“Liking” as free speech

Well, the consensus as to my query about whether you would like a “like” feature in the comments seemed to be “dislike” and “thumbs down.”  (That’s what we need:  a voting plug-in so we can do polls and surveys!   I am curious about someone’s reference to a larger range of responses that someone has put together.  And maybe something to help people keep track of threads and responses.  We’ll look into some possibilities and maybe try some, letting you voice your opinion after the fact to see if you “like” a feature or not.)

I know for a fact, though, that some of you “dislike” some of the comments, enough to contact me offline about them.  Which means that it is probably time for another of my exhortations:  Don’t hijack topics!  Don’t resort to insults or name-calling!  Don’t be vicious!  And, for heaven’s sake, at some point, just let it rest.  You don’t need to have the last word.  I mean, what more can be said after 200 comments on William Tell, though notice that after 100 or so comments , we typically have drifted far away from the topic of William Tell or whatever it is.

But, in honor of the original topic, I offer this, showing the power and the vast constitutional implications of just hitting a “like” button:

Daniel Ray Carter Jr. logged on to Facebook and did what millions do each day: He “liked” a page by clicking the site’s thumbs up icon. The problem was that the page was for a candidate who was challenging his boss, the sheriff of Hampton, Va.

That simple mouse click, Carter says, caused the sheriff to fire him from his job as a deputy and put him at the center of an emerging First Amendment debate over the ubiquitous digital seal of approval: Is liking something on Facebook protected free speech?

Carter filed a lawsuit claiming that his First Amendment rights had been violated, and his case has reached the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. This week, Facebook and the ACLU filed briefs supporting what they say is Carter’s constitutional right to express his opinion, signaling the case’s potentially precedent-setting nature.

The interest was sparked by a lower court’s ruling that “liking” a page does not warrant protection because it does not involve “actual statements.” If the ruling is upheld, the ACLU and others worry, a host of Web-based, mouse-click actions, such as re-tweeting (hitting a button to post someone else’s tweet on your Twitter account), won’t be protected as free speech.

via A Facebook court battle: Is ‘liking’ something protected free speech? – The Washington Post.

Do you think hitting a “like” button should count as free speech?  And while free speech means that the government must not punish people for expressing what they think, does free speech mean that individual citizens have to tolerate whatever someone says or symbolizes and that their bosses shouldn’t be allowed to fire them for it?

Another mass shooting, this time by a fascist rocker

Another mass shooting, this time at a Sikh temple in Wade Page in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, just outside of Milwaukee.  Six people were killed and three were wounded, including a policeman who is in critical condition.  The killer, who was fatally shot by a police officer, was Wade Michael Page, a fairly well-known guitarist in the fascist rock scene.

Some of you may remember that in my book on fascism I discuss the fascist aesthetic–the thrill of violence, the release of dark inner impulses, the Nietzschean exaltation of the will and the rejection of moral restraints, etc.–and how this manifests itself in certain strains of punk and metal music.  I also tie into the skinheads.  I don’t recall there being at the time a specific rock genre that I was aware of explicitly connected not just to white supremacy but to Hitler’s National Socialism, but there is now.  (There are photos of Page posing before a Swastika.)  But despite the apparent absence of Christian faith in his life, he is being called a “Christian terrorist“!  People need to read my book to see how fascism is completely and utterly opposed to Christianity and, specifically, to the Bible, which fascists condemn as a “Jewish book.”  That is, some of them may laud “Christian civilization,” but their agenda is to turn Christianity into just a cultural religion, one that gives divine sanction to the culture, which means eliminating Christianity’s catholicity, otherworldly salvation, moral absolutes, transcendence, and other so-called “Jewish”–that is to say, Biblical– elements.  Of course, there are people today from across the political spectrum who want to purge Christianity in some of these same ways, which is what my book warns against.

UPDATE:  It is odd, though, that the neo-Nazi would attack people from India.  Upper caste Indians are thought to be descendants of the original tribe known as the “Aryans.”  Or, to use the more acceptable term now for that particular ancient people group, they are the “Indo’s” in “Indo-European.”  In fact, the Christian theologian from India Vishal Mangalwadi, who published an Indian edition of my book, is concerned about a fascist movement in India, which exalts “Aryanism,” brings back the Swastika (which derives from that culture), and practices Nazi rituals.   Page doesn’t even know his own fascist racial mythology.

Gunman in Wisconsin was deeply involved in white-supremacist music scene – The Washington Post.

 

 

Give fetuses anesthetics before aborting them

On Thursday, Arizona’s law forbidding abortion after 20 weeks went into effect.  It prohibits abortions performed after the point at which science shows that the fetus can feel pain.  The Arizona law was upheld by a court, and similar “fetal pain” bills are in the works in other states.  A small victory, perhaps, but it does underscore the fact that the fetus in the womb is a human being.  But pro-abortion zealots cannot tolerate even this small concession.  Harvard law professor I. Glenn Cohen offers a different solution for fetal pain:

As proof that fetuses are capable of feeling pain, Nebraska’s law notes that physicians often administer anesthesia to fetuses. This is done to relax muscles or to prevent neurodevelopmental problems later on — not, medically speaking, to control pain. But if these fetuses were capable of feeling pain, administering anesthesia would likely prevent any sensation of pain, just as it does in children and adults. Thus, there is no legal reason to prohibit abortion at 20 weeks: We can prevent fetal pain during an abortion — without burdening a woman’s right to that abortion — by requiring the administration of anesthesia to the fetus.

via The flawed basis behind fetal-pain abortion laws – The Washington Post.

 

Individuals and the Obamacare mandate

Discussion about the Obamacare contraception/abortifacient insurance mandate has centered on the religious liberty of church-related institutions.  But what about the religious liberty of pro-life individuals who own businesses?  That, in fact, is the case before the courts that might have a ruling today.  (I’m on the road so I might have trouble monitoring it.  If anyone hears about a ruling, mention it in a comment.)  Here are details about that case, with a rather chilling statement about how the Obama administration sees religious liberty:

Hercules Industries is a Colorado based corporation that makes heating and air conditioning equipment. Hercules is a family-owned business. Its owners, the Newland brothers — William (pictured), Paul and James — and their sister, Christine Ketterhagen, take their Catholic faith seriously. The business provides good jobs for 265 people and Hercules Industries tries hard to be a good member of the community. The siblings who operate the business have always assumed that they had the right to live according to their faith, like other businesses across our nation.

In those parts of New York City that have a high percentage of residents who are Orthodox or Hassidic Jews, businesses close when the sun sets on Friday and stay closed until sunset on Saturday, in observance of the Sabbath. Kosher butchers do not sell pork and Kosher delis do not make pork sandwiches. This sort of religious freedom is not peripheral to religious Americans of all professions. It is central to their idea of the American dream.

This is consistent with what the Newlands believe. The health benefits packages that Hercules Industries provides to its employees is very generous, but it does not include sterilization, artificial contraception or abortifacients. Individuals who work for the company are free, of course, to obtain these at their own expense or to secure insurance coverage outside the company health plan that covers those types of expenses.

The Newlands have brought suit against Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for regulations she has promulgated that require that any company employing more than 50 people must include those medical procedures and drugs in the health plan. The Hercules Industry lawsuit states:

The Catholic Church teaches that abortifacient drugs, contraception and sterilization are intrinsic evils. Consequently, the Newlands believe that it would be immoral and sinful for them to intentionally participate in, pay for, facilitate or otherwise support abortifacient drugs, contraception, sterilization, and related education and counseling as would be required by the Mandate, through their inclusion in health insurance coverage they offer at Hercules.

The Obama administration has resisted the Hercules lawsuit by claiming that the company is secular, and therefore entitled to no First Amendment protection, with the Department of Justice telling the court:

The First Amendment Complaint does not allege that the company is affiliated with a formally religious entity such as a church, nor does it allege that the company employs persons of a particular faith. In short, Hercules Industries is plainly a for-profit, secular employer. By definition, a secular employer does not engage in any “exercise of religion.” It is well established that a corporation and its owners are wholly separate entities, and the Court should not permit the Newlands to eliminate that legal separation to impose their personal religious beliefs on the corporate entity or its employees.

via Colorado Company Fights to Maintain Catholic Values.

UPDATE:  The court issued an injunction against the government penalizing the company.  Click here for details.

Government persecution of Chick-fil-A

Michael Barone summarizes a number of pundits criticizing the mayors of Boston and now Chicago for seeking to deny business licenses to Chick-fil-A because its owners don’t believe in gay marriage.

Their point is simple, and based on Supreme Court rulings: it’s wrong and unconstitutional under the First Amendment for government to deny business licenses because of an applicant’s speech and beliefs. As the Globe rightly notes, “If the mayor of a conservative town tried to keep out gay-friendly Starbucks or Apple, it would be an outrage.”

As a conservative on most issues and a supporter of same-sex marriage, I find it fascinating that liberal politicians are so ready to clamp down on others’ speech. It’s certainly permissible to refuse to patronize a restaurant because you dislike the owner’s beliefs and to encourage, by means short of violence or intimidation, others to do so. It’s also kind of foolish and in my view would be a waste of time to have to research owners’ or managers’ political views before going somewhere to eat. But for public officials to penalize people because of their expressed beliefs—well, I wouldn’t go as far as blogger Elizabeth Scalia does when she titles a blogpost “this is how fascism works,” but it’s pretty nasty stuff.

via Liberal officials penalizing free speech | WashingtonExaminer.com.

UPDATE:  The Boston mayor has backed down from his effort.

The insurance mandate goes into effect August 1

The Obamacare mandate that requires pro-life institutions and business owners to provide insurance for their employees that gives free contraceptives and abortion drugs goes into effect this Wednesday, August 1.  Perhaps you didn’t realize this was so imminent.

On Friday, a court is scheduled to issue a ruling on the case, which might overturn the mandate or might affirm it.

 

August 1: The Day the U.S. Definition of Religious Freedom Changes – By Kathryn Jean Lopez – The Corner – National Review Online.


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