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How Now Shall We Bake?
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posted 3 / 5 / 2014
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The IRS’s intrusive tactics thus have a chilling effect on people who wish to exercise their First Amendment right of free association without attracting public attention—or, more precisely, the attention of vicious ideological antagonists. Even calling attention to those tactics can compound the problem, as illustrated by [Friends of Abe]’s need to reassure its members in the wake of the Times story. The gradual accretion of power by a vast administrative state, combined with an administration intolerant of dissent, has produced a clear and present danger to basic American freedoms.
James Taranto
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posted 2 / 4 / 2014
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New Neighbor'€™s Agenda: White Power Takeover

The NYT has a story on  Paul Cobb, a white supremacist who is buying up land in a small town (24 people) in North Dakota, purportedly to make way for a community of like-minded jerks. More power to him (kidding!—but pun intended).

Is this a newsworthy story? Yes, but for different reasons than the NYT probably thinks. It’s newsworthy because the story is interesting and unexpected. In a culture so hyper-sensitive about race as ours is, an outspoken white supremacist buying up land to create his own little community makes for a good read. But this is NOT newsworthy in the sense of it being an important story of public concern or consequence. If anything, it illustrates the opposite—the degree to which way our society has so clearly swung against racial bigotry and insensitivity: The city council’s stated “nuclear option” is to dismantle the town rather than let Mr Cobb stock the local population with white supremacists who would vote in a new government; locals have already expressed unconditional support for the lone black citizen; Christians are knocking on Cobb’s door and evangelizing him; others are offering to buy back the land he’s purchased. It turns out that social pressure can be (and is being) quite strong.

The fact is, this story buried the truly consequential lede—that Mr Cob left Canada because he is wanted on charges of “promoting hatred.” Yeah, of course he’s promoting hatred. Boo. The problem is that this is a fundamental free speech issue, and should not be illegal. But that’s the way the winds of tolerance are blowing.

I checked Wikipedia, and it turns out that the government has not (yet) seen fit to bestow on white supremacists a coveted protected status—currently available based on race, sex, age, religion, etc. (Sexual orientation and various gender confusions are waiting in the wings, no doubt followed by all sorts of wonderful categories like “has a mustache” or “prefers skim milk to whole” or “is sexually attracted to wrist watches.”

But why should anyone be allowed to discriminate against me for wanting to wear my watch somewhere besides my wrist (if you know what I mean)? Shouldn’t the government protect my right to work at the Society for the Abolishment of Mustaches even though I happen to have one myself and don’t intend to shave it to meet my prospective employer’s job requirements? Somebody needs to arrest the president of that Society for “promoting hatred.”

In terms of social pressure, already Christians aren’t allowed to publicly hold views that are counter to the current mainstream approved opinions—views on human sexuality and public morality, primarily. The trajectory has been set, and the government coercion locomotive is around the corner, picking up speed. In some places it’s already here: In Arizona, a wedding photographer may not refuse services to couples (gay or otherwise) who want pictures that portray gay marriage in a positive light. No word from the court yet on whether the photographer can refuse a polyamorous foursome or the guy who wants naked pics with his dog. Heck, what if Paul Cobb wants to have a photo shoot with his supremacist buddies? At this point, the liberal brain gets so tangled up with inconsistencies that it knots up and shuts down.

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posted 8 / 30 / 2013
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A law granting special privileges to the press effectively gives the government the power to license the press by deciding who qualifies.

Durbin acknowledges this problem but doesn’t really grapple with its implications. For instance, he doesn’t spell out whether the protection would belong to individual journalists or only to news organizations. If the latter, then he is in a funny position for a leftist Democrat: He is claiming that a constitutional right belongs only to corporations, not individuals.

Further, a government that grants privileges also has the power to take them away. A shield law would make those designated as “legitimate journalists” beholden to powerful politicians—especially when, as today, most journalists are ideologically sympathetic to the party in power. The Durbin shield proposal looks less like real protection than a protection racket.
James Taranto
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posted 7 / 9 / 2013
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By contrast, the scholars who favor gay marriage found it relatively easy to foresee looming legal pressures on faith-based organizations opposed to gay marriage, perhaps because many of these scholars live in social and intellectual circles where the shift Kmiec regards as inconceivable has already happened. They have less trouble imagining that people and groups who oppose gay marriage will soon be treated by society and the law the way we treat racists because that’s pretty close to the world in which they live now.
The coming conflict between same-sex marriage and religious liberty
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posted 5 / 2 / 2013
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theeconomist:

KAL’s cartoon: this week, bubbles.

theeconomist:

KAL’s cartoon: this week, bubbles.

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posted 9 / 21 / 2012
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Thank you, French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for having the balls to publish cartoons of Muhammad
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posted 9 / 20 / 2012
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Speech and Public Schools

squashed:

I like free speech. And I like legal protections for people to say outrageous things in public forums. I think that extends generally extends to schools, even if some student holds up a “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” sign. But then there’s this:

A handful of students were sent home from Florida schools this week after showing up in shirts proclaiming that “Islam is of the Devil,” part of a fiery church campaign to “expose” Islam as a religion of violence.

Well. That happened. Was it too much? I think so. But where is the line? Does it depend on other people’s reactions? And who gets to enforce it?

(Edit: I should probably clarify that you’re intersted in where you think the line should be. Under precedent, this is not at all protected speech.)

The dress code is poorly worded and probably is (or should be) a violation of free-speech protection. Who the heck gets to determine what “disrupts the learning process” or causes other students to be “offended or distracted”? If my arch nemesis’ dad is the CEO of Crest and I wear a Colgate t-shirt just to piss the kid off, and it “distracts” or “offends” him, is that a violation? How about if I wear a Michael Jackson shirt that makes the classroom burst into spontaneous moonwalking? Surely that’s a disruption. Make the dress-code about something other than politically correct, subjective determinations of offensiveness—and you’e covered your bases.

That being said, neither the parents nor the church should have encouraged this behavior; they’re all a bunch of asshats shooting themselves in the feet. But the school should not have singled them out.

Does anyone doubt that if the school ignored it, this would have blown over and the students would have gotten tired of it?

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posted 8 / 26 / 2009
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