Archive for: August 2007

August 26, 2007

Farmer Bob Not Rolling Over

OFAHWell, I guess we can just file this one under “Well, DUH!” and move on from there, eh? Anybody who comes here regularly (and has two brain cells to rub together) already knows damned well just what I think about the Farmer Bob Varmint Gun Registryâ„¢. Specifically: we don’t have a gun control problem in this country, we have an asshole control problem. Locking up criminals reduces crime; hassling the shit out of farmers and duck hunters doesn’t. End of argument.

About twice a month or so (more often when I put up a post like this one), I get the usual, snarky email from some anti-gun Froot Loop, accusing me of everything from pro-Americanism a’ la the Second Amendment to plotting the assassination of all things cute and fuzzy. These little tirades invariably end with the assertions that I’m a) the lone voice in the wilderness with whom no one else agrees, and b) crazy as a shithouse rat.

Nice folks, huh? The problem — for them, anyway — is that I’m neither wrong, nor nuts, nor alone. And even the MSM is starting to agree. Laura Czekaj had a bit of an interesting writeup in the Ottawa Sun today, telling us that “Many flout firearms registry laws say experts“:

In neighbourhoods across the city, people are flouting the law by storing unregistered firearms in opposition of the federal gun registry.

No! Impossible! Not in Ottawa!! 😯

It’s impossible to tell how many people have opted not to register their guns with the Canadian Firearms Registry, but police and members of the firearms community get the sense that there are many gun owners who subscribe to this passive form of resistance against the controversial registry.

Impossible? No, it isn’t. As a matter of fact, I can tell you myself: it’s about four out of five long gun owners!

“On the whole, we do have records and people have registered firearms, but there are always firearms out there that we are not going to know about, registered or not registered,” said Sgt. Anthony Costantini of the Ottawa police guns and gangs unit.

Um… weren’t we told that having the registry would mean cops would know? About the registered ones, at least? 😕 The Grits didn’t lie to us, did they??

It becomes a concern if police are called to a residence and are confronted with someone carrying a gun, which officers didn’t previously know was in the house.

“But until you are confronted with that, you will never know,” said Costantini. “It’s like walking into a situation where you don’t know what’s behind the door.”

Um, guys? According to the cops that I know, EVERY call is like that: you don’t know what’s on the other side of the door. That’s where that whole “hope for the best but prepare for the worst” thing comes in handy…

It was that exact situation that played out in a Woodroffe Ave. home on Wednesday when Gatineau officers executed a court order to retrieve 14 registered firearms from Siva Yogi Shanmugadhasan, 48, and discovered additional guns that were not properly registered. Ottawa police were called and the weapons were seized.

Shanmugadhasan is facing several weapons-related charges, in addition to being the subject of a domestic dispute investigation that led Gatineau police to his door.

The weapons seized from the house included AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles and an array of inoperable guns, such as a grenade launcher and handguns.

Ah, yes, the obligatory references to the top favourites of the anti-gun hit parade. Nothing scares the bejeezus outta the city folk like a reference to “AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles.” And hey, how can you have an article about guns without trotting out the Domestic Violence Boogeyman®? You can’t, right?

We’ll cut Laura some slack here. After all, she’s writing for an Ottawa newspaper. There’s just a few little problems with this little bit of slight-of-hand…

Which one is it?Lie#1: the AR-15 is an assault rifle. No, it’s not. The M-16 (which is also based on Eugene Stoner’s design) is an assault rifle but the AR-15 isn’t. Yes, the ’15 looks like a scary piece of hardware, but the anti-gun crowd, and the MSM in general, rely heavily on the fact that most of the general public haven’t got the foggiest idea of what an “assault rifle” actually is. Don’t believe me? Alright then, smartass, take a look at the picture on the right (click on it for a better look) and tell me: which one is the “assault rifle?”

Go ahead, take your time; I’ll wait. I’ve got the time.

Okay, think you’ve got it yet? Which one did you choose? The top one? The bottom one? That’s what I thought. Would you like to know the answer? The answer is that neither one is an assault rifle. Nope, not either one; neither one. All those are are just a couple of little ol’ .22s. Sure, they’re all gussied up to look all big and bad, but they’re still only a couple of .22s, just the same.

Lie#2: there are no Kalashnikovs in Canada. This is also bunk. There’s one (Chinese made, I think it is) sitting in the display case of my local gun shop. I think they want about $800 for it, or somewhere in that area… Try actually walking into a gun shop sometime and taking a look around.

Lie#3: there is a quantifiable connection between guns and domestic violence. Sheer and utter bullshit that has grown more and more popular in Canada ever since we experienced our first incident of Islamist terrorism in Montreal. Even if there is a gun in the house, when some woman-beating sack of maggot shit decides to kill his wife, he usually grabs whatever’s closest at hand at that moment: a knife, a blunt object, a cord, his fists… Yes, it’s vile, but it has nothing to do with guns.


Shanmugadhasan will appear in court later this week to answer to the charges.

Speaking in general, George Perrin, a member of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, said there are many gun owners across Canada who have decided not to register their firearms either as a sign of defiance, or because they’re collectors who have guns that are now prohibited under federal laws.

“There is a fair number of people who have not registered and have refused to register because of the stupidity of it (the registry),” said Perrin.

The Canadian Firearms Registry contains data related to licensed firearms owners and to the registration of all firearms in Canada.

Can we kill that damned waste of money yet? We could have used the cash to build some new prisons…

August 24, 2007

No Free Speech For You

Explains a lot…One of the things that I actually kind of like about having this site is that I get to plagiarize. A lot. Any old time that I stumble across something that I think is really, really good, I just slap it right up here for all of you to look at. Most of the time, it’s just a snippet and a link to the oroginal article, but not always. The problem with linking to other stuff on the net is that links have a bothersome way of expiring after a little — sometimes very little — while, so sometimes I’ll just bugger off with a whole damned article and stick it here (especially if the SOB has the audacity to write what’s on my mind better than I would have written it).

Oh, don’t look at me like that; I always give credit for the stuff that I steal. Stuff like the gem below, by John Leo in the City Journal. The original link is here (for however long it works) and this has to be one of the best looks at the Politically Correct Campus Brain Ploice® that I’ve seen in a long time. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did…

Free Inquiry? Not on Campus
John Leo

And the college speech police threaten the liberty of us all.

Remember when the Right had a near-monopoly on censorship? If so, you must be in your sixties, or older. Now the champions of censorship are mostly on the left. And they are thickest on the ground in our colleges and universities. Since the late 1980s, what should be the most open, debate-driven, and tolerant sector of society has been in thrall to the diversity and political correctness that now form the aggressive secular religion of America’s elites.

The censors have only grown in power, elevating antidiscrimination rules above “absolutist” free-speech principles, silencing dissent with antiharassment policies, and looking away when students bar or disrupt conservative speakers or steal conservative newspapers. Operating under the tacit principle that “error has no rights,” an ancient Catholic theological rule, the new censors aren’t interested in debates or open forums. They want to shut up dissenters.

In October, for instance, a student mob stormed a Columbia University stage, shutting down speeches by two members of the Minutemen, an anti-illegal-immigration group. The students shouted: “They have no right to speak!” Campus opponents of Congressman Tom Tancredo, an illegal-immigration foe, set off fire alarms at Georgetown to disrupt his planned speech, and their counterparts at Michigan State roughed up his student backers. Conservative activist David Horowitz, black conservative columnist Star Parker, and Daniel Pipes, an outspoken critic of Islamism, frequently find themselves shouted down or disrupted on campus.

School officials seem to have little more interest in free speech. At Columbia this fall, officials turned away most of a large crowd gathered to hear former PLO terrorist-turned-anti-jihadist Walid Shoebat, citing security worries. Only Columbia students and 20 guests got in. Colleges often cite the danger of violence as they cancel controversial speeches—a new form of heckler’s veto: shrinking an audience so that an event will seem unimportant is itself a way to cave to critics. In 2003, Columbia, facing leftist fury at the scheduled speeches of several conservatives (myself included), banned scores of invited nonstudents who had agreed to attend. Though some schools cancel left-wing speakers, too—including Ward Churchill and Michael Moore, or abortion-supporters Anna Quindlen and Christie Whitman at Catholic universities—right-of-center speakers are the campus speech cops’ normal targets.

Official censorship—now renamed speech codes and antiharassment codes—pervades the campuses. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) recently surveyed more than 300 schools, including the top universities and liberal arts colleges, and found that over 68 percent explicitly prohibit speech that the First Amendment would protect if uttered off campus. At 229 schools, FIRE found clear and substantial restriction of speech, while 91 more had policies that one could interpret as restricting speech. Only eight permitted genuine free expression.

A 2002 New York Times article reported that today’s college kids seem more guarded in their views than previous generations of students. The writer suggested several possible explanations—disgust with partisan politics and uncivil debates on cable news shows, perhaps, or simple politeness. A more likely reason is that universities have made honest disagreement dangerous, making students fearful of saying what they think.

Much campus censorship rests on philosophical underpinnings that go back to social theorist Herbert Marcuse, a hero to sixties radicals. Marcuse argued that traditional tolerance is repressive—it wards off reform by making the status quo . . . well, tolerable. Marcuse favored intolerance of established and conservative views, with tolerance offered only to the opinions of the oppressed, radicals, subversives, and other outsiders. Indoctrination of students and “deeply pervasive” censorship of others would be necessary, starting on the campuses and fanning out from there.

By the late 1980s, many of the double standards that Marcuse called for were in place in academe. Marcuse’s candor was missing, but everyone knew that speakers, student newspapers, and professors on the right could (make that should) receive different treatment from those on the left. The officially oppressed—designated race and gender groups—knew that they weren’t subject to the standards and rules set for other students.

Marcuse’s thinking has influenced a generation of influential radical scholars. They included Mari Matsuda, who followed Marcuse by arguing that complete free speech should belong mainly to the powerless; and Catharine MacKinnon, a pioneer of modern sexual harassment and “hostile environment” doctrine. In MacKinnon’s hands, sexual harassment became a form of gender-based class discrimination and inegalitarian speech a kind of harmful action.

Confusing speech and action has a long pedigree on the PC campus. At the time of the first wave of speech codes 20 years ago, Kenneth Lasson, a law professor at the University of Baltimore, argued that “racial defamation does not merely ‘preach hate’; it is the practice of hatred by the speaker”—and is thus punishable as a form of assault. Indeed, the Left has evolved a whole new vocabulary to blur the line between acts and speech: “verbal conduct” and “expressive behavior” (speech), “non-traditional violence” (Lani Guinier’s term for strong criticism), and “anti-feminist intellectual harassment” (rolling one’s eyeballs over feminist dogma).

Campus censors frequently emulate the Marcusian double standard by combining effusive praise for free speech with an eagerness to suppress unwelcome views. “I often have to struggle with right and wrong because I am a strong believer in free speech,” said Ronni Santo, a gay student activist at UCLA in the late nineties. “Opinions are protected under the First Amendment, but when negative opinions come out of a person’s fist, mouth, or pen to intentionally hurt others, that’s when their opinions should no longer be protected.”

In their 1993 book, The Shadow University, Alan Charles Kors and Harvey Silverglate turned some of the early speech codes into national laughingstocks. Among the banned comments and action they listed: “intentionally producing psychological discomfort” (University of North Dakota), “insensitivity to the experience of women” (University of Minnesota), and “inconsiderate jokes” (University of Connecticut). Serious nonverbal offenses included “inappropriate laughter” (Sarah Lawrence College), “eye contact or the lack of it” (Michigan State University), and “subtle discrimination,” such as “licking lips or teeth; holding food provocatively” (University of Maryland). Later gems, added well after the courts struck down campus codes as overly broad, included bans on “inappropriate non-verbals” (Macalaster College), “communication with sexual overtones” (Lincoln University), and “discussing sexual activities” (State University of New York–Brockport). Other codes bar any comment or gesture that “annoys,” “offends,” or otherwise makes someone feel bad. Tufts ruled that attributing harassment complaints to the “hypersensitivity of others who feel hurt” is itself harassment.

Brockport, which banned “cartoons that depict religious figures in compromising situations,” “jokes making fun of any protected group,” and “calling someone an old hag,” helpfully described for students what does not constitute sexual harassment: “non-coercive interaction(s) . . . that are acceptable to both parties.” Commented Greg Lukianoff of FIRE: “The wonder is that anyone would risk speaking at all at SUNY Brockport.”

Despite numerous court decisions overturning these codes, they have proliferated. College officials point to the hurt feelings of women or minorities as evidence that a violation must have occurred, in part because they want to avoid charges of racism, sexism, and homophobia— an overriding fear in today’s academe, where diversity offices can swarm with 40 or 50 administrators. The Clinton administration’s commissioner of civil rights in the Department of Education, Norma Cantú, reinforced this trend by interpreting racial and sexual harassment broadly, with an implied threat to withhold federal funds if universities didn’t vigorously counter it. In 2003, the DOE office of civil rights issued a weary clarification, explaining to universities that harassment doesn’t mean merely feeling offended. The letter has had little effect on the censoring fervor of the campuses, however. Occidental College officials soon found a student radio shock jock guilty of sexual harassment for using various crude terms on the air, calling one student a “bearded feminist” and another “half man, half vagina.” On many a campus, tastelessness equals harassment.

Georgia Tech went so far as to ban “denigrating” comments on “beliefs,” which would make almost any passionate argument over ideas a violation. Needless to say, the targets here are usually conservative. Ohio State University at Mansfield launched a sexual harassment investigation of a research librarian, Scott Savage, for recommending the inclusion of four conservative books, including popular works by David Horowitz and ex-senator Rick Santorum, on a freshman reading list. Two professors had complained that one of the books, The Marketing of Evil, by journalist David Kupelian, was “homophobic tripe” and “hate literature.” This may have been the first time that a campus charged that a book recommendation qualified as sexual harassment. After a burst of publicity and a threat to sue, the university dropped the investigation.

Student censors regularly spirit away whole print runs of conservative student newspapers, almost always without reproof from administrators. Over the years, campus officials, including a few university presidents, have even encouraged such stealing. After repeated thefts of the Dartmouth Review, an official egged on the thieves by calling the paper “litter” and “abandoned property.” In a commencement speech, former Cornell president Hunter Rawlings III praised students who seized and burned copies of the conservative Cornell Review in retaliation for printing a gross parody of Ebonics.

Once in a blue moon, a college president vigorously defends free speech. At Northern Kentucky University, president James Votruba rebuked and suspended a tenured feminist professor, Sally Jacobsen, who led a group that demolished a campus-approved right-to-life display. Jacobsen cited two justifications: her deep feelings and her alleged free-speech right to tear down displays that offend her. “I did invite students to express their freedom of speech rights to destroy the display if they wished,” she said. “Any violence perpetrated against that silly display was minor compared to how I felt when I saw it.”

But far more typical than Votruba was Washington State University president V. Lane Rawlins, who hailed the disruption—and subsequent cancellation—of an intentionally offensive student play that irritated blacks, Christians, Jews, gays, and others. Rawlins defended the disrupters, saying that they had “exercised their rights of free speech in a very responsible manner.” Later documents showed that the university had actually organized and financed them. In the real world, such a revelation would have cost Rawlins his job. But on today’s campus, it passes without comment, in part because students can point out, with perfect moral justification, that forcing the cancellation of speeches and stealing newspapers are just logical extensions of campus speech codes.

Nothing makes the campus censors angrier than someone who dares to question race and gender preferences, especially if he uses satire to do it. That’s why the anti-affirmative-action bake sales that conservative students have sponsored at many schools—white male customers can buy cookies for $1, with lower prices for women and various minorities—have provoked such ferocious responses from campus authorities.

Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, provides a typical example. A Republican club there staged a bake sale, and several students then said that they felt offended. This amounted to a powerful argument, since hurt feelings are trump cards in the contemporary campus culture. (At the University of Wisconsin, for example, a black student testified in defense of the faculty speech code, complaining bitterly that a professor had used the word “niggardly” while teaching Chaucer. “I was in tears,” she said. “It’s not up to the rest of the class to decide whether my feelings are valid.”)

Next came the usual administrative scramble to suppress free speech while expressing great respect for it. The university charged the club with a violation of the student code and threatened sanctions. The students folded under administrative pressure and apologized. When the Republican club president refused to back down, club members asked him to resign, and he did. The students’ retreat was understandable, if not very courageous. The university in effect was trying them for bias, with the likelihood that a notation of racism would become part of their academic record and follow them to post-college job interviews.

The College Republicans at Northeastern Illinois University canceled an announced affirmative-action bake sale after the administration threatened punishment. Dean of students Michael Kelly announced that the cookie sellers would be violating university rules and that “any disruption of university activities that would be caused by this event is also actionable.” This principle—politically incorrect speakers are responsible for attacks on them by students who resent their speech—is dear to campus censors’ hearts. The university didn’t view itself as engaging in censorship—and double-standard censorship at that, since it freely allowed a satirical wage-gap bake sale run by feminists. Absurdly, Kelly said that the affirmative-action sale would be fine—if cookie prices were the same for whites, minorities, and women. Other administrators complained that differential pricing of baked goods is unfair, thus unwittingly proving the whole point of the parody.

Schools will use almost any tactic to shut the bake sales down. At the University of Washington, the administration said that the sponsor had failed to get a food permit. At Grand Valley, the university counsel argued that the sale of a single cupcake would convert political commentary into forbidden campus commerce. At Texas A&M, the athletics director argued that a satirical bake sale would damage the sports teams by making it harder to recruit minorities.

One of the PC campus’s worst excesses in suppressing unwanted speech is the drive by gays and their allies to banish or break Christian groups for their traditional beliefs on sexuality. Some 20 campuses have acted to de-recognize or de-fund religious groups that oppose homosexuality (as well as nonmarital sex), often accusing them of violating antidiscrimination rules—that is, refusing to let gays be members, or allowing them to belong but not serve as officers. The language of many policies would require a Democratic club to accept a Republican president, a Jewish group to allow a Holocaust-denying member, or a Muslim organization to accept a leader who practices voodoo.

About half of the attempts to move against Christian clubs have failed. The University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill dropped its move against a Christian club three days after getting a friendly warning letter from FIRE. “UNC couldn’t defend in public what it was willing to do in private,” said FIRE president Alan Charles Kors. “If an evangelical Christian who believed homosexuality to be a sin tried to become president of a university’s Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Alliance, the administration would have led candlelight vigils on behalf of diversity and free association.”

Such Marcusian double standards—freedom for me, but not for thee—now have a beachhead in the law, thanks to the legendarily left-wing Ninth Circuit. In response to a “Day of Silence” sponsored by the Gay-Straight Alliance at his Poway, California, high school, Tyler Harper wore a shirt that proclaimed, on the front, “Be Ashamed, Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned,” and on the back, “Homosexuality Is Shameful/Romans 1:27.” The school principal ordered Harper to take off the shirt. Harper refused, and sued. He argued that the purpose of the “Day of Silence” was to “endorse, promote and encourage homosexual activity” and that he had a First Amendment right to use his T-shirt message as a rebuttal.

When the Poway case reached the Ninth Circuit, Judge Stephen Reinhardt and his colleague Judge Sidney R. Thomas argued in a two-to-one decision that it is permissible to exclude T-shirt messages from First Amendment protection if they strike at a “core identifying characteristic of students on the basis of their membership as a minority group”—with minority status conveyed by categories “such as race, religion, and sexual orientation.” This ruling, unless the Supreme Court takes it up and overturns it, creates a large new category of viewpoints that the First Amendment doesn’t safeguard, at least within the Ninth Circuit. Based on the loose language—“such as” could apply to numerous groups—criticism of illegal aliens might now lack First Amendment protection, says UCLA law prof Eugene Volokh. Presumably, too, one can no longer criticize any minority religious opinion, such as the Islamic view that cartoons mocking Mohammed are out-of-bounds. But pictures of Christ in urine would be perfectly fine, since Christianity remains America’s majority faith.

Some on the left applaud such Marcusian hairsplitting, arguing that First Amendment “absolutists” must learn to “balance” free speech and special protections for vulnerable groups. But in dissent, Judge Alex Kozinski expressed “considerable difficulty understanding the source and sweep of the novel doctrine the majority announces today”—nothing in state, federal, or common law supports it, he noted.

To understand the rising disrespect for free expression in the U.S., Kozinski might have been better off looking to Canada and Europe, both a bit ahead of us—if that’s the right phrase—in embracing PC censorship.

Despite stated respect for free speech in its national constitution, Canada now has a national speech code and judges and elites eager to expand it. The Canadian Supreme Court has issued a series of rulings stating that the government may limit speech in the name of worthwhile goals, such as ending discrimination, ensuring social harmony, or promoting sexual equality. The state may now seize published material judged to “degrade” or “dehumanize” any group.

What free-speech supporters would regard as horrendous abuses have become commonplace. In 1997, for instance, the mayor of London, Ontario, ran afoul of Canada’s Human Rights Code for refusing to declare a Gay Pride day, citing her Christian beliefs. The British Columbia College of Teachers refuses to certify teacher education programs at Christian universities if they urge students to abstain from premarital sex, adultery, or homosexual sex. The province’s hate-speech laws use extremely broad language, criminalizing statements that “indicate” discrimination or that “likely” will expose a group or one of its members to hatred or contempt.

Ted Byfield, editor of the now-defunct Alberta Report, violated that province’s human rights law by publishing an article noting that some children were grateful for the education they received at the government’s residential schools for Indians, much despised by multiculturalists and admittedly abuse-plagued. An injunction against the Alberta Report forbade stories on partial-birth abortions after Byfield ran a story quoting unnamed nurses and official documents saying that some babies subject to the procedure at a Calgary hospital were born alive and deliberately allowed to starve to death.

Canada has become “a pleasantly authoritarian country,” observes Alan Borovoy, general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Robert Martin, a constitutional law prof at the University of Western Ontario, is harsher: Canada is now “a totalitarian theocracy,” he says, devoted to the secular state religion of political correctness.

Things are no freer across the pond. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties announced that it would prosecute any priests found distributing or quoting the pope’s words forbidding gay marriage. In England, author Lynette Burrows drew a police investigation for saying on a talk show that she opposes homosexual adoption. An Oxford student fared worse after a night out to celebrate the end of exams. Stopped by a mounted policeman, he drunkenly quipped, “Excuse me, do you realize your horse is gay?” Unfortunately, the humor-free local constabulary arrested the young man under the Public Order Act for making homophobic remarks.

By law, 11 European nations can punish anyone who publicly denies the Holocaust. That’s why the discredited Holocaust-denying British historian David Irving went to prison in Austria. Ken Livingstone, London’s madcap mayor, drew a monthlong suspension for calling a Jewish reporter a Nazi. A Swedish pastor went through a long and harrowing prosecution for a sermon criticizing homosexuality, finally beating the rap in Sweden’s supreme court.

Naturally enough, Muslims want to play the same victim game as other aggrieved groups. The French Council of Muslims says that it’s considering taking France Soir, which reprinted the Danish cartoons, to court for provocation. When French novelist Michel Houellebecq said some derogatory things about the Koran, Muslim groups hauled him into court, which eventually exonerated him. The late Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci wrote an angry anti-Muslim book, meant to waken the West to the gravity of the threat posed by Islam. Her prosecution in Italy for writing the book was pending when she died in October.

Much of Europe has painted itself into a corner on Muslim-driven censorship. What can Norway say to pro-censorship Muslims when it already has a hate-speech law forbidding, among other things, “publicly stirring up one part of the population against another,” or any utterance that “threatens, insults or subjects to hatred, persecution, or contempt any person or group of persons because of their creed, race, color, or national or ethnic origin . . . or homosexual bent”? No insulting utterances at all? Since most strong opinions can seem insulting to someone—can hurt someone’s feelings—no insults means no free speech.

Chafing under First Amendment restrictions, many censorship-prone American leftists look longingly toward successful speech control up north or overseas. That’s what they want right here.

We are very lucky to have the First Amendment. Without it, our chattering classes would be falling all over themselves to ban speech that offends sensitive groups, just as Canadian- and Euro-chatterers are doing now. We know this because our campus speech codes, the models for the disastrous hate-speech laws elsewhere, were the inventions of our own elites. Without a First Amendment, the distortions and suppressions of campus life would likely have gone national. Mel Gibson, Michael Richards, and many rap artists would be in jail, or at least facing charges.

The cause of free speech can no longer expect much help from the American Civil Liberties Union, more concerned today with civil rights and multicultural issues than with civil liberties and free speech. True, the ACLU still takes some censorship cases—it led the fight against the first wave of campus speech codes circa 1990, for instance. But the rise of the ACLU’s internal lobbies or “projects,” such as the Lesbian and Gay Project and the Immigrants’ Rights Project, has made the organization look more and more like a traditional left-wing pressure group, with little passion for the First Amendment. The ACLU is also following the money: funds flow in because the group responds to concerns of feminist, gays, and other identity groups, not because of its historical defense of free speech and civil liberties.

These days, the ACLU visibly stands aloof from obvious First Amendment cases—such as the college speech and harassment codes—and even comes down on the anti-free-speech side. Consider the group’s stance in Aguilar v. Avis Rent-A-Car System, a case involving ethnic epithets aimed by supervisors at Latino employees of Avis in San Francisco. A California court ruled that Avis had permitted a hostile environment. The California Supreme Court, abetted by both the northern Californian and the national ACLU, agreed, and upheld the lower court’s startling speech restriction: prior restraint on workers’ speech, forbidding a judge-made list of specific words. These words, not yet revealed or promulgated, will soon be taboo in every California workplace, even outside the earshot of Latino employees, and even if they are welcome. As civil libertarian Nat Hentoff wrote: “This may be the broadest and vaguest restriction of speech in American legal history.”

Even with the ACLU, the mainstream media, school officials, and much of the professorate AWOL, the speech police haven’t gone unopposed. Just ask former Clinton official Donna Shalala. As chancellor of the University of Wisconsin in the late eighties, she proved a fervent early advocate of campus speech restrictions. Though Shalala occasionally praised free speech, she and her team imposed not only a full-fledged student speech code, later struck down in federal court, but also a faculty code that provoked the first (and so far, only) pro-free-speech campus campaign strong enough to repeal such repressive restrictions. The Wisconsin faculty code was a primitive, totalitarian horror. Professors found themselves under investigation, sometimes for months, without a chance to defend themselves or even to know about the secret proceedings. One female professor said: “It was like being put in prison for no reason. I had no idea what it was that I was supposed to have done.”

A small group of free-speech-minded faculty formed the Committee for Academic Freedom and Rights (CAFR). The group asked for help from the Wisconsin chapter of the pro-free-speech National Association of Scholars, which enlisted as speakers such celebrated allies as Alan Dershowitz and National Journal columnist Jonathan Rauch.

The First Amendment forces got a lucky break when the university signed a foolish contract with Reebok, in which it received millions of dollars in exchange for the use of the company’s footwear by campus sports teams. The contract included a clause forbidding negative comments on Reebok products by any “University employee, agent or representative.” The clause greatly irritated the anticorporate campus Left, which had usually been lukewarm or indifferent to free-speech concerns, helping convert some of its members to the anti-speech-code side. Later, a strong defense of free speech by a homosexual professor, called a traitor to his identity group for his courage, brought in other campus leftist allies. CAFR was amazed at how quickly many would-be censors backed down when confronted with controversy and threatened lawsuits. Wisconsin rescinded its faculty code—the first university to do so without a court order.

New national groups have joined the fight for free speech on campus (and off), among them the Center for Individual Rights, the Alliance Defense Fund, and FIRE, the most relentless of the newcomers. FIRE usually starts a campaign with a polite letter to a university president, noting that some policy is either unconstitutional or a clear violation of civil liberties. If it doesn’t get the change it wants, it will then write to trustees, parents, and alumni, and take its case to the media.

FIRE now has an extensive network of campus free-speech “spies,” as its cofounder, Harvey Silverglate, jauntily calls them (Alan Charles Kors, the other cofounder, prefers “concerned members of the community”). The organization is seeking new ways to open up closed campus systems, too, such as suing administrators as individuals, which FIRE believes will get their full attention. Another new tactic is to publicize what colleges spend on fighting for unconstitutional speech codes. Most of all, FIRE is trying to show stubborn administrators that the era of hiding gross civil liberties violations behind a PC wall of silence is over: the group wins more than 95 percent of its cases.

Political correctness took hold when there were 40 radio talk shows, three networks, and no bloggers. Today, the cross-referencing of PC outrages among bloggers, radio talkers, and rights groups makes it hard to run an old-fashioned repressive campus. University presidents now understand that their reputations do not rest entirely with the PC platoons. Donna Shalala escaped Wisconsin with her reputation intact. Sheldon Hackney, former president of Penn, did not. (I named my own annual award for the worst college president, the “Sheldon,” in his honor.) When he stepped down from the Penn presidency, he didn’t become the head of a major foundation, as many expected; instead, he wound up returning to Penn as a professor. Other reputations hang in the balance. Lee Bollinger, a First Amendment expert (and affirmative-action advocate), was invisible during the free-speech debates at Michigan and is almost as recessive today as president of Columbia. But it is getting harder for the Hackneys and Bollingers to waffle.

Perhaps the battle to release the campuses from the iron grasp of PC will take decades, but the struggle for free speech is being fought—and won—now.

August 23, 2007


Filed under: Blogosphere,Canada,Honours,Military — Dennis @ 11:26 pm

BlogosphereWell, now… it seems that I can’t put up comments on ye ol’ “Dispatches from the Socialist Gulag” blog since I don’t have a Blogger account (don’t feel the need for one, either). But Mike put up a post the got under my fingernails and so, here’s my response.

And before some smartass out there even gets it into his head to bark at me: I did my bit for Queen and Country. I appreciate the sentiment, but those behind this idea… just … don’t … get it.

Call it something else. Something more honest.

Sorry, Mike, but I can’t get onboard with this one. The word “hero” gets bandied about far too much these days and it’s in danger of being reduced to meaninglessness.

These men weren’t heroes. Fred “Toppy” Topham was a hero. Ernest “Smokey” Smith was a hero. These men coming home now just died in action, that’s all. They weren’t heroes, they were SOLDIERS.

They were soldiers.

At what God damned time in our history did we arrive at the point where THAT wasn’t good enough?

I don’t go to the cenotaph to remember “heroes.” I go to honour soldiers.

Soldiers is what they are.

And that’s more than enough.

God bless them all.

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condem…

August 20, 2007

Just Too Good…

Filed under: Funny,Politics,USA,Video — Dennis @ 4:38 pm

… not to share. Yeah, I’m in a silly mood today.

Whaddaya Know? It Really IS Stranger Than Fiction…

Filed under: Australia,WTF? — Dennis @ 11:06 am

HUH???Hey there. Sorry for not being around much lately but as some of you might have noticed, I haven’t exactly had a lot of time for ranting and raving lately. While I never thought of it at first, blogging actually takes quite a bit of thought and getting up a good head of steam for a real rant takes some time (a few barleypops helps, too). But lately, what with moving, looking for a new job, and all the usual summertime activities, there just haven’t been enough hours in the day.

Some things, however, don’t take much work. They really do speak for themselves. Things like this little nugget from the files of the Ministry Of WTF (good gawd, what a way to go 😯 …).

I know it’s got nothing to do with any damned thing, but it’s just too damned weird not to mention (plus it took no time at all to post):

BRISBANE, Australia — An Australian woman was killed by a pet camel given to her as a 60th birthday present after the animal apparently tried to have sex, police said Sunday.

The woman, whose name was not released, was killed Saturday at her family’s sheep and cattle ranch near Mitchell, 600 kilometres west of the Queensland state capital Brisbane, state police Detective Senior Constable Craig Gregory said.

WTF???The 10-month-old male camel — weighing about 150 kilograms — knocked the woman to the ground, lay on top of her, then exhibited what police suspect was mating behaviour, Gregory said.

“I’d say it’s probably been playing, or it may be even a sexual sort of thing,” Gregory said, adding the camel almost suffocated the family’s pet goat by straddling it on several occasions.

Camel expert Chris Hill said he had no doubt the camel’s behaviour was sexual.

Hill, who has offered camel rides to tourists for 20 years, said young camels are not aggressive, but can be dangerous if treated as pets without discipline.

The fate of the camel was not known.

The woman was given the camel in March as a birthday present from her husband and daughter. “She had a love of exotic pets,” Gregory said.

August 16, 2007

“But, They Know I’m An Asshole…”

Filed under: Alberta,BS,Courts,Crime & Punishment,Justice — Dennis @ 10:19 pm

Jeremy Allan SteinkeJusticeWell, of course they do, you son of a bitch. That’s the whole point. But now that everybody and their dog in Medicine Hat knows what a worthless bag of maggot shit Jeremy Allan Steinke is, he wants his trial moved to another venue. Maybe he’s hoping to get his trial moved to someplace where murdering sacks of shit that screw little girls aren’t seen in such a nasty, intollerant light. 🙄

Hell, for all I know, he’s hoping to get it moved to London in the hope that he’ll find himself in front of Jerkweed Jack Carrol… But that’s another rant, isn’t it?

Jasmne RichardsonFor those of you that have been living under a rock for the last year, Steinke is the diddler who helped Jasmine Richardson murder her parents, Marc and Debra Richardson, and 8-year old little brother, Jacob, in Medicine Hat in April of ’06. Jasmine has already been found guilty of three counts of first degree murder back in July and now Stinky is trying to get his trial moved to someplace where the heat isn’t on so much:

Jeremy Allan Steinke, 24, who once described himself as a 300-year-old werewolf, appeared in a local courtroom Thursday.

He is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Marc and Debra Richardson and their eight-year-old son, Jacob, who were found stabbed to death in their blood-smeared suburban home on April 23, 2006.

The killings made national headlines in part because Steinke’s co-accused was his 13-year-old former girlfriend.


Utter Bullshit Steinke’s Calgary lawyer, Alain Hepner, said Thursday he is concerned about the publicity the high-profile case has generated already through the girl’s trial.

Jurors in that trial were never shown websites entries from where she called herself “killer kitty” and where Steinke, a high school dropout, claimed to be a 300-year-old lycan, or werewolf.

Jasmine, meanwhile, is trying to milk that 2-for-1 presentence credit for time served for all it’s worth

CALGARY – Sentencing is being delayed until fall for a 13-year-old girl convicted of murdering a Medicine Hat family.

Psychiatric and pre-sentencing reports ordered by Justice Scott Brooker for the girl’s Aug. 23 sentencing date are taking more time than expected, according to the girl’s defence lawyer.

Sentencing is now expected to take place in October, according to lawyer Tim Foster.


The girl, who cannot be identified under provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was tried in Medicine Hat’s Court of Queen’s Bench.

She was found guilty July 9 of three counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of Marc and Debra Richardson and their eight-year-old son. She is the youngest person in Canada convicted of multiple murder.


The girl faces a maximum 10-year youth sentence, with no more than six years in custody.

The rest of the sentence would be served under supervision in the community. When the sentence ends, she will be free. Adult murderers are monitored for life.

A youth accused of murder must be at least 14 to be tried as an adult.

Why don’t we just cut the bullshit, ladies and gents? Try Stinky right the hell where he is and sentence Jasmine NOW. If she doesn’t like it, let her appeal. But at least the two-fer credit will stop and then maybe, just maybe, we can keep her locked up until she’s old enough to drink. Not that I’m going to hold my breath…

As an interesting side note: the Wikipedia article, “Richardson family murders” seems to not be there anymore…

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