American Elephants

The First Amendment Is Very Hard For Some People to Understand. by The Elephant's Child

In response to indignant assertions that even in the case of offensive political videos the Constitution guarantees the right of free speech — specifically political speech — some on the Left have claimed that perhaps we overvalue the idea of free speech. Have we come to this?

Well, yes we have. University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner created an internet sensation with an article for Slate in which he argued that the United States overvalues free speech. This was in response to the “Innocence of Muslims” video which President Obama and the State Department preferred to blame for the deaths of four Americans in Libya, rather than take any responsibility. And for which the filmmaker was hauled in for questioning.

Robert Shibley, Senior Vice President at FIRE responded today at the Daily Caller, so you can read both sides of the argument. Our ideas about free speech have changed and evolved. It is very hard to ignore despicable speech, and let me use Nazi Anti-Semitism as an example, and very easy to take offense and demand punishment for the malefactors.

The issue of free speech is best understood by considering the fear under which one must live if there are laws against certain kinds of speech. When a population is ruled by a despot and any criticism severely punished, everyone must take care of what they say for the most innocent remark can be ruled illegal.

Democrats think of the issue from the other end — being indignant about what someone said. Democrats are outraged by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which ruled that the money that corporations donate to favor or oppose an issue is political speech and Constitutionally protected. It is the left-leaning faculty at American colleges and universities that has instituted speech codes, while claiming at the same time that they are teaching critical thinking. It is the left that has promoted laws against “hate speech,” a peculiar concept that a crime is somehow worse if it is done with hate in mind.  Which presumes that society  is officially authorized to do mind-reading, which is absurd.

To be fair, it depends on whose ox is getting gored. Posner refers to the 60s as the time when free-speech loving lefties were demonstrating against a war.  Free speech is hard. We are gradually learning how to honor the First Amendment. It is far, far better to suffer briefly from being offended then to live in fear that your life may be ended by how what you say in interpreted.

There have apparently been numbers of anti-Semitic ads in the New York Subways. (I don’t know, I live on the other coast). Pamela Geller, blogger and activist, won the legal right to post a defensive ad, which says “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel.”Egyptian-American CNN columnist and activist Mona Eltahawy was offended, and tried to paint over the poster with spray paint.  Eltahawy is affiliated with MSNBC, and often smears the Islamist “right wing” and the American right wing.  She was arrested for defacing the subway poster.

Like I said, free speech is hard. Which is what Geller’s poster was all about.

Worst Loss for Marine Squadron VMA-211 Since Wake Island. by The Elephant's Child

The U.S. Marine Corps has suffered its worst air squadron catastrophe since Vietnam. The VMA-211 squadron has taken its worst hit since the defense of Wake Island in World War II. On Friday, September 14, at around 10:15 p.m. local time, a force of Taliban gunmen attacked Camp Bastion, in Helmand Province — the main strategic base in southwestern Afghanistan.

Fewer than two dozen insurgents wearing U.S. Army uniforms, divided into three teams, breached the perimeter fence and assaulted the airfield. That includes the  U.S. Camp Leatherneck and the U.K.’s Camp Bastion where Prince Harry, an AH-64 Apache pilot is stationed. The Taliban reportedly are anxious to get Prince Harry, who would prefer to be treated just like anyone else.

The attack killed VMA-211 squadron commander Lt. Col. Christopher Raible and destroyed or permanently disabled eight of the ten top-of-the-line Harrier AV-8B attack aircraft in his squadron. The Harrier has been out of production for more than a decade, and the aircraft can never be replaced.

The attackers had RPGs, AK47s, perhaps mortars, and used a suicide vest to breach the perimeter fence. Two Marines were killed in the fighting.

This is a serious loss for the Marines. With the loss of the planes, the coalition ground forces cannot count on the close air support provided by the Harrier. The Marines were compelled to buy second-hand RAF Harrier GR9s to keep the AB-8B in service beyond 2030 when it will be replaced by the F-35B.The Marines, I believe, have a long history of ‘making do’ for their equipment usually arrives after everyone else is supplied.

This is all terrible news, and not widely reported. The media arm of the Obama campaign doesn’t want to cast any shadows on his claim of foreign policy expertise, though he’d doing a fair job of that to himself.

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