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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Bad Day for America

Yesterday was a real bad day for the Bill of Rights. In fact, it may have been the worst I've seen in my life. I've already written about a Supreme Court ruling that tells us the president can give tax money to churches and everyone gets to shut the hell up about it. You can't complain -- not in court, anyway. Never mind that the Office of Community and Faith-Based Initiatives only gives money to christians. Just go about your business and quit pestering government about that damned Constitution. If the president hates democracy and wants to go with theocracy, 'father knows best.'

Not satisfied to tell you that government isn't the business of people living in a democracy, the Supremes came up with other ways to tell you to shut up and screw off.

Take the 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' case, AKA Morse v. Frederick. In that case, a Juneau, Alaska high school student, Joseph Frederick, was suspended for displaying a banner reading 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' while the Olympic torch was carried by. The high school principal took the banner and punished the student for this 'pro-drug' message. Of course, it's kind of hard to figure out what the hell the message even means, but there ya go. According to Frederick, he just wanted an outrageous banner that would get him on TV.

American Civil Liberties Union:

Frederick said that the phrase on the banner, Bong Hits 4 Jesus, "was never meant to have any substantive meaning. It was certainly not intended as a drug or religious message. I conveyed this to the principal by explaining it was intended to be funny, subjectively interpreted by the reader and most importantly an exercise of my inalienable right to free speech."

Frederick sued the principal for infringing on his First Amendment right to free speech. And, here's the thing, the kid wasn't at school at the time. High school principals now have the right to run around town, confiscating messages they disaprove of. See ya at the next antiwar rally or abortion protest kid... Right or left, makes no difference. In fact, even the right wing loonies hoped this one would go the other way, since children are often prominent at abortion protests.

Another ruling should make up for the loss for the 'pro-life' nuts, however. Wisconsin Right to Life won the right to run phony 'issue advocacy' ads during election campaigns. Banned by the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law, these ads are a way for corporations to get around pre-McCain-Feingold laws that limit corporate or union campaigning for candidates.

Basically, these ads stop just short of telling you who to vote for. We've all seen them -- "Sen. X voted in favor of terrorists and babykillers and against the troops. He loves child molesters and drinks the blood of the innocent. Call Sen. X and ask him, 'Why do you hate America?'" WRtL would be a front group for corporations hostile to Democrats, running 'babykiller' ads against dem candidates during elections and pretending that it's not all about the election. What McCain-Feingold was trying to do was close a loophole in existing campaign finance law. The Supreme Court basically ruled that corporations and unions can buy elections. But, since it's corporations who have all the money, the ruling really allows corporations to buy elections -- there is no limit to how much money can be put into 'issue advocacy' ads. Campaign finance laws are now meaningless.

The Capital Times:

Jay Heck, executive director of the reform group Common Cause in Wisconsin, said the ruling opens the gates to so-called "issue ads" that look and sound like regular campaign ads but don't tell viewers to vote for or against a candidate.


The ruling "certainly is a blow to those of us who want more transparency and more regulation of money in federal elections," Heck said.

He added that the ruling appears to overturn portions of the court's 2003 decision that upheld the law's ban on issue ads that feature a candidate's name or likeness within 60 days of a general election.

Add it all together and you've got a court with an extremely distorted view of the First Amendment. When it comes to the separation of church and state, you get to enjoy a nice glass of shut the hell up -- unless you're against it, then you get to spend limitless amounts of money buying campaign ads.

If you're a high school student and your principal doesn't like what you're saying -- pretty much anywhere in the damned world -- you likewise get to shut up.

So, the message the Supreme Court sent americans yesterday was 'shut your piehole! (Unless you've got a buttload of money).' Call the Supreme Court and ask them, "Why do you hate America?"


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1 comment:

Dragon Management said...

How disingenuous for the Court to interpret "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" as promoting drug use. It's disingenuous to the point of jadedness. Sigh...