Monday, July 2, 2012

An Eye-opening Experience

In my first class today, we discussed four Supreme Court cases regarding the extent to which the freedom of speech can be exercised. We wemt over the details of the cases Gitlow v. New York, Whitney v. California, Dennis v. United States and Brandenburg v. Ohio. I won't go over the specifics of each case, but I'll say that in the first three cases I was very surprised at the restrictions of free speech upheld by the Supreme Court. For example, if somebody wants to mail out pamphlets telling why communism is inevitable and why the United States government should become a communist regime, let him. Sure, the vast majority of us may believe he is wrong, but as history has shown, many advancements in our society have been made by people advocating for an idea which, at the time, was thought to be stupid, impossible, ridiculous, etc. (ex. an end to slavery, voting rights for women, etc.). Now, I'm not advocating for communism, I'm simply showing that many ideas, although sometimes commonly belived to be wrong, should be allowed for the advancement of science, culture, and quality of life in society. The majority of the time, ideas that actually are dumb (the idea that Barack Obama was born in Kenya do not catch on enough to have any significant impact on society, but occasionally, these ideas CAN help society, and because we allow them to be spread, voting rights today are not limited to only elite white men. I did not come up with this myself, by the way, this theory is just one of many we've discussed in class, and it is one reason for allowing free speech.
After my first class, I went to my room, did some work, and took a nap before going to lunch. Taking a nap between classes has ended up working perfectly for me so far; as it gets me the extra hour of sleep I was unable to get during the night and leaves me refreshed for my second class. On the other hand, I am missing valuable things like ethics talks while I am sleeping, but I can't do everything.
In my second class, we watched two videos, one hilarious and one fascinating. One was about the comical case of Fox News v. Al Franken. The video made fun mostly of Bill O'Reilly and Fox News, so I found it histerical. The second video was about a man, Dan Ellsbury, who gave top secret United States documents to newspapers across the country and nearly went to prisom for it. The papers were describing countless lies told to the American people by the United States government. I'm not going to give a synopsis of the movie, but I can say that the actions taken by Ellsbury represent a mentality of putting others before yourself, and a mentality which I believe far too few people in this world have. When asked by a reporter what he thought of possibly going to prison, Ellsbury replied perfectly, saying, "Wouldn't YOU go to prison to end this war?"
After my class, our cohort had a meeting wherewe reflected on our experience so far. Mrs. L asked to pick one work to describe our experience so far, and I chose "eye-opening" because I have gained so much knowledge in class about Constituional Law, in New York and in a social setting about people who for the most part come from completely different backgrounds than I do. I'll talk more extensively about this when I write my final blog.

I spent the next few hours on campus eating dinner and studying. Rather than doing my work in my room like I usually do, I was outdoors on campus doing all of my work today. I don't know why, but I enjoy this much more, and I work much faster tha I do in my room. I sat at a few spots on campus, and the photos below were taken from outside the Low Library. I believe I already took similar shots the other day, but those were at a different time of day, so here they are again.
After studying, I spent the rest of the day with my roommate and some of my floormates, just talking and walking around some near campus.

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