Friday, March 24, 2006

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Noam Chomsky talks a good socialist game. But how does he act?

(H/T: Andrew Roth at the Club For Growth blog)

Residential Picketing

The marriage of Sam and Sarah Rosenbloom has long been over. Seven years ago they got a civil divorce. But Sam, now living in Gaithersburg MD, refuses to give Sarah a Jewish divorce. Until he does so, Jewish law regards them as married, and neither of them can get involved with anyone else. The problem is that he's not nearly as observant as she is — he doesn't care about this law, and she does. She attempted to sue him before an ecclesiastical court in Baltimore, but he refused the summons, and the court held him in contempt.

Unlike a civil court, though, there's not much this court can do to enforce its orders, if someone chooses to defy them. Its only weapon is social pressure. The Orthodox Union, the largest Orthodox organisation in America, has officially promoted a boycott of his business. And in February, the WaPo reported:

A dozen people came out in the rain and began, as usual, with a prayer from the book of Psalms, asking God to hear their plea. "Sam Rosenbloom, give your wife a get ," they chanted. The protests started two years ago and have occurred almost weekly for the past month.
Naturally, the neighbours object to these goings on. Montgomery County has an ordinance against residential picketing, but it doesn't apply to cities within the county. So, as the Washington Jewish Week reports, the Gaithersburg City Council is about to pass an emergency ordinance.

Can they do this? Is it constitutional? Well, as it turns out, they can, at least under the current jurisprudence of the Supreme Court. By coincidence, Eugene Volokh touched on this issue just yesterday, and referred to Frisby v. Schultz (1989), which permits content-neutral bans on picketing private residences.

The type of focused picketing prohibited by the Brookfield ordinance is fundamentally different from more generally directed means of communication that may not be completely banned in residential areas. [..] In such cases "the flow of information [is not] into . . . household[s], but to the public." [..] Here, in contrast, the picketing is narrowly directed at the household, not the public. The type of picketers banned by the Brookfield ordinance generally do not seek to disseminate a message to the general public, but to intrude upon the targeted resident, and to do so in an especially offensive way. Moreover, even if some such picketers have a broader communicative purpose, their activity nonetheless inherently and offensively intrudes on residential privacy.
So as the law stands now, Gaithersburg can do this, and Sam Rosenbloom and his neighbours can resume the quiet enjoyment of their Sunday mornings. And Sarah Rosenbloom will remain in limbo, neither in a functioning marriage nor divorced, and there's very little that can be done about it.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Did he quit, or was he pushed?

Xrlq links to this story, claiming that Isaac Hayes did not quit South Park of his own volition, and in fact was OK with the now-famous episode that poked fun at his religion.
Hayes: Well, I talked to Matt [Stone] and Trey [Parker] about that. They didn't let me know until it was done. I said, 'Guys, you have it all wrong. We're not like that. I know that's your thing, but get your information correct, because somebody might believe that [expletive], you know?' But I understand what they're doing. I told them to take a couple of Scientology courses and understand what we do. [Laughs.]
So did he change his mind and decide to take umbrage after all, or is the whole thing a hoax?

UPDATE: Oh my god, they killed Chef! The bastards.
That fruity little club has a lot to answer for.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Federal Immunity

The Instapundit credits the Army of Davids phenomenon with this story from China:
China has ordered the armed forces to get permission from local government, and abide by environmental rules, when building new facilities, and holding training exercises. This is a major change, for in the past, the armed forces could do whatever it wanted, with no interference from local government authorities. The only one who had any control over these matters was the national government
The same is true in the USA, actually, as this story shows:
How could a 10,000 square feet complex disappear practically overnight, without municipal authorities, neighborhood organizations, conservancy groups, and local legislators knowing anything about it? No structure in the city can be demolished without a permit from the Department of Building and Safety, but an initial search by an official turned up no such permit. However, a second search by Bob Steinbach, the department’s spokesman, came up with a surprising find. The site had been leased by the United States government, he said, to construct a new Social Security office building.
A federal project is exempt from local regulations, and requires no demolition permit or notification to affected neighbors. Doctor and Green said that prior to razing the old building, they checked with the appropriate city departments and the district’s then councilman (and now mayor) Antonio Villaraigosa, and were told that no demolition permit or notification to neighbors were necessary.
Now I'm not sure whether this exemption is a good thing or a bad one. Taking into account the notorious difficulty of getting any construction done in California, I don't blame the feds for exempting themselves from local regulation. But the contrast is interesting.

Monday, March 13, 2006

TSA Incompetence

But I repeat myself. For four years we've put up with this agency harassing us when we travel, adding thousands of people to the federal payroll and the federal employee union membership rolls, while doing nothing to actually make us any safer. Now the TSA appears to have blown the Moussaoui trial, through sheer incompetece.

Remind me, whose idea was it, exactly, to create the TSA?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Winter Sports

Apparently Senator Biden thinks that soldiering should be a winter sport. At least, that was the first thought I had when I saw this headline...

Monday, March 06, 2006

Postrel, Kass, and Kidneys

Instapundit notes that Virginia Postrel is giving a kidney to a friend, but quotes her to the effect that "unless people like Leon Kass get their way, this will be an obsolete procedure in the not too distant future".

And if people like Kass get their way, it may still be an obsolete procedure in the not too distant future, for the opposite reason. If Kass is as negative on the notion of extending life in general as Glenn says he is, then that negativity should apply not only to yet-to-be-developed technologies, but also to ones that we are already using, such as kidney transplants – or penicillin.