Freedom of speech and our friends on the left

From Donald Douglas:

The Hate Speech Bugaboo

This is an unbelievably ridiculous piece, from Erna Paris, at Toronto’s Globe and Mail, “There *are* limits to free expression.”

And from the comments:

Hate speech is less prevalent in Canada today because Canadians don’t like it and don’t want it, not because of any law. Canada is not a more fragile place than in 1990; it’s a much, much stronger and more tolerant place. The bizarre fear-mongering in this opinion piece is not only logically incoherent, it’s completely unjustifiable.

Via Scaramouche.

Dr Douglas’ piece was fairly brief — I quoted the entire post here, because I know I can get away with it with Dr D :) — but the article he referenced is longer, and I’d like to look at it in a bit more depth. The author, Erna Paris, begins:

The right to free speech is one of the most important democratic freedoms. It enables the flow of information and encourages diversity of opinion in the public sphere, as well as criticism of political leadership, all of which are in the public interest. But like most freedoms, it is not absolute, nor should it be.

If freedom of speech does the things the author has claimed are in the public interest, would it not be against the public interest to restrict the flow of information, diversity of opinion and criticism of the political leadership? That, after all, would be some of the effects of limiting the freedom of speech.

Of course, limiting the diversity of opinion is exactly what Miss Paris wishes. While I’m certain she would not wish to put it precisely that way, what she wishes to do is limit the diversity of opinion to exclude what she would see as animosity toward various groups of people, based on race or religion or ethnicity or sexual preference or whatever new group discrimination might come to our thoughts as time passes. The government cannot control what people think — though if it could, one wonders if Miss Paris would advocate employing such controls — but if it can restrict the communication of disfavored ideas, perhaps it can eventually eliminate those ideas themselves.

European countries without our (Canadian) tradition of upholding anti-hate laws, and without a history of ethnic pluralism, have had a much harder time coping with growing diversity. Only the United States allows almost unmitigated speech, but some legal scholars, such as Jeremy Waldron of New York University, are beginning to believe that America should align itself with the rest of the world’s liberal democracies -– countries that, in his words, “take affirmative responsibility for protecting the atmosphere of mutual respect against certain forms of vicious attack.”

Perhaps it is because of our “history of ethnic pluralism,” but it is in the United States, with our “almost unmitigated speech,” in which we have a black President, and almost certainly would have had a woman President if the black candidate had not defeated the female candidate in their party’s primaries. It is in the United States where we have black representatives representing majority white districts, where we have a state governor of Indian descent elected in a state with very few ethnic Indians¹, and a black governor elected in a state with just 6.6% of the population being black.² Yet somehow, some way, these things happened despite our constitutional protections which allow what Miss Paris called “almost unmitigated speech.”

One of the things I find curious is how our friends on the left — and Miss Paris, though a Canadian, not an American, certainly comes from the political left; you can peruse her articles on her website — have moved from the position they held in the 1970s of being very much in support of absolute freedom of speech, connected with the protests against American involvement in the war in Vietnam, to one in which the freedom of speech must be restricted, for the common good. Freedom of speech, some of our friends on the left tell us, should not include corporations, even though the First Amendment clearly states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The First Amendment does not allow for exceptions, nor does it somehow state that the freedoms guaranteed therein apply only to living persons.  I’d note here that the police actions against the fleabagger “Occupy” demonstrators are all occurring in cities politically controlled by the Democrats.³

And now we have the curious phenomenon of our friends on the left telling us that criticism of President Obama is really an expression of subtle racism, and concomitantly telling us that support for Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, who is black, is a “token black guy,” and is really an attempt to hide Republican racism; Pam Spaulding even referred to Mr Cain as “shamelessly tap dancing for conservative white voters,” and “Steppin Fetchit,” though she used the literary device of attributing the latter description to a cousin writing on her Facebook page.  We have, in effect, the attempts of our friends on the left to stifle criticism of President Obama, by stigmatizing it as racism, while making attacks on Mr Cain that are racist in nature.  One wonders if, had Miss Paris her wish and our Constitution barred “hate speech,” whether criticism of President Obama would be barred as hate speech, while that of Mr Cain would be allowable debate.

If that seems like a strange construction to you, remember: if the freedom of speech is restricted in the manner Miss Paris advocated, such restrictions would still be subject to the definitions and determinations of politicians as to what was allowable and what qualified as hate speech.

The real problem for Barack Obama and our friends on the left is that they have gotten their wish: he is being judged not on the color of his skin but on his job performance as President of the United States. In 2008, he received an absolute majority of the votes cast, 52.92%, 69,456,897 votes,4 and his post-inaugural job approval ratings started out much higher than that.5 The vast majority of Americans were willing to give him a chance, to see how good a job he’d do. He lost their support not because he’s (half) black, but because he simply hasn’t done a good job. Even President Obama himself admitted that, “I don’t think [Americans are] better off than they were four years ago.

And now a majority of Americans say that President Obama bears responsibility for the state of the U.S. economy. That’s not a judgement based on race; that’s a judgement based on job performance. For our friends on the left, the terms of the debate simply have to be changed; if it stays on job performance, Mr Obama is a one-term President. They want to change it to blaming it on race, where they think/ hope/ pray that they might do better, hoping for a discussion in which only one side can participate, while the other is shamed into silence. And thus we thank God for the wisdom of the Framers and the Bill of Rights.

The simple genius of the Framers of our Constitution and the Bill of Rights becomes more apparent with virtually every passing day. We can read almost daily about some new proposal from our friends on the left to restrict our freedoms, for the good of all, for the benefit of society, yet the simple use of the words “shall” or “shall not,” the imperative forms, in the first nine amendments to our Constitution protect our rights from all sorts of well-meaning (?) mischief by our friends on the left.

__________________________
¹ – Governor Bobby Jindal, R-LA, who won re-election just a few days ago by winning a majority of the votes in Louisiana’s open-primary electoral system. “Indian” refers to India, from where his parents emigrated, not American Indians native Americans.
² – Governor Deval Patrick, D-MA
³ – Oakland, California, is simply the most obvious example; that’s where demonstrator Scott Olsen suffered a fractured skull from a tear gas canister fired by the police. Demonstrators were also arrested in Portland and Denver, both of which are governed by liberals; Portland’s mayor is a Democrat, while the Denver city government is officially non-partisan, but primarily Democratic.
4Federal Election Commission, 2008 Official General Election Results.
5The Gallup Daily Tracking Poll showed President Obama having a 68% Job Approval Rating, with only 12% disapproving, on January 21-23, 2009. Use the cursor on the graph to get any specific date’s results.

61 Comments

  1. This is a calculated endeavor. We see the Left demanding “civility,” yet they remain most UNcivil in the extreme towards their opponents. They and their allies in the MSM have to use microscopes to find evidence of racism and hate among Tea Partiers, and when it’s discovered, the entire movement then becomes “racist” and “hateful.” However, the totally overt and numerous instances of hate and racism/anti-Semitism among OWSers are “legitimate grievances,” “a popular uprising,” and “a revolution.”

    Make no mistake. The political Left wants to muzzle opponents’ speech much like the academic Left has been doing for decades now. Campus speech and behavior codes enforce what the Left deems appropriate speech and behavior, and they operate kangaroo courts to adjudicate such matters. Sound familiar? Yep — the great Marxian experiments that have gone to the dustbin of history. There are numerous leftists academic theories to “support” what the Left ultimately desires regarding free speech (check out Critical Race Theory, for one), but they all boil down to one thing: Control. Control over those who differ with them, in speech … and ultimately thought.

  2. “Hate speech is less prevalent in Canada today because Canadians don’t like it and don’t want it, not because of any law. Canada is not a more fragile place than in 1990; it’s a much, much stronger and more tolerant place. The bizarre fear-mongering in this opinion piece is not only logically incoherent, it’s completely unjustifiable.”

    Dana, this is the most important statement in your entire piece, the point being that the way to control hate speech is not to like it on a mass scale, as in Canada. We here in the USA, and on this very blog, have a lesson to learn from Canada. Legal prohibitions against hate speech, except in the case of inciting violence and riots, is not in tune with the First Amendment, as I now see it.

    And one more thing: Since you continue to take the position that the Bill of Rights, and specifically the First Amendment, refers to individuals and corporations, at least recognize that there are those who argue that these Rights are applicable only to individuals. Since it is unlikely that either side can make a conclusive argument, therefore it seems a wise idea to decide in terms of what is practicable. Since corporations have more power based on their wealth, it is not practicable to grant them the same rights as is granted to individuals by virtue of the Bill of Rights, because then Corporations easily dominate the individual, in political campaigns for example.

  3. Since corporations have more power based on their wealth, it is not practicable to grant them the same rights as is granted to individuals by virtue of the Bill of Rights, because then Corporations easily dominate the individual, in political campaigns for example.

    Then here’s what you do: Pass a constitutional amendment to effectively nullify Citizens United.

    We here in the USA, and on this very blog, have a lesson to learn from Canada.

    And you’re a primary contributor to this on this blog, Perry.

    Of course, as expected, the point goes over your head. “Not liking” something in Canada and Europe, and therefore not saying it, is a form of coercion semi-loosely backed by the law. IOW, disagreeing with something like affirmative action, for example, can easily be deemed as “hateful” to minorities in these countries, hence the covert pressure to not even bother speaking out against it. Heck, Mark Steyn and others have felt the wrath of Canada’s “human rights” boards for their opinions on radical Islam.

    What does the Left fear about free speech, Perry? Easy: Like your global warming nuttery, it’s all about control.

  4. Perry wrote:

    Since you continue to take the position that the Bill of Rights, and specifically the First Amendment, refers to individuals and corporations, at least recognize that there are those who argue that these Rights are applicable only to individuals.

    But I don’t “take the position that the Bill of Rights, and specifically the First Amendment, refers to individuals and corporations” where it comes to the freedom of speech or the press; it does refer to the right of “the people” when it comes to assembly. Rather, I have consistently taken the position that the First Amendment specifically prohibits Congress from legislating in certain areas, and makes no mention of those areas being involved with individuals or corporations.

    Since it is unlikely that either side can make a conclusive argument, therefore it seems a wise idea to decide in terms of what is practicable. Since corporations have more power based on their wealth, it is not practicable to grant them the same rights as is granted to individuals by virtue of the Bill of Rights, because then Corporations easily dominate the individual, in political campaigns for example.

    Absolutely the last argument I would accept concerning our First Amendment rights is one concerning practicality. There are many rights which we are guaranteed which really aren’t all that practical when it comes to certain issues; I’m sure that you don’t think that the Second Amendment is a practical thing today.

    If you believe that practicality is an overarching concern, then you should get behind a movement to amend the Constitution. That I would support as a legitimate argument, even if I wouldn’t support the effort.

  5. Perry said: “Since corporations have more power based on their wealth, it is not practicable to grant them the same rights as is granted to individuals by virtue of the Bill of Rights, because then Corporations easily dominate the individual, in political campaigns for example.”

    As do labor unions. Unions should no longer be permitted free speech nor allowed to make political donations, they easily dominate the individual especially in political campaigns! Now that we’ve settled that how about we look at organizations who dominate like the NAACP, CAIR and the ACLU? See where this is going Perry? Or am I to assume only the entities YOU don’t like are not free to speak?

  6. Then here’s what you do: Pass a constitutional amendment to effectively nullify Citizens United.

    You don’t have to. A simple piece of legislation saying “corporations aren’t people, and don’t have the same rights” is sufficient.

  7. BTW Perry, most of those “big money” corporations are firmly on the side of you leftists. They have to stick with you guys to get their favors they pay you for. Look at GE or GM or Solyndra for starts. It’s the small and medium corporations who must live (or die) with the regulations you socialists dream up….all others apply for exemption and that includes your beloved labor unions. You do recall how earlier this year I nixed opening a new Italian marked because of the red tape and regulations, don’t you? I’m not big enough or rich enough to pay off my local bureaucrats and I’m certainly not too big to fail. I can’t get an exemption, but McDonald’s can. I can’t rewrite the zoning laws, or get a tax amnesty for ten years, but Red Lobster can.

    You really need to sit in at your local CofC meetings some time. You won’t see Solyndra, or Chrysler or even TGI Friday’s there. You’ll see those “little” guys who own beauty salons, gas stations, pizza shops and siding companies trying to survive in an anti-business environment. And they’re becomming fewer and fewer. The number of business failure we’ve (at the CofC) seen this past two years is nuts. And although the reasons for said failures are legion, most are due to the taxes, red tape and regulations required to open or continue doing business. At 26 I opened my first business with very little money and a heart full of hope. Now, 34 years later and full of experience I wouldn’t even bother. That in itself should tell you something. Just yesterday at the Club a friend told me his son wanted to open a WaWa. The investment was a staggering 1.2 million to do so. My friend talked the kid out of doing it. When I asked him why he was against it he told me he didn’t want to see his son held “hostage” by government, unions and taxes. IOW Perry, the “cost” of compliance was too dear for the return. Get it?

    You, like most leftists, see business only through the eyes of “the big guys”. You bitch about B of A and Wall Street but you fail to see the dry cleaner or pet shop down the street. You crusade to “stop abuse” and “level the playing field’ but every regulation passed benefits the well heeled and stops some little guy somewhere from even trying. Oh, there are still opportunities around and I have no doubt that a few real capitalists will take advantage of them. But the crony capitalists and their friends in government are making those new opportunities fewer and fewer.

    Now OTOH, I have a close friend who is in the medical research business and as such has an in depth knowledge of government grants since he depends on them. He, two other guys and myself were brain storming last week and decided we need to get on the government gravy train. We came up with “Suburban Green”. A company devoted to bringing wind and solar power to the individual home. My friend (who I’ll call Donald since that’s his name) is working on a 1.3 billion dollar grant proposal for the DOE. We figure if we build just one suburban windmill it’s all worth it. Donald can direct free money (read: YOUR tax dollars) from the government “investors” to our back pocket within a year. All in the name of “green jobs” and “green energy”. You gotta love it. So rather than drill for domestic oil which would actually reduce your and my dependance on foreign oil, lower our costs on everything from home heating oil and gas for our cars to the price of all goods sold, we can divert that money to “green” and be hailed as heros for doing so. And anyone who is against us doing this wants dirty water and dirty air and is a racist (one of the guys is a real live black person). We figure what’s good for Algore, Solyndra, Fisker and the “left” is good enough for us. If you’d like to join us there is no investment necessary. Roy is printing up a beautiful business plan complete with graphs, charts, and an impressive list if benefits and numbers (pulled copletly out of our collective butts) and I’m drawing up the bankruptcy papers so the minute the check clears we can file.

  8. You, like most leftists, see business only through the eyes of “the big guys”. You bitch about B of A and Wall Street but you fail to see the dry cleaner or pet shop down the street.

    Go read “Freefall” by Stiglitz, and stop spouting off based on your ignorant projections.

  9. BTW Perry, most of those “big money” corporations are firmly on the side of you leftists. They have to stick with you guys to get their favors they pay you for.

    Hey, Hoagie, you ignorant putz:

    And the sad thing is that when you start talking about economic justice, they *still* call you a Communist, even if you’re absurdly capitalist like Nick Kristoff or myself. For the record, you cannot have capitalism in the absence of economic justice, because eventually it decays to crony capitalism (a.k.a. “fascism”) and oligarchy — the dictatorship of the many by the few who control all wealth, who literally have power of life or death over individuals.

  10. Most likely you think I’m joking about Suburban Green, but I’m not. We are “projecting” as many as 600,000 homes in Chester, Montgomery and Bucks counties as potential buyers. Let’s face it, when these nut jobs start plugging in their electric cars en masse, there won’t be enough electricity to supply the added burden on the grid. In steps Suburban Green to make your home self sufficient. For a mere $15,000 per home, SG can insure your home always has an ample supply of clean, green and cheap electricity. Thus, as a public service we can avoid the “rolling blackouts” that will be heading our way. Once we get a few of the local politicians on board, we may even be able to “cost shift” from the buyers to non-buyers by the use of tax breaks for the buyers and added taxes for the non. Then we can really squeeze the crap out of the sheeple.

    My only delema is whether to order my new Rolls Royce Phantom in anthracite white or majestic bronz.

  11. Most likely you think I’m joking about Suburban Green, but I’m not.

    No, I think you are an ignorant putz who has no idea what “leftist” critics of crony capitalism are actually saying.

    You could, for example, try reading this. But I guess you prefer to wallow in your own blind stup1dity.

  12. “Go read “Freefall” by Stiglitz, and stop spouting off based on your ignorant projections.”

    Hey Pho, you ignorant putz, you’re not a businessman are you? Then why would I listen to anything you have to say about business? Oh, that’s right you read a book, so now you’re the expert. Just like you’re an expert on economics and climate change among others. Some day when and if you ever accomplish anything on your own, call me. Until then you’re just another nut job full of sound and fury signifying nothing. Hell, you’re not even qualified for a private sector job instead you need to rely on your goverment to supply you with vegemite.

  13. “Hey Pho, you ignorant putz, you’re not a businessman are you? Then why would I listen to anything you have to say about business?”

    Because you might just learn something, Hoagie. With your attitude, I now assume you think you know it all!

  14. The Phoenician wrote:

    Then here’s what you do: Pass a constitutional amendment to effectively nullify Citizens United.

    You don’t have to. A simple piece of legislation saying “corporations aren’t people, and don’t have the same rights” is sufficient.

    Except, of course, that even with such legislation passed, the Congress is still prohibited from passing any laws restricting the freedom of speech or of the press. The First Amendment does not say “people have the right to freedom of speech;” it says that “Congress shall pass no law” abridging the freedom of speech.

  15. “The First Amendment does not say “people have the right to freedom of speech;” it says that “Congress shall pass no law” abridging the freedom of speech.”

    Dana, you are hanging your hat on the lack of explicit wording in the First Amendment, which, agreed, is not there. However, Constitutional experts look also for implicit meanings, as well as understanding the context in which the words were written in the first place. If we could rely on the exact words of the Constitution and the so-called literal meanings of same, why would we ever need to have a SCOTUS? You know the reason, it is just that, again, you are treating your ideology as if it were a religion, meaning you are treating the Constitution as if it were an absolutist document. Please, you really know better, I would think!

    I’ve said it once and I will say it again, having the SCOTUS ruled by the five in the majority all being absolutist Catholics who think similarly to the way you do, that is the root cause for the activist SCOTUS decisions we have been getting from this body.

    It should be interesting to see the outcome should this Mississippi Amendment 26 arrive at the SCOTUS, should the voters pass it. This ruling would define as a person the fertilized zygote (single cell), which will have untold ramifications against the freedom and liberty of women in Mississippi, not to mention putting in jeopardy the very lives of some women. Talk about big Government, this would be it! A local gal has written an impassioned plea that this Amendment 26 not be passed. Y’all ought to read it!

  16. Hey Pho, you ignorant putz, you’re not a businessman are you? Then why would I listen to anything you have to say about business?

    Riiiiiiight. You claim to be an “economist”, but the name “Stiglitz” doesn’t ring any bells?

    And you wonder why we laugh at you.

  17. that is the root cause for the activist SCOTUS decisions we have been getting from this body.

    Like what, for instance? And please don’t say Citizens United for the Nth time as you’ve been shown time and time again that there is LONG and AMPLE precedent for it.

  18. Hoagie, you laugh about your “Suburban Green” idea, but there are several PV/wind installers making good money without direct subsidies from the government (though they accept jobs on government-owned buildings). Here are a couple from my neck of the woods.

  19. Perry wrote:

    “The First Amendment does not say “people have the right to freedom of speech;” it says that “Congress shall pass no law” abridging the freedom of speech.”

    Dana, you are hanging your hat on the lack of explicit wording in the First Amendment, which, agreed, is not there. However, Constitutional experts look also for implicit meanings, as well as understanding the context in which the words were written in the first place. If we could rely on the exact words of the Constitution and the so-called literal meanings of same, why would we ever need to have a SCOTUS? You know the reason, it is just that, again, you are treating your ideology as if it were a religion, meaning you are treating the Constitution as if it were an absolutist document. Please, you really know better, I would think!

    What is an “implicit meaning?” Does a law imply something, or does that mean that someone else infers something neither implied nor meant?

    Who knows, perhaps James Madison and the other members of the First Congress which set the wording of what became the First Amendment — it was actually the Third, but the first two proposed amendments were not ratified — might have written it differently, to specify that such rights attend only to individuals, had they been thinking of 21st century situations, but they did not. The law is, and ought to be, the law, precisely as written; judicial interpretation should exist only in cases of ambiguity, such as what constitutes a reasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment, a constitutional provision which left room for interpretation. The First Amendment leaves no such wiggle room; it makes a blanket prohibition.

    Why, I have to ask, would you even want the law to not mean absolutely what it says? We are all bound by the law, all subject to its restrictions; if the law somehow means something other than what it actually says, how can any man ever be held responsible under it?

    You’ve been challenged many times to, if you believe that corporations should not have free speech and press rights, to support a constitutional amendment to change things; Hube raised that point earlier in this discussion thread, and we’ve mentioned it before. The reason you don’t support doing such seems pretty obvious: you know full well that no proposed amendment to change the Bill of Rights would ever pass. So, your method is to “amend” the Bill of Rights through insidious interpretation, to have them mean things different from what they actually say, different from the language passed by Congress and ratified by the states.

    Of course, we actually have done that before: are you telling us that it was reasonable for the Court to interpret the Fourteenth Amendment in such a way that the Plessy v Ferguson “separate but equal” decision could be taken?

    Nor does it make any sense to me that you would support an interpretation of the First Amendment which would allow the Congress to decide that some people’s rights are not protected under it. If the government can decide that the First Amendment really protects only individual persons, why could not the government also decide that the persons whose rights were protected really referred only to citizens, and therefore restrict the free speech rights of non-citizens? How about Korematsu v United States, in which the Supreme Court upheld President Roosevelt’s executive order requiring the internment of Japanese-Americans, and that the need to protect against possible Japanese espionage in World War II outweighed the individual rights granted under the Constitution?

    Perry, you are a citizen and you exercise your free speech rights very often on this site. Tell me why, if the First Amendment is really open to interpretation, the Obama Administration couldn’t declare the site-owner a disloyal person for opposing ObaminableCare, and claim that disloyal people were not covered under the First Amendment, and shut this site down. Given that many of the men in the First Congress who passed the First Amendment also sat in the Fifth Congress, which passed the Sedition Act, could it not be reasonably held that they never meant for the First Amendment to cover sedition, and thus my writings urging the defeat of President Obama next year amounted to punishable sedition, and the continued existence of this site was not protected by freedom of the press?

    Or, how about the Occupy protestors? Many of them are carrying signs calling for the end of capitalism. Why couldn’t, why shouldn’t, the Obama Administration declare them to be enemies of our entire way of life, and as enemies, not covered by First Amendment protections? After all, if the First Amendment really isn’t absolute, really is open to interpretation, then there must be specific people doing that interpretation.

    Really, aren’t we better off having the First Amendment as an absolute barrier?

  20. Perry wrote:

    I’ve said it once and I will say it again, having the SCOTUS ruled by the five in the majority all being absolutist Catholics who think similarly to the way you do, that is the root cause for the activist SCOTUS decisions we have been getting from this body.

    Why Perry, it almost sounds like you want to do away with Article VI, paragraph 3 of the Constitution.

  21. Pery resondisd ..”:you might just learn something, Hoagie. With your attitude, I now assume you think you know it all!”

    No buttercup, I don’t know everything. But I am smart enouug to know that. You guys don’t. You are the ones who believe you know everyting, not I. I do know busines. I do know economics. I do kknow how to be a good person.

    Alright, you wanna meet again? I’m willing to visit Delaware. I’d love to see you guys again. Frankly, I thought you guys were good. Call me crazy! Perhaps if we meet once in a while we can talk between each other? Without hostility? Please ask Pho to come, I’d love to see him. Hey, it is what it is. I wanna see Pho.

  22. Frankly, I can’t believe you liberals have gotten us to talk about changing the Constitution. Cool, you want to destroy the Republic. Gotta love enemies with ferver! Then agian, I”m a sniper and you’re……not.

    Tell me darling, who will win, you or me?

  23. Except, of course, that even with such legislation passed, the Congress is still prohibited from passing any laws restricting the freedom of speech or of the press. The First Amendment does not say “people have the right to freedom of speech;” it says that “Congress shall pass no law” abridging the freedom of speech.

    Do dogs have a right to free speech, Dana?

    The fact that you keep avoiding this question shows you have some clue just how absurd your position is.

  24. Frankly, I can’t believe you liberals have gotten us to talk about changing the Constitution. Cool, you want to destroy the Republic.

    just like the Republic was destroyed when the 13th Amendment was passed. I’m sure you consider that a destructive “liberal” step too.

  25. The Phoenician wrote:

    Do dogs have a right to free speech, Dana?

    The fact that you keep avoiding this question shows you have some clue just how absurd your position is.

    The problem is that your question is absurd, not my position. What part of “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” do you find so difficult to understand?

  26. The Phoenician wrote:

    Frankly, I can’t believe you liberals have gotten us to talk about changing the Constitution. Cool, you want to destroy the Republic.

    just like the Republic was destroyed when the 13th Amendment was passed. I’m sure you consider that a destructive “liberal” step too.

    Odd, but I don’t recall anyone else here making any claims that the 13th amendment destroyed the republic. Could it be that you are attempting to tar others with a position that they have never taken?

    Now, had you said the 16th amendment . . . .

  27. Hoagie wrote:

    Frankly, I can’t believe you liberals have gotten us to talk about changing the Constitution.

    Oh, there’s nothing inherently wrong with changing the Constitution, via the specified amendment process. Passing a constitutional amendment is something which can only be done with heavy, super-majority support. The problem that I see is that some of our friends on the left, knowing that they couldn’t get what they want passed by the constitutionally specified manner, want to leave the words of the Constitution alone but “interpret” it to mean something wholly different from what it says. That, to me, is rank dishonesty.

  28. ” That, to me, is rank dishonesty.”

    Hardly, Dana. In fact, I would label you “dishonest” for making such a false statement again.

    Like I have said many times, every detail of the Constitution is subject to interpretation, therefore, in that sense, there is no absolutism whatsoever in it. I have come to the conclusion that this concept of implicit meanings is a very difficult one for Roman Catholics, or for any fundamentalist religion subscriber, like Hitchcock. Otherwise, why would we need a SCOTUS to make rulings on the First Amendment? Please answer that question, Dana.

    This is similar to your continued inability to make the important distinction between money and wealth, in terms of your abject unwillingness and stubbornness to reexamine your positions. I would think that raising two daughters would have by now modified your approach to dogma without adequate and practical foundations. Your unyielding Libertarian beliefs are one more example. But you pride yourself in all this, because you believe that you are putting an unmovable stake in the ground, thus you have become impervious to the lessons of experience and life.

    Do I have you figured out yet, Dana? :)

  29. I would think that raising two daughters would have by now modified your approach to dogma without adequate and practical foundations.

    There you go again, Perry. What is this morbid fascination with bringing up other people’s family members into your personal vendettas, aka “gap-bridging?” How does a self-professed gap-bridger perpetually fail to acknowledge that there are people out there who don’t think/believe as you do — and that they can raise and get along with their family members just fine?

    You’re treading that fine line again, P.H. Be careful.

  30. “Alright, you wanna meet again? I’m willing to visit Delaware. I’d love to see you guys again. Frankly, I thought you guys were good. Call me crazy! Perhaps if we meet once in a while we can talk between each other? Without hostility? Please ask Pho to come, I’d love to see him. Hey, it is what it is. I wanna see Pho.”

    Even though things have changed between us to some extent since our last meeting, I’m up for another meeting. I’d suggest Northern Delaware, which would be a 1.5 hour drive for you, maybe two hours for Dana. Maybe Yorkshire could come to this one. I invited PiaToR to the last one, but he apparently could not make it. Maybe we could have a luncheon in NZ sometime.

    Count me in! This time it’s on me.

  31. “Why Perry, it almost sounds like you want to do away with Article VI, paragraph 3 of the Constitution.”

    Not at all. I just think that it is significant that this gang of five all have Roman Catholicism in common, which is suggestive of a dogmatic, unyielding approach to Constitutional rulings, just like you, Dana. It is no surprise that this particular majority would be strict constructionists, which they pretend to be, until a ruling like Citizens’ United is rendered which then proves them to be arbitrary, in tune with their conservative Republican politics. They are a veritable disaster, in my view.

    On Roman Catholicism, I’ll even go so far as to say that Roman Catholics who raise their children in the Church are wishing for them to be brainwashed just like they were, like a self-perpetuating prophecy. I base this on first hand knowledge/experience, but I keep my mouth shut because it is none of my business. Now please, preemptively, I am not saying that Roman Catholicism is all bad, or that Roman Catholics are all bad.

  32. “Really, aren’t we better off having the First Amendment as an absolute barrier?”

    Dana, I agree with the elements/examples in your argument, but I don’t agree with your conclusion about the “absolute barrier”, for the following reason: You did not answer the question as to why we need the SCOTUS to rule on First Amendment cases. The answer is simple: The First Amendment is not considered to be an absolute! In other words, there are extenuating circumstances which require a SCOTUS ruling. The proverbial example of yelling fire in a crowded church is one. Another is inciting a crowd to violence. Both of these are examples of shades of grey which must be dealt with. And again, so is the Citizens’ United decision which defines corporations and unions as people.

    Look what you wrote here: “Nor does it make any sense to me that you would support an interpretation of the First Amendment which would allow the Congress to decide that some people’s rights are not protected under it.” Your use of the word “people” demonstrates to me that you accept unconsciously the concept that the First Amendment is written to an protect the rights of individuals. This concept, which you consciously contradict, nevertheless represents the intent of the First Amendment, and you know it down deep.

    So no, the First Amendment is not absolute, and it represents the free speech rights of individuals, not corporations or unions or ….

  33. I would think that raising two daughters would have by now modified your approach to dogma without adequate and practical foundations.

    There you go again, Perry. What is this morbid fascination with bringing up other people’s family members into your personal vendettas, aka “gap-bridging?” How does a self-professed gap-bridger perpetually fail to acknowledge that there are people out there who don’t think/believe as you do — and that they can raise and get along with their family members just fine?

    You’re treading that fine line again, P.H. Be careful.

    I’m just trying to jog Dana to recall what life is like down here on planet earth, with nothing specific said about any of his family members. :)

  34. I’m just trying to jog Dana to recall what life is like down here on planet earth, with nothing specific said about any of his family members.

    Except for the fact of your implication that he somehow isn’t a good father.

    You have a habit of making such statements. And you constantly whine about “personal attacks?” Yet again, your ridiculous duplicity comes to the fore …

  35. “Except for the fact of your implication that he somehow isn’t a good father.”

    On the contrary, Hube. The implication is that Dana deals with reality wrt raising his daughters, but drifts back into dogmatic positions wrt his politics. One might suppose that his experiences raising his daughters would convey a reality to him which would carry over to other aspects of life. Certainly you have learned by now that absolutism does not work in child rearing. Children want reasons other than “because I said so”, and rightly so, I might add. This approach worked very well with raising our two daughters, as I am mighty proud of what both have achieved, and of what they are conveying into their own marriages and children, two each. One of my granddaughters has a major, life-threatening health challenge, which has shown my daughter, her mother, to be a very strong woman indeed, this being also the second major challenge she has had to face in the last decade.

  36. The problem is that your question is absurd, not my position. What part of “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” do you find so difficult to understand?

    Your position, Dana, is that “because they didn’t specify people, the right applies to things other than people, like corporations”.

    My question IS absurd. Alas for you, and the reason why you keep weaselling out of addressing it, it is completely in line with your position<.

    Your position is absurd. You believe that the first amendment applies to things other than people because it didn’t explicitly mention people in the text.

    Do dogs have a right to free speech, Dana?

    The fact that you keep avoiding this question shows you have some clue just how absurd your position is.

  37. Odd, but I don’t recall anyone else here making any claims that the 13th amendment destroyed the republic.

    “Frankly, I can’t believe you liberals have gotten us to talk about changing the Constitution. Cool, you want to destroy the Republic.”

    Hoagie’s premise: “Changing the Constitution destroys the Republic”.

    Perhaps you ought to be working it out between yourselves, weasel to w1ngnut?

  38. Is that my premise? No, that’s not my premise. In that PARTICULAR case I feel changing the Constitution would aid in destroying the Republic. Of course, you being one who would like to see it destroyed will try and tell us it wouldn’t. You are a liar and a scroundrel. Worse, you’re a marxist pig. Now, tell me you’re not. Common’, liar tell me you’re not a phuckin’ pinko! You piece of schit.

  39. Perry wrote:

    Dana, I agree with the elements/examples in your argument, but I don’t agree with your conclusion about the “absolute barrier”, for the following reason: You did not answer the question as to why we need the SCOTUS to rule on First Amendment cases. The answer is simple: The First Amendment is not considered to be an absolute! In other words, there are extenuating circumstances which require a SCOTUS ruling.

    Why would we need the Supreme Court to rule on the First Amendment? The answer is simple: we sometimes need the court to rein in legislatures when they violate the Constitution. Congress passing a law which abridges the freedom of speech, as was the case with the McCain-Feingold Restriction on Speech Act, means that the Court has to throw out that law; it does not mean that the Court must somehow find “extenuating circumstances” to allow the absolute prohibition to somehow not be an absolute prohibition.

    It’s certainly true that for far too long the Court has found those extenuating circumstances, in all sorts of different things; that’s what needs to be changed.

    The proverbial example of yelling fire in a crowded church is one. Another is inciting a crowd to violence. Both of these are examples of shades of grey which must be dealt with. And again, so is the Citizens’ United decision which defines corporations and unions as people.

    The “proverbial example of yelling fire in a crowded church” is not one, because it is misused. If you yell fire in a crowded church — though crowded theater is the more commonly given example — and there is no panic and no one is injured, there is no crime. A person may be liable for the consequences of his actions, including his speech, if it actually harms other people. It’s not a shade of grey, but a judgement as to whether or not actual harm has been caused.

    The Citizens United decision was based not on criminality for harmful consequences of speech, but the law’s attempt at prior restraint of speech. The law foresaw no harm from the speech made, but harm in allowing certain speech, period; the issue of prior restraint of speech, or publication, was addressed in the Pentagon Papers case.

    Look what you wrote here: “Nor does it make any sense to me that you would support an interpretation of the First Amendment which would allow the Congress to decide that some people’s rights are not protected under it.” Your use of the word “people” demonstrates to me that you accept unconsciously the concept that the First Amendment is written to an protect the rights of individuals. This concept, which you consciously contradict, nevertheless represents the intent of the First Amendment, and you know it down deep.

    Sorry, wrong answer. Even if the Framers did intend for the rights listed in the First Amendment to be restricted to individuals, that wasn’t what they wrote, and it was not in the Amendment they passed.

    Further, even if we take, for the sake of argument, that the First Amendment really does mean the rights of the people, it explicitly recognizes that people may come together to form associations to speak, in protecting the freedom of the press — even in the late eighteenth century, the press was not always a single individual’s effort — and in protecting the right of the people to assemble, to express their opinions in a group.

    During the debates over the ratification of the Constitution, three of the Framers — James Madison, John Jay and Alexander Hamilton — wrote a series of essays, all of which were commonly signed with the pseudonym “Publius.” This was a group opinion, expressed under a single name, a name which did not specify any individual. Those three men came together for a purpose, that purpose being to argue for ratification of the Constitution. They were, in effect, a form of corporation.

    You’ve supported the silly Occupy movement on this site, but what are the Occupiers? They are a group of people, expressing a corporate opinion, yet not all of them actually speak; many of them, other than with silly chants, are there to show support for the words that their leaders may utter, without speaking themselves. Why, then, since they are a group of individuals who have come together for a common purpose, but not all speaking individually, couldn’t we simply outlaw their speech, if we are to accept your notions about what the First Amendment really means?

    So no, the First Amendment is not absolute, and it represents the free speech rights of individuals, not corporations or unions or ….

    Where, I have to ask, in the words of the First Amendment, do you find it not to be absolute? You are, in your zeal to silence certain people, attributing to it something not included in it.

    Somehow, some way, despite all your fears about corporate speech drowning out all other voices, other voices are still being heard. With the internet, voices which would once have never gotten past the gatekeepers of the publishing and broadcasting media when their consent was required, are now out there, loud and clear, for anyone and everyone to listen to or read, or ignore, at the individual’s choosing. Despite the wealth and power of those wicked ol’ corporations, the anti-corporate, anti-business Occupiers have managed to make their voices heard; the very people you seem to celebrate have, by their actions, invalidated your own arguments.

    I can understand why the Chinese Communists would want to rein in their own broadcasting and censor the internet, because their interest is in controlling their subjects and retaining power. Why someone in a free society like you enjoy would want to censor anybody is really beyond me.

  40. Perry wrote:

    “Why Perry, it almost sounds like you want to do away with Article VI, paragraph 3 of the Constitution.”

    Not at all. I just think that it is significant that this gang of five all have Roman Catholicism in common, which is suggestive of a dogmatic, unyielding approach to Constitutional rulings, just like you, Dana. It is no surprise that this particular majority would be strict constructionists, which they pretend to be, until a ruling like Citizens’ United is rendered which then proves them to be arbitrary, in tune with their conservative Republican politics. They are a veritable disaster, in my view.

    It seems to me that the ruling in Citizens United certainly does fall within “strict construction:” it was a decision which was based on “Congress shall make no law.”

    And how supporting the freedom of speech is “a veritable disaster” is beyond me.

    On Roman Catholicism, I’ll even go so far as to say that Roman Catholics who raise their children in the Church are wishing for them to be brainwashed just like they were, like a self-perpetuating prophecy. I base this on first hand knowledge/experience, but I keep my mouth shut because it is none of my business. Now please, preemptively, I am not saying that Roman Catholicism is all bad, or that Roman Catholics are all bad.

    You aren’t? You’ve just accused me of brainwashing my children, Perry, because yes, I certainly did take them to church, I certainly did rear them in the Church, and I even sent them to parochial schools for part of the time.

    Of course, were things to be done your way, we’d simply be educating children in the ideas of which you approve, like idiotic multi-culturalism, such as pushing an education system which is completely free of religious influence but certainly tries to teach a strident secularism, such as teaching that all sorts of behaviors that the Church considers wrong and our society has for many years considered wrong, reprehensible and self-defeating are somehow acceptable in their differences.

    You don’t really object to “brainwashing,” Perry; you just object to teaching children lessons of which you disapprove.

    [Released from moderation. -- DRP] :)

  41. Perry wrote:

    Like I have said many times, every detail of the Constitution is subject to interpretation, therefore, in that sense, there is no absolutism whatsoever in it. I have come to the conclusion that this concept of implicit meanings is a very difficult one for Roman Catholics, or for any fundamentalist religion subscriber, like Hitchcock. Otherwise, why would we need a SCOTUS to make rulings on the First Amendment? Please answer that question, Dana.

    To keep rogue legislatures from violating it, Perry.

    Why, I have to ask, should there be “implicit meanings” in the law? The law is, and should be, explicit, because, when it is implicit it means whatever someone happens to think that it means. That is not a society of laws, but simply one of feelings, and of the power of whatever individuals happen to be in power.

    This is similar to your continued inability to make the important distinction between money and wealth, in terms of your abject unwillingness and stubbornness to reexamine your positions. I would think that raising two daughters would have by now modified your approach to dogma without adequate and practical foundations. Your unyielding Libertarian beliefs are one more example. But you pride yourself in all this, because you believe that you are putting an unmovable stake in the ground, thus you have become impervious to the lessons of experience and life.

    Perry, when you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything, which is what so many of my friends on the left have done. What you see as “the lessons of experience and life” are far too frequently the gradual acceptance of what is wrong, for the sake of convenience, for the sake of not rocking the boat.

    Do I have you figured out yet, Dana? :)

    No, Perry, not at all. In fact, I’d say that you are utterly baffled by anyone who believes differently from you; you just don’t seem capable of understanding how such a thing could be.

    One of the major differences between us is that while I think you are wrong on just about everything, I am capable of understanding that you really do believe what you say you believe, that while I think you are wrong on just about everything, I don’t think that means that there’s somehow something wrong with you.

    Yet, the impression I get from what you write is that you really do think that there’s just something wrong with people who believe differently from you, that there’s just no possible way people could come to conclusions which are different from the ones you have. In a way, it reminds me of the monolithism of thought that Karl Marx assumed would take over the brave proletariat, a time when everyone would think the same way about everything. There would be a dictatorship of the proletariat, and eventually government would simply wither away, because everyone would be in agreement, according to Herr Marx’ ideas. Marxism never worked, of course, because people simply don’t all think alike, and never will.

    You will argue that that is untrue, but think of all of the times you have written that is simply baffling that we have come to conclusions different than you. How many times have you written that John Hitchcock or I have come to conclusions that you claim are actually harmful to us as individuals?

  42. Is that my premise? No, that’s not my premise. In that PARTICULAR case I feel changing the Constitution would aid in destroying the Republic. Of course, you being one who would like to see it destroyed will try and tell us it wouldn’t. You are a l1ar and a scroundrel. Worse, you’re a marxist pig. Now, tell me you’re not. Common’, l1ar tell me you’re not a phuckin’ pinko! You piece of schit.

    Common sense says you’re a turnip.

    Your rules, I win. Suck on that, f0ol.

  43. The law is, and should be, explicit, because, when it is implicit it means whatever someone happens to think that it means.

    Now, this is an interesting debate.

    For one thing, I think it’s impossible to be fully explicit, because you can’t possibly envision every scenario the rule is being applied to, and because words are often not sufficiently precise to create the kind of explicitness you’re looking for.

    But, for another … often laws produced by democracies are deliberately ambiguous because that ambiguity allows people who would disagree on the specifics to come together on the ambiguity. Legislative ambiguity is *by design*, and is part of how political compromise works.

    It’s far better for the judicial system to accept that this ambiguity exists and try to come up with rules for handling it – because trying to prevent it is an effort which is doomed to fail.

  44. aphrael wrote:

    For one thing, I think it’s impossible to be fully explicit, because you can’t possibly envision every scenario the rule is being applied to, and because words are often not sufficiently precise to create the kind of explicitness you’re looking for.

    If you can’t imagine every scenario to which the law would be applied — something Perry is arguing, albeit from a different perspective — how can someone know when the law applies to him?

    Of course, the basis for this thread is that the First Amendment is written in very absolute terms: Congress shall make no law really ought to mean that Congress shall make no law on the proscribed subjects. I don’t see how that can mean Congress shall make only a few, well-considered laws on those subjects.

  45. Dana: you can’t, at least not at first.

    But let’s use a simple example. The right to bear arms shall not be infringed, right? Does that mean I have a personal right, which cannot be infringed, to carry a nuclear bomb around? Fundamentally the answer to that question depends on whether a nuclear bomb is an ‘arm’, a question which would never have occurred to the framers of the second amendment.

    For that matter, do I have a right to carry around a taser, which cannot be infringed?

    Etc.

    ——

    I agree that the first amendment is written in absolute terms, and I support an absolute interpretation of the first amendment. But even that requires interpretation of ambiguity.

    Are the words that you type on your blog protected by the first amendment? I could construct a plausible argument that they’re not speech, because they’re not spoken, they’re written, and the entire point to the word ‘speech’ is to distinguish the spoken word from the written word. And I could argue that they’re not ‘press’ because ‘press’ requires the use of a physical printing device.

    We didn’t take that path. And I’m glad we didn’t; I think the clear intent of the amendment is that it use ‘press’ and ‘speech’ broadly. But I can’t deny the existence of the underlying ambiguity.

  46. You’ve supported the silly Occupy movement on this site, but what are the Occupiers?

    1.50pm: Here’s more from Ryan Devereaux in New York, watching the march of servicemen and women in support of Occupy Wall Street.

    Led by Scott Olsen’s friend, Navy veteran Josh Shepherd, service men and women marched in two-by-two columns along sidewalks through Lower Manhattan.

    As the march made its way into the financial district, a police barricade was moved aside and the veterans were allowed to move onto Broad Street. For what seems to be the first time since the demonstrations in New York City began six weeks ago, Occupy Wall Street protesters were allowed onto Wall Street itself.

    With six New York City Police Department officers on horseback looking on, the procession paused in front of the New York Stock Exchange. There, Shepherd read a brief statement reiterating the oath members of the armed forces take to defend the US constitution. He then added: “We are here to support the Occupy Wall Street movement.”

    At the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street, the veterans stopped and observed a moment of silence for Scott Olsen, before passing the financial district’s iconic bull statue.

    Turning in the direction of the Occupy Wall Street encampment at Liberty Square, the cadence of “Left, left, left, right, left,” was paused by a call-back chant of, “Hold your heads and hold them high, the 99 percent is passing by.”

    The veterans arrived to the plaza amid cheers and applause. One young man described the passing troops as his “heroes.”

    I think the interesting question here, Dana, is why you have such contempt for military veterans if they attempt to exercise their rights.

  47. The Phoenician wrote:

    I think the interesting question here, Dana, is why you have such contempt for military veterans if they attempt to exercise their rights.

    Being a veteran does not somehow make you inerrantly right; veterans can be wrong on the issues just as easily as civilians. Heck, some veterans actually vote for Democrats! {shudder!] That certainly makes them wrong.

  48. Aphrael wrote:

    But let’s use a simple example. The right to bear arms shall not be infringed, right? Does that mean I have a personal right, which cannot be infringed, to carry a nuclear bomb around? Fundamentally the answer to that question depends on whether a nuclear bomb is an ‘arm’, a question which would never have occurred to the framers of the second amendment.

    For that matter, do I have a right to carry around a taser, which cannot be infringed?

    Yes, actually, I think you can. If people don’t like the way the Second Amendment is written, they should be honest enough to propose amending or repealing it.

    I agree that the first amendment is written in absolute terms, and I support an absolute interpretation of the first amendment. But even that requires interpretation of ambiguity.

    Are the words that you type on your blog protected by the first amendment? I could construct a plausible argument that they’re not speech, because they’re not spoken, they’re written, and the entire point to the word ‘speech’ is to distinguish the spoken word from the written word. And I could argue that they’re not ‘press’ because ‘press’ requires the use of a physical printing device.

    We didn’t take that path. And I’m glad we didn’t; I think the clear intent of the amendment is that it use ‘press’ and ‘speech’ broadly. But I can’t deny the existence of the underlying ambiguity.

    Actually, we did have people making the argument that motion pictures were not protected by the First Amendment, and at one point the Supreme Court had ruled they were not because they were not really an attempt at speech, but simply a business venture in Mutual Film Corporation v. Industrial Commission of Ohio, 236 U.S. 230 (1915).

    However, the very vocal opponents of the Citizens United ruling aren’t claiming that what McCain-Feingold banned wasn’t really speech or the press, but that corporations don’t have the right to speak or publish if the government says they don’t; it’s prior restraint based not on what is produced but on whom is producing it.

  49. Sure. But the fact that a particular political activist group is using a particular kind of argument – corporations are bad, corporations shouldn’t be allowed to speak is not a refutation of the more general claim that there is ambiguity inherent in all law, which must be resolved by someone.

  50. but that corporations don’t have the right to speak or publish if the government says they don’t

    Just as dogs don’t have the right to “speak” if the government says they don’t. Corporations, like dogs, are not people.

  51. “You aren’t [saying that Roman Catholicism is bad]? You’ve just accused me of brainwashing my children, Perry, because yes, I certainly did take them to church, I certainly did rear them in the Church, and I even sent them to parochial schools for part of the time.”

    No, Dana, again I am not saying that RC is bad per se. However, when very young children/young minds are indoctrinated using fear as the lever, I do think that practice is very bad. We raised our daughters with the idea that when they were older and ready, they could make their own choices with more mature minds, which is exactly what both of them did. I will say that RC is not for me, because I do not accept, here comes that word again, their absolutism; its a myth. Like any religion, I don’t believe that any of them are in a position to tell anyone what they must believe in order to experience salvation. Salvation from what? Yet that is exactly what many of them do. Folks should be free to choose what to believe, based on their own individual experiences, free from religious guilt trips.

    It us not religion that makes a person a good person, it is that individual person who chooses to be a good person, or not.

    I will even venture to say, Dana, that the reason you so fervently cling to the First Amendment as an absolute, is because you have been indoctrinated to think in those terms. For you to believe otherwise would be tantamount to your rejecting your Roman Catholic religious beliefs.

    “Of course, were things to be done your way, we’d simply be educating children in the ideas of which you approve, like idiotic multi-culturalism, such as pushing an education system which is completely free of religious influence but certainly tries to teach a strident secularism, such as teaching that all sorts of behaviors that the Church considers wrong and our society has for many years considered wrong, reprehensible and self-defeating are somehow acceptable in their differences.” [italics mine]

    Please don’t assume anything about my views about public education. And it is quite telling of your narrow-mindedness that you would single out multiculturalism to express your disgust. Simply speaking, the goal of formal education is to teach children skills which will enable them to function well and successfully as adults. Some values, such as not cheating, such as helping fellow classmates, are also necessary. And on religion in schools, certainly children are taught about various religions in our public schools, but religious training is not considered appropriate, and rightly so, in my view. Your charges, like “teaching all sorts of behaviors that the Church considers wrong and our society for many years considered wrong,” I find to be false. What you are referring to comes to children in the halls and in the streets, and should be discussed in the home, which is what we did with our girls. You seem to be equating the bad behavior of some children to what is being taught in schools. On the contrary, I attribute this behavior to shortcomings involving parenting at home. I see nothing wrong with the schools teaching the biological aspects, which when supplemented at home with the values emphasized should work out well for the children. I taught a semester of biology, therefore am quite familiar with the approach used in handling this issue anatomically and with sensitivity, with not one complaint from a parent. We did have an opt in/opt out system, getting parental permission beforehand.

    Our daughters are the products of public education, then went on to get their bachelors and masters degrees, became productively employed and active in community affairs, married, are raising their children as stay-at-home moms, and are very strong and very responsible women. As we raised our two girls, indoctrination to religious dogma was not part of their upbringing, yet they turned out very well anyway. Both were held in high esteem by their employers, and are now likewise by their peers. Yes, I am bragging because I am so proud of them, but Dana, how could this possibly be?

  52. “During the debates over the ratification of the Constitution, three of the Framers — James Madison, John Jay and Alexander Hamilton — wrote a series of essays, all of which were commonly signed with the pseudonym “Publius.” This was a group opinion, expressed under a single name, a name which did not specify any individual. Those three men came together for a purpose, that purpose being to argue for ratification of the Constitution. They were, in effect, a form of corporation.”

    They were not a corporation in the sense we view one today, an entity in business to make a profit. These three men were collaborators in the intellectual sphere, not the business sphere. The main practical problem with granting a Corporation “personhood” wrt the First Amendment, is it is granting them the power to dominate our government by virtue of their wealth. Thus, the First Amendment has to be viewed in the context which exists today, not as some absolute, but as a standard against which we make judgments regarding our laws. In the scientific arena, we have the National Institute of Standards and Technology, because standards change according to advancements in science and technology. These standards are never absolute, because all measurements have uncertainties associated with them. As the uncertainties change, the standards must be changed. I think the same thing is true regarding the Constitution – our body of knowledge and experience have greatly changed over the years. These changes have to be taken into account regarding our interpretations of the meanings of the Constitution in today’s context.

    “Why someone in a free society like you enjoy would want to censor anybody is really beyond me.”

    I don’t wish to censor anybody, Dana, but corporations are not an “anybody” when it comes to their massive resources which can be used to bend policies and laws to favor them. In fact, it has gotten to the point where corporations have pretty well taken over our government, aided and assisted by our political Righties. This is a huge practical problem which can seriously negatively impact the American people. So yes, we are people, you and I, but corporations are not people. Limits must be placed on campaign contributions to return our government to being of the people, by the people, and for the people! And yes, the OWS participants are made up of individuals expressing individual opinions, thus they are not a corporation in business to make a profit.

  53. “Is that my premise? No, that’s not my premise. In that PARTICULAR case I feel changing the Constitution would aid in destroying the Republic. Of course, you being one who would like to see it destroyed will try and tell us it wouldn’t. You are a liar and a scroundrel. Worse, you’re a marxist pig. Now, tell me you’re not. Common’, liar tell me you’re not a phuckin’ pinko! You piece of schit.”

    Very impressive indeed, Hoagie — NOT!!! Are you striving to be the proverbial ugly American?

  54. They were not a corporation in the sense we view one today, an entity in business to make a profit.

    The guys rebelling against their Crown did, in fact, have good examples of such corporations – the East India Company and the Hudson Bay Company.

    A couple months ago the Supreme Court ruled that restricting corporate political spending amounted to restricting free speech. In this view, corporations are pretty much equivalent to people. Would that have seemed reasonable to the Founding Fathers?

    In a word, no.

    I read this opinion carefully — I’m trained as a historian, not a lawyer. Chief Justice Roberts lays out an ideologically pure view of corporations as associations of citizens — leveling differences between companies, schools and other groups. So in his view Boeing is no different from Harvard, which is no different from the NAACP, or Citizens United, or my local neighborhood civic association. It’s lovely prose, but as a matter of history the majority is simply wrong.

    Let me put it this way: the Founders did not confuse Boston’s Sons of Liberty with the British East India Company. They could distinguish among different varieties of association — and they understood that corporate personhood was a legal fiction that was limited to a courtroom. It wasn’t literal. Corporations could not vote or hold office. They held property, and to enable a shifting group of shareholders to hold that property over time and to sue and be sued in court, they were granted this fictive personhood in a limited legal context.

    Early Americans had a far more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of corporations than the Court gives them credit for. They were much more comfortable with retaining pre-Revolutionary city or school charters than with creating new corporations that would concentrate economic and political power in potentially unaccountable institutions. When you read Madison in particular, you see that he wasn’t blindly hostile to banks during his fight with Alexander Hamilton over the Bank of the United States. Instead, he’s worried about the unchecked power of accumulations of capital that come with creating a class of bankers.

    So even as this generation of Americans became comfortable with the idea of using the corporate form as a way to set priorities and mobilize capital, they did their best to make sure that those institutions were subordinate to elected officials and representative government. They saw corporations as corrupting influences on both the economy at large and on government — that’s why they described the East India Company as imperium in imperio, a sort of “state within a state.” This wasn’t an outcome they were looking to replicate.

    This is not going to stop Dana from attempting to deceive, however.

  55. Oh, and there’s this tiny point:

    After independence, corporations received their charters from states and the charters were for a limited period, like 20 or 30 years, not in perpetuity. They were only allowed to deal in one commodity, they could not hold stock in other corporations, their property holdings were limited to what was necessary for their business, their headquarters had to be located in the state of their principle business, monopolies had their charges regulated by the state, and all corporate documents were open to the legislature. Any political contribution by a corporation was treated as a criminal offence. Corporations could, and often did, have their charters removed if the state considered that their activities harmed its people.

  56. Perry wrote:

    “You aren’t [saying that Roman Catholicism is bad]? You’ve just accused me of brainwashing my children, Perry, because yes, I certainly did take them to church, I certainly did rear them in the Church, and I even sent them to parochial schools for part of the time.”

    No, Dana, again I am not saying that RC is bad per se. However, when very young children/young minds are indoctrinated using fear as the lever, I do think that practice is very bad.

    So, yes, you are specifically accusing me of brainwashing my children. You have just said that taking children to church when they are young is “very bad.”

    Of course, it seems that a great many Americans do agree with you, as church attendance has dropped off precipitously. And what do we have today? Half of all marriages end in divorce, a third of all children are born out of wedlock, one and a half million children are killed before birth every year, public schools have to have police and security guards roaming the halls, teachers are assaulted, junior-high and high-school girls dress like whores and the boys show them exactly as much respect as their dress encourages, and drug use has soared. Yeah, ain’t it a great thing that we don’t indoctrinate our kids to believe that sex outside of marriage is a bad thing, that respect for your parents and elders is a requirement, and that people should respect everyone else’s property?

  57. “So, yes, you are specifically accusing me of brainwashing my children. You have just said that taking children to church when they are young is “very bad.””

    Show me where I said any such thing about taking your children to church, Dana. Stop your grandstanding!

    I should have been more clear. I am talking about the indoctrination that a young Catholic child goes through in preparation for their first communion. I understand that parents who are devoted to a religion wish for their children to follow in their footsteps. Moreover, the values taught in Christian endeavors can be important. It is the dogmatic, doctrinal, mythical part to which I have reservations exposing young children. It is an attempt to mold a child’s mind before they are old enough to make their own judgments.

    Isn’t it true that over 80% of Americans are Christian, yet where are the Christian influences when we note something like this going on:

    “Of course, it seems that a great many Americans do agree with you, as church attendance has dropped off precipitously. And what do we have today? Half of all marriages end in divorce, a third of all children are born out of wedlock, one and a half million children are killed before birth every year, public schools have to have police and security guards roaming the halls, teachers are assaulted, junior-high and high-school girls dress like whores and the boys show them exactly as much respect as their dress encourages, and drug use has soared. Yeah, ain’t it a great thing that we don’t indoctrinate our kids to believe that sex outside of marriage is a bad thing, that respect for your parents and elders is a requirement, and that people should respect everyone else’s property?”

    A major problem is that too many parents are neglecting their responsibilities regarding rearing their children. Moreover, there are more diversions than ever to capture our children’s attention on many of the wrong things.

    Whatever happened to limiting TV time, limiting smartphone time, filling our children’s lives with a variety of activities with the whole family involved, monitoring their activities outside of the home, encouraging sports or other interests, stay at home moms/dads, working with the teachers, requiring tasks to be done at home to keep things purring, responsibilities to relatives and neighbors, on and on? This is the way we tried to raise our girls.

  58. Pheonician – while you have a point regarding the treatment of corporations in pre-colonial and colonial times, I think there’s an important difference.

    In that era, *all* corporations which had an independent legal existence received charters from (the King or the legislature, depending), which were *special acts* of that body, granting special powers not available to the average bloke. In post-independence US states, you could only form a corporation if you could persuade the legislature to grant a charter.

    Beginning in the 1820s, there was a movement in this country to do away with such special corporate charters and establish universal rules for incorporation, whereby granting the charter became a ministerial act, guaranteed available to anyone who could meet a simple set of preconditions. Part of the premise behind this was that the special-charter system was inherently corrupt.

    It seems to me that a lot of the arguments one could make for banning political activism by special-charter corporations are substantially weakened when applied to corporations created under a general-incorporation act.

  59. Beginning in the 1820s, there was a movement in this country to do away with such special corporate charters and establish universal rules for incorporation, whereby granting the charter became a ministerial act, guaranteed available to anyone who could meet a simple set of preconditions. Part of the premise behind this was that the special-charter system was inherently corrupt.

    Quite possibly. The needs of a rapidly industrialising economy required a more bureaucratic approach.

    It seems to me that a lot of the arguments one could make for banning political activism by special-charter corporations are substantially weakened when applied to corporations created under a general-incorporation act.

    This is obviously wrong, both historically and currently.

    Take a read through this:

    The Court decided in favor of the railroad — no real surprise there — but it did not rule based on the concept of corporate personhood. (Instead, it decided the case on very narrow jurisdictional grounds — namely, whether the railroad property in question should be taxed by the state or the county.) Waite may have believed in it, but he didn’t rule on it. The Court gave it a good leaving alone.

    Enter, at this point, a guy named J.C. Bancroft Davis, who just happened to be a former railroad executive from upstate New York. (He was also, like me, a son of Worcester, a fact of which I am not proud, as we shall see.) Davis was the court reporter, and it was his job to distribute the Court’s decisions in a publication called the United States Reports. Each separate decision was preceded in the Reports by what was called a “head-note,” which was supposed to be a brief summary of what the case was about, the arguments on both sides, and the Court’s eventual ruling. As part of his head-note for the Santa Clara case, Davis included what Waite had said about the 14th amendment and corporations, even though it had played no part in the actual ruling.

    And that is how corporate personhood became enshrined in American law.

    And closer to home, consider how much misery has been caused to Americans by the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 – directly at the hands of some of the most corrupt politicians in your House at the time serving banks (Citicorp in particular) who wished to gamble with the money of their depositors.

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