Journalist or Willing Dupe?

March 17, 2005 

Here is another saga about a decades-old half-baked ruling from the quacking ducks on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals being distorted, misunderstood and misapplied...BUT, still ending up as “the law of the land”.  In usual fashion, the culprits are wishfully thinking liberals and a journalist too lazy to check her facts. 

One of Hartford Connecticut’s most famous citizens, Mark Twain, once advised to “Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.”  It’s a pity that many in Twain’s home city prefer to skip the former and get straight to the distortions.  Oh particular, I’m talking about the Hartford Courant newspaper (owned by the Tribune Company a.k.a. The Los Angeles Times). 

In a recent piece of populist drivel, Resistance Campaign, Penelope Overton reported that anti-war “...activists have operated counter-recruiting tables in 10 schools in Hartford, West Hartford, East Hartford, Bloomfield, Norwich and New London” and “...hope to end the Iraq war by starving the military of recruits.”  

Proving that the Hartford school system really has “the lowest test scores in the state”, Overton quotes Bulkeley High School senior, Jesus Ortiz, as repeatedly telling military recruiters that “No way I'm going to get myself killed for you... Cause, you know, most days I hate the stupid war...I don't want no calls on those days.” 

Through riveting journalistic acumen, Overton has uncovered a festering controversy apparently created by the No Child Left Behind Act.  One codicil of the Act requires that “...any school that receives grant money from the federal government must provide the military with student data....”  Thus, the federal government has a data base from which to recruit soon-to-be-graduates for employment in the military.  That is...” unless the students specifically request a Section 9528 exemption” from being included in the reporting. 

So, “...with the help of a counter-recruiting group called Latinos Contra la Guerra (Latinos Against the War), Ortiz is exploiting a little-known clause in a federal education law that will allow him to throw the military recruiters off his trail.” 

The jig is up...Overton reports, with regard to the Section 9528 exemption, that “The obscure loophole is a weapon in the arsenal of Connecticut's budding counter-recruitment movement....”  At long last, a liberal way to support our troops by not supporting our troops. 

One might be tempted to ask the real question at this point...Who the hell is allowing anti-war activists to setup propaganda booths in our public schools? 

No need to fear, Overton is here with a ready answer...”They use people such as Ana Lachelier, a well-heeled West Hartford retiree, to contact the schools for permission to enter because ‘nice little white-haired old ladies get more respect from administrators’”. 

Overton warns that “When a school balks, Lachelier will remind them of a 1986 federal appeals court ruling requiring any school that opens its doors to recruiters to also open its doors to opposing views.”  Without questioning this assumption, Overton prattles on with the rest of her story. 

The “federal appeals court ruling” that the “well-heeled West Hartford retiree” and the gullible “journalist” not only cite, but rely upon and propagate, is San Diego Committee v. Governing Board (cite as 790  F.2d 1471 9th Cir. 1986). 

There are however a few chinks in this armor.  For starters, the 9th Circuit only has jurisdictions in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.  Last time I looked at a map, Connecticut was under the jurisdiction of the 2nd Circuit court.  Additionally, the 9th’s ruling was limited to the “right” of the San Diego Committee Against Registration and the Draft (CARD) to place anti-draft registration ads in numerous high school newspapers around San Diego County.  And, without surprise, the 9th’s logic in this case was the typically dishonest legal alchemy the 9th always conjures-up. 

Clearing the way for this ruling, the 9th immediately usurped the law and found magical powers of granting an appeal long after the appeal period had expired...” Moreover, we have discretion, where the interests of substantive justice require it, to disregard irregularities....”  I live for the moment when the IRS says “we have discretion, where the interests of substantive justice require it, to disregard irregularities”. 

This case reduced itself to a few crucial assumptions: (1) That the Governing Board of the Grossmont Union High School District created a “limited public forum” rather than a more restrictive “non-public forum” when it allowed commercial advertising in the school newspaper and (2) That military recruitment advertisements “offered vocational or career opportunities to students” but that they were political in nature.   

By some form of sophistry, the 9th found that “the government’s interest in promoting military service is not an economic one; it is essentially political or governmental. Nor is any commercial transaction being proposed.”  How can these idiots on the 9th get through four years of college and three years of law school without ever realizing: (1) Economic interest is national interest and (2) military recruitment offers a job for which money is paid as in a commercial transaction.  The gravitas of the 9th’s bias and stupidity is their weightiest measure. 

The 9th concluded that “The Board has failed to advance any reasonable grounds for excluding CARD’s advertisement from the newspapers.”  To do so would constitute “viewpoint-based discrimination”.  Although a thorough search of the Constitution failed to disclose a whisper of “viewpoint-based discrimination”, the 9th exercised plenty of it in reaching their decision.  This court just wanted to beat up the military in favor of a bunch of anti-military wackos and...the court twisted any law in order to achieve their political goal. 

The 9th’s ruling applies only to the western jurisdictions which it covers and does not include Connecticut.  The 9th ruled on the issue of an anti-military group’s “right” to run an advertisement in a school newspaper which is a far distance from a group’s right to set up a propaganda machine inside of a public school.  Is Overton’s faulty reporting a case of: (1) Laziness; (2) Stupidity; or (3) Is she a willing dupe all too happy in twisting the truth?   

It is misinformation passed from one unlearned ear to another that creates perceptions of “rights” which actually don’t exist.  Some “well-healed” quack tells some incisive reporter who then publishes the false perception and the next thing you administrators knuckle under when they should be telling people to pound sand.  At the very least, in this case, taxpayers should be telling the Connecticut school administrators to pound sand.

But, if you take the 9th’s, and Overton’s assumptions, at face value, then groups advocating creation, pro-life, gun education, school vouchers and even anti-diversity agendas should also have tables in your local public school’s propaganda bazaar.  Perhaps bin Laden himself could sponsor al Qaeda luncheons.


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