Archive for September 17th, 2015

On speeding, free speech and youthful mistakes

September 17, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 17, 2015

A recent Gawker post was headlined “Court Affirms Your Right to Scrawl ‘Fuck Your Shitty Town’ on Speeding Tickets Received in Shitty Towns.” The only reason I clicked on the link was because I happened to notice the name of the town, which appeared on the Gawker home page in the image of the parking ticket on which profanity had been written: Liberty, N.Y.

Before I mention why that place holds significance for me, let’s attend to the Gawker writeup by Jay Hathaway. A Connecticut man cited for traveling at 82 miles per hour in a zone with a speed limit of 65 defaced the ticket that he mailed to the town court when he paid his fine. The court declined to accept the payment, summoned the motorist to appear before it in person and arrested him on a charge of aggravated harassment. The New York Civil Liberties Union got involved and helped get the charge dismissed thanks to free-expression rights established by the First Amendment.

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Recent Readings for Sept. 17, 2015

September 17, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 17, 2015

Welcome to the first entry in Recent Readings, which I hope will become a more-or-less weekly series of postings here on the blog. The title should be self-explanatory. Let’s get to it, shall we?

History as foreshadowing in the Pacific Northwest. Ann Finkbeiner has some scary news about the seismic tendencies of the Pacific Northwest, a region where earthquakes are relatively infrequent. But when they come, quakes in this area have historically been prolonged — perhaps three minutes in duration! — and extremely violent, thanks in no small part to the tsunamis that follow them. The consequences of the next quake could be catastrophic.

Finkbeiner filters this story through an anthropological lens, examining research on the stories Native Americans told about the devastating quakes of centuries past. About midway through her article, she strikes an oddly comforting note: Although the quakes had devastating short-term consequences, wiping out homes and killing many people and animals, the affected communities re-established themselves with minimal long-term changes.

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