Don't Tread on Colorado Boy

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Robby Soave notes a deadly collision of (a) First Amendment ignorance and (b) historical ignorance: Colorado Boy Removed From School Over 'Don't Tread on Me' Patch

Jaiden is a 12-year-old boy who attends the Vanguard School in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is the subject of a video that went viral on social media; it shows the boy and his mother confronting a school administrator who asserts that the Gadsden flag patch on his backpack violates district policy.

On Monday, school officials removed Jaiden from class due to his Gadsden flag patch. His mother has fought back against this disciplinary action, explaining that the flag—a coiled snake above the phrase "Don't tread on me"—is not a pro-slavery image; it has its origins in the Revolutionary War and was intended as a symbol of resistance to British tyranny.

District officials did not respond to a request for comment, but Libertas Institute President Connor Boyack—who first publicized Jaiden's situation—shared an email that they sent to Jaiden's mother, in which the district reiterated its position that the Gadsden flag is an "unacceptable symbol" tied to "white-supremacy" and "patriot" groups.

That was posted early yesterday. Later, RedState reported The Gadsden Flag Kid Just Secured Total Victory

In a very surprising turn of events, the members of the school board called an emergency meeting and affirmed their respect for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In doing so, they also decided that the Gadsden patch is a valuable part of American history and that Jaiden may keep it on his backpack if he so chooses.

Well, duh. A happy ending thanks to a fortuitous combination of quick, smart, publicity and the hardheaded ignorance displayed way too proudly by "school officials". Can't help but wonder, though, how many other cases of this sort of petty tyranny are out there flying under the radar.

Also of note:

  • Ignorance is everywhere. It's bad when displayed by a school bureaucrat. But it's a lot more serious when displayed by an actual Federal judge, as told by Jacob Sullum (with one of his epic column headlines): A Ruling Against a Man Arrested for a COVID-19 Joke Highlights the Influence of a Pernicious Analogy: A Federal Judge Compared Waylon Bailey's Facebook Jest to 'Falsely Shouting Fire in a Theatre'

    Back in March 2020, a dozen or so sheriff's deputies wearing bulletproof vests descended upon Waylon Bailey's home in Rapides Parish, Louisiana, with their guns drawn, ordered him onto his knees with his hands on his head, and arrested him for a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The SWAT-style raid was provoked by a Facebook post in which Bailey had made a zombie-themed joke about COVID-19.

    Although a federal appeals court recently ruled that Bailey could pursue civil rights claims based on that incident, a judge initially blocked his lawsuit, saying his joke created a "clear and present danger" similar to the threat posed by "falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing panic." That decision illustrates the continuing influence of a misbegotten, century-old analogy that is frequently used as an excuse to punish or censor constitutionally protected speech.

    Bailey's joke alluded to the 2013 zombie movie "World War Z," starring Brad Pitt. Bailey jested that the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office had told deputies to shoot "the infected" on sight, adding: "Lord have mercy on us all. #Covid9teen #weneedyoubradpitt."

    For latecomers, Sullum describes the 1919 origin of the "pernicious analogy" and why (quoting Greg Lukianoff) "Anyone who says 'you can't shout fire! in a crowded theatre' is showing that they don't know much about the principles of free speech."

  • Is President Harris a legitimate issue? Rich Lowry provides the obvious answer to that burning question: Yes, President Harris Is a Legitimate Issue.

    Kamala Harris is one of the most prominent people in the United States, with the potential that at any moment she could inherit some of the most fearsome powers on earth, but no one is supposed to notice.

    Republicans are deemed unhealthily fixated on Harris for saying that a vote for the increasingly rickety President Joe Biden is a vote to make Kamala Harris president.

    “Why are Republicans so obsessed with Harris?” asked a Boston Globe columnist.

    Jemele Hill, the former ESPN journalist currently with the Atlantic, rapped Nikki Haley in lurid terms for warning of a President Harris: “So part of the reason racism is such a terrible sickness in this country is because politicians like this know they can rally a certain base with the fear of OH MY GOD A BLACK WOMAN MIGHT BE PRESIDENT IF YOU DON’T VOTE FOR ME.”

    Hill then connected Haley’s sentiment with racist violence. Q.E.D.

    Lowry notes that efforts to shield Harris from criticism is pretty ludicrous given the incoming fire from the left aimed at Dick Cheney and Dan Quayle.

    Kamala Harris makes Dan Quayle look like Pericles of Athens.

  • Just an ordinary Joe. Jack Butler remembers Samuel ‘Joe’ Wurzelbacher, R.I.P.

    Seeking out then-candidate Barack Obama in October of that year’s presidential campaign at an event near Toledo, Ohio, Wurzelbacher chastised the future president for wanting the state more involved in his life, not less. “I’m getting ready to buy a company that makes $250,000 to $280,000 a year,” he said. “Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?” Obama admitted that a company of that size would see tax increases, but added that it would still get tax credits, and other businesses and individuals below that threshold would see tax cuts. Obama continued:

    My attitude is that if the economy’s good for folks from the bottom up, it’s gonna be good for everybody. If you’ve got a plumbing business, you’re gonna be better off if you’re gonna be better off if you’ve got a whole bunch of customers who can afford to hire you, and right now everybody’s so pinched that business is bad for everybody and I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.

    That last line — “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody” — took off. Wurzelbacher, quickly dubbed “Joe the Plumber,” subsequently described Obama’s answer as “kind of a socialist viewpoint” and “not the American dream.” In fall 2008, I was a 15-year-old living in Ohio and closely following a presidential campaign for the first time. Joe’s take on Obama’s answer held sway in my political conversations with friends and in contemporary conservative media, playing a significant role in my ongoing political maturation. It even, shall we say, trickled up to the next presidential debate, at which Joe was mentioned more than two dozen times, by some counts. He also joined the McCain-Palin campaign — now there’s an artifact — on the stump.

    Butler also notes that Joe was immediately placed under a microscope by the MSM and government officials. The kind of scrutiny that Democrats and their allies somehow manage to avoid.

    But, as David Harsany describes, 'Joe The Plumber' Was Right About Barack Obama.

    Obama would answer Wurzelbacher’s accusation over the next couple of weeks with a torrent of platitudes and strawmen. It was clear the soon-to-be president believed we were a nation awash in breathtaking greed, inequality, and exploitation. By 2011, in a speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, Obama dropped the pretense and made a progressive case against markets, which he called a “simple” ideology that “speaks to our rugged individualism and our healthy skepticism of too much government. … And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker. But here’s the problem: It doesn’t work.” Today, regrettably, this kind of statist rhetoric runs the partisan gamut.

    Obama was interested in transforming America into something distinct and new. Democrats viewed Obama as a counterrevolutionary against Reaganism. And, whereas Reagan promised Americans the power to build their own shiny cities on hills, Obama promised endless dependency and handouts. So they were right.

    Harsanyi also explores the, um, disparate investigation of Joe's personal life by (for example) the New York Times and ABC News.

  • A mything link. Yesterday, we looked at discussions of a recent book, The Myth of Left and Right from Bryan Caplan and Robin Hanson. Byran listed questions for the authors he didn't get to ask in his interview. And one of the authors, Hyrum Lewis, gave his answers. Sample:

    6.b. At any given time, leftist and rightist thinkers disagree, so there’s got to be some room for indeterminacy, right?

    Yes, all categories have indeterminacy at the margins. For instance, we could show that there is indeterminacy in the category “chair”—which we might define as “a human-made device for human sitting”—by pointing to marginal examples, such as dollhouse chairs or stumps around a campfire. But the left-right categories are not indeterminate at the margins, they are incoherent at their core. To show why, let’s go back once again to your “anti-market” essence:

    Adolf Hitler was not a marginal figure to the right; he’s considered the quintessential right winger—the purest, most perfect embodiment of the right-wing essence taken to its logical conclusion. And yet he was a proud socialist who believed in government nationalization of private industry and vast redistributions of wealth. Hitler was, by any measure extremely anti-market. So, according to the “anti-market” essence, Hitler should be on the “far left” (his anti-market views were even more extreme than the most radical Democrats today). The same is true of Tojo, Mussolini, and many other quintessential “far right” figures of the past century.

    Donald Trump is not a marginal figure to the right; he’s considered the quintessential American right winger—a “far right” ideologue who captured the Republican Party and drove it to its extreme right wing—and yet Trump is far more anti-market than was Bill Clinton. So why does the left despise Trump and praise Clinton? When Trump and Bush moved the Republican Party in a more anti-market direction, we were told that they had both moved the party “to the right.” It seems to me that if your “anti-market” essentialist claim were correct, the consensus would be that Bush and Trump had moved the party “to the left.”

    I (actually) bought the book, and will provide my report in due course.

Recently on the book blog:

Last Modified 2024-01-11 3:00 PM EDT

The Two Minute Rule

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[Continuing my "reread Robert Crais" project. Originally read back in 2006.]

Like many Robert Crais novels, there's a short prologue with no apparent connection with the main plot of the book: a couple of meth-fueled criminals take too much time (and have way too much fun) visiting violence on the employees and customers of the bank they're robbing. Thereby violating the rule in the title, and leading to the grisly end of their careers.

Don't worry, it eventually connects.

Max Holman is finally out of Lompoc, serving out his ten-year sentence for bank robbery. He has plans to go straight and reconnect with his biological son, and his son's mother. But it turns out that both are dead. Particularly heartbreaking: his son, a rookie LAPD cop, was murdered the night before Holman's release, one of four cops shotgunned while (allegedly) drinking beer in the concrete channel of to Los Angeles River.

Holman is unconvinced of the official story of the homicide, a simple revenge killing, open-and-shut. His questions draw considerable hostility from the detectives on the case, and it becomes apparent that they're not being totally straight with him. He teams up with a female ex-FBI agent (who happens to be living on the edge of financial ruin) to find out what's really going on.

It's a complex plot, a lot of characters, and (again, typical for Crais) a pulse-pounding page-turning climax. I seem to be saying this a lot these days: it would make an excellent FX miniseries.

Last Modified 2024-02-14 9:14 AM EDT