Part of me would like to forget September 11, 2001.
It was a horrible day, parts of which I can remember like it happened last week. The phone call from my assistant asking if I’d heard about the plane crashing into the World Trade Center. The meeting where we didn’t discuss our work but were listening to the radio reports of the incident when the second plane hit. The horror when we realized that our country was under attack. The tearful phone call from my father who feared for a family member who worked in downtown Manhattan. The crowd that gathered in my Highlands backyard watching the smoke in the distance and the ferry boats docking with soot covered strangers. Phones stopped working. Sending my employees home early. The look on my wife’s face. Read the rest of this entry »
Joseph Aziz can continue his graduate studies at Montclair State University. The school’s president, Susan Cole, caved to media pressure generated by the civil rights group, The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and revoked Aziz’s suspension for making fat jokes on YouTube and facebook about the girlfriend of a fellow student who heckled conservative activist Steve Lonegan during a presentation at the school last September. The heckler who called Lonegan a racist and an American fascist while interrupting his presentation was never disciplined.
The YouTube video of the fat heckler was set to private within an hour of MMM asking the University for the identity of the heckler and if the heckler had also been disciplined.
Aziz declined to tell MMM the name of the heckler or the heckler’s girlfriend.
“While Montclair State never should have issued its unconstitutional gag order in the first place, we commend President Cole for acting swiftly to end the situation once it became public,” said FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley. “Since this unwarranted suspension prevented Mr. Aziz from attending any classes, we expect that Montclair State will make accommodations to ensure that he can get into the classes he needs as soon as possible. We also expect that the university will make sure that this unjust punishment does not appear on his records.”
Shibley offered to work with Cole on revising other University policies that violate students’s rights of free expression.
“Montclair State briefly tried to justify its decision by appealing to New Jersey’s anti-bullying law, but Aziz’s comments did not constitute bullying under the law’s definition of the term. Even if they had, Aziz’s speech still would have been protected by the First Amendment, which supersedes state law,” said FIRE’s Shibley. “While Montclair State recognized its error this time, several of the university’s policies could still be used to silence student speech in the future. FIRE would be pleased to work with President Cole to revise those policies to comply with the First Amendment, by which all public universities are legally and morally bound.”
Cole should take Shibley up on his offer. She should also make sure the University’s code of conduct is not used as a weapon against students who do not subscribe to her administration’s political agenda.
Middletown – February 9 Today, New Jersey State Senator Joe Kyrillos urged the Obama Administration to halt its attack on religious freedom and the right for Catholic hospitals to operate without government mandates.
“This is a shocking assault on the religious freedom upon which this nation was built,” said Senator Kyrillos.
“Bob Menendez’s silence is deafening. He loudly supported Obama Care and has remained silent in the face of this attack on religious liberty. The Obama/Menendez mandate is an affront not just to one particular faith, but to all Americans who seek to practice their faiths free from government intrusion.”
Kyrillos said, “President Obama has been systematically trampling upon Americans’ basic personal freedoms since his first day in office. Now he is after our religious freedom and I strongly urge him to reverse course. It is sad and unfortunate that, even as many Democrats have spoken out against this provision, Senator Menendez has stood by Obama’s side while the religious freedom of the people of New Jersey is under siege.”
“Freedom of religion is one of our nation’s most basic First Principles and unlike Senator Menendez, I cannot sit idly by while President Obama dismantles our Constitution one freedom at a time.”
There is a bill rapidly working its way through both houses of congress that, if it becomes law, would empower governments and corporations to shut down websites such as this one without due process, according to opponents of the bills that I trust. I haven’t yet studied the bills myself, which is my usual custom before bringing a concern to you, MMM readers.
The opposition to the “Stop Online Priracy Act” (HR 3261) and the “Protect IP Act” (S 968) have alarmed me enough to bring the conversation to MMM before doing my own research so that we can learn about it together.
So far among the New Jersey congressional delegation, only U.S. Senator Robert Menendez has taken a postion of the bill, according to propublica.org . Menendez is for the bill, so its a pretty good bet that it is a threat to freedom.
Craigslist has quite a few links with more information about the bills, including who is for it and who is against it.
When I learned of the tragic shootings in Tucson this past weekend, I was immediately taken back to a hot summer day just months ago, when I was standing at the Korean War Memorial in Washington DC reading the words “Freedom is not free.” Like most, I had viewed that phrase in the context of war. However, the horrific events of this past Saturday remind us that all too often civilians, public servants and occasionally political leaders are casualties in defense of our freedom, too.Promoting freedom is not something we only do in combat, but in living our lives in the American spirit and traditions so many fought to preserve, protect and defend. That is what Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was doing by hosting a “Congress on your Corner” event at a local grocery store. That’s what dozens of her constituents exemplified with their participation. That is the quintessential American political ideal in its most basic form.
Having lost my brother Paul in the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, I chose to believe that the lives of almost three thousand Americans that day were not lost in vain; that in some way, their loss helped our nation grow stronger and more resilient. As we try to understand what happened in Tucson, the focus should remain on mourning the tragic losses, which includes a nine-year-old girl interested in civics and government, by helping their families and community know that the death of their loved ones will bring us closer as a nation, not exacerbate our divisions.
Every tragedy invites an inevitable pursuit of blame and accountability beyond the obvious culprit. But the reality is that this crime came at the hands of a lone gunman who needed no more provocation than his own demons and delusions. The unpredictable, senseless and evil tendencies of a madman should not connect dots that need not be connected.
The shootings that occurred in Tucson are tragic on so many levels; but have little to do with a partisan agenda or volatile political discourse. As Ross Douthat observed in The New York Times, “There is no faction in American politics that actually wants its opponents dead. That may seem like a small blessing, amid so much tragedy and loss. But it is a blessing worth remembering nonetheless.” That should be our starting point while searching for the “teachable moment” that can emerge from this horror.
We know the shooter showed signs of being troubled, and like most assassins in modern American history, was likely mentally ill. Reports indicate that he suffered from isolation, paranoia and schizophrenia. It is our mental health system, not simply gun laws, that failed to protect society from such a dangerous character.
During my work on behalf of pediatric acquired brain injury, I have been shocked to discover how far behind we are in scientifically understanding and medically treating brain disease and injuries, even minor ones. What we do know is that there is a direct correlation between these issues in youth and adolescence leading to mental health and behavioral problems in adults. The fact that brain research remains grossly under-funded and treatment so poorly developed, means we are not addressing such a pervasive and devastating problem. Our society pays the price.
I was back in Washington DC last week, participating in many events marking the start of the 112th Congress. In my meetings with several members of Congress, I sensed universal optimism and excitement to begin doing the work the people sent them to do. Congresswoman Giffords clearly exemplified that spirit, and was quickly back to work meeting with constituents just a day after returning from the capital. What a great work ethic and testament to her respect for the office she holds.
In the wake of this tragedy, let’s allow her example to reign and not those of the political opportunists who seek to define this tragedy as a point of division in our nation. Those who died that day will not have done so in vain if we remain a nation unified in mourning and determined to move together past this devastating event.
Here for their first reading, I offer the fourth amendment to the U.S. Constitution to the editorial board of the Neptune Nudniks:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
What is the probable cause that justifies every airline traveler to be compelled to submit to these searches?
If you are selected for secondary screening after you go through the metal detector and it does not go off, and “sss” is not written on your boarding pass, ask the TSA officer if the reason you are being selected is because of your head scarf.
In this situation, you may be asked to submit to a pat-down or to go through a full body scanner. If you are selected for the scanner, you may ask to go through a pat-down instead.
Before you are patted down, you should remind the TSA officer that they are only supposed to pat down the area in question, in this scenario, your head and neck. They SHOULD NOT subject you to a full-body or partial-body pat-down.
You may ask to be taken to a private room for the pat-down procedure.
Instead of the pat-down, you can always request to pat down your own scarf, including head and neck area, and have the officers perform a chemical swipe of your hands.
If you encounter any issues, ask to speak to a supervisor immediately. They are there to assist you.
I don’t have a daughter, but I will be adding hijab to my Christmas shopping list for my wife, mother, sister and nieces. You can buy them online here.