the last word (tm)
16/No. 6 - 439th issue - June 30,
firstname.lastname@example.org - http://members.iglou.com/bandit - Bellevue, Kentucky
Blog blogga blogs at http://bandit73.pitas.com and http://www.myspace.com/bandit41073
4 BAD RULINGS IN ONE DAY...
June 29 - Quick! Call Guinness (or Interstrus Enterstrus)! This has to be a record!
June 25, 2007, will live in disrepute from that night until the end of time (as Chicago would say). The U.S. Supreme Court issued at least 4 - count 'em, 4 - outrageous rulings in major cases all in the same day. (There may be more than 4, but we just haven't found more yet.) All 4 of these rulings were by a 5 to 4 margin, which further discombobulates an already annoyed public.
The SCrOTUS's decision in Morse v. Frederick has got to rank as one of the very worst in modern times (and that says a lot). What's astonishing here is how the court doesn't even try to hide its uneven application of the Constitution.
Morse v. Frederick was a case out of Alaska in which a high school student was suspended from a public school because he displayed a "BONG HITS 4 JESUS" banner as the Olympic torch was making its way through town. Contrary to news reports, the student wasn't under the school's watch when he showed the banner: He just happened to be at the event at the same time a group from his school was. He wasn't on school property. In other words, even if the banner would have violated school rules, the school had no business punishing him, because he wasn't taking part in a school activity.
That's like if Cline Middle School had punished me if I happened to visit Cincinnati Milacron wearing an "offensive" shirt at the same time my classmates were there on the class trip I wasn't allowed on.
Kenneth Starr served as the attorney for the school in the Alaska case. Yes, he's the same right-wing hack who investigated the Whitewater nonscandal. After a lower court unanimously ruled for the student, the school just couldn't be wrong, so it appealed to the Supremes. (The right-wing National School Boards Association also took the school system's side.) Shockingly, the Supreme Court actually ruled in favor of the school!
The Supreme Court couldn't possibly be more blatant about its selective application of the First Amendment. The SCrOTUS's ruling boils down to this: Sure, free speech applies - except when it contradicts the "mission" of the school and this "mission" includes parroting discredited DARE propaganda. In other words, the school can censor speech solely on the grounds that it disagrees with it - if the speech being censored seems to be drug-related. Or, in even plainer language, you can be censored by the government if you appear to have the "wrong" view.
Funny, we don't see anything in the First Amendment that makes exceptions for drug-related speech. Quite the contrary, a main reason the amendment was written was to protect the speaker in cases like this. But we shouldn't be telling you this if you took basic civics - which a majority of the court evidently didn't.
During the trial, the court wasn't coy about making indecorous conclusions. When the student's lawyer opened by saying, "This is a case about free speech ... not about drugs," Bush-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts (who went on to write the majority opinion) snapped, "It's a case about money!"
Concurring with the majority's right-wing opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas actually said no free speech right exists in public schools and that the landmark Tinker v. Des Moines ruling (which safeguards free expression in schools and has long been settled law) should be overturned. Yes, he really said that. Predictably, Justice Samuel Alito also sided with the clownservative majority - further proving his own upside-down stance on free speech. As a lower court judge, Alito actually said school bullying was protected by the First Amendment, although it isn't. Yet now he says merely saying something that challenges a school's drug policy isn't protected, although it is. How topsy-turvy can one be?
If we were Congress, we'd seriously look into impeaching the 5 justices in the majority over this. If nothing else they've done is impeachable, this is, because here they've practically admitted they're not following the Constitution they swore to uphold. But Congress's spine has all the solidness of urine, so it looks like that option is out.
What happened to the student in Morse v. Frederick after high school? He later had to quit college when his dad, who worked at the school system's insurance firm, was fired from his job because of the suit against the school. This illegal firing resulted in a lawsuit against the company - which it lost. But the fact that he was fired at all shows you what happens to people nowadays who don't toe the party line. It's like living in Soviet Russia.
No suit for you!
In another case, the SCrOTUS ruled that average citizens can't sue over the Bush regime wasting their tax money by illegally giving it to religious groups. They didn't just say taxpayers can't win their suit; they said they can't even sue, period.
This despite a 1968 ruling that said taxpayers could sue over this very thing!
The so-called reasoning behind this decision? Alito said the plaintiffs "set out a parade of horribles that they claim could occur" if Bush's initiatives continued but that "none of these things has happened." So they can't sue because nothing bad has happened (yet) from the programs they were suing over? Uh, the whole idea of suing was to prevent bad things from occurring - not to wait until it was too late.
Heaven forfend the taxpayers be allowed to try to stop their money from getting squandered on stuff that's unconstitutional to begin with. Us silly taxpayers! We must think that money's ours or something!
Free speech for me, not for thee...except thee corporations
On the same day the court ruled against an individual's right to free speech that offended a school drug policy, it ruled for corporations' alleged "right" to buy issue-oriented political commercials - because "spending is speech", according to the court.
The McCain-Feingold campaign law halted corporate-funded issue ads from airing within 60 days before an election. The Supreme Court upheld this rule in 2004, but has now reversed most of its earlier ruling.
Why is this reversal so bad? Primarily because it's most favorable to profit-making corporations, not people. The court is treating corporations as if they're individuals or other noncorporate entities by acting like corporations are supposed to even have rights - which, generally speaking, isn't so. (Media outlets' right to free speech is different because that's necessary for free flow of ideas in a democracy.)
We might overlook this decision as just a blip in the confusing muck of campaign law, if not for the mind-boggling statements by Chief Justice Roberts. Roberts said corporate campaign ads are protected as "core political speech" and that "we give the benefit of the doubt to speech, not censorship." Well, good for you, judge - except you didn't give "the benefit of the doubt to speech" in Morse v. Frederick. Even more ironically, the 5 justices who back the majority opinion in Morse v. Frederick are the exact same justices who support the majority opinion in the campaign ad case! (And they're the very same ones who favor the majority ruling in the taxpayer lawsuit case!)
Endangered Species Act now an endangered species
The Supremes sang yet another sour note when they took the side of monied developers and the Bush regime against environmentalists. (Same 5 justices!!!)
The Endangered Species Act bars federal agencies from putting species at risk and says agencies must consult with each other. But Bush's EPA and builders of fall-apart subdivisions cried foul over this prophylactic truism.
The court's opinion lets the EPA shrug off its duties by handing off the power to issue water pollution permits to state agencies that might be too friendly to developers. This ruling gutted an important component of the Endangered Species Act, which we once thought was invincible.
So that's the current Supreme Court for ya! May their albums get all scratched up.
...AND 2 MORE BAD RULINGS!
June 30 - Just days after the 4 foul SCrOTUS rulings of Monday, at least 2 more bad rulings occurred by that same 5 to 4 margin (both courtesy of the exact same 5 justices). One of these unfortunate decisions effectively allows racial segregation in schools by gutting school districts' desegregation policies (and taking power away from elected school boards).
The other ruling legalizes some price-fixing that had been banned by federal antitrust law since 1911 - thus putting all these generous Internet discounts you've been enjoying in jeopardy.
This is the Supreme Court the citizenry is stuck with for years to come. Let's hope John Edwards revives Franklin Roosevelt's court-packing plan once he becomes President.
We tried warning you that the type of shit we're dealing with now was gonna happen if Bush got elected, but - wait a minute, he didn't get elected. Never mind.
America's health care system is broken, disease is an ever-looming threat, and the American Medical Association is worried about...
(That extra ellipsis that composes a whole paragraph keeps you in suspense, doesn't it?)
When the video game rating system began, we knew it wasn't truly voluntary (the Establishment's claims to the contrary notwithstanding). That's because if the industry hadn't devised a system, or if this system was ever abolished, the government would create its own system. Thus, the ratings really are government censorship.
Our belief was prophetic. More recently, right-wing politicians have actually tried putting the force of law behind the rating system and punishing game sellers who don't enforce it. (So much for the Big Lie about how it was a voluntary system!) One fascist bill in Utah introduced by pro-bullying State Rep. David Hogue would even make it a felony for parents to buy their kids a video game that's rated too high for their age.
This despite the fact that studies have shown that "violent" video games actually lessen the tendency for real-life violence, not increase it.
Now the AMA wants the Federal Trade Commission (a government agency) to stiffen the current game rating system.
Um. Uh. What was this again about it being voluntary?
And does anyone even give a shit about the ratings? Game industry big shots say they do. But evidently they don't. We know people who buy games for their kids that are rated too high for their age group, so it's clear that not many people use the ratings as a reliable guide.
Funny. Video game ratings were unheard of when I was growing up, yet I haven't gone on any murder sprees or inflated any Smurf-like creatures until they burst, like the AMA thinks today's youth will do if the FTC doesn't "save" them.
Doesn't the AMA have other things to worry about?
TOILETS GET RUINED
At The Last Word we have a proud tradition of ruining toilets. While toilet ruination is a taboo subject in some circles, we'd wager that this great sport is covered in the later dictionaries.
But, as responsible, smart citizens, we're also longtime champions of latrine safety. That means no heads in the bowl to pick up germs, and no piranhas either.
The local pastime of johnnypot demolishment was revived recently when someone reportedly vandalized the bathroom of a house by painting the toilet blue.
Now that we're older, we're delighted to learn that the younger set is picking up the honorable baton of restroom pranksterism. But are they being safe? Perhaps not. Then again, they're probably being no less safe than whoever blasted a toilet with an M-80 at Brossart a generation ago.
Recently a juvenile was arrested for using a firecracker to blow up a commode at Tower Park in Fort Thomas. The donicker shot up off the floor and flew through the ceiling of the restroom building. The crapper rested on the roof until it slid downward and dumped its contents onto the pointy heads of several members of the NKU Campus Republicans who were strolling by. Hazmat crews were called to the scene to decontaminate the politically active university students.
Just joking! Only the first sentence in the previous paragraph actually happened.
The episode was part of a spate of vandalism that has dogged Fort Thomas of late - which also included a Highlands Middle School student trashing the landscaping outside her school because she got bad grades. (If Highlands Middle School is anything like some of our old schools, this protest certainly seems reasonable. But that's just our opinion, and you really have to walk a mile in our shoes to appreciate our view.)
Safety first. Humor second. (Yes, I know you're disappointed to hear that.)
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