Monday, June 27, 2005

The Supremes' Rulings....and other news...

  • First, the 10 Commandments: generally OK:

    In a pair of 5-to-4 rulings, the court said the display of the Ten Commandments in a 22-acre park at the Texas State Capitol was proper, but that the displays of the Commandments in two county courthouses in Kentucky were so overtly religious as to be impermissible.

    The rulings, the first by the court in a quarter-century on the emotional issue of the proper place of the Commandments in American life, conveyed the message that disputes over such religious displays must be decided case by case, and that the specific facts are all important.

    Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist noted that at the Texas Capitol in Austin, a six-foot monolith displaying the Commandments was just one of 17 sculptures. "The inclusion of the Commandments monument in this group has a dual significance, partaking of both religion and government, that cannot be said to violate the Establishment Clause," the chief justice wrote.

    Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Stephen G. Breyer sided with the chief justice, with Justice Breyer calling the Texas dispute a difficult borderline case. The dissenters were Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Stevens said there should be "a strong presumption against" displaying religious symbols on public property, and that the Texas display embodied a message that was "quite plain: This state endorses the divine code of the 'Judeo-Christian' God."

    Who can argue with that? Oh, yeah, Rehnquist and Justices Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy, on the Kentucky case.

    It's disingenuous to claim a "religious heritage" if that heritage is associated with slavery, the near slavery of coal miners, the impoverishment of widows and orphans, etc. It's basically advocating either the government lie about its past, or simply to glom all this onto a religion whose main focus favors charity, compassion, and kindness.

    And James Dobson: tone it down.

    "The court has failed to decide whether it will stand up for religious freedom of expression, or if it will allow liberal special interests to banish God from the public square," Dr. Dobson said.

    The idea that people would have such power over his deity!

  • Now onto the Grokster case- which I think is quite dangerous.

    "We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by the clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties," Justice David H. Souter wrote for the court in Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Studios v. Grokster.

    This is the whole problem with copyright law: it infringes on the free speech of Grokster. Content sharing is the biggest threat to the large content providers, and not simply becaue they can copy such fine works of art as "Ocean's 12" or "Mission Impossible 2."

    No, it's becaue people can make networks that simply disrupt MGM, Time Warner, and other organiztions.

  • Short Google. It's another damned bubble. It's worth more than Time Warner at this valuation, which, despite what I just wrote above, is alwfully silly.

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