revelations in the Duke rape scandal. (c) American Idol's Constantine Maroulis.

5. Beltway Boys: (a) President George W. Bush's strategy to save his second term. (b) the partisan fight over gas prices and whether Congress and/or the president can do anything to lower them.

Feature News Shows

1. 48 Hours: The disappearance of a young college professor who was having an affair. What the husband and former lover knew about it.

2. 60 Minutes: (a) contaminated nuclear waste site in Hanford, Washington that hasn't been cleaned for 16 years. (b) Fact or fiction? "The Da Vinci Code." (c) interview with Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert.

3. Dateline Saturday: The surviving twin assumes her murdered sister's identity and goes undercover to solve the case.

4. Dateline Sunday: Angelina Curry's call to give all children in Namibia an education.

Entertainment


1. Saturday Night Live: "The Ambiguously Gay Duo" Ace and Gary host a special TV Funhouse edition which features the best of cartoon shorts.

2. Law and Order Criminal Intent: Murder on an oceanliner

3. Cold Case: The re-opening of a 1945 murder case involving a demoted reporter.









Friday, April 28, 2006

Dan Asmussen

The latest gas profit spill hurts Exxon (really ExxonMobil). and lobbyist deportation.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Quote of the Day

"If you have never taken a class with Yale's resident literary wizard, Harold Bloom—and you probably shouldn't if your name is Naomi Wolf—it may be hard to imagine that an entire hour spent deconstructing the difference between the word means and the word includes could be riveting. But riveting it can be, in the hands of the right literary thinkers. And if those thinkers choose to assume, as might Bloom, that every word in every piece of legislation passed by Congress is chosen deliberately and thoughtfully, rather than in the crazed and half-assed manner so often associated with legislative drafting, all the better." -Dahlia Lithwick as quoted in Slate Magazine

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Newt Ginrich on Immigration Reform and Amnesty

"There is a huge difference between a cautious limited policy of integrating the people attracted by a dishonest and shameful policy (the deliberate cultivation of illegality over the last 20 years) and amnesty which will only reinforce the message of the dishonest past and create a wave of people who will continue to pour in expecting the continuation of the yesterday’s failed policies." - former Speaker of the House and Representative Newt Gingrich.

The full article, which the former speaker linked to in the article found in The National Review, can be found on his own campaign web site. (I guess he may be considering a run for The White House). Most of those proposals were found in the tough immigration bills though all (including the amnesty bills) included a biometric verification system provision. The PoliticalHeretic wholeheartedly supports Gingrich's proposal to eliminate aid going to cities which provide assistance to illegal aliens though he wonders if anyone in Congress would have the courage to deny their own constituents that aid. Mr. Gingrich speaks only of known cities but there are townships and boros throughout the United States that support illegal immigration as well. Those too, should be denied financial aid (or have any more aid frozen) when caught.

Newt Gingrich cites his reasons for opposing amnesty which closely align with some reasons mentioned on this blog (particularly points a, b, and c:

a. Amnesty Will Lead to Greater Illegal Immigration. Any rewarding of a person’s initial breaking the law upon entering the United States will send a very strong signal that the United States will not enforce its laws, and that the awarding of the next amnesty will only be a matter of time. The United States is not the only country that has an experience of a one time amnesty leading to more illegal immigration. Spain sent such a signal and has had six amnesties since 1990.
b. Amnesty is an Injustice to Those Who Are Complying with U.S. Immigration Law. Amnesty makes a fool out of the cousin back home or the hopeful individual in Asia or Africa who is following the rules and has been waiting for years for an honest visa because they wanted to obey American law and be a good citizen. Amnesty would discourage this type of behavior in the future and encourage illegal entry into the United States.
c. Amnesty Undermines the Rule of Law. Amnesty undermines the rule of law. As we learned from New York City’s successful turnaround in the 1990s, disrespect for the law, even for minor infractions, leads to lawlessness. This is as true for immigration laws as it is for urban crime. Individuals cannot be allowed to start their time in the United States by breaking the law. We see how disrespect for the rule of law already teaches some American businesses to violate the law routinely and has taught several American cities and two U.S. states to ignore the law with impunity.
d. Amnesty Discourages Political and Economic Reform in Migrant’s Home Countries. Since any amnesty will only encourage greater levels of illegal immigration, the political leadership of their home countries will have less pressure upon them to reform their countries’ political and economic structures to provide better domestic opportunities to their peoples. Instead, they will continue to rely on the economic engine of the United States to relieve them of the need to change.
e. Amnesty Hides The True Number of Individuals Offered the Opportunity For Permanent Legal Immigration Due to Increased Eligibility to Bring In Additional Family Members. It is this point that led Senator Sessions to say on the Senate floor that the McCain/Kennedy bill “would add 30 million people to our nation in the next ten years. We ought to be spending some time talking about that. It’s a big, big deal." Attached as Appendix B is a breakdown of the numbers of the numbers of individuals that would be eligible for permanent legal immigration to the United States under various forms of amnesty.
f. Amnesty Will Fail to Stop the Marginalization of Individuals in Society. Since any amnesty will only encourage greater levels of illegal entry into the United States, these migrants will continue to find themselves marginalized in society and subject to exploitation from a life lived in the shadows.

Providing those who entered this country illegally with amnesty is unjust - unjust towards those whom they left behind in their homeland, unjust towards those who waited to enter this country legally (and finally made it), unjust towards those who applied for residency even though they face far graver threats at home than those faced by those who snuck across the border, and unjust towards those who will lose out on their share in jobs and workfare program funding to pay for those who by right shouldn't even be here.

The compassion which our president and the amnesty supporters in the senate and house speak of is better directed at those whom these illegal immigrants are cheating.






The Euston Manifesto

Posted below is a copy of the Euston Manifesto (pdf file), a statement of principles crafted and signed by self-identified liberals and Democratic Socialists who decided to speak out and distance themselves from those leftists who overlook the grave human rights violations of Maoist, Stalinist, military, and theocratic regimes which they align themselves with while being overly critical towards those western-oriented democratic countries (the United States, Canada, Australia, Western Europe, Israel, and the emerging Eastern European democratic countries), with imperfect but far superior human rights records.

They identify with the working class. They profess support gender equality, feminism, gay rights, and church-state separation and a new internationalist order which conditions respect for state sovereignty on that country's respect for its citizens' human rights. These liberals equate the anti-Jewish (and anti-Israeli)sentiments of many leftists with racism and deplore the anti-American rhetoric that comes from many on the left.

Their quest for a new human-rights centered internationalist order may not be realistic, particularly when the transgressor is an emerging or existing superpower (Russia, China) or when it is may possess nuclear weapons (North Korea, Pakistan) or when it is a strategic ally (Egypt, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia) or when it is a major producer of a coveted natural resource (Russia, Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates, Brunei, Indonesia, Venezuela, Iran).

Still, their decision to come out for an assertive pro-democratic European/American led liberal, democratic, and human-rights oriented vision makes them stand out and wins the liberal movement the much-needed credibility that is forfeited by those with defeatist, appeasement-driven negative attitudes.

(hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)

The Euston Manifesto
For a Renewal of Progressive Politics
A. Preamble

We are democrats and progressives. We propose here a fresh political
alignment. Many of us belong to the Left, but the principles that we set out
are not exclusive. We reach out, rather, beyond the socialist Left towards
egalitarian liberals and others of unambiguous democratic commitment.
Indeed, the reconfiguration of progressive opinion that we aim for involves
drawing a line between the forces of the Left that remain true to its authentic
values, and currents that have lately shown themselves rather too flexible
about these values. It involves making common cause with genuine
democrats, whether socialist or not.

The present initiative has its roots in and has found a constituency through
the Internet, especially the ‘blogosphere’. It is our perception, however, that
this constituency is under-represented elsewhere — in much of the media and
the other forums of contemporary political life.

The broad statement of principles that follows is a declaration of intent. It
inaugurates a new Website, which will serve as a resource for the current of
opinion it hopes to represent and the several foundation blogs and other sites
that are behind this call for a progressive realignment.

B. Statement of principles

1. For democracy
We are committed to democratic norms, procedures and structures —
freedom of opinion and assembly, free elections, the separation of legislative,
executive and judicial powers, and the separation of state and religion. We
value the traditions and institutions, the legacy of good governance, of those
countries in which liberal, pluralist democracies have taken hold.

2. No apology for tyranny
We decline to make excuses for, to indulgently ‘understand’, reactionary
regimes and movements for which democracy is a hated enemy — regimes
that oppress their own peoples and movements that aspire to do so. We draw
a firm line between ourselves and those left-liberal voices today quick to offer
an apologetic explanation for such political forces.

3. Human rights for all
We hold the fundamental human rights codified in the Universal Declaration
to be precisely universal, and binding on all states and political movements,
indeed on everyone. Violations of these rights are equally to be condemned
whoever is responsible for them and regardless of cultural context. We reject
the double standards with which much self-proclaimed progressive opinion
now operates, finding lesser (though all too real) violations of human rights
that are closer to home, or are the responsibility of certain disfavoured
governments, more deplorable than other violations that are flagrantly worse.
We reject, also, the cultural relativist view according to which these basic
human rights are not appropriate for certain nations or peoples.

4. Equality
We espouse a generally egalitarian politics. Welook towards progress in
relations between the sexes (until full gender equality is achieved), between
different ethnic communities, between those of various religious affiliations
and those of none, and between people of diverse sexual orientations — as
well as towards broader social and economic equality all round. We leave
open, as something on which there are differences of viewpoint amongst us,
the question of the best economic forms of this broader equality, but we
support the interests of working people everywhere and their right to
organize in defence of those interests. Democratic trade unions are the
bedrock organizations for the defence of workers’ interests and are one of the
most important forces for human rights, democracy-promotion and
egalitarian internationalism. Labour rights are human rights. The universal
adoption of the International Labour Organization Conventions — now
routinely ignored by governments across the globe — is a priority for us. We
are committed to the defence of the rights of children, and to protecting
people from sexual slavery and all forms of institutionalized abuse.

5. Development for freedom
We stand for global economic development-as-freedom and against structural
economic oppression and environmental degradation. The current expansion
of global markets and free trade must not be allowed to serve the narrow
interests of a small corporate elite in the developed world and their associates
in developing countries. The benefits of large-scale development through the
expansion of global trade ought to be distributed as widely as possible in order to serve
the social and economic interests of workers, farmers and consumers in all
countries. Globalization must mean global social integration and a
commitment to social justice. We support radical reform of the major
institutions of global economic governance (World Trade Organization,
International Monetary Fund, World Bank) to achieve these goals, and we
support fair trade, more aid, debt cancellation and the campaign to Make
Poverty History. Development can bring growth in life expectancy and in the
enjoyment of life, easing burdensome labour and shortening the working day.
It can bring freedom to youth, possibilities of exploration to those of middle
years, and security to old age. It enlarges horizons and the opportunities for
travel, and helps make strangers into friends. Global development must be
pursued in a manner consistent with environmentally sustainable growth.

6. Opposing anti-Americanism
We reject without qualification the anti-Americanism now infecting so much
left-liberal (and some conservative) thinking. This is not a case of seeing the
US as a model society. We are aware of its problems and failings. But these
are shared in some degree with all of the developed world. The United States
of America is a great country and nation. It is the home of a strong democracy
with a noble tradition behind it and lasting constitutional and social
achievements to its name. Its peoples have produced a vibrant culture that is
the pleasure, the source-book and the envy of millions. That US foreign policy
has often opposed progressive movements and governments and supported
regressive and authoritarian ones does not justify generalized prejudice
against either the country or its people.

7. For a two-state solution
We recognize the right of both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples to selfdetermination
within the framework of a two-state solution. There can be no
reasonable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that subordinates or
eliminates the legitimate rights and interests of one of the sides to the dispute.

8. Against racism
For liberals and the Left, anti-racism is axiomatic. We oppose every form of
racist prejudice and behaviour: the anti-immigrant racism of the far Right;
tribal and inter-ethnic racism; racism against people from Muslim countries
and those descended from them, particularly under cover of the War on
Terror. The recent resurgence of another, very old form of racism, anti-
Semitism, is not yet properly acknowledged in left and liberal circles. Some
exploit the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people under occupation
by Israel, and conceal prejudice against the Jewish people behind the formula
of ‘anti-Zionism’. We oppose this type of racism too, as should go without saying.

9. United against terror
We are opposed to all forms of terrorism. The deliberate targeting of civilians
is a crime under international law and all recognized codes of warfare, and it
cannot be justified by the argument that it is done in a cause that is just.
Terrorism inspired by Islamist ideology is widespread today. It threatens
democratic values and the lives and freedoms of people in many countries.
This does not justify prejudice against Muslims, who are its main victims, and
amongst whom are to be found some of its most courageous opponents. But,
like all terrorism, it is a menace that has to be fought, and not excused.

10. A new internationalism
We stand for an internationalist politics and the reform of international law —
in the interests of global democratization and global development.
Humanitarian intervention, when necessary, is not a matter of disregarding
sovereignty, but of lodging this properly within the ‘common life’ of all
peoples. If in some minimal sense a state protects the common life of its
people (if it does not torture, murder and slaughter its own civilians, and
meets their most basic needs of life), then its sovereignty is to be respected.
But if the state itself violates this common life in appalling ways, its claim to
sovereignty is forfeited and there is a duty upon the international community
of intervention and rescue. Once a threshold of inhumanity has been crossed,
there is a ‘responsibility to protect’.

11. A critical openness
Drawing the lesson of the disastrous history of left apologetics over the crimes
of Stalinism and Maoism, as well as more recent exercises in the same vein
(some of the reaction to the crimes of 9/11, the excuse-making for suicideterrorism,
the disgraceful alliances lately set up inside the ‘anti-war’
movement with illiberal theocrats), we reject the notion that there are no
opponents on the Left. We reject, similarly, the idea that there can be no
opening to ideas and individuals to our right. Leftists who make common
cause with, or excuses for, anti-democratic forces should be criticized in clear
and forthright terms. Conversely, we pay attention to liberal and conservative
voices and ideas if they contribute to strengthening democratic norms and
practices and to the battle for human progress.

12. Historical truth
In connecting to the original humanistic impulses of the movement for human
progress, we emphasize the duty that genuine democrats must have to
respect for the historical truth. Not only fascists, Holocaust-deniers and the
like have tried to obscure the historical record. One of the tragedies of the Left
is that its own reputation was massively compromised in this regard by the
international Communist movement, and some have still not learned that
lesson. Political honesty and straightforwardness are a primary obligation for
us.

13. Freedom of ideas
We uphold the traditional liberal freedom of ideas. It is more than ever
necessary today to affirm that, within the usual constraints against
defamation, libel and incitement to violence, people must be at liberty to criticize ideas — even whole bodies of ideas — to which others are
committed. This includes the freedom to criticize religion: particular religions
and religion in general. Respect for others does not entail remaining silent
about their beliefs where these are judged to be wanting.

14. Open source
As part of the free exchange of ideas and in the interests of encouraging joint
intellectual endeavour, we support the open development of software and
other creative works and oppose the patenting of genes, algorithms and facts
of nature. We oppose the retrospective extension of intellectual property laws
in the financial interests of corporate copyright holders. The open source
model is collective and competitive, collaborative and meritocratic. It is not a
theoretical ideal, but a tested reality that has created common goods whose
power and robustness have been proved over decades. Indeed, the best
collegiate ideals of the scientific research community that gave rise to open
source collaboration have served human progress for centuries.

15. A precious heritage
We reject fear of modernity, fear of freedom, irrationalism, the subordination
of women; and we reaffirm the ideas that inspired the great rallying calls of
the democratic revolutions of the eighteenth century: liberty, equality and
solidarity; human rights; the pursuit of happiness. These inspirational ideas
were made the inheritance of us all by the social-democratic, egalitarian,
feminist and anti-colonial transformations of the nineteenth and twentieth
centuries — by the pursuit of social justice, the provision of welfare, the
brotherhood and sisterhood of all men and women. None should be left out,
none left behind. We are partisans of these values. But we are not zealots. For
we embrace also the values of free enquiry, open dialogue and creative doubt,
of care in judgement and a sense of the intractabilities of the world. We stand
against all claims to a total — unquestionable or unquestioning — truth.

C. Elaborations
We defend liberal and pluralist democracies against all who make light of the
differences between them and totalitarian and other tyrannical regimes. But
these democracies have their own deficits and shortcomings. The battle for
the development of more democratic institutions and procedures, for further
empowering those without influence, without a voice or with few political
resources, is a permanent part of the agenda of the Left.

The social and economic foundations on which the liberal democracies have
developed are marked by deep inequalities of wealth and income and the
survival of unmerited privilege. In turn, global inequalities are a scandal to
the moral conscience of humankind. Millions live in terrible poverty. Week in,
week out, tens of thousands of people — children in particular — die from
preventable illnesses. Inequalities of wealth, both as between individuals and
between countries, distribute life chances in an arbitrary way.

These things are a standing indictment against the international community.
We on the Left, in keeping with our own traditions, fight for justice and a
decent life for everyone. In keeping with those same traditions, we have also
to fight against powerful forces of totalitarian-style tyranny that are on the
march again. Both battles have to be fought simultaneously. One should not
be sacrificed for the other.

We repudiate the way of thinking according to which the events of September
11 2001 were America’s deserved comeuppance, or ‘understandable’ in the
light of legitimate grievances resulting from US foreign policy. What was
done on that day was an act of mass murder, motivated by odious
fundamentalist beliefs and redeemed by nothing whatsoever. No evasive
formula can hide that.

The founding supporters of this statement took different views on the military
intervention in Iraq, both for and against. We recognize that it was possible
reasonably to disagree about the justification for the intervention, the manner
in which it was carried through, the planning (or lack of it) for the aftermath,
and the prospects for the successful implementation of democratic change.
We are, however, united in our view about the reactionary, semi-fascist and
murderous character of the Baathist regime in Iraq, and we recognize its
overthrow as a liberation of the Iraqi people. We are also united in the view
that, since the day on which this occurred, the proper concern of genuine
liberals and members of the Left should have been the battle to put in place in
Iraq a democratic political order and to rebuild the country’s infrastructure, to
create after decades of the most brutal oppression a life for Iraqis which those
living in democratic countries take for granted — rather than picking through
the rubble of the arguments over intervention.

This opposes us not only to those on the Left who have actively spoken in
support of the gangs of jihadist and Baathist thugs of the Iraqi so-called
resistance, but also to others who manage to find a way of situating
themselves between such forces and those trying to bring a new democratic
life to the country. We have no truck, either, with the tendency to pay lip
service to these ends, while devoting most of one’s energy to criticism of
political opponents at home (supposedly responsible for every difficulty in
Iraq), and observing a tactful silence or near silence about the ugly forces of
the Iraqi ‘insurgency’. The many left opponents of regime change in Iraq who
have been unable to understand the considerations that led others on the Left
to support it, dishing out anathema and excommunication, more lately
demanding apology or repentance, betray the democratic values they profess.
Vandalism against synagogues and Jewish graveyards and attacks on Jews
themselves are on the increase in Europe. ‘Anti-Zionism’ has now developed
to a point where supposed organizations of the Left are willing to entertain
openly anti-Semitic speakers and to form alliances with anti-Semitic groups.
Amongst educated and affluent people are to be found individuals
unembarrassed to claim that the Iraq war was fought on behalf of Jewish
interests, or to make other ‘polite’ and subtle allusions to the harmful effect of
Jewish influence in international or national politics — remarks of a kind that
for more than fifty years after the Holocaust no one would have been able to
make without publicly disgracing themselves. We stand against all variants of
such bigotry.

The violation of basic human rights standards at Abu Ghraib, at Guantanamo,
and by the practice of ‘rendition’, must be roundly condemned for what it is:
a departure from universal principles, for the establishment of which the
democratic countries themselves, and in particular the United States of
America, bear the greater part of the historical credit. But we reject the double
standards by which too many on the Left today treat as the worst violations of
human rights those perpetrated by the democracies, while being either silent
or more muted about infractions that outstrip these by far. This tendency has
reached the point that officials speaking for Amnesty International, an
organization which commands enormous, worldwide respect because of its
invaluable work over several decades, can now make grotesque public
comparison of Guantanamo with the Gulag, can assert that the legislative
measures taken by the US and other liberal democracies in the War on Terror
constitute a greater attack on human rights principles and values than
anything we have seen in the last 50 years, and be defended for doing so by
certain left and liberal voice.

D. Conclusion
It is vitally important for the future of progressive politics that people of
liberal, egalitarian and internationalist outlook should now speak clearly. We
must define ourselves against those for whom the entire progressivedemocratic
agenda has been subordinated to a blanket and simplistic ‘antiimperialism’
and/or hostility to the current US administration. The values
and goals which properly make up that agenda — the values of democracy,
human rights, the continuing battle against unjustified privilege and power,
solidarity with peoples fighting against tyranny and oppression — are what
most enduringly define the shape of any Left worth belonging to.

Monday, April 24, 2006

More on The Anti-Gay T-shirt Ban

Last week, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to uphold a school administration's decision to ban a student from wearing an anti-gay t-shirt in school. As previously noted on this blog, Master Tyler Chase Harper wore a shirt with the statement "BE ASHAMED, OUR SCHOOL HAS EMBRACED WHAT GOD HAS CONDEMNED" handwritten on the front and the statement "HOMOSEXUALITY IS SHAMEFUL" handwritten on the back.

The school administration for one school administered by the Poway Unified School District in California decided to ban him from wearing that t-shirt and had him stay within the principal's office until it was removed. Since he did not remove the t-shirt, he was removed from the classroom for the entire day. Master Harper wore the t-shirt on the day of and day after his school participated or permitted students to participate in "The Day of Silence," a day participants take a vow of silence to recall the shameful silence gays feel pressured into lest they get mocked or condemned by those with anti-gay prejudices and/or anti-gay religious convictions.

School principal Atrim and two assistant principals told Master Harper that the remarks handwritten on his shirt were inflammatory and could potentially "cause disruption in the educational setting" and reportedly suggested alternatives that would allow him to distance himself from the gay positive message which he refused.

(Whether this claimed conciliatory approach adopted by the administration officials and Master Harper's refusal to take it is in anyway related to his father's position as a known "Biblicial studie" instructor is anyone's guess but has no bearing on the constitutional claim involved. The claimed right to wear a shirt with his message would be just as strong or weak had his father been an atheist).

Judge Kozinski dissented in a strongly worded opinion in which he notes, with some reluctance, that he feels bound to a 1969 Supreme Court opinion which he does not agree to at least in part - Tinker v. Des Moines School District, in which it ruled in favor of two children who wore black arm bands to protest American policy during the Vietnam War.

"
In our system, state-operated schools may not be enclaves of totalitarianism. School officials do not possess absolute authority over their students. Students in school as well as out of school are "persons" under our Constitution. They are possessed of fundamental rights which the State must respect, just as they themselves must respect their obligations to the State. In our system, students may not be regarded as closed-circuit recipients of only that which the State chooses to communicate. They may not be confined to the expression of those sentiments that are officially approved. In the absence of a specific showing of constitutionally valid reasons to regulate their speech, students are entitled to freedom of expression of their views. As Judge Gewin, speaking for the Fifth Circuit, said, school officials cannot suppress "expressions of feelings with which they do not wish to contend." Burnside v. Byars, supra, at 749."

Justice Blackmun, a firm supporter of the First Amendment, surprisingly dissented.

"Assuming that the Court is correct in holding that the conduct of wearing armbands for the purpose of conveying political ideas is protected by the First Amendment, cf., e. g., Giboney v. Empire Storage & Ice Co., 336 U.S. 490 (1949), the crucial remaining questions are whether students and teachers may use the schools at their whim as a platform for the exercise of free speech - "symbolic" or "pure" - and whether the courts will allocate to themselves the function of deciding how the pupils' school day will be spent. ...

... In my view, teachers in state-controlled public schools are hired to teach there. Although Mr. Justice McReynolds may have intimated to the contrary in Meyer v. Nebraska, supra, certainly a teacher is not paid to go into school and teach subjects the State does not hire him to teach as a part of its selected curriculum. Nor are public school students sent to the schools at public expense to broadcast political or any other views to educate and inform the public. The original idea of schools, which I do not believe is yet abandoned as worthless or out of date, was that children had not yet reached the point of experience and wisdom which enabled them to teach all of their elders. It may be that the Nation has outworn the old-fashioned slogan that "children are to be seen not heard," but one may, I hope, be permitted to harbor the thought that taxpayers send children to school on the premise that at their age they need to learn, not teach."


While both Dale Carpenter and Eugene Volokh posted comments at The Volokh Conspiracy in support of Kozinski's dissenting opinion, Mr. Carpenter re-opened a debate over students' rights by supporting Kozinski's suggestion that the Supreme Court revisit and perhaps overturn at least in part its groundbreaking pro-free speech ruling in Tinker.

"Kozinski argued that “it is not unusual” for high school students to be “off-task” in the classroom, which supports the view that the T-shirt did not disrupt the educational mission of the school more than it is already routinely disrupted. That’s true, and a court faithfully following Tinker should probably agree. But the deeper question is, why should federal judges, rather than on-the-spot school administrators and teachers, make judgments about whether class is too disrupted by off-topic banter and by having to stop everything to bring students back “on-task”?

If schools were free-speech zones, like the public square, we shouldn’t give state censors so much discretion to suppress speech to prevent “disruption” of some social goal. But schools cannot function as fully free-speech zones. Every class is an exercise in content-based speech regulation by teachers, who control discussion in ways that would be unthinkable in the public realm."

One might say that even “viewpoints” expressed in certain ways and at certain times can be banished from classroom discussion. A public school teacher can surely instruct students in classroom discussions to stop referring to blacks as “niggers,” to gays as “faggots,” or to Jews as . . . you get the idea. If teachers can instruct them not to say these things verbally, surely teachers can stop students from saying them on clothing worn all day. And the difference between saying that homosexuality is “shameful” and saying that gays are “faggots” is arguably one of degree, “shame” being a concept with particular closeting power in the lives of homosexuals. I suppose one could argue that using the word "shameful" here is itself the viewpoint being expressed (not just generalized opposition to homosexuality), but that would be akin to saying that using the word "nigger" is the relevant viewpoint (not just generalized opposition to race equality).

Whether to allow the viewpoint that homosexuality is wrong to be expressed in this particular way (“shameful”) and by this particular method (worn all day on a t-shirt, so that the message is never turned “off”) is a judgment best left to school administrators and teachers. They are in a better position than federal judges to determine, in the context of their own schools, whether such expressions distract from the school’s educational mission, either because they lead to general disruption or because they cause gay kids in particular to hide under a rock rather than learn anything."

Of course, a single T-shirt bearing the words “Homosexuality is shameful” isn’t that sort of direct face-to-face harassment and doesn’t, by itself, create a pervasively hostile environment. No single derogatory statement, taken by itself, creates a pervasively hostile environment. The problem is that it's expressed in a context that is already a living hell for gay kids in many public schools, as it probably was in this one, making it difficult for them to concentrate on getting an education.

When you're a closeted gay kid sitting in math class behind that guy wearing that T-shirt staring you in the face the whole time, and you know you have nobody to talk to about how it demeans your most intimate feelings, your whole world starts to look pretty desolate. At the very least, it's hard to focus on hypotenuses. Judge Kozinski put the point well in his dissent, when he said he was sympathetic to the argument that "students in school are a captive audience and should not be forced to endure speech that they find offensive and demeaning." Such messages, he wrote, "may well interfere with the educational experience even if the two students never come to blows or even have words about it."

Mr. Dale, like Judge Kozinski and late the late liberal Supreme Court Justice Blackmun makes a plausible argument for censorship within the classroom. Schools are institutions for learning and any speech which others find offensive or controversial will distract students from the schools' mission. Schools which are set up to teach students about reading, math, history and science, detract from their mission when those which govern them allow advocates on one side of a hot button issue or another detract from the learning experience of others. The gay student who site behind or across from someone wearing an anti-gay shirt, the girl sitting behind someone wearing an anti-feminist shirt, the black sitting behind or across someone wearing a confederate, anti-black or pro-KKK shirt and the Jew sitting behind or across from someone wearing a pro-Nazi, pro Hezbollah or otherwise anti-Jewish shirt may be offended and be distracted from the teature's lecture.

One reader who agreed with the ruling responded to Mr Caprenter by dinstinguishing between that said in front of a captured audience that that which is not:

In public, I can walk away from someone saying something I do not like; not look at a sign with a message that disgusts me or with which I do not agree. In school, students do not have such a choice. Students are forced to endure speech - by teachers and students. (See, Tony's statement above.)

Tell me, those who disagree with the holding, in a public school, where would you really draw the line? Consider the following t-shirt slogans: "Hitler was right." "George Bush is wrong." "All Moslims should die because of 9/11." "The principal sucks." Make up your own, just tell me explicitly where you would draw the line. "


But there is always the question of (a) whether such offensive displays truly detract from the learning environment and (b) whether there are times when the schools' lesson plan is indisputable and deserving of unquestioned, unhindered support.

(with respect to question (a):
Any and everything which a school administrator or student could be construed as offensive to another student without contributing to a distraction in learning environment overall. The offended student him or herself must in some degree respond before it interrupts to the learning environment. The student who sits behind someone wearing a pro-Confederate or anti-gay shirt could turn his eyes away from the offending student's shirt and towards the teacher who is giving a lecture or the book in front of him or her. Armbands, and messages on shirts are passive displays which can be worn without interrupting the teacher who is giving a lecture.

(with respect to question (b):
Mathematical principles and rules concerning the structure of English sentences may not be debatable but other lesson plans for history, science, and health classes are open for debate. Abstinence-only and "safe-sex" advocates dispute the success rates of condoms in preventing teen pregnancy. Historians offer different economic, political, and religious motiviations behind any given social and political movement. Scholars dispute the religious adherence of this country's Founding Fathers. Advocates for intelligent design and evolution fight battle after battle over public disclaimers and "teach the debate" lesson plans.

Note this comment written by one Volokh Conspiracy leader in response to Mr. Dale Carpenter:

"... A lot, though not all, of the comments both in this thread and Eugene's seem to be talking past each other. Many of those who support the CA9 decision see homosexuality as innate and unchosen, as being black is innate and unchosen, and therefore liken (appropriately given that assumption) the homosexuality-is-shameful t-shirt to t-shirts saying that, say, blacks are shameful. Many of those who challenge the decision see homosexuality as chosen in much the same sense that a religion, or being in the mafia, or picking one's nose, or being anti-abortion (four examples I seem to recall) are chosen. [Yes, there's a sense in which none of those are chosen either, especially if one is a thoroughgoing philosphical determinist; but in the practical world, there's some choice.) Indeed, the t-shirt could itself be understood as making a statement on the question not only whether homosexuality is good or bad, but also on whether it is (more or less) freely chosen. (A gay youngster with more maturity and thicker skin than we have any reason to require or expect might well be less offended by the t-shirt given an understanding that it's normative expression is based on a mistaken factual premise.)

If it matters whether homosexuality is or is not chosen for purposes of the First Amendment analysis (as it does to some, but by no means all, of the commenters), whose view counts? Almost surely not the critized audience, else the mafia, nosepickers, religious groups, whatever, could define themselves as protected. But probably also not the speaker in this kind of instance. Some sort of objective test is called for (though -- see point 1 -- I am very leery of being forced into this conclusion because of the government's decision to get into the education business in the first place), and on that test, well, it's innate.

Although it seems to matter to some commenters whether this case is like "blacks are shameful" or like "people who choose to believe X are shameful," at the end of the day, it's a tough case even if that issue is resolved."


The case for an uninterrupted and unquestioned learning environment depends in part on the level of dispute School administrators who object to open forums concerning mathematical principles would have few objections (2 + 2 does not equal 5 but the case against debate in a health, science or history class is weaker, even when there is no controversy. If lesson plans based upon questionable assertions are not disputed, the student's education is minimal and uninformed and at worst exposes the student to indoctrination.

But the degree of support behind a particular viewpoint is not enough to warrant special protection. At one point, segregation in the south was not only tolerated but also supported. Something that is held as unquestionably true today might later be proven false. Those who would try to distinguish their support for racial harmony and equality from their opposition to gay equality should recall that at one point racial segregation did not go unquestioned by those who were not black (and they should remember that before silencing those who disagree with racial equality for the same reason).


Mr. Dale would provide school administrators and teachers, the very people who have a stake in strengthening (as opposed to undermining) their lesson plans, make the same mistakes the 9th Ciruit panel made. A public school distict in rural Georgia may decide to ban gay pride t-shirts, and gay-straight alliances because they impose distractions from the abstinence-until marriage lesson plan while protecting the free speech and association rights of those whose views are in conformance with the school district's lesson plan. Just as, it should be noted, the Poway United School District school in question upheld the gay students' Day of Silence free expression rights while barring that exercised by Master Tyler Chase Harper.

As Eugene Volokh notes:

"According to the majority, "derogatory and injurious remarks directed at students' minority status such as race, religion, and sexual orientation" -- which essentially means expressions of viewpoints that are hostile to certain races, religions, and sexual orientations -- are simply unprotected by the First Amendment in K-12 schools. Such speech, Judge Reinhardt said, violates "the rights of other students" by constituting a "verbal assault[] that may destroy the self-esteem of our most vulnerable teenagers and interfere with their educational development. ...

... Judge Reinhardt takes some unelaborated remarks by the Supreme Court about the First Amendment's not protecting student speech that "intrudes upon . . . the rights of other students," and fashions from them a constitutionally recognized right to be free from certain kinds of offensive viewpoints (not a right that is itself directly legally enforceable, but a right that the school may choose to assert as a justification for its viewpoint-based speech restrictions).

It's a dangerous retreat from our tradition that the First Amendment is viewpoint-neutral. It's an opening to a First Amendment limited by rights to be free from offensive viewpoints. It's a tool for suppression of one side of public debates (about same-sex marriage, about Islam, quite likely about illegal immigration, and more) while the other side remains constitutionally protected and even encouraged by the government."


And that sentiment is echoed here by this person who responded to Mr. Carpenter.

"So what about the kid that belives homosexuality is shameful, and is stuck sitting in math class behind someone wearing a Gay Pride t-shirt? He can't turn off the message that homosexuality is not shameful, but rather it is something to be proud of. Are you willing to ban the "Gay Pride" t-shirt so he can concentrate on his studies?"

The question is where to find the right balance. Denigrating language which refers to people with insults may be deemed inappropriate to maintain civility.

No Supreme Court opinion as of yet explicitly bans public schools from imposing upon its students a dress code which could deny them from wearing their political beliefs on their sleeves so a school administration might at some point choose to do that to avoid these contentious issues but that may one day be challenged. A school district would be hard-pressed by a lawyer to defend a school district's decision to ban students from wearing their politics on their sleaves while respecting their right to wear their religious artificats and garments in the classroom, as noted by this reader from The Volokh conspiracy:

"Once you establish that dress can be regulated on content (which may be different from regulated on shape and size--if a girl's bellybutton can be analogized to the "content" of her shirt, or lack thereof, the two issues may rise and fall together), how far will you allow this to go? I recall when shirts of various solid colors were banned, because those shirts were in "gang colors." Is that an OK content ban based on the distraction-from-studying grounds? Is there any reasonable and fair middle ground between school uniforms and total deregulation? If so, where?"

Mr. Volokh would, even if Tinker is overruled, have the school administrators and courts rely upon a standard that upholds the viewpoint neutral principle our First Amendment protects. One approach would require the teacher in any given situation to go through the lecture program, offer two or three contrasting viewpoints, and limit student input to a response to the lesson plan while providing them an unlimited access to push for their competing ideological visions through after-school activities conducted on school grounds.

The PoliticalHeretic would have to agree with Mr. Volokh, not only because the First Amendment mandates it but also because a free country that seeks to raise our children to be good, intellectually responsible and politically active citizens must by necessity allow them to practice exercising it.





Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Weekend Preview


The Newsmakers


1. Fox News Sunday: (a) Representatives Jane Harmon (D-California) and Peter Hoekstra (R-Michigan) talk about Iran's nuclear ambitions. (b)Former Chiefs of Staff Leon Panetta and Ken Duberstein then talk about the White House staff changes. (c) Interview with Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas.

2. Face The Nation: Debate over immigration reform with Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) and The New York Times columnist David Brooks.

3. Meet The Press: Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) interviewed about the standoff with Iran, immigration reform, and other political topics. Roundtable discussion includes The Washington Times' Tony Blankley, Dee Dee Myers, David Border of The Washington Post, and
Ron Brownstein of
The Los Angeles Times.

4. Late Edition: (a) the danger of Iran having nuclear weapons, (b) calls for Senator Donald Rumsfeld's resignation are debated, (c) discussion of whether there will be any more changes at The White House. guests include Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania), Senate Armed Services and Senate Homeland Security Committee member Carl Levin (D-Michigan) Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, The New York Times columnist and book writer Thomas Friedman.

5. This Week: (a) Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger (D-California) talks about immigration reform, his political campaign focusing on the environment, the expected visit from President George W. Bush and whether he will getaid from Washington. (b) interview with Senator and former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) on his opposition to the war in Iraq, dissent during wartime, the potential of a fair and thorough debate over immigration while at war, and his future ambitions for the White House. (c) Actress Gloria Reuben on her new role portraying Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in David Hare's "Stuff Happens." (d) Roundtable discussion includes Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts and George F. Will.

Other Talk Shows

1. The Chris Matthews Show: (a) Whether the Democrats could field an authentic, spontaneous candidate for the 2008 presidential election. (b) Whether President George W. Bush could sell the public on a good economy while gas prices rise. Guests include Katty Kay of BBC News, Joe Klein of Time Magazine, Andrea Mitchell of NBC News and Clarence Page of The Chicago Tribune.

2. Beltway Boys: (a)What, if any other personnel changes, will be made in The White House. (b) the political and economic fall out over gas prices (c) Chinese President Hu's "royal treatment."

3. Heartland: (a) Live report from Aruba on why the U.S. Coast Guard has stopped its search for Natalee Holloway's body, (b)Ford Mustang father and former Chyrsler CEO Lee Iacocca, and (c)Billy Ray Cyrus.

4. Fox News Watch: (a) the media's role in the White House staff changes, (b) honoring privacy of the Duke University lacrosse players accused of rape, (c)'South Park' on the Muhammad cartoons.

News Feature Shows

1. CBS Sunday Morning: Profile on Glen Schifano, a musical therapist, who performs for children with life-threatening illnesses housed at Schneider Children's Hospital on Long Island.

2. 60 Minutes: (a) the debate over an anti-aging drug's effect on giving those who take it cancer and heart disease. (b) CIA officer Tyler Drumheller says the White House chose to ignore intelligence suggesting that Iraq did not in fact have weapons of mass destruction.

3. 48 Hours: Report on the newly-released documents concerning the official investigation into the then-suspected murder of Marilyn Monroe.

4. Dateline NBC: What may happen if we have an avian flu pandemic.

Pure Entertainment

1. Saturday Night Live: Host Natalee Portman with guest host Fall Out Boy.

2. Law and Order Criminal Intent: Investigation into a gunshot murder of a businessman leads Detectives Noth and Sciorra to a self-involved mother who blackmails cheating family men
with phony paternity claims but then the two begin to suspect her sister.

3. Cold Case: investigation of a 1965 murder case is re-opned after a 4-year old girl's body is found washed up on the Jersey shore.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Dan Asmussen

First, conservative talk show hosts link evidence purportedly supporting natural disaster claims to gay tolerance. Then Senator John McCain's (R-Arizona) 2-year old biopolitical devolution. They're both good this week.

9th Circuit Court Opinion on Anti-Gay T-Shirt Ban

The three-judge panel for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to uphold Poway Unified School District's decision to ban an anti-gay T-shirt worn by s sophomore on the day of and day following the "Day of Silence," a day gay student rights groups use to call attention to the social isolation many gays feel in the schools and society at large.

Student Tyler Chase Harper wrote a T-Shirt with the statement "BE ASHAMED,OUR SCHOOL HAS EMBRACED WHAT GOD HAS CONDEMNED" handwritten on the front and 'HOMOSEXUALITY IS SHAMEFUL" written on the back. He was advised by the teacher to remove the shirt and eventually was sent to the principal's office and was confronted by three administrators (three apparitions Scrooge?).

Assistant Principal Atrim reportedly told Harper that his shirt "was inflammatory under the circumstances and could cause disruption in the educational setting" and in her affidavit, claimed to suggest several ways he could positively reflect his values without the condemnation explicitly stated on his shirt. Ed Giles, another assistant principal, reportedly told the sophomore that he shared in the same Christian faith and suggested that Harper "consider other alternatives that would be more positive and nonconfrontational." Principal Scott Fisher ultimately banned Harper from wearing the t-shirt because the school had a reason to "avoid [the] physical conflict." He said it statement was derogatory and hurts gay students.

Master Harper says his First Amendment right to free speech and religious expression were improperly denied but the two-justice majority disagreed. School administrators must balance, it argues, between any individual students' right to free speech with the physical and psychological safety of the other students on campus:

"Public school students who may be injured by verbal assaults on the basis of a core identifying characteristic such as race, religion, or sexual orientation, have a right to be free from such attacks while on school campuses. As Tinker clearly states, students have the right to “be secure and to be let alone.” Id. Being secure involves not only freedom from physical assaults but from psychological attacks that cause young people to question their self-worth and their rightful place in society.

The “right to be let alone” has been recognized by the Supreme Court, of course, as “‘the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.’” Hill v. Colorado, 530 U.S. 703, 716-17 (2000) (quoting Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438, 478 (1928) (Brandeis, J., dissenting)). Indeed, the “recognizable privacy interest in avoiding unwanted communication” is perhaps most important “when persons are ‘powerless to avoid’ it.” Id. at 716 (quoting Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15, 21-22 (1971)). Because minors are subject to mandatory attendance requirements, the Court has emphasized “the obvious concern on the part of parents, and school authorities acting in loco parentis, to protect children – especially in a captive audience . . . .” Fraser, 478 U.S. at 684. ..."

To which dissenting Circuit Judge Kozinski said that the school forfeited any such claim to protect the student's "right to be let alone" and free of "verbal assaults" (vaguely idenfitied) when it participated in the "Day of Silence" promoted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the gay-straight alliance.

"The record reveals quite clearly that Harper’s t-shirt was not an out-of-the-blue affront to fellow students who were minding their own business. Rather, Harper wore his t-shirt in response to the Day of Silence, a political activity that was sponsored or at the very least tolerated by school authorities.6 The Day of Silence is a protest sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). According to a GLSEN press release, the Day of Silence is “an annual, national student-led effort in which participants take a vow of silence to peacefully protest the discrimination and harassment faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth in schools.” Press Release, GLSEN, A New Record for the Day of Silence (Apr. 14, 2004), available at http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/news/record/1655.html. The point of this protest, as I understand it, is to promote tolerance toward all students, regardless of their sexual orientation. See Antrim decl. at 2. Tolerance is a civic virtue,7 but not one practiced by all members of our society toward all others. This may be unfortunate, but it is a reality we must accept in a pluralistic society.8 Specifically, tolerance toward homosexuality and homosexual conduct is anathema to those who believe that intimate relations among people of the same sex are immoral or sinful. So long as the subject is kept out of the school environment, these differences of opinion need not clash. But a visible and highly publicized political action by those on one side of the issue will provoke those on the other side to express a different point of view, if only to avoid the implication that they agree. See Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons act 2, at 88 (1962) (“The maxim of the law is ‘Silence gives consent.’”). Given the history of violent confrontation between those who support the Day of Silence and those who oppose it, the school authorities may have been justified in banning the subject altogether by denying both sides permission to express their views during the school day. See, e.g., West v. Derby Unified Sch. Dist. No. 260, 206 F.3d 1358, 1361, 1366 (10th Cir. 2000) (upholding ban on items that give rise to racial tension such as Confederate flags and Malcolm X tshirts). I find it far more problematic—and more than a little ironic—to try to solve the problem of violent confrontations by gagging only those who oppose the Day of Silence and the point of view it represents. Or, as Judge Rosen put it in Hansen v. Ann Arbor Public Schools, 293 F. Supp. 2d 780 (E.D. Mich. 2003), “[t]hat Defendants can say with apparent sincerity that they were advancing the goal of promoting ‘acceptance and tolerance for minority points of view’ by their demonstrated intolerance for a viewpoint that was not consistent with their own is
hardly worthy of serious comment.” Id. at 801–02."

"... I find it significant, moreover, that Harper did not thrust his view of homosexuality into the school environment as part of a campaign to demean or embarrass other students. Rather, he was responding to public statements made by others with whom he disagreed. Whatever one might think are the psychological effects of unprovoked demeaning statements by one student against another, the effects may be quite different when they are part of a political give-and-take.

Judge Kozinski believes that given the precedent, the Supreme Court would not have given the school administration the deference accorded to it by the majority. Gay students may have been offended but no one got hurt. Harper war his shirt for two days and no major incident occurred:

"Defendants point to Harper’s own report that “he [had been] involved in a tense verbal conversation with a group of students” earlier that day, but this is hardly the stuff of which substantial disorder is made. Fisher decl. at 3. People—judges even—often have strong views and their discussions will naturally reflect this intensity of feeling. There is nothing at all wrong with that, and it normally does not lead to substantial disorder. There is no indication that Harper’s discussion turned violent or disrupted school activities. There is no evidence that it involved shouting or threats, or that it interfered with the passage of students to and
from class. The discussion, tense though it may have been, did not have to be broken up by school authorities; rather, it seems to have come to a peaceful conclusion. The best proof that this “tense verbal conversation” did not cause substantial disorder is that the school authorities knew nothing about the incident.

In his view, the Supreme Court obliges him and the other members of every federal court below it to give First Amendment right deference to the student whose viewpoint is suppressed. Since any and everything can be be offensive to any number of political, economic, religious or cultural groups, laws and policies which ban offensive speech by necessity ban all speech.

"Last but not least, the policy here (unlike that in Saxe) prohibits not only speech that denigrates others, but also any speech that the student seeks to justify by expressing pride in his own traits. We are taught to take pride in who we are; it is, in a sense, the American way. It seems particularly chilling to free expression to restrain speech that expresses pride in one’s own religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. ...

The problems posed by the policy here, not only for Harper but for many other students, are not theoretical or trivial. Assuming, as we must, that on the next Day of Silence Harper will not be allowed to wear a t-shirt expressing his interpretation of Romans 1:27, what exactly can he say or wear? Would a t-shirt quoting Romans 1:2714 be permissible, or is it prohibited because a homosexual student might interpret it as “motivated by bias against him/her”? How about a tshirt with the message “Straight and Proud of It”? Is this a protected “positive” message, or is it the dreaded “exalting own . . . sexual orientation” and therefore hate behavior? Indeed, is there anything at all that Harper and others of his view can say or do to distance themselves from the Day of Silence proceedings without running the risk that another student will take it personally? May Harper have a discussion at lunchtime where he says: “Homosexuality is sinful”? On his way home from school, may he tell another student a joke disparaging the movie Brokeback Mountain? Once he gets home, can he post criticism of the Day of Silence on his MySpace page? Given the broad language of the policy, I believe any and all of these could be punished by the school authorities as hate behavior. Nor is Harper alone. Consider those who participate in the Day of Silence. They, of course, believe they are doing so to promote tolerance and equality. But others—like Harper—might view it as an effort to exalt homosexuality and
denigrate their own sexual orientation and religious beliefs. Relying on the same overbroad policy that the school used to ban Harper’s t-shirt, the school could, if it chose, easily ban the Day of Silence activities as demeaning the sexual orientation of straight students, or the religious beliefs of Christians like Harper.

All manner of other speech, from the innocuous to the laudable, could also be banned or punished under the school’s hate speech policy. May a student wear a Black Pride t-shirt, or does this denigrate white and Asian students? May a student wear a t-shirt saying “I love Jesus,” or will this make Jews, Muslims and Druids feel it’s an attack on their religions? May a student wear a t-shirt saying “Proud to be a Turk,” or will this cause bad vibrations for the Greeks and Armenians in the school? Will a student be disciplined for disruption if, during a lunch-time discussion, he argues forcefully that the State of Israel oppresses Palestinians and, when called on it, defends himself, saying: “I said it because I’m proud to be a Muslim.”?

The court majority would distinguish between bonna fide minorities who historically have been oppressed and conditioned (or are otherwise more prone) to view themselves as inferiors deserving of nothing and those whose characteristics would place them with the rich and powerful elites.

"... Speech that attacks high school students who are members of minority groups that have historically been oppressed, subjected to verbal and physical abuse, and made to feel inferior, serves to injure and intimidate them, as well as to damage their sense of security and interfere with their opportunity to learn.19 The demeaning of young gay and lesbian students in a school environment is detrimental not only to their psychological health and well-being, but also to their educational development. Indeed, studies demonstrate that “academic underachievement, truancy, and dropout are prevalent among homosexual youth and are the probable consequences of violence and verbal and physical abuse at school.” Susanne M. Stronski Huwiler and Gary Remafedi, Adolescent Homosexuality, 33 REV. JUR. U.I.P.R. 151, 164 (1999); see also Thomas A. Mayes, Confronting Same-Sex, Student-to-Student Sexual Harassment: Recommendations for Educators and Policy Makers, 29 FORDHAM URB. L.J. 641, 655 (2001) (describing how gay students are at a greater risk of school failure and dropping out, most likely as a result of “social pressure and isolation”); Amy Lovell, “Other
Students Always Used to Say, ‘Look At The Dykes’”: Protecting Students From Peer Sexual Orientation Harassment, 86 CAL. L. REV. 617, 625-28 (1998) (summarizing the negative effects on gay students of peer sexual orientation harassment).


But as Kozinski notes, as much as gay students know they can overcome the disfavor expressed at them and. The link between offensive speech and poor self image is correlative at best. Some may get hurt and push themselves back into the closet while others treat it as a challenge and rise above it.

"By participating in the Day of Silence activities, homosexual students perforce acknowledge that their status is not universally admired or accepted; the whole point of the Day of Silence, as I understand it, is to dispute views like those characterized by Harper’s t-shirt. Supporters of the Day of Silence may prefer to see views such as Harper’s channeled into public discourse rather than officially suppressed but whispered behind backs or scribbled on bathroom walls. Confronting—and refuting—such views in a public forum may well empower homosexual students, contributing to their sense of self-esteem."

A gay or gay-friendly student could in practice and theory use Harper's own words against him. The sophomore explicitly stated his belief that gays should be ashamed of themselves and that the society at large should push them back "into the closet." By explicitly stating his beliefs, Mr. Harper intentionally or not provided gays with the very evidence their school needed to justify the Day of Silence - his and many students' intolerance towards those who are different.

We are all haves and have-nots, depending upon the situation and as such, equally capable in overcoming these problems. The white Christian heterosexual man may get disparaged for being poor, fat or nerdy while the gay black atheist but go-getting intellectual entrepreneur rises to the top of the corporate ladder. The former, it could be argued, has characteristics that would lead him to cower in shame and behave meekly while the latter has behavioral attributes admired by those in the environment.

On a whole, Judge Kozinski made the better of the two arguments and looks forward to the day when the full Ninth Circuit or the Supreme Court overturns this ruling. Master. Harper's views may be offensive. They may not contribute to a debate concerning homosexuality. They may hurt other people's feelings but they do not cause gay students insurmountable challenges that deprive them of the right to a safe learning environment.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Yearning for a Third Party

Slate Magazine article links:

"So the simple question is this: Why can’t we have a serious, innovative, truth-telling, pragmatic party without any of the baggage of the Democrats and Republicans? A real and enduring party built around a coherent set of ideas and sensibility—neither a shell created for a single charismatic candidate like George Wallace or Ross Perot, nor a protest party like the Greens or Libertarians, with no hope of ever getting more than a few million votes in a presidential election. A party that plausibly aspires to be not a third party but
the third party—to winning, and governing.

Let the present, long-running duopoly of the Republicans and Democrats end. Let the invigorating and truly democratic partisan flux of the American republic’s first century return. Let there be a more or less pacifist, anti-business, protectionist Democratic Party on the left, and an anti-science, Christianist, unapologetically greedy Republican Party on the right—and a robust new independent party of passionately practical progressives in the middle." - Kurt Anderson in New York Magazine

Anderson on why he Doesn't Like the Republicans

"Some lifelong Republicans (such as my mother) abandoned ship in the nineties when the Evangelicals and right-to-lifers finally loomed too large in her party and Gingrich and company tried to defund public broadcasting and the national cultural endowments. As for us lifelong non-Republicans, we don’t want taxes to be any higher than necessary, but the tax-cutting monomania of the GOP these days is grotesque selfishness masquerading as principle—and truly irresponsible, given the free-spending, deficit-ballooning policies it’s also pursuing. We are appalled by the half-cynical, half-medieval mistrust and denial of science—the crippling of stem-cell research, the refusal to believe in man-made climate change. And Republicans’ ongoing willingness to go racist for political purposes (as Bush’s supporters did during the 2000 primaries) is disgusting. Demagoguery is endemic to both parties, but when it comes to exploiting fundamentally irrelevant issues (such as the medical condition of Terri Schiavo), the GOP takes the cake."

Anderson on Why He Doesn't Like the Democrats

"As for the Democrats, the Republicans still have a point: Where are the brave, fresh, clear approaches passionately and convincingly laid out? When it comes to reforming entitlements, the Democrats have absolutely refused to step up. Because the teachers unions and their 4 million members are the most important organized faction of its political base, the party is wired to oppose any meaningful experimentation with charter schools or other new modes. Similarly, after beginning to embrace the inevitability of economic globalization in the nineties, and devising ways to minimize our local American pain, the Democrats’ scaredy-cat protectionist instincts seem to be returning with a vengeance. On so many issues, the ostensibly “progressive” party’s habits of mind seem anything but.

However, what makes so much of the great middle of the electorate most uncomfortable about signing on with the Democratic Party is the same thing that has made them uncomfortable since McGovern—the sense that the anti-military instincts of the left half of the party, no matter how sincere and well meaning, render prospective Democratic presidents untrustworthy as guardians of national security. It’s no accident that Bill Clinton was elected and reelected (and Al Gore won his popular majority) during the decade when peace reigned supreme, after the Cold War and before 9/11."


Third Party Possible?

"The only assets controlled by the two parties that can’t be reproduced by an entrepreneurial independent are their distinctive brands, the value of which is in steep decline." - Ryan Lizza, who pointedly goes through each disadvantage that a third-party candidate would have.

Illegal Immigrant Demonstration In Colorado

"Please guys, obey the law. Please don't put 20 people in a car, 'La ley es la ley. No quiero problemas," which means "the law is the law, we don't want problems." - student organizer Daniel Alarcon reminding students to obey the law while advocating on behalf of those who by just being here have broken the law.

Were the schools sponsoring this? This happened during school time. Will the schools punish those who were truant and would they provide those who join counter-demonstrations against illegal aliens (or join a demonstration for one side or the other on any other given political issue) the same respect?





Op-ed:A Republican Leaves

"But no longer will they gain my vote. I cannot vote for bigots, for candidates who look to decrease, not increase and broaden, civil rights. I cannot vote for candidates who start wars with lies. The current federal tax code and levels of deficit spending are the very definition of irresponsible government.

We have a state legislature that is more concerned with erasing local laws it doesn't like, than in assembling fair and well-considered state budgets, which should be the first job of each state legislative session, not the last. And, finally, with his cutting of state employees' rights, on Diversity Day of all days, Ernie Fletcher has revealed himself to all to be a tool has revealed himself to all to be a tool of the fundamentalists, a sellout to manna, and unfit, in my opinion, to govern." - A.G. Casebeer, a Kentucky resident who claims that he is leaving the Republican Party years after he should have.

Mr. Casebeer's decision to quit the party isn't per se news. Many American citizens switch parties everday. Some who believe the Democratic Party is moving too far to the left switch over to the Republican side while others who believe it moved too far to the middle leave and join either the Green Party or any one of a number of fringe left-wing parties. Republicans who believe the party has forsaken its conservative principles leave have and will continue to join either the Libertarian Party or one of any number of right-wing parties while others who believe the party has moved too far to the right re-register or Democrats. And of course, those of all political persuasions who are fed up with the two-party system leave the two-party systems and register as independents as well.

This Kentucky resident from Louisville, says the party has moved too far to the right on the cultural issues (he focues on the gay rights issues) while doing little or anything to support its claim to be fiscally responsible. While the country was run by the Democrats, many Republicans with socially moderate to liberal views were able to dismiss or otherwise push to the side their differences with the Democrats to unite behind a fiscally conservative, low tax and high spending cut program but now that the Republicans are in spending away while in power (in Kentucky and the nation) these social moderates must be questioning why there would be any reason to vote for them. Even their war policy, something which the Republicans are supposed to conduct better than Democrats, is under close scrutiny.








Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Hamas' Continued Support for Terrorism Isn't Helping It

Before some Israelis cave in and grant Hamas unwarranted legitimacy, they should take note of Turkey and Jordan's reactions to Hamas' policies as of late. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdul Gul chastised Hamas for its failure to condemn those involved in the latest suicide bombing which killed nine people in Tel Aviv. He said the organization which won power in the predominantly Palestinian-populated occuppied territories missed an opportunity to distance itself from terrorism and win some credibility it could use at the negotiating table.

The Jordanians cancelled a visit with Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar after it seized "missiles, explosives, and automatic weapons" that Hamas was storing within Jordan. Hamas Foreign Minister Zahar requested this meeting though it is not known if he was going to request some financial aid to make up for that which the Americans and Europeans put on hold after Hamas won control in the latest national elections. But if he was going to ask for that aid, Zahar and the administration which he serves under was put on notice - Jordan's aid will not be taken for granted.

Hamas cannot pursue its course and expect legitimacy. The Palestinians have won for themselves a right to their own country. The Arab and European countries, as well as the United States and Israel itself, back a resolution which eventually will give the Palestinians the independence that they seek. Those fighting for Israel's destruction, however, are fighting a losing battle. The Israelis will not leave and neither the Europeans with the Holocast still fresh in their minds, nor the Americans ready to abandon them. The Jordanians, meanwhile, have made their own peace with Israel and ready to side with those Israelis and Palestinians who seriously negotiating for a peaceful resolution.