Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bong Hits Not Allowed, even for Jesus...

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down their decision in Morse v. Frederick. The decision (in .pdf) validates the principle's actions in limiting student speech. Based on the facts of the case, this isn't unexpected. I will have a more detailed analysis on this case by the end of the week, detailing my thoughts on how this will affect student speech rights as well as a perspective on what it could say about the current members of the Court.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Real Government War Against Higher Education...

While listening to Chicago Public Radio on the way home this afternoon, I caught an interesting story on Marketplace that many of us in the ranks of higher education should be interested in. Apparently, the Federal Government plans on saving money by cutting funding for education loan subsidies. For those keeping score, these are your federally backed student loans, and while the Feds stand to save Billions, the loan companies will no doubt pass the cost on to the consumers.

While not a big deal superficially, the reality could mean the increased cost of obtaining money for education. Anyone subject to a variable interest rate loan knows how the government tinkering with economy can mean the monthly cost of repayment jumping in exponential fashion. As it if wasn't hard enough to obtain and pay for graduate education with the continued increase in the most expensive graduate education in the world. The ultimate result of this brilliant fiscal tactic is fewer well educated Americans. Realistically, this is another attack on education. First, Congress pervert the state run education system by imposing an unconstitutional system of funding that only ends up closing schools through passing the President's "No Child Left Behind" legislation. Now, we keep people from being able to obtain baccalaureate and graduate degrees by arbitrarily interfering with the education loan system, inflating the cost of higher education on the back end. So, thank Congress for passing laws that take away education from the younger students and make it more difficult for adults to receive advanced degrees. We could call it legislation to guarantee an under-educated American public.

The most absurd thing about this remains that the new immigration bill everyone keeps talking about will make it easier for immigrants with higher educations come into the country.

Wait, hold on, lets think about that one for a second. Congress passes a law that will effectively prevent Americans from obtaining advanced degrees. At the same time, Congress debates legislation (the value of which I will assess in a forthcoming post) that will permit more immigrants with advanced degrees into the country.

This sounds more like the government waging a war on the American citizen by preventing us from pursuing the ultimate goals enshrined in the Declaration of Independence; Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Consider, for a moment, the real impetus for some of this new legislation, then call and chastise your congressional representatives for their malfeasance.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Explative, Deleted...

While I wish I could say the title of this post is entirely original, I may only be able to take credit for the juxtaposition of the punctuation, especially after the recent editorial in the New York Times. Regardless, the point of this post is to analyze the recent decision from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals that invalidated the application of Federal Communications Commission Rules about fleeting expletives. You can find the decision here (in .pdf).

The fundamental tenants of free speech wrapped in the veil of indecency as applied to public broadcasting stems from the United States Supreme Court decision in FCC v. Pacifica Foundation. In that case, the Court's plurality ultimately determined that the Federal Communications Commission has the ability to regulate content disseminated over the airways during times when youth may be disposed to exposure to objectionable content. At issue in that case was a recording of George Carlin's "Dirty Words" monologue, the first comedy act played on cable T.V. In the spirit of Carlin's act, he talked about those 7 dirty words you can't say on regular television. In a triumphant act of irony, the hosts of a radio show broadcast the monologue during an afternoon commute. The Court, of course, found this to be objectionable, and imposed the responsibility of protecting children from indecency, citing the substantial government interest in the use of the public airways when children could be listening.

Pacifica pushed the bounds of what speech restrictions fell within the ambit of governmental regulation, citing the all important governmental interest of protecting children. The recent decision by the Second Circuit, though, goes a step in the direction of reigning in the abuses of restrictive FCC policy as applied after the Super Bowl of 2004. This decision does exactly what it is supposed to do, reign in the abuses of the FCC with the support of "moralist" neoconservatives.

Basically, there needs to be a difference between fleeting expletives, unscripted curses that truly express the feelings of the declarant. This kind of restriction would impose fines against a news agency that caught a soldier in Iraq swearing in response to a car bomb going off by his hum-vee. Realistically, this kind of restriction sugar coats the reality of the human condition and amounts to little more than censorship.