“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?

Party squelches pro-life Democrats

Washington Post columnist Melinda Henneberger on pro-life Democrats trying to get a hearing at the platform committee but getting shot down.  She comes up with an interesting parallel, that abortion is to Democrats what gun rights are to Republicans, an untouchable issue that allows for no compromise:

Democratic dissenters on the issue of abortion have made their case to the platform committee, arguing that the party should change its language enough to allow for some diversity of opinion on the matter and return to the “big tent” approach of the Clinton years.

The effort is probably doomed; NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan is on the committee, and those pushing for the change were happy just to get to testify; they weren’t even allowed to do that four years ago.

This time around, Janet Robert, who founded Minnesota’s progressive talk radio station AM 950, with talkers such as Ed Schultz and Thom Hartmann, was given seven minutes to make the case, and she used it to argue that the party simply cannot win back Congress without Democrats who differ from the ’08 platform on this one issue. She cited a slew of stats, including a Gallup poll from last year in which 44 percent of Democrats said abortion should only be legal “in a few circumstances.”

The plank they want to rewrite says the party “unequivocally” supports Roe v. Wade and spells out that “we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.” .  . .

There’s no question that Democrats won the House in ’06 by running more moderate candidates in districts the party would otherwise have lost to Republicans.

But the abortion rights lobby writes big checks and wields such unlimited power that I’ve long thought abortion rights have become to the Democrats what the Second Amendment is to Republicans — who are so terrified of the “slippery slope” that even the most common-sense gun restrictions are out of the question. Nobody wants to buck the lobby with bucks.

via Democratic abortion foes push for change in platform – She The People – The Washington Post.

The last time Democrats won big, they courted social conservatives and ran some moderate candidates.  Another theme of this column is that Democrats aren’t going to do that this time.

Democrats claim to be the party of compassion and social justice, championing the marginalized and supporting the little guy.  I can’t take that seriously as long as they so uncritically support abortion.  What is so “liberal” about being for abortion?  Women’s rights?  But isn’t that more of a libertarian way of thinking, the sort of individualist mindset that leftists condemn when they see it in conservatives?  At any rate, I can respect pro-life liberals, when you can find them, as being generally consistent in their principles.  But pro-abortion liberals are sort of like those early Americans who believed passionately in freedom, despite their glaring inconsistency of also believing even more passionately in slavery.

The Hobbit as another trilogy?

The Hobbit movie will be released on December 14.  That is to say, the first installment will be released.  The plans have been for the story to be told in two parts, with the second movie coming out in the following year. But recently it  has been reported that director Peter Jackson, who gave us the Lord of the Rings trilogy on film, wants to turn the Hobbit into a trilogy also.

Tolkien fans have been worried that stretching the rather slender plot of a pretty short novel over three motion pictures would distort the tale.  Lord of the Rings consisted of three separate novels, so three separate movies did them justice and corresponded to the trilogy’s epic scope.  The Hobbit, though, is in a lighter key, a simple story, in the words of the sub-title, of “there and back again” that could be ruined by an overblown Hollywood treatment.

But it appears that the third movie will not involve slicing the Hobbit novel into three pieces.  Rather, Jackson is thinking about making a third movie about the back story to the rest of them based on Tolkien’s extensive notes and appendicies, which are included in the movie rights that Jackson holds.

I say go for it, and also get the rights to the Silmarillion.  There is material for lots of movies there.  We need one on Beren and Luthien.  The Children of Hurin.  That road goes ever on.

Peter Jackson Clarifies ‘Hobbit’ Trilogy Talk; Third Movie Based on Tolkien’s Notes.

A soldier’s vocation

Browsing on the LCMS website and looking for something else, I came across this interview with Gen. John W. Vessey, whose distinguished military career including not only combat in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, but serving as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Reagan.  He reflects very perceptively on the doctrine of vocation and gives some interesting stories of practicing the Christian faith in the military.  It turns out, the interview is from the latest Lutheran Witness.  A sampling:

LW: How does your Lutheran faith play a role in your courageous work, both when you were in active duty as well as now in retirement?

GV: I’ve been a lifelong Lutheran, and for that I am thankful. Martin Luther once wrote a pamphlet called Whether Soldiers Too Can Be Saved. I really took that to heart. Article 16 of the Augsburg Confession–which among other things says that Christians may serve in just wars–well, one can certainly take comfort in that too. Christ goes with us wherever we are. The Lutheran Confessions are blessings to us and make us stronger and help us understand the Word of God even more. . . .

LW: How can we, as Lutherans, properly view military service in light of caring for our neighbor and protecting him in his body?

GV: It first starts with Article 16 of the Augsburg Confession: It is not only right to serve but it is a duty for Christians to serve the civil community. As Luther pointed out, we live in the two kingdoms: the kingdom of God on the right and the civil on the left. We are God’s representatives in both places, but we are also fallible and sinful beings in both places, so we need to carry God’s Word with us as we do His work in the community. Being a soldier is not only okay but is even required by civil authorities for the safety of citizens.

For the young people today, I encourage them to consider a bit of service to the nation, whether it is teaching in schools or in the Armed Forces or what have you. It is an important thing, and you can take your Christian beliefs to that service, making both the service and yourself stronger.

LW: Most of us go through our lives in an occupation that does not require us to make life-altering or life-taking decisions in defense of country or self. How does the Christian soldier deal with the inner conflict that may accompany such an occupation?

GV: Prayer.

LW: In the military, is there a struggle of having to compromise or follow orders that burden the conscience?

GV: There are certain things you just don’t compromise on. According to our Lutheran Confessions, we are to obey the orders of civil authorities–until we are ordered to sin. Then God is in charge.

I never allowed my Christian beliefs to be a secret. I sometimes went out of my way to be sure they weren’t a secret! When traveling to places that were enemies to the U.S., I knew that they would bug our living facilities. So I’d do my daily devotions and prayers under the bug so they could hear loud and clear where my beliefs lie. That led to a number of interesting conversations later in life. At one point during my six years of diplomatic work, I was working with former Soviet Union folks. One day I met with the former Chief Historian of the Soviet Armed Forces and he asked to speak to me privately, so we went out in the hall together. He told me that he knew I was a Christian and he wanted to tell me that he himself had been baptized just the day before.

via 10 Minutes With . . . – The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

Knowing you’re being bugged, so reading the Bible and praying out loud to witness to the spy!  Brilliant!

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.

 

 

To “like” or not to “like”?

It has been suggested that we add to this blog the ability to register “likes” and “dislikes,” thumbs up or thumbs down on comments, with tabulation of the responses.  Other blogs do this, and something like it is a fixture of Facebook.

The reasoning is that this would give “lurkers” the ability to participate by registering their responses to other people’s comments.  It would also add to the sense of community.  Then again, there is the BAD part of communities; namely, the exertion of a peer pressure that lends itself to conformity and group think.  We wouldn’t want that here.

What do you think?  Would this add another dimension to our conversations here?  Or would it be a detraction and a distraction?  Would it make for more and better discussion, or less?


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