Hearsay

Short takes from faculty op-eds

Media cowed by Islamic fundamentalists
[T]he islamist street has been on an intifada over cartoons depicting Muhammad that were first published months ago in a Danish newspaper. … The mainstream U.S. media have covered this worldwide uprising; it is, after all, a glimpse into the sentiments of our enemy and its allies. And yet it has refused, with but a few exceptions, to show the cartoons that purportedly caused all the outrage. …

“So far as we can tell, a new, twin policy from the mainstream media has been promulgated: (a) If a group is strong enough in its reaction to a story or caricature, the press will refrain from printing that story or caricature, and (b) if the group is pandered to by the mainstream media, the media then will go through elaborate contortions and defenses to justify its abdication of duty. At bottom, this is an unacceptable form of not-so-benign bigotry. …”
Professor Alan Dershowitz and William J. Bennett ’71, The Washington Post, Feb. 23, 2006.


The business of censorship
China’s effort to keep sensitive information from reaching its citizens is the envy of every authoritarian regime in the world, but it is unlikely to hold up over the long run. The sheer volume of messages, the architecture of the Internet itself and the cleverness of Internet users are already overwhelming state censors. China’s leaders understand this. That’s why they’re increasingly relying on private firms to do their dirty work, blocking speech and turning over the identity of citizens who use the Internet as an organizing tool. The Great Firewall of China isn’t the state’s only weapon; there is also Censorship Inc. …

“To do business in China, all Internet companies are building censorship into their business processes. This will continue so long as the government seeks to control what people see and say online. … American technology companies will remain a target of Beijing’s demands as long as the cat-and-mouse game between censors and citizens continues.”
Clinical Professor John Palfrey and Berkman Fellow Rebecca MacKinnon, Newsweek, Feb. 27, 2006.


Limits to eminent domain backlash
Last summer in Kelo v. City of New London, the Supreme Court upheld a redevelopment plan for New London, Conn., that involved seizing private homes to enable commercial development near a major pharmaceutical company. …

“No sooner had the court issued its decision than widespread opposition arose the result was a broad legislative backlash. …

“But the federal government is on the hook for lots of money to redevelop areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, and eminent domain involving transfers to private developers is likely to be a key feature. What’s more, many real estate developers, known to make political contributions, strongly defend the decision. …

“But it’s more than the developer lobby that’s slowing the backlash. Large numbers of communities in America are in need of revitalization. … Eminent domain is one tool for improving the conditions of neighborhoods.”
Professor David Barron ’94, The Boston Globe, April 16, 2006.


Next: Tribute