Minutiae
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"Chuck Norris doesn't read books; he stares them down until he gets the information he wants out of them."
- ChuckNorrisFactsdotcom

Friday, February 24, 2006
Every once in a while you notice that you need some new clothes. I tend to put off replacing clothes until I have very little that's not worn out. I love shopping, just not for clothes. Imagine my despair when I discovered that
gaucho pants are back in style. Tweed houndstooth gaucho pants... It's like we're reliving the ugly trends from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties (even geopolitically.) Everything is browns, blacks, pinks, stripes, puffs and ruffles. It makes it challenging to buy clothes that I expect to wear for more than a year.

posted by Rachel 2/24/2006
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I have this sinking feeling that the first half of this century may actually be more violent than the first half of the last. Mars colony now! I want off this planet and away from all these madmen. The earth is too small and too fragile a basket for all of our eggs. Plus, the frontier is where the greatest freedom and the most interesting people are to be found. The last trace of that flavor remains in Alaska, though it's fading. An active frontier serves to bleed pressure off established societies by allowing passionate disruptive idealists to go off and start their own towns somewhere far away.

posted by Rachel 2/24/2006
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Ok,
time to get really really blunt. Muslims: adapt or die. Have an enlightenment, find a Luther, or wall yourselves off from the rest of the world and avoid all contact. The problem IS Islam. Either you solve it or we will. Allow your ideology to grow into something that can peacefully coexist with other cultures and religions without demanding submission to your rules (www.submission.org/home.html) or your ideology will be discredited through total defeat. The western world will not accept being bound by sharia. America will never submit. In that sense I suppose we ARE the great Satan. America was settled by people who came here to get away from religious compulsion. Hello? Puritans? Scots-Irish? Mormons?

You will not win. You're sowing the wind. There are serious irreconcilable differences on our most fundamental values. We're rapidly approaching the point where the western world will begin to take you at your word that you "love death."

Time is getting very short. Pray.

posted by Rachel 2/24/2006
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Funny.

posted by Rachel 2/24/2006
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Hmmm. Wait, there are more than one
well that the 12th imam is supposedly hiding within? Is that like every third european church having a piece of the true cross or the head of John the Baptist? 'Cause the idea that the bombed mosque contains that well puts a different spin on things. Especially in light of the kooks running Iran and their apparent desire to hasten the end-times, while telling Iraqi shiites that they'd better toe the line and attack coalition forces if Iran's attacked over nukes.

Could this be a shiite on shiite bombing? I wouldn't feel an ounce of surprise to learn that Iran was behind the bombing and the crap in Nigeria. On the other hand, if every local shrine claims the 12th imam is within their shrine, then it only matters to the smaller number of people who believe in that location, so perhaps that didn't enter into the bombing motivation. Either way it's bad taste, wrong, and extremely bad karma to intentionally destroy a place of worship. Hard to know where this fits in to the bigger picture though.

Update: Glad I'm not the only one who thinks there's something funny about this.

posted by Rachel 2/24/2006
. . .
Give
these people money. They rock.
First, there can be no question that these cartoons constitute protected speech under the First Amendment—legally speaking, this is not a close call. The First Amendment does not tolerate censorship merely because an image might be offensive to some viewers. As the Supreme Court wrote in Texas v. Johnson, "If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable." The Supreme Court showed great prescience in 1949, when it wrote in Terminiello v. Chicago that free speech "may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger…. There is no room under our Constitution for a more restrictive view."

One "exception" to the First Amendment that has emerged as a possible rationale for censoring the cartoons is that they may constitute an "incitement to violence." This argument, however, misunderstands the nature of "incitement." Legally defined, "incitement" happens when a speaker encourages imminent lawless action in a context in which it is likely to take place immediately. For example, a speaker exhorting an angry, violent crowd to attack a government office could be found guilty of incitement. However, if a speaker's words result in violence because people despise what that speaker said and wish to silence him or her, that is a different matter entirely. Telling a speaker that he or she cannot speak because it might provoke an angry mob to violence is called granting a "heckler's veto." If society punished people on the basis of how harshly or violently others might react to their words, it would create an incentive for those who disagree to react violently. This would therefore confer a veto on speech to the least tolerant members of society. Lest we embark upon a downward spiral to mob rule, it is extremely dangerous to all of our freedoms to ever grant a heckler's veto. The Supreme Court has recognized this principle in various ways for decades.

FIRE understands that the fear of violence is powerful, but such a fear must not lead universities to forget that their primary duty is to defend the rights of students and faculty to hold and express their opinions and to promote the perpetual search for truth, not to placate those who would silence them. The First Amendment confers upon authorities both a "positive" and "negative" duty: a "negative" duty not to censor, as well as a "positive" duty to protect speakers from being silenced by the mob. This second aspect of free speech may be the hardest element to implement, but without it, the crudest forms of tyranny could result.

If a single Supreme Court opinion serves as FIRE's lodestar, it is West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette. That opinion, written in 1943, when the United States' success in the battle against totalitarianism was far from certain, upheld the highest principles of a free society even in the face of the greatest adversity. As Justice Robert Jackson wrote:

Freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order. If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.

These brave words should remind us that the battle for free speech is often a deadly serious one. The campus free speech debates of the last two decades may give one the false impression that those debates have primarily revolved around issues like politeness, sensitivity, or hurt feelings. But if one looks at the great free speech debates of American history, one discovers that often the concerns of the censors were quite real and serious: they feared riots, bloodshed, threats to global or national security, and even civil war. Even under these fearsome circumstances, American society has time and time again chosen liberty and sunlight over repression. Free speech has not been an easy path, but it is one worth following. Living with liberty often requires courage, but when this most sacred of American principles is threatened, we always seem to find the courage to defend it.
The first amendment is ultimately secured by the second amendment. From a printing press and a musket to a blog and a .45. We need more armed newspaper editors. People who refuse to be intimidated live safer and happier lives than cowards. "A coward dies a thousand deaths. A brave man dies but once."

posted by Rachel 2/24/2006
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