06 April 2006

My conversation with Tom Head, Civil Liberties Guide at ABOUT.COM

[See UPDATES below]

This is a conversation I had with one of the "Guides" at about.com. I don't use about very often; I used to and then they seemed to get taken over by sponsored posts; perhaps I just noticed it as I became more discerning or less patient with interfudge. So now when I want to know how stuff works, well, I got to howstuffworks.com. But I came across this article doing research for a LGF post.
I took exception to the race-baiting American-Communistic-Liberals-Union Kumbayah-singing tone of his article, and he countered my jackbooted oppressive baby-killing arguments. It was great!

In the first numbered comment, I complain soundly about inaccuracies in the article:
1. Your article is a BREATHTAKING snow job, from the headline to the last line. Don’t you owe people who even bother to look at your site the honesty of telling the truth? How can you begin to claim that you care about Civil Liberties when what you post in place of factual explanations is fatuous puff-pieces, heavy with the burden of egregious exaggerations and outright falsehoods?
She was not accosted for a hairstyle, except in National-Enquirer-Headline-Writer-land. Refusal to identify herself to the very people whose sole employment is to protect her does not constitute “civil disobedience”. The one constant thread connecting every definition of Civil Disobedience which I have ever read or heard of is that the practitioner intend to get caught and accepts whatever punishment may result. She obviously fails this test, and in the very first sentence your article fails an honesty check.
Moving on to the second sentence, you conflate the lapel pin with a nametag. Most members of Congress don’t wear their nametags but they do wear their lapel pins. You finally let the other shoe drop on this halfway through the second paragraph; far enough that the connection is hard to see, and the truth effectively obscured. To say that you are lying requires only a trivial amount of interpretation, whereas to say that you are telling the truth requires a fantastic suspension of critical faculty.
You continue on this manner throughout the article, even finishing on an apallingly dishonest note: Rep. Cynthia McKinney was never “vindicated” of accusing President Bush of orchestrating the 9/11 attacks, and she only “reclaimed her seat” when it was vacated by the incumbent for a failed candidacy elsewhere.
I challenge you to respond to even the first of my arguments; I challenge you to back up your claim that her nametag and lapel pin lawlessness constitutes Civil Disobedience. And I expect you to do so fully versed in the finer points of Civil Liberties, rather than DNC talking points.

Haakon Dahl
revwatch.blogspot.com

Comment by Haakon Dahl — April 4, 2006 @ 4:21 am
2. Nice try. You wouldn’t know the truth if it jumped up and bit you on the ass
Comment by Chip D. — April 4, 2006 @ 10:00 am
3. Haakon Dahl writes:
Your article is a BREATHTAKING snow job, from the headline to the last line. Don’t you owe people who even bother to look at your site the honesty of telling the truth? How can you begin to claim that you care about Civil Liberties when what you post in place of factual explanations is fatuous puff-pieces, heavy with the burden of egregious exaggerations and outright falsehoods?
Good morning to you, too!
The one constant thread connecting every definition of Civil Disobedience which I have ever read or heard of is that the practitioner intend to get caught and accepts whatever punishment may result.
If they’re forced to, yes. If they’re not forced to, no.
McKinney has been detained on five different occasions for refusing to wear a lapel pin. That indicates to me that this is a case of civil disobedience, not forgetfulness.
Moving on to the second sentence, you conflate the lapel pin with a nametag.
You know, you’re right about this part; my wording is unclear. I’ll correct the article to reflect this.
To say that you are lying requires only a trivial amount of interpretation, whereas to say that you are telling the truth requires a fantastic suspension of critical faculty.
I’ve read that sentence twice, and I still can’t tell whether it’s a criticism or a compliment.
You continue on this manner throughout the article, even finishing on an apallingly dishonest note: Rep. Cynthia McKinney was never “vindicated” of accusing President Bush of orchestrating the 9/11 attacks, and she only “reclaimed her seat” when it was vacated by the incumbent for a failed candidacy elsewhere.
So let me get this straight: You think she won her seat back in a majority-white Georgia district without being vindicated? Come on, chief, we both know that’s not how it works. If she said what she had been accused of saying, her political career would have been over in Georgia. Finished. Done.
I challenge you to respond to even the first of my arguments; I challenge you to back up your claim that her nametag and lapel pin lawlessness constitutes Civil Disobedience. And I expect you to do so fully versed in the finer points of Civil Liberties, rather than DNC talking points.
I’m not very well versed in DNC talking points, so I’m afraid I’m going to have to rely on you to tell me how much I do or don’t conform to them. But I make no apologies for being serious about the very real problem of racial profiling in this country.

Cheers,

TH

Comment by civilliberty — April 4, 2006 @ 2:23 pm
4. Good Morning to you as well! Let’s get right to it:
If they’re forced to, yes. If they’re not forced to, no.
This makes no sense. You cannot claim any willingness when you are forced to do something. Willingniess to get caught and accept consequences is a hallmark of Civil Disobedience. If you disagree with this, then you are talking about something else and calling it Civil Disobedience. If you must be forced to do something, then you cannot say that you had any willingness. What you are talking about does not therefore meet the test for Civil Disobedience. It is merely a lawlessness of convenience, with a flimsy excuse tacked on after the fact.
McKinney has been detained on five different occasions for refusing to wear a lapel pin. That indicates to me that this is a case of civil disobedience, not forgetfulness.
So what? Many people have been arrested multiple times for repeat crimes. They are in JAIL. They are called repeat offenders. I never said she was forgetful. I said she was breaking the law.
I’ll correct the article to reflect this.
Fair enough!
…criticism or a compliment…
Most people consider lying less-than-praiseworthy.
If she said what she had been accused of saying…
Here is a selection from Rep. McKinney’s remarks on September 14, 2002, at the reception for the Congressional Black Caucus. If you can see the difference between Martin Luther King’s Civil Disobedience and the actions of, say, a guy who speeds through “opressive” red lights, then I submit that you can see the difference between actual questions and accusations couched as questions:
Cynthia McKinney: Goodbye to All That
“And after I’ve asked the tough questions, here’s what we now know:
* That President Bush was warned ... [moonbat quote snipped; includes stock market, crawford, Ashcroft conspiracies] ...the attacks."
So on at least one instance, she really did “say what she had been accused of saying.”
I thank you for your response, and look forward to continuing this conversation. I’ll post it at my blog as well, but when I have more time. I would like you to consider this, however: If you are truly serious about the problem of racal profiling in ths country, you will not allow the issue to be kidnapped by the likes of Rep. Cynthia McKinney, to function as a weak sister for responsibility. She was wrong not to show ID, she was wrong to slug the cop, and she was wrong to desecrate the memories of those who have suffered and even died for non-violent resistance in order to, essentially, try to beat a ticket.
You Civil Liberties types should be throwing your shoes at the TV in disgust for what this miserable hate-monger is doing to you.
Comment by Haakon Dahl — April 4, 2006 @ 8:14 pm
5. Haakon Dahl writes:
This makes no sense. You cannot claim any willingness when you are forced to do something. Willingness to get caught and accept consequences is a hallmark of Civil Disobedience.
Willingness to get caught is part of it, but fighting the laws after you’re caught, petitioning for jury nullification, and so forth doesn’t alter the original act of civil disobedience. If it did, the history of the civil rights movement would look a lot different.
Civil disobedience is at its core a challenge: “Are you really going to do this?” If the answer is “no,” then the establishment blinked and the strategy worked.
So on at least one instance, she really did “say what she had been accused of saying.”
At no point did she say that the Bush administration ordered, or was complicit in, the 9/11 attacks. She was making a forceful case for further investigation, which did in fact eventually happen.
She was wrong not to show ID, she was wrong to slug the cop,
Actually, my understanding is that she swatted his most likely kevlar-protected chest with the back of the same hand she was carrying her cell phone in. Unless she’s a third-degree black belt, that really comes across as more of a reflexive act than a violent one.
and she was wrong to desecrate the memories of those who have suffered and even died for non-violent resistance in order to, essentially, try to beat a ticket.
The same could be said, and frequently is said, of virtually anyone who stands up to the police in similar cases. I can only admire the courage of people who are willing to face criminal charges to prove a point.
McKinney isn’t an idiot. She could have worn her lapel pin at any time if she wanted to. This was a calculated expose of racial profiling by the Capitol Police, and it did the job beautifully.

Cheers,

TH

Comment by civilliberty — April 5, 2006 @ 12:28 am
6. Well, MR. H., we probably won’t see eye to eye, but thank you for responding; I appreciate you taking the time to argue with the rabble. Of course, you can’t argue the same post forever, so I will close with just one point:
If it is true that as you say, “This was a calculated expose of racial profiling…”, then why was the following quote her first statement, posted on her own website?
“I know that Capitol Hill Police are securing our safety, and I appreciate the work that they do. I have demonstrated my support for them in the past and I continue to support them now…”
These are not the words of a champion of civil liberties embarking upon the next phase of a campaign of Civil Disobedience. She was not challenging anything–she was trying to wriggle off the hook until smarter people suggested offense as the best defense.

Take Care,

Haakon B. Dahl


The Civil Disobedience angle is an ex post facto rationalization of lawlessness.*

Comment by Haakon Dahl — April 5, 2006 @ 8:40 am
7. Was that a terrorist suicide vest the officer thought she was wearing, or is she gaining weight from christian leader donations?
Another mislead spoiled child taught that it is okay to misbehave because you are black.
Thank you rainbow coalition for the advertising that you so kindly twisted the arm of corporate America to support a minority group of black “religious” leaders that purport to represent a vast majority of well educated, well behaved black people who have willingly, lovingly, patriotically, spiritually, immersed themselves into the american society that cares not what their color is. I can only dislike the racist individuals of all colors that whine, whine, whine, they are uneducated, ineffectual intellectual wanabees.

Comment by dpete — April 5, 2006 @ 9:34 am
8.Haakon,
Thanks for challenging me on this. I think you’ve just demonstrated a significant benefit of the Comments feature: It holds Guides accountable for their writing. In this case, I believe I’m right–but it’s nice to know I’ll need to be ready to make my case.
I suspect McKinney’s quote was her way of skirting the problem of attacking the Capitol Police as a whole, who for the most part do an amazing and largely thankless job. To highlight racial profiling is not to say that police officers, even the specific police officers who are guilty of the practice, are monsters. Racial profiling is easy to do. I’d go so far as to say that everyone, inevitably, ends up doing it in some way, at some time. But it still needs to be highlighted, and the only real way it can be is for well-known black folks to specifically make themselves vulnerable to it. That shocks the system. I’m not sure that many people realy care about racial profiling in the abstract, but when it affects the life of a known person, it opens a lot of eyes.

Cheers,

TH

Comment by civilliberty — April 5, 2006 @ 12:58 pm


And that was the conversation.

I can't describe how pleasant it is to have a civil conversation with somebody online who is from the other side. I left in the comments from other folks att #2 and #7, which were in a way aligned for and against as well.
Anyway, as Mr. Head himself says, it is good for all concerned if readers write in to the online authors who post something disagreeable to those readers. It helps keep the authors honest, and it refines the opinions of both persons in the argument.
Your mind is the only tool which becomes sharper with heavy use.

[UPDATE] 07APR2006: Now that Rep. Cynthia McKinney has pretended to apologize, I really want to go follow up on this conversation. Can't find the article anymore! Ugh.

04 April 2006

E2A: The Electronic Second Amendment

EARLY DRAFT: Obviously unfinished. Feedback welcome...

EFF, E2A, and You: The Electronic Second Amendment.

What guarantees your access to the world beyond your browser?

In world of physical media and flesh-and-blood people, the second amendment protects the first, protects itself, and protects most of the rest of the bill of rights, as well as the constitution itself.

Conservatives are typically supporters of a freedom-based interpretation of the second amendment, and enjoy pointing out that if armament goes, speech will soon follow.

How unseemly then, that the online equivalent of the second amendment has become the preserve of scruffy hippies, while conservatives, almost by default, hold ground bounded on the high side by the impassable mountains of censorship, while the low side ends in the high grass of tumultuous discourse, somewhere short of the wild, impenetrable jungles of lawlessness and anarchy.

(awfully purple...)

So if we look at the necessary interpretations to bring the first two amendments online, so to speak, the First amendment is easy:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of publishing; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

A distinction I make here is in initially interpreting "the press" in the same manner as "speech"; that is as a faculty for communication wich is possessed by people. This shifts the emphasis of the original phrase from "freedom of the people to speak, and of media entities to publish" into the more rights-based "freedom of the people to speak and to publish", which may not be the dominant interpretation, but one which it must be hard to argue with. Certainly the founding fathers did not mean to allow only media entities the freedom to publish when many of those men were themselves publishing tracts to influence the nature of society. It is therefore no stretch to render "the press" as "publishing", meaning that it is both a right and an ability equal with speech, possessed by all.
This also goes some of the distance toward resolving arguments about whether any such things as "group rights" exist, or if the Bill of Rights applies (as I say) fundamentally only to individuals, whereas group rights may fairly be extended only from those individual rights.
With that in mind, let us look earlier in the First Amendment, to the famed Establishment Clause.
At issue is whether the word "establishment" is construed either as its n1 meaning (the first listed definition as a noun) which refers to the act of creating or sanctioning a thing, and is based upon the verb; or as its n2 meaning which is a thing that has been created, and is through and through a noun. A lesser issue is the meaning of "respecting", which we will take to mean regarding, rather than paying admiration to, a given thing.
n1: ...make no law creating or sanctioning a religion...
n2: ...make no law regarding an existing body of religion...
I say that the Amendment intends the first of these. Obviously, I must be in the majority, or else tax breaks for establishments of religion would be unconstitutional on their face.
It is therefore not true that the government can make no law with respect to religion. It is true that the government can neither promote nor restrict a particular religion. NOR, I say, may it promote or restrict religion as a whole.
Note that the Amendment does not protect merely the exercise of religion; it protects the free exercise of religion. That means one-hundred percent, and any law which would restrict the practitioners of a particular religion to only ninety-nine percent of that freedom is on its face unconstitutional. This is quite clear, and it is the law of the land. Note also that the right not to be offended by the freedoms of others does not exist.
It sould therefore be a simple matter to reverse the depredations of the ACLU upon the freedoms of Americans, yet instead conservatives are getting mugged again and again. Why?
Let us look at the Second Amendment for a case study in turning freedoms into tyranny.



(individual rights, militias... the big three often mis-interpreted, mis-quited, and mal-cited decisions...)

FULL CIRCLE: The first amendment concerns information. THe second concerns power, in particular, power over information. Crypto technology is the online equivalent of bearing arms. coding and codebreaking, encryption and decryption--these are the handguns and long arms of the internet, and they are as much your birthright as the Bill of Rights.

OTHER NOTES to GORE? Gatekeepers--There are no gatekeepers, because there are no gates. There are no gates because there is no fence. There is no fence because there is a First Amendment. There is still a First Amendment because there is a Second Amendment.

EOF