Should we tolerate the intolerant, the racist, or the violent?

Ottawa cites hate crime laws when asked about its ‘zero tolerance’ for Israel boycotters Blaney’s office cites ‘comprehensive’ hate laws for new zero tolerance plans By Neil Macdonald, CBC News Posted: May 11, 2015 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: May 11, … Continue reading

Ottawa cites hate crime laws when asked about its ‘zero tolerance’ for Israel boycotters

Blaney’s office cites ‘comprehensive’ hate laws for new zero tolerance plans

By Neil Macdonald, CBC News Posted: May 11, 2015 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: May 11, 2015 10:58 PM ET


Tweets About Israel Land New Jersey Student in Principal’s Office


Tolerance is an intractable term.  Should we tolerate the intolerant, the racist, or the violent? Who decides who’s who, who’s what? Words used in complex social situations have always a degree of double-speak; there is a disconnection between what we think we mean and our actual thinking.

Tolerance (http://www.tolerance.org/ ) is supposed to be about letting those different from us be themselves, but in practice is about pretending that we are different from ourselves. To always have a favorite football team as an essential part of our identity? Even in this limited sense, one has to be careful; it might not be healthful to display the wrong loyalty in the wrong bar.

Tolerance stems from a sated world. In times of plenty, we can afford to be kind to those who are different. We are less threatened when we are comfortable. If our 21st Century standard of living peaks—coincident with a peak in surplus energy (i.e., fossil fuels)—then we may not have the luxury of viewing our social progress as an irreversible ratchet. Hard times revive old tribal instincts: different is not welcome.

Mass attitudes towards the other are influenced by the Media. For instance, many Serbian communities believed that the western media portrayed a negative image of the Serbian people during the NATO bombing in Kosovo and Serbia (http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/tolerance ).

it is easy to protest

when the bombs fall miles from the fridge

yet, we are still afraid

a trip to Disney World on the line

so what hundred children massacred a day

better to have less terrorists, right?

In this day and age of information overload modern society is in a state of data deluge, and our brains are struggling to keep up with the demands of the digital age (https://www.thersa.org/events/2015/01/thinking-straight-in-the-age-of-information-overload/ ). Moreover, the Media is not a neutral player, but an instrument of the power elite.  Thus, we are ripe for the simplifying power of the sound bite (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_bite ) and the Media is more than willing to provide us with a boogeyman .

The neat and sharp-focused World offered by the establishment  – where God is on our side, and the others are evil Muslims and political correct Marxists conspiring to take away our freedom and wealth-  is compelling and comforting (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/cultural-marxism/ ); we have the firepower to do what needs to be done.

While the political ideology of the Tea Party is not an exact match of the European fascism of the 1930´s, there are troubling parallels between the events that lead to the Second World War and the circumstances of the early Twenty-First Century (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/fascism/ ).

Robert Paxton says that fascism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism )  is “a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”

The Tea Party movement shares with Fascism an obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, and victimhood, as well as compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants embrace a credo of violence and ideology-driven armed militias (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/the-oregon-militia/ ).

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants:

Thomas Jefferson.

For Tea Partiers, the root of knowledge is a bedrock certainty about the Bible. This provides them with clear, absolute answers and that much of what we see on earth is a struggle between good and evil (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/a-conversation-about-gun-control/ ).

The ability of Government to keep the upper hand in the application of force is an important factor in social stability. The primary function of Government is to guarantee the Social Contract. The freedom to engage in seditious activities and Social peace do not mix.

Gun owners tend to be among the political right, and Second Amendment support is a common thread among Tea Party demonstrators. One of the fundamental mantra of them is guns as a mechanism of check and balance against tyranny.   It sounds like sedition.  There is a not only idle talk, there is a trail of actual terrorist activity. The Hutterite militia in Michigan was planning to kill police officers but they had not actually done anything violent before they were arrested, and their ultimate goal was to war against the anti-Christ.  Timothy McVeigh in 1995 blamed the US Government for attacks against American citizens at Waco and Ruby Ridge.

The FBI is leading the investigation into the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon and says it will work with local and state authorities to seek “a peaceful resolution to the situation.”

President Obama is aware of the Oregon situation, but the White House considers it “a local law enforcement matter,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said in a report on that standoff that the militiamen and the federal land-return movement are part of the same spectrum.

“Anti-government extremists have long pushed, most fiercely during Democratic administrations, rabid conspiracy theories about a nefarious New World Order, a socialist, gun-grabbing federal government and the evils of federal law enforcement,” the center said.

Law enforcement officials said that the occupiers came to the region with a specific goal:

“These men came to Harney County claiming to be part of militia groups supporting local ranchers,” Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward said in a statement Sunday. “When in reality these men had alternative motives, to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States.”

The gun crowd likes to wax eloquent about protecting our natural rights with our weapons when the government becomes unconstitutional, and all other avenues have failed. They see themselves as law abiding insurrects that do not use violence and have confidence in the ballot box, and that that ensure that the government can’t stray too far toward tyranny. It sounds like fools playing with fire. A fire that will get us all burned.

In the NRA’s world, we are only free to the extent that our guns allow us to impose our will on others.”

Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign,  “Gun Rights and Political Violence”

 

More guns were sold in December 2015 than almost any other month in nearly two decades, continuing a pattern of spikes in sales after terrorist attacks and calls for stricter gun-buying laws, according to federal data released on Monday (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/12/10/us/gun-sales-terrorism-obama-restrictions.html ).

The heaviest sales last month, driven primarily by handgun sales, followed a call from President Obama to make it harder to buy assault weapons after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif.

Fear of gun-buying restrictions has been the main driver of spikes in gun sales, far surpassing the effects of mass shootings and terrorist attacks alone, according to an analysis of federal background check data by The New York Times.

During the previous record month, December 2012, President Obama called for new buying restrictions after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

 

Few political terrorists in recent history took as much care to articulate their ideological influences and political views as Anders Behring Breivik did. The right-wing Norwegian Islamophobe.  One of the most remarkable aspects of the manifesto is the extent to which its European author quoted from the writings of figures from the American conservative movement (http://maxblumenthal.com/2011/08/americas-breivik-complex-how-state-terror-electrifies-the-islamophobic-right ). Many of the American writers who influenced Breivik spent years churning out calls for the mass murder of Muslims, Palestinians and their left-wing Western supporters. American Islamophobes simply sit back from the comfort of their homes and cheer as American and Israeli troops — and their remote-controlled aerial drones — leave a trail of charred bodies from Waziristan to Gaza City.

While Israel has sought to insulate itself from the legal ramifications of its attacks on civilian life by deploying elaborate propaganda and intellectual sophistry (witness the country’s frantic campaign to discredit the Goldstone Report), and the United States has casually dismissed allegations of war crimes as any swaggering superpower would (after a US airstrike killed scores of Afghan civilians, former US CENTCOM chief David Petraeus baselessly claimed that Afghan parents had deliberately burned their children alive to increase the death toll), the online Islamophobes who inspired Breivik tacitly accept the reality of Israeli and American state terror.

In American and Israeli society, Professional Terrorism is acceptable, whereas Amateur Terrorism is absolutely the world’s greatest evil (http://www.loonwatch.com/2011/08/gallup-poll-jews-and-christians-way-more-likely-than-muslims-to-justify-killing-civilians/ ).  Amateur Terrorism provides the justification for Professional Terrorism (this even though it is usually almost always the case that Professional Terrorism started the cycle of violence).  Those who have the capability to carry out Professional Terrorism have absolutely no need to resort to Amateur Terrorism since the former is so much more effective in killing civilians than the latter.

Public Policy Polling asked Republicans if they would want to bomb the fictional town of Agrabah in Disney’s Aladdin movie (http://www.loonwatch.com/2015/12/30-percent-of-republicans-want-to-bomb-aladdins-hometown-agrabah/ ).

These are the results:

Support bombing Agrabah  …………………………30%

Oppose bombing Agrabah  …………………………13%

Not sure ……………………………………………………57%

In sharp contrast with Americans who identify themselves with other faith groups (http://www.gallup.com/poll/148763/muslim-americans-no-justification-violence.aspx ), Muslim Americans are more likely to say military attacks on civilians are never justified (78%) than sometimes justified (21%). Respondents from other faith groups, particularly Mormon Americans, are more likely to say military attacks are sometimes justified than never justified. The opinions of Americans who don’t identify themselves with any religion are more in line with those of Muslim Americans, but they are also more divided.

Gallup analysts (http://www.gallup.com/poll/157067/views-violence.aspx ) tested correlations between the level at which populations say these attacks are “sometimes justified” and a number of independent indicators, and they found human development and societal stability measures are most strongly related.

Residents of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states are slightly less likely than residents of non-member states to view military attacks on civilians as sometimes justified, and about as likely as those of non-member states to say the same about individual attacks.

 “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.”

Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade .

In the article “Why are there no condemnations from Muslim sources against terrorists?” Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance summarizes:

A common complaint among non-Muslims is that Muslim religious authorities do not condemn terrorist attacks. The complaints often surface in letters to the editors of newspapers, on phone-in radio shows, in Internet mailing lists, forums, etc. A leader of an evangelical Christian para-church group, broadcasting over Sirius Family Net radio, stated that he had done a thorough search on the Internet for a Muslim statement condemning terrorism, without finding a single item.
Actually, there are lots of fatwas and other statements issued which condemn attacks on innocent civilians. Unfortunately, they are largely ignored by newspapers, television news, radio news and other media outlets. Possibly because Islamic terrorists keep killing innocent civilians.

Contrary to common image, many Muslims have spoken out against 9/11,[2][3][4]

A 2007 Pew Research Center study of several nations throughout the Muslim world showed that opposition to suicide bombing in the Muslim world is increasing, with a majority of Muslims surveyed in 10 out of the 16 of the countries responding that suicide bombings and other violence against civilians is “never” justified, though an average of 38% believe it is justified at least rarely. Opposition to Hamas was the majority opinion in only 4 out of the 16 countries surveyed, as was opposition to Hezbollah.[5] The Pew Research Study did not include Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Libya, and Algeria in the survey, although densely populated Muslim countries such as Pakistan, Egypt, Indonesia, and Bangladesh were included.

Per the 2013 State Department’s report on terrorism, there were 399 acts of terror committed by Israeli settlers in what are known as “price tag” attacks. These Jewish terrorists attacked Palestinian civilians causing physical injuries to 93 of them and also vandalized scores of mosques and Christian churches.

An FBI study looking at terrorism committed on U.S. soil between 1980 and 2005 found that 94 percent of the terror attacks were committed by non-Muslims. In actuality, 42 percent of terror attacks were carried out by Latino-related groups, followed by 24 percent perpetrated by extreme left-wing actors.

And as a 2014 study by University of North Carolina found, since the 9/11 attacks, Muslim-linked terrorism has claimed the lives of 37 Americans. In that same time period, more than 190,000 Americans were murdered (PDF).

Muslim man was attacked by Piro Kolvani who decided he had to drive from Florida to New York to beat on a Muslim (Kolvani was inspired by the NY Post front covers). Kolvani viciously attacked Sarker Haque, who stated, “I never saw a situation like that. Not even after 9/11.”

Yet, the conflict is not about religion nor race, but power (in the sociopathic sense) and resources. Human activity is not driven by justice but by power. In a way, justice is the right of the strong. One thing is rationalizations used to justify actions, and another, real social and psychological motives behind. These ulterior motives are not necessary explicit or even conscious.

All three religions   – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam – in conflict share the same core barbaric Bronze Age believes sated in the Hebrew Bible, and all pick and choose what’s convenient to their respective social order. Whether one is consider a Christian or a Muslim is more an accident of geography or ethnicity, than a reflection of actual belief.   That is, religion is mainly a marker of cultural identity.

Israel, for all the talk about being a Jewish state is in practice rather secular. Although the idea of a vibrant queer community in Israel, reputed birthplace of the biblical condemnation of same-sex relations, may seem far-fetched, Israel today is one of the world’s most progressive countries in terms of equality for sexual minorities. Politically, legally, and culturally, the community has moved from life at the margins of Israeli society to visibility and growing acceptance (http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/homosexuality-in-israel/ ).

Many Israelis are not Semitic (http://www.livescience.com/40247-ashkenazi-jews-have-european-genes.html ). While Ashkenazi Jews have a long tradition in Judaism, they cannot claim a bloodline from David, which is a mythological figure anyway (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/davidjer.html ).

The scourge of Islamic fundamentalism is a monster created by the same people crying wolf (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/the-islamic-state/ ).

The modern Islamic fundamentalist movements have their origins in the late 19th century. The Wahhabi movement, an Arabian fundamentalist movement that began in the 18th century, gained traction and spread during the 19th and 20th centuries. During the Cold War following World War II, some NATO governments, particularly those of the United States and the United Kingdom, launched covert and overt campaigns to encourage and strengthen fundamentalist groups in the Middle East and southern Asia. These groups were seen as a hedge against potential expansion by the Soviet Union, and as a means to prevent the growth of nationalistic movements that were not necessarily favorable toward the interests of the Western nations. By the 1970s the Islamists had become important allies in supporting governments, such as Egypt, which were friendly to U.S. interests. In many cases the military wings of these groups were supplied with money and arms by the U.S. (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/religion-and-terrorism/ ).

Regardless of the machinations behind the current crisis in the Middle East, its effects will unsettle the whole World, including the US and Europe (http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-roots-of-the-migration-crisis-1441995372 ). The Syrian refugee disaster presents a dilemma to the West. A massive influx of refugees into any country compromises its social and economic stability but the crisis cannot be ignored in humanitarian and practical grounds. Furthermore, the rise of religious fundamentalism (of all flavors: Christian, Muslim, or Jewish) is a treat to the long term viability of modern society.

Humans are social animals and it’s our natural instinct to be emphatic with others. It’s natural for us to bond by kinship. Unfortunately the same tribal instinct hampers our ability to recognize the essential and vital global brotherhood of man. We cling to nationality, religion, and many artificial walls we build around us that compromise our chances for long term survival (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2015/12/12/merry-xmas/ ).

We must overcome our fears and reach out for peace. To live or die together is the choice.

sedition

In law, sedition is overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that is deemed by the legal authority to tend toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent (or resistance) to … Continue reading

In law, sedition is overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that is deemed by the legal authority to tend toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent (or resistance) to lawful authority. Sedition may include any commotion, though not aimed at direct and open violence against the laws. Seditious words in writing are seditious libel. A seditionist is one who engages in or promotes the interests of sedition.

Typically, sedition is considered a subversive act, and the overt acts that may be prosecutable under sedition laws vary from one legal code to another. Where the history of these legal codes has been traced, there is also a record of the change in the definition of the elements constituting sedition at certain points in history. This overview has served to develop a sociological definition of sedition as well, within the study of state persecution.

The term sedition in its modern meaning first appeared in the Elizabethan Era (c. 1590) as the “notion of inciting by words or writings disaffection towards the state or constituted authority”. “Sedition complements treason and martial law: while treason controls primarily the privileged, ecclesiastical opponents, priests, and Jesuits, as well as certain commoners; and martial law frightens commoners, sedition frightens intellectuals.”

In 1798, President John Adams signed into law the Alien and Sedition Acts, the fourth of which, the Sedition Act or “An Act for the Punishment of Certain Crimes against the United States” set out punishments of up to two years of imprisonment for “opposing or resisting any law of the United States” or writing or publishing “false, scandalous, and malicious writing” about the President or the U.S. Congress (though not the office of the Vice-President, then occupied by Adams’ political opponent Thomas Jefferson). This Act of Congress was allowed to expire in 1801 after Jefferson’s election to the Presidency.

Political cartoon by Art Young, The Masses, 1917.

In the Espionage Act of 1917, Section 3 made it a federal crime, punishable by up to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000, to willfully spread false news of the American army and navy with an intent to disrupt their operations, to foment mutiny in their ranks, or to obstruct recruiting. This Act of Congress was amended Sedition Act of 1918, which expanded the scope of the Espionage Act to any statement criticizing the Government of the United States. These Acts were upheld in 1919 in the case of Schenck v. United States, but they were largely repealed in 1921, leaving laws forbidding foreign espionage in the United States and allowing military censorship of sensitive material.

In 1940, the Alien Registration Act, or “Smith Act“, was passed, which made it a federal crime to advocate or to teach the desirability of overthrowing the United States Government, or to be a member of any organization which does the same. It was often used against Communist Party organizations. This Act was invoked in three major cases, one of which against the Socialist Worker’s Party in Minneapolis in 1941, resulting in 23 convictions, and again in what became known as the Great Sedition Trial of 1944 in which a number of pro-Nazi figures were indicted but released when the prosecution ended in a mistrial. Also, a series of trials of 140 leaders of the Communist Party USA also relied upon the terms of the “Smith Act”—beginning in 1949—and lasting until 1957. Although the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the convictions of 11 CPUSA leaders in 1951 in Dennis v. United States, that same Court reversed itself in 1957 in the case of Yates v. United States, by ruling that teaching an ideal, no matter how harmful it may seem, does not equal advocating or planning its implementation. Although unused since at least 1961, the “Smith Act” remains a Federal law.

There was, however, a brief attempt to use the sedition laws against protesters of the Vietnam War. On October 17, 1967, two demonstrators, including then Marin County resident Al Wasserman, while engaged in a ‘sit in’ at the Army Induction Center in Oakland, Ca., were arrested and charged with sedition by deputy US. Marshall Richard St. Germain. U.S. Attorney Cecil Poole changed the charge to trespassing. Poole said, “three guys (according to Mr. Wasserman there were only 2) reaching up and touching the leg of an inductee, and that’s conspiracy to commit sedition? That’s ridiculous!” The inductees were in the process of physically stepping on the demonstrators as they attempted to enter the building, and the demonstrators were trying to protect themselves from the inductees’ feet. Attorney Poole later added, “We’ll decide what to prosecute, not marshals.”[25]

In 1981, Oscar López Rivera, a Puerto Rican Nationalist and Vietnam war veteran, was convicted and sentenced to 70 years in prison for seditious conspiracy and various other offenses. He was among the 16 Puerto Rican nationalists offered conditional clemency by U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1999, but he rejected the offer. His sister, Zenaida López, said he refused the offer because on parole, he would be in “prison outside prison.” López Rivera is said to be “among the longest held political prisoners in the history of Puerto Rico and in the world.” He has been jailed for 32 years, 8 months, and 24 days.[26]

In 1987 fourteen white supremacists were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges filed by the U.S. Department of Justice against a seditious conspiracy between July 1983 and March 1985. Some alleged conspirators were serving time for overt acts, such as the crimes committed by The Order. Others such as Louis Beam and Richard Butler were charged for their speech seen as spurring on the overt acts by the others. In April 1988, a federal jury in Arkansas acquitted all the accused of charges of seditious conspiracy.[27]

On October 1, 1995, Omar Abdel-Rahman and nine others were convicted of seditious conspiracy.[28]

Laura Berg, a nurse at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in New Mexico was investigated for sedition in September 2005[29] after writing a letter[30][31] to the editor of a local newspaper, accusing several national leaders of criminal negligence. Though their action was later deemed unwarranted by the director of Veteran Affairs, local human resources personnel took it upon themselves to request an FBI investigation. Ms. Berg was represented by the ACLU.[32] Charges were dropped in 2006.[33]

On March 28, 2010, nine members of the Hutaree militia were arrested and charged with crimes including seditious conspiracy.

Sedition is a punishable offense under Article 94 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Volksverhetzung (“incitement of the people”) is a legal concept unique to Germany. It is sometimes loosely translated as sedition,[36] although the law bans the incitement of hatred against a segment of the population. Segment of the population meaning, for example, a race or religion.

 

Corporate personhood

Corporations had been viewed as artificial persons for millennia, the debate over whether they should be afforded the same rights as humans had been raging long before the United States created, or the14th Amendment was adopted. The degree of permissible government interference … Continue reading

Corporations had been viewed as artificial persons for millennia, the debate over whether they should be afforded the same rights as humans had been raging long before the United States created, or the14th Amendment was adopted. The degree of permissible government interference in corporate affairs was controversial from the earliest days of the nation.

With the Industrial Revolution, the favored form for large businesses became the corporation as a mechanism to raise the large amounts of investment capital. The Civil War accelerated the growth of manufacturing and the power of the men who owned the large corporations. Businessmen such as Mark Hanna, sugar trust magnate Henry O. Havemeyer, banker J. P. Morgan, steel makers Charles M. Schwab and Andrew Carnegie, and railroad owners Cornelius Vanderbilt and Jay Gould created corporations which influenced legislation at the local, state, and federal levels as they built businesses that spanned multiple states and communities. After the adoption of the 14th Amendment in 1868, there was some question as to whether the Amendment applied to other than freed slaves, and whether its protections could be invoked by corporations and other organizations of persons.

Corporations as legal entities have always been able to perform commercial activities, similar to a person acting as a sole proprietor, such as entering into a contract or owning property. Therefore corporations have always had a ‘legal personality’ for the purposes of conducting business while shielding individual shareholders from personal liability (i.e., protecting personal assets which were not invested in the corporation).

Corporate personhood is the legal concept that a corporation may be recognized as an individual in the eyes of the law. This doctrine forms the basis for legal recognition that corporations, as groups of people, may hold and exercise certain rights under the common law and the U.S. Constitution. The doctrine does not grant to corporations all of the rights of citizens. In Pembina Consolidated Silver Mining Co. v. Pennsylvania – 125 U.S. 181 (1888), the Court clearly affirmed the doctrine, holding, “Under the designation of ‘person’ there is no doubt that a private corporation is included [in the Fourteenth Amendment]. Such corporations are merely associations of individuals united for a special purpose and permitted to do business under a particular name and have a succession of members without dissolution.”[2] This doctrine has been reaffirmed by the Court many times since.

As a matter of interpretation of the word “person” in the Fourteenth Amendment, U.S. courts have extended certain constitutional protections to corporations. Opponents of corporate personhood seek to amend the U.S. Constitution to limit these rights to those provided by state law and state constitutions.

The basis for allowing corporations to assert protection under the U.S. Constitution is that they are organizations of people, and the people should not be deprived of their constitutional rights when they act collectively.[5] In this view, treating corporations as “persons” is a convenient legal fiction which allows corporations to sue and to be sued, provides a single entity for easier taxation and regulation, simplifies complex transactions which would otherwise involve, in the case of large corporations, thousands of people, and protects the individual rights of the shareholders as well as the right of association.

Generally, corporations are not able to claim constitutional protections which would not otherwise be available to persons acting as a group. For example, the Supreme Court has not recognized a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination for a corporation, since the right can be exercised only on an individual basis.

Since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010, upholding the rights of corporations to make political expenditures under the First Amendment, there have been several calls for a U.S. Constitutional amendment to abolish Corporate Personhood, Ralph NaderPhil Radford and others have argued that a strict originalist philosophy should reject the doctrine of corporate personhood under the Fourteenth Amendment.

A central point of debate has been what role corporate money plays and should play in democratic politics. This is part of the larger debate on campaign finance reform and the role which money may play in politics.

The corporate personhood aspect of the campaign finance debate turns on Buckley v. Valeo (1976) and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010): Buckley ruled that political spending is protected by the First Amendment right to free speech, while Citizens United ruled that corporate political spending is protected, holding that corporations have a First Amendment right to free speech. Opponents of these decisions have argued that if all corporate rights under the Constitution were abolished, it would clear the way for greater regulation of campaign spending and contributions. It should be noted, however, that neither decision relied on the concept of corporate personhood, and the Buckley decision in particular deals with the rights of individuals and political committees, not corporations.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. ___ (2010), (Docket No. 08-205), is a US constitutional law case, in which the United States Supreme Court held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting political independent expenditures by corporations,associations, or labor unions. The conservative lobbying group Citizens United wanted to air a film critical of Hillary Clinton and to advertise the film during television broadcasts in apparent violation of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (commonly known as the McCain–Feingold Act or “BCRA”).[2] In a 5–4 decision, the Court held that portions of BCRA §203 violated the First Amendment.

The decision reached the Supreme Court on appeal from a July 2008 decision by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Section 203 of BCRA defined an “electioneering communication” as a broadcast, cable, or satellite communication that mentioned a candidate within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary, and prohibited such expenditures by corporations and unions. The lower court held that §203 of BCRA applied and prohibited Citizens United from advertising the film Hillary: The Movie in broadcasts or paying to have it shown on television within 30 days of the 2008 Democratic primaries.[1][3] The Supreme Court reversed, striking down those provisions of BCRA that prohibited corporations (including nonprofit corporations) and unions from making independent expenditures and “electioneering communications”.

In Citizens United the Court confidently declared, “We now conclude that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” And for skeptics who thought otherwise, the Court provided this additional assurance: “The appearance of influence or access, furthermore, will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy.”

In 2012 the Justices overturned a century-old Montana law that prohibited corporate spending in Montana state’s elections.

On march 2014 the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Sebelius v Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v Sebelius. These two consolidated cases concern Obamacare’s “contraceptive mandate”—the requirement that businesses offering their employees health insurance must provide plans that cover all federally-approved contraception methods at no extra cost to their employees.

Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties are both owned by Christians who believe that some of those contraceptive methods are tantamount to abortion, because they can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. The owners seek an exemption to the contraceptive mandate under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a statute that Congress passed almost unanimously in 1993. This says that “government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability”, unless the law is the least restrictive way to further a compelling state interest.

To summarize, the US judiciary thinks that corporations should have speech rights because they are basically associations of people. This view overlooks the fact that corporations are instruments with a very specific purpose, to make money.  In fact, many social ills created by corporations stem directly from corporate law. The law actually inhibits executives and corporations from being socially responsible. A provision in corporate law says the purpose of the corporation is simply to make money for shareholders. Every jurisdiction where corporations operate has its own law of corporate governance. But remarkably, the corporate design contained in hundreds of corporate laws throughout the world is nearly identical. That design creates a governing body to manage the corporation, usually a board of directors, and dictates the duties of those directors. In short, the law creates corporate purpose. That purpose is to operate in the interests of shareholders.

Of course there are people behind corporations, however, one of the main purposes of corporations is to shield people from responsibility of what the corporation do. While it is true that what guide corporations  is the human activity of their executives, boards of directors, managers and employees, all the human emotional factors of the people in the corporation pass through a “filter” created by the basic rule of maximizing profit. A corporation is a complex machine, and as it grows, its actions get more detached from the values of the founders. Wal-Mart a clear example of this. When Sam Walton was alive there probably was some truth on the saying that the Wal-Mart Way was the American Way; Nowadays is the cheap slave  labor Chinese way.

Corporations are big machines that should not go amok, the same way a train engine needs tracks. Free market is not restrain enough, specially when there is such an concentration of wealth and power and a few oligopolies control everything. In practice, corporations are powerful enough that they control government, not the other way, and is a moot point to discuss government regulations. Nonetheless one should be at least aware of the manipulations of public opinion and values.

Small family business might show some correlation between their behavior and the values of the shareholders. But the modern large corporation, the one that we, the people, the flesh and blood people, should consider, is an amoral entity, i.e., not governed by human moral values. It lacks guilt for what it does, or empathy for those it harms.  A corporation  can function beyond the natural limits that govern humans. A corporation doesn’t die with its originator. Corporations can’t feel pain. A corporation cannot be  imprisoned. One might give corporations the rights of a human being, but not similar responsibilities.

Like Frankenstein´s monster, corporations do have a life of their own, beyond the wishes, expectations or actions of their founders. Corporations are at their most nefarious as a living entity, bound on survive and thrive at all cost. The modern corporation is particularly dangerous because of its great concentration of money, power, and political influence–which it uses freely to reach its goals.

Even more, if it is granted that corporations reflect the interest and values of their owners, and there are a few extremely wealthy and powerful, that gives this few undue advantage to impose their interests on the majority.

It is a fact of life that the winner of elections for public office, specially the presidency, can be predicted on the bases of the amount spends on the campaigns.  The news media coverage in the United States is of very low quality, heavily biased towards the interests of the plutocracy. Extending the rights and prerogatives of big corporations is in practice the end of democracy.

 

In 2010, after the Supreme Court declared that corporations have the same rights as individuals when it comes to funding political campaigns, Murray Hill took what it considers the next logical step: declaring for office.

“Until now, corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence-peddling to achieve their goals in Washington,” the candidate, who was unavailable for an interview, said in a statement. “But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves.”

William Klein, a “hired gun” who has been enlisted as Murray Hill’s campaign manager, said the firm appears to be the first “corporate person” to run for office and is promising a spirited campaign that “puts people second, or even third.”

A stunt, but how far should the corporate personhood metaphor go?

chicanery

Art. I, § 3.23 Article I, § 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution states the following: All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; no man can of right be compelled to … Continue reading

Art. I, § 3.23 Article I, § 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution states the following:

All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry against his consent; no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience, and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship.

Deception by trickery or sophistry

Religious fundamentalists are sincere on their view of the World as a battleground between Good and Evil. For them anything that undermines faith in God, specially with regards to children, is utterly evil. The teaching of Science to children is seen as a threat to children indoctrination. They fail to understand that Science is not about what to believe but rather a method to perceive Reality. Teaching religious ideas as fact undermines science education by misinforming students about the scientific method — the basis for science literacy. The scientific method teaches students the fundamentals of science — how to observe data, perform experiments and form scientific theory. Religious explanations for creation are not science – they cannot be confirmed or denied by the scientific method. Teaching them as science confuses and misleads students about the scientific method, thereby warping their ability to live in a technology-driven society.

However, it must be said that there is perversion of language and there are religious groups that use the language of science to mislead and actually undermine a scientific conceptualization of Reality. Religious opponents of evolution have cloaked religious beliefs in scientific sounding language and then mandating that schools teach the resulting “creation science” or “Intelligent Design” as an alternative to evolution. Intelligent Design organizations are fundamentalist religious entities that consider the introduction of creation science into the public schools part of their ministry. Creation science rested on a “contrived dualism” that recognized only two possible explanations for life, the scientific theory of evolution and biblical creationism, treated the two as mutually exclusive such that “one must either accept the literal interpretation of Genesis or else believe in the godless system of evolution,” and accordingly viewed any critiques of evolution as evidence that necessarily supported biblical creationism. Creation science is simply not science because it depends upon supernatural intervention, which cannot be explained by natural causes, or be proven through empirical investigation, and is therefore neither testable nor falsifiable.

The argument for Intelligent Design (ID) is not a new scientific argument, but is rather an old religious argument for the existence of God, traced back to at least Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century, who framed the argument as a syllogism: Wherever complex design exists, there must have been a designer; nature is complex; therefore nature must have had an intelligent designer. Although proponents of ID occasionally suggest that the designer could be a space alien or a time-traveling cell biologist, no serious alternative to God as the designer has been proposed. The writings of leading ID proponents reveal that the designer postulated by their argument is the God of Christianity. Dramatic evidence of ID’s religious nature and aspirations is found in what is referred to as the “Wedge Document.” The Wedge Document, developed by the Discovery Institute’s Center for Renewal of Science and Culture. The Discovery Institute, the think tank promoting ID whose CRSC developed the Wedge Document, acknowledges as “Governing Goals” to “defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies” and “replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.”

ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are: (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980′s; and (3) ID’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. As we will discuss in more detail below, it is additionally important to note that ID has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor has it been the subject of testing and research.

Since the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, science has been limited to the search for natural causes to explain natural phenomena.

Science is an abstraction, an ideal, The human brain is limited in its ability to perceive reality. Science is by definition, a work in progress, an approximation to reality, an iterative process of understanding never completed. The flowing and uncertain nature of Science is hard to grasp by the religious mind that perceives everything that happens as full of moral meaning within crisply defined boundaries between Good and Evil. From the point of view of religious fundamentalists, Science is a competing religion, although a silly one at that. Then the scientific community is under attack with this straw-man argument against evolution:

But if design, conversely, is rational, why do so many scientists reject it? Because this is not an issue of science, but of religion. Their religion is that of materialism and naturalism, and they are under no illusions as to the implications of design.

Any effort to introduce a theological doctrine into public school science curricula would inevitably offend some teachers and students. After all, a Protestant fundamentalist’s “literal” reading of Genesis would likely differ markedly from that of a Catholic or an Orthodox Jew.

Both public school educators and religious leaders should be concerned about the prospect of biology lessons degenerating into debates on Biblical or religious interpretation.

Evolution by natural selection, at its core, works like this: living organisms are characterized by heritable variation for traits that affect their survival and reproductive abilities. This heritable variation originates from the (truly random) process of mutation at the level of DNA (although Darwin didn’t know this, he observed that there was variation and noted that somehow it was heritable from one generation to the next). Natural selection then is the differential survival and reproduction of organisms that have (heritable) traits that allow them to do better in the struggle for life. That’s it, but the concept is profound because the process of evolution turns out to be largely the result of two components: mutations (which are random) and natural selection (which, again, is not random). It is the joint outcome of these two processes that—according to evolutionary theory—explains not only the diversity of all organisms on Earth, but most crucially the fact that they are so well adapted to their environment: those that weren’t did not survive the process. Indeed, many organisms do not survive or reproduce, with the result that more than 99 percent of the species that ever existed have by now gone extinct.

You may find it intuitively difficult to believe that two relatively simple natural processes can produce the complex order we observe in living organisms. But the beauty of science is that it so often shows our intuitions to be wrong. Because nature does not always function according to our common sense or intuition, the scientific method a necessity on the quest of the human race for survival.

Evolution is both a theory and a fact, contrary to simplistic creationist views. How can this be? Evolution is a fact in the sense that it is beyond reasonable doubt that living organisms have changed over time throughout the history of the earth. It is a theory in the sense that biologists have proposed a variety of mechanisms (including, but not limited to, mutation and natural selection) to explain the fact of evolution.

The theory of evolution is a fundamental concept of biology and it is supported by the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence. Simply eliminating evolution from the public school curriculum in order to ease community tensions would do a great disservice to all students. It would deny public school students an adequate science education – which is more and more becoming a necessity for professional success in a high-tech world.


Of Pandas and People: The Central Question of Biological Origins is a controversial 1989 (2nd edition 1993) school-level textbook written byPercival Davis and Dean H. Kenyon and published by the Texas-based Foundation for Thought and Ethics (FTE). It espouses the pseudoscientific[1]theory of intelligent design—namely that life shows evidence of being designed by an intelligent agent (specifically, a god).[2] The book presents various polemical arguments against the scientific theory of evolution. In 2007 a third edition of the book was published under the title The Design of Life: Discovering Signs of Intelligence in Biological Systems.

The book argues that the origin of new organisms is “in an immaterial cause: in a blueprint, a plan, a pattern, devised by an intelligent agent.” The text is non-committal on the age of the Earth, commenting that some “take the view that the earth’s history can be compressed into a framework of thousands of years, while others adhere to the standard old earth chronology.” The book raises a number of objections to the theory of evolution, such as the alleged lack of transitional fossils, gaps in the fossil record and the apparent sudden appearance ex nihilo of “already intact fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc.” The book makes no explicit reference to the identity of the intelligent designer.

Kevin Padian, a biologist at University of California, Berkeley reviewed the book and called it “a wholesale distortion of modern biology.”[3] Michael Ruse, a professor of philosophy and biology, reviewed it, saying “this book is worthless and dishonest.”[4] Gerald Skoog, Professor of Education at Texas Tech University, wrote in his 1989 review that the book reflected a creationist strategy to focus their “attack on evolution”, interpreting the Edwards v. Aguillard ruling as though it legitimised “teaching a variety of scientific theories”, but the book did not contain a scientific theory or model to “balance” against evolution, and was “being used as a vehicle to advance sectarian tenets and not to improve science education”.[5]

The title Of Pandas and People apparently refers to biologist Stephen Jay Gould’s book The Panda’s Thumb, possibly in hope that people would be confused by the similar titles, or as retaliation for arguments made in the earlier book.[6] Gould used the giant panda‘s “thumb”, which was found to be an evolved sesamoid bone, to support his argument that “ideal design is a lousy argument for evolution” and that “odd arrangements and funny solutions are the proofs of evolution – paths that a sensible God would never tread but that a natural process constrained by history, follows perforce.”

There are currently two editions of the book, the 1989 first edition edited by Charles Thaxton, and the 1993 second edition, which included a “Note to Teachers” by Mark D. Hartwig and Stephen C. Meyer. A third edition was retitled The Design of Life. Jon Buell, the president of the Foundation for Thought and Ethics, said that the ruling in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District that intelligent design was religious would make the textbook “radioactive” in public schools and would be “catastrophic” for the marketability of both the (then) present (second) edition and the (then) forthcoming third edition, citing possible losses of around US$500,000. The renaming of the book is viewed by some as way of mitigating this and at the same time distancing the book from past controversy.[7]

For the 1993 edition, Michael Behe wrote a chapter on blood clotting, presenting arguments which he later presented in very similar terms as “irreducible complexity” in a chapter in his 1996 bookDarwin’s Black Box. Behe later agreed that they were essentially the same when he defended intelligent design at the Dover Trial.

The book is published by the Foundation for Thought and Ethics (FTE), a non-profit organization founded by ordained minister Jon Buell in RichardsonTexas, in 1980 as a tax-exempt charitable and educational organization, with articles of incorporation which stated that its purpose includes “proclaiming, publishing, preaching [and] teaching…the Christian Gospel and understanding of the Bible and the light it sheds on the academic and social issues of the day”. In the original Internal Revenue Service tax-exemption submission, Buell described the foundation as a “Christian think-tank” and stated that the organization’s first activity would be the editing of a book “showing the scientific evidence for creation”.[11] Co-author Percival Davis later acknowledged that religious concerns underlay the writing of the book; in a November 1994 interview with the Wall Street Journal, he commented: “Of course my motives were religious. There’s no question about it.”

The Louisiana “Balanced Treatment Act” case — Edwards v. Aguillard — was decided by the Supreme Court in 1987. The court determined that teaching creationism in public schools violated theEstablishment Clause of the United States constitution, but that alternative scientific theories could be taught. While the decision ruled out any return to teaching traditional Young Earth creationism in science classes, it did offer an opening for those willing to recast creationist doctrine in the language of science.

In 1987 a further draft of the book was produced with the new title Of Pandas and People, which still had the definition “creation means that various forms of life began abruptly”,[17] and used the term “creationists”:

The basic metabolic pathways (reaction chains) of nearly all organisms are the same. Is this because of descent from a common ancestor, or because only these pathways (and their variations) can sustain life? Evolutionists think the former is correct, creationists accept the latter view.[18][22]

The outcome of the case prompted significant editorial changes to the book. Dean H. Kenyon had presented an affidavit to the court in which he defined “creation science” as meaning “origin through abrupt appearance in complex form”, which did “not include as essential parts… catastrophism, a world-wide flood, a recent inception of the earth or life,… the concept of kinds, or any concepts from Genesis or other religious texts”,[23] but this attempt to re-define creation science did not succeed in the Edwards case. Thaxton, who was working on the Pandas book, needed a new term after the Supreme Court case, and found it in a phrase he “picked up from a NASA scientist – intelligent design”. He thought “That’s just what I need, it’s a good engineering term….. it seemed to jibe… And I went back through my old copies of Science magazine and found the term used occasionally.”[16] In a new draft of Pandas, approximately 150 uses of the root word “creation”, such as “creationism” and “creationist”, were systematically changed to refer to intelligent design,[24] The definition remained essentially the same, with “intelligent design” substituted for “creation”, and “intelligent creator” changed to “intelligent agency”:

Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact. Fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, wings, etc.[17]

The term “creationists” was changed to “design proponents”, but in one case the beginning and end of the original word “creationists” were accidentally retained, so that “creationists” became “cdesign proponentsists”.[19][22]

The basic metabolic pathways (reaction chains) of nearly all organisms are the same. Is this because of descent from a common ancestor, or because only these pathways (and their variations) can sustain life? Evolutionists think the former is correct, cdesign proponentsists accept the latter view.[18][22]

FTE founder Jon Buell says that the word creationism was a “placeholder term” whose definition “changed to include a religious context after the draft was written, so the writers changed the word.”[25] However, the proof that intelligent design was creationism re-labeled played a significant part in the Kitzmiller trial, and “cdesign proponentsists” has been described as “the missing linkbetween creationism and intelligent design.”

Of Pandas and People was published in 1989 by “Haughton Publishing Co.” This was the assumed name of a Mesquite, Texas, printing firm, Horticultural Printers, Inc., which mainly served the agricultural industry and had no other books in print, nor any in-house writers or science advisors.[11] (It should not be confused with the well-known children’s and school textbook publisher,Houghton Mifflin). Printing costs were met by donations to the FTE, whose members were told in a December 1988 fundraising letter that donors would receive an enameled box with a panda on the lid as a gift. The box would “become a pleasant reminder to pray for our work”, as Buell put it.[21]

Following the book’s publication in 1989, the FTE embarked on a lengthy campaign to get the book into use in schools across the United States. Previous creationist efforts to dilute or overturn the teaching of evolutionary theory had relied largely on a “top-down” approach of pro-creationist legislators passing laws to regulate science education in schools. However, these had repeatedly failed to survive court challenges. The FTE took a “bottom-up” approach instead, mobilizing local Christian conservative groups to push school boards and individual teachers to adopt the book and also to get themselves elected to school boards and local educational committees.

Buell told supporters:[21]

Biology teachers are generally easy to contact, available for a meeting on short notice, and receptive. If you would like to be a part of this ‘quiet army’, please let us know right away. Those choosing not to enlist may wish to support those who do by their prayers.

The FTE provided publicity materials to its supporters to assist them in promoting the adoption of the book. These included a video of testimonials by pro-ID scientists and a promotional script, including “lines to take” on contentious issues.

For instance, on the controversial issue of ID’s perceived overlap with religion, the FTE’s suggested response read:[21]

I agree that personal beliefs should not be taught in science classrooms, but intelligent design is not a personal belief; it is accepted science, a view that is held by many highly qualified scientists.

The FTE was aided in this effort by “traditional” creationist organizations such as the Institute for Creation Research, which sells Of Pandas and People through its own online shop and catalogue. The book was explicitly marketed by retailers as a creationist work; in the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case, donated copies of the book were accompanied by a catalog which listed Pandas under “creation science.”

Many of the book’s arguments are identical to those raised by creationists, which have been dismissed by the scientific community.[35] In fact, a comparison of an early draft of Of Pandas and People to a later 1987 draft showed how in hundreds of instances the word “creationism” had been replaced by “intelligent design” and “creationist” replaced by “intelligent design proponent”, while “creator” was replaced by “agency” or “designer”.[36]In his 2007 book Monkey Girl Edward Humes describes how this change was made after Edwards v. Aguillard settled that teaching “Creation Science” in public schools was unconstitutional.[37]

Scientific and education professional groups have strongly criticized Of Pandas and People and have opposed its use in schools. Science educator Gerald Skoog described it as “a vehicle to advance sectarian tenets and not to improve science education” and said “This book has no potential to improve science education and student understanding of the natural world.”[38]

A review of Of Pandas and People by paleontologist Kevin Padian of the University of California at Berkeley for the National Center for Science Education‘s Bookwatch Reviews in 1989 called the book a “wholesale distortion of modern biology”, and says that FTE’s writers had misrepresented such topics as the Cambrian explosion, the history of birds, and the concept of homology.[39]Padian described the treatment of homology in Of Pandas and People as “shameful”, citing:

They pretend that the Tasmanian wolf, a marsupial, would be placed (classified) with the placental wolf if evolutionists were not so hung up on the single character of theirreproductive mode by which marsupials and placentals are traditionally separated. This is a complete falsehood, as anyone with access to the evidence knows. It is not a matter of a single reproductive character, but dozens of characters in the skull, teeth, post-cranial bones (including the marsupial pelvic bones), soft anatomy, and biochemistry, to say nothing of their respective fossil records, that separate the two mammals. About the closest similarity they have going for them is that they are both called “wolf” in English. The same criticism can be applied seriatim to the authors’ mystifying discussion of the red and giant “pandas”.

Padian’s conclusion was: “It is hard to say what is worst in this book: the misconceptions of its sub-text, the intolerance for honest science, or the incompetence with which science is presented. In any case, teachers should be warned against using this book.”

In fact, the many errors and misleading statements in this text were immediately recognized almost from its first publication by a variety of scientists and educators. Reviews describing the errors and misrepresentations in Pandas have appeared in many publications, including Scientific American (July 1995, Science and the Citizen, “Darwin Denied”).

Science is an open enterprise, and scientific inquiry thrives precisely because no scientific theory or idea is ever immune from criticism, examination, or testing in the crucibles of experiment and observation. When I first opened the pages of Pandas and read the fine words presented by its authors in the name of free and open inquiry, I expected a text that might genuinely challenge students to examine the assumptions of what they had learned and evaluate scientific theory in an objective manner. To say that I was disappointed is to put it mildly. What I found instead was a document that contrived not to teach, but to mislead.

Pandas mis-states evolutionary theory, skims over the enormous wealth of the fossil record, and ignores the sophistication of radiometric dating, How sad it would be, given the need to improve the content and rigor of science instruction in this country, for this book to be offered as part of the educational solution. There is a great deal that we do not know about the origin of life on this planet, but that does not mean that science is obliged to pretend that it knows nothing, or to engage in a kind of scientific relativism, pretending that all speculations about the origin of our species are equally correct. The most compelling reason to keep this book out of the biology classroom is that it is bad science, pure and simple.

Science education today faces many challenges. Our teachers must deal with an ever-changing landscape of scientific advance and technological innovation that continually changes the ground upon which they educate their students. Biology education, in particular, will be the key for many of our students as they attempt to prepare themselves for the challenges of the next century, and therefore it is especially important that teachers be supported, not hindered, in their attempts to educate students in the life sciences. The many errors and misrepresentations that inhabit the pages in Of Pandas and People will, quite honestly, serve to hinder teachers as they attempt to cover the stunning range and diversity of contemporary biology. I believe it is best not to burden science faculty with the needless task of overcoming the many errors and misconceptions written into this book.

Kenneth R. Miller
Professor of Biology
Brown University
Providence, Rhode Island 02912

The FTE’s activist approach has produced heated controversies in several US states as Christian conservatives and school boards sought to adopt Of Pandas and People in public schools, against the opposition of mainstream scientists, educators and civil liberties organizations. This has caused several notable controversies, culminating in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case in Pennsylvania in which the contents and antecedents of the book came under unprecedented scrutiny.

In Alabama, 11,800 people signed a petition which was presented to Alabama’s school textbook committee, endorsing intelligent design and urging the adoption of Of Pandas and People as a class textbook.[21] In January 1990 the book was withdrawn from consideration by its publishers, the Haughton Publishing Co., who said that they “backed off because they weren’t given [the] chance to defend [the] book.”[41]

By 1990, a public campaign was mounted in Idaho to urge the state school board to adopt Of Pandas and People. However, the book was rejected by the board.

In March 1990, the school board in Pinellas CountyFlorida, rejected an appeal by a retired minister “to adopt the textbook Of Pandas and Peoplethat would offer a creationist’s view”.[42]

In January 1993, right-wing members of the school board of Vista, California, sought to include Of Pandas and People in the school science curriculum. A teachers’ committee voted unanimously to reject the book saying it lacked scientific merit.[43] The board eventually backed away from plans to require creation science to be taught in science classes.

In September 1994, residents of Louisville, Ohio, voted 121-2 to urge the local school board to adopt Of Pandas and People.[21] Creationism had been taught openly in district schools until a lawsuit forced a change of policy in 1993; in the wake of the decision, the district was given 150 copies of the book.[45]

In October 1994, school officials in St. Lucie County, Florida, distributed copies of the book to every high school and one middle school in the county to be reviewed by teachers and principals for use as a possible supplement for science classes. The response from teachers was negative but county school officials still planned to distribute the books to school libraries so teachers and students could use it as a resource. According to the local Civic, Business and Ministry Coalition, copies of the book were purchased by the Coalition from the Institute for Creation Research in San Diego, California, and were sent to school administrators on the grounds that it was “a good, science-based text appropriate for school children”. The Coalition was reported to have met administrators on several occasions to promote creation science. However, the county school board did not find out about the matter until January 1995.[46]

The Wall Street Journal reported in November that according to the Foundation for Thought and Ethics, 22,500 copies of the book had been printed and teachers and curriculum buyers in 48 states had bought it. Fifteen school districts had ordered quantities large enough to indicate classroom use, but had not been identified “for fear of embroiling them in controversy”.[21]

In January 1995, conservative members of the Plano, Texas, school trust proposed to adopt Of Pandas and People as a supplement to the existing curriculum course materials.[47] The district school board unanimously voted to bar the book’s acquisition following an outcry from local residents, many of whom attended the board’s meeting wearing buttons with a red “X” over a panda.[48] Two of the proponents of the book subsequently lost their seats on the Plano school board.[49]

In a 1996 Time magazine article it was reported that “school boards in Washington State and Ohio” were considering whether to adopt Of Pandas and People as a school textbook.[50]

In April 1997, the school board of Chesapeake, Virginia, purchased copies of the book for the libraries of each of the district’s 15 high schools and middle schools. The acquisition was made on the recommendation of School Superintendent W. Randolph Nichols, but the board stated that the book was intended for use “as a resource book, not as a science book” and that it was not endorsing creationism.

In June 1999, the school district in Burlington, Washington, approved a local science teacher’s proposal to use extracts from Of Pandas and People in the classroom “so long as he balances it with enough support for teachings on evolution which he always included in his courses but about which he says he has doubts — especially in terms of the origin of the human race”. The decision followed an earlier demand by the American Civil Liberties Union, that the teacher, Roger DeHart, should cease his years-long practice of teaching intelligent design in his classes. He stated that he needed to counterbalance the inclusion of information that was “at best wrong and at worst fraudulent” in the standard pro-evolution textbooks used in Burlington schools.[52]

That same year, another attempt to introduce Of Pandas and People into Idaho schools was reported to have been rejected by the state textbook committee.[53]

In March 2000, the science curriculum director of the Kanawha County, West Virginia, school district selected Of Pandas and People as a textbook “that presents Darwin’s Theory of Evolution as theory, not fact” following pressure from the local community and teachers. A committee of science teachers unanimously voted to purchase copies of the book, but ultimately decided to abandon the idea for fear of litigation. A Christian conservative legal group, the Thomas More Law Center, offered to represent the county for free if any litigation arose but its offer was rejected.[54] A proposal to buy the book for school libraries was eventually rejected by the school board, though a conservative member of the board pledged to pay for at least 14 copies out of her own pocket.[55]

In Pratt, Kansas, the local school board voted to remove any mention of macroevolution, the age of the Earth, and the origin of the Universe from science curriculum, but rejected a bid to adopt Of Pandas and People for educational purposes.

Of Pandas and People became the focus of a litigation and controversy in Dover, Pennsylvania in 2004 after the Dover Area School Board endorsed it as a reference book. Perhaps inevitably, the ensuing court case was dubbed the “Panda Trial” by the media in an allusion to the famous “Monkey Trial” of 1925.[56]

Although the board did not actually purchase the book, 60 copies were donated to the district by an anonymous party. It was revealed in court that a school board member asked his church for donations for the purchase of those books[57] although that board member had denied all knowledge of the source of donation in an earlier deposition.[58] Amid an international controversy, the board also became the first in the US to promote the teaching of intelligent design in the classroom, sparking a lawsuit, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, by the American Civil Liberties Union and other plaintiffs.

The FTE became involved in the Dover controversy when it became clear that Of Pandas and People would be a major focus of litigation. The foundation filed a motion to join the defending side in June 2005, arguing that a finding that intelligent design was religious would destroy FTE’s ability to market its textbooks within the district, and affect its ability to market the textbooks to any public school in the United States.[59] Had the motion been granted, the FTE would have become a co-defendant with the Dover Area School Board, and able to bring its own lawyers and expert witnesses to the case. However, William A. Dembski, co-author of the new Pandas edition, and the Discovery Institute withdrew from the case. The Judge told the defendants: “To me it looks like Mr. Dembski was dropped as an expert because he didn’t want to produce, or because his employer didn’t want to produce the manuscript [on subpoena to the court] of The Design of Life.”[7]

In his decision on the motion, Judge John E. Jones III ruled that FTE was not entitled to intervene in the case because its motion to intervene was not timely, describing FTE’s excuses for not trying to become involved earlier as “both unavailing and disingenuous”. Judge Jones also held that FTE failed to demonstrate that it has “a significantly protectable interest in the litigation warranting intervention as a party” and that its interests will not be adequately represented by the defendants.

While FTE did not become a party Jon A. Buell, the director of FTE testified on July 14, 2005, at the Dover Trial. Buell denied having known about actions of the Thomas More Law Center to which the Judge said it “strains credulity”.[7]

In November 2005, eight of the nine members of the Dover school board were voted out of office and replaced with candidates who opposed the previous board’s decision to introduce intelligent design and lay doubts on evolution.

On December 20, 2005, the US District Court ruled that intelligent design is not science and is essentially religious in nature and the board’s requirement endorsing intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in science classes unconstitutional on the grounds that its inclusion violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

The judge in the Dover trial specifically referred to Pandas in his decision, stating:

As Plaintiffs meticulously and effectively presented to the Court, Pandas went through many drafts, several of which were completed prior to and some after the Supreme Court’s decision in Edwards, which held that the Constitution forbids teaching creationism as science. By comparing the pre and post Edwards drafts of Pandas, three astonishing points emerge: (1) the definition for creation science in early drafts is identical to the definition of ID; (2) cognates of the word creation (creationism and creationist), which appeared approximately 150 times, were deliberately and systematically replaced with the phrase ID; and (3) the changes occurred shortly after the Supreme Court held that creation science is religious and cannot be taught in public school science classes in Edwards. This word substitution is telling, significant, and reveals that a purposeful change of words was effected without any corresponding change in content …. The weight of the evidence clearly demonstrates, as noted, that the systemic change from “creation” to “intelligent design” occurred sometime in 1987, after the Supreme Court’s important Edwards decision.
—Judge John E. Jones III, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District[60]

The newly elected board unanimously rescinded the policy on January 3, 2006.

In September 2006, John West, a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute, began a campaign to have the American Library Association declare the book the “Banned Book of the Year”,[61] but this was dismissed by Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Deputy Director of the American Library Association‘s Office for Intellectual Freedom: as the book was not removed from school libraries (and its inclusion was only formally challenged once, for “inaccuracy”) it does not qualify as “banned”

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Chinese censorship

China’s ban on puns may sound like just another ridiculous rule imposed by a Big Brother regime, but there’s more too it than meets the eye. Find out what on this episode of China Uncensored! Published on Nov 25, 2015 … Continue reading

China’s ban on puns may sound like just another ridiculous rule imposed by a Big Brother regime, but there’s more too it than meets the eye. Find out what on this episode of China Uncensored!



Published on Nov 25, 2015
Why is China afraid of Anastasia Lin, the “beauty with a purpose?” The answer could turn this year’s Miss World pageant on its head. Watch this episode of China Uncensored to find out how Miss World Canada has become one of the most pressing concerns for the Chinese government.


Users from all over the world have been plagued by micro-bloggging spam accounts. But, Newt Gingrich and several other high-profile users have utilized these account to boost their follower numbers.

Twitter boasts that it has 175 million “users,” 65 million of which are American. But the appropriate term is accounts, not users, as a Pew’s study makes clear: 6% of adults in the U.S. use Twitter regularly (8% of Internet users, which make up 74% of U.S. adults), which translates to about 15 million people. Minors were not included in the survey.

While some tweeters have multiple accounts, Pew’s numbers suggest that the zombie population — accounts run by bots or straightforward news feeds — is staggeringly high. So who is actually on Twitter? To use a zombie-movie favorite, is there anybody out there still alive?

Well, some, and they do have demographics. Seven percent of male and 10% of female Internet users are active tweeters. Fourteen percent of Internet users ages 18 to 29 are regular users; 7% for ages 30 to 49; 6% for 50 to 64; and 4% of those over 65. Five percent of white (non-Hispanic), 13% of black (non-Hispanic) and 18% of Hispanic Internet users are tweeters.

The Chinese micro-blogging site Sina Weibo has launched a new set of rules in an effort to curb spamming and the growing prevalence of online rumours.

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