6 September 2012 >>
If you pay taxes, part of the money the government takes from you is used to fund political activity that’s likely to leave you with an even higher tax bill in the future. The days of Tammany Hall are long gone, but the old-school political machines have been replaced. Their modern equivalent is the government union, a massive lobbying force whose primary interest lies in growing itself, by growing government.
In a four-and-a-half minute animation, Union Made: The Machine explains the mechanics of this modern political machine.
1 March 2012 >>
Much has been written already about Andrew Breitbart and his life at the intersection of culture, media and politics. So instead, I will tell you a story about how Andrew Breitbart and I ended up at a Devo concert.
7 November 2011 >>
Recently, I brought a camera and a few multiple-choice questions to Zuccotti Park, where I conducted a quiz game with some of the Occupy Wall Street protesters. As a reward for getting the answers right, contestants were able to choose among several options for prizes. Unfortunately, one gentleman in the audience apparently did not appreciate the prize selections made by his fellow protesters, so he disrupted the game, bear-hugged me, grabbed the question cards out of my hand and attempted to run off with them before I stopped him.
And over the weeks that followed, friends and online acquaintances sent me pictures to post online, each doing their part to preserve another memory of what happened that day. You can find these pictures here.
31 March 2010 >>
Not too long ago, taking to the streets to protest your government was considered a patriotic act.
But it seems that publicly airing your grievances stopped being patriotic right around noon on January 20th, 2009.
Once President Obama was sworn in, protesting became incitement to violence.
If you’ve opened up a newspaper or watched a cable news program in the past week or so, you’ve probably seen members of the media painting Tea Party activists as dangerous bigots. That’s because disagreeing with President Obama on issues like government spending and high taxes makes you a racist, you see.
What’s interesting about the media’s latest freak-out is that there were radicals a-plenty under President Bush. They protested in the streets. They talked openly about revolution and killing. But oddly, the violent imagery used by people claiming to be advocates for peace never registered with the media. They were too busy fawning over Cindy Sheehan.
Why the difference in coverage? Did the media cheerlead protests against President Bush to hurt him politically? Are they trying to marginalize the increasingly powerful Tea Party movement because they favor President Obama’s agenda?
One thing’s for sure: If there is such a thing as dangerous rhetoric, then the media is at least one president too late in reporting the story.
Don’t believe me?
Well, then let’s take a trip down memory lane...
Implicitly, Obama was using the threat of violence to get the bankers to acquiesce.
During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama didn’t shy away from confrontation. In fact, he encouraged it by telling supporters to “argue with” opponents and to “get in their face[s].”
The Obama Administration’s confrontational tone included some violent imagery last August, when one White House official encouraged Obama supporters to “punch back twice as hard” against opponents.
Later that day, at an anti-ObamaCare rally in St. Louis, a black man named Kenneth Gladney was handing out “Don’t Tread on Me” flags when he was approached by pro-ObamaCare SEIU union members. One of the men asked Gladney, “What kind of nigger are you to be giving out this kind of stuff?”
Obama’s supporters got the message. They were getting in people’s faces, and they were punching. And kicking. Repeatedly.
Yet despite the fact that the Kenneth Gladney beating occurred the same day that the Obama Administration recommended supporters “punch back twice as hard,” there was no hyperventilating in the media about political violence or the veiled threats that encouraged it.
Today, however, the Democratic politicians who rammed through ObamaCare over the wishes of the American public are worried about the ugly environment that the Obama Administration spent over a year stoking. And if Obama and the Democrats truly believe that words lead to violence, then they should accept responsibility for the beating of Kenneth Gladney.
I’m certainly not condoning political violence, and would condemn any that actually happens. But there has been no reported violence against any Congressman, Senator or government official, despite the media frenzy of stories describing a crazed American public ready to terrorize politicians.
All politicians receive threats; any moderately trafficked blogger receives threats. So while I would hate for there to be any actual violence, excuse me if I chuckle at the chatter of the chickens in the media and our political class. This media-driven national freakout is a diversion, designed to de-legitimize opposition to ObamaCare and to take your attention away from the illegitimate and unprecedented usurpation of power by the Democrats in Congress and President Obama. They’re banking on you forgetting by November.
If the media is going to report on this atmosphere without discussing the Obama Administration’s words or the SEIU beat-down of Kenneth Gladney, if they are going to spend time breathlessly reporting rumored threats that have not been carried out while ignoring violence that actually occurred but didn’t fit their narrative, then it is yet more proof of the media’s patent bias.
25 January 2010 @ 8:40AM >>The New York Times is on the receiving end of a very good point:
To the Editor:
In “The Court’s Blow to Democracy” (editorial, Jan. 22), you strenuously disagree with the proposition that “corporations are just like people and entitled to the same First Amendment rights.”
Every day, The New York Times Company exercises its First Amendment right to engage in political speech. Today, it expresses its desire to deny that right to most other corporations.
The Constitution does not permit the government to criminalize speech based on the identity of the speaker. If any corporation has First Amendment rights, all corporations must have First Amendment rights.
5 December 2009 @ 3:15PM >>
My documentary film Indoctrinate U—which analyzes the attacks on free speech and free thought on politically correct college campuses—will be shown on the Documentary Channel two more times in the coming weeks.
17 November 2009 @ 6:56PM >>
As a bit of a typography geek, I laughed at myself for having noticed many of the things mentioned in this New York Times article. (The sloppy spacing of the word “lean” on that subway sign has always annoyed me.)
I posted a link to the Times piece on my Facebook page, and it ignited a discussion of the fontumentary Helvetica, and of course the typeface of the same name.
It reminded me of the first time I noticed Helvetica in wide use. I was a kid walking down Main Street on Roosevelt Island, where all the retail store signs were rendered in that font.
It seems the typeface has changed in the years since, but most of the signs still do use the same typeface.
And one of the more odd aspects of Roosevelt Island still remains: the storefront occupants on Main Street seemed to compete over whose sign would display the most generic and lifeless name:
THE THRIFT STORE
HARDWARE AND VIDEO STORE
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
...and my personal favorite: THE CHILD SCHOOL
The drab brutalist architecture of Main Street, Roosevelt Island and the austerity of Helvetica always made me wonder if that’s what NYC would have “evolved” into had the Bolsheviks taken over here and not in Russia.
I always felt Helvetica was like the Soviet Union of typefaces, aspiring to but failing at unadorned efficiency while entirely lacking in human spirit.
Leaders of the Maryland NAACP, worried that a Baltimore mayor’s criminal conviction could result in the appointment of a white or Republican leader who may not fully represent the majority black and Democratic city, are asking state lawmakers to strip the governor of authority to permanently fill the office.
“There is that possibility of a conviction, and we want to know those protocols that are in place,” said Elbridge James, the political action chairman of the state National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “If it looks like it is going to rain, I am going to buy an umbrella.”
Marvin L. Cheatham, the president of the Baltimore Chapter of the NAACP, introduced the resolution because he heard an attorney on a radio program discussing a lack of clarity on succession if [Baltimore’s mayor] were to be convicted and sentenced.
“Our concern is who would the governor appoint?” Cheatham said. “Here you have a predominantly African-American city. What if the governor appointed somebody white? ... Would he appoint someone Irish to be the mayor?”
The resolution passed “nearly unanimously” with little debate from the 150 or so delegates who attended the meeting, James said.
13 October 2009 @ 6:22PM >>
Months before Barack Obama formally accepted the Democratic presidential nomination, the name “Obama” was already being stamped on or sewn into objects of every type, and these objects could be purchased just about anywhere you happened to be standing. Keychains, buttons, hats, t-shirts were all readily available. I saw Obama skateboards and heard rumors of Obama bongs. Eventually, companies usually seen selling things like pewter gnomes and porcelain kittens got into the game, hawking commemorative coins and Obama dinner plates on late-night cable shows.
Institutions on the Red Alert list are unrepentant offenders against basic rights that are guaranteed either by the U.S. Constitution or the schools themselves, and they have policies and/or practices that demonstrate a serious and ongoing threat to current and future students. They are the “worst of the worst” when it comes to protecting liberty on campus.
FIRE explains the latest in a years-long campaign by Bucknell’s administrators to shut down the speech of students whose opinions they don’t share:
The controversy at Bucknell began in March, when [Bucknell University Conservatives Club] members attempted to distribute fakedollar bills in protest of the federal stimulus, featuring an image of President Obama. BUCC members were told by a campus administrator that they were “busted,” and that their activities were a violation of Bucknell’s Sales and Solicitation policy. Even after pointing out that the “stimulus dollars” distribution was an obvious act of political protest and that the students were not engaged in solicitation, Bucknell still considered the act to fall under this policy, seeing it as the equivalent of “handing out Bibles” (which also would not be solicitation under the policy). Such a misinterpretation of this policy effectively subjects any distribution of materials between students to the prior review and approval of the administration, significantly undermining Bucknell’s commitment to free expression.
The next month, Bucknell shut down BUCC’s previously approved “affirmative action bake sale,” designed to protest affirmative action by charging different prices based on ethnicity. The sales are a well-known method of attracting attention to the issue, and are not intended to raise revenue. Associate Dean of Students Gerald Commerford cited a discrepancy between the prices being charged and the prices BUCC listed on its event application form (BUCC was charging lower-than-expected prices), telling BUCC “we have the opportunity to shut you down.”
When BUCC applied to hold a second bake sale, Commerford rejected the application outright, this time saying that the bake sale violated Bucknell’s policies against discrimination. Despite the fact that BUCC was engaging in a well-known form of political protest—which FIRE has defended numerous times at public and private universities—Commerford flatly rejected the possibility of the bake sale even if BUCC made all pricing options optional, saying “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, because it’s a discriminatory [pricing] policy.” Making matters worse, Commerford suggested that only under certain circumstances would any discussion of affirmative action be welcome, telling them, “It’s not a political issue, ok; it needs to be debated in its proper forum, ok, and not on the public property of the campus.”
FIRE wrote to Bucknell President Brian C. Mitchell, pointing out the numerous violations Bucknell had committed of its own policies in suppressing BUCC’s activities, and of its legal and moral obligation to protect its students’ free speech rights. After receiving a response from Bucknell General Counsel Wayne Bromfield upholding the rationale for Bucknell’s deplorable treatment of BUCC and refusing to accept fault, FIRE wrote to President Mitchell once more. After receiving another response from Bromfield in which he refused to address FIRE’s concerns further, Bucknell was added to FIRE’s Red Alert list. President Mitchell has yet to offer any public comment on Bucknell’s free speech crisis, which has been chronicled in The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications.
Bucknell’s contemptuous treatment of BUCC should send a message to all current and prospective Bucknell students that their free speech rights are at the whim of an administration all too willing to bend its own policies and strong-arm its students to stifle speech it does not want heard on campus. By placing Bucknell on its Red Alert list, FIRE hopes to amplify that message, and to finally compel Bucknell to end its embarrassing fight against free speech.
4 September 2009 @ 8:56AM >>
You may have heard about the uproar over President Obama’s desire to address the nation’s schoolchildren. Although the White House has not yet released the text of the speech, many people wondered whether the speech would be pushing Obama’s policy goals.
The idea that the speech would be political in nature is not something that people fantasized; it was related to the fact that the Department of Education’s lesson plan asked students to “help the president” and write about “what the president wants us to do.”
The Obama administration has since removed such language from the lesson plan, and has issued a rather lame excuse. The Associated Press reports:
Critics are particularly upset about lesson plans the administration created to accompany the speech. The lesson plans, available online, originally recommended having students “write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president.”
The White House revised the plans Wednesday to say students could “write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals.”
“That was inartfully worded, and we corrected it,” [White House deputy policy director Heather] Higginbottom said.
Of course, the only way the “inartfully worded” excuse works is if the new wording is a clearer way of saying what the original statement intended to convey.
In what universe is “what they can do to help the president” even remotely related to “how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals”?
One is not a more “artful wording” of the other. The administration’s new phrasing represents a completely different statement altogether.
If the president had intended to deliver a speech asking for students’ help achieving his political goals, I suspect this controversy will dissuade him from doing that.
31 August 2009 @ 8:24AM >>
In honor of the care and compassion shown by Senator Ted Kennedy throughout his life, liberals and their enablers in the media have been proposing changing the name of President Obama’s healthcare reform plan. So, instead of referring to it informally as “ObamaCare,” it may become known as “KennedyCare.”
It was a time when Democratic politicians complained loudly whenever they felt their patriotism was being impugned. In those days, bumper stickers reminded us that “Dissent is the Highest Form of Patriotism” and Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the House of Representatives, declared that disruptive protests were “very American and very important.” Now that protests are directed against a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress, Nancy Pelosi thinks such disruptions are “un-American.”
During the Bush era, the media looked the other way at the extremist element in the protest movement; the large number of protest signs bearing swastikas and mathematical formulae like “Bush=Hitler” just didn’t interest them. But it did interest me, and because the media didn’t want to report it, I did some reporting of my own. The videos I posted online inadvertently launched me on a second career as a documentary filmmaker.
I recently dug through my old footage and found many examples of the same kind of inflammatory speech that the media and the Democratic Party—forgive the redundancy—now decry. What follows are just a few examples.
13 August 2009 @ 8:48AM >>
During the last few centuries, a number of Muslims have followed the belief that Islam bans images of their prophet Mohammed. This was one of the excuses for the worldwide orgy of riots and killings that followed the publication of the infamous Mohammed cartoons.
[W]hen the 12 caricatures were first published by a Danish newspaper a few years ago and reprinted by other European publications, Muslims all over the world angrily protested, calling the images—which included one in which Muhammad wore a turban in the shape of a bomb—blasphemous. In the Middle East and Africa some rioted, burning and vandalizing embassies; others demanded a boycott of Danish goods; a few nations recalled their ambassadors from Denmark. In the end at least 200 people were killed.
As the Times report notes, the publishing arm of Yale University recently released a book on the topic, “The Cartoons That Shook the World.”
Yale University and Yale University Press consulted two dozen authorities, including diplomats and experts on Islam and counterterrorism, and the recommendation was unanimous: The book, “The Cartoons That Shook the World,” should not include the 12 Danish drawings that originally appeared in September 2005. What’s more, they suggested that the Yale press also refrain from publishing any other illustrations of the prophet that were to be included, specifically, a drawing for a children’s book; an Ottoman print; and a sketch by the 19th-century artist Gustave Dore of Muhammad being tormented in Hell, an episode from Dante’s “Inferno” that has been depicted by Botticelli, Blake, Rodin and Dali.
Yale University takes political correctness to its absurd conclusion, one in which a book claiming to discuss “the cartoons that shook the world” will not actually include the cartoons that shook the world. This is from an alleged learning institution dedicated free thought and intellectual inquiry.
But it’s even more chilling than that: Yale University is now in the business of actively enforcing Sharia law on behalf of radical jihadists.
5 August 2009 @ 11:59PM >>
The Obama White House may be breaking the Privacy Act of 1974 by asking citizens to report “fishy” political speech.
On Tuesday, Macon Phillips, President Obama’s Director of New Media, wrote on the White House blog asking citizens to rat out fellow citizens who are spreading “disinformation” about Obama’s plans for more government control over the health care system. Phillips wrote:
There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to email@example.com.
One wonders, what constitutes “fishy” speech or “disinformation”? Is it anything that runs counter to what the White House wants you to think? And what, precisely, is the White House planning to do about someone who’s speech has been “flagged”?
It turns out, even asking for citizens to report on each other may be illegal. According to the Department of Justice, “the purpose of the Privacy Act is to balance the government’s need to maintain information about individuals with the rights of individuals to be protected against unwarranted invasions of their privacy stemming from federal agencies’ collection, maintenance, use, and disclosure of personal information about them.”
I’m no lawyer, but it sure sounds like the White House is violating the law by asking people to snitch on their friends and neighbors for engaging in “fishy” political speech. Anyone want to try this one in court?
In the meantime, I’m going to report myself. I’m obviously not thinking the way our Dear Leader wants...
Update: Renowned attorney David T. Hardy identifies another area where the Obama White House appears to be breaking the law:
“(7) maintain no record describing how any individual exercises rights guaranteed by the First Amendment unless expressly authorized by statute or by the individual about whom the record is maintained or unless pertinent to and within the scope of an authorized law enforcement activity;”
27 July 2009 @ 4:15PM >>
Peggy Noonan identifies one of the many reasons that I’m concerned about the government getting more control over our healthcare system:
We are living in a time in which educated people who are at the top of American life feel they have the right to make very public criticisms of . . . let’s call it the private, pleasurable but health-related choices of others. They shame smokers and the overweight. Drinking will be next. Mr. Obama’s own choice for surgeon general has come under criticism as too heavy.
Only a generation ago such criticisms would have been considered rude and unacceptable. But they are part of the ugly, chafing price of having the government in something: Suddenly it can make big and very personal demands on you. Those who live in a way that isn’t sufficiently healthy “cost us money” and “drive up premiums.” Mr. Obama himself said something like it in his press conference, when he spoke of a person who might not buy health insurance. If he gets hit by a bus, “the rest of us have to pay for it.”
Under a national health-care plan we might be hearing that a lot. You don’t exercise, you smoke, you drink, you eat too much, and “the rest of us have to pay for it.”
It is a new opportunity for new class professionals (an old phrase that should make a comeback) to shame others, which appears to be one of their hobbies. (It may even be one of their addictions. Let’s stage an intervention.) Every time I hear Kathleen Sebelius talk about “transitioning” from “treating disease” to “preventing disease,” I start thinking of how they’ll use this as an excuse to judge, shame and intrude.
So this might be an unarticulated public fear: When everyone pays for the same health-care system, the overseers will feel more and more a right to tell you how to live, which simple joys are allowed and which are not.
Police will be ordered not to charge Muslim extremists in many hate crime cases — to stop them becoming more militant.
Examples of crimes to which a blind eye may be turned include incitement to religious hatred or viewing extremist material on the internet.
Last night critics warned that the move could mean Islamic radicals being give the freedom to encourage violence.
Some saw the move as a politically correct attempt to appease extremists who hate Britain.
It could even mean officers tolerating many activities of Muslim preachers of hate like the hook-handed cleric Abu Hamza.
Tory MP David Davies said: “This sounds like abject surrender. Everyone should be equal in the eyes of the law.
“It doesn’t matter whether someone is suspected of incitement to hatred or shoplifting — they should all face the same risk of prosecution.
“There should be no special favours or treatment for any section of the community.”
“Inciting religious hatred” and “viewing extremist material” are crimes? Sounds like the British are policing thought.
I think it’s dangerous for a society to punish thought and speech, no matter how despicable or unpopular.
But it is interesting that, while the British are ignoring the “crime” of “inciting religious hatred” among Muslims, they are enforcing a ban against American talk radio show host Michael Savage, who is not allowed to enter the country. Why? Because of his views and comments about radical Islam, which the British government says incite religious hatred.
So, if you live in Britain and follow a religious ideology whose adherents set off bombs around London, you can do all the hatred inciting you want. But if you caustically criticize the bombers and the people who inspired them, you might just find yourself banned for life.
“Thought crimes” are a bad idea. They’re even worse when they’re selectively applied.
14 July 2009 @ 9:11AM >>
This weekend, while walking around NYC, I noticed a couple more propaganda posters put up by members of the Cult of Obama.
The first, “Siddhartha Obama,” is a large mural on the side of a building in Chelsea. It shows Obama as The Enlightened One holding solar panels, and features Dick Cheney popping out of a stars-and-stripes-painted Hummer and gas pumps bearing the Republican Party logo sitting atop coffins draped in American flags.
Whatever words you can use to describe these cult members, “subtle” is not one of them.
The second propaganda display was spotted inside the Blades board and skate store on Broadway near Great Jones. Adorned with pictures of Barack, Michelle and the campaign logo, it says simply, “Obey.”
“Siddhartha Obama” appears on a wall outside an art gallery, which is at least an understandable venue for over-the-top Obama worship; it’s almost a job requirement for artists that they be driven purely by emotion. The political naivete of assuming one politician will be Our Savior is the sort of thinking artists are almost expected to adopt.
But I find it strange that businesses keep attaching themselves to the Obama Cult, because in theory, they should want to minimize the number of customers they drive away with partisan propaganda.
Then again, in America today, as government takes over more and more companies and tightens regulatory control on the rest, customers matter less and less to companies.
“The customer is never wrong” is last century’s business maxim. Now, it’s “the government is never wrong.” So maybe companies are just making business calculations and deciding that it’s smart to make a public spectacle of their allegiance to Obama.
7 July 2009 >>
Fredric U. Dicker—regarded as the pre-eminent political reporter in New York’s state capital—recently published a column decrying the complete breakdown of the state legislature, which has been unable to conduct business for the past month.
Buried way down in Dicker’s piece, starting at the 19th paragraph, we learn:
During the first five months of this year, with the Senate under the control of its first African-American majority leader, [State Senator Malcolm] Smith, top Democrats bemoaned the lack of minority Senate staffers.
But instead of trying to recruit new hires, they fired nearly 200 almost exclusively white workers and replaced them with a large number of minority employees, many of whom were seen by their fellow workers to be unskilled at their new jobs.
The move produced severe racial tensions, made worse by the fact that, as a high-level Democratic staffer confided, “We’ve been told to only hire minorities.'’
So, nearly 200 people lose their jobs in New York State because of their race? And not at the hands of some evil corporation, but our own elected officials?
It’s quite telling that, in our political age, mass firings can still happen because of one’s race. It’s even more telling that—the only time I’ve seen this story get any coverage at all—it was in the 19th paragraph of an otherwise unrelated column.
6 July 2009 @ 8:11AM >>
Perhaps, with the celebration of our national independence fresh in our memories, it would be appropriate to take a look at the continued decline of the kingdom we rejected in 1776:
Civil servants have refused to name inmates who have fled prison even though individual police forces will often identify them if they pose a risk to the public.
They say releasing their names would breach obligations under the Data Protection Act.
It echoes a row in 2007 when Derbyshire Police refused to release pictures of two escaped murderers.
Yes, you read it right: in today’s Great Britain, authorities may not release pictures of escaped murderers, because doing so would violate those escaped murderers’ privacy rights.
29 June 2009 @ 8:41AM >>PC Worldreports on a significant development in the evolution of new media:
A tectonic shift has taken place for the digital age: ad rates for popular shows like The Simpsons and CSI are higher online than they are on prime-time TV. If a company wants to run ads alongside an episode of The Simpsons on Hulu or TV.com it will cost the advertiser about $60 per thousand viewers, according to Bloomberg. On prime-time TV that same ad will cost somewhere between $20 and $40 per thousand viewers.
Online viewers have to actively seek out the program they want to watch, so advertisers end up with a guaranteed audience for their commercial every time someone clicks play on Hulu or TV.com. Online programs also have an average of 37 seconds of commercials during an episode, while prime-time TV averages nine minutes of ads.
David Poltrack, chief research officer at New York-based CBS, cited a Neilsen discovery that fewer online ads means viewers are twice as likely to remember a commercial they’ve seen on Hulu than on television, Bloomberg reported.
Despite higher ad rates, online viewing is not about to save television from declining ad rates and viewerships, because online sites like Hulu and TV.com do not yet have wide enough audiences to replace television viewers. Consider that 17.6 million people crowded around TV sets on April 6 to watch this year’s NCAA basketball championship, while online viewing for the entire March Madness tournament leading up to the championship game came to only 7.52 million viewers. The online audience simply isn’t there yet.
Even though the audience is small, higher online ad rates for The Simpsons means the digital ceiling has been broken. In the future, as more people gravitate toward on-demand Internet viewing, it’s entirely possible sites like Hulu and TV.com might, just might, replace traditional television viewing.
It’s interesting to note that sites like Hulu and TV.com are becoming successful simply by dusting off an old format and making it more palatable for online audiences. Instead of loading up shows with commercials, just throw in a few ad spots here and there. Instead of running shows at a specific time, put them online for a limited run and let people enjoy them at their leisure.
Reviving an old format is exactly what Apple did with the iTunes Store, an another online success story. Instead of going for subscriptions or some other newly-thought-out pay format, Apple just did away with the physical store, while still selling people something they could take home — a digital file instead of a CD or LP. There are some who object to buying digital music, since some prefer the tactile feel of having an album with cover art and liner notes. The quality of sound you get from digital files versus a CD has also been pointed out as a drawback. But the success and widespread adoption of the iTunes Store shows that a large segment of people are happy with Apple’s digital retail model.
Since its inception in 2001, the Bucknell University Conservatives Club (BUCC) has been repeatedly singled out for political censorship by school administrators. The latest media coverage focuses on two more instances of the university silencing the political speech of the BUCC’s student members.
(Full disclosure: Several years ago, as an invited guest of the BUCC, a Bucknell administrator threatened to have me arrested during a screening of Brainwashing 101, a precursor to my documentary Indoctrinate U. The school objected to my videotaping the event, even though I was granted permission by the event’s organizers, who routinely taped their own events. The school was aware that my screening might be disrupted by protesters; apparently, Bucknell didn’t want me getting that on tape.)
In one incident, the BUCC held an “affirmative action bake sale,” which was intended to both illustrate and criticize racial preferences. University administrator Gerald Commerford shut down the bake sale, saying it was discriminatory.
But if an affirmative action bake sale is discriminatory, it’s only because affirmative action itself is discriminatory. And given that the university implements affirmative action, it’s really quite Orwellian to claim that an affirmative action bake sale is any more discriminatory than what the school itself is doing.
The BUCC also protested President Obama’s stimulus plan by handing out “Obama bucks,” mock Monopoly money with the president’s face on it. Administrator Judith L. Mickanis struck a law-enforcement tone with the students, telling them, “you’re busted,” and grabbing one female student by the arm while demanding that the group stop their protest. The administrator claimed that the students were not allowed to hand out materials without prior approval, a standard that never seems to have been applied to any other student group.
The university attempted to justify this, saying that by giving out Obama bucks, the students were committing a transgression akin to “handing out Bibles.” (Perhaps it is obvious to Bucknell administrators—but not to me—why handing out Bibles poses such a grave threat that it would need to be stopped by the university.)
As the school’s excuses continued to evolve, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)—the free speech advocacy group that has been defending the students—concluded that Bucknell’s general counsel Wayne A. Bromfield is now resorting to flat-out lies to cover up the school’s speech suppression. Unfortunately for Bucknell, their tactics have been documented on video and audio, so FIRE’s claims are verifiable.
President Mitchell will keep his position for one more year, so he isn’t exactly being shoved out the door. Still, it is interesting timing that Mitchell announced his resignation the day after the story began to get traction in the national media. Bucknell’s public relations office has to know that announcing the resignation the day after all this bad press would cause at least some people to conclude that the two events were related. So was the timing intentional, intended to mollify Bucknell’s critics by making them think that swift action had been taken?
Considering the last few days have probably brought him plenty of Maalox moments, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mitchell felt a wave of relief as the send button was clicked on his resignation letter. Now he’ll be free to continue ignoring the controversy and running out the clock on his time at Bucknell.
With a lame duck president who broke his pledge to run a university that respects free speech, Bucknell’s administrators will likely feel free to continue their harassment of students who dare disobey the dogma of political correctness.
But today’s students are armed with video cameras and the Internet, so alumni can keep a close watch on Bucknell’s actions from afar. The school may not care what students think, but if there’s one thing you can count on, Bucknell wants us alumni to keep opening up our wallets.
After all, the school knows that a conservative’s money is just as green as anyone else’s.
24 June 2009 @ 8:50AM >>The Wall Street Journalreports:
The Iranian regime has developed, with the assistance of European telecommunications companies, one of the world’s most sophisticated mechanisms for controlling and censoring the Internet, allowing it to examine the content of individual online communications on a massive scale.
Interviews with technology experts in Iran and outside the country say Iranian efforts at monitoring Internet information go well beyond blocking access to Web sites or severing Internet connections.
Instead, in confronting the political turmoil that has consumed the country this past week, the Iranian government appears to be engaging in a practice often called deep packet inspection, which enables authorities to not only block communication but to monitor it to gather information about individuals, as well as alter it for disinformation purposes, according to these experts.
The monitoring capability was provided, at least in part, by a joint venture of Siemens AG, the German conglomerate, and Nokia Corp., the Finnish cellphone company, in the second half of 2008, Ben Roome, a spokesman for the joint venture, confirmed.
The “monitoring center,” installed within the government’s telecom monopoly, was part of a larger contract with Iran that included mobile-phone networking technology, Mr. Roome said.
“If you sell networks, you also, intrinsically, sell the capability to intercept any communication that runs over them,” said Mr. Roome.
Human-rights groups have criticized the selling of such equipment to Iran and other regimes considered repressive, because it can be used to crack down on dissent, as evidenced in the Iran crisis. Asked about selling such equipment to a government like Iran’s, Mr. Roome of Nokia Siemens Networks said the company “does have a choice about whether to do business in any country. We believe providing people, wherever they are, with the ability to communicate is preferable to leaving them without the choice to be heard.”