Saturday, October 30, 2010

Exercising Freedoms

Not to be confused with "Exorcising Freedoms." Sorry, it is Halloween time, so a slight reference was necessary. (No matter how bad the pun.)

Two things combined to bring you, my faithful readers, this post. First, I had the pleasure of attending a symposium on the First Amendment right to freedom of speech last weekend at the University of Virginia Law School. The symposium featured some of the great legal minds, such as Dean Post of Yale Law School, Fred Schauer of UVA Law, Vincent Blasi from Columbia Law, and Eugene Volokh of UCLA Law. The highlight of the day was the keynote speech delivered by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit.

Judge Kozinski revealed to the crowd of students and professors a little secret about the freedom of speech. In the internet age, he believes, speech protects itself. He spoke about the viral nature of information on the internet, how attempts to enforce copyrights and remove web content that infringes on individual privacy sparks a backlash in the throngs of largely anonymous readers leading to the wider dissemination of information than the original act of passively allowing websites to host the content ever would have.

Obviously, Kozinski still believes in the validity of constitutional protections afforded by the First Amendment, but his point is that constitutional restrictions on the written word hosted on the nebulous world wide web of computers are fruitless.

In a(n unintentional) corollary to that speech, Hack a Day just posted an interesting hacker backlash to courts attempts at regulating internet peer to peer file sharing.
Hard wired file share ports. This is the sort of thing that Kozinski meant about the self protecting nature of the modern methods of "speech."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Alles Ist Wunderbar

I got an article in my email today that I found remarkable. At first blush, the idea of denying the success of multiculturalism seems alien to us as Americans. Even in light of Teddy Roosevelt's famous quote denouncing the place of "hyphenated Americanism," Americans seem to believe in multiculturalism as part and parcel of what being American actually means as a culture. We cling to the idea of America as a melting-pot of other cultures and pride ourselves in our inclusiveness. This view of multiculturalism reflects the formation of America and our colonial heritage. This is not the view of multiculturalism held in Europe.

I mention this as a prelude to drawing your attention to the article I mentioned already. Germany has declared its multicultural efforts a failure and is, surprisingly, becoming vocal in its efforts to promote a German national identity.

This excerpt from Germany and the Failure of Multiculturalism is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

Anyone could become an American, so long as they accepted the language and dominant culture of the nation. This left a lot of room for uniqueness, but some values had to be shared. Citizenship became a legal concept. It required a process, an oath and shared values. Nationality could be acquired; it had a price.

To be French, Polish or Greek meant not only that you learned their respective language or adopted their values — it meant that you were French, Polish or Greek because your parents were, as were their parents. It meant a shared history of suffering and triumph. One couldn’t acquire that.

For the Europeans, multiculturalism was not the liberal and humane respect for other cultures that it pretended to be. It was a way to deal with the reality that a large pool of migrants had been invited as workers into the country. The offer of multiculturalism was a grand bargain meant to lock in migrant loyalty in exchange for allowing them to keep their culture — and to protect European culture from foreign influences by sequestering the immigrants.

Read more: Germany and the Failure of Multiculturalism | STRATFOR

Oh, by the way, I hope to post a little more frequently again. Then again, law school may leave me with little in the way of extra time.