Monthly Archives: August 2007

Monday Open Thread: Healthcare Edition

Last week, we had several posts related to healthcare. First, this post by guest poster UCrawford, then Ronald Reagan’s take on the issue, and finally yesterday I posted on efforts by private employers to cut costs.

Often, though, we’re on the defensive. We’re asked to defend the current flawed system (something I don’t want to do) against an idealized version of socialized medicine. That’s no way to argue.

So let’s craft a message. In as simple of terms as possible, what three steps would immediately take to fix our healthcare system, if you were President and had Congress ready to do your bidding?

Bush And Congress Expand Warrantless Wiretaps

On Sunday, President Bush signed into law a new bill that greatly expands the ability of the Federal Government to eavesdrop on international communications without a warrant:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 — President Bush signed into law on Sunday legislation that broadly expanded the government’s authority to eavesdrop on the international telephone calls and e-mail messages of American citizens without warrants.

Congressional aides and others familiar with the details of the law said that its impact went far beyond the small fixes that administration officials had said were needed to gather information about foreign terrorists. They said seemingly subtle changes in legislative language would sharply alter the legal limits on the government’s ability to monitor millions of phone calls and e-mail messages going in and out of the United States.

They also said that the new law for the first time provided a legal framework for much of the surveillance without warrants that was being conducted in secret by the National Security Agency and outside the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the 1978 law that is supposed to regulate the way the government can listen to the private communications of American citizens.

“This more or less legalizes the N.S.A. program,” said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies in Washington, who has studied the new legislation.

Previously, the government needed search warrants approved by a special intelligence court to eavesdrop on telephone conversations, e-mail messages and other electronic communications between individuals inside the United States and people overseas, if the government conducted the surveillance inside the United States.

Today, most international telephone conversations to and from the United States are conducted over fiber-optic cables, and the most efficient way for the government to eavesdrop on them is to latch on to giant telecommunications switches located in the United States.

By changing the legal definition of what is considered “electronic surveillance,” the new law allows the government to eavesdrop on those conversations without warrants — latching on to those giant switches — as long as the target of the government’s surveillance is “reasonably believed” to be overseas.

In other words, what was once an illegal Executive Branch operation is all nice and legal now.

Just wonderful.

Employers Charging Unhealthy Employees For Being Unhealthy

A bit of a furor erupted last year, when a company decided to fire current employees who smoke, and no longer hire smokers. The debate centered around the question whether an employee paying for your health care could force you to cease unhealthy habits.

This was a bit of a debate, but for the most part nobody outside of some libertarians really stuck up for the smokers, because smokers are “icky” and nobody likes them. Discrimination against hated minorities rarely result in condemnation. Now, though, a health-care company is raising the stakes, by telling their own employees they’ll be fined for poor health:

For employees at Clarian Health, feeling the burn of trying to lose weight will take on new meaning.

In late June, the Indianapolis-based hospital system announced that starting in 2009, it will fine employees $10 per paycheck if their body mass index (BMI, a ratio of height to weight that measures body fat) is over 30. If their cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose levels are too high, they’ll be charged $5 for each standard they don’t meet. Ditto if they smoke: Starting next year, they’ll be charged another $5 in each check.

This, of course, is inevitable. Government intervention has created huge incentives for employers to provide healthcare to workers, and made it nearly impossible for workers to self-insure. At the same time, anti-discrimination laws have made it impossible for employers to revoke coverage for high-risk individuals. Due to this (and a host of other interventions), healthcare costs are skyrocketing and employers are looking for any way to cut cost. But government has offered some clarification that relaxed the rules, and companies are taking advantage of it.

In addition, regulations that became effective July 1 could prompt cautious employers to step off the sidelines. The federal government recently issued final rules on how wellness programs could comply with the nondiscrimination conditions of the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA). While the new regulations have been proposed for years, the final rules provide employers with some sense of security and more clarification on how much they can reward or penalize employees based on specific health results. “When you get into things that involve discrimination, employers aren’t very comfortable with the words ‘proposed regulation,'” says Jerry Ripperger, director of consumer health for the Principal Financial Group, a financial-services and insurance firm that offers wellness programs for large employers.

So put the two together, and employers are going to do anything in their power to cut their healthcare premiums. Of course, anything in their power must take into effect employee morale, especially in an economy with low unemployment, where the desire to hire and retain talent requires that you keep those employees happy. And some employees may not be happy:

Clarian Health admits that its program is aggressive by design, and that employee reaction has been mixed, with much debate on its internal message boards. While some employees were supportive, there’s been “the other reaction that this is very personal,” says Wantz, with people asking, “‘How dare you? This is my personal space.’ There’s been a lot of questions and confusion.”

Herein lies the problem. Most people don’t like being told what they must do with their bodies. They don’t like it especially when it’s their employer, a relationship that already has the potential to be adversarial. But employees are incorrect when they refer to this as “personal” space. Insure yourself, and it’s personal space. Expect someone else to pay your health insurance premiums, and it no longer affects just you. I can guarantee that most employees will not like this development, but as I’ve always said with government, money and control come hand in hand. You’re taking their money, and you’re surprised they want to keep their costs down by keeping you in a low-risk group?

Sadly, while I support such efforts by companies to set their own insurance policies, I fear that this will lead to the wrong backlash. If more employers head down this road, it will only increase the call for single-payer socialized medicine. Americans don’t want to pay for their own health care, and certainly don’t want their boss telling them to drop a few pounds. To them, the only alternative will be government.

Government control won’t help, of course. Government will have the same (likely worse) rationing problems that private insurance has. The costs will go through the roof. And if you think your employer telling you what to do and not to do is bad, do you think it will be any better with the government in charge?

Tancredo: Bomb Mecca and Medina

Tom Tancredo believes that bombing Muslim holy sites is a deterrent against future terrorist attacks:

On Tuesday, Tancredo warned a group of Iowans that another terrorist attack would “cause a worldwide economic collapse.” recorded his comments.

“If it is up to me, we are going to explain that an attack on this homeland of that nature would be followed by an attack on the holy sites in Mecca and Medina,” Tancredo said. “That is the only thing I can think of that might deter somebody from doing what they would otherwise do. If I am wrong, fine, tell me, and I would be happy to do something else. But you had better find a deterrent, or you will find an attack.”

How long have we been involved in the affairs of Middle Eastern nations? Has our involvement ever deterred any sort of terrorist attack? Given the history between our country and the Middle East, do you really believe bombing Mecca and Medina, two of the most revered Islamic holy sites, is going to do anything other than provoke Islamic radicals?

Brilliant logic, Mr. Tancredo.

Why Bush Cancelled Warrantless Wiretapping Program

Some of you may remember this story, from mid-January (covered by Doug here). The tone of the story is that Bush backed down to pressure from Democrats and the American public, and realized that his program might be over the line.

The Bush administration said yesterday that it has agreed to disband a controversial warrantless surveillance program run by the National Security Agency, replacing it with a new effort that will be overseen by the secret court that governs clandestine spying in the United States.

The change — revealed by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales in a letter to the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee — marks an abrupt reversal by the administration, which for more than a year has aggressively defended the legality of the NSA surveillance program and disputed court authority to oversee it.

Administration officials suggested that the move was aimed in part at quelling persistent objections to the NSA spying by Democrats who now control Congress and that it is intended to slow or even derail challenges making their way through the federal courts. The Justice Department immediately filed a notice with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit yesterday informing the panel of the new program and promising to file papers “addressing the implications of this development” on pending litigation.

I didn’t quite buy it then… Bush is a “decider” and once he’s made a decision, it rarely changes. So for him to give up a power that he believes he has seemed a bit strange.

And today we find out why, as he backed down not out of respect for the rule of law or the Constitution, but because a judge forced his hand:

A federal intelligence court judge earlier this year secretly declared a key element of the Bush administration’s wiretapping efforts illegal, according to a lawmaker and government sources, providing a previously unstated rationale for fevered efforts by congressional lawmakers this week to expand the president’s spying powers.

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) disclosed elements of the court’s decision in remarks Tuesday to Fox News as he was promoting the administration-backed wiretapping legislation. Boehner has denied revealing classified information, but two government officials privy to the details confirmed that his remarks concerned classified information.

The judge, whose name could not be learned, concluded early this year that the government had overstepped its authority in attempting to broadly surveil communications between two locations overseas that are passed through routing stations in the United States, according to two other government sources familiar with the decision.

The decision was both a political and practical blow to the administration, which had long held that all of the National Security Agency’s enhanced surveillance efforts since 2001 were legal. The administration for years had declined to subject those efforts to the jurisdiction of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and after it finally did so in January the court ruled that the administration’s legal judgment was at least partly wrong.

Now, because of the secretive nature, a lot of the timeline is missing here. It is unclear whether the judge’s final ruling came before or after the Administration changed their tune, but portions of the letter Gonzales released on Jan 17 did refer to orders by a judge handed down on Jan 10.

Either way, it’s clear that this was not the administration backing down from wrongdoing, this was the administration being forced into compliance.

Which, frankly, is the only way to get this administration to do anything it doesn’t want to do.

IRS Signs Over Fort Knox To Nigerian Scammers

Okay, well maybe it’s not THAT bad… But it’s close:

IRS employees ignored security rules and turned over sensitive computer information to a caller posing as a technical support person, according to a government study.

Sixty-one of the 102 people who got the test calls, including managers and a contractor, complied with a request that the employee provide his or her user name and temporarily change his or her password to one the caller suggested, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, an office that does oversight of Internal Revenue Service.

The caller asked for assistance to correct a computer problem.

The report said that by failing to question the identity of the caller the employees were putting the IRS at risk of providing unauthorized people access to taxpayer data that could be used for identity theft and other fraudulent schemes.

“This is especially disturbing because the IRS has taken many steps to raise employee awareness of the importance of protecting their computers and passwords,” said Inspector General J. Russell George.

Sadly, according to the Inspector General, this appears to have occurred after people were trained.

Granted, that some people failed this test is not a surprise, but over 60%?!

And some people want to trust these morons with our medical records too?

Actor Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine

The more things change, the more things stay the same. Way back before Ronald Reagan’s political career, he recognized the problems which would occur if America had adopted socialized medicine. With congress working to pass the SCHIP bill to provide government funded healthcare for children of parents with annual incomes up to $80,000, this radio commentary is just as relevant today as it was then. Many of Reagan’s fears about socialized medicine have been realized in other countries. If we are not careful, we will face similar consequences here.

This Is A Crime?!

Wow… So today, I decided to meet my wife at the in-laws, where parking is always at a premium. I arrive, unload the truck, and right as I’m about to start searching for a parking space, a guy asks if I mind giving his car a jumpstart. No problem, of course, and it’s especially nice because he was parked in a prime location, and he was about to leave.

So I drive over there, park nose-to-nose with him (he’s parallel parked at the front of a line of cars), and we get his car started. He pulls out, I pull in, and all is well. Of course, now I’m facing the “wrong” direction in my parking space.

I get into the house, and the wife & family ask why I’m parked the wrong way… “Oh, I gave that guy a jump, and I was already facing that way, so I pulled in.” We head off for dinner, and get back, and they tell me “You need to move your truck, or you’re gonna get a ticket!”

A ticket? For parking on the “wrong” side of the street? On a dead-end street where the only real traffic is people driving around at 3 mph looking for parking spots?!

Yep, it’s illegal. It hurts nobody, and in the grand scheme of things, it’s absolutely meaningless and pointless to make it a law that you park one direction or another. Yet my whole family is looking like me as if I’m crazy for not “getting it”. Because it’s the “law”, and that’s what you’re “supposed” to do. The nice man in the blue uniform has a gun, and if you don’t snap to attention and follow orders, he’s going to reach into your wallet and take your stuff.

Ridiculous. Luckily, I went over to my truck, and didn’t find a ticket there. But can anyone find a justification for this other than revenue enhancement? Is Newport Beach so crime-free that cops really have time to devote to this?

Fred Thompson — Strict Constructionist?

Fred Thompson is flogging the dead horse of judicial appointments, pointing out that Democrats will pull out any trick in their arsenal to block conservative appointees. I know he’s been out of the Senate for a while, but the fact that he seems shocked by this makes me wonder if he’s been paying attention at all over the last few years.

But it brings up an interesting question regarding his beliefs on the role of the Supreme Court. Most Republicans would agree that the Court shouldn’t “legislate from the bench”, and such things as when the Court puts mandates out that basically force legislatures to comply, it’s probably not right. But what about striking down legislation from the bench? Here, sadly, he seems to want to give Congress free reign:

From the beginning of his Administration, President Bush was committed to appointing judges who understand the appropriate limits on their role and seek to interpret the law as written by Congress — rather than revising it to achieve their own preferred goals. Too many Democrats, though, prefer judges who, under the guise of interpreting the Constitution, will impose their policy preferences on the citizenry.

These are two very different notions of the appropriate role of judges. On this issue, I stand with the President, along with the kinds of judges he appoints, like Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.

(Emphasis added.)

He doesn’t suggest that the role of the court is to determine whether legislation passed by Congress is Constitutional. As my post last week suggests, he pays lip service to things like federalism while calmly explaining exactly how it should be trimmed and curtailed and toned down. I wonder whether he thinks it is the role of the Court to intervene in the legislative process when the Congress oversteps their Constitutional bounds.

Those on the Right want you to believe that judicial activism only occurs on the Left. But modern Republicans don’t want to go back to the days where the Constitution means what it says, they want to get their own conservative judicial activists on the bench. It’s not a respect for small government that they’re after, it’s to get their own team in power.

Think about it. If Thompson were elected, can you seriously see him nominating someone who takes the Constitution seriously— like Janice Rogers Brown— to the high court?

Atlas Shrugs In Zimbabwe

It seems that Robert Mugabe’s latest experiments in socialism are having the expected results:

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, July 28 — Robert G. Mugabe has ruled over this battered nation, his every wish endorsed by Parliament and enforced by the police and soldiers, for more than 27 years. It appears, however, that not even an unchallenged autocrat can repeal the laws of supply and demand.

One month after Mr. Mugabe decreed just that, commanding merchants nationwide to counter 10,000-percent-a-year hyperinflation by slashing prices in half and more, Zimbabwe’s economy is at a halt.

Bread, sugar and cornmeal, staples of every Zimbabwean’s diet, have vanished, seized by mobs who denuded stores like locusts in wheat fields. Meat is virtually nonexistent, even for members of the middle class who have money to buy it on the black market. Gasoline is nearly unobtainable. Hospital patients are dying for lack of basic medical supplies. Power blackouts and water cutoffs are endemic.

Manufacturing has slowed to a crawl because few businesses can produce goods for less than their government-imposed sale prices. Raw materials are drying up because suppliers are being forced to sell to factories at a loss. Businesses are laying off workers or reducing their hours.

The government’s response to this ? More socialism:

The chaos, however, seems to have done little to undermine Mr. Mugabe’s authority. To the contrary, the government is moving steadily toward a takeover of major sectors of the economy that have not already been nationalized.

“We are at war,” one of Mr. Mugabe’s vice presidents, Joseph Msika, said in a speech on July 18. “We will not allow shelves to be empty.”

And, yet, that’s exactly what is happening:

At various locations of TM, a major supermarket chain, aisles of meat coolers were empty save a few plastic bags of scrap meat for dogs. Flour, sugar, cooking oil, cornmeal and other basics were not to be found. A long line hugged the rear of one store, waiting for a delivery of the few loaves of bread that a baker provided to stay in compliance with the price directive.

The government’s takeover of slaughterhouses seems ineffectual: this week, butchers killed and dressed 32 cows for the entire city. Farmers are unwilling to sell their cows at a loss.

The empty grocery shelves may be the starkest sign of penury, but there are others equally worrisome. Doctors say that at most, there is a six-week supply of insulin and blood-pressure medications. Less vital drugs like aspirin are rarities.

“You can boil willow bark, just as Galen did,” one physician quipped.

At this rate, one wonders how much longer the country actually has

“You Like Europe’s Health Care So Much? Then Go Live There”

I use the above phrase to attack socialized medicine a lot. I’m not trying to be hostile or sarcastic when I say this. I’m not trying to convey an “America…love it or leave it” type message, nor am I interested in cutting off the debate about the problems with health care in this country, which I agree do exist. I say this to people who try preaching the doctrine of universal health coverage (or, more accurately, socialized medicine) because, frankly, I believe that the best counter-argument to their ridiculous proposal is for those people to go live for a few years in a country that has socialized medicine (as I did) so they can see for themselves what a horrifically bad idea it is.

To fill in the gaps a bit, I’m UCrawford. I’m a libertarian (small-l) from Wichita, Kansas and a guest poster here. Until 2006 I spent 10 years as a member of the United States military, just under six of them stationed at a small base in northern England (five if you don’t count a short vacation I took to Afghanistan on the Army’s dime). Due to the fact that the base I was on was both small and rather remote from any other U.S. bases we ended up falling between a lot of administrative cracks, most of which aren’t worth going into here, which often led to problems with funding. Needless to say, the U.S. government was often forced to improvise to provide quality of life services for us at a reasonable rate, so one of the solutions they came up with (since the closest base with medical services was 4-5 hours away) was to arrange to have all of our health care provided by Britain’s National Health Service (NHS). That decision provided all of the military personnel on our base with the unique experience of living under a system of socialized medicine that Michael Moore recently held up as among the best in the world. That decision also made it unlikely that anyone stationed at our base will ever end up in one of Moore’s little press conferences singing the praises of socialized medicine…the experience was terrible.

My first indication that something shady was up with our medical care came in my first year when I went into our base clinic (staffed by two NHS doctors) with a chest cold, only to be told that my cold was likely “viral” and wouldn’t require antibiotics. That in itself wasn’t really so odd. We worked in a close environment and doctors aren’t supposed to prescribe antibiotics for viruses. Except that after talking to other people on the base I eventually came to realize that about 90%+ of the people who went in with colds were told the same thing. I’m saying “90%+” because in the three years where the NHS staffed the clinic unchecked nobody I met on the base (I knew almost everyone and we all got sick at least once or twice a year because of the climate) could actually identify anyone who had been diagnosed with a non-viral cold or had received antibiotics for said cold. I’m not willing to bet there weren’t at least one or two in three years, although I never ran across any of these people. My platoon sergeant certainly wasn’t one of them. He later came down with severe pneumonia as a result of his untreated non-viral cold. I couldn’t figure out why this skinflint attitude towards medicine was happening, until I talked to my uncle (a doctor who had studied in Scotland for awhile) and he told me about the key to many of socialized medicine’s problems…controlling costs. More on that in a second.

The cost controls took a variety of forms at my base, ranging from the merely annoying (as when our base physician refused to order x-rays unless you had a bone sticking out of your arm), to the mildly amusing (as when the local hospital refused to admit our First Sergeant’s in-labor wife, forcing her and her husband to deliver the child in their car on the drive home), to the ethically questionable (as when one of my soldiers was discharged with a severe case of appendicitis on the grounds that surgery would be too expensive), to the medically indefensible (as when my best friend’s girlfriend nearly died because the hospital didn’t bother to check her for internal bleeding after a very complicated miscarriage). For the first couple of years, I thought it was because our area had the most incompetent doctors in Britain. Eventually I realized that the problems we had in our area were pretty much standard in comparison to the rest of the country (or compared to any country that uses socialized medicine). And the reasons for that are pretty simple.

Basically, the NHS’s “free” medical system isn’t really free at all, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who doesn’t believe in magic money. It’s funded by taxes…income taxes, corporate taxes, capital gains taxes, property taxes, and hidden taxes (revenue generated for the national government from things like Value Added Tax, speed cameras, fuel taxes, and congestion charges that you often don’t notice or think of as taxes unless you’re paying attention). In exchange for all these taxes, the British government provides lots of services for the taxpayers like public transportation, a pension system, and socialized medicine, often at subsidized rates which has several regrettable effects:

1) It makes unobservant people who don’t understand economics think they’re getting a great deal by giving them medical treatment at a superficially low price, which
2) Pretty much insures that low-cost private alternatives don’t develop (since it’s tough to compete with “free”), which
3) Removes any incentive for the health care users to try and save costs by limiting their use since they see health care as a free (as opposed to “free”) entitlement, which means that
4) Demand for services often outpaces the ability of tax revenue available to pay for those services.

When these things happen government is then forced to find new streams of revenue to pay for the additional demand (more taxes). And when they can’t find more revenue or raise taxes any higher, they’re forced to control costs by reducing services where they can, by doing things like telling their doctors to prescribe less drugs, or understaffing medical facilities, or extending wait times for surgeries and consults (unless you’re willing to be extorted, of course), or starving terminal patients to death against their wishes, or skimping on oversight to insure that their doctors aren’t serial killers. Basically, when it comes to a choice between quality of care for patients or saving a buck, government-run health care will choose the money, same as socialized medicine proponents accuse private industry of doing. They’ll just offer you a lot less in return.

Unsurprisingly many Britons I knew had very little faith in the NHS’s commitment to excellence. Unsurprisingly many Britons I knew chose to pursue private routes to get medical treatment where it was available. Unsurprisingly, it was usually very expensive (partly because they were still paying taxes for a health care system they no longer used). Fortunately for us, after my soldier had to be medevac’d to the distant military hospital to get his appendix out, that base saw fit to provide our base with military doctors who had the authority to override the recommendations of the NHS doctors , and with the support of our command they enabled us to get access to private clinics in the local area more often. Frankly, I’d say that getting us away from government health care was one of the best things our government ever did for us. And if our politicians want to do the right thing by us back here in the States, they’ll do everything they can to stop socialized medicine from popping up here.

One Man’s Freedom of Expression is Another Man’s Hate Crime

We seem to have strayed a long way from our valuing of free speech, perhaps best stated by Voltaire “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” In this age of political correctness, both the Right and the Left has bastardized the idea of free speech to a more politically correct attitude: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend your right to say it until someone else is offended.”

As I was driving in to work, I caught a couple of segments of The Mike Gallagher Show (a show I do not normally listen to). Gallagher brought up a case which happened at Pace University where a 23 year-old man by the name of Stanislav Shmulevich allegedly threw a Quran in a toilet on two separate occasions. The university originally reported the crime as an act of vandalism but later decided to report the act to the NYPD as a hate crime instead. I assumed that Gallagher would go on to criticize this as political correctness run amok but to my astonishment, he said that treating this act as a “hate crime” was completely appropriate. Gallagher went even further to say that certain acts such as desecrating a “holy book” (regardless of the faith), the American flag, or burning crosses should all be exempt from First Amendment protection. In his view, there are just some things which should be held sacred; those who commit “crimes” against what he or others consider “sacred” should be punished criminally.

Gallagher’s arguments got even weaker from there. Several callers challenged him on this notion and Gallagher would ask questions like (paraphrasing) “Should we consider it free speech when someone paints swastikas on a Jewish person’s home?” and “What about burning a cross in the lawn of an African American, is that free speech?” Perhaps his most absurd example was whether or not a person dressed in Nazi uniform goose stepping in a Jewish neighborhood should be protected by the First Amendment.

All of these questions can be easily answered if only we go back to the basic idea that each individual has the natural rights of life, liberty, and property (“your freedom ends where my nose begins”); nowhere in our Constitution is there a right to not be offended. Painting swastikas on a Jewish person’s home or burning a cross in an African American’s yard are both violations of these individuals’ right to property, and therefore, the perpetrator should be prosecuted on those grounds.

So, what about the racist bastard goose stepping in a Jewish neighborhood? Assuming the idiot does so on public property, s/he is protected by the First Amendment. Being an anti-Semitic moron, while infuriating to most sensible people, is not a crime nor should it be.

One could argue that these above acts would be acts of intimidation and could warrant criminal prosecution (certainly in the first two examples would be prosecutable without “hate crimes” laws, the last example would still be a bit of a stretch) but I fail to see how desecrating a book which some people deem as “holy” even rises to this standard. There’s no question that desecrating a holy book is offensive to a great majority of people, but a crime? Thomas Jefferson found fault with much of the Bible and therefore proceeded to physically cut and paste the portions of the Bible that he found to be authentic to create his own interpretation of the Bible and discarded the rest. References to the virgin birth, the resurrection, angels, and other miracles were all omitted from the Jefferson Bible. Clearly, if someone like Gallagher knew of someone doing something like this today, he would regard this person as a hate criminal.

The whole purpose of the First Amendment is to protect speech that can be and often is offensive to the sensibilities of a person, a group, or even a majority. Popular speech does not need to be protected nearly as much. I might not like it if someone chooses to burn an American flag, desecrate a copy of Ayn Rand’s The Virtue of Selfishness, or wishes to write terrible things about me on a post I have written but unless such an individual does these things without threatening my life, liberty, or property, I have to put up with these things. It’s the price I pay for living in a free society and a price I am quite willing to pay.

Cross posted here at Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds

Related Posts:
The First Amendment Explained: Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses (Part 1 of 2)
The First Amendment Explained: Free Speech (Part 2 of 2)

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