Various Direct Links

21 January 2012

FollowUp 3: SOPA Overreach

Following the various website blackouts earlier this week, both SOPA and PIPA are on hold.  Good news, but we need to be prepared for the next round whenever that might be.  Information is the most powerful weapon that we have in a free society.  Understanding how information may be legally shared is at the heart of protecting that legal sharing.  This means understanding Copyright Law and the Fair Use Doctrine.

Among the best tools for understanding these concepts that I have found and shown to many classes of students is the following video from the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society.
Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University created this humorous, yet informative, review of copyright principles delivered through the words of the very folks we can thank for nearly endless copyright terms.

22 November 2011, Original Pedantic Political Ponderings post.

18 December 2011, FollowUp 1.

20 January 2012, FollowUp 2.

Praise: Mayors for Marriage Equality

Freedom to Marry is one of the national organization calling for equality.  The United States Conference of Mayors has joined with Freedom to Marry to produce the following.

With one hundred mayors currently signed on, the statement reads.
As mayors of great American cities, we proudly stand together in support of the freedom of same-sex couples to marry. We personally know many gay and lesbian people living in our cities who are in committed, loving relationships, who are active participants in the civic life of our communities, and who deserve to be able to marry the person with whom they share their life.    
We are proud that at its 2009 annual meeting, the U.S. Conference of Mayors unanimously approved a resolution stating that: “The U.S. Conference of Mayors supports marriage equality for same-sex couples, and the recognition and extension of full equal rights to such unions, including family and medical leave, tax equity, and insurance and retirement benefits, and opposes the enshrinement of discrimination in the federal or state constitutions.”    
Our cities derive great strength from their diversity, and gay and lesbian families are a crucial part. Studies have shown what we know through our hands-on experience—that cities that celebrate and cultivate diversity are the places where creativity and ideas thrive. They are the places where today’s entrepreneurs are most likely to choose to build the businesses of tomorrow. Allowing same-sex couples the right to marry enhances our ability to build this kind of environment, which is good for all of us.       
We stand for the freedom to marry because it enhances the economic competitiveness of our communities, improves the lives of families that call our cities home, and is simply the right thing to do.  We look forward to working to build an America where all people can share in the love and commitment of marriage with the person with whom they share their life.
Thank you! The movement for equality is in all states, in all communities, and is right for all of our cities and towns.

Thanks to Joe My God for the heads up.

29 February 2012:  FollowUp 1.

Repudiation: Flying a Confederate Flag

From 1861 - 1865 the United States went through what we now call The Civil War.  It was sedition, beginning with the assault on Fort Sumter in April 1861.  The flag of the rebellion we now call The Confederate Flag.
graphic from Wikipedia
This flag is seen by some as a symbol of ancestral pride, but others see it as a symbol of racism, slavery and oppression.  In either case, it is an historic symbol of sedition.  The four years of the Civil War, sometimes called the War of the Northern Aggression in parts of the Deep South, ended slavery in the United States but did not end racism with a tiered class system.  The Civil Rights Movement of the twentieth century was very much an extension of the Civil War.

Lexington, Virginia is in the western part of the state and only about sixty miles from the Courthouse at Appomattox where General Lee surrendered to General Grant.  In September 2011, Lexington created an ordinance that restricts flags on city poles to the national, state, and city flags.  The Sons of Confederate Veterans object.
The Stonewall Brigade argues in a lawsuit filed in Roanoke federal court on Thursday that their constitutional free expression rights have been violated.
"When someone says 'we're not going to allow you to express yourself because we don't like what you have to say,' that's a subjective determination, and that's not allowable under the First Amendment," Brigade Commander Brandon Dorsey said.
The city stands by its decision.
Lexington City Manager Jon Ellestad, said the flag ban intended to stop the light poles from being used as a public forum and reserve them for city use only.
"Much of the complaint we received from the community was the perception by a number of people that the Confederate flag is associated with slavery, and they did not want to have the community portrayed that way," Ellestad said.
The Rutherford Institute, supporters of religious bigotry in the guise of liberty, is taking the case.
“The First Amendment was penned by the Framers of the Constitution to protect our ideas and speech, both the popular and the unpopular,” stated John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “The issue here is not whether the Confederate flag should be displayed but whether we, as Americans, remain committed to the idea of free speech. If we allow the censoring of something simply because it may be controversial, we open the door for the government to discard anything deemed disturbing or offensive.”
Freedom of speech has limits, so crying fire in a crowded theater is not protected speech.  One cannot take advantage of the First Amendment to avoid prosecution for fomenting a riot.  Flying the Confederate Flag is a strong statement, one that has the potential to stir up a riot.  It is not simple speech, it is hate speech.

Do the Sons of Confederate Veterans have a right to exist and to fly a flag of sedition?  Yes and yes.  But that does not mean that they have the right to use public land and facilities to exhibit their flag of historic animosity.  It is past time for all of us in the United States to move beyond racism and drop the old symbols of subjugation.

20 January 2012

Praise: South Carolina Equality License Plates

Everyone's attention is on South Carolina for the Republican primary election, but a little news slipped out on Wednesday of this week that would have all of the remaining GOP presidential contenders upset.  At the end of this month, South Carolina will begin offering an Equality license plate.

This follows similar news in Indiana just a few days earlier.

As in Indiana, this does fit with the variety of license plates already offered including

Choose Life SC

SC Ancient Free and Accepted Masons

Sons of Confederate Veterans

and Secular Humanists of the Low Country

There are lots more as in Indiana.  To compare and contrast just these five plates is likely to either make one angry or make one laugh.  Amazing.  The new plate is not yet on the Department of Motor Vehicles website.  I expect that won't happen until sometime after the primary.

Thanks to Joe My God for the heads up.