May 17, 2010
By Eric Zimmerman
Republicans introduced a new argument against Elena Kagan’s nomination today, suggesting she believes in banning books.
In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pointed to the argument Kagan’s office made before the Supreme Court in Citizens United vs. FEC, a controversial campaign finance case.
“Solicitor Kagan’s office in the initial hearing argued that it would be OK to ban books,” McConnell said. “And then when there was a rehearing Solicitor Kagan herself in her first Supreme Court argument suggested that it might be OK to ban pamphlets.
“I think that’s very troubling, and this whole area of her view of the First Amendment and political speech is something that ought to be explored by the Judiciary Committee and by the full Senate,” McConnell said.
In the case in question, Chief Justice John Roberts asked the government lawyer whether the law in question could also prevent the publication of a campaign-related book, if it was paid for by a corporation or labor union.
“If it’s a 500-page book, and at the end it says, ‘and so vote for x,’ the government could ban that?” Roberts asked.
Kagan’s deputy, Malcolm L. Stewart, said yes.
“We could prohibit the publication of that book,” he responded.
In a later oral argument, Kagan slightly modified that position, but still found herself arguing that the government could ban certain pamphlets, depending on who paid for their publication.
“And if you say that you are not going to apply it to a book, what about a pamphlet?” Roberts asked.
“A pamphlet would be different. A pamphlet is pretty classic electioneering, so there is no attempt to say that [law] only applies to video and not to print,” Kagan responded.
Shortly after McConnell’s comments, his office highlighted the case in an e-mail to reporters, suggesting famous pamphlets like Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” and the Federalist Papers could be banned under Kagan’s logic.
April 23, 2010
After last week’s episode of the Comedy Central series sparked a threat (and yes, it was certainly a threat) from a radical Islamic website, the network has cracked-down-for-their-own-good on creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone during last night’s continuation of the show’s storyline.
For those who missed the drama, the show’s 200th episode last week mocked the one “celebrity” that the series has been largely unable to depict, the Prophet Muhammad, who was hidden from view in a bear costume. A U.S.-based website RevolutionMuslim.com then warned Parker and Stone they could end up like Theo Van Gogh (the Dutch filmmaker who was murdered by Muslim extremists after depicting Muhammad on his show) and even posted the address of the show’s production office. The site has since been shut down.
Last night, “South Park” continued the controversial Muhammad storyline, but with a key difference: every instance of the words “Prophet Muhammad” was bleeped out, making the episode practically incomprehensible, especially to anybody who missed the previous week.
The character of Muhammad was once again also hidden from view, covered by a large block labeled “censored.”
A Comedy Central spokesperson confirmed it was the network’s decision to bleep the words.
The Muhammad content is also not available on the South Park Studios website.
A message on the site states: “We do not have network approval to stream our original version of the show. We will bring you a version of [episode] 201 as soon as we can.”
Ironically, “South Park” apparently shows an image of the Prophet Muhammad briefly in its opening credits that has gone largely unnoticed.