Afternoon Links

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
  • Federal court rules the University of Cincinnati’s “free speech zone”—which comprises all of 0.1 percent of the campus, is unconstitutional. That’s obviously the correct decision, but I’ve never really understood the purpose of these zones. Is this a PC thing?
  • Study: People who are into organic food are probably assholes. (Because it validates what I think about people who champion organic food, I’m pretty certain the study is accurate!)
  • Teen says Prince George’s County abducted, cuffed, and threatened him in order to “teach him a lesson.”
  • Jacob Sullum adds more debunking to that New York Times scare story about Adderall. (Disclosure: I have a prescription for Adderall.)
  • Newsweek, that vigilant media watchdog, slobbers all over New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
  • Why you can’t start a food truck in New Orleans.
  • Smart post on money, political power, and inequality.
  • Reductio creep: I remember when I covered obesity as a Cato policy analyst, when I’d raise the slippery slope prospect of government regulating what you can and can’t eat, it was usually dismissed as libertarian fearmongering. No more.
  • Headline of the day.

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52 Responses to “Afternoon Links”

  1. #1 |  pegr | 

    Serious question, Radley. How much good does Adderall provide? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it, as I am afflicted but untreated.

  2. #2 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Two Prince George’s County police officers are under criminal investigation in Charles County

    No names of the LEOs in the news report. I seem to recall another case where a private citizen’s name was released while under criminal investigation.

  3. #3 |  (B)oscoH, Yogurt Eater | 

    The purpose of the “free speech zone” is to cage the apes who would use it and put them on display for ridicule. College administrators have done this since the beginning of the PC era. They claim that certain types of speech are too divisive or inflammatory to be done in non-designated places where the admins can’t conveniently monitor it, so they rope it into a “free speech zone”, then ride speakers’ asses over content once it’s there. It was “fuck you, that’s why” before the meme hit the Internets, and in fact, long before most knew of the Internet.

    Glad to see a court finally see these stupid things for exactly what they are: intimidation.

  4. #4 |  Debi | 

    P.G. Co. cops, off-duty, in a neighboring county, abduct and assault teens. If anyone else did that, they’d be locked up. But not the cops. I hope Charles Co. feels enough disgust towards P.G. cops to actually do something about this. P.G. Co. is looked down on by those in neighboring counties, and more than one police officer from outside the county has expressed disgust at how the P.G. police do things. Not that P.G. cops are going to change their ways or anything. If they haven’t by now…

  5. #5 |  GeneralGarbage | 

    Are we really going to claim that “free speech zones” are a creation of the left? I seem to remember a certain republican president that was very fond of employing them to contain critical voices.

  6. #6 |  (B)oscoH, Yogurt Eater | 

    @GeneralGarbage #5: You wanna help me out with timing? Which certain Republican president? On a public university campus, I had direct experience with something called a “free speech zone” in 1988.

  7. #7 |  Dante | 

    I totally understand the spider-fearing streaker.

  8. #8 |  Zargon | 

    Well, it sounds like that teen did indeed learn a lesson.

    And when the cops are cleared of all wrongdoing, he’ll learn another.

  9. #9 |  Personanongrata | 


  10. #10 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    Federal court rules the University of Cincinnati’s “free speech zone”—which comprises all of 0.1 percent of the campus, is unconstitutional. That’s obviously the correct decision, but I’ve never really understood the purpose of these zones. Is this a PC thing?
    No, it’s a trampling-of-your-1st Amendment-rights/censorship thing.
    This zoning stuff started with relocating Pussycat theaters, topless joints to get “smut” out of the suburbs, then, by inertia, when noboby was looking, they told us our 1st Amendment platform was limited to a
    hopscotch-square on the far edge of the lawn.

  11. #11 |  marie | 

    Comments on the Eating Well Facebook page are a good demonstration of the organic jerks. Eating Well (a food mag I enjoy) will post an innocuous question like, “What snacks do your kids like after school?” and the organic jerks come back with “My little Avery loves the smoothies I make from organic strawberries and free-range bananas and Greek yogurt”. It isn’t enough to say that the kids enjoy fruit smoothies…the organic piece has to be layered on nice and thick. The comments end up being a kind of competition as to which commenter is the most virtuous about food.

    When it gets to be too much, I like to post that my Sam likes Mountain Dew and Flaming Hot Cheetohs after school.

  12. #12 |  nigmalg | 

    Reductio creep: I remember when I covered obesity as a Cato policy analyst, when I’d raise the slippery slope prospect of government regulating what you can and can’t eat, it was usually dismissed as libertarian fearmongering.

    It was just so obvious. You create a “problem”, i.e., subsidized healthcare funding unhealthy americans, followed most comfortably with various restrictions attempting to correct the problem. It doesn’t matter that the problems and solutions sprout out of the same philosophy.

  13. #13 |  Delta | 

    “The most prominent examples [of free speech zones] were those created by the United States Secret Service for President George W. Bush and other members of his administration.[3] Free speech zones existed in limited forms prior to the Presidency of George W. Bush; it was during Bush’s presidency that their scope has been greatly expanded.[4]”

    [3] Hightower, Jim. Bush Zones Go National. The Nation, July 29, 2004. Retrieved on December 20, 2006.
    [4] Freedom Under Fire: Dissent in Post-9/11 America. March 28, 2003.

  14. #14 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    “These results suggest that exposure to organic foods may lead people to affirm their moral identities, which attenuates their desire to be altruistic.”

    I don’t know about that. I will confirm that people who regularly buy organic food probably earn a lot more money than I do, because that shit is expensive.

    A few years ago, when I was a bit younger, and perhaps more of an asshole, I shopped at the “natural food store” for a month or so. When I found out that only a couple plastic bags (yes, plastic bags) filled with essentials were–you guessed it–fucking expensive, I stopped going there. These days you can buy organic (or “natural”) food at your neighborhood corporate leviathan-type grocery store so my wife and I usually shop at those places and are able to occasionally purchase a few of these items. Has less organic food in my system led to reduction in my assholery? I will have to study that further.

  15. #15 |  el coronado | 

    I think Mencken covered reductio creep just about perfectly about 85 years or so ago. The sad thing is how accurate he was, and is.

  16. #16 |  Legate Damar | 

    I’m going to have to assume that the reference to “expansion” of free speech zones meant their migration off of campus and into the rest of the world, because they’ve been an important part of the university administrator’s dissent-crushing arsenal since well before Bush was even a governor.

  17. #17 |  karl | 

    @#6 (B)oscoH, Yogurt Eater:

    The president in 1988 was Ronald Reagan, I think he might have been a Republican.

    “Free speech zones” began on college campuses during the Vietnam War, but regulating public protests through ad hoc zoning really took off in the late 1990s (according to Wikipedia) during WTO meetings and political conventions.

    With the Supreme Court we now have (and will have for a while — I assume at least one Obama appointee won’t rule against them) FSZs are here to stay.

  18. #18 |  Aresen | 

    I would love to see an itemized list of what Bloomberg’s “Advisory Board” eats during a week.

    100 to 1 it would show either maniac-vegan in small portions or ultra-high calorie deluxe meals and lattes with biscotti.

  19. #19 |  Bob | 

    Reductio creep: I remember when I covered obesity as a Cato policy analyst, when I’d raise the slippery slope prospect of government regulating what you can and can’t eat, it was usually dismissed as libertarian fearmongering. No more.

    Wow. Anyone who thinks regulating what you can eat in this manner will have any effect on obesity is a total moron. Sure, I’d expect that regulations like this would work in North Korea… where there’s literally a gun to your head. But when you can just buy another bag of chips to compensate for the smaller soda… not so much.

    All Bloomburg is doing is hastening the time before NYC will have to declare bankruptcy because of their bloated bureaucracy.

  20. #20 |  MaryAnne | 

    I saw this article a little while back. It is so apparent in a city like Seattle. Another example of an inordinate allegiance sinking people’s minds into narcissism.

  21. #21 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    I seem to remember (maybe somebody can help me here) a large ad the cigarette companies took out about the time the rules of the lawsuit game were being shifted to ‘get’ them (because everybody KNEW they were guilty). They pointed out that if they were held accountable for people who chose to smoke, then the next thing would be lawsuits and regulations about food.

    Everybody had a good laugh about how hard they were reaching for justification.

    I didn’t laugh then. I’m not laughing now. But I’m a nut. I don’t think HEROIN should be illegal. And I think somebody should chase Bloomberg and his fellow buttinskis up a tree. A tall tree.

  22. #22 |  StrangeOne | 

    Delta @13

    Many colleges and universities earlier instituted free speech zone rules during the Vietnam-era protests of the 1960s and 1970s. In recent years, a number of them have revised or removed these restrictions following student protests and lawsuits.

    Immediately follows the paragraph you cited. Try reading the rest of the article, it makes fair mention of the free speech zones that appeared outside of Democratic National Conventions, as well as Republican ones, and debates between major candidates.

    The article does seem to fail in that it spends much effort talking about politically motivated “free speech zones”, but only mentions the decades of attempts at such censorship by schools as an afterthought. It further relegates almost all school free speech issues to the “Vietnam Era” as if these rules and their enforcement just disappeared between 1980 and 2001. Not the worst I’ve seen, but it is yet another demonstration on how Wikipedia can fail on even mildly controversial topics.

    While Bush employed Free Speech Zones he was neither responsible for the creation of the concept nor was his side alone in using them. They have long been an issue within universities, supposedly leftist bastions.

  23. #23 |  Other Sean | 

    Mary Anne #20,

    I like to think of organic food not as something that turns people into assholes, but as the best method we currently have for spotting assholes on first contact.

    It sucks that after “they” mandate organic food for all, we’ll have to actually wait until the assholes start talking about politics to spot them…again.

  24. #24 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Other Sean,

    If “they” mandate organic food for all, there will follow one of the worst widespread famines in human history. “Organic” farming requires more labor and a LOT more farmland than modern farming techniques do. Something that, frankly, “they” seem determined to not learn the easy way.

  25. #25 |  Mattocracy | 

    Anyone who dismisses any slippery slope argument for anything is poor student of history.

  26. #26 |  Other Sean | 

    C.S.P. #24,

    And of course that’s where the civilization-saving safeguard kicks in: because “they” are really only interested in seeming hip and morally superior, they tend to lose interest in these suicidal ideas after a while.

    It’s the political equivalent of hipsters turning against their favorite band just because it had the vile crassness to acquire more than 87 fans.

    Once quinoa and locally raised arugula and “fair trade” plantains start being carried at Sam’s Club, the assholes will move on to the next thing.

  27. #27 |  demize! | 

    Welcome to the daily goon round up brothers and sisters. These control devices are employed by the “left” and the “right” these are anachronistic signifiers at this point. Authoritarians wishing to impose their will through the force of the state matter little to me what their nominal philosophy, err I mean excuse, is.

  28. #28 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Other Sean,

    Ah, yes! The desperate need to appear to be something other than straight-down middle class. The everlasting hunger to feel morally superior to people who actually have something like a moral code. The lingering fear that, deep down, they matter rather less than some slob who went to trade school and learned a trade.

    At least the rebellious intellectuals of the 19th century actually had a grounding in scholarship, and had some idea what they were rebelling AGAINST.

  29. #29 |  Elliot | 

    The comments by marie (#11) and others about the smug food morality braggarts and snobs remind me of “South Park”, which captures the absurdities and obnoxiousness with biting sarcasm.

    I agree with Helmut (#14) about the high prices. I try to find food with the fewest adulterants, but I’m skeptical that the “organic” food in the supermarket is actually more “clean” than the less costly items, so I stopped spending the extra money.

    For me, it’s not a matter of ethics, but of health. I could care less if a given product is made by “green” technology or practices, or if no animal products are used. (I love bacon, steak, lamb, etc..) In fact, if I see two products and one has a smug name (“green”, “smart”, etc.) I’ll consciously choose the other so I don’t encourage such asshattery.

  30. #30 |  Jeremy | 

    It’s not so much organic food I have a problem with is that it’s often out of my price range.

  31. #31 |  Jeremy | 

    And regarding inequality, I’m wondering if the same people who have been making hay about it recently (i.e. Occupy) are really concerned with alleviating it or are they just upset because *they’re* now experiencing financial hardship. How many of them expressed any actual concern about poor and homeless people when times were better?

  32. #32 |  John Spragge | 

    Let me suggest a possible problem with the use of Aderall for academic enhancement. The Agitator often carries comments on the increasing regulatory barriers to entry in a number of trades. Individuals and groups seeking to implement these barriers often seek to derive legitimacy from academic credentialism, and the notion that academic training guarantees quality work. As competition increases, the argument for higher “standards” intensifies. Whether they mean to or not, people who use stimulant drugs to give themselves an academic “edge” validate this paradigm. If we push “standards” to a point where even bright and talented people feel the need to use drugs that do severe harm to a proportion of their users, that seems to lend significant support to the rhetorical calls for “higher standards” in any profession that can’t easily be outsourced to India. I don’t see this as a net gain. So I suggest that while I don’t agree with moral panics, over drugs or anything else, I believe the underlying logic here needs a close look.

  33. #33 |  AlgerHiss | 

    Wasn’t Mario Savio a huge lefty?

  34. #34 |  Pi Guy | 

    John Sprague:
    Do you feel that some students using calculators in math class have an unfair advantage over those who don’t?

    Research shows that students learn the most math when they’re using their calculators during 50% of their instruction/study time. Not all studens and school districts can afford one calculator per student. Is the answer to that “problem” to deny calculators to those who can afford to compete in the arithmetic landscape?

    Your suggestion is largely the equivalent of tax the rich more. They have an advantage? Take it away to level the playing field for the less able? Harrison Bergeron anyone? That way poverty lies, my friend.

    When the best are allowed to succeed to the greatest extent that they can, we all benefit. There’s the close look at the logic that you suggested.

  35. #35 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @25 – Sure, which also works against you just as much as it does for.

    @34 – Yes, the Nordic Counties are so poor. Oh, wait…

  36. #36 |  the other rob | 

    The Inequality and Political Remedies post was excellent! I particularly liked this line: “In a famine, even the rich don’t actually eat very well. Only the political elites do, because they run the distribution system that prompted the famine in the first place.”

  37. #37 |  A Critic | 

    I agree about organic foodnuts – but what about beyond organic foodnuts such as myself who disdain the organic freaks as being unwitting slaves of the government organic monopoly?

  38. #38 |  Mattocracy | 

    Yeah I know. Libertarianism leads to more and more freedom. It’s just terrible isn’t it.

  39. #39 |  Dannyp19 | 

    I can see it over the horizon. Mandatory drug tests for all students to stop the scourge of performance enhancing “education drugs”. The same approach that sports organizations use to stop steroid use.

    I can envision a college professor or noble laureate losing his or hers job/award for past use of ADD drugs.

    Hell, I foresee Congressional hearings about the matter.

  40. #40 |  Marty | 

    I love organic food- but it’s gotta come from my garden or the local farmer’s market. We may be assholes, but there are no Trader Joe’s snobs hanging out around here.

  41. #41 |  Other Sean | 


    I swear I’m not trying to troll you, mess with you, or anything like that. In fact, I’d like to beg your cooperation because I really want to understand a difference of opinion you and I have on the question of methods.

    Will you do me the favor of answering the below question as directly as possible? It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes…

    Let’s say I conduct a study to find out which drugs work against a common disease called Scarcitosis. To do this I use the following experimental design:

    I gather ten patients of varying ages, weights, fitness levels, and backgrounds, whose only true common feature is that they are all suffering from Scarcetosis, although the intensity of symptoms varies significantly from patient to patient.

    At my disposal I have two potential cures with what appear to be conflicting mechanisms of action: Marketex and Statocil. My goal is to see which one works best, or to discover if perhaps there is some ideal mixture between the two. The clinical trial unfolds thus:

    No patient receives a pure dose of either Marketex or Statocil, and no patient receives exactly the same mixture as any other patient. Each patient is given a different mixture of the two drugs, but it is not known if or at what dose each drug is capable of canceling out the other’s effects.

    After a period of time, I compare the level of Scarcitosis in my ten patients and sort them into a best five and a bottom five. After excluding two of the top five patients based on what I consider to be unacceptable side effects, I take the average dosage given to the remaining three and recommend that as a proven clinical course for the treatment of Scarcitosis.

    Now…here comes the question: If I were to submit the above study to Nature or the New England Journal of Medicine or any scientific periodical, the reviewers would raise some very serious objections to my experimental design – quite apart from any personal feelings they might have towards Marketex or Statocil.

    Can you tell me what those objections might be? Can you describe what’s wrong with the methods in my study?

  42. #42 |  Todd Wheetley | 

    “New York City voters oppose 51 – 46 percent Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed ban on the sale of over-sized sugary soft drinks”

    Almost half of New Yorkers are on board with this? My respect for humanity has taken another serious hit.

  43. #43 |  omar | 

    I like to think of organic food not as something that turns people into assholes, but as the best method we currently have for spotting assholes on first contact.

    You sure are good judging others. With a skill like that, you should put your mind to better use. Surely assholes aren’t the biggest problem you face. Pray tell, do you know of the the best method for spotting criminals on first contact? Or a terrorist? Can we find a way to get you on a jury?

    Think you’re really righteous? Think you’re pure in heart?
    Well, I know I’m a million times as humble as thou art

  44. #44 |  Matthew F | 

    a) I imagine the intention of free speech zones was to ensure organizations and individuals their right to conduct their business, and have only since been abused.

    b) I still see a huge difference between limiting what restaurants can sell and “telling people what they can eat”. The former has been considered a valid power for nearly a century now.

  45. #45 |  John Spragge | 

    @Pi Guy: I wish we could enforce the temporal prime directive on the Internet. I don’t know what calculators cost on the other side of whatever time portal you posted your argument through, but in 2012, the year I am posting from, I can buy a pocket calculator from the dollar store for the price of a large bottle of soda. Access to calculators does not separate the haves from the haven’ts.

    This sloppiness with examples carries through to your failure to address my actual point. Far from a “close look”, you missed the point entirely. Your argument appears to have started with a vague impression that I oppose “unfair” advantages, grasped at an example of supposed “unfairness” without investigating its basis in contemporary reality, and then proceeded from there.

    I actually made a completely different point. You may agree or disagree with me, but I did not oppose “unfairness” or “cheating” per se. The article at the center of this discussion describes students taking drugs in order to fit a profile of “success” that has nothing to do with actual production, innovation, or real achievement. The “perfect student” (athletic with high marks and approved “participation”) correlates to success in life mainly because educational credentials, by government fiat, govern entry into so many professions and trades. In other words, kids take Adderall and related drugs not to perform well at real world tasks, but to fit “standards” imposed, ultimately, by governments. Taking Adderall and other behavioural drugs to get a leg up on this competition resembles to deal with drug warriors by paying them bribes to go away. You don’t get at the root of the problem that way, and the root of the problem, in this case, goes to governments backing ever more onerous and destructive “educational standards” by making educational credentials the only entry into an increasing number of jobs.

    @Dannyp: you may forsee correctly. Legislators will do just about anything to get on TV. But if we want to stop kids from cheating at the educational game, then I suggest we stop making education, and fitting the profile of the “perfect student”, a requirement for quite so many professional and business roles. In other words, if we want to stop the kids from competitive drug use, take away the prizes. Deregulate the professions.

  46. #46 |  Elliot | 

    omar (#43):…you know of the the best method for spotting criminals on first contact? Or a terrorist?

    Criminals wear hoodies.

    Terrorists have brown skin and have names like Hohammed, Faisal, or Omar.


    But seriously, I think it’s great when people choose to stop buying processed foods for their health. They can do that without being smug towards others. I know plenty of people who follow a whole foods diet without being preachy or acting superior.

    Even worse, when they decide to interfere with the choices of others (Bloomberg, North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition, raw milk raids documented in “Farmageddon”) they need to be tarred and feathered and dumped in the nearest sewage treatment basin.

  47. #47 |  Elliot | 

    @John Spragge (#45), the $1-$2 calculators generally don’t have scientific functions. Scientific calculators are still cheaper than a pair of name brand shoes, unless you want capabilities like graphing.

    I suspect that many children opt to have no calculator, rather than to take a “ghetto” calculator to school. It doesn’t matter that the “ghetto” calculator does everything it needs to. Simply because a few other kids have better ones makes some kids too embarrassed with a lesser model. I went through that with my daughter. She complained, but we didn’t give in to such silliness.

  48. #48 |  omar | 

    Terrorists have brown skin and have names like Hohammed, Faisal, or Omar.

    Mad props for inventing the name “Hohammed.” My father Ackamad would be proud.

    -Omar or as my friends call me, “one of the good ones”

  49. #49 |  John Spragge | 

    @Elliot: Kids and calculators have all kinds of issues, including, in my experience, the tendency of kids with little interest in math to lose calculators. That doesn’t make the allocation of calculators a major fairness issue, and if it did, it still wouldn’t change what I wrote, which did not have to do with the fair allocation of educational resources.

  50. #50 |  Elliot | 

    @Omar (#48), I’ve known people who don’t think there are any “good ones”. One person I know moved from a good office to a crappy one, soon after 9/11/01, just so she wouldn’t be next door to a Muslim.

    If only these people could see themselves as others do.

  51. #51 |  Other Sean | 

    Omar #43,

    “You sure are good judging others. With a skill like that, you should put your mind to better use. Surely assholes aren’t the biggest problem you face. Pray tell, do you know of the the best method for spotting criminals on first contact? Or a terrorist? ”

    I’m afraid I don’t have anything for criminals and terrorists. Sorry about that. Good news, though: I’m working on something that can detect people with no sense of humor.

    Actually, I had a breakthrough in my research…just this morning.

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