Monday, January 31, 2005
First Amendment No Big Deal, Students Say
Courtesy of my buddy, MrJPH, who spent a couple days in jail in NYC during the RNC, and recently received his badge (of courage), ChÃ© tee-shirt, black bandana and Todd Gitlin Decoder Ring from the “I’m a Badass Protestor Club.”
WASHINGTON (AP)â€”The way many high school students see it, government censorship of newspapers may not be a bad thing, and flag burning is hardly protected free speech.
It turns out the First Amendment is a second-rate issue to many of those nearing their own adult independence, according to a study of high school attitudes released Monday.
The original amendment to the Constitution is the cornerstone of the way of life in the United States, promising citizens the freedoms of religion, speech, press and assembly.
Yet, when told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high school students said it goes â€œtoo farâ€? in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.
“Maw, the Neocons are breedin’ again!”
I hear that BushCo wants a single line of text stamped across the cover of all American History Books. "DEMOCRACY IS ONLY A THEORY"
More after the crease…
â€œThese results are not only disturbing; they are dangerous,â€? said Hodding Carter III, president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which sponsored the $1 million study. â€œIgnorance about the basics of this free society is a danger to our nationâ€™s future.â€?
The students are even more restrictive in their views than their elders, the study says.
When asked whether people should be allowed to express unpopular views, 97 percent of teachers and 99 percent of school principals said yes. Only 83 percent of students did.
The results reflected indifference, with almost three in four students saying they took the First Amendment for granted or didnâ€™t know how they felt about it. It was also clear that many students do not understand what is protected by the bedrock of the Bill of Rights.
Three in four students said flag burning is illegal. Itâ€™s not. About half the students said the government can restrict any indecent material on the Internet. It canâ€™t.
â€œSchools donâ€™t do enough to teach the First Amendment. Students often donâ€™t know the rights it protects,â€? Linda Puntney, executive director of the Journalism Education Association, said in the report. â€œThis all comes at a time when there is decreasing passion for much of anything. And, you have to be passionate about the First Amendment.â€?
The partners in the project, including organizations of newspaper editors and radio and television news directors, share a clear advocacy for First Amendment issues.
Federal and state officials, meanwhile, have bemoaned a lack of knowledge of U.S. civics and history among young people. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., has even pushed through a mandate that schools must teach about the Constitution on Sept. 17, the date it was signed in 1787.
The survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut, is billed as the largest of its kind. More than 100,000 students, nearly 8,000 teachers and more than 500 administrators at 544 public and private high schools took part in early 2004.
The study suggests that students embrace First Amendment freedoms if they are taught about them and given a chance to practice them, but schools donâ€™t make the matter a priority.
Students who take part in school media activities, such as a student newspapers or TV production, are much more likely to support expression of unpopular views, for example.
About nine in 10 principals said it is important for all students to learn some journalism skills, but most administrators say a lack of money limits their media offerings.
More than one in five schools offer no student media opportunities; of the high schools that do not offer student newspapers, 40 percent have eliminated them in the last five years.
â€œThe last 15 years have not been a golden era for student media,â€? said Warren Watson, director of the J-Ideas project at Ball State University in Indiana. â€œPrograms are under siege or dying from neglect. Many students do not get the opportunity to practice our basic freedoms."
Damned liberal universities. It’s about time we stamped out propaganda like the First Amendment. What the hell were the founding fathers thinking?
U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote
Something to munch on… and thanks to Hollyweird for bringing it to my attention.
Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror
by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times (9/4/1967: p. 2)
WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam’s presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.
According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.
The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here.
Pending more detailed reports, neither the State Department nor the White House would comment on the balloting or the victory of the military candidates, Lieut. Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu, who was running for president, and Premier Nguyen Cao Ky, the candidate for vice president.
A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson’s policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam. The election was the culmination of a constitutional development that began in January, 1966, to which President Johnson gave his personal commitment when he met Premier Ky and General Thieu, the chief of state, in Honolulu in February.
The purpose of the voting was to give legitimacy to the Saigon Government, which has been founded only on coups and power plays since November, 1963, when President Ngo Dinh Deim was overthrown by a military junta.
Few members of that junta are still around, most having been ousted or exiled in subsequent shifts of power.
Significance Not Diminished
The fact that the backing of the electorate has gone to the generals who have been ruling South Vietnam for the last two years does not, in the Administration’s view, diminish the significance of the constitutional step that has been taken.
The hope here is that the new government will be able to maneuver with a confidence and legitimacy long lacking in South Vietnamese politics. That hope could have been dashed either by a small turnout, indicating widespread scorn or a lack of interest in constitutional development, or by the Vietcong’s disruption of the balloting.
American officials had hoped for an 80 per cent turnout. That was the figure in the election in September for the Constituent Assembly. Seventy-eight per cent of the registered voters went to the polls in elections for local officials last spring.
Before the results of the presidential election started to come in, the American officials warned that the turnout might be less than 80 per cent because the polling place would be open for two or three hours less than in the election a year ago. The turnout of 83 per cent was a welcome surprise. The turnout in the 1964 United States Presidential election was 62 per cent.
Captured documents and interrogations indicated in the last week a serious concern among Vietcong leaders that a major effort would be required to render the election meaningless. This effort has not succeeded, judging from the reports from Saigon.
NYT. 9/4/1967: p. 2.
U.S. ENCOURAGED BY VIETNAM VOTE; Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror
By PETER GROSE Special to The New York Times. New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Sep 4, 1967. pg. 2, 1 pgsDocument types: article
Text Word Count 521
Abstract (Document Summary)
Oh, My Word! Volume 13
Oh, Their Words: Mustang Bobby
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been hinting at something special here for lucky Volume 13. Well, let the unveiling begin!
With this week’s Very Special Episode, I’m starting a series of interviews with bloggers who also happen to be--in my estimation, at least--good writers in their own (pardon the pun) right. We start with someone whose work I have admired for some time, Mustang Bobby, who blogs over at Bark Bark Woof Woof. He is an accomplished playwright and is currently working on a novel, the progress of which just recently passed its decade anniversary. That occasion is marked at an auxillary blog named after the novel’s title character, Bobby Cramer. That secondary blog also features Mustang Bobby’s series “Writing on Writing,” which was in no small measure part of the inspiration for “Oh, My Word!”
The interview is below the fold. Please note two things: One, Mustang Bobby references several blogs in his answers; I have created the links where he did not. Two, since this is the first of these interviews, I asked questions that I wanted to know the answers to. If you have suggestions for different questions in future interviews, please let me know. Also, I’m hoping Mustang Bobby himself will stop by today if you have questions for him. (As for me, today’s the first day of a new semester, so I won’t be checking back in until this evening!)
1.Â How did you begin writing?Â When and how did you realize that a blog might be an appropriate venue for your writing?
I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t read and write, so I guess it’s something I’ve always done.Â In Grade Five I had a teacher that encouraged my interest in writing.Â I started with short stories or “themes” and went on from there.Â When I got interested in theatre, playwriting was my natural outlet, although I’ve probably written more non-dramatic works than I have for the stage.Â Ironic, eh?Â As for blogging, I’ve always been a person who likes to stick in his two cents, so when I discovered blogs like Atrios and Pandagon, I would stick in a comment or two.Â When I ran into NTodd, who happened to grow up in the same town I did, I followed his lead and started Bark Bark Woof Woof in November 2003.Â Blogs are perfect for the short, sharp notes that I like to do as well as the rants that I occasionally launch into.
2.Â Do you consider yourself primarily a writer or a blogger?Â Do you even see a distinction between the two?
I’m a writer.Â Blogging is just another venue.Â I write plays, novels, and short stories, and even the occasional scholarly article, but that’s just writing under different formats for different audiences.Â That said, when I get an idea for a story, it depends on how I see it that determines what format I write it in.Â If I see a character first, then it’s probably going to be a short story or novel.Â If I see the scene or locale first, then it will probably be a play.Â For example, when I got the idea for “Can’t Live Without You,” which is a play, I saw the room that the story is set in first in great detail.Â My novel, “Bobby Cramer” got started when I envisioned Bobby standing next to me and he wanted me to tell the story of his life.
3.Â How is your blogging different from your other writing?Â This can be in terms of style, subject matter, process, or anywhere else that you notice yourself writing differently.
Blogging has made me very aware of what Tolkien once noted about speechmaking; the need to be “short and obvious."Â Blogs do not avail themselves of long and wandering posts...at least not the blogs that I read and come back to.Â In terms of style - for me - it’s made me really aware of the need to say what I want in a short and sharp style; sometimes succeeding, sometimes not.Â There’s a fine line between being sharp and being smart-ass.Â I’d rather come down on the side of making a cogent point rather than get off a good quip.Â As for subject matter, I write about what is interesting to me that I think other people might be interested in or might want to learn about, and so I avoid the “daily diary” blogging approach.Â There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s just not my style - I save that for my novel.Â I’d say it’s made me a better writer in all the other formats, too.
4.Â Do you have any hard-and-fast rules that you follow in your writing process, or in your blogging process?Â What are your language/ writing/ grammar pet peeves?
Here’s where I draw the line between writing and blogging, specifically in the process I go through with the novel I’m working on.Â I tend to think about the novel a lot, doing that writing in my head; seeing the scenes and characters before I sit down and work on it.Â I do a lot of editing, too - going back and changing, tweaking, etc, as I write, but I know pretty much where the story is going generally (although I am constantly amazed at what emerges out of the blue as I write), so that’s part of the process.Â I don’t have any hard-and-fast rules about writing other than I tend to do my best work in the afternoon at home, usually in silence or with quiet music playing.Â I don’t write for long stretches unless I’m really on a tear.Â I’ll get up, wander around the house, especially if I’m stuck on a bit of narration, then go back, forge ahead, and go back and tidy up as necessary.Â I will even go back and re-write long sections, which will then have an impact on later parts.Â (That’s one reason I really love computers - they make it look easy.)Â The novel is already written in my head.Â Now the hard part is getting out of there and into the computer.
In blogging, I don’t really know what I’m going to write about until I read the papers or see what other bloggers are writing about.Â It’s somewhat like walking into a room where other people are gathered and listening to what they’re talking about before speaking.Â I will sit down at the computer very early in the morning, read some papers on-line, and take my lead from there.Â Often I’ll read something and think about it on the drive to the office, then blog about it when I get to the office.Â Many times I’ll read something another blogger has written about and do my own take on it, usually looking for the humor or irony as opposed to the larger implications; I leave that to the people who get paid to for that.Â I never linger over a post; most of what you see on BBWW is first draft stuff.Â Of course I inevitably go back to edit typos or grammatical goofs, but for the most part what you see is what I wrote the first time.
I have rules about what I will and will not blog about.Â I keep my personal life mostly to myself, and I have never discussed my social life - dating or the lack of same - in the blog for the simple reason that I don’t think anyone would really give a rat’s ass about it.Â I do not blog about my job or my life at work unless it’s something that’s universal or trivial, like what it’s like in the building when the cooling system is out of whack.Â I’m proud of what I do and the people I work with, but that’s not something I care to blog about.Â Again, I have no problem with other people doing that - I enjoy reading their stories - but it’s not my style.Â I try to write with respect and maintain a certain level of civility.Â I avoid ad hominem attacks (with one or two notable exceptions), and I try to avoid profanity except where called for in extreme situations.Â I take great care to be sure to back up what I say with links for corroboration; that’s a hold-over from the habits I learned doing research.
I do have pet peeves about language and grammar - I used to be an English teacher.Â I keep a dictionary and grammar text handy, and when I see others who make egregious errors, such as confusing “your” and “you’re,” I have to bite my tongue from chastising them in public.Â It’s an occupational hazard.Â I also know that I make mistakes, too.
5.Â What advice about writing would you offer to bloggers who do not consider themselves writers?
That’s the beauty of blogs; being a writer isn’t a prerequisite for being a blogger.Â Populate your blog with what you want to share with the world.Â If it’s pictures of cats, or strategies of mumblety-peg, or whatever, write about it.Â You will find someone who will read it.Â Don’t be intimidated by other bloggers and don’t try to imitate them; be inspired by them.Â Your own style will emerge.Â Make it easy on yourself, too.Â It takes great skill and energy to write in another voice - I really admire the people like Jesus’ General, for example, who can assume a completely different character for their blog.Â I can’t do that and maintain the level of energy or wit that is required of that, so I don’t even try.Â I happen to be a writer - by vocation, not by job description - but I see a lot of blogs written by people who are not writers and who are very good in their own way.
Above all, have fun!Â Otherwise, what’s the point?
"Oh, Your Word!"
Please explain the proper usage of these Latin abbreviations:
i.e. versus e.g.
etc. versus et al.
I see them used incorrectly quite a bit especially in the blogosphere where no good word goes without being defiled by some lazy shorthand abbreviation.
-- One without whom Exile_lsf would not exist em dash
First, please note, everyone, that I have placed the abbreviations in italics, which is the proper way to indicate that you’re employing a foreign word or phrase.
First, i.e. is usually translated as “that is,” meaning “in other words.” You should use it when introducing a paraphrase or restatement of something you just said. On the other hand, e.g. means “for example,” so use it when introducing examples the prove the point you just made. Use i.e. when what follows is exhaustive, and use e.g. when what follows is an incomplete sample. Examples:
The browser you use--i.e. I. E.--is a magnet for spyware.
Non-Microsoft browsers (e.g., Firefox, Safari) are less likely to attract viruses.
Second, etc., the abbreviation for the Latin et cetera (never ect.!), translates to “and other things.” (Since the and is a part of the translation, it is redundant to say “and etc.") The other abbreviation, et al., is similar, meaning “and others” (et alia or et alii, depending on whether you mean other objects or other people). Et al. is used almost exclusively now to refer to people, particularly multiple authors of a particular text or participants in an event. Etc. is more casual, and used mostly to apply to objects. Example:
The bill proposed by Kucinich, et al., outlaws discrimination against imaginary creatures: gnomes, faeries, green giants, Secretaries of Peace, etc.
Confused? Of course you are. Email email@example.com with your questions, concerns, complaints, comments, or kudos. Remember, I’m here to help, and no topic is too arcane. Please include with your question whether you’d like to remain anonymous, and how I should refer to you, since some of you have blogonyms.
Sunday, January 30, 2005
A New Yearâ€™s Resolution: Practicing What I Preach
I often catch myself complaining about the ineptitude and timidity of the Democratic Party establishment. On this blog, Iâ€™ve complained about Democrats failing Hispanics, and Democrats failing to stand up for their own purported values, and even accused them of not having values at all. Yet being a Democrat has to be more than about voting and expecting a miracle in return. Governor Dean (yes, I am an unabashed Dean fan), said that voting only gets you a C- (or was it a D?). This is true.
Because of this, Iâ€™ve decided to do less complaining, and more doing. If I expect Senator Barbara Boxer to go against the grain in the U.S. Senate, amid the kind of peer pressure that makes high school look like an ass-kissing festival, I have to also stop being on the outside looking in. I have to work within the party, and bring change at whatever level I can.
By this, I mean that I will no longer complain about elected officials not speaking up if I am not willing to put myself in a similar place. I have joined my local Dem club and will attend county party functions. Not because I want more friends to nod when I talk politics, but because I too want to stand up and speak my mind on issues that matter, and I want the clubs that I belong to, to stand up for some core values too. This is the least I can do if I want the party to speak to me.
By being party to the Democratic Party, at any level, I am helping to build a more progressive, courageous party, so that someone like Barbara Boxer will know that the organization she belongs to has her back, at all levels. Many progressives think they are above the fray when they refuse to step in the door and deal with the BS that needs to be dealt with. If you want great food, and the chefs are not cooking to your taste, get in the kitchen, my friend. Chances are, if enough of us do, we will find other Barbara Boxers out there, ready to step in as well.
If I wonâ€™t work for the Democratic Party, the party is not going to work for me.