Archive for June, 2010

Georgia joins anti-texting hysteria

Last week, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue publicly expressed concern that a bill outlawing texting while driving would be too difficult to enforce and might suffer from constitutional infirmities.  However, as happens more frequently than not, the governor went ahead and signed the bill anyway.  This illustrates perfectly the story once told by former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, that  “although mankind might occassionally trip over the truth, it usually picks itself up, dusts itself off and continues on its merry way.”

Perdue’s bout of constitutional concern lasted only a few days before he succumbed to the public pressure to criminalize yet another activity.  In outlawing texting while driving, Georgia joins about two dozen other states that have similarly caught the anti-texting craze, being pushed at the national level by our federal transportation nanny, Ray LaHood.  Republican state legislators have shown themselves especially vulnerable to entreaties from …

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Pre-paid cell phones may be outlawed

This session of the 111th Congress has been one that will go down in infamy by virtue of its assault on privacy and other civil liberties.  Several of these problematic provisions have not yet made it to President Barack Obama’s desk, but in today’s political environment, resisting them will be difficult.  Many in the Congress still tremble as a result of the Times Square bombing attempt; even as many also remain gripped by the hysteria surrounding the as-yet unproven Toyota rogue acceleration problem.

The latest civil liberties victim of Times Square Brainiac Faisal Shahzad’s feeble attempt at terrorism fame is the pre-paid cell phone.  This innocuous device, available now to virtually anyone wishing to buy a cheap cell phone useable for a limited period, represents perhaps the last opportunity for a person to communicate anonymously.  Yet, these devices are being targeted for extinction by a pair of United States Senators simply because the failed Times Square bomber used …

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“Cage fighting” — spawn or parent of cultural violence?

In the 1985 movie “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,” Mel Gibson as the film’s hero is forced to participate in a bloody, to-the-death fight in a large cage from which he is not allowed to exit.  The bloody fighting was performed for the blood lust of the applauding audience.  This theatrical fight seems now, 25 years later, to have been a precursor to what has become a multi-million dollar entertainment industry known as “cage fighting.” 

Cage fighting is also referred to as “mixed martial arts” fighting and “ultimate fighting.”  While the organized aspect of the “sport” does not include among its attractions fights to the death, it clearly panders to the extreme violence craved by its large and growing audience in the U.S. and other countries (its modern rendition appears to have originated in Brazil).  Single matches staged in large metropolitan areas like Los Angeles can net tens of millions of dollars for promoters and participants.

A recent episode in which an off-duty cage …

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UK backs off national id cards

In a refreshing illustration of an administration coming into office and immediately taking steps to carry out a campaign promise, the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government in Great Britain, headed by Prime Minister David Cameron, has officially started the process of repealing the former, Labor government’s national ID card program.

The British national ID card program had been controversial from its inception several years ago, and actual implementation had started in 2008.  Notwithstanding the controversial nature of the project, and despite its high cost, the Labor governments of former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown — reflecting their party’s penchant for surveillance and data-basing information – plowed ahead regardless. 

During the recent parilamentary campaign, both Cameron and Nick Clegg, who heads the Liberal Democrat Party and is now the country’s deputy prime minister, vowed to begin undoing some of their predecessors’ privacy-invasive …

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