Al-Sharpton Brian-Yax CBS Citizens-for-Community-Values Dennis-Prager don-Imus Fox-8 free-speech Lobbying NBC News Politics Post Religion SB-16 Snoop-Dogg Strippers Uncle-Bad-Touch

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Being a Douchebag

Tom Merriman and the “I-Team�, apparently Cleveland’s lame version of the A-Team, did a report on a local poet for Fox 8 News. Unsurprisingly the segment did not go well. They interviewed, well ambushed then later interviewed, Brian Yax, a local poet who goes by the name “Uncle Bad Touch�. Yax wrote poetry on raping and murdering women as well as children which were posted on his Myspace profile, which have been removed since the airing of the interview. Apparently the point of the interview was to make Yax look bad for writing this poetry and apologize for doing so. Quiet frankly the whole thing was ridiculous. So what if he writes offensive poetry? He’s 22 years old; of course he’s going to do offensive things. In case you didn’t notice the hair and the clothes, he wants attention, which is exactly what this dumb story gave him. I’m sure all of his friends told him how cool he was for getting on the news. At the end of the segment they talked about free speech and the stupid anchors asked what can be done about offensive speech like this. Obviously they are too stupid to realize that free speech was designed to protect offensive speech. Too many people say, “Well I’m all for free speech, but…�  There is no "but," people, either you are for free speech or you aren’t. The minute you start censoring things because you don’t like or agree with them then free speech goes out the window. I didn’t see anybody complain that the news is offensive. Quite frankly I was offended when Tom Merriman brought out the woman whose daughter was raped and murdered to “surprise� Yax and make him feel guilty. Way to use some one else’s pain and suffering to boost your ratings Tom. Tom criticized Yax for saying that he didn’t care that her daughter was murdered. Tom Merriman doesn’t really care either, but he sure pretended to be concerned during the interview. I’m sure a few hours later he totally forgot about her and her daughter and went onto the next person to exploit for ratings. Yax is a douche and his poetry is offensive and poorly written, but because of the First Amendment he has the right to express himself in anyway he wants as long as he doesn’t harm anyone else. The news puts images of murder, rape and violence on every night for entertainment and no one calls them out on it, so it is hypocritical for them to pick on one individual. Freedom of speech is an integral part of our country and if you don’t like it then you can exercise your freedom of speech and shut up.

First They Came for My Strippers, and I Said Nothing

Recently Bill SB 16 passed in the Ohio Senate and will be sent to the house for a vote next. The bill call prohibits all dancers working in strip clubs from “touching� any patrons and they must remain at least six feet away from them. It also calls for all strip clubs to close at 11:00 pm. This legislation will not surprisingly shut down most if not all strip clubs in Ohio.

This legislation was introduced by the activist group Citizens for Community Values. In addtion to not liking strip clubs, they also are against hotels that show adult movies, gambling and of course homosexuality. The refer to strip clubs on their website as, "And they have tried to paint nude strip clubs and other sex businesses as safe places of entertainment, rather than as the hotbed of criminal activity that our courts have recognized them to be." The group got a petition signed that introduced the bill to be voted on.

This is another example of a small special interest group going out of its way to influence public policy that the majority of the public does not agree with. There is already legislation for each community to decide if they want adult establishments, such as strip clubs in their community. This new legislation is unnecessary and takes away power from local governments. This new state wide regulation is totally unwarranted. There is also the freedom of speech issue that such a law would violate.

The CCV says they are trying to reduce “prostitution and violence towards women�, but shutting down strip clubs will not address either of those issues. All that will happen are the thousands of people that are employed by the stripping industry in Ohio will lose their jobs and patrons will go to other states for their entertainment. The CCV is on a religious moral crusade to get rid of something they don’t like. On their website they have information how you can get a similar bill submitted in your state. This is an example of rabble rousing for an issue that doesn’t exist. If stripping was such a problem wouldn’t legislation have already been proposed without waiting for a special interest group to submit it?

Several of the senators have said they felt pressure from them to pass the bill. The CCV has the voting record on their homepage so people can see who they should vote for. I for one will not vote for any of the senators who voted for the bill as, I do not feel that they had their constituent’s wishes in mind as much as their own reelection campaigns. Politicians need to stop listening to these special interest groups with their lobbyists and listen to the people who voted for them in office.

With this link you can find you local representative and email them your opinion on the bill. Here you can find the contact in formation for you state senator to contact them as well. Show the politicians that you have an opinion too and that a small minority does not speak for the majority of the public.

Free Speech, Unless I Don’t Like It

Unless you've been under a rock I'm sure you've heard of the Don Imus controversy. They underlying point of this whole thing is free speech. Yeah Don Imus made a bad joke that wasn't PC, but in this country he has that right under the 1st amendment. The point of free speech isn't to protect speech that you like and isn't offensive, but the kind that is. Pretty much anything you say someone will be offended by. This country is made up of diverse groups of people from different backgrounds. Its impossible to know every little thing that will hurt people's feelings. And if you do you should be able to say your sorry and move on, not his witch hunt that is currently happening. I can't stand it when people say, "I'm for free speech, but...", no there's no but, either people should be allowed to say whatever they want or they shouldn't there's no middle ground. Then there's this issue of a double standard where certain groups can use words that others can't. So Snoop Dogg can make a career out of saying bitches and ho's, but the second a white man like Don Imus makes one off color comment he should be beaten up. The hypocrisy of the whole situation is what is so infuriating. People who have made racially insensitive comment in the past are acting like their holier than thou. Remember Jesse Jackson refering to New York as Hymietown? Or what about when Whoopie Goldberg defended Ted Danson for wearing Blackface? Hell her production company is called One Ho Productions! If there's one thing I can't stand is when people say black people have been oppressed for so long and didn't have the same opporunities as white people so it's okay for them to say such things. Give me a break Black people are every bit as intelligent and capable as white people or whoever else. Putting them in this separate category only serves to demean every black person. That sure sounds like racism to me putting someone is a different class becaue of their skin color. This whole incident is supposed to open up race relations in this country and make things better. If anything it has pushed things back at least 10 years. Nobody feels comfortable expressing themselves to one another for fear of being label a racist. Its really sad what is happening to free speech in this country. And the networks wonder why no one wtaches TV or listens to the radio. The only programs that are going to be left soon are these "safe" shows that have no content. If people want race relations to improve then we need to have an open dialogue in this country about it. Rather than dividing words into categories based on race.

Gingrich and Prager are Right: Freedom and Democracy are Scary

Newt Gingrich, former Congressman and possible 2008 presidential candidate spoke at the Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment Award Dinner last Monday. In his speech, Gingrich explained that in order to fight terrorists, we will need to cut off their freedom of speech.
"My view is that either before we lose a city, or if we are truly stupid after we lose a city, we will adopt rules of engagement that we use every technology we can find to break up their capacity to use the Internet, to break up their capacity to use free speech, and to go after people who want to kill us, to stop them from recruiting people before they get to reach out and convince young people to destroy their lives while destroying us."
On Tuesday, conservative writer and radio host Dennis Prager wrote abut the upcoming oath of office by Keith Ellison, the newly-elected Congressman from Minnesota. Ellison is a Muslim, and he is planning on swearing on the Koran instead of the Bible. Prager voiced his disapproval.
"When all elected officials take their oaths of office with their hands on the very same book, they all affirm that some unifying value system underlies American civilization. If Keith Ellison is allowed to change that, he will be doing more damage to the unity of America and to the value system that has formed this country than the terrorists of 9-11."
Liberal bloggers are predictably up in arms. Many writers have commented on the somewhat strained appeals to the threat of terrorism, saying that Gingrich and Prager are using scare tactics instead of rational arguments. Plenty of posts point out the irony of speaking out against free speech at a First Amendment award ceremony, and many have pointed out the logic of Ellison swearing on the holy book he actually believes in. Some conservative see things differently. But I won't comment either way along those lines, because at the heart of their arguments, both Prager and Gingrich are right. I agree with them. At least, I agree with their basic premise. Democracy, even representative democracy, is scary. They are correct -- freedom of speech and freedom of religion are difficult. This is an important lesson that I wish all Americans would learn: our Constitution, our form of government, our very way of life is putting you at risk every hour of every second of every day. If we allow anyone to say just about anything, some people might say bad things. Hurtful, dangerous things. Things we don't agree with. If we allow anyone to believe whatever they want, some people will challenge the beliefs we hold most sacred! What if a terrorist creates a web page that convinces others to attack America? What if Ellison, or someone like him, is so eloquent, so charismatic, that average, Christian Americans convert to Islam en mass? What if the majority of voters elect a person who turns out to be untrustworthy or deceitful? But there is a point where I begin to disagree with Gingrich, Prager, President Bush, and possibly a large percentage of the population: I am willing to accept the risks. I think the risks are well worth the rewards. I am willing to accept the risks of living in a free society. I'm not asking for a plane to crash into my house or soliciting an anthrax-laden envelope, but I am willing to live with the possibility that these things will happen, because I believe in free speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion. Some times you just have to stand up for what you think is right. I cannot fault Gingrich or Prager's arguments if they are not willing to stand up, if they aren't willing to take the risks, and if they don't believe in freedom or representative democracy. Perhaps it is just too scary for them--these frightening, terrifying possibilities. I wouldn't ask a coward to defend liberty any more than I would ask an acrophobic to walk a tightrope. I also think the risks are well worth the rewards. If we allow people to believe and say anything that they want, we increase the chance that new ideas, better ideas, and more valuable ideas are created and propagated. I suspect (although this is far from proven) that these freedoms are the reason why the United States has been so successful, and I think it is telling that the countries with the highest standards of living have similar freedoms. To be quite honest, the risks aren't even that bad. In fact, in countries with representative governments and free market economies, you are 390 times more likely to die in a car crash than in a terrorist attack. In 2001, so many people died in car crashes in the U.S. that the terrorists would have had to have a 9-11 level attack every 26 days to keep up. If the terrorists could pull of a 9-11 attack every year, you would still be more likely to die walking across the street than in an attack. I'm not even sure what material risks Prager imagines - he does mention that if Ellison can swear an oath on the Koran, then a Jew could swear on the Torah and an atheist could swear on Voltaire. I have a hard time quantifying that. He worries it is "damaging to the fabric of American civilization," but does not say what kind of fabric this is - apparently it is not woven from the Bill of Rights or Article VI of the Constitution. It's not surprising that Gingrich, Prager and others are bad at assessing risks, people are hard-wired to overestimate some dangers over others. But I would suggest to them, that if they are so afraid, that they should consider advocating the abolition of the automobile, or arguing for strict enforcement against jaywalking. If they think prior restraint, instituting state religion, and even waterboarding are valid methods to combat the threat of terrorism, surely they would agree to even harsher methods to lessen car crashes. Personally, I would say that we should definitely devote some time, effort, and money to fighting terrorism - if terrorists are using the Internet, then we should train our military and police to investigate and gather evidence and intelligence effectively using the Internet. But even if Gingrich could guarantee we could stop all attacks (and prevent any damage to the cotton-polyester weave of our civilization) by suspending these rights, I would not want to do so. I guess I'm just not that big of a wuss.