Category Archives: freedom of speech

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Via Clusterflock:

[link] “Vanity Fair Covers The New Yorker” at Vanity Fair

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Earth Intruders

I was not a fan of Elizabeth May when the Green Party picked her to be their new leader. At the time, I thought the Green Party was crippling itself by picking someone so stereotypically “green” after Jim Harris.

It may have been an overreaction on my part. I think I’m warming to her.

If nothing else, she sure knows how to keep in the news. This week, she compared the Conservatives’ environment policy to Chamberlain’s appeasement of the Nazis.

On a loosely related note, isn’t Bj√∂rk wonderful? If you haven’t heard her new single (“Earth Intruders”) yet, you should check it out.

Bong Hits 4 Jesus

From the BBC:

The US Supreme Court is considering its first major test of students’ free speech rights in two decades.

At issue is whether a school principal violated a student’s right to free speech by suspending him for displaying a banner reading “Bong Hits 4 Jesus”.

The principal’s lawyer, a certain Kenneth Star, frames the case as one of drug laws. That is, in order to stop drug use in America’s schools, school administrators need to be able to drill the message into students that drugs are bad without being contradicted by attention-seeking class clowns.

To me, this seems about as bad as using history classes to teach national myths and propaganda.

Says Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick:

The justices appear to loathe each alternative about equally. At some point, Justice Stephen Breyer groans that a ruling for the students would encourage them to be “testing limits all over the place in the high schools,” whereas a ruling for the schools would certainly end up limiting lots of speech.

I doubt there will be serious repercussions if the Court rules in favour of the students. After all, it was hardly the end of the world when schools lost the ability to physically punish students.

Spying on Tommy, spying on me

The Canadian Press, through Freedom of Information laws, have recently been able to get their hands on the the RCMP’s massive file on Tommy Douglas. Information was collected on Douglas from 1939 through the late seventies.

Perhaps fittingly, the file contains articles noting Douglas’s concern about rumours of RCMP surveillance of Canadians, though there is no indication the politician suspected he was being watched.

“Setting people to spy on one another is not the way to protect freedom,” he wrote while NDP leader.

His concern remains germane today, when we are prepared to give up our freedom piecemeal for protection from a threat that essentially amount to the boogey man: anonymous terrorists who walk among us and could strike anywhere at any time.

According to CP, the RCMP kept files on 800,000 Canadians, including 650 politicians and beaurocrats. Spying on the people for their politics – or today, their ethnicity – is no way to run a free country.

Ban the ‘Book Burning’ book!

People make my head hurt.

Some guy in Texas, Alton Verm, wants the book Fahrenheit 451 banned from his 15-year-old daughter’s school because it contains adult situations and crude language.

“If they can’t find a book that uses clean words, they shouldn’t have a book at all.”

It’s sickeningly ironic, really. Verm wants to ban a book about book burning. But wait, it get’s better: this all happened during Banned Books Week at the end of September.

Not that over-protective Daddy gets any of this. He didn’t even read the book.

“He looked through the book and found the following things wrong with the book: discussion of being drunk, smoking cigarettes, violence, “dirty talk,” references to the Bible and using God’s name in vain.”

You, sir, are a moron.

The girl is fifteen! She’s probably knows more about being drunk, smoking cigarettes, violence, “dirty talk,” and using God’s name in vain than you could learn from “looking through” a thousand books on such sordid topics.

Exposing students to the concept of freedom of speech and other intrinsic rights is way more important than shielding them from four-lettered-words. Especially when they already know more than enough about the latter and barely anything about the former.

[HT: Andrea]