Patterico's Pontifications

3/17/2008

What the [Expletive Deleted] Was the Court Thinking When It Decided to Take This Case?

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Constitutional Law,General,Humor — Patterico @ 8:48 pm

Jan Crawford Greenburg reports that the Supreme Court Justices will be forced to listen to some expletives in their hallowed hall in an upcoming argument.

The Court has agreed to hear a challenge to an FCC regulation that allows the FCC to punish networks for a single, fleeting use of a word like “fuck” or “shit.” The Second Circuit agreed with a brief filed by my hero Miguel Estrada, which argued that these words do not always have a sexual or excretory meaning.

Estrada’s brief is hilarious in an understated, legalistic sort of way. ABC makes Jan bleep out the bad words (ironically enough) but I am leaving them in:

…the “F-word” is often used to express intense (and clearly nonsexual) feelings—even by political leaders. For example, Vice President Cheney’s retort of “Fuck yourself” to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on the floor of the Senate chamber in 2004 was widely reported. See, e.g., Cheney Utters ‘F-Word’ in Heated Exchange With Leahy, THE FRONTRUNNER, June 25, 2004.

In a display of bipartisan understanding that the “‘F-Word’” has non-sexual meanings, Senator John Kerry explained his vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq by asking “Did I expect George Bush to fuck it up as badly as he did? I don’t think anybody did.” Will Dana, John Kerry’s Desperate Hours, ROLLING STONE, Dec. 25, 2003; see 32 also Michael Elliott & James Carney, First Stop, Iraq, TIME, Mar. 31, 2003, at 172 (quoting President Bush as saying to a group of U.S. Senators, “F___ Saddam. We’re taking him out.” (omission in original)).

These usages are not remotely “sexual”—and no viewer could reasonably view them to be.

Indeed. Estrada’s argument reminds me of a passage from Joseph Heller’s book “Something Happened”:

And my boy, I can tell, is working up the courage to experiment at home with a dirty word or two. (He isn’t sure what the word fuck means, although he knows it’s dirty. He was under the impression fuck was the word for sexual intercourse, until I told him it usually wasn’t.)

In fact, Miguel Estrada might want to work that passage into his oral argument; it fits the argument pretty well.

Go over to Jan’s post for Estrada’s argument about the non-excretory meaning of the word “shit.” It’s pretty compelling. [Expletive deleted]ing brilliant, actually.

My favorite bit is the press release that FCC Chair Kevin Martin issued upon learning of the decision. You will contend that I am making this up — but it’s real. I [expletive deleted] you not.

Today, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said the use of the words “fuck” and “shit” by Cher and Nicole Richie was not indecent.

I completely disagree with the Court’s ruling and am disappointed for American families. I find it hard to believe that the New York court would tell American families that “shit” and “fuck” are fine to say on broadcast television during the hours when children are most likely to be in the audience.

The court even says the Commission is “divorced from reality.” It is the New York court, not the Commission, that is divorced from reality in concluding that the word “fuck” does not invoke a sexual connotation.

[…]If ever there was an appropriate time for Commission action, this was it. If we can’t restrict the use of the words “fuck” and “shit” during prime time, Hollywood will be able to say anything they want, whenever they want.

This is going to be an oral argument for the ages.

A Funny Spam Comment

Filed under: Humor — Patterico @ 8:28 pm

Today, an awesome spam comment on this post showed up in my spam filter. I did not approve the spam comment because I don’t want to help the spammer publicize his link — but the content of the spam comment was funny, so I am reproducing the comment in its entirety.

This particular spam comment was of the variety that takes some personal effort. [UPDATE: Actually, not necessarily. As a commenter notes, it could well be the work of a robot.] In an apparent attempt to avoid having his comment look like spam, the spammer sandwiches a quote of mine in between phrases of praise. However, as it happens, the quote of mine that he was praising was so lame on its face that the praise comes off as bitter sarcasm.

Here is the spam comment:

Good post. You make some great points that most people do not fully understand.

“I’m unable to keep updating on this story throughout the morning, as I’m off to work, so I suggest you follow the updating machine: Allah. He is currently saying that CNBC has the same story. CNBC says the resignation will happen today at 11 a.m. Eastern. It’s to become effective Monday.”

I like how you explained that. Very helpful. Thanks.

You’re welcome!

If You Take Your Investment Advice from TV Talking Heads, You Are an Idiot

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:04 pm

As Jim Cramer proves here.

Florida Rejects Re-Vote

Filed under: 2008 Election — Patterico @ 4:25 pm

CNN is reporting it now.

More popcorn, please.

UPDATE: Courtesy of the New York Times, here is the statement from the head of the Democrat party in Florida:

Last week, the Florida Democratic Party laid out the only existing way that we can comply with D.N.C. Rules – a statewide revote run by the Party – and asked for input.

Thousands of people responded. We spent the weekend reviewing your messages, and while your reasons vary widely, the consensus is clear: Florida doesn’t want to vote again.

So we won’t.

A party-run primary or caucus has been ruled out, and it’s simply not possible for the state to hold another election, even if the party were to pay for it. Republican Speaker of the Florida House Marco Rubio refuses to even consider that option. Florida is finally moving to paper ballots, which is a good thing, but it means that at least 15 counties do not have the capacity to handle a major election before the June 10th D.N.C. primary deadline.

This doesn’t mean that Democrats are giving up on Florida voters. It means that a solution will have to come from the D.N.C. Rules & Bylaws Committee, which is scheduled to meet again in April.

Being a Republican is fun again . . . for now.

Bear Stearns Deal Could Herald More Than a Bear Market

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:18 am

It’s ugly now, to be sure. But if major banks start failing, a recession could be the least of our worries.

The Heller Case: Some Links

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Constitutional Law,General — Patterico @ 12:34 am

Tomorrow’s oral argument in the Heller Second Amendment case is going to be momentous. I had planned to give a briefing tomorrow morning — but why wait to have this discussion, when there are good links out there now?

Jan Crawford Greenburg says the line is already forming at the court — even though it’s very cold and windy at the Court. I hope everyone is courteous to each other; the prospect of squabbling between a bunch of Second Amendment advocates is vaguely troubling. Here is video of Greenburg’s report for ABC News, which is notable for two reasons: 1) it actually tells people about an instance of people using guns to defend themselves, which is rare for Big Media, and 2) it shows just how windy it is in D.C.!

Last night I watched a panel discussion regarding the upcoming argument. The panel has Carl Bogus, Dave Kopel, and John Payton, and is moderated by Dahlia Lithwick. I found it via Simon at Stubborn Facts, who found it via Howard Bashman.

To me, the modern debate essentially revolves around the “justification clause” — the clause of the Second Amendment that justifies the right set forth therein: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The best piece of writing I have ever seen addressing the significance of that clause is this law review article by Eugene Volokh. Volokh identifies numerous “justification clauses” in various state constitutions, justifying rights as various as freedom of speech, the right to be tried in the county where a criminal offense occurred, and immunity from lawsuits for statements made during speeches and debates in the legislature. Many of the proffered justifications are no longer operative, but nobody thinks the rights have therefore disappeared. Volokh says:

These provisions, I believe, shed some light on the interpretation of the Second Amendment:

1. They show that the Second Amendment should be seen as fairly commonplace, rather than strikingly odd.
2. They rebut the claim that a right expires when courts conclude that the justification given for the right is no longer valid or is no longer served by the right.
3. They show that operative clauses are often both broader and narrower than their justification clauses, thus casting doubt on the argument that the right exists only when (in the courts’ judgment) it furthers the goals identified in the justification clause.
4. They point to how the two clauses might be read together, without disregarding either.

It’s an excellent piece, and any gun control supporter who relies heavily on the justification clause of the Second Amendment needs to grapple with Prof. Volokh’s argument if they are to be taken seriously.

Happy Birthday to My Dad

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:01 am

As I have done every March 17 since I started this blog, I am wishing my Dad a Happy Birthday.

He would have been 83. Ever since we lost him on December 6, 2005, it has been a tradition for me to wear his shamrock bow tie on his birthday, and today is no exception.

We’ll raise a glass to your memory tonight, Dad.


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