Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Monday, June 27, 2011

Brown, Governor of California v. Entertainment Merchants Association:

Ann Althouse has the story:

The Court strikes down a California law that prohibits the sale or rental of [gory] "violent video games" to minors. The statute defined violent games in a way that "mimics the New York statute regulating obscenity-for-minors that we upheld in Ginsberg v. New York." But sex and violence are different: "obscenity is not protected expression" under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. California was trying "to create a wholly new category of content-based regulation that is permissible only for speech directed at children." "That is unprecedented and mistaken," the Court says today.

In comments I reacted:

I was dumbfounded when I heard the news on the radio [on ABC Radio News]. I couldn't imagine how a 7-2 ruling could come out of such a case. I couldn't figure out how the Constitution could be spun to be made relevant to such a case.

It never occurred me to think of it as a Free Speech case. "It's expression, so it's speech per the First Amendment." Hell, everything is expression. Playing "Glenn Reynolds vs. the Zombie Apocalypse" is expression. Banning "Glenn Reynolds vs. the Zombie Apocalypse" is expression. Killing real zombies is expression. Drinking zombies is expression.

Weapons and video games and mixed drinks are not forms of verbalization. What in the hell makes video games a type of speech?

I have just read Thomas' dissent (ruling here). He puts a lot of effort in detailing the long history of legal restrictions placed exclusively on children - more effort than he should have.

He should have limited himself to laws directly relevant to First Amendment liberties and upheld by the courts. One item touches on the right to peaceable assembly: "In the Massachusetts Colony, forexample, it was unlawful for tavern keepers (or anyone else) to entertain children without their parents’ consent." Did similar laws persist after the Bill of Rights was ratified? If so, did anyone ever challenge them?

What about laws restricting the press from selling its wares to minors? It seems to be that's the likeliest place to look for precedent.



Here's the story.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Peter Falk (1927-2011)

The star known best for his role as Lieutenant Columbo passed away last Thursday.

Ann Althouse has videos of scenes scenes from two of his films.

Here's one from Murder by Death (1976) - Falk played Sam Spade knockoff Sam Diamond. I saw this when it came out in the theater.

And here he is in The Princess Bride (1987).

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hamas 101

Powerline publishes an article that Huffington Post won't touch - a valuable primer on Hamas and its impact on Gaza.


Friday, June 24, 2011

A Victory In The War On Speech

Geert Wilders is acquitted of hate speech charges.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Ray Of Hope In North Africa

As evil dominates Iran, Libya and Syria, the Kingdom of Morocco takes steps toward liberty.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Family Ties

My Father's Day post of 2007 is now an annual blog tradition. It has applications for the relationships revolving around both our earthly fathers and our heavenly Father.

Most Christians have no problem getting along with non-Christians. This may seem confusing to some; after all, Christianity teaches that those who are not reconciled with God will not receive salvation. Why care about people who aren't going to Heaven?

One could say that while a particular non-Christian is alive we really don't know that that person's eternal destination won't make a course change at a later date. That's a valid observation, but not the real reason.

Christianity makes a radical claim about the relationship between believers, nonbelievers and God: we're all family. God created the souls of all, thus he is the father of all, believers and nonbelievers alike. All of the children have gone astray - but some have reconciled with him while others have not.

When one is faced with the earthly parallel - being in good standing with Dad while some of the other siblings aren't - one is charged with three tasks: to build and maintain the relationship with Dad, to build and maintain the relationships with the wayward siblings without doing anything that interferes with the paternal relationship, and to act as a bridge between the wayward siblings and Dad. That third task is tricky; there will be occasions to discuss the rift outright, but most of the time it involves nothing more than being a positive influence to that sibling.

Christianity works the same way. Loving God doesn't mean giving up on non-Christian friends. We may have to reassess what kinds of "fun" we pursue with them, though. (Heck, sometimes we have to reassess the "fun" we pursue with fellow Christians.) Witnessing to nonbelievers isn't all Amway sales presentations. Most of the time it's just bringing good to someone's life.

The hardest part of doing good to others is when it requres criticism. We see them doing something destructive, and we want to help. We need to effectively communicate what the problem is, how it hurts that person, and how the future can be better when that problem is dealth with.

Most Christians grasp all this, even if they haven't thought it out as thoroughly as outlined here. They care about both believers and nonbelievers out of the same human motivations that drive us all, and because they believe in a God who values everyone.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Our Teleprompter-Enhanced President Disses Automation

Barack Obama recently suggested that the proliferation of ATMs has ultimately cost jobs.

Jeffry Bartash at MarketWatch notes that over the past 40 years the number of bank teller jobs - the ones supposedly getting squeezed out by ATMs - has actually grown.

He notes also that "new technologies also create new jobs, many of them better-paying." ATMs interface with banks and credit card issuers through EFT (electronic funds transfer) networks, which would process far fewer transactions (and thus have far smaller workforces) without ATM traffic. Technicians service the ATMs. Armored car companies replenish ATMs with cash.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

NRO Imitates This Blog

In November of last year I suggested bringing back wooden stocks as an alternative to censure, Congress' Potemkin form of discipline for its members. (And I was serious.)

This week, NRO contributor Kevin D. Williamson suggests bringing back stocks - and the lash - to punish a variety of crimes.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Debate Question On Space Policy

The issue was raised at last night's debate. Writing for National Review, Rand Simberg has lots to say.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Hoax Du Jour

Some practical joker put up a sign in a McDonald's (emphasis in original):

As an insurance measure due in part to a recent string of robberies, African American customers are now required to pay an additional fee of $1.50 per transaction .

Dead giveaway: the term "African American" - racists don't use that term :-) Heck, a lot of non-racists avoid it.

But seriously...while there may be nutcases that might suspect an international corporation of having inherently racist leanings, I doubt that even that kind of whackjob would suspect that a corporation would put up a sign like that. Everyone knows that such a sign would be an instantaneous lawsuit invitation.


Sunday, June 12, 2011


Dallas Mavericks defeat the Miami Heat for their first NBA title. Check out the reportage at the Dallas Morning News and the Miami Herald.


Friday, June 10, 2011


If it weren't for the name at the end of the headline, I'd title this post "Breaking News from 1939" - EU needs an elected leader: Blair.

Yeah, I wanna watch THAT election campaign. I wanna see candidates try to wheedle votes from outside their homelands.


Thursday, June 09, 2011

Patriot Bureaucrat

His name is Orson Swindle, but he doesn't live up to the name. Magnificent.


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

What Is That Image From Mars?

Basil at IMAO has some ideas.

I think it's a Spacing Guild heighliner.

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Sunday, June 05, 2011

From The Home Office In Knoxville

Inspired by a modest proposal by roving blogger and Charles Johnson archnemesis Robert Stacy McCain...

Top Ten Reasons Glenn Reynolds Should Be President
  1. Tennessee senator Lamar Alexander would be ineligible for the veep slot.
  2. Raids by SEAL Team Six would give new meaning to the term "Instalanche."
  3. Glenn would save taxpayer dollars by getting all his gifts for foreign dignitaries through the Amazon Friday Sale.
  4. Charles Johnson would go nuts (more than usual).
  5. It would be fun to watch foreign translators wrestle with the word "heh."
  6. Glenn would pack the Supreme Court with the Volokh Conspiracy.
  7. Glenn won't be caught off guard by the zombie apocalypse.
  8. Puppy overpopulation would be a thing of the past.
  9. Shortest "State of the Union" speeches ever!
  10. One word: "InstaFirstWife."

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The Blog Turns Nine Years Old Today

See my fifth anniversary musings.


Saturday, June 04, 2011

Jack Kevorkian Dies

When people discover that they are terminally ill and death is on the near horizon, hospice serves as a vehicle for the dying to find meaning in their final days. Jack Kevorkian was the very antithesis of hospice - instead of a final embrace of life, he led people to the despair of suicide. Many of his victims weren't even terminally ill. Kevorkian wasn't punished enough during his lifetime.


Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Pass The Popcorn!

Headline: Ku Klux Klan protests Westboro Baptist Church.

(via Insty)

Seems the Klan doesn't like WBC's "thank God for dead soldiers" proitests. Fred Phelps' gang never actually killed anyone, so the Klan's moral authority is shakier than Charlie Sheen on a cocaine binge.


The Dark Side Of The Force Pals Around With Palin

The Sarah does lunch with The Donald.

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Birthday Wishes

Kentucky turns 219, and Tennessee turns 215.


Just In Time For The 2012 Olympics

Yeah, I wish.

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