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March 30, 2011

Diary of a Disastrous March

Kevin E. Dayhoff

It’s great to see March 2011 slither away. It has been a gut wrenching month from hell for many reasons.


March began with the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church’s right to spew vile and hatred on innocent, defenseless military families in their darkest hour.


Yes, I believe in free speech. (See my column here: “A Victory for Free Speech?


I also followed the case with the interest of a journalist and a rabid supporter of our cherished right as Americans to exercise free speech and to demonstrate. On many occasions I have defended, at my own peril, that right of citizens who have expressed opinions of which I not only disagreed, but also found personally offensive and repugnant.


Free speech is easy in our great country as long as most of the community agrees with the uttered words being set forth. It gets awfully tricky when the greater community disagrees, as I discovered on a first hand basis when I participated in a few civil rights demonstrations in North Carolina in the early 1970s.


I have always felt that the right to free speech comes with great responsibilities to the greater community that has wonderfully bestowed it on us all.


From there March 2011 moved on to the natural disaster in Japan on March 11 and only got worse with the death of yet another Carroll County Marine on March 20. (See my coverage here.)


On March 19, our Nobel Peace Prize winner, President Barack Obama, decided to wage an air war on Libya to help save a few clueless and hapless rebels – for humanitarian reasons. Why Libya and not also Sudan, Syria, Ivory Coast, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, and Darfur?


Yet this was the very same former Illinois Senator Obama who campaigned for president opposing the war in Iraq in spite of the fact that Iraqi Dictator Saddam Hussein murdered hundreds of thousands of his own citizens – and threatened to murder anything else in the Middle East that moved or breathed. See my column here: “The Ironies of War in Libya.”


The sheer hypocrisy is only made worse by the lack of critical accountability by the left and much of the traditional media. Crickets chirping…


If you would like to laugh instead of cry about the hypocrisy of the left, watch the video on YouTube, “Libya vs. Iraq,” that was first called to my attention by my colleague Steve Berryman.


On March 9, David Broder, a reporter’s reporter, the well-respected dean of letters for The Washington Post for over four decades, died. One tribute remarked that his even-handed, intelligent, and thoughtful style of journalism “set him apart from the ideological warriors on U.S. opinion pages.”


His death marked yet another brick removed from the fundamental foundation of contemporary journalism.


As a history writer, I note that March is also the anniversary of arguably two of the Top 20 most dreadful U.S. Supreme Court cases in history that awkwardly affect us to this very day.


March 3 was the anniversary of the First Amendment, freedom of speech, Schenck v. United States, United States Supreme Court decision (1919). This was the case in which the court upheld the Espionage Act of 1917…which outlawed “any attempt to foster insubordination or obstruct the draft,” during World War 1.


Yes, this is the case in which Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes – who served as an associate justice from 1902 to 1932 – reminded us that the First Amendment does not protect a person who falsely shouts fire in a crowded theatre and causes a panic. (Again - see my column here: “A Victory for Free Speech?


Schenck v. United States was an ugly and complicated court case. But it was also the case that consequently sent Charles Schenck to prison for six-months because he dared to speak-out against the government.


It was on March 26, 1962, that the Supreme Court ruled in the landmark case of Baker v. Carr, which said that state representational districts of unequal size were unconstitutional.


If you want to know why the entire state of Maryland is ruled by a few metropolitan areas and the Maryland General Assembly may ignore the rest of the state – read Baker v. Carr, (and also re-read “It’s going to be ugly.”)


In a nutshell, the ruling destroyed one of the basis tenants of bicameral legislatures (like the U.S. Congress,) that gave each political subdivision – counties – two senators, in one of the legislative chambers, so as to provide less populated jurisdictions protection from the tyranny of larger jurisdictions.


If each county in Maryland had two senators, much of the legislative populist tax-and-spend drivel that emerges from the House of Delegates would never pass the Senate and be made into law.


And, oh, in case you are curious; the following cases round-out my candidates for consideration of 10 of the worse Supreme Court decisions in history: Korematsu v. United States, Wickard v. Filburn, Everson v. Board of Education, Berman v. Parker, Helvering v. Davis, United States v. Carolene Products, McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, and Grutter v. Bollinger. And, who can forget the most famous March decision of the court – Dred Scott v. Sandford, which was issued March 6, 1857.


Meanwhile, in spite of the gravity of such matters, like our national debt, the economy, three foreign wars, and the natural disaster in Japan; the media went into an orgasmic frenzy over famed misogynist Charlie Sheen. Okay, well, let’s move along folks, nothing to see here. I think I’m going to be sick.


The origins of the name for the third month of the year, March, came from Martius, named after Mars, the Roman god of war. In ancient times it was traditionally the beginning of the time of year when military campaigns began.


Hopefully, this is not the year in which the war on civility, humanity, community, and common sense, that March 2011 exemplified, continues.


. . . . .I’m just saying. . . .





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