Saturday, June 13, 2009

Victory for Free Speech at UCLA

The administration of UCLA upheld a student's free speech rights, and overruled lower-level administrators, regarding a graduation ceremony.

At a ceremony for students receiving graduate degrees in molecular biology (not the mass graduation for four-year degrees), students were permitted to write a brief statement, which they would read when receiving their diplomas. All manner of diverse opinions were allowed, except one: any reference to Christianity was prohibited by the administrators. At least one student, Christina Popa, had wished to make such a reference, and that student, supported by her professors, appealed to the university's upper-level administrators, who pointed out the obvious discrimination in allowing every variant of religious and political views to be expressed, and then singling out one religion and forbidding any mention of it.

Thankfully, a courageous stand by students and professors in the molecular biology department withstood an attempt by administrators to steamroller the first amendment.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Murder at the Holocaust Museum

Within recent days, we have been shocked and horrified by the murders perpetrated at the Holocaust Museum in Washington. What is the profile of this madman, James Von Brunn, who would take human lives in this most serious place?

The killer was apparently filled with hatred toward President George W. Bush; he accused Bush of favoring Jews, and decried Bush's views about the Middle East. He asserted that Bush, not al-Qa'ida, had carried out the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Rejoicing that Bush was finally out of office, he was emboldened by the election results, and finally carried out these shootings.

In his remarks, he specifically stated that he hated "conservatives and neo-conservatives." He noted that many of the leaders of the neo-conservative movement were Jews.

The lesson - people filled with irrational, passionate hatred will eventually take actions: horrifying actions. James von Brunn was clear in his speaking and writing: he had a intense hostility toward George W. Bush and toward the neo-conservative movement in American politics. We now know where such hatred leads.

Student Sues Teacher and Wins

A federal judge ruled in favor of a student in Santa Ana, California. The student alleged that the teacher had violated the first amendment's guarantees of "free exercise" of religion, and freedom of speech.

The teacher, James Corbett, had made comments insulting and denigrating the beliefs of various students in his history class. Corbett told the students that any doubting or skepticism about Darwinism was "superstitious nonsense." Instead of admitting that increasing numbers of professors in the science departments of the world's universities are less inclined to accept the teachings of Darwinism, and asking if there is sufficient evidence for, Corbett rather simply accused the biology, physics, and chemistry department of being unable to "see the truth", and dismissed their questions about evidence as "religious nonsense."

The judge opined that the teacher had favored "anti-religion over religion," violating the right to "free exercise" of Muslims, Jews, Christians, and nearly everyone else. Instead, the teacher's duty is to create "expansive discussion even if a given topic may be offensive to a particular religion."

In short, the teacher's job is to create a free discussion, even about offensive topics; but the teacher may not conduct an anti-religious tirade.

Terrorist Killing in U.S.

Since the attack on the World Trade Center, we have been relatively safe in America; most of the terrorist plots to kill people here were stopped before they could be carried out.

Until June 2 of this year, that is.

The Associated Press reports as follows:

A Muslim convert "with political and religious motives" shot two uniformed soldiers outside an Arkansas military recruiting center Monday, killing one and wounding the other, authorities said.

Police arrested Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, 23, on a nearby interstate shortly after the bloodshed at the Army-Navy Career Center in a shopping center in west Little Rock. Three guns were found in his SUV, they said. Investigators say that he appears to have been "passionate about Islam."

He will be charged with first-degree murder, plus 15 counts of committing a terrorist act, authorities said.

The terrorist struck without warning.

"He saw them standing there and drove up and shot them," he said.