CSotD: Bits and Pieces of the First Amendment

Ann Telnaes sent me scrambling for the Googles with this one, because she’d apparently picked up on a NYTimes story I hadn’t: Clarence wants to overturn NYTimes v Sullivan so he can sue people who say mean things about him.

That he wants to do it isn’t news; he’s brought that up earlier, along with his wish to overturn SCOTUS decisions that allow gay marriage, contraception and pretty much all those 14th Amendment based rights, though he hasn’t mentioned Loving v Virginia, which, were I in his position, would be first on my list.

But I suppose he and Ginny are a good match, two grifters skirting the edge of both law and logic as they pile up the boodle, knowing that a lifetime appointment and a lack of ethical constraints make them all but invulnerable.

And Ginny’s Q-Anon inspired fantasies are no more off the chart than his notion that the Constitution should restrain freedom rather than guarantee it.

According to the NYTimes story, Clarence objects to Sullivan’s concept of “actual malice,” which is that public figures must not only prove that a news report was wrong but that the writer knew it was wrong and published it intentionally.

If he were just some extremist screwball in Congress, we might laugh this off, but the way the Supreme Court has been stacked, it’s something to keep an eye on. Those “originalists” might decide to ignore the First Amendment itself and reimpose the Alien and Sedition Acts, a bit of outrageous partisan hackery that seems right in line with the current rise of authoritarianism and decline of democracy.

Nice pajamas, by the way.

It is best not to assume things will work out on their own. Mike Lester (AMS) echoes a willingness in extremist circles to act on Dear Leader’s suggestion that we execute the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for treason.

Millie’s fault is that, in the midst of the election denials and coup attempts, he assured his Chinese counterparts that Trump’s growing desperation was not a warning of a pending catastrophic attack.

Trump’s rhetoric has become increasingly unhinged — he seems to think Obama is still president and has warned against starting World War II — and it’s important to note that there was nothing unprecedented in Milley having conversations with Chinese military leaders.

I’m far more concerned with an atmosphere in which people seriously suggest that the ruling party execute its political opponents, and in which political commentators cheer the idea.

Speaking of the First Amendment, Michael Ramirez (Creators) joins a chorus of people blaming Harvard for a student petition favoring Hamas. The quick, wise-ass response is that it’s hard to damage the credibility of a school that has given us Elise Stefanik, Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz.

However, a more reasoned response is that, if you’ve been to college, you know, first of all, that college kids are full of half-reasoned takes divorced from real-world experience, and, second, that college administrations have very little control over these excesses, except at hard-right religious schools that expel students for breaking rules about dating, dress codes and expression of forbidden ideas.

Youth is a time for trying on new thoughts and new identities, most of which don’t stick.

To which I would add that my mother once remarked that, during the McCarthy Red Scare, she thought back to groups she had been briefly allied with in college and hoped her name wouldn’t pop up in the witch hunt, since her involvement had been minimal.

I’m now seeing reports that a lot of the Harvard kids who signed that petition hadn’t read it, which is something else college students do. Even the apparently smart ones.

Ah well. The one time I got subpoenaed to testify in a Sixties trial, it was because I’d made a speech pointing out that excessive behavior and unbridled rhetoric gave the rightwing a chance to attack the protesters rather than addressing the issue we opposed.

Plus ça change.

Ward Sutton points out the complexities of crafting a specific response to the crisis in Israel and Gaza.

There is no possibility of defending the actions of Hamas, while it’s not just unfair but bordering on bigotry to assume that all Palestinians, or all residents of Gaza, support the group.

The position of Israeli Jews is more fraught, because, while Netanyahu and the Likud Party faced serious opposition within the country, the outrage over Hamas’s war crimes is completely understandable.

This thread from Twitter is a long but eloquent summation of a reasonable response from Isaac Saul, a Jewish commentator who pulls no punches but takes an intelligent step back to analyze what’s going on and his own reaction.

Joel Pett traces the eye-for-an-eye reasoning that has broken out.

The urge may be irresistible, but carrying it out ought not to be. It’s not just important but crucial to bear in mind that “an eye for an eye,” which is in the portion of the Bible sacred to both Jews and Muslims, goes back farther, to Hammurabi, and is intended not to demand revenge but to limit it.

That is, you are not required to return like for like, but you are not permitted to go beyond what was done to you. (Jesus cautioned against any retribution at all, but he’s not in this conversation.)

The law does not demand revenge, and António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, wrote a column urging Israel not to make impossible demands on the people of Gaza in pursuit of the Hamas murderers.

We’ve heard heartbreaking stories from Israel, and it would be both inhumane and immoral to close our ears and ignore them. However, there are now stories coming from Gaza of civilians being wounded and killed, as well as deprived of food and water.

We can’t ignore them, either.

This would be a good time for the US to show some world leadership, and we have moved the Navy into position to do something or other (not clear what). However, as Michael de Adder points out, we’re not currently in a position to help ourselves, never mind Israel or Ukraine.

But hang on, Dave Granlund says: We’ll be right back after we’ve settled this little Speakership detail.

Not to worry. The Middle East isn’t going anywhere.

6 thoughts on “CSotD: Bits and Pieces of the First Amendment

  1. “Speaking of the First Amendment, Michael Ramirez (Creators) joins a chorus of people blaming Harvard for a student petition favoring Hamas.”

    I wonder if Mike Ramirez considered doing the same cartoon, only replacing Harvard with Mar a Lago since Trump is in full agreement with that petition.

  2. I was a bit taken aback by “Betty” today. Among the t-shirts the husband thought were “funny” at one point was one with Pepe the Frog, adopted as a white supremacist symbol. That was an……odd choice.

    1. I dunno. I hadn’t heard of Pepe before, so I looked him up. If the t-shirt were purchased before 2014, “funny” would probably still apply. Pepe’s later appropriation would make explain “seemed.”

Comments are closed.