An Injunction Against the First Amendment

by Walter Brasch   Vera Scroggins of Susquehanna County, Pa., will be in court, Monday morning. This time, she will have lawyers and hundreds of thousands of supporters throughout the country. Representing Scroggins to vacate an injunction limiting her travel will be lawyers from the ACLU and Public Citizen, and a private attorney. The last time Scroggins appeared in the Common Pleas Court in October, she didn’t have lawyers. That’s because Judge Kenneth W. Seamans refused to grant her a continuance. When she was served papers to appear in court, it was a Friday. On Monday, she faced four lawyers representing Cabot Oil and Gas Corp., one of the nation’s largest drillers. Seamans told the 63-year-old grandmother and retired nurse’s … Continue reading

President Obama Re-Frames the Issue of Guns

In his press conference on gun control today, President Obama turned the gun rights/gun control argument in a very different direction, “away from the Second Amendment and toward rights and themes at the core of other foundational documents, as he unveiled his package of gun proposals.” By invoking The Declaration of Independence, the First Amendment, and the Gettysburg Address, President Obama “cast a new and different meaning on another familiar political phrase, the right to life.” “The right to worship freely and safely, that right was denied to Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. The right to assemble peaceably, that right was denied shoppers in Clackamas, Oregon, and moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado,” Obama said in an explicit reference to the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights. … Continue reading

Intruding Upon the Constitution by the Religious Right Wing

  by WALTER BRASCH   Roman Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky, of Peoria, Ill., ordered all parish priests in his diocese to read a letter to their congregations condemning Barack Obama. The letter, to be read the weekend before the election, declared that Obama and the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate had launched an “assault upon our religious freedom.” He wasn’t the only priest who used the pulpit to attack the President. Bishop David Lauren of Green Bay, Wisc., told his congregations that voting for Obama and other candidates who were pro-choice or who believed in embryonic stem cell research or gay marriage could put their “soul in jeopardy.” Others, primarily from evangelical Protestant faiths, were even more adamant in their religious intolerance, … Continue reading

Attacking American Sovereign Soil Diminishes the Rights of Religion

  by Walter Brasch   The terrorists who attacked the American embassy in Cairo, Egypt, and the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, claimed the attacks were retaliation for the publication on You Tube of an anti-Muslim film. That YouTube video was a 14-minute trailer for a one-hour film, “Innocence of Muslims,” that was not only a vicious bigoted attack against Islam but also of no artistic merit.   One of the extremist political parties in Egypt plucked the trailer from obscurity and used it as part of a newscast, inflaming the people of Egypt, who mounted a demonstration against the U.S. embassy. Within a week, the trailer had more than 10 million hits on YouTube. An attack upon the consulate in … Continue reading

American Patriotism in Hyper-Drive

  by WALTER BRASCH  It’s midway between Flag Day and Independence Day. That means several million copies of full-page flags printed on cheap newsprint, June 14, have been burned, shredded, thrown away, or perhaps recycled. It’s an American tradition.  Flag Day was created by President Wilson in 1916 on the eve of the American entry into World War I. It has since been a day to allow Americans to show how patriotic we have become, and give a running start to celebrating the Revolution by buying banners, fireworks, and charcoal briquettes for the upcoming picnic.  Within American society is a large class of people who fly flags on 30-foot poles in front of their houses and adorn their cars with … Continue reading

Splitting Hairs in a Multi-Cultural School

  by WALTER BRASCH   Sasha Rivera is a 15-year-old sophomore at the Multi-Cultural Academy Charter School (MACS) in Philadelphia. She’s an honors student who never got into trouble at school, and volunteers at Motivos, a national magazine for Hispanic youth. She also has blue bangs in her dark brown hair. For that reason, she isn’t attending class. Sasha and her principal, James Higgins, agree that Sasha came to school on Thursday, May 24, and had blue in her hair. “In the hallway, he turned to me and said my hair color has to go,” says Sasha. She says that Higgins told her that unnatural hair color is against school rules. “He said it was in the [student] handbook,” she … Continue reading

Stories We Will Still Have to Write in 2012

  by WALTER and ROSEMARY BRASCH   In January 2009, with a new president about to be inaugurated, we wrote a column about the stories we preferred not having to write, but knew we would. Three years later, we are still writing about those problems; three years from now, we’ll still be writing about them. We had wanted the U.S. Department of the Interior to stop the government-approved slaughter of wild horses and burros in the southwest, but were disappointed that the cattle industry used its money and influence to shelter politicians from Americans who asked for compassion and understanding of  breeds that roamed freely long before the nation’s “Manifest Destiny.” We wanted to see the federal government protect wolves, … Continue reading

One Jew’s Christmas

by WALTER BRASCH  I am a Jew.  I don’t mind receiving Christmas cards or being wished a “Merry Christmas” from friends, clerks, or even in junk mail trying to sell me something no sane person should ever buy. My wife and I even send Christmas cards, with messages of peace and joy, to our friends who are Christians or who we don’t know their religion.  I like Christmas music and Christmas carolers, even if some have voices that crack now and then, perhaps from the cold.  At home, from as early as I could remember, my family bought and decorated a Christmas tree, and gave gifts to each other and our friends. Usually we put a Star of David on the … Continue reading