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A little over a year ago, shortly after his election win, Mayor Antonia Villaraigosa was seen on every local Los Angeles television news outlet “aggressively” attacking the LA pot-hole problem by going out into the field and filling those roadway annoyances personally.  Smiling, and with sleeves rolled above the elbow in anticipation of the backbreaking blue-collar work in which he was about to partake, he posed for the media wearing a fashionable workman’s hardhat, and wielding a stout shovel that he deftly used to ever-so-gently pat a smattering of asphalt into a shallow depression on a not-so-busy San Fernando Valley street.  And the media was there to capture it all.

I always sort of knew Villaraigosa was a bit of an attention whore, but at that moment, I had no doubts.  Not that it really matters in the long run, nor is it much of a surprise (the man loves being on TV) but now, thanks to a leaked confidential memo, the entire city of Los Angeles can see what a prima donna our mayor truly is.

I just think it’s kind of funny.  Sometimes, the Los Angeles Times redeems itself.

Detail oriented

The Mayor Needs It — Now

Villaraigosa is no rock star, but he gets the treatment. OK, where are the breath strips?

By Duke Helfand, Times Staff Writer
July 26, 2006
No carbs. Just fish or chicken. And keep a takeout box handy in case he has to rush. Tea, please (green, with four packets of Splenda). Water (bottled, preferably room temperature.) And never leave his sight.

In the year since he became mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa has undergone a transformation from garden-variety public official to something approaching a rock star, drawing crowds wherever he goes.And attending to L.A.’s celebrity mayor — according to a confidential memo — is no small endeavor.

It’s up to a swarm of harried aides to keep the boss hydrated and happy, primped and pampered, ensuring that he has clean hands and fresh breath (he gobbles Listerine strips by the pack).

Villaraigosa is chauffeured around town by police in a black GMC Yukon.

Two personal assistants, assigned to him in alternating shifts, tend to his needs, shadowing him from morning to night and keeping him in view at all times should he need anything. His seven press aides field questions from reporters, arrange news conferences and keep him in the loop about breaking events.

These sorts of details are expected to remain private — part of the stagecraft that keeps the frenetic mayor gliding effortlessly and relaxed through the city.

But the two-page memo, “Staffing the Mayor,” offers a rare glimpse into the mania behind the man. The instructions — distributed to everyone who works for the mayor and obtained by The Times — portray a chief executive focused on detail and comfort, always appearing in control and on message.

“Your job is to remain at all times within the mayor’s line of sight,” the memo states. “You should constantly adjust your position so the mayor can see you and call you over if need be.”

Villaraigosa, of course, is not the only public figure who likes royal treatment.

Some date the current wave of celebrity pampering to a mischievous act by a hard-rock band.

The group Van Halen once placed a clause in its contract requiring bowls of M&M candy, with the brown ones plucked out. The Rolling Stones responded a year later by demanding candy bowls filled only with brown M&Ms. From there, the practice took hold — Britney Spears, for one, demanded full-length mirrors and Pop Tarts in her dressing room — and has eventually crept into politics as well.

Vice President Dick Cheney asks that his hotel room TVs be tuned to Fox News, while Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) crafted similarly picayune requests of hosts during his presidential campaign — right down to his preference for noncarbonated bottled water.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, already a Hollywood celebrity by the time he entered politics, demands that his staff keep rooms cold because he doesn’t like to sweat. And he often travels with a hair and makeup artist (he took one on a trade mission to China last year), a Hollywood speech coach and another personal aide who carries his papers and places important calls.

Villaraigosa comes to his position more modestly but has developed expensive tastes of his own. Once a labor organizer, he now enjoys a good meal and a pricey bottle of wine. On one recent occasion, he asked the chef of a downtown Los Angeles restaurant to prepare his foie gras specially for him, and he selected a $140 bottle of wine, pronouncing it a “good value.”

Villaraigosa’s staff deals with more mundane details: Newcomers receive step-by-step directions for assisting him before, during and after appearances.

Aides are instructed to carry Listerine breath strips, business cards, two pens, a Sharpie marker, a notepad, a small hand sanitizer, bottled water and an extra copy of briefing materials and speech cards.

Assistants also are reminded to greet the mayor at his car when he arrives at an event, giving him “a full breakdown of the situation,” and to arrange seating near an exit “so that he can leave discreetly if need be.” And they are directed to “have backup exits in case a new route is needed to avoid certain situations such as unruly crowd[s], aggressive constituents, protesters or media.”

Staff members must keep an eye on their own behavior as well, staying in constant eye contact with the mayor but not getting too close. “A 3-5 foot distance is usually good,” the memo states.

Aides need to stay alert at receptions and other crowded gatherings where the mayor is schmoozing. “While staffing the mayor your focus should be on him, not on networking or mingling with guests,” the memo states.

And what if the mayor is a no-show?

“Never under any circumstance should you answer why he is not coming if you do not know the answer,” the memo says.

Deputy Communications Director Joe Ramallo downplayed the significance of the instructions, calling them “suggested guidelines” that carried over from the mayor’s two years on the City Council.

“Give me a break,” Ramallo said. “This is a mayor who is more engaged and active around the city than any other in L.A.’s history. By the standards of most officeholders who have much larger staffs, he is not tightly choreographed. You’ve seen him in action.”

Villaraigosa’s exacting attention to detail can include impatience at those who foul him up. He grew visibly frustrated last week when a translation system failed to work adequately during a town hall meeting in South Los Angeles. “Fix it,” he barked.

He shoots annoyed looks at reporters who forget to turn off their pagers or cellphones during news conferences. “I’m a driver,” he said in an interview Tuesday, “but I’m fair.”

Aides get the message — but won’t comment unless their names are withheld, for obvious reasons. “Everything needs to be impeccable,” one said.

“It’s good to keep the boss happy,” another added.

Others outside the mayor’s office know that it’s smart to please Villaraigosa.

Giuliano’s Delicatessen & Bakery on the second floor of City Hall started carrying Listerine breath strips last year after a Villaraigosa aide asked if they were available.

Now a Villaraigosa staff member arrives once or twice a week to buy strips or to pick up a small Cobb salad the deli prepares — without olives or dressing — just for the mayor, manager Raul Medrano said. The breath strips have become so popular that sometimes the deli runs out.

Standing beneath a framed photograph of Villaraigosa and deli employees posing behind the counter, Medrano said, “We go through a case a week.”

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NOTE: Please excuse the excessive cursing and venom in the following editorial.

Mobile conversation
Look! It’s a stupid asshole on her cell phone.

You stupid motherfucker. Get off your damn cell phone if you’re driving your damn car (I’m not talking about you, Poopy .)

This is probably my biggest pet-peeve when it comes to drivers and driving in Los Angeles–morons with a cell phone in their hand, their fist to their ear, and one hand on the wheel all while speeding down busy freeways and surface streets so they can get to the nearest Starbucks as quickly as possible for their double-latte caffeine enema.

I ride a motorcycle, and the majority of the times I’ve almost been involved in a collission have been a result of assholes not paying attention to what they’re doing because they’re chit-chatting away on their little cellular tumor box. I truly believe cell phones are the major distracter while driving, and the leading cause of assholism in drivers.

People just don’t pay attention and they don’t care. It’s so very easy to run to the store and pick up a head-set for your phone. Why not do it? Oh, yeah! Because you’re an asshole. I forgot.

But forget about bad driving for a moment how about the fashion statement made by that headset or wireless Bluetooth earpiece?

“I’m not going to walk around 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with one of those things in my ear,” said Thaddeus Breaux, a project manager from Los Angeles. Breaux said his girlfriend uses a hands-free headset and he doesn’t exactly like the look.

Thaddeus Breaux, project manager from Los Angeles, you, my friend, are an asshole. You are also a stupid motherfucker. When you buy a bluetooth or a standard headset, they do not physically graft the device onto your ear. There is no painful surgery involved in order to attach the earpiece to your flesh. Miraculously, it works sort of like a pair of pants. You can actually put it on, and then remove it at your leisure. That’s amazing isn’t it, asshole?

James Banks, a Los Angeles attorney, also has problems with a ban, and thinks the safety concerns are overblown.

“I think it’s no more distracting than listening to the radio, no more distracting than changing CDs and all that navigational system junk,” he said.

James Banks, Los Angeles attorney, you sir, are an asshole. Wouldn’t it be nice to have one less distraction then? Wouldn’t the world be a better place if you’d just admit that you’re an asshole and go buy a headset? Come on, asshole. You’re an attorney. You probably rake in the dough. Go buy a headset you stupid motherfucker.

But Panzella wondered how much safer phones with headsets really are. “You have to still look down to dial the number. Using a cellphone is definitely a distraction,” she said as her own phone rang, as if on cue. Her friend was calling to explain she was stuck in Westside traffic and would be late for their lunch date.

Panzella, you stupid asshole. Did you know that bluetooth headsets allow you to simply say out loud the name of the person you want to speak with? It’s true. Then like magic, the number is dialed, and within moments you can be chatting with your stupid asshole friend in Westwood.

But perhaps you don’t have a fancy phone that features bluetooth technology. Then I would suggest upgrading your phone. If you don’t feel like going to that trouble, then go down to the fucking store and spend $10 on a standard headset. Sure, you still have to dial the number in while driving, and that is distracting, but at least you won’t be distracted by the cell phone shoved in your stupid fucking ear for the next 40 minutes. You’ll even be permitted to drive with both hands on the wheel. Wow!

And, on a side note, to all you single assholes zipping around in your stupid fucking SUV’s while yapping on your cell phones. Fuck you!

Patched in
Wow! Another stupid asshole on his cell phone. And he’s in an SUV! Kewl!

Limit Cellphones in Cars or Just Let Freedom Ring?

By Bob Pool and Lynn Doan, Times Staff Writers
July 14, 2006
He doesn’t own either a cellphone or a car. But Jim Love was taking a proposed restriction on phone use in cars personally Thursday.

“I’ve been hit twice by women talking on their phones on this very street,” the retired computer worker said as he watched traffic pass on busy Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks. “The last one knocked me down. They just kept yakking and kept driving on.”

The debate over Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s support for a ban on the use of hand-held cellular phones by motorists was the buzz at the Sherman Oaks Starbucks and beyond.

Two camps quickly emerged: those who already use hands-free devices and think it’s reckless not to, and regular cellphone users who vigorously defend their behavior as actually being safer than pulling a headset on and off.

Then there were those who thought it was a good idea as long as it applied to someone else.

“L.A.’s way too crazy and wild a place to be pulling people over for talking on their phones,” said Charles “C.J.” Jacobson of Sherman Oaks, a producer of TV commercials. “Maybe there should be a permit system. There’s a slew of professionals who need to use cellphones in cars. But soccer moms don’t need to be doing it.”

While some fear that driving in California would change forever if state lawmakers prohibited drivers’ use of hand-held phones, the lessons of other states that have adopted similar rules might offer pause.

New York, with much fanfare, banned hand-held cell use three years ago. Though authorities issued more than 142,000 citations for illegal cellphone use the first year, a state survey found that half of all New York drivers thought it “was not likely at all” that they would be stopped.

And a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an independent auto safety research center funded by insurers, found that drivers obeyed the law the first year but went back to their old behavior by the second year.

“I’ll use my cellphone on speaker phone when cops are nearby,” Harry Beck, a New York City transportation analyst, admitted via cellphone from New York. “If they aren’t, I use it normally.”

New Jersey officials said they don’t even keep statistics on cellphone tickets because officers rarely issue citations.

Connecticut and the District of Columbia have also outlawed the use of hand-held cellphones while driving. And California is one of several states considering such a ban.

“My family lives in Pennsylvania, and they’re going to do that very soon back there too,” said Heather Panzella, an elementary school teacher from Huntington Beach who was waiting for a friend on a Westwood Boulevard corner at noon Thursday.

But Panzella wondered how much safer phones with headsets really are. “You have to still look down to dial the number. Using a cellphone is definitely a distraction,” she said as her own phone rang, as if on cue. Her friend was calling to explain she was stuck in Westside traffic and would be late for their lunch date.

“She was driving. She wouldn’t have been able to pull over to make a call. Just look at this traffic,” Panzella said.

Indeed, critics of the proposed ban argue that hands-free models aren’t much safer. Motorists must still dial the number and can still get distracted by calls while driving.

“A hand-held ban seems to send the message that hands-free is OK,” said Russ Rader, spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, adding that studies by the group found that cellphone use of any kind increases the likelihood of accidents. “You send the message that it is safe, which is not the case.”

James Banks, a Los Angeles attorney, also has problems with a ban, and thinks the safety concerns are overblown.

“I think it’s no more distracting than listening to the radio, no more distracting than changing CDs and all that navigational system junk,” he said.

L.A. resident Pam Tyler thinks the legislation is a step in the right direction, though her feelings are even more extreme. She programs her cellphone to automatically direct all calls to her voicemail. The message begins with: “I can’t take any calls right now because I’m probably driving ”

“I have huge, huge antipathy for people driving while on their cellphones,” she said. “They run red lights and they can’t stay in their own lanes.”

But forget about bad driving for a moment how about the fashion statement made by that headset or wireless Bluetooth earpiece?

“I’m not going to walk around 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with one of those things in my ear,” said Thaddeus Breaux, a project manager from Los Angeles. Breaux said his girlfriend uses a hands-free headset and he doesn’t exactly like the look.

Robert Nehmadi, owner of a Sherman Oaks cellphone store, says that newer wireless headsets are getting smaller and less noticeable.

“Like this one,” he said, pulling it from his ear. “I’d forgotten I was even wearing this.”

Nehmadi, of Woodland Hills, said he favors a law restricting the use of hand-held cellphones by motorists.

At a Jamba Juice shop, 21-year-old fashion model Erin Miller acknowledged that newer cellphone services, such as the text messaging she does with her “Sidekick” phone, can be distracting while at the wheel.

“But I need a phone when I’m driving to get directions,” she said. “And I usually only message ‘OK’ to answer a text message when I’m driving.”

Nearby, cellphone hit-and-run victim Love and his buddies continued their phone-ban debate outside the Starbucks on Ventura Boulevard near Van Nuys Boulevard. “The law’s a good idea, but it’s not enforceable,” Love said. “You’d have to have a cop for every car. It’s not going to work.”

A bill that was approved by the state Senate in May would make driving while using a hand-held cellphone an infraction punishable by a $20 fine for the first offense and $50 for subsequent ones. Schwarzenegger’s endorsement of the idea is seen as a big boost as the state Assembly considers it next month, though it could still face a fight from the cellphone industry.

Cellphone user Bela Flasch, a retired airline worker, shook his head. He uses a hands-free earpiece when he is driving and predicted that a law with some teeth to it could persuade other motorists to do the same. “The fine they’re talking about is way too small,” he said. “Twenty dollars for the first offense? Make it $100.”

Tablemate Henry Dillon, a retired government worker, scoffed at that. “A hundred’s too high,” he said. “Arnold’s finally getting on the right track on something.”

Former produce dealer Pete Fettis suggested a compromise: a $50 fine for the first holding-the-phone-while-driving offense. “I scream at people to put their hands on the steering wheel when I see people making turns in big SUVs while holding a phone to their ear,” he said.

On Thursday, it seemed this was one cellphone conversation that wasn’t about to end.

*

(INFOBOX BELOW)

Cellphone Q&A

What does the proposed California legislation actually ban?

It would ban the use of a hand-held cellphone while driving a motor vehicle except for during emergency situations. It would be legal to use hand-free cellphones while driving.

*

Is there a fine for violators?

Violators would be fined $20 for the first offense and $50 for every subsequent offense.

*

Why do proponents believe hand-held cellphones are unsafe for drivers?

They cite studies and statistics showing that drivers on cellphones are more likely to get into accidents than those not using them. They say cellphones distract drivers from the road. In 2005, the California Highway Patrol reported 1,098 auto accidents, including six fatalities, caused by drivers holding cellphones.

*

Do others disagree with the proposed ban?

Yes. Critics say a ban on hand-held cellphones gives the wrong impression that using a hands-free set while driving is safe. They say drivers using hands-free phones still must dial and are susceptible to distractions. The CHP last year reported 102 crashes caused by motorists talking through a headset or intercom.

Source: Times reports

*

Times staff writer Hemmy So contributed to this report.

Currently watching:
I Stand Alone
Release date: By 05 June, 2001

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https://i0.wp.com/infowars.net/pictures/news_files/Oct05/311005freespeech.jpg

I don’t know whether lives have been placed in jeopordy as a result of a decision made by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal to publish reports of a CIA/Treasury program that investigated financial records for possible terrorists and terrorist threats.  Bush and the Republican led Congress have only indicated that yes, lives probably have been placed at risk.

What does that mean to me?  Nothing.  Mainly because Bush and his crew have done little to instill within me any sense of their own culpability in just about every issue addressed by them for the past six years.

Taking this into account, with any lack of true fore-sight into what might happen as a result of that story being published by news outlets, I believe it was their duty as members of the free-press to reveal the story to the public.

In the wake of Bush’s tirade against the newspapers (and to be fair his own people for having leaked the story in the first place) congress is now drafting a strongly worded resolution lambasting the New York Times in particular for making the decision to publish the bank records piece.  Many members of congress are even suggesting that members of the press, namely the NY Times, should have their White House credentials revoked, prohibiting them from covering any news within the that building.

Might I say, what a bunch of fucking retards.  This has got to be the biggest do-nothing congress in the history of the country, failing even to push through the most inane bills, and they have the gall to draft a resolution damning the press–the very community they should be protecting since they’re the torchbearers of the first amendment’s most embraced, basic, and easily understood concept:  freedom of speech.

In keeping with this idea, here’s another thoughtful piece from one of SFGate’s resident OpEd writers, Cinnamon Stillwell concerning hate speech, political correctness, and free speech.

When Speech Becomes a Crime
Cinnamon Stillwell
Wednesday, June 28, 2006

  • Roman Catholic Robert Smith is fired from an appointment on the Washington Metro transit authority board by Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich for the crime of saying that he doesn’t approve of homosexuality.
  • Journalist and author Oriana Fallaci cannot visit her native country of Italy for fear of being thrown in prison because of a lawsuit brought against her by the Italian Muslim Union for the crime of “defaming Islam.”
  • British neo-Nazi David Irving is sentenced to three years in prison in Austria for a 1989 speech in which he committed the crime of Holocaust denial.
  • College Republican Steve Hinkle is found guilty by California Polytechnic State University (San Luis Obispo) for “disruption” for the crime of putting up a flyer advertising a black conservative speaker.

What do the above examples have in common?  They are the logical outgrowth of a dangerous trend sweeping the Western world: the criminalization and censorship of speech.

Outright censorship and draconian speech codes have long been a staple of Third World authoritarian regimes. But Western democracies and in particular the United States (where the First Amendment is supposed to reign supreme) have always prided themselves on protecting free speech. Yet because of the creeping reach of political correctness, one can now be put in prison, lose a job, be kicked out of school or be otherwise censored simply for uttering an unpopular opinion.

It’s called hate speech. If there ever were a more Orwellian concept, it would be difficult to find. For much like the concept of  “thought crimes” in George Orwell’s novel “1984,” hate crimes and hate speech suppose intent on the part of the “perpetrator” that may or may not have any basis in reality. What is often mere criticism or disapproval is labeled “hatred” and thus made worthy of punishment. Such a perspective demands that one think only nice thoughts about others. But when it did it become law that we have to like everyone?

While bigotry is indeed unpleasant, it is not in and of itself a crime. Whether one acts on that bigotry or incites others to violence in accordance is another matter. The old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” comes to mind.

Creating Revisionist Martyrs

Even highly objectionable speech such as Holocaust denial should not be criminalized. Such speech would be better fought on the battlefield of ideas than in the courtroom. The academic frauds and conspiracists pushing Holocaust denial should have their work thoroughly discredited and challenged, not censored.

Furthermore, throwing Holocaust deniers in prison merely creates martyrs, which is quite obvious upon perusing any one of the many Web sites that push such views. David Irving, for instance, was turned into a folk hero by his fellow neo-Nazis after being sentenced to three years in prison in Austria for Holocaust denial. While Irving has a long history of promoting Nazism, anti-Semitism, and, yes, Holocaust denial, whether such beliefs constitute criminal acts is questionable.

Author and Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt agrees. Lipstadt knows David Irving well, having gone head to head with him in a libel suit that dragged on for years. In the end, Irving lost the suit against Lipstadt for accusing him of Holocaust denial, yet she too is opposed to the sort of speech codes that sent him to prison. As Lipstadt told the BBC: “I am not happy when censorship wins, and I don’t believe in winning battles via censorship. … The way of fighting Holocaust deniers is with history and with truth.”

Far from protecting those on the receiving end, in this case Jews, such restrictions on speech may actually provide succor to worldwide anti-Semitism. It has certainly given anti-Semites within the Muslim world yet another “Jewish conspiracy” to focus on. Instead of accepting responsibility for the intolerance and backwardness demonstrated in the reaction to the manufactured Danish cartoon “controversy,” such Muslims instead point to the hypocrisy of Jews in Western countries who promote free speech in some cases while advocating the imprisonment of Holocaust deniers.

Protecting Islamists From Criticism

Meanwhile, the push to silence what’s been labeled “Islamophobia” is giving rise to further restrictions on speech. In the United States and Canada, groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations have instigated numerous lawsuits and brought pressure to bear on writers, radio talk-show hosts and anyone else guilty of criticizing Islam or Islamic culture in any way, shape or form.

Talk-show host Michael Graham was fired by Washington radio station WMAL for calling Islam a “terrorist organization” on his show, after CAIR instituted a letter-writing campaign and demanded an apology. CAIR has used a series of libel or defamation suits to go after those who dare bring to light some of the group’s own unsavory ties.

On an international level, the specter of speech codes governing “Islamophobia” has grown exponentially. The United Nations has become the repository for international laws banning the publication of anything deemed insulting to religion and, more specifically, Islam.

Born out of the flap over the Danish cartoons, a series of investigations by the United Nations at the urging of Muslim leaders has led to a slew of resolutions aimed at controlling speech. European and other Western newspapers that dare to publish images of Mohammed in the future or to simply criticize or question aspects of Islamic religion and culture could find themselves on the receiving end of U.N.-sanctioned censorship. Were the United States to adopt such international laws, as some have urged, Americans too could be bound by such restrictions.

Prison for ‘Homophobes’?

Gays are another group included in the growing ranks of the “protected classes,” as columnist John Leo has noted on several occasions. While one can be sued, fired or expelled from school in the United States for expressing disapproval of homosexuality or what’s come to be known as “homophobia,” in Canada one just might be thrown in prison.

In 2004, Canadian “genocide and hate crimes” legislation was amended to make it illegal under certain circumstances to “incite hatred” against gays, bisexuals or anyone else based on their sexual orientation. Although the law allows an exemption for religious expression, Christians in particular fear that they will incur the bulk of such offenses, with the citing of biblical passages forbidding homosexuality being the most common “crime.” Indeed, even before the amended law went into effect, job loss, fines, censures and visits by the police were part of the repressive political landscape. One need only turn to the European Union, where clergy find themselves the targets of speech code laws intended to protect gays.

But as in other cases meant to shield one group from offense, the freedom of all is compromised in the process. It’s no coincidence that Canada’s and Europe’s descent into speech-code mania began with restrictions on anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

Even leftists are not immune. University of British Columbia professor Sunera Thobani, a self-described Marxist feminist and multiculturalism activist, was hit with a hate crimes investigation several years ago for a lecture in which she harshly criticized Americans and American foreign policy.

The PC Left

Here in the United States, leftists often decry what they see as censorship emanating from the right, when in fact most of the true silencing of speech has come from within their own ranks. These days, liberal-dominated universities and colleges are one of the major promulgators of speech codes and draconian punishments for hate speech. Beginning in the 1980s, campus speech codes took on a life of their own, leading to countless trumped-up cases based on misunderstandings, perceived insensitivity or the ever-elusive crime of committing offense.

All too often, those on the receiving end are conservative or Christian students who are falsely accused of hate speech when they exercise their rights to free speech. It seems that putting forward a political or religious viewpoint on campus that is considered politically incorrect is now grounds for persecution and possible expulsion. Students have found themselves so beleaguered by what often appear to be politically motivated witch hunts that they have felt the need to turn to organizations such as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education for legal assistance.

In what may be a good sign, the group has been highly successful in protecting students’ rights to free speech and religious freedom. At least one judge has barred the implementation of such draconian campus speech codes in the interest of protecting students’ First Amendment rights. In a 2003 lawsuit brought by a conservative student at Shippensburg University in Philadelphia and supported by FIRE, federal judge John E. Jones III ruled against enforcement of student code provisions that prohibited racist, sexist and homophobic speech. As he wrote at the time, the speech code may have been a well-intentioned means of achieving “a utopian community,” but it “prohibit[ed] a considerable amount of speech” in the process.

It is indeed the pursuit of a utopian society from which such speech codes emanate. For when George Orwell wrote “1984,” his dystopian vision of a future society governed by totalitarianism, it was the excesses of communism he had in mind. Orwell’s novel foreshadowed the current movement toward thought control. Except that today’s “thought crimes” are called hate speech and hate crimes.

Currently reading:
Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001
By Steve Coll
Release date: By 28 December, 2004

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