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"Free speech absolutism is at best a theology--indeed, a theology in which no one really believes," writes U. of C. law professor Cass R. Sunstein in the New Republic (December 6). "Often regulation of speech is perfectly acceptable; consider again the laws governing perjury, attempted bribery, false commercial speech, unlicensed medical and legal advice, criminal solicitation, access of speakers to private property and much more. But the failure of free speech absolutism does not mean that there is no such thing as free speech....Instead we need to develop principles by which we may run a good system of free expression....[In the case of hate speech] we should probably draw a distinction between speech codes that intrude on the exchange of ideas and speech codes that are limited to the regulation of simple epithets. The latter are far less objectionable than the former."

The problem with women's magazines, according to Eastern Illinois University's Evelyn Trapp Goodrick, quoted in Illinois Times (November 11-17): "Twenty-nine pages on denim and one on breast cancer."

Consciousness comes to the burbs. "For the politicians in Springfield, their push for the [property-tax] caps is a platform for them to run on," complains Schaumburg village board president Al Larson to Jennifer Halperin in Illinois Issues (November). "But I'd like to see them come back home and serve on village boards and school boards...and try to operate under property tax caps. I mean, that's a main source of income for a lot of these communities. [Republican legislators from the suburbs] want less government in their lives but then they have the audacity to want to tell us how to operate? That's hypocritical."

Hey, this was supposed to radicalize you guys! David Moberg quotes 20-year recycling veteran Ken Dunn of Chicago's Resource Center in The Neighborhood Works (December-January): "I always thought that recycling would be an entry point for people to the environmental movement, but people just love recycling cans and bottles and [then] feel they're morally pure in not polluting the environment."

Who will protect us from our safety devices? James Flammang's north-side-based Tirekicking Today newsletter (December) notes that the U.S. Department of Transportation has warned parents to put infants' rear-facing car seats in the back seats of cars that have passenger-side air bags in front. In front, the baby seat would be too close: the inflated air bag might "strike the seat with a force powerful enough to seriously injure an infant." And we all know how much babies love riding around unable to see anyone else.

"If you're not willing to make the time commitment, don't bother. It causes more harm than good," says Dorothy Coleman of the Center for Successful Child Development, which serves the Robert Taylor Homes, in the Chicago Community Trust's Quarterly (Fall). "If you come here and say, 'I'm going to work with my people, and I hope to make a difference, and I want to have some sort of impact,' well, you can't do that in six months....A person has to feel trust--not just today and tomorrow but next month and next year. That is something his community has been robbed of."

"The media...serves up the hearts and heads of its subjects faster than the bloody heads of gladiators were given to Roman emperors," writes Jon-Henri Damski in Windy City Times (December 2). "The horror show is endless. Four days of Kennedy, repeated for 30 years, until now our hearts and heads don't care anymore. The situation is beyond individual protest. The breakdown is communal more than personal. Nothing personal here, nothing human here is being reported. No room for grief or any other human response. We are just overwhelmed by the whole commune deficiency syndrome, which transforms us all, subject and audience, into techno-schizophrenics."

Though poverty pundits are convinced that AFDC payments are a major incentive to out-of-wedlock births, there is no real evidence of this," writes David Futrelle in In These Times (November 29). "Some researchers have found what appears to be an opposite effect. States with meager welfare benefits (like Mississippi) have high rates of illegitimate births, while those with relatively more generous benefits have lower rates."

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.

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