Saturday, October 17, 2009

War criminals are becoming the arbiters of law

The double standard under which the Israeli government operates is too much for everyone except the brainwashed Americans. Even a columnist in the very Israeli Jerusalem Post can see the double standard displayed by “all of Israel now speaking in one voice against the Goldstone report.”

“This is the Israeli notion of a fair deal: We’re entitled to do whatever the hell we want to the Palestinians because, by definition, whatever we do to them is self-defence. They, however, are not entitled to lift a finger against us because, by definition, whatever they do to us is terrorism.

“That’s the way it’s always been, that’s the way it was in Operation Cast Lead.

“And there are no limits on our right to self-defense. There is no such thing as ‘disproportionate.’

“We can deliberately destroy thousands of Gazan homes, the Gazan parliament, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior, courthouses, the only Gazan flour plant, the main poultry farm, a sewage treatment plant, water wells and God knows what else.


“Why? Because we’re better than them. Because we’re a democracy and they’re a bunch of Islamo-fascists. Because ours is a culture of life and theirs is a culture of death. Because they’re out to destroy us and all we are saying is give peace a chance.

“The Goldstones of the world call this hypocrisy, a double standard. How dare they! Around here, we call it moral clarity.” Rattling the Cage: Our exclusive right to self-defense, by Larry Derfner, Oct. 8, 2009.

A person would never read such as this in the New York Times or Washington Post or hear it from any US news source. Unlike Israeli newspapers, the US media is a complete mouthpiece for the Israel Lobby. Never a critical word is heard.

This will be even more the case now that the Israel Lobby, after years of effort, has succeeded in repealing the First Amendment by having the Hate Crime Bill attached to the recently passed military appropriations bill. This is the way the syllogism works:

It is anti-Semitic to criticize Israel. Anti-Semitism is a hate crime. Therefore, to criticize Israel is a hate crime.

As the Jerusalem Post notes, this syllogism has “moral clarity.”

Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations, John Sawers, stepped into the hate crime arena when he told Israel Army radio that the Goldstone report on Israel’s military assault on Gaza contains “some very serious details which need to be investigated.”

A year from now when the Anti-Defamation League has its phalanx of US Department of Justice [sic] prosecutors in place, Sawers would be seized and placed on trial. Diplomatic immunity means nothing to the US, which routinely invades other countries, executes their leaders or sends them to The Hague for trial as war criminals.

In the meantime, however, the Israeli government put Sawers and the UK government on notice that British support for the Goldstone Report would result in the destruction of the double standard that protects the West and Israel and create a precedent that would place the British in the dock for war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“London,” declared the Israeli government, “could find itself in handcuffs if it supports the document [the Goldstone report].

Once the DOJ’s hate crime unit is up and running, “self-hating Jews,” such as leaders of the Israeli peace movement and Haaretz and Jerusalem Post journalists, can expect to be indicted for anti-Semitic hate crimes in US courts.

Source: Online Journal

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The Best Congress AIPAC Can Buy

Many Americans who thought that the health care debate was important must have wondered where their congressmen were in early August during the first two weeks of the House of Representatives recess. It turns out they were not hosting town hall meetings or listening to constituents because many of them were in Israel together with their spouses on a trip paid for by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Fully 13% of the entire US House of Representatives, 56 members, traveled to Israel in the largest AIPAC-sponsored fact-finding visit by American politicians ever conducted. And the leaders of the two congressional groups, 25 Republicans for a week starting on August 2nd followed by 31 Democrats beginning on August 13th, were drawn from the top ranks of their respective parties. House Minority whip Eric Cantor headed the Republican group and House Majority leader Steny Hoyer led the Democrats.

Cantor and Hoyer are longtime enthusiasts for Israel and all its works. In January, when Israel was pounding Gaza to rubble and killing over a thousand civilians, Hoyer and Cantor wrote an op-ed entitled "A Defensive War," which began with "During this difficult war in the Gaza Strip, we stand with Israel." Why? Because "Instead of building roads, bridges, schools and industry, Hamas and other terrorists wasted millions turning Gaza into an armory." Hoyer and Cantor, clearly noticing a militarization of the Gaza Strip that no else quite picked up on, also affirmed that Israel occupied the moral high ground in the conflict, "While Israel targets military combatants, Hamas aims to kill as many civilians as possible." That Hoyer and Cantor were completely wrong on this vital point as well as others, in fact reversing the truth, has never resulted in an apology or a correction of the record from either lawmaker.

And there’s more. In May 2009, Cantor and Hoyer teamed up again in a congressional letter sent to their colleagues in congress. The message described how Washington must be "both a trusted mediator and a devoted friend to Israel" because "Israel will be taking the greatest risks in any peace agreement." AIPAC couldn’t have put it better. In fact, AIPAC wrote the missive since Cantor and Hoyer apparently needed a little help to get the message just right. The actual source of the letter was revealed when the document was circulated with the file name "AIPAC Letter Hoyer Cantor May 2009.pdf," which the intrepid congressional duo had failed to change before sending out.

The August congressional junkets were paid for by the American Israel Education Foundation, which is a non-profit foundation that is part of AIPAC. The non-profit foundation part means that the trip to convince already acquiescent congressmen that Israel needs more aid and special treatment was more-or-less subsidized by the US taxpayer. Taking congressmen to Israel to make sure they understand the issues properly is not exactly new, but the scale and seniority of the recent visits sent a clear message to President Barack Obama that he should not pressure Israel in any way or he will face bipartisan opposition, opposition that he will not be able to overcome. It appears that Obama might have already received the message loud and clear if the rumors that he will harden his line on Iran and soften his approach to Tel Aviv to permit Israeli settlement expansion are true.

The current Israeli government line as regurgitated by AIPAC is an attempt, aided and abetted by the congressional visitors, to shift the narrative. According to AIPAC and Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, the settlements have nothing to do with the issue of negotiating peace so Israel should be able to continue to expand its occupation of Arab East Jerusalem without any restraint while permitting "natural growth" in the other West Bank settlements. Israel claims to be willing to talk peace with the Palestinians while decrying that there is no one to talk to. Tel Aviv and its cheerleaders in Washington insist that the real threat to peace in the Middle East is Iran, which is seeking a nuclear weapon and will use it to bomb Israel and arm terrorists to attack the United States.

Eric Cantor was fully on-message, prepping his group by writing an op-ed for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on August 3rd. He wrote that "Israel is not only a democratic ally and our only true friend in the Middle East; it is also a vital pillar of US national security strategy…Israel has a right to accommodate the natural growth of its population…excessive handwringing over natural growth is a diversion from the main threat in the Middle East: Iran." If the line sounds familiar, it should as it is straight out of Israel and AIPAC’s playbook garnished with its ridiculous pretense that Israel is some kind of strategic asset and an eternal friend.

Cantor and Hoyer’s lawmaker colleagues apparently benefited greatly from their travels, which included a visit to the illegal West Bank settlement of Alfei Menashe to express solidarity with the heroic and widely misunderstood Israeli settlers. According to Cantor there should not be any confusion about who is doing what to whom in the Middle East. In describing the purpose of the trip, he noted that his Republican colleagues were eager to learn about "…the challenges on the ground in the Middle East, especially those challenges faced by Israel." He then returned to his script, describing the situation in more detail and expressing his concern about the "…focus being placed on settlements and settlement growth when the real threat is the existential threat that Israel faces from Iran and the impending nuclearization of Iran."

During the trip itself, Cantor could hardly shut up about how much he loves Israel and its policies, no matter what those policies are. When two Arab families were evicted from their homes in Jerusalem, resulting in a worldwide protest that included criticism from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Cantor discovered another way to look at the situation. He complained about Clinton, "I’m very troubled by that, because I don’t think we in America would want another country telling us how to implement and execute our laws."

Cantor’s travelmates evidently agreed with his rosy view of all things Israeli. Steve Scalise marveled at "all the things that the people of Israel have been through," while Louie Gohmert pressed Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad for a commitment to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, apparently oblivious to the fact that the status of a Muslim or a Christian in a Jewish state would be somewhat precarious. Leonard Lance called for working together against Iran while Mike Coffman noted that the Obama Administration failed to comprehend "the magnitude of this threat of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons." Perhaps Coffman and Lance should read some of the intelligence that the US government produces at great expense which reveals that Iran has no nuclear weapons program.

Congressman Pete Olson reported that he had known in "his head" how important the relationship with Israel was and, after three days, knew it also in his heart. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who has been to Israel seven times and is the author of numerous pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian resolutions in the House, called Israel "our US ally against the violent extremists" and twittered to her constituents a gushing account of her "amazing dinner with soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces. Courageous young men…"

Hoyer, who has been to Israel a dozen times, led the cheerleading for the Democrats. The House Majority leader contradicted his own party’s president in finding that the settlements were not a "big issue" hindering a peace agreement, noting that they should be a "subject of negotiations." The real problem for Hoyer was completely predictably the Palestinians, specifically the "unwillingness of Abbas to sit down now." Hoyer also declared Jerusalem to be a "unified city" under Israeli control and reiterated Congressman’s Gohmert’s demand that the Palestinians recognized Israel as a Jewish State, neither of which is US policy. Shelly Berkley, who has never met an Israeli she didn’t like, put it more bluntly, "The goals of this trip are to express Congress’s solidarity with the State of Israel and to find out what Israel’s needs are." Representative Kendrick Meek welcomed his opportunity to visit Israel to help him "make better decisions as a member of congress."

President George Washington counseled explicitly against getting involved in the quarrels of foreign nations. What would he think of Hoyer and Cantor and the drones that followed them to Israel on a "fact finding" trip paid for by the Israel Lobby? Words like "disloyalty" come to mind immediately, but the AIPAC trips targeting congress are signs of a deeper problem. Many congressmen undoubtedly display knee-jerk support for Israel either because it is career enhancing or because they are afraid not to. Those who truly believe that Israel’s interests are of paramount importance and that the United States ought to go to war on its behalf should perhaps find another line of work. If they retain even a shred of decency and love of country, it is time for Cantor, Hoyer and others like them to go away. They should leave quietly but do so quickly. The well-being of the United States and its citizens demands it.


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Republican Congressman Ron Paul became a hero to many Americans last year when he ran for president against the political establishment. The 11-term Texas congressman is the most respected and admired American politician around the world after President Barack Obama.
Rep. Paul is a vocal critic of what he calls reckless deficit spending, `welfare’ for big finance, and America’s foreign wars. Paul’s voice has resonance: he sits on the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Dr Paul invited me to Washington to address his weekly luncheon held in his Capital Hill office about the intensifying wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A group of independent-minded Republican congressmen attended. Many of them were deeply concerned by what they see as the nation’s economic and strategic misdirection.
During last year’s presidential race, I describe Dr. Paul as `the only candidate who is telling Americans the truth about foreign affairs.’ Like the legendary Greek Cynic philosopher Diogenes looking for an honest man, I came to deeply respect and admire Paul’s courage, honesty, and his refusal to accept special interest money.
Speaking of today’s US Congress, Dr Paul correctly observes: `Special interests have replaced the concern the Founders had for the general welfare.’
In fact, Rep. Paul has been a model of the type of legislators envisaged by America’s founding fathers: men of high moral standards and intellect dedicated to the nation’s wellbeing. He reminds me in many ways of the fiercely upright senators of the early Roman Republic. The Roman Senate served as the model for the United States Senate.
Paul, a physician, also used to deliver babies on Mondays and Saturdays while serving in office. Interestingly, America’s Founding Fathers envisaged being a member of Congress as a part-time job fulfilled by patriotic gentlemen. Hardly what we see today where membership in Congress has become a caste system fueled by money and pandering to special interest groups.
The 74-year old doctor from Texas electrified young Americans with his grassroots campaign, providing voters a real alternative to the Republicans and Democratic establishment which often appears to be one party with two factions.
Paul’s clear, cool voice challenged all the government and media propaganda about Afghanistan and Iraq. Dr. Paul is also waging a determined battle against the runaway spending and soaring national debt being promoted by the Obama White House and Congressional Democrats. Deficit spending, warns Paul, is leading the US to ruin.
Paul and his fellow libertarian Republicans advocate individual rights, strict adherence to the US Constitution, limited government, and free enterprise. They oppose American global domination, `nation-building,’ and all foreign wars not waged in the direct defense of American territory. In short, just what the early presidents of the United States urged.
Paul opposes US involvement in other nation’s internal affairs. As anti-Iranian hysteria gripped the nation last month, Paul was the only House member who voted against a bill condemning Iran for its recent election. That’s real courage.
`There is no area in which Republicans have further strayed from our traditions than in foreign affairs,’ writes Paul. He dismisses claims by neoconservatives that `we have to either fight them over there or over here’ as a `false choice.’ America has no business policing the world. US foreign policy is undermining America’s national security, says Dr Paul.
Only Congress, he insists, has the right to declare war, not the president. Congress cravenly abandoned this right during the buildup to the Iraq War that was fuelled by the Bush administration’s shameless lies and war-mongering by the US media.
Dr Paul’s amiable manner and lack of the bloated self -importance that so typifies Washington bigwigs conceals a very keen intellect and depth of knowledge. He also has one of the capital’s sharpest foreign affairs staff chiefs, Daniel McAdams. It is a relief to find key decision-makers in Washington who actually understand the outside world.
As I talked with Dr Paul, it became evident to me that he and his fellow libertarians are the potent remedy that the dreadfully sick Republican Party so desperately needs. Paul’s Liberty Caucus will hopefully form the core around which a vigorous, new party grows that address America’s real needs.
President George Bush and the neocons almost destroyed the Republican Party, as this columnist predicted before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. What’s left of the Republicans has become a rump dominated by Christian religious fundamentalists, Southerners, and war-loving neoconservatives that too often flirts with neo-fascism and racism.
Today’s Republican Party is no longer a place for a moderate, life-long New York Republican like myself who considers President Dwight Eisenhower America’s finest modern president and believes in small government and avoidance of foreign entanglements, as the great George Washington urged in his farewell address. In his farewell address, President Eisenhower warned Americans of the growing power of the military-industrial complex (now updated to `military-industrial-financial complex) and called for total nuclear disarmament.
Republicans have also been suffering a series of lurid sex scandals by rural Romeos and hypocritical Christian moralists that have made its members look both extremely hypocritical and awfully stupid – not to mention the curious behavior of that would-be Alaska Joan of Arc, Sarah Palin. Meanwhile, extreme right-wingers like the odious Rush Limbaugh and former Speaker Newt Gingrich are vying to become the party’s voice.
Dr. Paul and his fellow libertarians offer Republicans and Americans a real alternative to the dumbed-down Republicans and to the wildly spending Democrats whose expanded Afghanistan war and reckless economic policies are leading the nation into growing danger.
But the problem remains that Dr. Paul and his fellow libertarian supporters are way, way in front of clouded and confused public opinion. Hopefully, this will change.

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Writers call for probe into human rights commission

Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn appeared before the justice committee on Monday, asking for a probe into the Canadian Human Rights Commission. (CBC)

Two writers appeared before the justice committee on Monday, repeating their call for a repeal of a controversial section of the Human Rights Act, and asking for a probe into the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn are also calling for the elimination of Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which allows the commission to investigate allegations of hate speech.

"I think a very practical, doable thing for this committee and for Parliament would be to repeal Section 13 of the Human Rights Act altogether, to leave any hate speech prosecutions to the Criminal Code with its proper checks and balances, and frankly, to bring in a forensic audit to the Human Rights Commission to examine the allegations that I have made," Levant told the commission.

Levant is alleging that employees of the commission belong to neo-Nazi organizations, an accusation he made in July in a National Post column.

Some committee members, like New Democrat MP Joe Comartin, seemed incredulous at the accusation.

"I think I like everybody sitting at this table are at some disadvantage, Mr. Levant and Mr. Steyn, in terms of the accusations that you're making against members of the commission and their staff."

Levant offered to give MPs documents to back his accusations and come back to testify once they had read them.

Levant was subject of a complaint to the Alberta Human Rights Commission under the act for reprinting the provocative Danish Muhammad cartoons in his magazine in 2006. He published the controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in the now defunct Western Standard, arguing that they were "the central fact in the largest news story of the month."

A complaint was launched by the Canadian Islamic Congress against Steyn for an article he wrote titled "The Future Belongs to Islam" and posted on the magazine's website in October 2006.

The article, an excerpt of a book authored by Steyn, talks about Islam being a threat to North American institutions and values. It used statistics to show higher birth rates plus immigration mean Muslims will outnumber followers of other religions in Western Europe.

Both complaints were eventually dismissed.

But Levant and Steyn argue that they should not have been investigated in the first place.

Steyn said it is hard to defend against a complaint to the human rights commission.

"Truth is no defence, so you can make a statement, every aspect of which is factually accurate, and if certain people decide they are going to be offended by it, the factual accuracy of that is irrelevant."

Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh asked why they were recommending the abolition of Section 13, instead of amending it.

"So you believe there then should be nothing between absolute free speech and the Criminal Code provisions?" he asked.

But Steyn said society can deal with hate speech.

"I prefer social disapproval, activist parents, a school board firing, to a law restricting what individuals can say and think."

Source: CBC.CA

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At What Cost the Israel Lobby?

jfkMore than 46 years ago, President John F. Kennedy sought to preclude a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. In June 1963, he wrote the last in a series of insistent letters to Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Those letters sought what Israel now demands of Iran: international inspections of its nuclear facilities. The key difference: Kennedy knew for certain that Israel, while portraying itself a friend and ally, repeatedly lied to Kennedy about its nuclear weapons development at the Dimona reactor in the Negev Desert.

Best estimates point to sometime between 1962 and 1964 when Israel produced its first weapon in what is now a vast nuclear arsenal estimated at 200-400 warheads. Kennedy’s letter to Ben-Gurion was anything but friendly. The words he chose were drawn not from diplomacy but from the instructions that a judge gives a jury on criminal culpability. In that brusque letter, the U.S. commander-in-chief insisted that this purported ally prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the Zionist enclave was not developing nuclear weapons.

One day after that June 15th letter was cabled to Tel Aviv for delivery by the U.S. ambassador, Ben-Gurion abruptly resigned citing undisclosed personal reasons. As his resignation was announced before the letter could be physically delivered, Jewish authors routinely claim that Kennedy’s message failed to reach Ben-Gurion. Nonsense. That interpretative gloss ignores what we now know about Israeli operations inside serial U.S. presidencies—and about Tel Aviv’s routine intercept of White House communications.

Deprived of an Israeli government with which to negotiate, Kennedy was denied a national security victory that may well have spared the world a problem he foresaw almost a half-century ago. In retrospect, that Israeli conduct raises topical questions about the ability of the U.S.—or any nation—to hold Zionist extremists accountable.

The Khazars vs. the Kennedys

During this same 1962-63 period, Senator William J. Fulbright of Arkansas, chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, convened hearings on the legal status of the American Zionist Council. The AZC received funds from the Jewish Agency, a predecessor to the state of Israel. As a recipient of U.S. taxpayer funds, the Jewish Agency used those funds to lobby for more funds. Under U.S. law, that conduct required the AZC to register as a foreign agent.

Attorney General Robert Kennedy joined Fulbright in that quest. That effort was thwarted by the Israel lobby and then by the death of President Kennedy. Thereafter, concerns about the impact of Zionist influence on U.S. policy making continued to grow. By 1973, Fulbright could announce with confidence: “Israel controls the U.S. Senate.” In 1974, he lost his Senate seat. [See: “How the Israel Lobby Took Control of U.S. Foreign Policy.”]

Fast-forward to today and imagine the Middle East without an enclave of nuclear-armed Zionist extremists. The threat that Kennedy posed to Tel Aviv’s arsenal was eliminated five months after Ben-Gurion’s strategically well-timed resignation. When Vice President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as his successor, LBJ quickly increased the arms budget for Israel. Imagine today’s Zionist influence on U.S. policy had Fulbright and the Kennedys succeeded in requiring that the lobby register as what it is: a foreign agent.

Following the Kennedy assassination in November 1963, Nicholas Katzenbach replaced RFK as Attorney General. Soon thereafter, the AZC evaded registration as it morphed into the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC now oversees a transnational network of pro-Israeli political operatives commonly known as “the Israel lobby.”

The Kennedy/Fulbright risk to Zionist influence reemerged five years later when Robert Kennedy announced his candidacy for the presidency during the height of an unpopular war that was vastly expanded under the leadership of the Texan who replaced his brother as president. Another Kennedy presidency posed for Tel Aviv a two-fold threat.

First, Robert Kennedy’s peace candidacy revived the possibility that he would pursue his brother’s agenda and target Israel’s nuclear arsenal in order to preclude a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Second, with Fulbright still wielding influence on U.S. foreign policy, a Kennedy administration revived concerns about restrictions on the Israel lobby.

When this charismatic contender surged in the political polls, that threat was eliminated June 5, 1968 at a campaign event in Los Angeles. His death at the hand of Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian émigré, coincided with the first anniversary of the Six-Day War. The assassin later cited as his motive Kennedy’s campaign pledge to provide more fighter jets to Israel.

With that murder, the road to the presidency was cleared for Richard Nixon. When lobbied by Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, Nixon readily agreed to endorse an “ambiguous” status for Israel’s nuclear arsenal, akin to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Special Standard for a Special Friend

Due to its “special relationship” with the U.S., Tel Aviv remains a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Its Dimona facility has never been subjected to the inspections it now seeks for Iran. But for photographs taken inside the Dimona facility in 1986 by nuclear technician Mordecai Vanunu, that “ambiguity” might well remain intact.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly certified that Iran is not enriching uranium beyond the 3.5% required for nuclear energy. Tehran has agreed to send its uranium abroad for the further enrichment required for medicine (19.5%), a level still well below the 90% required for nuclear weapons.

In mid-September, the U.S. intelligence agencies reported to the White House that their assessment since the National Intelligence Estimate of November 2007 remains unchanged. They still do not believe that Iran has resumed nuclear weapons development work

What about Israel? What has their lobby been doing? Answer: lobbying. As during the Kennedy era, Tel Aviv remains focused on a single goal: ensuring that its ally and patron continues a six-decade policy ensuring that Israel is not held accountable—for anything.

At what cost has the U.S. acted as if the Israel lobby is not a foreign agent? The strategic issue faced by Fulbright and the Kennedys remains unresolved: how best can the U.S. eliminate Israeli influence as a threat to national security? Since that fateful letter of June 1963, what has been the cost of this lobby to U.S. interests? What costs have been imposed on others by this special relationship? At what point will Americans say: Enough!

Source: Criminal State

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Hey, kids! Hate school? Don't tell Facebook!


High school sucks. Did you forget? Don't believe it? Check out Facebook.

Contrary to the evidence on Facebook student pages however, high schools aren't the only educational institutions capable of totally sucking.

Even schools you elect to attend, for example, the Salon Professional Academy of Elgin, Ill., can also act as an oxygen vortex. At least that's the opinion of a Nicholas Blacconiere, an academy student under legal fire for enshrining his negative opinions and those of others on a private page he posted on the world's most popular social networking site.

"Facebook 'suck sites' to be tested in court," proclaimed the Chicago Tribune in reporting the academy's $50,000 suit against Blacconiere for unauthorized use of the school's logo and for emotional damage caused by defamatory comments posted on his page, titled "Tspa RobinHood."

Other media followed suit, with headlines such as " ‘My School Sucks' pages under attack," and the like. Why it's as if just now, a couple of months short of 2010, the First Amendment rights of Internet-savvy students are under fire and not, in fact, an ongoing and troublesome issue.

While the medium of expression has changed over the years - from the cover of one's Mead Trapper Keeper to Facebook and other Internet-loitering spots - proclaiming the suckitude of one's school is an ancient rite of passage. It may even be a necessary for growing personalities to assert such independence, according to some experts. The change of venue, however, has led to myriad lawsuits involving disgruntled students and the schools that punish them.

"Forty years ago, the Supreme Court resoundingly affirmed that young people attending public schools do not ‘shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate,' " writes Frank D. LoMonte in "Reaching Through the School House Gate: Students' Eroding First Amendment Right," his February 2009 brief for the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy.

Recent developments in the law of online speech, however, are rattling the certainty of that assumption," the Student Press Law Center executive director continues. "In the view of at least some federal judges, students do not enjoy - anywhere, anytime -the same right to comment on school as ordinary citizens."

One of the more prominent cases still pending started two years ago, when Katherine "Katy" Evans, then a Pembroke Pines Charter junior in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., built a Facebook page titled "Ms. Sarah Phelps is the worst teacher I've ever met." It featured a photo of the teacher who disgruntled Evans so, as well as an invitation to others to "express your feelings of hatred." Evans created the page to blow off steam. Now it's the subject of an ACLU lawsuit.

It was hardly the first Facebook page posted by a disgruntled student. Even now, a Facebook search for "student organizations" with "high school" and "sucks" in the title returns hundreds of results augmented with the names of specific schools, pages that have been online for months, even years.

For Evans, however, this teenage indiscretion - which she removed after a few days - cost her a three-day suspension and removal from her college-critical "advanced placement" status in her senior year.

"It is ironic that high school is where students first learn about First Amendment rights, including the right to free speech, yet it is Katy's high school that unconstitutionally trampled those very rights," ACLU cooperating attorney Matthew D. Bavaro, said in a press release announcing the suit last December.

Unfortunately, interfering with an adequate education has served before as punishment for such online shenanigans. In 2007, the ACLU successfully defended Justin Layshock, a high school senior who received 10 days suspension for a MySpace parody of his principal. What's more, Layshock, a "gifted" student, was removed from his classes and placed in an "alternative learning environment" far below his capabilities.

"Significantly, the Layshock court took care to examine the basis for the punishment, and had no difficulty concluding that the suspension was imposed purely for the content of the student's speech, and not for any non-speech disruptive conduct on campus," LoMonte writes in "Students' Eroding First Amendment Right."

"Thus, the school could not justify its actions by claiming that the discipline was for on-campus misconduct," one of few reasons schools can legally interfere in a student's off-campus behavior.

Still, these cases are never so clear-cut. The precedent set 40 years ago that ensured First Amendment rights for public school students took place long before the Internet era, with its cyberbullying and the like.

Appeals are still pending for the case of Avery Doninger, who in 2007 was not permitted to run for senior class secretary after she referred to faculty at Lewis Mills High School in Burlington, Conn., as "douchebags" on her LiveJournal blog. Faculty called the student, who'd previously never been in trouble, a cyberbully.

The Internet "is bringing up things we used to say verbally, that's now searchable and online," says Robert L. Shibley, vice president at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). While FIRE advocates for university students, who have significantly more rights than high school students, Shibley notes the slippery slope between the two education levels.

It is not unusual, Shibely says, for a university to note a precedent set for high school students and First Amendment rights and attempt to apply that precedent to people old enough "to fight in a war, vote and drink."

"You have sort of an Orwellian atmosphere at universities, and especially at high schools, Shibley says. "Administrators feel they have to tamp down (online speech) or somebody going to sue the high school."

"It's a big mess, and it's just coming out everywhere."

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Attacking the First and Second Amendments at the same time - FIRE, New York

A couple separate recent incidents illustrate the fact that to the forcible citizen disarmament lobby, the Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms is only one of the freedoms that must be suppressed. To such people, when faced with concerned citizens who dare to speak out against citizen disarmament, the only option is to go after their First Amendment rights, as well.

First, we have the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), a Pittsburgh area community college. Back in April, a student, Christine Brashier wanted to start a chapter of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC). This group, as one may have guessed, advocates permitting defensive handgun carry on college campuses, thus ending the status, shared by nearly every institution of higher learning in the nation, of mandated victim disarmament.

Stunningly, she was told she could not form such a group at CACC.

A student who wants to form a gun-rights group at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) has been threatened with disciplinary action for her efforts. Student Christine Brashier has turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help after reporting that administrators banned her informational pamphlets, ordered her to destroy all copies of them, and told her that further "academic misconduct" would not be tolerated.

"CCAC has demonstrated a shocking lack of respect for the rights of free speech and free association," FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. "Across the country, students are increasingly denied the First Amendment right to debate the Second Amendment. At CCAC, this censorship trend has reached a new low."

Fortunately, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) took up Ms. Brashier's cause. No matter what one's position is on defensive handgun carry on college campuses, we should all agree that students must not be forbidden to debate the issue. Because of the attention brought by FIRE, to CCAC's free speech suppression, the school was recently forced to relent, and has rescinded the Orwellian policy it held this spring.

After months of national media attention, a student threatened with punishment for attempting to form a gun-rights group at Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) is finally allowed to distribute pamphlets about the group on campus. The college has also rescinded its unconstitutional policy demanding "prior written approval" for "personal contact with individuals or groups related to non-sponsored college material or events."

Ms. Brashier, FIRE, and SCCC all deserve kudos for their hard work.

The second incident might be even more unforgivable. This time, the advocacy group was the Second Amendment Sisters, and the event was an "empty holster" day in Washington D.C. The response, this time apparently by an officer of the Department of Homeland Security, was a threat far more grave than the prospect of "academic misconduct."

He then said that he would have to ask me to remove my holster and I got the distinct feeling that he intended to confiscate it. When my husband pulled the video camera out of the bag, he changed his tone only slightly and asked me again to remove the holster, this time saying that I needed to "put it away". I asked him why and he told me that it was illegal to have "gun paraphernalia". I told him that I had no guns, no ammunition and no magazines and that the holster was only a piece of leather and not against the law.

That is exactly the kind of attitude an aspiring agent of tyranny hates to encounter.

The DHS officer asked her to [sic] get that camera out of his face, which of course she did not comply with. As time progressed, the officer gradually backed down from demanding to requesting that I remove my holster until he was "advising" me that it was in my best interest to comply. Finally he conceded that he could not make me remove my holster but warned me that if I persisted that I *would* be detained and possibly arrested or shot, that not every LEO was "pro-gun" like he was!

You read that correctly--a woman was threatened with arrest or with being shot, for wearing an empty holster.

Some among those who wish the citizenry to be disarmed would prefer that we not utilize the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment in defense of the rights guaranteed by the Second. They should draw comfort from the fact that we have not--yet--been forced to do the reverse.

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