Monthly Archives: January 2012

An alternate defense of the Citizens United decision

Assume, for the purposes of the argument, that corporations aren’t people. I don’t think this implies that the Citizens United decision is necessarily wrong. I think it is obvious that even if you accept fully that corporations aren’t people, people are people, and retain their First Amendment rights of speech and association. The obvious conclusion is that people retain the right to use a legal fiction to represent themselves as a matter of free speech and association.

Put another way, free speech and association is the foundation of any kind of corporate entity. If people were restricted from speaking and meeting with each other, and from expressing their point of view, certainly there would be no corporations and no corporate speech. But would this be desirable?

 

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What arbitrary indefinite detentions for national security looks like, Sri Lanka edition

Yup, it appears that the Sri Lankan government is using its virtually unconstrained powers to kill political dissidents:

THE 2009 victory of the Sri Lankan government over the Tamil Tigers in the country’s long-running civil war may have brought peace, but it has been an uneasy one. Now people from all walks of life are disappearing. No-one knows why but some blame the government.

Colleagues of two political activists—Lalith Kumar Weeraraj and Kugan Murugananthan—who went missing in Sri Lanka’s north on December 9th, fear the men are in grave danger.

On January 9th hundreds of clamouring demonstrators marched through the capital Colombo. They demanded that the government release the activists, put an end to abductions in the north and pull the military out of former conflict areas. In fact, the opposite is happening.

Mr Weeraraj and Mr Murugananthan spent much of the past few months campaigning on behalf of hundreds of missing Tamils, many of whom were last seen in the custody of the security forces. The two were intercepted in the northern city of Jaffna by men on motorcycles, bundled into a white van and taken away.

Udul Premaratne, another prominent campaigner, insists that the army—controversially still deployed in large numbers in Jaffna—is responsible. But despite several eyewitness accounts (the incident occurred just before nightfall), the police say they have do not have enough evidence to proceed with the case.

This pattern is now chillingly familiar. In December a government-appointed body, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), wrote in a report that it was alarmed by the large number of complaints of “abductions, enforced or involuntary disappearances, and arbitrary detentions”.

The rest of the article is over at the Economist.

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“thymotic”

I learned a new word today, “thymotic”. The free Merriam-Webster dictionary at http://www.M-W.com did not list the word, but Wikipedia says:

Thumos (also commonly spelled “thymos”) (Greekθυμός) is an Ancient Greek word expressing the concept of “spiritedness” (as in “spirited stallion” or “spirited debate”). The word indicates a physical association with breath or blood. The word is also used to express the human desire for recognition.

Everyone needs to hear what Neill Franklin is saying to honor Martin Luther King today

This email from the executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition showed up in my inbox today:

Dear Eapen,

On a day when we honor a man whom historians may well come to describe as one of America’s Founding Fathers, I am reminded of how inspired I have been by the words and deeds of Dr. Martin Luther King.

When I think of countless LEAP supporters from all walks of life devoting themselves to defending the vulnerable, hidden and scorned victims of our drug policies, I feel his words,  “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” taking material form. Real policy reform protects the weakest among us.

When I reflect on the inequitable enforcement of our drug policies, I am reminded of his statement that, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Selective, discriminatory enforcement is a cornerstone of a policy that has always been more a war on certain people than a genuine war on addiction.

When I think of LEAP’s founding fathers, the five cops who had had enough of this unjust war and created an international organization of law enforcement professionals who confront the status quo, I am bolstered by his statement that, “We who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.”

But mostly, especially when tempted to walk away and take the easier path, my commitment is reborn in his words, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

And so, on the day of his birth, I speak for LEAP when I express our gratitude for his work and a re-commitment to his ideals.

Sincerely,


Major Neill Franklin—Retired
Executive Director

 

Addendum: Here is a picture of Neill Franklin, Diane Fornbacher, and I outside the White House at a 40th anniversary vigil for the Drug War last June.

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This is great

My friend Jack picked this article as the best New York Times article of 2011. It’s on the last decade of student testing in New York City, and here’s the last paragraph:

“Nearly a quarter of the state’s principals — 1,046 — have signed an online letter protesting the plan to evaluate teachers and principals by test scores. Among the reasons cited is New York’s long tradition of creating tests that have little to do with reality.”

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