Flashing your headlights to warn of speed traps is free speech

This is wonderful:

A judge ruled Tuesday that a man who flashed his headlights to warn drivers of a nearby police speed trap was exercising his right to free speech, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Ryan Kintner, 25, of Lake Mary, Florida, was ticketed last August in Seminole County for what police said was a violation of a state traffic law that outlined appropriate headlight use.

Kintner contested the ticket and sued the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office for violating his civil rights, reported the Sentinel.

The circuit judge hearing the case ruled last October that using headlights for communication didn’t fall under the state law.

After a second hearing, the judge took his ruling a step further Tuesday, saying Kintner was protected by his constitutional right to free speech under the First Amendment.

What makes this even better is that Kintner wasn’t merely driving down the road when he saw the cop. He was sitting at home, saw the cop park and pull out a radar gun. He then got in his car, drove a few blocks ahead, and sat there flashing his headlights at oncoming traffic. I’ve always wanted to do something like that. I admire Kintner for his follow-through. Not only did he stick it to ‘the man’, but his actions made sense from a safety standpoint anyway:

At an earlier hearing Circuit Judge Alan Dickey said, “If the goal of the traffic law is promote safety and not to raise revenue, then why wouldn’t we want everyone who sees a law enforcement officer with a radar gun in his hand, blinking his lights to slow down all those other cars?” reported The Crime Report.

Yet more rule internalization

I think one of the most classic examples of rule internalization has to be zero-tolerance policies. These awful, awful things are intensely, severely popular in schools across America, and they rarely, if ever, do anything to help anyone. Anywhere. Ever. Take this example from Southwest Middle School in Palm Bay, Florida:

A 14-year-old middle school student was suspended as a result of the Florida school’s strict no-hugging policy.

Nick Martinez said he hugged his best friend, a female student, quickly between classes, according to WKMG-TV, Orlando, and never thought the gesture would result in suspension. The principal at Southwest Middle School in Palm Bay saw the hug and brought the two students to the dean, who issued a one-day in-school suspension.

“Honestly, I didn’t know, because I didn’t think hugging was a bad thing. I didn’t know you could get suspended for it,” Martinez told WKMG-TV. “A lot of friends are hugging. I just happened to be the one caught doing it.”

This is a result of lazy thinking. The board which came up with these policies did so in a way that demonstrates a complete lack of interest in the welfare of the children it is charged with overseeing. If they gave a damn, they would have bothered to spend 15 minutes coming up with a few distinctions. For instance, was Nick Martinez grabbing some ass? No? Oh, well, then, carry on.

Of course, like any non-thinking entity, the board has some ready-to-go excuses:

“We cannot make an opinion or judgment call on whether a hug is appropriate or not. It’s very difficult to police that on campus,” Christine Davis, the public information officer for Brevard County Public Schools, told ABC News.

No, no, no. It isn’t that they cannot make a judgement call. It’s that they are cowards who don’t dare to make judgement calls.

Davis said the school puts policies and procedures in place to help keep the students focused on learning.

Really? So taking two students out of their classes for an entire day is a focus on learning? For a school system unwilling to make simple judgement decisions, they sure are willing to make bold judgement calls of pure shit when it comes to educating children.

Two gays students threatened with suspension

A principal at a Florida high school has threatened two lesbian students with suspension for the crime of holding hands:

Some are accusing the principal of Blanche Ely High School of discrimination after two students of the same sex were nearly suspended for holding hands.

The two girls, a junior and a senior, were threatened by the school’s principal with a 10-day suspension for their public displays of affection.

The principal, Karlton Johnson, would certainly never do this to two straight students. In fact, other students in various articles have repeatedly said that the holding of hands has never been an issue at the school. But it apparently is now.

Of course, I want to be fair. It is school policy that students not hold hands. I think that aptly shows the immature mindset of the administrators. Despite what I’m sure they teach their students in sex ed courses, people cannot get pregnant via hand-to-hand contact.

But let’s say this is all just a big misunderstanding, all the other students just don’t realize how often the rules are evenly applied to all sexual orientations, and maybe this is a non-story. Except there’s another problem:

[Activists] also are upset because the principal took things one step further after calling the girls into his office.

“He outed her to her parents, and that is something that social workers will tell you and professionals who work with (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) youth and families, it’s something you just don’t pick up the phone and say, ‘Your daughter’s a lesbian,'” Rajner.

Not only did Johnson needlessly take the two lesbian students into his office, but he called both of their parents. For one girl this was trivial. Her parents are aware of her orientation. But for the other girl, she was still in the closet, at least to her parents. It is wildly inappropriate and wholly ignorant that Johnson would go so far as to mess with her life like that. He has no standing to make such emotionally and socially important decisions for other human beings.

I just wish I could say I was stunned that someone would be such a piece of garbage.

Johnson’s email: karlton.johnson@browardschools.com

You mean libertarianism really is just an excuse for greed?

I guess Charles Koch doesn’t really understand libertarianism:

A conservative billionaire who opposes government meddling in business has bought a rare commodity: the right to interfere in faculty hiring at a publicly funded university.

A foundation bankrolled by Libertarian businessman Charles G. Koch has pledged $1.5 million for positions in Florida State University’s economics department. In return, his representatives get to screen and sign off on any hires for a new program promoting “political economy and free enterprise.”

Traditionally, university donors have little official input into choosing the person who fills a chair they’ve funded. The power of university faculty and officials to choose professors without outside interference is considered a hallmark of academic freedom.

A key principle of libertarianism is that liberty must be as unfettered as possible. By attaching strings to this money, Koch is exploiting the liberty of this school. Just imagine this: A man is down on his luck and living out of his car. He needs money, and more immediately, food. So along comes Joe Blow to offer the man a sandwich. The only thing is, in order to get the sandwich, the guy has to hop out of his car and take it up the ass. Hard. He can say no, but libertarian or not, he recognizes that he won’t have any liberty if he’s dead.

While Koch is under no obligation to give away the money he doesn’t need and isn’t using to create any more jobs, when he does give it away with such freedom-violating attachments, he is undermining the liberty of others. He has transgressed his libertarian philosophy at a fundamental level.

Of course, he doesn’t really buy into that, obviously. He’s just a greedy fuck like most libertarians.

Tom shoots Carlos

Four times.

A pistol-packing jogger in Florida won’t be charged for shooting and killing a teenager who attacked him during a midnight run.

Prosecutors said Tuesday they are convinced Thomas Baker acted in self defense when he fired eight shots at 18-year-old Carlos Mustelier near Tampa in November .

Prosecutors say Florida’s “stand-your-ground” law was a factor in their decision. The law, passed in 2005, gives people the right to use deadly force as long as they “reasonably believe” it is necessary to stop another person from hurting them.

Baker told police he reached for his gun when the teen punched him in the face. Baker has a concealed weapons permit.

The teen was hit four times in the chest, back and buttocks. He died at the scene.

Ignoring Florida’s shoot-first-ask-questions-later law, one has to wonder if it was a Carlos who shot a Tom if the law would be applied in the same way – especially if it was an older Tom shooting a younger Carlos. Since there were four gunshots involved, I’m guessing the law would be viewed just a little differently.

Pardon for Jim Morrison

Florida Governor Charlie Crist is considering giving a pardon to Jim Morrison for a 1969 incident in Miami.

At one point Morrison may or may not have exposed himself to the crowd, leading to his arrest a few days later for indecent exposure. Morrison died before serving his six-month sentence, and a contingent of Doors fans have been lobbying for his posthumous pardoning ever since–which brings us to this week, when outgoing Florida governor Charlie Crist hinted that he may at long last clear Morrison’s name before leaving office.

“Candidly, it’s something that I haven’t given a lot of thought to, but it’s something I’m willing to look into in the time I have left,” Crist told The Hill in a recent interview. “Anything is possible.” The reporter adds that “Crist said he won’t make the decision lightly, noting the many complexities surrounding the 41-year-old case. Numerous sound recordings from the show exist, for example, but Morrison’s defenders say none of the scores of photographs from the show prove the exposure charge.” The reporter quotes Crist as saying, “We would have to look into all of that.”

I love when politicians come down to their final few weeks in office. If they aren’t doing something awesome, they’re at least doing something interesting. That’s the case with Crist. In the end, this isn’t really that important. But it is a nice middle finger to the ultra-conservative bias against that new rock and/or roll music all the kids seemed to like back then.

Paul LePage loves welfare

He just hates poor people.

Creationist Republican/Tea Party candidate for Maine governor Paul LePage rages against government and the assistance it gives to poor people. He’s intensely angry that anyone would have the audacity to take his money from him in order to help others. But this isn’t some pure libertarian stance he’s taking. No, as is well-known, the LePages stole a lot of money from Florida by illegally claim double-residency, thus getting their children in-state tuition at massive savings. This, as is the case with virtually all Tea Party supporters, is about greed. LePage is willing to take government assistance – welfare – from the state of Florida when it suits his wallet, but when it comes to helping anyone else he wants to put caps on benefits and slash every service under the sun.

Paul LePage is just another greedy Republican/Teabagger who is out to get his own. It has only ever been about his own wallet.

Only a matter of time

Teachers in Florida can now officially use the word “evolution”.

For the first time, teachers can say it, they are now being taught how to handle this controversial subject.

The word evolution appears in student’s textbooks.

But when teachers get to that chapter, they say it’s always been a juggling act — how to teach evolution, without actually using the word.

Florida science teaching standards didn’t allow the word “evolution” to be used.

Instead teachers had to say the phrase, “biological change over time.”

But that’s about to change.

It’s almost like the standards are, dare I say it…evolving. Hardy-har.

It’s sad that Florida is often so backward. They vote for the Bush’s, they ban same-sex marriage out of weird culturally-based belief systems that have no bearing on reality, they refuse to acknowledge a simple word…it’s ludicrous. It’s only a matter of time until this state progresses to something respectable. Not that it’s an anomaly. Plenty of other U.S. states have no clue how to behave like civilized beings. But regardless, time washes away bigotry – facts tend to get in the way. It’s just all happening very slowly. Really, though, New England and especially Europe can’t stay socially ahead of the majority of the U.S. forever.

“One of the things we can now discuss is human evolution. Which has been a very taboo topic in the past. Now as science teachers, we’re excited,” explained teacher Kristy Chiodo.

Chiodo got it mostly right. The only problem is that, unfortunately, it isn’t only in the past that people have had problems with human evolution. From high-quality biologists like Ken Miller to good organizations like the National Zoo, human evolution is treated as a subject which needs to be approached very, very carefully. Sometimes (such as with Miller), superfluous exceptions and qualifications are randomly inserted. People certainly still have big issues with human evolution. But ultimately, we’re just one line of “Great Apes”. God may exist, but probably doesn’t. And if he does, then there’s no indication of such. Get over it and let’s get on with the science; stop letting your god interfere with quality educations.

And finally…

Subjects that are not science, like creationism, will not be taught in schools.

Nice jab.

Vermont rated healthiest state; Maine 9th

Vermont tops states in health, Louisiana ranks last.

It was the second straight year that Vermont topped the rankings. It was followed by Hawaii, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Utah, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Idaho and Maine.

Louisiana fell from 49th to 50th, replacing Mississippi. Rounding out the bottom 10 were South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Nevada and Georgia.

California, the most populous state, ranked 24th and New York 25th.

Vermont, with the second smallest population of any state, had the third-highest public health spending and an obesity rate of 22 percent, four points below the national average.

It also had low child poverty and violent crime, a large number of doctors per capita and good high school graduation rates.

Hawaii had similarly low obesity, the highest public health spending, little air pollution, low rates of uninsured people, a low rate of preventable hospitalizations and low rates of death from cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Mississippi led the nation in obesity at 33 percent of the population, while Colorado was lowest at 19 percent.

22% is the obesity rate in the healthiest state. That’s absolutely absurd. But let’s keep outspending every nation combined on our military. Health certainly isn’t relevant or important to life.

By the way, is it any surprise the South makes up the whole of the bottom 10?