A Mexican flag in America!

I’ve mentioned, quite a few times, on this blog that causing offence should not be a reason to limit someone’s speech. Just because someone takes offence at something doesn’t mean that it is offensive. That is quite clearly illustrated by a particularly bigoted woman in California.

Tressy Capps was so offended by a house flying a Mexican flag in the United States of America that she actually stopped her car, went up to the house and told them off. She called it disrespectful and that if the house wanted to fly the Mexican flag then they should move to Mexico! I hope for her sake that she never travels to New York because that’s where the headquarters of the United Nations is and there are 192 foreign flags flying proudly. Continue reading

Disgusting behaviour by Hawthorne police

There’s a story getting a lot of attention which I find shocking. Police in Hawthorne, California, while arresting a man shot and killed his dog in the street. You can read the story here and here (The second link contains a video of the incident which could be disturbing for some people). In a nutshell, Leon Rosby was watching the police with the music on his car playing loudly. He refused to turn it down, did not resist arrest but then his dog jumped out the car window to protect him. Supposedly to defend themselves, the police shot and killed it.

Obviously there are a couple of aspects to the story. If a policeman’s life is threatened he should be able to defend himself and that may require deadly force. Rosby should have turned down his radio when instructed. The question then is whether the actions taken were reasonable under the circumstances. I think they were not and constitute excessive use of force. Continue reading

Balancing privacy and security

DNA as seen during gel electrophoresis (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

South Africa has a serious problem with crime and DNA profiling offers a real chance to do something about it by providing accurate and reliable evidence. There is currently a push to bring in a legal framework to deal with this issue and, as I’ve stated previously, I support the DNA Bill and signed the petition. However, it’s important not to lose sight that these advances come at a trade-off between security and privacy. The DNA Project itself has noted opinions on both side of the spectrum; from a piece from the US that suggests a mandatory DNA database would be ideal to a comment from someone who refused to sign the petition because arrestees are innocent until proven guilty. I think the South African DNA Bill has done a good job of trying to balance privacy and security but I do want to warn against the dangers of sacrificing privacy for security. Continue reading

Western laws constricting free speech

There is one aspect of the US that I particularly admire and that is their protection of free speech due to the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Unfortunately that protection is not always available to people in other Western countries, with the UK having a number of high-profile incidents where citizens have been arrested for things that they’ve said. Continue reading