On Wednesday, according to news reports, James W. Von Brunn, a longtime belligerent racist and anti-Semite, walked into the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and opened fire, murdering a security guard before he himself was shot and neutralized. Good people everywhere recognize the vicious criminality of his attack, and the particular insidiousness of his motivation to lash out where he did.
Another excellent article by Mr. Gregory.
The US House this afternoon gave final congressional approval — and sent to President Obama for his signature — a bill that would dramatically expand public service opportunities.
The legislation is named for Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who cowrote the initial version of it with sometime political ally Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah.
Kennedy returned to Washington last week, in part to vote for the bill, and received a standing ovation from his colleagues at the conclusion of the vote.
“Today’s House vote again demonstrates the high priority Congress gives to encouraging citizens of all ages in all communities across America to participate in public service,” Kennedy said in a statement. “This legislation will enable many more Americans to do something for their country to meet the many challenges facing us. I look forward to the President signing this bill into law so that a welcome new era of national and community service can begin.”
UPDATE: President Obama issued a statement applauding the bill’s passage.
“I congratulate the House on passing the bipartisan Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. This is legislation that will usher in a new era of service in America, and I look forward to signing it into law when I return to Washington.”
“Because of this legislation, millions of Americans at all stages of their lives will have new opportunities to serve their country. From improving service learning in schools to creating an army of 250,000 Corps members a year dedicated to addressing our nation’s toughest problems. From connecting working Americans to a variety of part-time service opportunities to better utilizing the skills and experience of our retirees and baby boomers. This legislation will help tap the genius of our faith based and community organizations, and it will find the most innovative ideas for addressing our common challenges and helping those ideas grow. But while our government can provide every opportunity imaginable for us to serve our communities, now it is up to each of us to seize those opportunities. I call on all Americans to stand up and do what they can to serve their communities, shape our history and enrich both their own lives and the lives of others across this country.”
New opportunities to serve their country? Couldn’t they just walk down the street and pick up trash? Or go to the local soup kitchen? Offer to tutor kids or work for the Red Cross or donate time to the local old folks home?
There is infinate demand for help. The opportunities are literally unlimited. The idea that the government has to create opportunities is out and out bullshit.
‘Defense’ is the largest single government expenditure. Obama and friends want to spend just as much on a ‘civilian army.’ What the Serve America Act / GIVE Act is is in fact the continuing creation of a socio-fascist state. Obama’s idea for a Hitler youth like program plus an increase in government ‘service’ is right out of Hitler’s, Mussolini’s, Stalin’s play book. This is about involuntary servitude and a replacement of family, community and God with the State.
The solid part of the naming hypothesis gives each person the exclusive right to name himself or herself, or for parents to name (jointly–another potential can of worms) their children. But it hardly follows that an exclusive right must necessarily be an unlimited one. After all, my exclusive use of my own land doesn’t allow me to pollute my neighbors with impunity. Quite simply, there are some names at least that have to be regarded as off limits.
Yes, you have unlimited, exclusive use of YOUR land. Your neighbors land is not yours so polluting it is a property right infringement. You can pollute your land all you want. Just because in practice the polluting of your property will likely leech onto your neighbors doesn’t change the unlimited right to your property.
The issue came to a boil in a recent episode reported in the New York Times, in which Heath Campbell vented his outrage that his local ShopRite supermarket did not bend to his will to decorate his son’s birthday cake with his first two given names, Adolf Hitler. Popular sentiment turned out to run feverishly hot against Mr. Campbell, and for good reason.
Analytically, names have two distinct functions. The first is to designate one individual to the exclusion of all others, for which a nine-digit social security number will do just fine. But many names carry an expressive content, as by naming a daughter Chastity or a son Jesus. In most cases, the right response is for others to use the name even if they do not like the message it conveys.
Yet there are fuzzy limits. A name enjoys a peculiar monopoly status. It is the only moniker that anyone else can use to designate the named person. It follows therefore that names do impose what might be termed a “soft” externality on other individuals that becomes really hard to bear when the name in question forces people to be respectful to someone whom they rightly hate. No moral relativism allowed. Who wants to be polite to an Adolf Hitler?
This topic isn’t about moral relativism. Morality and state are seperate topics. You can consider another’s actions immoral but so long as that person does not infringe on the rights of another there is no legitimate use of force against them and therefore no legitimate role for the state.
Yet the objection to the unlimited use of these names cuts deeper. Today, no adult could voluntary take the name Adolf Hitler either. This basic point is explicitly recognized under modern trademark law, which explicitly forbids any person from registering a trademark that consists of “immoral or scandalous matter.”
The established case law won’t let anyone register a new men’s cologne under the name “Adolf Hitler.” Forcing other individuals to use odious names is too high a price to pay when literally millions of other names are open to the user.
His mentioning this in a neutral if not positive light shows again he is no libertarian. Trademark law, just as all government enforced intelectual property monopoly, is unlibertarian.
These vexing controversies should remind us that even limited governments have to worry about externalities that go beyond the use of force and fraud. By all means keep a strong presumption against invoking state power to veto personal or trade names. But this libertarian says, don’t make it an absolute rule.
Perhaps Mr. Epstein should go back and look up what libertarianism is. Not Libertarian. If it’s not absolute its not a right. If it can have “reasonable restrictions” it’s not a right.
Concerning the chilling video in this post, several readers emailed last night to write, “Did you stay to the end to see who produced it?” I missed the fact that Harpo Productions – Oprah – produced that video. On that note, I received this email, about the “I Pledge” video, from a teacher:
I showed my caustic remarks on it [the video] to some of my students and they loved it. But then they were the same group who noticed an uncomfortable parallel to what happened during Tuesday’s Obama Inauguration Day festivities and the film we have been viewing in their World History class — Triumph of the Will — Leni Riefenstahl’s masterpiece of cinematic propaganda deifying Adolf Hitler at the 1934 National Socialist German Workers Party Rally in Nuremberg.
A New Jersey mom who gave her three children Nazi-friendly names says she lost custody of the kids because a neighbor wrongly accused her and her husband of abuse.
Child welfare officials seized the children on Jan. 9 after the neighbor phoned in the claim, Deborah Campbell told the The Express Times paper in nearby Easton, Pa.
“My husband and I would never abuse our children,” she told the paper for Wednesday’s edition. “I just want my children back.”
Officials at the State Department of Youth and Family Services won’t say why they removed Adolf Hitler, 3; JoyceLynn Aryan Nation, 1; and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell, an infant, from the house.
The mom was told by a family court judge not to talk about the case, but she says she’s violating that order in hopes of gaining public support.
“I’m begging people to stand behind us and for an attorney to come forward,” she said.
Deborah Campbell says her husband, Heath, was hospitalized because of stress from the dispute. He was released Monday.
A postponed court hearing hasn’t been rescheduled because the family is seeking a lawyer.
The bizarre names came to public attention after a local store refused to fill their order for a birthday cake with the message, “Happy Birthday Adolf Hitler.”
The parents insist they’re not racists and want only to honor the heritage of the Third Reich.
“They’re just names, you know,” Heath Campbell has said.