Saturday, June 30, 2012

Seven Reasons to Speak

Today was really cool (figuratively, not physically). The temperature rose to 96 degrees, in stark contrast to yesterday's 80s. I almost felt sick when I walked into the cafeteria; the mix of external warmth with heat from the kitchen, compounded by humidity and strong food smells, left me woozy.

I felt much better when I entered our air-conditioned classroom. We went over three Supreme Court cases, today. They all took place during World War I or II, and revolved around the issues of Freedom of Speech during wartime. It's interesting how seemingly identical, or at least very similar cases will receive totally different decisions, even from the same Justices (I didn't notice this on my own; one of our teachers brought this to light for us).

I spent my lunch attending another TED talk. This video was on the relation between morality and science. This lecture was handled very differently than the one from yesterday. While the man we saw before focused on objective facts and their clear implications, this guy brought a lot of his own opinion into the mix. This gave room for the following discussion to stray from the topic at hand. It was still very interesting, though.

After lunch, we discussed the philosophical justifications for the 1st Amendment. Basically, utilitarian philosopher, Mills, argued that Freedom of Speech is necessary for 7 crucial reasons: it allows the validity of ideas to be tested, educates, allows coercion, allows property rights, enables constructive criticism, allows self-expression, and advances science and culture. We also went over the limitations of the fist amendment.

From about 4-7:00 PM, I just relaxed in my room and studied. Around 7:20, I started to get ready for the dinner with Columbia students.

At 7:40, our cohort met outside Lerner Hall. We took the subway down to Columbus Circle where we met with Ms. L. She walked us to Marea, a fantastic Italian restaurant. Our guests were Matt (one of the first students to go through the ILC) and some of his classmates. There's not too much to say about this dinner that wasn't true of every other dinner; the food was outstanding, and the conversations were entertaining and informative.

The meal ran later than expected, so we had to hurry to get back to our floors before curfew (midnight). When we got back on 116th street, we literally ran from the subway station to dorms, in our dress clothes, in scorching heat. Lucas  and I made it back with only 4 minutes to spare.

People had started playing cards in the hallway, so for the next hour or two, I played a game of Texas Hold 'em. There's no class tomorrow, so I'm going to go on a few trips around the city.

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