July 23, 2007
Cross-posted at The Liberty Papers…
From The Agitator, taken directly from Hit & Run:
December 4, 2006
The U.S. Supreme Court said on Friday it would decide whether a high school principal violated a student’s free-speech rights by suspending him for unfurling a banner that read “Bong Hits 4 Jesus”.
Student Joseph Frederick says the banner’s language was designed to be meaningless and funny in an effort to get on television as the Winter Olympic torch relay passed by the school in Juneau, Alaska, in January 2002.
But school officials say the phrase “bong hits” refers to smoking marijuana. Principal Deborah Morse suspended Frederick for 10 days because she said the banner advocates or promotes illegal drug use in violation of school policy.
Frederick, 18, had been standing on a public sidewalk across the street from the school when Morse grabbed his banner and crumpled it. Students had been allowed to skip class to watch the relay.
A few things are clear. First, this kid knows that “bong hits” is not exactly meaningless. Granted, “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” is a bit silly and meaningless, but it is at least drug-related. But again, he was on a public sidewalk, and I don’t see any reason the school can punish him for this.
There is one key question here, though, which IMHO this case hinges upon:
Frederick’s lawyer, Douglas Mertz, said schools cannot punish students for displaying messages off school property at events that are not sponsored or supervised by the school.
Now, a school-sanctioned or school-supervised event may be governed by the school’s code of conduct, even if it’s not on school property. The school did allow students to skip their classes to be a part of this event, but the question is whether or not it could be considered “sponsored or supervised by the school”.
I would think it’s not. It appears that if they were allowing students to “skip class” to attend this event, that it was more of an understanding that it was not a school event, but that if students chose to attend, it wouldn’t result in punishment for truancy. That, coupled with the fact that the student wasn’t on school property, is enough to tilt my opinion in this one. Hopefully the Court will agree.
September 7, 2006
From Coyote Blog, lamenting McCain-Feingold:
In a stunning beat down on one of America’s longest-held and most sacred principles, your first ammendment rights to criticize incumbent politicians, at least on radio and TV, are suspended from now until the November 7 election. Congress has decided, and incredibly the Supreme Court has concurred, that only members of the media, including intellectual giants like Bill O’Reilly and Keith Olbermann, can legally criticize sitting politicians on TV and radio in the runup to the election. These restrictions also came very, very close to applying to this and all other blogs. John McCain, Russ Feingold, and everyone who voted for this un-American incumbent protection act need to be voted out of office at our next opportunity.
Watch what you say over the next couple months, folks. You never can be too sure who’s listening.
Actually, screw that. Say whatever you want. The last thing we want to do is obey.
August 21, 2006
aka: Just Another Day in the War On Drugs
A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that if a motorist is carrying large sums of money, it is automatically subject to confiscation. In the case entitled, “United States of America v. $124,700 in U.S. Currency,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit took that amount of cash away from Emiliano Gomez Gonzolez, a man with a “lack of significant criminal history” neither accused nor convicted of any crime.
On May 28, 2003, a Nebraska state trooper signaled Gonzolez to pull over his rented Ford Taurus on Interstate 80. The trooper intended to issue a speeding ticket, but noticed the Gonzolez’s name was not on the rental contract. The trooper then proceeded to question Gonzolez — who did not speak English well — and search the car. The trooper found a cooler containing $124,700 in cash, which he confiscated. A trained drug sniffing dog barked at the rental car and the cash. For the police, this was all the evidence needed to establish a drug crime that allows the force to keep the seized money.
Associates of Gonzolez testified in court that they had pooled their life savings to purchase a refrigerated truck to start a produce business. Gonzolez flew on a one-way ticket to Chicago to buy a truck, but it had sold by the time he had arrived. Without a credit card of his own, he had a third-party rent one for him. Gonzolez hid the money in a cooler to keep it from being noticed and stolen. He was scared when the troopers began questioning him about it. There was no evidence disputing Gonzolez’s story.
Yesterday the Eighth Circuit summarily dismissed Gonzolez’s story. It overturned a lower court ruling that had found no evidence of drug activity, stating, “We respectfully disagree and reach a different conclusion… Possession of a large sum of cash is ’strong evidence’ of a connection to drug activity.”
The man was never charged with a crime. There was no proof offered or required that he was in any way connected to the drug trade. But in our war on drugs, that doesn’t matter. And he and his business associates are out their entire life savings.
Now, I don’t know whether his story is on the level. I’ll freely admit that someone driving a rented car not in his name, carrying $124,700 in cash, is a little suspicious. But who holds the burden of proof? If the government is going to confiscate $124,700, I’d say the onus is on them. But in the war on drugs, you have to prove your innocence. The government can come in, destroy your life, confiscate your property, and unless you prove a negative, the best you can do is ask nicely for them to make it right.
I wish I could say that any of this surprised me. But in the war on drugs, not much surprises me any more. I’ve stopped expecting anything approaching justice or common sense. It’s but one more example of our government disregarding the Constitution, disregarding individual rights, and disregarding sanity, in the quest for ever-greater power. I fear that it will get worse before it gets better, and in the meantime, I can only hope that nobody I know or care about gets hoisted on the pike as the next “victory” in the war on drugs.
But don’t just take my word for it. Below is a video from LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), a group of current and former law enforcement personnel. As the people who have spent years as the front-line force in the war on drugs, they’ve seen firsthand exactly what has been accomplished. A string of destroyed lives, non-violent people in jail, violent people enriched by the illicit drug trade, and at the end of the day, not a whit of improvement in the proportion of our population who are addicted to drugs.
How long do we have to continue this before we can finally admit it’s not working?
Hat Tip to Radley Balko on the video. If you’re also fed up with the damage to our society, our Constitution, and our civil liberties caused by this useless “war”, please pass this video along.
Overlawyered linked with Driving while loaded
A Stitch in Haste linked with Cash is King Criminal
July 18, 2006
Up at Ogre’s Politics & Views. Check it out.
I submitted my post over at The Liberty Papers, Patrick Henry on the Constitution. If you want to see what one of our eloquent founding fathers (and an anti-Federalist) had to say about the Constitution, head on over.
June 29, 2006
I’ve created two posts over at The Liberty Papers regarding the nature of Constitutions and legitimacy of government. I suggest reading, if you get a chance…
June 27, 2006
Doug discusses the flag-burning amendment before the Senate. Apparently 66 of the 67 necessary votes are locked up, and it’s just a matter of finding the 67th to ensure this Amendment goes to the states.
That reminds me. As a new homeowner, I need to head to the store to pick up a flagpole, mounting hardware, etc.
If this vote passes, I will not fly an American flag, I will fly my Gadsden.
I will not fly an American flag when our own government turns it into a meaningless symbol. Our flag is a symbol of the freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights, and this amendment spits on those freedoms.
When flag-burning is illegal, a much better symbol of liberty would be a burning flag. Since I don’t think I could bring myself to commit such an act, I simply won’t fly it at all.
Below The Beltway linked with Senate To Vote On Flag Burning Amendment Today
May 19, 2006
Wow… The big talk all day has been this story, about the new Iranian dress codes:
It also envisages separate dress codes for religious minorities, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, who will have to adopt distinct colour schemes to make them identifiable in public. The new codes would enable Muslims to easily recognize non-Muslims so that they can avoid shaking hands with them by mistake, and thus becoming najis (unclean).
[insert standard Nazi reference here]
Yeah, that would be pretty bad. There aren’t very many worse emotional images than the Jews in Germany forced to wear the Star of David as an “identification”. Thankfully, it appears that this little portion of the law doesn’t actually exist. So we can all breathe easier.
Or can we?
The law mandates the government to make sure that all Iranians wear “standard Islamic garments” designed to remove ethnic and class distinctions reflected in clothing, and to eliminate “the influence of the infidel” on the way Iranians, especially, the young dress.
According to Ahmadinejad, the new Islamic uniforms will establish “visual equality” for Iranians as they prepare for the return of the Hidden Imam.
A committee that consists of members from the Ministry of Islamic Orientation, the Ministry of Commerce and the Cultural Subcommittee of the Islamic Majlis is scheduled to propose the new uniforms by next autumn. These would then have to be approved by the “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei before being imposed by law.
Wait… So the government is going to mandate uniforms?
It looks like justbarkingmad has seen this before, and knows where it leads:
What is true is that the Islamic Majlis, the Iranian religious legislature, did pass a law requiring everyone in Iran to wear Approved by Allahtm clothing. Now weâ€™ve seen this before in China. Everyone wore those cute little jackets and pajama pants.
And a lot of people died.
The collective blogosphere is breathing that sigh of relief. But when a government has grown intrusive enough to mandate uniforms, I think it’s a big red flag, that they’re willing to mandate a whole lot more. For all those people who defend the Iranian regime, acting like it’s really a “democracy”, take a closer look.
Democracy is a word that people here in America take very seriously. In some respects, Iran is actually a democracy, but democracy and freedom are only somewhat related to each other. Iran is a democracy under the Islamic constraints (i.e. whatever the mullahs say), and America is a democracy under classical liberal constraints enshrined in our Constitution. There’s a big difference.
There’s trouble brewing in Iran, whether you believe they’re trying to pull the “identification” thing for religious minorities or not. When the time comes that American politicians start debating a “national uniform”, you’re going to see me moving the hell out.