I support the First Amendment, but…

If you ever hear those words, get ready to listen to someone demonstrate that they don’t understand what the First Amendment is really about.

Only 62 percent of Americans could name the freedom of speech as one of the freedoms listed in the First Amendment, according to a 2011 poll by the First Amendment Center. A minority, 18 percent of those polled, said the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees. Since 1997, a shift on an amendment to ban flag burning has occurred – the 2011 poll showed that only 39 percent think the constitution should be amended to ban flag burning.

Flag burning is protected speech under current law. In Texas v. Johnson (1989), the Supreme Court case on that issue, I think Justice WIlliam Joseph Brennan, Jr., said it best:

[The] principal function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute; it may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger.

A neo-Nazi group held a rally on the National Mall in April 2008. Other people turned out to protest their presence and the police ended up having to protect the National Socialist Movement, swastikas and all.

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Technology to Fight the Digital Divide

As Prof. Mike McKean showed us all the interesting statistics on the changing place of laptops and personal computer and the emerging prominence of tablets and phones, I thought about a senior year project I did on Africa.

What if the move toward the cheaper, smaller devices for Internet access can help alleviate the effects of the digital divide in less developed countries?

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