Monday, April 24, 2017

Cruising the Web

Heather MacDonald argues that the students who are bent on shutting down any opinion with which they disagree are exercising a form of ideological aggression. And those of us who are so appalled by their behavior should not anticipate that their attitudes will change once they're out of college and making their way in the real world. They'll take their fascistic desires to deny opposing viewpoints from being heard.
Many observers dismiss such ignorant tantrums as a phase that will end once the “snowflakes” encounter the real world. But the graduates of the academic victimology complex are remaking the world in their image. The assumption of inevitable discrimination against women and minorities plagues every nonacademic institution today, resulting in hiring and promotion based on sex and race at the expense of merit.

Seemingly effete academic concepts enter the mainstream at an ever-quickening pace. A December 2016 report on policing from the federal Office of Community Oriented Policing Services includes a section on “intersectionality”—the campus-spawned notion that individuals who can check off multiple victim boxes experience exponentially higher and more complex levels of life-threatening oppression than lower-status single-category victims.

Faculty and campus administrators must start defending the Enlightenment legacy of reason and civil debate. But even if dissenting thought were welcome on college, the ideology of victimhood would still wreak havoc on American society and civil harmony. The silencing of speech is a massive problem, but it is a symptom of an even more profound distortion of reality.
I fear that a decade or so from now when these snowflakes who trumpet their victimhood have gotten jobs throughout the country and are then in a position to impose their attitudes throughout HR offices across the country.

What all these people bleating about "hate speech," there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding about the First Amendment protections of freedom of speech. As John Daniel Davidson explains, the Supreme Court has rejected the idea that there is a "hate speech" exception to freedom of speech.
There are, of course, certain kinds of speech that are not protected by the First Amendment. But those have nothing to do with hate speech, which has no legal definition. For example, there’s an exception for “fighting words,” which the courts have defined as a face-to-face insult directed at a specific person for the purpose of provoking a fight.

But fighting words can’t be expanded to mean hate speech—or even bigoted speech. In the early 1990s, the city of St. Paul tried to do just that, by punishing what it considered bigoted fighting words under its Bias-Motivated Crime Ordinance. The case, which involved a white teenager burning a cross made from taped-together broken chair legs in the front yard of a black family that lived across the street, went to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court ruled the city’s ordinance was facially unconstitutional (which means a statute is always unconstitutional and hence void) and that it constituted viewpoint-based discrimination. Writing for the majority in R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1992), Justice Antonin Scalia explained that, as written,
the ordinance applies only to ‘fighting words’ that insult, or provoke violence, ‘on the basis of race, color, creed, religion or gender.’ Displays containing abusive invective, no matter how vicious or severe, are permissible unless they are addressed to one of the specified disfavored topics. Those who wish to use ‘fighting words’ in connection with other ideas—to express hostility, for example, on the basis of political affiliation, union membership, or homosexuality—are not covered. The First Amendment does not permit St. Paul to impose special prohibitions on those speakers who express views on disfavored subjects.
As for discriminating against certain viewpoints, Scalia noted that fighting words are excluded from First Amendment protection not because they communicate a particular idea but because “their content embodies a particularly intolerable (and socially unnecessary) mode of expressing whatever idea the speaker wishes to convey.”
As Davidson points out, the students protesting speakers they don't think should be heard such as Milo Yiannopoulos or Charles Murray or Ann Coulter aren't reacting to fighting words. They aren't even allowing the speaker to say anything before they start their protests.
Shutting down free speech with violence is becoming commonplace on college campuses across the country. Instead of cracking down on violent protests, college administrators are simply canceling controversial events, giving in to the heckler’s—or rioter’s—veto.

Eugene Volokh, who has written a casebook on the First Amendment provides a mini tutorial in response to a statement by Howard Dean that "Hate speech is not protected by the first amendment" and cites the 1942 case Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire as his proof. Volokh writes,
I’m pleased to say that I have read Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942), which is usually cited as recognizing a “fighting words” exception to the First Amendment — personally addressed face-to-face insults that are likely to start an imminent fight are not constitutionally protected. But that has little to do with “hate speech” as most people tend to use the phrase: (1) Such personal insults are constitutionally unprotected entirely without regard to whether they are bigoted. (2) Bigoted expressions of opinion that don’t involve such personally addressed face-to-face insults are constitutionally protected. (3) Indeed, statutes that target only bigoted “fighting words” for special punishments are constitutionally unprotected, even if they are limited to such personally addressed face-to-face insults, see R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1992).
Read the rest to learn a bit more about how "hate speech" is protected by the First Amendment.

Eliot Abrams has a tongue-in-cheek recommendation for more free speech and fewer riots on college campuses. He inadvertently noticed that when he was invited to speak at Berkeley on April 20 or "420" which some celebrate by smoking pot that the students were too stoned to riot.
Weed Day was certainly a big deal at Berkeley. As I walked across the campus to the lecture hall where I was to speak, I crossed a vast field of pot smokers. You could get high just by walking through the crowd, and a smoky haze hung over the happy students. Of course no one showed up to riot!

It wasn't that, as Secretary Shultz was warning me, the commies had forgotten the great battles of the Reagan years, or—God forbid—no longer recognized my name. It wasn't that foreign policy is now considered boring, and they only break up meetings when provocateurs like Ann Coulter show up. No, it was that they were Too Stoned to Riot!

This is the solution. There need be no more Claremonts, no more Middleburys, no more Berkeleys where free speech is prevented. Think back to Berkeley's "Free Speech Movement" of the 1960s, and you will recall that it was both actually for free speech on campus, and totally permeated with marijuana smoking. Was there ever a free speech rally in those days that did not have the telltale haze hanging over it?

This is the answer. Pusillanimous administrators and frightened faculty members need not bar controversial speakers nor court campus crises. Just announce a brief celebration of the benefits of cannabis and all will be calm, indeed even joyful. Too Stoned To Riot—I can see the T shirt now.

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This same sort of twisted logic that wants to ban speech with which some individuals disagree extends to Australia where protesters have prevented Ayaan Hirsi Ali from speaking.
Here’s a riddle for our politically twisted times: when is a black woman a white supremacist? Answer: when she speaks out against female genital mutilation, sharia law, and jihadism.
This is the tortured logic of the feminist Left in Australia, which helped stop a lecture tour by the human rights advocate Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Anonymous protestors warned venues and insurers not to have dealings with the Somali-born, anti-radical-Islam activist if they wanted to avoid “trouble.” The “Council for the Prevention of Islamophobia, Inc.” accused Hirsi Ali of being part of the “Islamophobia industry . . . that exists to dehumanize Muslim women.” Another group, “Persons of Interest,” took to Facebook to describe her ideas: “This is the language of patriarchy and misogyny. This is the language of white supremacy. This is the language used to justify war and genocide.”
Hirsi Ali canceled her trip in early April, only days before she was due to speak in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Auckland, New Zealand. In Australia, as in the UK, the costs of security have to be borne by event organizers, not the government, as is the case in the U.S. Perhaps there were disagreements between the speaker and her sponsors about security. In any case, Hirsi Ali travels with armed guards, but it was still too dangerous for her to speak in public. Yes, in Australia.
Anyone familiar with Hirsi Ali’s personal and ideological history is doubtless picking their jaws up off the floor at the Orwellian nature of these goings-on. She “dehumanizes” Muslim women? But it was Hirsi Ali who was dehumanized when as a girl she was subjected to a clitoridectomy, a barbaric and horribly painful ritual still visited upon girls in many Islamic countries to prevent them from experiencing sexual pleasure. She speaks “the language of patriarchy and misogyny?” But as a vocal opponent of the forced marriage of young girls to older men, which she describes as “arranged rape,” Ali vehemently attacks the patriarchy in its most oppressive manifestation. The Muslim feminists who seek to silence her are the ones linking arms with misogynists.
How has Western feminism come to a point where up is down, and a restrictive, intolerant patriarchy must be defended? Hirsi Ali blames it on the naïveté of liberals, besotted by political correctness in the face of religious extremism. “In liberal societies, those on the left [are] in the grip of identity politics,” she said after announcing the cancellation. “This fascination is not caused by the Islamists, but the Islamists exploit it.” Radicals know the social-justice drill—minority identity is good, regardless of any of the actual precepts of that identity, and its critics are by definition white supremacists. Within this mental universe, accusations of “Islamophobia” are a cudgel for silencing moderates and advancing the cause of radicals.
It’s worth recalling that the feminist Left’s silence on the Islamic treatment of women precedes the advent of microaggressions and race and gender obsessions. In fact, it goes back as far as the early days of second-wave feminism. Sent to Iran to cover the revolution in 1978, the French philosopher Michel Foucault, an intellectual godfather of contemporary leftism, was enchanted by what he viewed as the religious revolutionaries’ anti-globalist authenticity and “political spirituality.” When Ayatollah Khomenei took power after the fall of the Shah, he reintroduced polygamy, reduced the age of marriage for women from 18 to 13, and restored the punishment of flogging for those who violated compulsory veiling laws. Neither Foucault nor his comrades in the anti-colonial, feminist-influenced Left were troubled by this dramatic retreat from women’s most basic rights.
It always amazes me how feminists are basically silent about how women are treated in some Muslim societies while they will get so bent out of shape about relatively minor or even imagined insults to women if it involves a white, non-Muslim man.

Jeff Greenfield ponders what our elections would be like if we had elections like France or Britain. Our Electoral College is a system that looks strange to an outsider or to anyone who doesn't understand how the Founders worked to craft a place for the states in the new federal government. They did the same thing when they crafted the Senate, gave the states the power to run elections and craft the districting lines for the House of Representatives as well ad ratifying both the Constitutions and amendments. Our winner-take-all system for the Electoral College means that, one way or another, we get a winner and minor party candidates don't have a chance. Thus we don't need a system like the French have with a vote and then a second vote of the top two candidates in the runoff election. THe British system when the prime minister can call a "snap" election when the time seems ripe and then the election takes place six weeks later also seems strange to us when we're used to campaigns that stretch over two or more years. Greenfield looks at how our elections would be different if we had the runoff system in place to make sure that the winner got the majority of the popular vote.
Since 1960, no fewer than five Presidents have been elected even though more total votes were cast against them than for them: JFK in 1960, Nixon in 1968, Clinton in 1992 and 1996, George W. Bush in 2000, and Donald Trump in 2016.

Now imagine if we had a runoff in place, to assure that our Presidents had popular majority backing. Who would have their portraits on the wall?

It’s highly likely that Al Gore would have won such a contest in 2000; the center/left candidates (Gore and Ralph Nader) outpolled the center/right candidates (Bush and Pat Buchanan) by some 3 million votes. It’s likely that Hillary Clinton, flawed as she was as a candidate, would have bested Trump in a runoff with voters who had chosen Gary Johnson and Jill Stein or who had stayed home the first time, but now realized that Trump might actually win.

Other alternate outcomes are foggier. Given the historic closeness of the 1960 popular vote—JFK had an official plurality of 0.1%—a Nixon victory in a runoff would have been at least plausible. There’s a persistent myth about the 1992 campaign that Ross Perot’s 19% of the popular vote cost George H.W. Bush the win, although exit polls then showed that Perot voters would have split evenly between Bush and Clinton. So a Clinton victory in a runoff would have been the likely outcome. Even discounting for speculation, it’s still striking that a different system would have given us Nixon instead of Kennedy, Gore instead of Bush, and Clinton instead of Trump, and likely some very different history.
And what if the president cou a snap election when his poll ratings were high and take advantage of what might have been a temporary popularity.
Instead of having almost four years to regroup, the party must scramble to compete in constituencies across the country with a huge deficit of finances and even candidates. Moreover, a system with no absolute fixed terms means a government can pick its own moment for re-election: It can watch for such weakness in an opposition, and announce: “Okay, were going to the polls in six weeks.” Or it could wait for a moment of singular success on its part. Imagine if George H.W. Bush had been able to order up an election six weeks after the triumphant end of Operation Desert Storm in 1991, with a Kuwait liberated and a US standing proudly astride the world stage. (Instead, he tried to get re-elected in the teeth of the next year’s recession.) No wonder President Kennedy is said to have remarked that if he had the power to call snap elections, he could have remained in power more or less permanently.
I am not arguing that the Electoral College system is better though I understand why it was created in the first place and am not sure that a national popular vote would be preferable. What is important is that the rules are established ahead of time and are the rules under which each country conducts elections. Greenfield concludes,
If you measure these overseas examples against our system of nominating and electing Presidents, you can see just how much the rules of the game matter. This even extends to primaries: Had the Republicans been operating by the Democratic Party’s rules—no winner-take all contests, hundreds more unbound “super delegates”—Donald Trump’s path to the nomination would have been much harder. And if we allocated electoral votes by Congressional district, the 2012 race would have been much closer; Romney won 226 districts to Obama’s 209.

It’s a lesson at the heart of politics, one as clear as it is overlooked in so much political analysis: the rules of the road are often the most critical factor in determining who wins. Presidents who trumpet their victories and claim a mandate should be careful what they’re claiming: Often it’s the rules, as much as the people, that put them there.

The Democrats are persisting in ignoring the lesson that they should have learned in 2006 when they realized that the way to take back Congress when there is an unpopular Republican president is to pick candidates who can appeal to different constituencies instead of insisting of a one-size-fits-all type of candidate. The new head of the DNC Tom Perez, when he's not touring the country with an avowed socialist who won't even call himself a Democrat is now casting out of the party any candidate who dares to be pro-life.
Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez became the first head of the party to demand ideological purity on abortion rights, promising Friday to support only Democratic candidates who back a woman’s right to choose.

“Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health,” Perez said in a statement. “That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state.”

“At a time when women’s rights are under assault from the White House, the Republican Congress, and in states across the country,” he added, “we must speak up for this principle as loudly as ever and with one voice.”
Democratic activists are upset that the Democratic candidate for mayor of Omaha dared to co-sponsor a bill to require women to see an ultrasound before an abortion whle also voting for a bill for a physician to be present during an abortion, as well as a ban for abortions after 20 weeks, and for a law banning insurance plans in Nebraska from covering abortion. Admittedly, those aren't the positions of a pro-choice politician, but it's not clear that those are positions that would be repellent to Nebraska voters. Back in 2006, when the Democrats supported Bob Casey, Jr. in his run for senator in Pennsylvania, they ostentatiously bragged about making room in the Democratic tent for his supposedly pro-life views. They ran Heath Shuler in North Carolina whose support of cultural "mountain values" would help him get elected in the western North Carolina district. Back then, it was considered smart to run a candidate who might oppose abortion rights, same-sex marriage, and gun control because he could win and still vote for Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker. Twelve years later, the party would prefer to run such Democrats out of the party.

Jazz Shaw comments on Perez's declaration,
Whether it’s a Senator, a congressman, a mayor or a member of the local village council, the job of elected officials is to serve the interests of the people in that locality who elected them. Nobody at the state and local level is beholden to either the national Democratic or Republican parties, nor are they sworn to uphold the party platform line for line. This is a lesson that the GOP had to learn the hard way after the purge in the 2008 to 2010 era. The GOP needs their RINOs, particularly the ones in the northeast, if they want to hold on to a majority in the House. The same applies to state legislatures, county commissions and school boards. It’s worth remembering that the New York GOP congressional delegation fell to a grand total of three seats during that period after previously holding more than a dozen. (We’ve been slowly recovering, but it was a rough patch for the party.)

If the Democrats want to weed out every single candidate across the nation who opposes abortion they will be driven further into the wilderness than they are now. Pro-abortion speeches sell really well in the coastal cities where Democrats hold large majorities and raise most of their money, but there’s an awfully large swath of the country in between where that’s not going to win you an election. I get that Perez needs to appease his base during the tumultuous transition they’re currently going through, but if he’s actually interested in doing the job he fought so hard for he needs to start delivering some wins. And you don’t do that by letting the most extreme wing of your party write all of the rules.
At least one Democrat realizes how stupid Perez's declaration is. Nancy Pelosi apparently remembers how she became Speaker.
Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says that it's absolutely possible for someone to be a member of the Democratic Party and also be against abortion.

"Of course," she told Chuck Todd when asked on Sunday's "Meet The Press."

"I have served many years in Congress with members who have not shared my very positive — my family would say aggressive — position on promoting a woman's right to choose."

President Trump will host dinner at the White House on Thursday with all nine Supreme Court justices. Wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall for that dinner conversation?

Julie Silverbrook, a blogger about the Constitution and history has done some research into past invitations from the sitting president to the Supreme Court justices. It's a tradition dating back to the 19th century and presidents from FDR through Eisenhower, JFK, Ford, Carter, and George W. Bush have hosted such dinners and President Obama often invited justices to state dinners. Her research is helpful. I saw some on Twitter criticizing this simply because if Trump does it, it must be a Bad Thing. But as long as no lobbying goes on about issues or certain cases, it is a good thing to have congeniality among the branches. It's a lot better than criticizing the justices to their faces in the State of the Union address.

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This is a really cool story. Rick Moran leaks to the story of a new parchment manuscript of the Declaration of Independence that has turned up in Britain.
The newly discovered document — which the two have dated to the 1780s — was found in the town of Chichester archives, and is believed to have originally belonged to Duke of Richmond who was known as the “Radical Duke,’’ for the support he gave to Americans during the Revolutionary War, the researchers said.

The parchment was likely made in New York or Philadelphia. The researchers are still trying to determine the person who wrote the document and who paid for the foundational document of the United States to be copied.

The signatories on the Sussex version of the document are not broken down by state, something that distinguished it from the Declaration in the National Archives, the researchers said.

In an academic paper, the researchers say the document probably was commissioned by James Wilson of Pennsylvania, who later helped draft the Constitution and was among the original justices appointed to the Supreme Court.

“The team hypothesizes that this detail supported efforts, made by Wilson and his allies during the Constitutional Convention and ratification process, to argue that the authority of the Declaration rested on a unitary national people, and not on a federation of states,’’ the researchers wrote in the statement.

Does this sound believable to you? Chelsea Clinton said in an interview that she left the Baptist Church when she was six years ago because she didn't like her Sunday School teachers talking about how abortion was so wrong.
“I find it quite insulting sometimes when people say to my mom, my dad or me . . . that they question our faith. I was raised in a Methodist church and I left the Baptist church before my dad did, because I didn’t know why they were talking to me about abortion when I was 6 in Sunday school — that’s a true story.”
Now, admittedly, I've never been in a Southern Baptist Sunday School so maybe this goes on. Readers can set me straight on this. Perhaps the Baptists in Arkansas think they need to tell six-year olds all about abortion though I can't imagine that talk. I have trouble picturing small children, who don't know where babies come from having to learn that some mommies decide to get rid of the baby. That must be a very difficult discussion to have with a class of six-year olds. After that, I just can't imagine a six-year old being so angry over the church's condemnation of abortion that she goes home and decides to leave the church. Do six-year olds worry about a woman's right to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term? Their parents can convince them that this is the right way to think and anyone who disagrees is despicable. Parents can convince little children of many things. But I don't think six-year children come up with that line of thought all on their own. The whole anecdote just sounds quite phony to me.

It's rather like Hillary's story about how she got bullied and "knocked down and pushed around by all the little kids” while growing up in Park Ridge, Illinois, a prosperous suburban community. Perhaps Park Ridge neighborhoods were the mean streets of Chicago suburbia in the 1950s, but I never bought this story. Maybe some kids were nasty to her a couple of times, but were little kids continually beating on a shy little girl back then? I just don't buy it the way she tells the story. I think Hillary, like her daughter, are making up stories in order to humble-brag about how noble they were even as little children.

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