Patterico's Pontifications


Ken Layne: It’s Sarah Palin’s Fault We Made Fun of Trig on His Birthday!!!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:49 pm

So Wonkette published a post mocking Trig Palin on his birthday. Link? Why, no! But I will link you to Tommy Christopher, who gives a representative quote from the post:

Today is the day we come together to celebrate the snowbilly grifter’s magical journey from Texas to Alaska to deliver to the America the great gentleman scholar Trig Palin. Is Palin his true mother? Or was Bristol? (And why is it that nobody questions who the father is? Because, either way, Todd definitely did it.)

Mocking Trig for being a Downs Syndrome child? Check. Accusing Todd Palin of raping his daughter? Check. And it goes on like that.

Dave Weigel has allowed Wonkette editor (and raging asshole) Ken Layne to portray himself as quasi-outraged by the post, reprinting Layne’s e-mail that begins thusly:

I have four kids myself and I wouldn’t want them mocked on the Internet by a bunch of cretins on the Internet. And that’s just one reason why I wouldn’t parade my children around in the media. What kind of mother does that?

In any case, Jack has been admonished and put on night probation until further notice. Anything involving Palin, I want to make it extra clear that *Palin* is the problem with America. Not her kids.

Blah blah blah. Isn’t it a shame that people mock Trig, he says — as he blames Palin. Which is what all the Trig mockers do.

Tommy Christopher does a better job of revealing Layne’s complete lack of remorse, by publishing his e-mail exchanges with Layne, who starts off seeing absolutely nothing wrong with the piece, and demanding to know what editor is pushing Christopher to ask about it:

On whose account are you requesting that Jack Stuef remove a post mocking Sarah Palin’s well-documented use of her special needs child as a political prop? Is this coming from Mediaite? Which editor?

Which he followed up with this:

So Mediaite wants you to encourage political satire websites to remove items that offend those who support the targets of the mockery? That seems awfully strange for Mediaite. Which editor is encouraging this, is what I’m asking.

Why the sudden punishment of the author — and sudden lip service to Weigel over the supposed inappropriate nature of the post? They’re losing advertisers, that’s why.

Uh-oh! Time to half-assedly pretend to have a shred of decency!

But just a shred. After all, you have a reputation to protect, Layne, as one of the Internet’s premier douchebags.

UPDATE: They lost the Papa John’s account, but they’re trying hard to get it back:

They’re also calling for a boycott. I think this is called “taking responsibility.”

Let me know if Weigel reports on that, or whether he continues to allow the cretinous Layne to portray himself as (sort of) contrite.

UPDATE x2: Layne is such a great parent he can’t even count his own children.

Liaquat Ali Khan: We Should Ban Koran Burning Because Muslims Are More Dangerous Than Veterans

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 2:31 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Let me introduce you to a cheerful fellow, Liaquat Ali Khan.  Here’s his picture:

He writes a column today in  MWC News arguing that we should make a special law banning the burning of a Koran.

No, wait, Aaron,–you might say,–he didn’t say Korans only.  He surely tried to pretend he was concerned with all religions equally, right?

Um, no, he said Korans only.  I mean you will have to read the whole thing to decide if I am right, but here’s the key passage:

Invoking their constitutional right, American Muslims should petition the United States Congress for a redress of grievances. They must demand constitutionally sound legislation that outlaws desecrations of the Qur’an. For Congress, such legislation will demonstrate to American Muslims that the United States is prepared to break away from the medieval custom of assaulting the dignity of the Qur’an. It will also send a powerful message to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, and the entire Muslim world, that the U.S. is neither Islamophobic, nor anti-Islamic, a move that can undermine terrorist threats to homeland security.

So that is the first problem with his proposed approach: he would declare that Islam, and Islam only would receive special protecting under our laws.  Which is as flagrant a violation of the First Amendment as they come.

Further, in order to argue that this was lawful, he distorts what the Supreme Court said:

In the language of law, Qur’an burning would be an expressive conduct. The First Amendment is generous in protecting oral and written word. It is less so with respect to expressive conduct. The First Amendment shelters expressive conduct if it does not threaten to disturb the peace. The United States Supreme Court declined to outlaw the burning of an American flag because, “no disturbance of the peace actually occurred or threatened to occur.”

The flag precedent does not apply because Qur’an burning is an expressive conduct that incites actual violence. So far Qur’an burning has produced instantaneous violence outside the United States. Given the presence of a growing population of American Muslims, Qur’an burning threatens domestic peace.

Now he is right to say that Koran burning is expressive conduct.  And thus content-neutral regulations of that conduct are certainly permissible.  I have said from the beginning of the Jones controversy that if the locality had a content neutral restriction on burnings that was actually enforced neutrally, that I would have no problem with enforcing that restriction.  But the rest of that is  a complete distortion of what the Supreme Court actually said in Texas v. Johnson.  Here’s the whole quote in context:

Texas claims that its interest in preventing breaches of the peace justifies Johnson’s conviction for flag desecration. However, no disturbance of the peace actually occurred or threatened to occur because of Johnson’s burning of the flag. Although the State stresses the disruptive behavior of the protestors during their march toward City Hall … it admits that “no actual breach of the peace occurred at the time of the flag burning or in response to the flagburning.” The State’s emphasis on the protestors’ disorderly actions prior to arriving at City Hall is not only somewhat surprising given that no charges were brought on the basis of this conduct, but it also fails to show that a disturbance of the peace was a likely reaction to Johnson’s conduct. The only evidence offered by the State at trial to show the reaction to Johnson’s actions was the testimony of several persons who had been seriously offended by the flag burning.

The State’s position, therefore, amounts to a claim that an audience that takes serious offense at particular expression is necessarily likely to disturb the peace and that the expression may be prohibited on this basis. Our precedents do not countenance such a presumption. On the contrary, they recognize that a principal “function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger.” … It would be odd indeed to conclude both that “if it is the speaker’s opinion that gives offense, that consequence is a reason for according it constitutional protection,”  … and that the government may ban the expression of certain disagreeable ideas on the unsupported presumption that their very disagreeableness will provoke violence.

Thus, we have not permitted the government to assume that every expression of a provocative idea will incite a riot, but have instead required careful consideration of the actual circumstances surrounding such expression, asking whether the expression “is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”

(Citations omitted.)  So under that standard, originally put forward in Brandenburg v. Ohio, you have to 1) intend to cause violence, 2) imminently, and 3) it has to be likely to actually cause that violence to occur (imminently).  And bluntly, that has no application to Jones’ decision to have the Koran burned.

But the real chutzpah on display here is this part.  He spends a lot of time berating any and all criticism of Islam, the Koran or Mohammed (Pedophilia Be Upon Him) asserting it is a medieval practice, etc.  And to prove that we should not be allowed to criticize Islam, he cites Voltaire.

Yes, really:

In 1736, Voltaire, the celebrated French belletrist, wrote a five-act play Mahomet to highlight the depravity of Islam, and perhaps all religions. A few years later, however, Voltaire revised his views and appreciated the Qur’an for removing idolatry.

Sure, because it’s not like as if Voltaire had anything to say about freedom of speech…  Seriously, if Voltaire was alive today he would probably go to Saudi Arabia and burn a Koran in Mecca.  He would not be on your side, Khan.

But while one might be galled by the chutzpah in regard to Voltaire, I felt nothing but contempt and hatred when I read this:

In 2004, Dutch filmmaker Van Gogh produced a short film, called Submission, to highlight the subjugation of women that the Qur’an allegedly advocates. The film shows nude women wearing see-through veils with Arabic verses of the Qur’an etched on their bodies, insinuating that the Qur’an perpetuates their lack of freedom. An infuriated Moroccan murdered Van Gogh. While condemning the murder, another filmmaker opined, “Longtime readers of Van Gogh’s weekly column in the Dutch newspaper “Metro” know very well that his intention was not to reform male chauvinism, but rather to express crude bigotry.”

Well, then it was okay for people to kill him, right?  Yeah, he doesn’t quite say it, but the entire thrust of this article is to argue that Muslims are uniquely unable to control themselves and therefore we should suppress blasphemy against Islam and Islam only.

Now to be fair, when teamed up with a woman named Jasmine Abou-Kassem, they concluded that Pakistan’s death penalty for blasphemy was going to far.  Which I guess means he is not completely down with the state murder of others.  Which is good to know.

But let me explain something to you, Khan, and I want you to pull up a close seat and listen.  If there is ever a day when I am convinced that Muslims as a group are incapable of responding peacefully to offense, including the burning of their holy book, that is the day I decide that Islam is a threat to America.  And on that day I will start advocating things like an exclusion of all Muslims from this country.

Consider it the “anti-trust” theory of freedom of religion.  You are free to believe in any religion…  that will respect my freedom of religion.  But if you can’t reconcile your faith to my practice of freedom of religion, then it is your freedom that will be restricted, not mine.

Hat tip: Volokh (who notes that he has pushed anti-religious-defamation laws before), via Insty.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

A Warning to Iphone Users

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 10:43 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Good news!  Your Iphone is secretly tracking your movements:

Security researchers have discovered that Apple’s iPhone keeps track of where you go – and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner’s computer when the two are synchronised.

The file contains the latitude and longitude of the phone’s recorded coordinates along with a timestamp, meaning that anyone who stole the phone or the computer could discover details about the owner’s movements using a simple program.

For some phones, there could be almost a year’s worth of data stored, as the recording of data seems to have started with Apple’s iOS 4 update to the phone’s operating system, released in June 2010.

“Apple has made it possible for almost anybody – a jealous spouse, a private detective – with access to your phone or computer to get detailed information about where you’ve been,” said Pete Warden, one of the researchers.

Yeah, not at all creepy on Apple’s part.  And in case you are not an Apple user, and worried about this:

Only the iPhone records the user’s location in this way, say Warden and Alasdair Allan, the data scientists who discovered the file and are presenting their findings at the Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. “Alasdair has looked for similar tracking code in [Google’s] Android phones and couldn’t find any,” said Warden. “We haven’t come across any instances of other phone manufacturers doing this.”

Yeah, so unless this story turns out to be a hoax, Apple just lost a customer.  Seriously, I have had Verizon forever and I was thinking about getting the Iphone on that service but not fraking now.

Also, it might be a good time to trot out a classic from Cracked: 5 Reasons Why You Should be Scared of Apple (language warning at the link).  So I guess they need to amend it to be six reasons.

H/t: Hot Air.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

The Government is In-Cape-Able of Being Efficient (Update: Hotairalanche)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 7:54 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Update: Wow, talk about GMTA. This Hot Air post hits virtually every highlight I did.

Not that I am insinuating more than that. My comments and jokes were pretty obvious so it is very easy to imagine two conservative-minded types seeing the same thing in the same story. I am just amused at how similar the thoughts really are, right down to the Incredibles clip.

Update (II): Ed Morrissey links and tweetsget out of my head! [/dune]”

Update (III): Apparently they disappeared the gallery of images of people attacking Dr. Evil Unemployment down the memory hole. So the pictures have gone bad in the post. Heh.

A nice juxtaposition to Lee’s discussion yesterday about how unemployment benefits actually depress employment, we have this article:

Job center blasted for giving capes to unemployed

Yes, you read that right.  Capes.  As in what Superman wears and what Edna Mode tells you not to wear (the good stuff is at the 2 minute mark) [update: ack!  Wordpress ate my video.  So here’s the one Hot Air linked to, which is shorter anyway]:

Florida officials are investigating an unemployment agency that spent public money to give 6,000 superhero capes to the jobless.

Workforce Central Florida spent more than $14,000 on the red capes as part of its “Cape-A-Bility Challenge” public relations campaign. The campaign featured a cartoon character, “Dr. Evil Unemployment,” who needs to be vanquished.

Florida’s unemployment agency director asked Monday for an investigation of the regional operation’s spending after the Orlando Sentinel published a story about the program. State director Cynthia Lorenzo said the spending appeared to be “insensitive and wasteful.”

(By the way, that is the AP, so get yer screenshots now.)

The Orlando Sentinel goes into much more detail, indeed even making the case that yeah, it is pretty undignified:

“Wow … I mean, wow,” said Ryan Julison, a former vice president of communications with Ginn Resorts. “That’s all I can say.”

Julison, who was laid off a year ago, said the tone of the campaign risks “trivializing the very gut-wrenching situation people find themselves in.” He commended Workforce Central Florida for reaching out, but worried this attempt misses the mark.

“It’s very difficult to be unemployed, to feel like you’re going around with your hat in hand,” he said. “And to be presented with a cape … I just don’t know.”

Beyond the campaign’s tone is its budget. Workforce will spend more than $73,000, with the agency’s ad firm collecting about $7,500.

And yeah, that is in significant part your money:

Workforce is a federally funded labor development agency that last year received almost $24 million in public money. It is a private, nonprofit organization governed by more than 40 Central Florida business leaders.

And of course it is still proudly on their site, including, alas, a photo gallery where they pose with a cutout of the character “Dr. Evil Unemployment”—the most poorly conceived character since…  the Governator.

[Update: As mentioned above, the Pictures have been scrubbed from the site, so my pictures have disappeared too. So I have deleted the portion of the post where I showed their pictures and made fun of them. But other pictures have remained.]


The Sherrod / Breitbart Story The Media Will Ignore

Filed under: General — Stranahan @ 4:40 am

[Posted by Lee Stranahan]

While some on the left are getting their panties in a twist over Dylan Ratigan not being mean enough to Andrew Breitbart on MSNBC yesterday, a huge chunk of narrative in the Andrew Breitbart saga dropped in the past couple of days and hardly anyone seems to have paid it any mind.

Let me get my disclaimer out of the way here – I’m friends with Andrew and him working with him on the Pigford documentary, but since Shirley Sherrod filed a lawsuit against him I’ve had no substantive discussions with him about the suit. Anything I’m writing here is my own opinion.

In this PDF posted by the Blog of LegalTimes, the attorneys for Andrew Breitbart and codefendant Larry O’Connor first make overwhelmingly convincing arguments for change of venue and then lay out a clear, compelling First Amendment case that Sherrod’s suit should be dismissed.

So far, Breitbart haters like Media Matters for America have been the ones who have controlled the written narrative by laying out a timeline that conveniently starts with the publication of the video and makes scant reference to the months long battle between the NAACP and the Tea Party. Dropping that context and making it appear as though Breitbart was going after Sherrod is one of the Big Lies that’s been perpetuated about the story and Breitbart’s legal team simply lays it to waste.

It was squarely in the context of this months-long and very loud public clash between Tea Party conservatives and the NAACP and its allies in Congress that Breitbart turned the rhetorical tables with his 1400-word, July 19, 2010 commentary (the “Blog Post”) that is the subject of Sherrod’s lawsuit. See Complaint, Ex. 1. In the first half of his commentary, Breitbart accuses the NAACP of demagoguery by demanding the repudiation of “racists” within the Tea Party. He argues that the claims of the Congressional Black Caucus about the March 2010 rally in Washington, DC were nothing but a “racial” smear as it took to the airwaves to accuse the Tea Party of “racism.” He blames the Democratic Party for using charges of “racism” against the Tea Party movement as an expedient political strategy. Id. And he derides the mainstream media for falsely labeling the Tea Party as “racist” as well. It has been, he says, a summer with “race and racism” taking “center stage” and the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus playing the “race card” as “their Stradivarius.” .

It is over 800 words into the Blog Post that Breitbart first introduces Sherrod and her March 27, 2010 public appearance as an NAACP award recipient and USDA official. When he finally reaches the subject of Sherrod’s speech, the figurative labels “racist” and “racism” were a well-used part of the rhetorical feud between the Tea Party and its opponents, as is evident not only from the context of the Blog Post but from the prior year of heated dialogue. Indeed, Breitbart begins his evaluation of Sherrod’s words by noting that “by bringing up race, and demanding a zero tolerance of racism, the left, and the NAACP in particular, has opened itself up for scrutiny.

This also makes clear the real danger of the Sherrod lawsuit to anyone engaged in political debate, on the left or the right. This is a First Amendment issue, pure and simple. Shallow people like to point out that the First Amendment doesn’t give you the right to lie or some such nonsense, which is a complete diversion from the issue. Stating one’s opinion about whether someone else’s words seem racist or not isn’t a lie, it’s an opinion. If that’s grounds for litigation, then Shirley Sherrod is in trouble, too. As a brief points out…

In the heat of the charge and counter-charge that defined this episode, Sherrod herself would tell a national network news audience that Breitbart was a “racist” and that “he would like to get us stuck back in the times of slavery. That’s where I think he’d like to see all black people end up again.” During this interview, Sherrod also revealed her motivation in filing this lawsuit. She stated of Breitbart, “that’s one person I’d like to get back at,” and, when asked by the CNN anchor, “Would you like his site [] to be shut down?,” Sherrod responded unequivocally, “That would be a great thing. Because I do not see how that advances us in this country.”

Thankfully the founding fathers didn’t see how censorship would advance us in this country nor did the court two-hundred years later when they looked at New York Times v. Sullivan. Political rhetoric can get fiery and public officials like Sherrod don’t like their feet being held to the fire sometimes, too bad. That’s exactly what this case is about. It’s not liberal or conservative, black or white, rich or poor – it’s about allowing breathing room for political debate.

The problem is that the mainstream press will most likely just ignore the story told in this legal brief. Politico did a piece on it which focused on the idea that it’s somehow hypocritical of Breitbart’s attorneys to want a dismissal when Breitbart had already said he relished the idea of discovery. Nowhere did they mention the heart of the legal briefing or its arguments.

Realistically, very few people are going to read the entire legal brief. Here’s another link to the PDF just in case you’re game for it. (I did read the entire brief but I’m weird that way.) It would be nice however, if some of the people that do read the entire PDF would do blog posts about it and help lay out more of the story.

– Lee Stranahan

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