Friday, July 1, 2011

Hurray for Fridays!

Today was a GOOD DAY.

A very good day indeed!

Why was it so good?” you ask. Because it was!

The morning started like any other, in the sense that I woke up later than I should have. Originally I had planned to join an R.A. trip with Beilul and Milani that departed at about 5:30 AM, but, well, I overslept. And I'm very glad of it, as that meant I had almost four hours of that lovely in-between state of not quite asleep and not quite awake before I had to wake up and snag breakfast and some very yummy coffee before heading off to class.

In class the topic was free speech. Our morning session looked at two free speech cases from the end of World War I, learning about the origins of a government's limit on how much it can interfere with the rights protected within the first amendment. Apparently they can do a great deal. I cannot for the life of me understand why. The first amendment begins with the words “Congress shall make no law” affecting the rights listed in the first amendment, free speech included. So how in the heck the Supreme Court, the righteous guardians of the U.S. Constitution, could rule that something so blatantly violating that right, like the Sedition and Espionage Acts that criminalized any criticism of the government as well as of the war effort in Europe, were constitutional is beyond me. The justices make some justification for the ruling, saying that free speech is “limited” and that war times constituted different rules about what is acceptable or not, but nowhere in the actual United States Constitution does it say anything about when a government can restrict free speech. Nowhere. Political arguments can be made in favor of limitation, sure; but this is utterly incredible, the idea that the justices agree (unanimously, in fact!) that any limits can be placed on the first amendment because it could harm someone. The right to due process, meaning a trial that follows a set and outlined procedure, is also a right protected under the first 10 amendments, and yet you never hear of due process being interfered with because it might “harm” someone. The whole interpretation is absurd. It does not say anywhere in the Constitution that Congress has the right to interfere with freedom of speech, but it is very specific as to the fact that Congress cannot limit free speech through law making. The justices who made that decision were bowing under political pressure of the time to prevent the danger of a communist revolution in America, and so were more willing to be swayed to the idea that if the free speech presents a danger to the “public good” then it should be regulated. Ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous. The afternoon class was more of the same. Oh, and apparently students have no right to free speech either because we are under the protection of the schools. Who knew?

After class we met with Mrs. L to discuss our Fourth of July Coney Island trip, and then my day really got started. At a quarter to 5, I walked over to the gazebo (there's a gazebo on campus right outside the three big dorms, a great central meeting place) and met Valerian, an RA who had organized a trip to a photography museum. It ended up being actually a really large group! I convinced a roommate of mine to go, Adi from Canada, and it ended up being about twenty people... and only three of them girls! The trip was incredible though. We took the subway over to the museum, and everyone chipped in a few bucks for the donation-based admission. The museum had two exhibits: the smaller of the two was called “Hiroshima: Ground Zero 1945” and was incredibly sad. I couldn't stay in that exhibit for more than a few minutes at a time. I was more interested by the other exhibit that took up most of the rest of the small museum: the photographs of Elliot Erwitt. He is a photographer with a sense of humour! This was one of my favorites by him, and made me laugh out loud when I saw it and realized the comparison between the girls and the geese... hopefully you can too!

by Elliott Erwitt
Erwitt's photos are really spectacular, even his non-humorous ones. He was, besides an artistic photographer, a photojournalist, and his work on the Civil Rights movement is very well known. He was one of the only photojournalists to get into Russia at that time. His work is amazing, pure and simple.

After the museum, Valerian took our group to Times Square, which was a bustling hub of people as I expected; while everyone else was snapping touristy photos of the flashing lights (as they should!) I took some photos of the tourists themselves, though I certainly did take the classic Times-Square-photos as well.

Some tourists in Times Square

Times Square itself
After Times Square we went and ate at a delicious Korean restaurant; I was very impressed when the staff didn't even bat an eye at our huge numbers. Many of the guys there had never eaten Korean food, and it was quite an experience for all of them, I'm sure!

Dinner was finished soon (guys eat fast, apparently) and we all chipped in our share for what we'd paid before leaving the restaurant. In a little impromptu trip, a smaller group split off and ten of us went to the Rockefeller Center to see the city at night; it was gorgeous, and I made more than a few friends that night!
from atop the Rockefeller Center at night

1 comment:

  1. Irene,

    Before you get to making generalities about any gender, ethnicity or religious group you need to be around everyone in that group so you can say after an empirical study that something is a fact. Before you say that "guys eat fast" you need some hard data to back tat up. Some eat fast and some eat slowly (just as I'm sure is true about some females). Sit at a dinner table with me and watch my food get cold and the fat on my steak congeal because I eat so slowly. We're all different.

    Nice shot from atop the Rockefeller Center building.

    We like to think that our Supreme Court is made up only of unbiased Constitutional scholars but history has shown us that that's the exception and not the rule. You read about just one example but think back t the Dred Scott decision, the Supreme Court's backing of the McCarthy witch hunts of the late '40's and '50's and even their rulings that put George W. Bush in office.

    Partisanship and bias run rampant in those hallowed halls.

    Why do you think the approval of a Supreme Court justice by the Senate is always so controversial?

    On the subject of sedition during that period, were you aware that many women were imprisoned for demanding rights for women? It was deemed to be sedition to demand equal rights. Kind of scares you, doesn't it?