Like most of you I watched the news of the attack in Paris with horror and anger.¬† It is especially unsettling to hear interviews with security and terrorism specialists who say there is little that can be done to stop such attacks and to expect more.¬† After considering the barbarity and evil of such an attack I, like all of you, watched as the western world rallied in support of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical paper which was the target.¬† I was impressed by the unity, and the cry Je suis Charlie! I am Charlie. A beautiful vast statement about the importance of free speech.¬† But as I contemplated the free speech at issue, cartoons ridiculing and, according to Muslims, blaspheming the prophet Mohammed, I grew troubled.¬† This is where the west will take its free speech stance?¬† Blaspheming a religion?
Free speech debates happen on the fringes.¬† One of the most important free speech cases is Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell. http://bit.ly/1B2TX27, which dealt with a satirical advertisement in Hustler magazine in which Jerry Falwell, a very well known and politically active minister, described his ‚Äúfirst time.‚ÄĚ ¬†He obtained a $150,000.00 verdict in trial, but the U.S. Supreme Court reversed, saying the ‚Äúfacts‚ÄĚ in the satirical ad were never intended to be perceived as true, so there could be no libel.¬† The salacious and disgusting ad could not be stopped.
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Written by: James W. Huston Published: December 29, 2014
What in the world do Chester Nimitz and Benny Goodman have in common? ¬†Nothing, as far as I know. ¬†But I’m currently reading the biography of Nimitz by E. B. Potter. ¬†Very well written and very well done. But he recounts how Nimitz got his start in the Navy. ¬†Nimitz grew up in Texas, and one day encountered two young men from West Point who looked sharp and seemed to be on their way to great adventures. ¬†He though he should go to West Point and join the army as a career rather than work in his grandfather’s hotel as a janitor all his life. ¬†He contacted his congressman who told him there was absolutely no chance of an appointment to West Point–there were too many forts in his district, and all the Army officers wanted their sons to go to West Point. ¬†Nimitz was very disappointed. ¬†Then the congressman said, “Well, I do have this appointment to the Naval Academy you could consider . . . ” ¬†Nimitz went to Annapolis and became one of the greatest admirals in American history. ¬†What if he had gone to West Point? ¬†Would he have been one of the greatest generals in American history?
And so it was with Benny Goodman. He grew up in Chicago, and one day his father decided to enroll him and two of his brothers in music lessons. ¬†He was the eighth of twelve children. ¬†He and his two brothers went to a local synagogue and music teacher, and the biggest brother, of course the first through the door and being the biggest and oldest, got a tuba. ¬†The second got a trumpet, and the smallest and youngest, Benny, got a clarinet. ¬†As Benny wondered later in life, what if he had been twenty pounds heavier and two inches taller? ¬†Would he have been the greatest tuba player ever, leading a band with a tuba? ¬†Or the greatest trumpet player if he had been second through the door? ¬†Same skills, different instrument?
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Written by: James W. Huston Published: December 26, 2014
It is easy to believe the Nazi/neo-Nazi threat died with Hitler. ¬†Unfortunately that’s not the case. ¬†This latest demonstration in Dresden of more than 17,000 called itself anti-Islamic, or anti-immigration. ¬†Read about the increasing Nazi presence in Germany here. ¬†It¬†has been building for some time, and soon may get the worldwide attention, and resistance, it needs. ¬†My next book will deal with this troubling development around the world, particularly in Germany and the United States.
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Written by: James W. Huston Published: December 24, 2014
For Book lovers. ¬†People who don’t love books won’t appreciate it! ¬†From Robinson’s book When I was a Child, I Read Books:
“Over the years I have collected so may books that, in the aggregate, they can fairly be called a library. ¬†I don’t know what percentage of them I have read. ¬†Increasingly I wonder how many of them I ever will read. ¬†This has done nothing to dampen my pleasure in acquiring more books. ¬†But it has caused me to ponder the meaning they have for me, and the fact that to me they epitomize one great aspect of the goodness of life.”