Here’s what the Social Justice Warriors don’t understand. Discrimination is a part of individual freedom. And with that freedom to discriminate come consequences. It is like the right to free speech – you get to say what you want (other than incitement) and you get to pay the social and cultural consequences for doing so. What others don’t get to do, however, is force you to adopt their values and therefore coerce you to conform. That’s totalitarianism, not freedom.
Why force someone who disapproves of your actions to bake you a cake? Lots of other bakers would love the business. This debate has moved from inclusion to demanding that everyone adopt your values.
In a free country, bigots should have the right to be bigots. Americans should also have freedom of association.
American lawyers talk about special protection for religious freedom, and in the Hobby Lobby case the Supreme Court said you could escape onerous parts of Obamacare by paying lawyers a fortune and convincing judges that you are a closely-held corporation with religious objections. But why must you be religious to practice what you believe? This should be about individual freedom.
Of course, government must not discriminate. The worst of American racism and homophobia—slavery, segregation enforced by Jim Crow laws, bans on interracial marriage, anti-sodomy laws, etc.—was government-enforced discrimination. That was wrong, and it was right for the federal government to intervene.
But private actions are different. If I start a business with my own money, I ought to be allowed to serve only libertarians, people who wear blue shirts, whatever. It’s my business!
My customers have choices. If I am racist or anti-gay, the free market will punish me. Enough people would boycott my business that I would probably lose money quickly.
Many important points.
“In a free country, bigots have the right to be bigots.” And they’ll pay the consequences of being bigots. How? See Stossel’s last paragraph. If an owner of a business is stupid enough to exclude a portion of his customer base out of plain bigotry (“no Irish allowed”) there are likely going to be enough of his “acceptable” customers offended by him that they’ll take their business elsewhere. The consequences of his bigotry will be a loss of business, loss of profit and likely a loss of social prestige. That’s how it works in a free country.
Also in a free country, what everyone should demand is “government must not discriminate …“. The onus of non-discrimination shouldn’t be on the individual forced by government, but on government as forced by the citizens of the land.
How these got flipped is a testament to the perseverance of those who would control your life (under the false guise of freedom) and the neglect of those who thought individual freedom would last forever. Just as free speech can sometimes be ugly, so can discrimination. Social and cultural change usually take care of those who are “ugly” by making them suffer the consequences of their ugliness. We’ve seen that proven any number of times.
What we’re now seeing is a back lash against the SJWs who would use the force of government to make the unwilling comply with their values.
We simply don’t need that if we’re willing to be patient:
Even in the difficult days of Reconstruction, after the Civil War, business began to bring together whites and blacks who might not always have liked each other but who wanted the best deals. It took several years for racists to get Jim Crow passed so they could put a stop to that erosion of the old racist ways. Government helped keep racism going for several more decades.
That last sentence is the key. Jim Crow laws were a product of government! What the civil rights laws did was essentially repeal government mandated discrimination. What we don’t need is a new series of laws that mandate behavior as they did then, even if the new laws are formed with teh best of intentions, they still require the force of government to enforce. And they’ll not be enforced fairly and, as they usually do, will be used to to absurd things to people.
Elizabeth Taylor married nine times. Had she married again, should the EEOC have ordered her to marry someone from an ethnic minority?
A homophobic baker shouldn’t stop a same-sex couple from getting married. Likewise, a gay couple shouldn’t force a baker to make them a wedding cake. No one should ever force anyone to bake them a cake.
Exactly. Here’s the bottom line:
Individuals should be allowed to discriminate. I discriminate all the time. I favor people over others when I choose my friends, jobs, hobbies, clubs, religion, etc. So do you.
Correct. And in a free country that is your inherent right, consequences included.
I don’t know about you but I’ve been fascinated by the UVA/Rolling Stone “rape” debacle. And while it is clear that Rolling Stone, in general, and the author of the RS article, Sabrina Rubin Erdely specifically, broke every journalistic rule out there, there’s a deeper story here (I’ll get to RS and Erdely later).
It’s about why the story even had a chance of being published. It’s about the combination of “narrative journalism” and an ideological agenda. It was about one supporting the other without any real evidence that what had been claimed (a gang rape by fraternity members) was true or had even happened.
The story was out there before Erdely had ever inquired about it. And you have to understand that that story had largely been accepted as “the truth” by people who wanted to believe it to be so. These weren’t just students and a couple of teachers, by the way. These were very well connected people who knew exactly where to go to push their agenda. Here’s that backstory:
As the Rolling Stone article fell apart, Catherine Lhamon’s involvement has gone virtually unmentioned. But a deeper look reveals her ties to Emily Renda, a University of Virginia employee and activist who put Erdely in touch with Jackie, the student whose claim that she was brutally gang-raped by seven members of a fraternity on Sept. 28, 2012, served as the linchpin for the 9,000-word Rolling Stone article.
President Obama nominated Lhamon to become the Education Department’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in July 2013. The Senate approved her unanimously the following month.
She has served as the Education Department’s designee to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault which Obama created on Jan. 22, 2014. Renda served on the same task force.
Besides that link, both spoke at a February 2014 University of Virginia event entitled “Sexual Misconduct Among College Students.”
Lhamon has been invited to the White House nearly 60 times, according to visitor’s logs. Renda has been invited six times. Both were invited to the same White House meeting on three occasions. One, held on Feb. 21, 2014, was conducted by Lynn Rosenthal, then the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women. Twenty-one people, mostly activists, were invited to that meeting. Lhamon and Renda were invited to two other larger gatherings — one on April 29 and the other on Sept. 19.
It is unclear if both attended the three meetings. Renda did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
Renda and Lhamon also testified at a June 26, 2014, Senate hearing on campus sexual assault. It was at that hearing that Renda cited Jackie’s story that she was brutally gang-raped by five fraternity members — a statement that was inconsistent with Jackie’s claim to Erdely that she was raped by seven men. According to the Columbia report, Renda first told Erdely about Jackie’s allegation on July 8, nearly two weeks after her Senate testimony.
During her testimony, Lhamon claimed that “The best available research suggests that 20% of college women, and roughly 6% of college men, are victims of attempted or completed sexual assault.” That “one-in-five” claim about the prevalence of sexual assault on campus has been heavily disputed.
So when Erdely showed up wanting to do the rape story, she had Renda to encourage her to do this one, because both had the same agenda:
The reporter used Jackie’s story about a gang-rape to introduce readers to what she asserted was a systemic failure on the part of universities, police, and society to prevent and investigate sexual assault.
Rape culture. Rape crisis. How else does one advance such a story except finding the perfect “rape” to feature all of those things? Bingo. The prefect story. And who was more than willing to offer it? Renda.
Now some may ask, “why do you contend that advancing such a narrative was Erdely’s motive?” For one thing, she’d done it before on another “rape” story – this one in the military (another institution that is “misogynist”). And it followed a very similar pattern. The case involved a female Navy Petty Officer who claimed to have been sexually assaulted. Leon Wolf, doing some great research, finds that Erdley did for that case exactly what she did for the UVA case – and so did the Rolling Stone editors:
The point of this story is this: the evidence is clear all over the face of this story that Erdely – as enabled by her editors at Rolling Stone – has a serial habit of reporting rapes without conducting any more fact checking than she did of the UVA story. It is facially obvious that she did not talk to the accused rapist because there wasn’t one. There is no evidence that she talked with anyone who was present at any of the bars where Ms. Blumer drank on the night before her DUI to attempt to verify even her story about meeting the three guys. And, again: the sources who spoke to RedState were clear that Ms. Erdely made no effort to contact any member of the Naval command who was involved with the investigation to get their side of the story with respect to what manner of investigation was conducted into Ms. Blumer’s allegations or what that investigation revealed.
After an exhaustive investigation that spanned a year and a half (which Erdely and Rolling Stone ignored and/or did no research into whatsoever), no one was able to produce any evidence that a sexual assault had occurred, physical or otherwise. The alleged victim herself had no recollection of it happening, did not report it to the police who arrested her, and had a ready motive for latching on to the narrative, which is that it would have stopped or possibly prevented punishment at the hands of her military superiors and possibly prevented her from permanently losing the top secret clearance necessary to keep her job.
This was an important story for the “rape culture” agenda. It was to be the cherry on the top of the narrative that says, “college men are misogynists and serial abusers who need to be punished for their actions”. That’s why the fictitious “20%” number was invented. That’s why the DoE’s civil rights division is involved. As noted, this story shows the connection all the way to the top and the narrative that was being pushed. Erdley and Rolling Stone were heaven sent to these people and they used her just as she used them. The result was shoddy journalism of the worst stripe that apparently is standard operating procedure for Rolling Stone (I have another example of precisely the same problem with another author that I highlighted February of 2011.)
Of course, as we’ve seen, the narrative, as presented by Erdley, failed spectacularly. It not only couldn’t withstand even the slightest scrutiny, it had holes in it wide enough to drive a tank through. Yet, that was precisely the narrative that had survived up until that time. Why hadn’t the school investigated it more thoroughly before accepting the story?
In December, as Erdely’s article began to collapse, Julia Horowitz, a student journalist at UVA, tried to explain why the campus newspaper had been caught flat-footed by the falsity of Jackie’s tale. She conceded that “factual inconsistencies” and “discrepancies” might exist in Erdely’s tale, but, she cautioned, “To let fact checking define the narrative would be a huge mistake.” Horowitz, exponent of this horrifying view of journalism, went on to become editor-in-chief of UVA’s student newspaper. Much of the media has been quick to pillory Rolling Stone, but Horowitz’s fear of allowing facts to overwhelm the narrative would be at home in vast swaths of our media — and government and higher education, too.
Facts shouldn’t define the narrative – got that? Now you understand why an administration, a magazine reporter and editors and a student “journalist” would let a tale like the UVA rape story exist and flourish – it fit the narrative like a glove if you didn’t look to closely. And no one did – including Rolling Stone.
As to the reputations ruined and lives tarnished by all of this? Well, that’s just collateral damage in a world where the narrative is much more important that the individual. It serves the “greater good”, you see.
David Brooks opines today concerning the murders in Paris (quit calling them “executions” and giving them some sort of legal patina):
Americans may laud Charlie Hebdo for being brave enough to publish cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad, but, if Ayaan Hirsi Ali is invited to campus, there are often calls to deny her a podium.
So this might be a teachable moment. As we are mortified by the slaughter of those writers and editors in Paris, it’s a good time to come up with a less hypocritical approach to our own controversial figures, provocateurs and satirists.
The first thing to say, I suppose, is that whatever you might have put on your Facebook page yesterday, it is inaccurate for most of us to claim, Je Suis Charlie Hebdo, or I Am Charlie Hebdo. Most of us don’t actually engage in the sort of deliberately offensive humor that that newspaper specializes in.
We might have started out that way. When you are 13, it seems daring and provocative to “épater la bourgeoisie,” to stick a finger in the eye of authority, to ridicule other people’s religious beliefs.
But after a while that seems puerile. Most of us move toward more complicated views of reality and more forgiving views of others. (Ridicule becomes less fun as you become more aware of your own frequent ridiculousness.) Most of us do try to show a modicum of respect for people of different creeds and faiths. We do try to open conversations with listening rather than insult.
Yet, at the same time, most of us know that provocateurs and other outlandish figures serve useful public roles. Satirists and ridiculers expose our weakness and vanity when we are feeling proud. They puncture the self-puffery of the successful. They level social inequality by bringing the mighty low. When they are effective they help us address our foibles communally, since laughter is one of the ultimate bonding experiences.
A lot of people are panning Brooks today, but on the large point, I think he’s right. What was done was, in many people’s opinion, “puerile” and “offensive”. But as he further points out, even those who are puerile and offensive in that regard do indeed serve a “useful public role.” They point to things that need pointed at and they do it in a way that is difficult to ignore. That doesn’t mean I have to like their methods or even their message, but I do want them to have the freedom to express it.
For myself, I usually avoid that sort of offense. I personally think most points can be made within reasonable bounds of propriety. But those are limits I put on myself. It’s a personal belief that I am able to sway more people with reasonable arguments and bits of sarcasm that I am from being puerile and offensive. I believe that those who engage in that sort of behavior turn off more minds than they turn on. But that’s my belief. However, for those that believe otherwise, they have the full right to engage in such behavior as long as it doesn’t violate the rights of others. And no, you have absolutely no right to not be offended.
So in that regard, Brooks is right. I’m not in the mold of Charlie Hebdo … but I defend their right to be offensive, profane, blasphemous and puerile via their speech with everything I have. That doesn’t at all mean I like it, am not offended by it or think it is right. And whatever they do, their right to free speech also opens them up to the consequences of exercising that right.
Murder is not one of them. Violence of any sort is not one of them. We hear a lot about proportionality. What is a proportional response to being offended? Off the top of my head I can think of any number of “proportional” responses – depending on what you find offensive, there are several ways to make that point – condemnation, boycott, peaceful activism, ignoring them, dismissing them, etc. But their right to say what they want is as fundamental a freedom as the consequences that come with it. And that’s how it should be.
Modern Christians, for instance, have seen many examples of profanity and what they’d consider to be blasphemy writ large – in supposed “art” for instance. However, they’ve responded proportionally to the offense.
So Brooks is right in the large sense. I’m not Charlie Hebdo – but I’ll support Charlie Hebdo’s right to do what they did to the death.
Let me start out with the conclusion – the government does not have a right to have easy access to your possessions on the premise that at some point in the future you might turn out to be a criminal.
There’s a lot of hoopla going on about child molesting pedophiliac serial murdering terorists(non islamic of course) who are just waiting for the release of the newer Apple IPhones so they can encrypt and hide the evidence of their crimes. This reckless disregard for government’s need to easily poke through your posessions, i.e. read the stuff on your IPhone, will allow these yet to be criminals to get off scott free because the government will be unable to easily decrypt the data.
Well, that at least seems to be the argument I keep hearing. I probably could have thrown in some other things these criminals are going to encrypt, but pedophiles and terrorists seem to be the hot button crimes the government thinks are the be all end all arguments for why they should be able to get at the data without a great deal of hassel on their part.
As a counter weight to that set of players, let’s imagine a journalist, with secret “Deep-Throat” level informers inside government who has data encrypted on his phone that pertains to government malfeasence with names, and dates, including the name or names of the informers (and copies of 8×10 color glossy photos with circles and arrows and a parapgraph on the back explaining what each one is to be used as evidence against them). And for crazy but obvious reasons the reporter really doesn’t want to share that with the government and he encrypts it on his IPhone.
Let’s presume for a moment a corrupt Department of Justice or other government agency. Crazy talk, right? Gee, that could never happen (cough cough…. DOJ FIFA foot dragging, contempt of Congress Fast and Furious, IRS investigations, lost emails, crashing hard drives, NSA reading everything written by everybody that traverses the internet) Let’s presume that the encrypted data that would bring down the government perps in these corrupt agencies is on the reporter’s IPhone, and the corrupt agency creates reason to confiscate said phone, and would like to know what’s on it, again, for crazy but obvious reasons. Suppose the criminals ARE the government. Nah, that could never happen.
So, do you believe you’re obligated to make your possessions easy for the government to search? Do you believe your house should be an open book to government warrant, because, hey, you might be a criminal in the future. People don’t think of their data as a posession, but just because the old way of storing data was ‘papers’ doesn’t mean that ‘bits’ aren’t really the same thing. All we did was change how it’s stored. Should you be obligated to tell the government about any and every secret hiding place you have on your property when they show up looking for those Cuban cigars you knew were illegal to bring back from your Carribean cruise? Should you be obligated to make it EASY for them?
It has been correctly pointed out that this action by Apple is in direct response to the NSA snooping, and we joke about it, but be honest, we all pretty much think they’re looking at EVERYTHING, don’t we? And despite their protestations of innocence, we think they’re doing it here, and abroad, for practically everyone, on any electronic transmission they can get access to. It all has to go through routers somewhere, sometime, it’s all being recorded and relayed at some point. All of it. This ain’t magic ya know. And now they’re outraged! outraged! that people might be trying to make it hard on them to peek and poke and prod.
And I’m supposed to believe being able to crack the data on an IPhone is going to stop, oh, another Boston Marathon bombing? When they lost track of a guy because they didn’t spell his name right? How are they going to get his phone to decrypt his data?
Nah, sorry, there’s a whole lot of government house cleaning that needs to go on at the IRS, the DOJ, and the many flavors of DHS before I get excercised about them not being able to easily decrypt data on an IPhone. I’m more afraid of the listed agencies than I am of Achmed and Mohammed or the guy who dresses up as Barney and keeps encrypted pictures of nude kids on his phone. I’m against all of those things okay? And my way of dealing with such people would probably be much more at home on the frontier west of the 1800’s than 21st century America.
But we have people flowing across our southern border from who knows where, thinking who knows what, carrying who knows what diseases or posessions and agencies getting bent out of shape over not being able to decrypt future criminal eveidence are doing exactly jack-all to stop THAT even though they know it’s occurring RIGHT NOW. Keep Achmed and Mohammed out of the country, and we won’t have to worry what they’ve encrypted on their IPhones. And we caught pedo’s before they had IPhones to encrypt data on.
Federal law enforcment can spare me their attempts at moral outrage because from what I see they’re not outraged much by the abuses they can do something about directly right now that have nothing to do with easily decrypting future data on a future criminal’s phone. And I am flat not convinced that the 4th Amendment was written to make it easier for the government to poke through my stuff.
Seriously, that’s the question some whackadoo feminist columnist in the UK is asking (it makes you wonder if the paper that published it is a serious news source).
But this is less an issue of costliness than it is of principle: menstrual care is health care, and should be treated as such.
She wouldn’t know true principle if it throat punched her. However, what is clear is when you allow yahoos to redefine “health care” and get government to take control of it, well then everything should be ‘free’.
Her authority? Not to worry, feminists have declared a few things to be “true”, and that make this a no-argument, slam-dunk:
Sanitary products are vital for the health, well-being and full participation of women and girls across the globe. The United Nations and Human Rights Watch, for example, have both linked menstrual hygiene to human rights.
Well there you go. I’m not sure where the human right not to be coerced by government into subsidizing another’s wants went, but apparently that’s a real right that is to be forever ignored.
If it is “health care” then it is a “right”. And if it is a “right” then it should be “free”. And if it is “free”, someone else should pay for it – or so the “reasoning” goes. /sarc
Of course the fact that any such product has to be produced at a cost, transported at a cost and distributed at a cost that someone has to pay is just lost on these sorts of folks. It doesn’t register.
As far as they’re concerned tampons come from magic tampon trees and when they need them, well, they’re just there. And because they’re just there, they should be free! Don’t you get that, you neanderthal?
Frankly I like this answer from a commenter to the article
Why aren’t tampons free?
Why isn’t soap free or wet wipes or shampoo?
If your argument is that sanitation should be provided for all cheaply then fine [Ed. sorry, but it already is].
But it isn’t. Your argument is that its all a plot to make women pay for stuff they need. At the end of the day its not free because in the real world you have to pay for stuff. Your right to a hygienic lady area is no more compelling than mine to a clean backside or clean hands. You are once more guilty of making women victim’s of their vaginas.
The commenter is right – the unspoken part of this attempt to fleece others is supposed victimhood. Read the article – it reeks with it.
In reality this is just the inevitable extension of the Sandra Fluke argument that all women are entitled to free contraception because it is a “right” or something.
Where I come from “rights” aren’t something others pay for with either time, labor, material or money.
But hey, if you can redefine “health care” you can certainly redefine “rights”, no?
What was the time necessary for “first responders” to arrive at the Newtown CT school? 20 minutes?
Unacceptable if, as many want you to believe, you should leave your defense in the hands of others.
Sorry, I simply refuse to be a victim.
What happens when armed people going about their everyday lives are confronted by evil?
Well, things like this:
Police say a gunman, identified as Jesus Manuel Garcia, chased patrons from the nearby China Garden Restaurant into the lobby of the Santikos Mayan 14 movie theater at around 9 p.m. on Sunday. Garcia, an employee of the restaurant, reportedly walked in the establishment looking for a woman.
A gunman retreated from a Casper nail salon last week after realizing one of its customers was packing heat.
Police say about 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 3, a man walked into Modern Nails at 2645 E. Second St. and asked a female employee if she wanted to buy some diamonds. The man walked toward the front desk area and the woman replied that she had no money to buy diamonds.
A witness said the man then reached into his coat pocket and began to take out a silver-colored pistol.
At that moment, a woman who was getting her nails donereached into her purse and got her own firearm. Police say the man never fully raised the gun and left the building after seeing the customer had her weapon out.
Eric Posner wants us to understand that we “value” freedom of speech much too much. Because, after all, the rest of the world doesn’t see it the way we do, and thus, one gathers from his article, we should become more like them. In the title to his article he says we “overvalue” the right of freedom of speech. Here’s what the hoary whisper of oppression sounds like:
This is that Americans need to learn that the rest of the world—and not just Muslims—see no sense in the First Amendment. Even other Western nations take a more circumspect position on freedom of expression than we do, realizing that often free speech must yield to other values and the need for order. Our own history suggests that they might have a point.
He goes on to give examples of our history where government has been less than supportive of the right.
Notice what he values more than free speech? Order. I wish I had a dollar for every pop-gun totalitarian whose clarion call was for “order” over other rights.
You see one of the acknowledged problems with freedom is it’s messy. That’s right, people get to make choices you don’t agree with and, even more importantly, get to act on them without your permission.
That’s just too “messy” for some, like Posner. Instead we sh0uld voluntarily curtail our freedoms to placate mobs and murderers half a world away because they choose to become violent over something someone said.
Posner spends the rest of the article trying to defend his premise and sound reasonable. Interestingly it devolves into a secondary attack on conservatives who apparently use this wretched overvalued freedom to oppose such wonderful and valuable things like hate speech laws and political correctness.
Make no mistake about it, at bottom, this is an appeal for speech codes and legal remedy for speech those like Posner find to be “invaluable” for whatever reason – in this case “order”.
Putting this to the old libertarian test, i.e. “freedom = choice”, it flunks. It limits or removes choice in the face of mob violence half a world away. It gives in to people who chose to be violent.
Anyone with more than a day on this earth knows that such a move would only encourage more acting out by those mobs. They sack an embassy, we clamp down on our own rights. Any time they can dictate a limiting of our freedoms with their actions we essentially play right into their hand and they win. For some reason, those like Posner can’t see the dark hand of al Qaeda and other violent radical Islamic gangs behind this. And the first thing these cut-and-run cowards suggest we do is limit our freedoms to placate those who would willingly kill us if given the chance?
Yesterday, as the Republican controlled House of Representatives voted for the 30th time to repeal ObamaCare, Nancy Pelosi said:
“We put forth a vision for the middle class to make health care a right, not a privilege for all Americans. Today, as they have done more than 30 times this Congress, Republicans will vote to take away that right.”
Pelosi, among many of our legislators and politicians in general, displays a level of ignorance about rights and privileges that seems pretty basic to me. Governments don’t grant rights, they grant privileges no matter how hard they try to characterize what they do as a “right”.
A right, to be a right, must be inherent. It is something you have even before government shows up. The right to life. The right to liberty. As our founders identified these rights, they’re “inalienable”.
The best government can do, and the true foundation of a just government, is the acknowledge and protect our inherent rights. I.e government should exist to protect those rights.
Real rights are passive. They don’t require the assets, time, labor or commitment of others to enable their execution. Health care, of course, is a perfect example of a pseudo“right” which requires all of that.
Anything that government can give you (remember, we had the inherent rights I talk about before government existed and we formed the government to acknowledge and protect them – see founding documents) is not a “right.” And when government has to use it’s coercive power to “enable” these pseudo “rights” as it has in this health insurance debacle, it isn’t a right.
There is no right to health care. Period. There never has been. You have no inherent right to demand someone else use their skills, time and assets to service your health. You certainly have the right to negotiate and reach a voluntary agreement (see liberty) with health care providers based on a mutual exchange of value (see property). But “right” – no.
And besides, what Pelosi et al really cranked out was a requirement to buy health insurance via the coercive taxing authority of government. It no more guarantees health care as a right than the previous system. You still have to find a health care provider to accept your insurance and agree to treat you. In fact, it’s even tough to characterize the ObamaCare monstrosity as a government granted “privilege”.
Back to the point – this fundamental ignorance about rights and privileges, however, is at the root of many of our problems. For decades we’ve allowed government to get away with calling things it grants “rights” to the point that the concept of rights is so muddled that most people don’t understand them at all and have fallen for the government line.
Falling for that line helps enable horrific legislation like ObamaCare because it gives it cover, a veneer of "good” the proponents use to push their agenda. Who wouldn’t be for something that’s a “right”?
My point: Don’t let them misuse the word. Call people and politicians who do this out. Make them substantiate their claim of a right and when they can’t point out what is really going on. They’re talking about a privilege established by government coercion. That’s not freedom. That’s not liberty, two things you have a right to expect and something these privileges usually curtail.
It’s time to take back the political language. And there’s no better place to start with the understanding that government’s don’t and can’t grant rights.
I come down on the side of the former – a violation of my civil rights. When does the government unilaterally get to decide if I’m able to talk to someone (or communicate by other means, such as Twitter) on a device I’ve contracted with a private company and for which they provide service? When it sees a compelling public safety risk.
And what would define that public safety risk? Well that’s kind of up in the air. Take the expected riots in Chicago for the NATO summit.
According to the Daily Beast, a little known Bush era regulation gives law enforcement the ability to jam cell phones … you know like they did in Tehran when the people attempted to stand up to their government. Or Syria?
Not only do the FBI and Secret Service have standing authority to jam signals, but they along with state and local authorities can also push for the shutdown of cell towers, thanks to a little-known legacy of the Bush administration: “Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) 303," which lays out the nation’s official “Emergency Wireless Protocols.”
The protocols were developed after the 2005 London bombings in a process that calls to mind an M.C. Escher work. First, the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC) formed a task force— composed of anonymous government officials and executives from Cingular, Microsoft, Motorola, Sprint, and Verizon—that issued a private report to President Bush. Another acronym-dragging committee, also meeting in secret, then approved the task force’s recommendations. Thus, according to NSTAC’s 2006–07 annual issue review, SOP 303 was born.
"In time of national emergency," the review says, SOP 303 gives “State Homeland Security Advisors, their designees, or representatives of the DHS Homeland Security Operations Center” the power to call for “the termination of private wireless network connections… within an entire metropolitan area.” The decision is subject to review by the National Coordinating Center, a government-industry group responsible for the actual mechanics of the shutdown. The NCC is supposed to “authenticate” the shutdown via “a series of questions.” But SOP 303 does not specify, at least not publicly, what would constitute a “national emergency,” or what questions the NCC then asks “to determine if the shutdown is a necessary action.”
“[T]he termination of private wireless network connections …”. That should send a chill up your spine. This is the realm of dictatorship.
What if I have nothing to do with whatever the disturbance in the area might be? What if I have an emergency? What if I can’t get to a land line? Who in the hell are these people to deny me access to a private service I pay for and they don’t?
And all for their convenience, because that’s the point. Protesters use wireless services and social media like Twitter to organize.
Instead of Law Enforcement learning to monitor that and react sufficiently well to blunt its effect, they prefer to use the sledge hammer approach and shut down service to all in an area.
I have a contract with a provider. That provider agrees to provide me uninterrupted service for payment. I pay. Government decides to void that contract at its own whim and possibly endanger my life and safety by doing so.
Oh, and here’s a little ground truth:
“It’s the nature of law enforcement to push the envelope,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a former New York City police instructor and professor of police practice at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “It’s act first and litigate second.”
Understatement of the year. For instance:
While it’s against the law for individuals or nongovernmental organizations to sell or use jammers, the devices are easily found online. The U.S. military was among the first to use communications shutdowns, and local government demand for the technology has been building for years, even as the legal rules for its use have remained ill-defined. Prison wardens want to snuff out the use of smuggled cellphones by inmates; school officials hope to disable students’ phones; the National Transportation Safety Board wants to disable all “portable electronic devices within reach of the driver” while cars are in motion.
I’m sure you can dream up many more rights abusing nanny state scenarios (yeah, jamming illegal prison cell phones actually seems legit) than those listed. Imagine a state banning cell phone use in cars and installing jammers along all major highways. Imagine a car wreck with injuries. Imagine the law suits to follow.
For once the ACLU and I are on the same side:
The ACLU, Verizon, and a coalition of public-interest groups noted that cellphone blackouts would, with few exceptions, violate the Constitution and federal communication law, as well as threaten public safety by eliminating the means to share vital information or call 911.
Now other efforts to cut through the legal haze have emerged. In response to the wireless shutdown in San Francisco last summer, California State Sen. Alex Padilla introduced what would be a first-of-its-kind bill stipulating that to cut off service a judge must sign off that the move is necessary to avert “significant dangers to public health, safety or welfare.” If approved, the bill, which has the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union, could become the gold standard for state policy. San Francisco transit officials codified their own policy, which remains quite vague, after the public backlash to their shutdown. It calls for “strong evidence” of dangerous and unlawful activity, a belief that an interruption will “substantially reduce the likelihood of such an activity” and that the interruptions are “narrowly tailored.”
No. That agrees to the premise that government should have that power and then tries to define it “narrowly”. I don’t agree with the premise of government’s right to do this. If they want to talk about an exceptional power in time of a declared National Emergency, I’m willing to listen. But we all know how wide “narrowly” becomes when law enforcement is given an ability to use such a power. They’ll use it for their convenience, screw your rights.
A lot has been said and written about the oral arguments before the Supreme Court concerning ObamaCare. Many have claimed you can’t base much on such arguments.
Perhaps. But it seems to me that you can get an indication of the mood of the court if you consider them carefully and keep them in context.
What I’ve surmised over the past few days is the law is in deep trouble. I think, if nothing else, the oral arguments pointed out how dismally weak and poor the arguments “for” this law are.
Of course, depending on how they would like to see the court rule, each side has found ways to spin these arguments to support their hoped for result. No huge surprise there.
But I think the one thing that is clear is the court is pretty well split down the middle and along ideological lines. And, as we’ve said for some time, in reality the result will hinge on the vote of Justice Kennedy.
However, I think you have to keep in mind that it won’t be a single ruling but one which entails several votes. One on the individual mandate, one on severability and possibly, depending on how the severability vote goes, if portions or the whole bill ought to be struck down. If the whole law is struck down, of course the expanded Medicare portion discussed yesterday will go with it.
That leaves you wondering where Kennedy is in his deliberation of the case. Again, if looking at indications to be gleaned from the oral arguments, one could assume he finds it true that the individual mandate would “fundamentally change” the citizen’s relationship with government – and not to the citizen’s favor. I think it is also true that he is not satisfied that the government has successfully articulated a “limiting principle” – a critical and key point in the discussion.
Finally, I get the impression, from yesterday’s arguments, that Kennedy is leaning toward “paving over” the whole law. In other words, giving Congress a “do over” since taking the mandate out would create a law and a consequence that it is hard to argue was Congress’s original intent. What is also interesting is the developing opinion that striking down the entire law would actually be an exercise in judicial restraint, not judicial activism.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Mr. Clement is asking the Court to conduct "a wrecking operation," before stating that "the more conservative approach would be salvage rather than throwing out everything." The Obama Administration didn’t say exactly that, but it did argue that the mandate is indispensable to its supposedly well-oiled regulatory scheme and if it is thrown out the insurance rules should be too.
But Justice Anthony Kennedy doubted Justice Ginsburg’s logic, since by taking out only the individual mandate the Court would in effect be creating a new law that Congress "did not provide for, did not consider." To wit, costs would soar without any mechanism to offset them.
"When you say judicial restraint," Justice Kennedy said, "you are echoing the earlier premise that it increases the judicial power if the judiciary strikes down other provisions of the act. I suggest to you it might be quite the opposite." Overturning the mandate alone, he continued, "can be argued at least to be a more extreme exercise of judicial power than to strike the whole."
This is a critical point.
I think it is clear the 4 justices traditionally identified with the liberal side of the court are fore-square for the law and will find some way to justify it’s egregious and unconstitutional over-reach. And yes, no secret, I’ve always considered the law to be that and nothing I’ve heard in oral arguments has changed that. I think Justices Thomas, Alito and Scalia are for finding the mandate unconstitutional and for killing the entire law. I think Chief Justice Roberts is against the mandate although I’m not sure it’s a foregone conclusion that he wants to kill the entire law at this point. However I think he’ll be persuaded eventually.
That would make Kennedy the guy … again. No surprise for most who’ve watched the court for the past few sessions. He often ends up as the swing guy. You may disagree with my assessment of where he is in his decision making process, but his questions and comments, at least to me, seemed to indicate he was forming a particular opinion and that opinion favored both striking down the mandate and then striking down the whole law.
Should that be the case, and given the Democrats are unlikely to have an unassailable majority in Congress anytime soon as they did when they passed this monstrosity, this is indeed “the most important case in 50 years”. That’s a “good thing” because the likelihood that a “replacement” will be passed in Congress becomes much less likely. Kennedy’s vote could save America as we know it and protect us from a law that would “fundamentally” change our relationship with government and place us in a position of involuntary servitude to a government given license to run our lives in pretty much any way it see’s fit to pursue.