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  • January 18, 2008
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    It's foolish to seek logic in appeals to religious faith, especially those made while campaigning, but I can’t help interrogating Fred Thompson’s refrain that our "basic rights come from God and not from any government." What exactly does this imply – that if Christians are denied the right to proselytize, they should pray for the right to be restored instead of petitioning their government? When people are fired or not hired on the basis of race, religion, or sex, should they turn to their spiritual leaders for help instead of their lawyers?



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  • January 18, 2008
    By Harvey Silverglate

    In a case with eerie similarities to the Bush administration’s destruction the CIA “torture tapes,” the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center, a school in Canton, MA, for special needs students, is reportedly being investigated by state prosecutors over its destruction of videotape evidence. According to a page-one story in today’s Boston Globe, the school electroshocked one student 77 times and the other 29 times after a prank caller posing as a supervisor ordered the treatments, and then erased (by recording over) video surveillance footage of the bizarre incident.

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  • January 17, 2008
    By webteam

    In this week's Boston Phoenix, Harvey Silverglate writes about how a troubling new obstruction-of-justice statute, and a precedent set in a Connecticut kiddie-porn case, could be used to prosecute the CIA if the government brings obstruction charges related to the destruction of the so-called "torture tapes."

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  • January 14, 2008
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    My mother believed firmly in civility: “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything,” she plaintively advised; but even she didn’t take this maxim literally. My mother was smarter and more tolerant of dissent than a lot of college administrators today, who seem to regard graciousness as the highest educational value.

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  • January 10, 2008
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    Telecomunications companies that exposed their customers to warrantless surveillance, in what they claim was service to the nation, have discovered the limits to their patriotism: “Telephone companies have cut off FBI wiretaps used to eavesdrop on suspected criminals because of the bureau's repeated failures to pay phone bills on time,” according to the AP.

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  • January 09, 2008
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    Identity politics seemed to have worked for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, after all, and given the unseemly glee with which so many pundits predicted her demise, given their gratuitous brutality toward her, I confess to feeling pleased and even vindicated by the support she received from women. I'm not a member of the Hillary fan club (I'm uneasy with her centrist, communitarian instincts,) and I recoil from the notion of voting on the basis of sex, race, or any other demographic category.

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  • January 08, 2008
    By James Tierney

    NBC reports that a group of abortion protesters disrupted a Barack Obama rally in New Hampshire. Though the police came to usher the protesters out, Obama’s response seems to suggest that he understands the old notion of disagreeing with you but fighting for your right to say it:

    “Let me just say this though. Some people got organized to do that [protest].

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  • January 04, 2008
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    It’s easy to overestimate or over-hype the implications of the Iowa caucus results, but it does seem clear that Hillary Clinton needs to re-evaluate her reputed reliance on the “women’s vote.” Reportedly, while Clinton had the edge with older women (and anecdotal evidence showed that elderly women found her especially appealing) Obama captured women under 35.

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  • December 20, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By
    Wendy Kaminer

    One lesson of baseball’s latest doping scandal sure to be overlooked is the utter ineffectiveness of prohibition in curbing drug abuse. Indeed, compelling evidence that “widespread” use of steroids and other performance enhancers has been undeterred by their illegality has persuaded Congress to pass more laws against them.


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  • December 19, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    By James F. Tierney

    In a story we missed when it first broke a month ago, a federal appellate court upheld a Texas school's decision to suspend the high school sophomore for writing a violent fictional short story that school administrators interpreted to be a "terroristic threat." According to the Student Press Law Center, the Fifth Circuit decision "relied heavily on Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's opinion" in the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case that came down this summer -- Morse v.

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  • December 18, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    By Harvey Silverglate

    One of the more silly pieces that I’ve read in recent years appeared in, of all places, the usually polished and interesting "Ideas" section of The Boston Globe, to which I invariably turn every Sunday. In an opinion piece on the first page of that section, Darius Rejali, a political science professor at Reed College and the author of a forthcoming book (Torture and Democracy) argues that while we like to think of torture as “mainly the province of dictators and juntas – the kind of thing that happens behind the iron doors of repressive regimes,” in fact, “it is the democracies that have been the real innovators in 20th century torture,” modern torture “is mainly a democratic innovation,” and we have “exported [new torture techniques] to more authoritarian regimes.

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  • December 14, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    By James F. Tierney

    You may have heard about the Pennsylvania woman who was charged with disorderly conduct for "loudly cursing at her overflowing toilet," which a neighbor -- an off-duty police officer, no less -- heard. The Boston Globe reports that the judge threw out the charges against her because her speech was "protected speech pursuant to the First Amendment."

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  • December 14, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    By Harvey Silverglate

    For quite some time, I’ve been griping about what I call “the corporatization of the American university” – the trend in which our colleges and universities have prioritized their role as businesses over their role as educational institutions. This transition has led to all manner and kind of mischief, including an administrative culture that is willing to sacrifice such basic values as academic freedom and rational processes in order that there be “no trouble on the watch” of the current president, whoever he or she might be.

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  • December 12, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    I shouldn't bother critiquing anything penned by the Dinesh D’Souza, but his latest screed on atheism is hard to resist. Extrapolating from some intemperate comments posted by one anonymous, self-identified atheist who claims that he slapped his mother “the last time that she tried telling me that god existed,” D’Souza concludes that “atheism sometimes produces so much bitterness that even the natural human sentiments become distorted and warped

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  • December 11, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    By James F. Tierney

    Yesterday, the Supreme Court released its decisions in two important cases about how judges sentence federal criminals: Kimbrough v. United States and Gall v. United States. Taken together, the cases increase individual judges’ discretion in how to sentence crimes, by allowing them to depart from the federal sentencing guidelines, which are “advisory” rather than binding on judges.

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