Ticketed for cussing?

Wow. My understanding of the First Amendment with regard to profanity was recently challenged. I’m glad to see that at least the ACLU sides with me.

Law.com’s recent article explains the happenings in Pennsylvania where apparently there has been a rash of state troopers citing or even arresting citizens for disorderly conduct, including a pizza delivery driver who had to take off an entire day without pay to defend himself against the bogus charge.

[ACLU legal fellow Marieke] Tuthill said disorderly conduct charges for use of profanity have become common in Pennsylvania despite being routinely rejected and condemned by the courts. The suits allege that use of language that is “merely profane” and “not obscene” is protected by the First Amendment, and that criminal charges of any sort for the use of mere profanity therefore violate free speech rights.

It’s not surprising to me at all to see the ACLU’s Pennsylvania chapter has their hands full with this kind of thing. This is a classic case of “badge-itis” and an example where cops are at least nominally above the law, their badge becoming a “get away with it” card. I wonder how many cited for this so-called “disorderly” conduct are police officers? Probably none. I defy you to watch more than ten episodes of the TV show “Cops” or a similar reality-based show involving police officers without hearing one word from a cop beeped out. (While it’s probably possible to find ten such episodes, it would involve quite selective viewing habits.)

I do keep my three blogs profanity-free; this blog is the only one of the three that would be anywhere near likely to contain saltier language on occasion, and I still keep it clean as a matter of personal taste. The same cannot always be said of my Twitter stream and my Facebook feed. I’ll admit it; I can have quite the penchant for profanity. If this biases my perspective, so be it. But please remember, life is not a G-rated Disney movie!

I’d rather see cops writing speeding tickets for a known underposted stretch of road than writing tickets for swearing under the guise of “disorderly conduct.” And that says a lot, given I know a lot of speed limits are underposted on purpose.

A patently absurd case of drug regulation

Houston Area Liberty Campaign’s recent blog entry details one of the most ludicrous examples of the Food and Drug Administration’s authority run amok.

It’s about an extract of autumn crocus, specifically a chemical called colchicine. Colchicine is used as a natural remedy for gout as an alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve). You’d think since this has been in use since the era of Ben Franklin’s suffering from gout that anyone could make colchicine and sell it. Well, that’s apparently not good enough for the FDA.

A company called URL Pharma has now been granted the exclusive right to market and sell colchicine by the FDA, under the brand name “Colcrys.” And they do mean exclusive: what was perfectly fine to sell as generic colchicine not that long ago is now forbidden as “counterfeit Colcrys.” And these URL Pharma guys are playing hardball, suing their compeititon out of existence. One company, Qualitest Pharmaceuticals, has caved to the pressure. Thankfully, other companies are digging in their heels and fighting back against this absurdity.

The real losers here aren’t URL’s competition, nor the FDA. No, as usual in conflicts like this, it’s the innocent bystanders that get the short end of the stick. Colchicine, prior to the FDA stepping in, cost 7 cents per pill ($7 for a bottle of 100). URL Pharma’s Colcrys costs $5 per pill, or $500 for a bottle of 100. If this is not reckless, senseless, and thoughtless greed, I don’t know what is.

Even URL Pharma’s competition that are fighting the absurdity of the situation are not doing so for purely philanthropic purposes; at least one, Vision Pharma LLC, has skyrocketed the price to $1.17 per pill, low enough to look like a bargain alongside URL Pharma’s price but still outrageously high.

The final quotes from the HALC’s blog entry say a lot about the situation, perhaps the saddest thing of all:

Thankfully, consumers know just exactly what to do about URL Pharma’s new US government-approved monopoly on a “new” drug that has been in use for over a thousand years.

They’re buying it from Canada.

Until now, I’ve been extremely leery of buying from a Canadian pharmacy. If this isn’t resolved soon, and I find myself with a gout problem, that’s going to change quite quickly.

URL Pharma and Vision Pharma LLC should be damned ashamed of themselves. I wish them both a speedy and well-deserved bankruptcy. I also wish the blockheads at the FDA that made this possible a quick, public, and well-deserved firing, and an equally deserved lifetime of IRS audits.

It could easily be argued they all deserve nothing more than extremely bad cases of gout. But I’m better than wishing that upon them, however deserved it may be.

Followup to “Out of hand”: Trae the Truth sues Radio One!

It’s time for me to follow up on my previous post about the Trae the Truth vs KBXX/Radio One feud since there’s been a huge new development. According to this press release posted on AustinSurreal, Trae has filed a lawsuit regarding this matter. From the press release:

The civil case alleges a consistent pattern of business
disparagement, conspiracy and tortious interference. Defendants include Radio One, the radio station’s general manager Doug Abernathy, program manager Terri Thomas and morning show radio personality Nnete Inyangumia.

And as for the damages sought in the suit:

Trae is suing for general damages to his reputation, character,
standing in the community, mental suffering, loss of professional opportunities, performance revenue, record royalties and other damages.

Having been the target of some similar actions myself, I know a bit about people like those at Radio One, specifically including people like Mr. Abernathy and Ms. Thomas. People with egos, that assert they can never do any wrong, even when the evidence points to the contrary. People who love to attack, who love pushovers and those who do not know how to stand up for their rights, and who despise those who dare defend their interests when attacked.

What the people like Mr. Abernathy and Ms. Thomas hate, are those who fight back. Those who aren’t willing to just “let it go” when being unjustly spit upon in an attempt to constructively evict them from the local community. Those who can adopt the Twisted Sister song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” as their own battle anthem.

People like Trae. And dare I say it, people like me.

I’ll be keeping an eye on this story. Hopefully, Trae wins, which would mean a victory we can all celebrate.

Unbelievable GOP shenanigans in a census year

I know I’m running a bit behind on this one, but this is an egregious enough example of political manipulation and misuse of the term “census” that I feel I need to say my piece about it.

Several blogs, including MOMocrats and PRWatch, covered a ruse by the Republican National Committee. The RNC made this survey and sent it out in the form of a fake yet vaguely official looking “census.” While the post does not reproduce this fake “census” in its entirety, what is there shows that it’s a clear attempt to deceive (for those that really want it, the whole thing as sent to someone in McKinney, TX, was posted to Scribd and other copies and stories abound by searching on phrases like “rnc fake census.”).

I’m all for political surveys and a political party trying to reach out to its members. If the Republicans want to grow their numbers, so be it. (I’m personally a somewhat moderate Democrat. “Somewhat moderate” means I frequently side with the Democrats, but most notably I’m pro-life and support the Second Amendment.)

But this is wrong. The RNC stops just short of misappropriating the official title and logo of the US Census Bureau. In fact, the official looking envelope and a reference to a $15 “processing fee” appear to be a heavily veiled attempt at deceiving the less thorough into contributing to the RNC without knowing it.

Perhaps most horrifying is the following (quoting the PRWatch entry):

A RNC spokeswoman defended the document, saying it was clearly marked as an RNC mailer and it was not an attempt to mislead voters.

I beg to differ. The notification that it’s not an official government document is rather easy to miss, especially to someone who’s forgotten what the real census looks like. An RNC spokeswoman actually defending this horrid tactic is, in all honesty, an embarrassment to the Republican party and makes me proud to be a Democrat.

Apple caught doing the flip-flop: the iSealClub story

It’s been a while since Apple’s made a gaffe I’ve felt like writing about. Of course, that changed when this little gem popped in front of my eyes.

Techcrunch recently published a story about an iPhone game that didn’t pass Apple’s review team. Not that it’s exactly news anymore that Apple is completely arbitrary and capricious with which iPhone apps are officially allowed to be sold and which aren’t, but this sets what I believe to be a new low.

The game in question is iSealClub, a game based on the Canadian Seal Hunt. The core of the game is clubbing seals to death, which may well make a few people uncomfortable.

From the article:

[iSealClub developer Matthew] Smyth emailed Apple before ever writing the app to see if they would find it questionable, and they responded that they didn’t pre-approve apps. So Smyth built it. And yes, it was rejected on the grounds that it contains “content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, sounds, etc.) that in Apple’s reasonable judgement may be found objectionable.”

How objectionable is violence? So objectionable that Apple has in the past approved many more games for the iPhone that are at least as violent than iSealClub, such as Turkey Hunt, Deer Hunter 3D, Pocket God, and Grand Theft Auto.

This is Apple at its most egregiously hypocritical. This epitomizes everything that is wrong with Apple’s iron-fist rule of the iPhone platform. If Apple itself does not want to sell these under an App Store labeled with its own company name, that’s fine. But in the interest of defending free expression, these should be available from third parties without having to play with fire by jailbreaking one’s iPhone.

I challenge Apple’s PR people to come out and say in as many words that Apple as a company actually does not support free expression when it comes to the iPhone. Apple’s actions already say this; why would they not put their money where their mouth is?