Thursday, June 23, 2005

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil

A Bush Pandering to the Base? Shocking!

Jon Alter writes a great piece comparing Jeb Bush and Schiavo to Al Sharpton and Tawana Brawley. Read the whole thing. My favorite part:
Bush has a daughter who, sadly, is a convicted drug abuser. When she passed out (as all drug abusers do), did he immediately call 911? Does he remember the exact time of the call? Was there a gap between the time he first saw that she might be ailing and when he took her for treatment?

A good question. I think there needs to be an investigation.

Burning One and Flying the Other

Eugene Volokh links to his previous critique of the flag-burning amendment he wrote a few years ago, and I find it so blindingly obvious that I cannot believe it never occured to me before. The key 'grafs of his piece:
"Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States, and the flying of the Confederate flag."

OK, so that's not exactly how the proposed flag protection amendment reads -- I've added the Confederate flag phrase. But this little thought experiment helps show that the flag protection amendment is a bad idea.

After all, burning the U.S. flag and flying the Confederate flag are similar in many ways. Some people argue that flagburning shouldn't be protected by the First Amendment because it isn't "speech." Well, burning one flag and waving another are pretty similar on that score. I think both are traditional terms in our political language, and should be constitutionally protected; but if I'm wrong, then both should be unprotected.
But what would we say when flagburning is banned but other offensive symbols are allowed? "We in the majority get to suppress symbols we hate, but you in the minority don't"? "Our hatred of flagburning is reasonable but your hatred of the Confederate flag is unreasonable"?

If you were black and saw the Confederate flag as a symbol of slavery and racism -- and millions of blacks do, whether you agree with them or not -- would you be persuaded by these arguments? Would you feel better about America because of them?
Read the whole piece. It is a powerful bit of writing.

On the Flag Burning Amendment

Everyone's favorite Cranky Yankee has a great post up on his feelings about the flag burning amendment. This short excerpt captures my own feeling perfectly:
So does my stance on Flag Burning make me a bad Liberal? Maybe. I would not join a protest in which flags were being burned, but I would join one to protect the right to do it. Is there something wrong with my morals because I believe something is morally detestable but don't think it should be outlawed? I don't think so.

Way to sum it up for many of us, Cranky.

One Game Back!

The Sox sweep the once-hot Indians to move within a game of first place. And the Yankees lose again to the Devil Rays. Baseball life is good. :)
Now watch them go into a tailspin. Out! Out damn pessimist! Out!

Sensible Sully

Once again, I find myself agreeing with the Iron Queen, Andrew Sullivan. For a self professed conservative, he makes alot of sense, and it just goes to show that conservatives and progressives can agree on some things.
Anyway, Sullivan makes the point that once you look past the rhetoric, Dick Durbin did not actually say anything wrong:

I've now read and re-read Senator Dick Durbin's comments on interrogation techniques at Guantanamo Bay. They are completely, perfectly respectable. The rank hysteria being perpetrated by some on the right is what is shameful. Hugh Hewitt should answer one single question: does he doubt the FBI interrogator who witnessed the appalling treatment of some detainees at Guantanamo?

Naturally, Sully is getting lambasted by the rightwingnuts. Truthfully though, it is people like Sullivan and John Cole that give me hope that the right is hopelessly jingoistic.

The Flag Changes; the Constitution is Forever

So there has been a running debate, if you can call it that, in the letters page of the local fish wrapper about whether or not the flying of the US flag should be mandatory in every classroom, K-College. I actually got a response printed in the paper today, though once again, they reworded parts of my letter. Anyway, here is what they printed. And until we recognize that the Constitution and Bill of Rights are more important than any flag, we will continue this silly little fight.

In his June 18 letter, Tim Merritt accuses Rachel Matthew of being "contradictory," "impressionable" and a "tool." He also suggests that ""we ought to be careful in what we say in response to having a flag in the classroom or anywhere else."
As a veteran and an educator, Merritt's critique of both the "idiot" professor and his "tool" strikes me as the worst example of ad hominem attack. He implies that Matthew is unable to think for herself; rather, her beliefs could only have come from the mind of her professor.
If that is the case, then Matthew does not belong in college. This whole idea that professors are brainwashing students to think or believe a certain way is nonsense. The whole point of college is to encourage critical thinking. All the student needs to do is pick up a book to get an alternative view, whether of the right or the left.
The idea that we need to "be careful what we say" when discussing the flag in the classroom is perhaps the most disturbing thing of Merritt's letter. I did not serve my country to ensure that people had to "be careful what they say" about the American flag. I served my country proudly because I love it, and I love our Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
If the flag I present with pride in my classroom were to burn, I would weep, and I would mourn, but I would not give it a second thought. However, if the copy of the Constitution and Bill of Rights that I post in my classroom were to burn, I would rage. It is that Constitution that allows us to fly that flag, and to criticize that flag, and to criticize the critics, and it is that Constitution that we should be posting in our classrooms for all to read.
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