First Amendment, RIP

I was absolutely disgusted at the blatant politicizing of Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) when he introduced a bill to withhold all federal funds to Columbia University. Why did he do this? Because they support the First Amendment. Hunter is upset that the University invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak there. While I'm hardly a fan of this man, the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech means nothing without the freedom to be heard. It also means that we can't pick and choose who gets to speak. If we only allow the people we agree with to speak, what's the point?

The text of the bill has several interesting points in it.

Section 2.1: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for the destruction of the State of Israel, a critical ally of the United States.

This is a blatant lie. Ahmadinejad said he wanted the Israeli regime wiped off the map. The US didn't call for the destruction of Iraq. We called for the destruction of the Iraqi regime. How is that different from what Ahmadinejad called for regarding Israel? Unfortunately, newspapers keep reporting the "wipe Israel off the map" lie, so people just assume it's true.

Section 2.4: Despite Iran's support for terrorism, Columbia University extended an invitation to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to address students and faculty from the University campus.

What about long-standing US support for Luis Posada? He's an anti-Cuban terrorist happily living in Florida and he's allegedly killed many people in Cuba, including assassination attempts, bombing airplanes and hotels. There are plenty of others we protect and support, but he's the poster boy. If we're going to deny funding to a University allowing alleged terrorist supporters to speak, how can the government justify supporting alleged terrorists?

Section 2.5: Columbia University dissolved its long-standing Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program on campus because of disagreement with United States military policy, and for nearly four decades has not invited the return of any ROTC program to the University campus.

What? Now we're going to punish them for something which happened almost 40 years ago? Universities are now going to be required to support the US military?

Section 2.7: Through their invitation, Columbia University provided a public, prestigious platform on United States soil from which on September 24, 2007, President Ahmadinejad spoke and defended his wide-ranging support for terrorist activities.

Was it really that prestigious and did Ahmadinejad really defend his support for terrorism? read the transcript and decide for yourself. Ahmadinejad was ripped to shreds by the President of Columbia University before Ahmadinajed could even open his mouth. It was vicious (it may have been accurate, but that's another issue). However, in reading Ahmadinejad's remarks, he didn't defend terrorism, despite what Representative Hunter claims.

What's interesting about the Iranian President's remarks is that he raised some excellent points, evaded some questions (particularly regarding whether he supported the destruction of Israel), was blatantly disingenuous about many topics including women's rights and he made a right howler when he claimed that Iran didn't have any gay people (being gay in Iran is punishable by death. How would you respond in a survey?)

By the time that speech was done, this merely helped to solidify my opinion that Ahadinejad is a bad person and supports patriarchal, bigoted values. However, there's a reason he has these beliefs and it's not the case that all of what he believes is wrong. Only by having open, honest dialog like this can we even begin to understand the viewpoint of those who oppose us. Isn't that what free speech is about?

Or would you rather have our corporate news media tell you what they think you should hear?

This bill to deny funding to Columbia is a disgrace and Representative Hunter should be ashamed of his assault on the very freedoms which make this country great.
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Maybe I'm wrong but it feels like we're losing our rights one little (but very important)right at a time and no one seems to see because it's one at a time and not all at once. We're gonna wake up one day and have to apply online for the right to breathe!! Well, I might be exaggerating but it feels like that.
I remember the title but I don't think I've read it or I don't remember. Weird. I was not intending to quote it. Oh well. Hugs and Kisses bro!! Gotta run to work and kill inocent toilet and shower germs!!!! LOL
We do have to pay for our air. But it isn't direct.

The problem is, we're NOT paying for our air, and it is becoming wretched, off-balanced, and dirty.

Externalities make me sad.
Hunter's running for President and this bill is just a big sloppy wet pander to the base. Not that I don't think he believes in it, but he wouldn't bother any other time. It's just a particularly sick example of the many wonders we get treated to every four years.

What's more interesting is the world-view of the base. They seem to see all human existence as a gigantic never-ending war of embattled good versus pure evil, and their obsession is with strength and power. Every person and every nation get classified into one of these two categories with no room for any nuance. For them, people who see gray like you and I are morally confused. If you gave them truth serum and asked, they'd tell you that a little freedom might be okay sometimes, but too much and it will lead to weakness and the world's too unsafe to tolerate weakness.

We love true liberty; they preach it constantly but they're terrified of it and want to shut it down whenever it scares them or makes them feel bad.

Universities are now going to be required to support the US military?

Of course! The only way to avoid a draft, which would be Bad for Public Relations, is to increase volunteer enrollment. How are you going to find people willing to have their heads blown off in an illegal war unless you dangle a carrot in front of them? Free tuition to is a mighty big carrot. What if other institutions decide to terminate their ROTC programs? Oh, no! ;)
"Freedom isn't free."

"You're either with us or against us."

The Constitution is dead under this administration. They've successfully shredded it because of the fearmongering that they've created by allowing certain actions to happen. I'm not telling you any news, and I share your frustration, but the right-wing model for politics allows them to believe that their way is the only 'right' way for America to go. That includes disallowing of speech; that includes shooting first then asking questions; that includes a 'necessary' police state.

Soon they'll be burning books and destroying art. It's a 'threat' to national 'security'.

These people don't see that their own actions perpetuate the conditions that they rail against. Farm subsidies are intimately tied to immigration issues. They don't get it. The causation is 2 steps away, markets are too complex, and people acting in their own economic interests are inherently evil -- if they're brown. If you're a white male and you're acting in your own economic interests, well, that's ok... unless you're on meth. There's always an exception, and it is always an 'other' who is the exception.
thank you for posting something about this...I was pretty distressed about the way the Columbia Univ thing went down. How Ahmadinejad was treated was disgusting on so many levels (I was VERY glad to not have been overseas when this happened...had to deal with enough "we hate ugly Americans" stuff as it was.) When the level of discourse sinks this low, you know your country is falling apart, and RIP to the last shreds of democracy.

Then I see this headline today: "I Hate All Iranians," U.S. Aide Tells British MPs., the same way you hate chocolate, chipping your fingernail, runs in your pantyhose, this sort of thing?? There's just a whole raft of psychopaths and overgrown adolescents running the show. I'm surprised we haven't accidentally bombed ourselves with nuclear weapons.

Speaking of which, some of my Czech friends thought I was coming to visit in order to protest the weapons systems that the US government is trying to install in Czech Rep. hehe (If I had had time!) I knew this was all coming anyway, in some form or fashion, but it's still really sad to see people waking up to the fact that their Soviet masters have just been replaced by the same boss who just has a different line of shit to feed them. One guy was just depressed, saying of what was going on, "No one can explain to me, NO ONE, and our government doesn't explain, why on Earth Iran would want to attack us. And they just repeat and repeat, 'You're being threatened! You need this radar to be safe!'" But, really, what it makes them is a target, where they otherwise wouldn't necessarily be.

Can I get me some New World Order?