Archive | December, 2017

Judith Butler Overestimates the Power of Hateful Speech

By Conor Friedersdorf

Judith Butler worries that UC Berkeley risks dire consequences if it fails to put more limits on the sorts of speech and free expression that it allows on campus.

In remarks to a campus forum, “Perspectives on Freedom of Expression on Campus,” she argued against “free speech absolutists.” For instance, she believes incitements to violence should not be protected by the First Amendment. Of course, that view reflects longstanding law and is shared by the Federalist Society, the ACLU, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and the vast majority of Americans, including most staunch free-speech advocates. Support for repealing all laws against incitement is almost nil, as is the constituency for literal free-speech “absolutism.”

More controversial were her suggestions that the Constitutions’s equal-protection clause is sometimes at odds with protected speech, and that Title IX and UC Berkeley’s Principles of Community should sometimes trump the First Amendment. As she put it:

If the commitment to free speech provisions under the First Amendment takes precedence over Title IX, the Equal Protection Clause, and the Berkeley Principles of Community, then I suppose we are being asked to understand that we will, in the name of freedom of speech, willingly allow our environment to be suffused with hatred, threats, and violence, that we will see the values we teach and to which we adhere destroyed by our commitment to free speech or, rather, to a very specific – possibly overbroad – interpretation of what constitutes expressive activity protected by that constitutional principle.

That passage is striking for its non-sequitur. For decades, the First Amendment has taken precedence over federal statutes like Title IX and campus codes of conduct. Yet public universities have not been suffused with hatred, threats, and violence as a result; and there is no reason to expect UC Berkeley to meet that …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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Cecile Richards: VP Pence Is Installing Authorities to Repeal Women's Rights With No Public Oversight

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards says the first year of President Trump’s administration may be the worst year for women of any administration in United States history. But, she notes, it has also been a year of organizing and resistance by women and their allies.

Please check back later for full transcript.

…read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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Meet the Miss USA Contestant Accusing Trump of Sexual Misconduct as Senators Call for Him to Resign

Five senators are now calling on President Trump to resign over allegations that he sexually harassed or assaulted women, and 56 House lawmakers with the Democratic Women’s Working Group are calling for a congressional investigation into the allegations. This comes as three of the 16 women who have publicly accused Trump of sexual harassment held a press conference Monday in New York, demanding that Congress take action. We speak with one of them: Samantha Holvey, a former Miss USA contestant for North Carolina when Trump owned the pageant. We are also joined by Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and we play an excerpt from the Brave New Films documentary 16 Women and Donald Trump.

Please check back later for full transcript.

…read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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Five Ways Moore and the GOP Could Steal the Alabama Election

Republican Senatorial candidate Roy Moore speaks at a rally in Midland, Alabama, on December 11, 2017. (Photo: Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images)

Just hours after a court in Montgomery, Alabama, ruled that copies of ballots from today’s election should be saved, GOP state officials, in a private meeting with an Alabama Supreme Court judge, obtained a stay on the ballot protection. If Democrat Doug Jones loses, it will be a victory not only for Roy Moore, but also for Jim Crow.

Republican Senatorial candidate Roy Moore speaks at a rally in Midland, Alabama, on December 11, 2017. (Photo: Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images)

I hope you savored the moment. Yesterday, Monday, December 11, voting rights attorney John Brakey won a court order — in Montgomery, Alabama, no less — requiring counties to keep copies of their ballots after the voting Tuesday.

Then, by 6 pm Alabama time, the voting rights victory dance came to an end. GOP state officials, in an “ex-parte” (i.e. private) meeting with an Alabama Supreme Court judge, obtained a “stay” of the ballot protection, effectively killing it. Alabama counties may now destroy ballot images, destroy any record of the true vote.

But they’ll tell you the winner: Likely Republican Judge Roy Moore, the former chief of the court that just blocked any possible challenge to a suspect election.

Even without Judge Moore’s cronies taking away this protection of voter ballots, the GOP had other methods already in motion to prevent a true and fair election. If the Democrat Doug Jones loses, it won’t be to Judge Moore; rather, it will be to Jim Crow and the little cheats perfected by the GOP.

Ballot-Box Stuffing: Blocked

The TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) that Brakey temporarily won may have stopped what I call the “Baldwin Ballot Bandit” trick or, as my co-investigator Bobby Kennedy calls it, “good old ballot-box stuffing.”

Background: In 2002, Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman …read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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This Hanukkah, Light a Candle for Gaza

Palestinian children do their homework during a power cut in an impoverished area in Gaza City, on September 11, 2017. (Photo: Mahmud Hams / AFP / Getty Images)

Palestinian children do their homework during a power cut in an impoverished area in Gaza City, on September 11, 2017. (Photo: Mahmud Hams / AFP / Getty Images)

The story of Hanukkah underscores a powerful truth: Oppressed people will always find the strength to resist, even in the bleakest of times. On the 10th anniversary of Israel’s intensification of the Gaza blockade and the Gaza Massacre, which killed nearly 1,500 Palestinians, including over 300 children, we should light a candle to commemorate the spirit of the Palestinian struggle against all odds.

Palestinian children do their homework during a power cut in an impoverished area in Gaza City, on September 11, 2017. (Photo: Mahmud Hams / AFP / Getty Images)Palestinian children do their homework during a power cut in an impoverished area in Gaza City, on September 11, 2017. (Photo: Mahmud Hams / AFP / Getty Images)

The festival of Hanukkah commemorates the victory of the Maccabees, a Jewish priestly family from the Hasmonean dynasty, over the Seleucid Empire in 2nd century BCE. According to the Talmud, when the Maccabees entered the desecrated Temple in Jerusalem and attempted to relight the menorah, there was only enough oil for one day. But when they lit the fire, a miracle occurred and it lasted for eight full days.

What’s the meaning of this simple parable? Some say that the image of increasing light is appropriate to the dark winter season — a time in which many religious traditions celebrate festivals by kindling lights. Others say that this story underscores a powerful political/spiritual truth: Even in the bleakest of times, an oppressed people will somehow find the strength to continue the struggle.

When I light my …read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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A Massive Blow to Social Movements if Our Voices Are Able to Be Blocked

Janine Jackson: The Boston Globe technology writer says concerns about the FCC’s plan to repeal net neutrality are “overhyped”: Probably what will happen, if the agency eliminates the rules that keep the internet a level playing field, as it seems set to do, is…not much. In the same column, Hiawatha Bray describes net neutrality as “regulatory overkill on a massive scale.” So, a “massive scale” thing whose elimination will nevertheless not mean much.

Should, for example, a company like Comcast block access to, say, Amazon Prime video, so subscribers have to use Comcast’s service, Bray says, “millions of angry customers” would just “switch to a rival service.” So your head’s already well-scratched before Bray gets to the presumably ingenuous question: “What internet company would put itself in the crosshairs of public outrage just to gain a slight and temporary advantage over a rival?”

You may chuckle, but this is the level of argument in support of the FCC’s effort to repeal net neutrality rules. The truth is, advocates have everything on our side — public opinion, legal precedent, actual understanding of how the internet works. What opponents have, though, is corporate power, and its government supporters. So what now? Joining us to discuss where we are in this critical fight is Erin Shields, national field organizer for internet rights at the Center for Media Justice, one of the front-line groups on the issue. Welcome to CounterSpin, Erin Shields.

Erin Shields: Thank you for having me.

I suspect CounterSpin listeners have a healthy mistrust of media corporations claiming that they would never go against the public interest for a silly …read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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Black Snake Chronicles: Wiindigoo Economics and the Return of Keystone XL

As the plauged Keystone Pipeline spilled 200,000 gallons of oil near the Sisseton Dakota reservation, on November 20, the Nebraska Public Service Commission issued a convoluted permit approval, allowing TransCanada to route the line through part of the state. In the meantime, the Dakota, Lakota and their allies stand strong.

That same day hundreds gathered for the Gathering to Protect the Sacred — a reaffirmation of the international agreement among sovereign indigenous nations to protect the environment from tar-sands projects. The Treaty to Protect the Sacred, first signed in 2013, was signed again. “Nothing has changed at all in our defense of land, air and water of the Oceti Sakowin,” Faith Spotted Eagle told the crowd. “If anything, it has become more focused, stronger and more adamant after Standing Rock.”

The assembly — sponsored by the Braveheart Society of Women, Wiconi Un Tipi, Ihanktonwan Treaty Committee and Dakota Rural Action — brought together 200 water protectors. Oyate Win Brushbreaker, a 97-year-old elder reminded those present, “Reaffirm the boundaries of that treaty. Keep out that black snake you have been talking about.”

The Keystone and its Spill (s)

This is a story about Wiindigoo Economics — Cannibal or Wasichu economics, if you like — an economic system that destroys the source of its wealth, Mother Earth.

We can say that it begins in the United States, where a fossil-fuel economy rules, or we can say that it begins in Canada, where 90 percent of the value of the Canadian dollar, the loonie, is based on tar sands. Regardless, an undiversified economy is a stupid idea. Even with all its oil company allies, Canada …read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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A Movement for the Toughest Among Us

My name is Mashyla Buckmaster. I’m 28 years old. I’m the proud single mom of a beautiful one-year-old named Ella. As of today, I’m celebrating almost two years clean and sober. I live in Westport — in Grays Harbor County, Washington. I’ve spent five years of my life homeless. Once during my homelessness, a neighbor tried to assault me by throwing a log through the window of the empty building where I was squatting, because he was so enraged that homeless people were living on his block.

I got Section 8 housing after my daughter was born, just before my organization began providing cold weather shelter to our homeless members. For 110 days last winter, Chaplains on the Harbor hosted about 20 people in our church — most of them millennials who caught a record trying to survive in a county with no good jobs, no decent affordable housing, horrible healthcare, and plenty of heroin.

Business and property owners were outraged by our cold weather shelter. Our homeless members were stalked by police. Our pastor was threatened with vigilante violence. The same man who’d tried to attack me during my own time squatting also assaulted a 19-year-old homeless member of our community, on church property, and later attempted to run him over with a truck.

I volunteered to stay overnight at our church and keep people safe while they slept. I stayed there through the nights while the threats continued to pour in. I stayed because my community stepped up to save my life, when the rest of society didn’t care whether I lived or died, and now it was …read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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A Clash Between Two Visions of the Republican Party in Alabama

By McKay Coppins

For all the national attention that’s been paid to the grisly particulars of Alabama’s special election over the past few weeks—the lurid details of the sexual-abuse accusations against Roy Moore; the performative shrieks of “Fake News!” from the candidate and his defenders—the true political consequences of the race will likely reach well beyond a single Senate race in 2017.

In fact, many Republicans in Washington believe the voters who are heading to the polls on Tuesday could end up playing a pivotal role in the fight for the soul of the GOP.

Republican leaders have been keeping an especially wary eye on Alabama ever since former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon announced his intention to recruit primary challengers for (virtually) every Republican senator up for reelection in 2018.

“There’s a time and season for everything,” Bannon said in a speech at the Values Voters Summit in October, “and right now it’s a season of war against the GOP establishment.”

Under normal circumstances, Republicans might have dismissed this bit of posturing as little more than made-for-cable bravado. But Bannon’s success in aiding Moore, a right-wing ex-judge with a long history of incendiary stunts and retrograde views, to the Republican nomination had unnerved party leaders. The alarm only grew when Moore—facing credible allegations of sexual abuse and assault—defiantly refused to exit the race, and pledged to fight on without the support of the institutional GOP. Eventually, Moore won back the endorsements of President Trump and the Republican National Committee, even as the rest of the party establishment—most notably the National Republican Senate Committee—continued to maintain its distance.

Now, Republicans in Washington say the outcome of the Alabama race will set the stage for the coming clash between the Republican Party and the Bannonite insurrectionists.

“The stakes are high for both sides,” said Ryan Williams, a Republican consultant …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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Will Roy Moore Win the Alabama Senate Race?

By Clare Foran

In Tuesday’s Alabama Senate race, no one knows who will come out on top—and that’s unusual in a reliably conservative state.

Thanks to a strange set of circumstances, the special election to fill the Senate seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions has become a competitive race. Republican Roy Moore had been viewed as a strong favorite, but that changed when multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct when they were teenagers.

The allegations, which Moore denies, have shaken up the race and given Democrat Doug Jones a shot at winning, though Moore maintains a slight edge in polling averages. Pundits and pollsters now deem the Alabama special election “impossible to predict.”

Special elections that take place in a year when midterms aren’t held are difficult to poll under any circumstances. It’s hard for pollsters to predict exactly who will show up to vote when they can’t turn to past turnout data in comparable election cycles. The controversy that has engulfed the Alabama senate election as a result of the allegations against Moore adds even more volatility to the race.

“This race has almost every factor that makes polling tricky,” said Margie Omero, a Democratic pollster and co-host of “The Pollsters” podcast. “We don’t know what the electorate is going to be, and you have people trying different methodologies to try to figure out out. Some may prove to be better than others.”

In the final days of the race, the polls have been all over the place. A Fox News poll reported that Jones had a ten-point lead among likely Alabama voters, while an Emerson College poll showed Moore with a nine-point lead over Jones. Fox News polled voters via both landlines and cell phones, while Emerson College’s poll relied on landlines and an online panel. Individuals …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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