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Archive for November 2009

these are your rights

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He believed in the right to dissent, but he “did not believe that it should be exercised.”

-Perilous Times, on LBJ

The right to free speech (as long as you’re not dumb enough to actually try it)

-The Clash, Know Your Rights

Written by geek

30/11/2009 at 1:40 am

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mollie steimer

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“You cannot salt the eagle’s tail, Nor limit thought’s dominion; You cannot put ideas in jail, You can’t deport opinion.”

Written by geek

29/11/2009 at 12:18 am

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about face

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In March 1919, Oliver Holmes wrote the supreme court decision upholding a 10 year prison sentence for Eugene Debs under the Espionage Act for his speech that began as follows:

Comrades, friends and fellow-workers, for this very cordial greeting, this very hearty reception, I thank you all with the fullest appreciation of your interest in and your devotion to the cause for which I am to speak to you this afternoon.

To speak for labor; to plead the cause of the men and women and children who toil; to serve the working class, has always been to me a high privilege; a duty of love.

I have just returned from a visit over yonder, where three of our most loyal comrades are paying the penalty for their devotion to the cause of the working class. They have come to realize, as many of us have, that it is extremely dangerous to exercise the constitutional right of free speech in a country fighting to make democracy safe in the world.

I realize that, in speaking to you this afternoon, there are certain limitations placed upon the right of free speech. I must be exceedingly careful, prudent, as to what I say, and even more careful and prudent as to how I say it. I may not be able to say all I think; but I am not going to say anything that I do not think. I would rather a thousand times be a free soul in jail than to be a sycophant and coward in the streets. They may put those boys in jail—and some of the rest of us in jail—but they cannot put the Socialist movement in jail. Those prison bars separate their bodies from ours, but their souls are here this afternoon. They are simply paying the penalty that all men have paid in all the ages of history for standing erect, and for seeking to pave the way to better conditions for mankind.

In November 1919, Oliver Holmes wrote:

when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That, at any rate, is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment. Every year, if not every day, we have to wager our salvation upon some prophecy based upon imperfect knowledge. While that experiment is part of our system, I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country. I wholly disagree with the argument of the Government that the First Amendment left the common law as to seditious libel in force. History seems to me against the notion. I had conceived that the United States, through many years, had shown its repentance for the Sedition Act of 1798, by repaying fines that it imposed. Only the emergency that makes it immediately dangerous to leave the correction of evil counsels to time warrants [p631] making any exception to the sweeping command, “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.” Of course, I am speaking only of expressions of opinion and exhortations, which were all that were uttered here, but I regret that I cannot put into more impressive words my belief that, in their conviction upon this indictment, the defendants were deprived of their rights under the Constitution of the United States.

But some stains don’t come out in the wash.

Written by geek

28/11/2009 at 11:34 pm

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illusory

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Written by geek

24/11/2009 at 9:28 pm

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asteroids

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Atari. Online. That is all.

Written by geek

24/11/2009 at 10:55 am

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sounds familiar

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From the NY Times:

one of the nation’s most powerful interest groups, the press clubs, a century-old, cartel-like arrangement in which reporters from major news media outlets are stationed inside government offices and enjoy close, constant access to officials. The system has long been criticized as antidemocratic by both foreign and Japanese analysts, who charge that it has produced a relatively spineless press that feels more accountable to its official sources than to the public. In their apparent reluctance to criticize the government, the critics say, the news media fail to serve as an effective check on authority.

Apparently written with a straight face.

Written by geek

24/11/2009 at 12:44 am

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wrong

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It is evident from the length of this deliberative process and from the flood of leaks that have emerged from Kabul and Washington that the perfect course of action does not exist. Given that reality, the urgent necessity is to make a decision — whether or not it is right.

-David Broder

I won’t dignify it with a link.

Written by geek

15/11/2009 at 10:28 pm

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