Category Archives: Free speech



Happy birthday, Mr. Jefferson!

At the University of Virginia (U.Va.), today is called “Founder’s Day.”

At the same time that I temper my admiration for him with the knowledge that he kept people in bondage, bought and sold them, and abided their maltreatment, I also want to remember that Mr. Jefferson was among the principal architects—if not the lead author—of many socio-cultural, governmental, and philosophical constructs that I hold dear:

The  list could continue….And I very much appreciate these contributions to the commonweal. So, it’s a b’day worthy of celebration.



Leave a comment

Filed under Atheism, Birthdays, Civil rights, Education, Equity, Free speech, Humanism, Justice, Neighborhood, News, Notes and comments, UVa

Vi Hart’s superb analysis of “Happy B’day”

At the beginning of her analysis of the lyrics and music of of the familiar song, Vi Hart refers to recent news by saying, “So you might have heard that you can sing ‘Happy Birthday’ without getting sued….” That’s just the beginning. Click here to watch the video and learn a lot.


The image is linked, but if you’d prefer, here is a direct link.


Filed under Amusements, Arts, Birthdays, Free speech, News, Tunes

Ms. Clinton on religious freedom

Many people who know me will know that I hold little truck with religion. At best, I consider religions woe-begotten variations on reasoned ways to live one’s life humanely. However, as much as I find religions untenable, I shall defend folks’ right to espouse religious—or anti-religious and especially non-religious—views. Thus I was thrilled to hear the US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s “Remarks at the Release of the 2011 International Religious Freedom Report” in which she delivered one of the most inspiring defenses of religious freedom I can remember hearing.

Whether you might agree or disagree with Ms. Clinton’s political positions, I think most people will agree that the core of her remarks are a spirited defense of foundational principles of human freedom. I hope people everywhere, regardless of political stripe, can watch or read this talk. There are, to be sure, the usual segments of the talk that have to do with thanking contributors to the talk, thanking allies, and calling out miscreants. But there are, as I heard it live while driving home from a meeting yesterday AM, sections of the talk that discuss fundamental human aspirations. Reminders of the ideas of principles on which the US and other democracies were based hundreds of years ago.

Leave a comment

Filed under Atheism, Civil rights, Equity, Free speech, Humanism, News, Notes and comments, Peace, Politics, Thanks for reading

U.Va. Faculty Senate Emergency Meeting

The setting for the Meeting

I had a good seat for the 17 June 2012 meeting of the University of Virginia’s Faculty Senate and was able to take a few photos. Those who follow my Twitter feed already have seen them, but I thought I ought to post links for those who might not have seen them but might be interested. As the image at the right shows, things started out quietly, with a few folks arriving early and getting places. This became important, because the auditorium was not large enough to accommodate the number of faculty members who attended and, as I understand, people had to watch closed circuit telecasts in other rooms.

The Stage

At the front of the Abbott Center hall where we met, the dais was initially empty, but it was set for the executive committee of the U.Va. Faculty Senate. In addition to those who would sit on the dais, senators sat in the first few rows of the auditorium, with a few scattered elsewhere among the other faculty members, citizens, and representatives of the press who were attending the meeting.

Faculty Senate Executive Council Members

When the executive committee filed in to fill the seats on the stage, its members were greeted with an ovation. The purpose of the meeting was for the full Faculty Senate to consider the resolution that its executive committee had already considered and passed


Faculty Senate Chair Cohen

Resolved, that the Faculty Senate of the University of Virginia hereby:

1. Expresses its strong support of President Sullivan.

2. Expresses its lack of confidence in the Rector, the Vice Rector, and the Board of Visitors.

We offer this resolution mindful of the best interests of the University and the Commonwealth.

Provost Simon

Faculty Senate Chair George Cohen began the meeting by providing an overview of the pending events and then introducing as a guest, the university’s provost, who would speak but would not take questions. Provost Simon (at right) spoke briefly about his views, emphasizing the importance about setting a good example of courage for his sons on fathers’ day, of heeding a recent alum’s encouragement to do what he sees as right, and assessing the correspondence between his and the the U.Va. Board of Visitor’s views on the values of honor, integrity, and trust, values that he (and, I add, most of us) consider central to the University of Virginia.

Following Mr. Simon’s comments, the Faculty Senate actually came into session. Members of the executive committee summarized events, the Senate members moved and seconded the resolution, a member offered comments, someone called the question, and and the members ultimately passed the resolution overwhelmingly. As I post this note Monday AM, members of the Faculty Senate’s executive committee are meeting with members of the Board of Visitors. Later Monday afternoon, faculty members will gather on the lawn outside the rotunda where the members of the board of visitors are meeting.

What will be the dénouement?

Leave a comment

Filed under Free speech, Neighborhood, News, UVa

Charity for the 1%?

It seems like it’s a good time to remember some history. Do you sometimes forget relatively recent history? G. Santayana was reputed to have said something about (paraphrasing for syntactical fit) those of us who don’t remember the past being condemned to repeating it. Of course, ancient history may be inaccurate (did Nero really fiddle while Rome burned?), and this recent history might be, too. But see for yourself. Check this little bit of history from 2008 about how downtrodden the 1% were back then.


Thanks, This Hour Has 22 Minutes.

Getting More Serious

Barbara Hansen of USA TODAY used GMI Ratings, Standard & Poor’s data, and other USA TODAY research to analyze the pay of chief executive officers of US corporations in 2011. Matt Krantz and Ms. Hansen reported the results of that analysis 28 March 2012. Here is a listing of the top 10 earners for 2011. Ms. Hansen’s table, available with the story they reported, can be sorted in other ways to allow one to see data on 151 companies’ executive’s earnings.

Viacom Philippe Dauman $43,077,942
Honeywell International David Cote $35,378,249
Walt Disney Robert Iger $31,363,013
Marathon Oil Clarence Cazalot $29,911,662
Altera John Daane $29,576,725
Motorola Solutions Gregory Brown(1) $29,313,864
IBM Samuel Palmisano $24,221,865
Johnson & Johnson William Weldon $23,362,939
United Technologies Louis Chenevert $22,878,306
American Express Kenneth Chenault $22,490,401
Qualcomm Paul Jacobs $21,722,333
Coca-Cola Muhtar Kent $21,161,811
Cooper Industries Kirk Hachigian $21,116,678

Now, I don’t begrudge people making money, especially if they work hard, and I presume these men work hard, probably as hard as I do. And it’s not about me and them. But, what does one do with this sort of money. In one year, they’re making more than what a well-paid teacher made (including nice retirement and health benefits) over the past 35 years. Equitable?

Well, if these men gave 1% of their incomes to an endowment for a local school for five years, that would amount to something. Those schools would suddenly have budgets that would allow them to buy curricula that they might not otherwise be able to purchase, given the anti-tax and anti-education mood of many neighbors. And, if these savvy business men said, “You have to buy curricula that have a proven track record of success with the funds from this endowment (and here are the sensible rules for deciding what counts as such a curriculum),” then they might be “giving back to the community,” as their similarly wealthy athletics stars say.

In fact, mayhaps we could just ask that these way-wealthy folks would form coalitions and tackle problems such as this, just as the Buffet, Gates, Broad, and other families have addressed international problems. Mr. Atlanta Falcon Matt Ryan, Atlanta Coca Cola Mr. Muhtar Kent, Mr. Atlanta Hawk Joe Johnson, and Mr. Atlanta Braves Chipper Jones…y’all could do some good works among you, if you formed a team. Just 1-2% of your incomes a year for a three-year run for schools, boys-and-girls clubs, community music programs, shelters for indigent elderly folks…. Do you think you could afford 10%?

Leave a comment

Filed under Amusements, Civil rights, Free speech, Notes and comments, Politics

Who’s the 99%?

Rev. Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir have an answer to that question. It’s actually pretty obvious, ’cause the 1% (really the one-tenth of one percent) are all those folks you and I see pretty much every day. May Day is just around the corner.


Leave a comment

Filed under Amusements, Civil rights, Eco-stuff, Equity, Free speech, Neighborhood, News, Notes and comments, Peace, Politics, Thanks for reading

sopa pipa



















search sopa & pipa at  free speech
(I care about my copyrights, but some things are more important.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Civil rights, Equity, Free speech, News, Notes and comments, Technology