I think some people misunderstand what the protests against SOPA and PIPA are all about.
Meanwhile, some politicians do now understand the ramifications and are dropping their support for SOPA.
I recently posted a story about a teenager who tweeted a negative comment about Kansas Governor Sam Brownback to her sixty-five followers. Brownback’s office, monitoring for negative on-line comments, found the tweet and reported this to her school’s principal. Neither the principal or Brownback’s office showed any appreciation of First Amendment rights and the principal demanded that the girl apologize to Brownback.
The student has refused to apologize. AP reports:
Emma Sullivan, 18, of the Kansas City suburb of Fairway, said she isn’t sorry and doesn’t think such a letter would be sincere.
The Shawnee Mission East senior was taking part in a Youth in Government program last week in Topeka, Kan., when she sent out a tweet from the back of a crowd of students listening to Brownback’s greeting. From her cellphone, she thumbed: “Just made mean comments at gov. brownback,” and then specified what the comments were.
She actually made no such comment and said she was “just joking with friends.” But Brownback’s office, which monitors social media for postings containing the governor’s name, saw Sullivan’s post and contacted the Youth in Government program.
Sullivan received a scolding at school and was ordered to send Brownback an apology letter. She said Prinicipal Karl R. Krawitz even suggested talking points for the letter she was supposed to turn in Monday.
Her mother is showing far better understanding of freedom of speech than either the principal or Brownback.
Sullivan’s mother, Julie, said she isn’t angry with her daughter, even though she thinks she “could have chosen different words.”
“She wasn’t speaking to the 3,000 followers she has now,” Julie Sullivan said. “She was talking to 65 friends. And also it’s the speech they use today. It’s more attention grabbing. I raised my kids to be independent, to be strong, to be free thinkers.
“If she wants to tweet her opinion about Gov. Brownback, I say for her to go for it and I stand totally behind her.”
Update: Brownback has apologized for the over-reaction of his staff.
Yesterday I noted a story about someone who criticized President Obama and wound up being interviewed by the Secret Service. The person has signs up at his business with fallacious criticism, and has criticized Obama on Facebook. He was acting within his First Amendment rights, regardless of how absurd his claims are. Unless there is more to this story than I am aware of, such as statements promoting violence, there was no reason for any law enforcement agencies to get involved. Reportedly his statements made it to the Secret Service who interviewed him and laughed off the incident.
Today there is a report of a high school student being harassed due to a tweet which was critical of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback:
A Kansas teenager is in trouble after mocking Gov. Sam Brownback during a mock legislative assembly for high school students.
Emma Sullivan, a senior at Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, was in Topeka on Monday as part of Kansas Youth in Government, a program for students interested in politics and government.
During the session, in which Brownback addressed the group, Sullivan posted on her personal Twitter page:
“Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot”
On Tuesday, Sullivan was called to her principal’s office and told that the tweet had been flagged by someone on Brownback’s staff and reported to organizers of the Youth in Government program…
Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag said her office had forwarded a copy of Sullivan’s tweet to organizers of the school-sponsored event “so that they were aware what their students were saying in regards to the governor’s appearance.
“We monitor social media so we can see what Kansans are thinking and saying about the governor and his policies,” Jones-Sontag said.
“We just felt it was appropriate for the organizers to be aware … because of what was said in the tweet.”
Sullivan, 18, said she posted the comment because she doesn’t agree with Brownback’s policies, particularly recent cuts in state aid to schools. She is a registered Democrat.
“Some of my friends were joking about what they’d really like to say (to Brownback), so I just took out my phone” and tweeted, she said. “I guess it was kind of a heat-of-the-moment thing.”
This sounds like a quite clear violation of First Amendment rights, with both Governor Brownback’s office and the school principal acting inappropriately.
Update: I did receive this link from a reader who says that the person in the first incident was a member of right wing militias and had threatened the president. If that is the case, then the Secret Service was right to interview him. It is the principle as opposed to the specifics of this particular case which is most important–merely criticizing a government official, regardless of party and regardless of the validity of the criticism, should not lead to retaliation from any unit of government.
Both liberals and conservatives often object that the other side is restricting their freedom. Liberals object when conservatives interfere with an individual’s rights to control their own life and body. For example, liberals object when conservatives restrict access to contraception, tell people who they may marry, prevent a woman from controlling her own body, use government to impose the agenda of the religious right, intervene in personal end-of-life decisions, or restrict civil liberties. Conservatives tend to ignore the types of liberties addressed by the Bill of Rights, beyond supporting an individual right to bear arms, and generally concentrate more on what they call economic liberties.
Conservatives tend to oppose imaginary restrictions on economic liberty, such as by making ridiculous claims that a centrist such as Barack Obama is a socialist. They claim that liberals are engaging in robbery by supporting slightly higher marginal rates on the wealthy, ignoring the fact that the rates now supported by most liberals remain lower than the tax rates under Ronald Reagan. Of course conservatives have rewritten the history of the Reagan administration in their minds, just as they have rewritten American history and the Constitution.
Today an example came out of what conservatives see as a freedom worth fighting for–the right to toss dwarfs. Conservatives also love to wrap their off the wall ideas in the hot issues of the day, so this is also being promoted as a way to create more jobs:
Some news on the job-creation front in Florida.
A state legislator has found yet another example of government regulation getting in the way of job creation.
So Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, filed a bill this week to bring back “dwarf tossing,” the barbaric and dangerous barroom spectacle that was imported from Australia and thrived briefly in Florida before it was outlawed in 1989.
“I’m on a quest to seek and destroy unnecessary burdens on the freedom and liberties of people,” Workman said. “This is an example of Big Brother government.
“All that it does is prevent some dwarfs from getting jobs they would be happy to get,” Workman said. “In this economy, or any economy, why would we want to prevent people from getting gainful employment?”
State lawmaker’s not-so-lofty effort
Yes, the viral government-kills-jobs theme is being repackaged into what might be called a Leave No Tossed Dwarf Behind bill.
“I would never force anybody to take this form of employment or pay to watch it,” Workman said. “I think it’s repulsive and stupid. But it’s none of the state’s business if somebody wants to do this.”
Workman’s efforts to create employment opportunities for little people willing to be objectified as flying objects was not done after consultation with anyone eligible for this line of work.
“The people who were thrown were alcoholics with low self-esteem,” said Robert Van Etten, 62, of Stuart. “Many of them were injured. One committed suicide.”
Van Etten, a 3-foot-5-inch engineering consultant and former president of Little People of America, has worked with his wife, Angela, for years to educate people about the physical and psychological dangers of dwarf tossing.
Dangers and painful memories
Bringing dwarf tossing back to Florida is a step backward, he said, a move that signals a permissive air of mockery on an entire class of people.
“It’s something that brings out the worst element in some people, and it’s focused on people who are the most vulnerable,” Van Etten said.
This week’s episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day, The Categories of Life, has a new twist on death panels, taken from Nazi Germany. The episode speeds up the pacing of the series, but I want to reserve judgment how this plays into the full series until it has completed. I did have a couple of nitpicks about this week’s villain, Colin Maloney. He turned to quickly from one-dimensional buffoon to one-dimension villain, and it is not believable that he would be so shocked by a female physician. (The UK trailer for the episode is above).
John Noble has some teasers on the upcoming season of Fringe and what happened to Peter Bishop:
“Because we finished off with the season so powerfully what you’ll see now is thread in through a mini arc of four episodes,” explained John Noble during a one-on-one with the the TV Addict in Los Angeles. “We thread in the feeling, the presence of and finally the manifestation of Peter.”
And while it probably won’t come as much of a surprise that Peter does in fact return, (Joked Noble, “Josh [Jackson] is our leading man of course he does [return!]“) what sure as heck will is that Peter’s reappearance may not mark the return of the Peter fans (Not to mention the two Olivias!) have come to know and love over the course of the past three seasons.
“What we do is find a way to bring Peter back in…. but not in the way he was before,” revealed Noble. “It’s grand for Josh because it gives him a chance to finally do another version of himself, which he hasn’t had before. So it’s a great pay off for Josh and it means that we get to rebuild somehow in a different way.”
But just how different will be Peter Bishop 2.0 (Peternate?) be? Noble, not surprisingly, was playing coy. To the point that the only thing he would tease is that the start of FRINGE’s fourth season will be eerily familiar to fans of the show who has stuck with it since day one.
“That wonderful humanizing element that we’ve had in FRINGE of Walter and Peter getting to know and love each other again and build up their relationship… we start the season without that,” said Noble. “”[When the season starts] Walter is still in the lab but he’s quite insane, agoraphobic, obsessive compulsive and under the guardianship of Olivia and Astrid. He’s just locked in and won’t go out of the lab, so that’s an interesting restart from my point of view.”
The first pictures have been released of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman.
Olivia Wilde discussed her dirty scenes in Cowboys and Aliens.
As for the modern classic Slaughterhouse Five, the book is no stranger to censorship. One of the first literary acknowledgments that homosexual men, or “fairies” in the novel, were victims in the Holocaust, school classrooms and libraries frequently ban the book for its use of profanity and depictions of sex. The Supreme Court actually considered the First Amendment implications of the removal of this book, among others, from libraries in the 1982 case Island Tree School District v. Pico. The Court’s plurality concluded that “local school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books and seek by their removal to ‘prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.’” Minor’s reason for removing the novel? “The language is just really, really intense…I don’t think it has any place in high school…I’m not saying it’s a bad book.”
It looks like there really is a chance of a Friday Night Lights movie, taking place after the conclusion of the final season of the television show. I’m still waiting for the Veronica Mars and Gilmore Girls movies which were discussed after those shows ended.
The two Thursday night genre comedies were both represented at the San Diego Comic Con two weeks ago. Above is an interview with the cast of The Big Bang Theory.During the shows panel, Bill Prady said that they will resolve the situation between Raj and Penny and explained that the show is not really a show about nerds:
“We’re not doing a show about nerd culture. We’re doing a show about people we liked,” he said.
“About extraordinary people,” fellow co-creator Chuck Lorre said.
More exchanges, including a terrific question about Sheldon:
Of course, a fan asked when Sheldon will lose his virginity, but asked in a great way: “When is Sheldon going to go through Pon farr?” (For the non-Trek oriented, this is when a Vulcan basically goes into heat.)
“Sheldon seems singularly devoted to science — only time will tell,” Prady says.
On the difference between Sheldon and Amy’s characters, Prady says: “Amy’s game. She wants to have the experiences she hasn’t had — and some of them burn between her loins.”
Parsons says his character’s famous Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock scene took the most takes of any scene he’s ever shot. “It nearly broke me as a man.”
There was also a lot of news about Community. Next season the cast will be taking Biology together. The stories will become more serialized. There will be more themed episodes, including one containing three different time lines. The vice-dean of Greendale’s air conditioning repair annex, played by John Goodman, will become an important and powerful character. Señor Chang will also return to a position of authority.
Pure libertarians, while disagreeing with liberals on areas where government is necessary, often are of value in supporting liberal policies on civil liberties and social issues. Unfortunately many in the libertarian movement, like the Tea Party movement, have adopted many of the attitudes of the Republican right wing. They promote a bizarre brand of libertarianism which is limited to guaranteeing the rights of the ultra-wealthy to exploit others.
I’ve pointed out several times how Ron Paul is no ally to those of us who want to promote individual liberty. His son, Rand Paul, is also showing a bizarre view of freedom. On the one hand, he equates making affordable health care available to all as slavery. On the other hand, he has no problem with restricting freedom of speech. Think Progress has this quote:
PAUL: I’m not for profiling people on the color of their skin, or on their religion, but I would take into account where they’ve been traveling and perhaps, you might have to indirectly take into account whether or not they’ve been going to radical political speeches by religious leaders. It wouldn’t be that they are Islamic. But if someone is attending speeches from someone who is promoting the violent overthrow of our government, that’s really an offense that we should be going after — they should be deported or put in prison.
I really do hope that it turns out that Paul was quoted out of context, although it is difficult to see how this might be the case looking at the entire excerpt. I even tried checking out some of the saner libertarian-leaning blogs to see if there is an explanation. Eugene Volokh has the same wish. Even more depressing, Volokh find that, while it might not be morally right, it might even be Constitutional to deport (but not imprison) someone under such a situation. I wouldn’t think anyone in their right mind, which apparently excludes Rand Paul, who would see imprisonment as being desirable, morally right, or Constitutional.