Friday, February 15, 2008

Freedom Of Speech


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

These days, we have ways around that; cities that refuse occupancy permits, protest groups that attempt to intimidate those with whom they disagree, laws against "hate crimes"... many ways.

But let's step back. Over the course of our nation's history, semantic prestidigitators have been able to differentiate between free speech and assault. We have now reached the point, in many situations, where "my words are free speech and your words are assault."

The other day, I ran a post about a group calling itself Code Pink. This should not be confused with the women's group trying to combat breast cancer that uses pink ribbons as their symbol, but I wouldn't be surprised it that was not part of Code Pink's strategy... another noble "pink" cause. Code Pink is an organization dedicated in its opposition to the military and war.
While I disagree with their position and logic, I acknowledge their Constitutional right to assemble and say what they want.
However, I want you to notice just this one aspect of their peaceful assembly and free speech:

Keep this in mind as we move to the next part of this post.

Media Credit: Photo courtesy of University Police

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 17, 2007; Page A07

Under a barrage of questions from House Judiciary Committee members, a federal prosecutor said yesterday that the hanging of nooses at a high school in Jena, La., constituted a hate crime but that charges were not brought because the students allegedly responsible were juveniles.

And this...
I attended a religious service at Qazwini's mosque that was anything but pro-American and peaceful. Dressed undercover as a Muslim woman, I watched invited speaker Louis Farrakhan preach hate and violence to a very receptive audience of over 1,000 primarily Arab Muslim-Americans.

It was chilling to watch their and Qazwini's frenzied applause and wild cheering as Farrakhan preached about how our government was occupied by "forces of evil" and "people in positions of power with a Satanic mentality" and urged, "We should perform a jihad (holy war). [They are] frightened, and we must frighten them even more." Qazwini and a man whom I believe to be Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab-American News, called Farrakhan "our dear brother," "a freedom fighter" and "a man of courage and sacrifice." (Siblani denies this and claims it was Nouhad El-Hajj, publisher of the Arab American Journal, but Siblani's publication openly praises Farrakhan and his sentiments.) [source]

It appears that free speech covers those who advocate murder as long as it is politically-based or religiously-based, but not if it is racially-based... unless you happen to have a racially-based religiously based speaker such Louis Farrakhan.
I guess the difference must be that hanging a noose is "hateful" while holding a sign advocating murder of U.S. troops is "protected speech."
Personally, I find that all three examples are highly repugnant examples of "free speech." Still, if almost-seditious speech is protected as "free speech", what's the big deal about a noose... or name-calling? It's all just talk, right?
Hate is hate. If one form is not protected, all forms are not protected... and vice versa.

Intimidation is intimidation. Drawing the line because it is racial in nature is illogical. Religions that use force and intimidation are no different from individuals who do the same. "Protesters" who do that are no different from individuals or religions that do the same... whether the targets are abortion clinics or Marine offices.
Protect all or protect none.


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“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
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Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)