Sunday Service: Immigration

Statue of Liberty, New York

Statue of Liberty, New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Emma Lazarus

The lines above are the concluding lines to the poem written on the Statue of Liberty. Almost all of us who live in the United States have stories in our backgrounds of how our ancestors came to this country. Most were immigrants.

Every once in a while, the politics of this country lean towards protectionism and nationalism, resulting in laws to keep out more immigrants. But these laws are a slap in the face to the founding premise of this country, that we would welcome all who come here.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear opening arguments on Arizona’s anti-immigrant law. I participated in a witness vigil against the law tonight. If you are so moved, there will be more vigils in communities across the U.S. in the coming days, and rallies and vigils outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

I don’t often discuss politics on this blog, but I feel moved to write on this topic — it is not a matter of mere politics, but of justice and human rights. For everyone whose ancestors immigrated to this country, I believe it is our duty to keep the doors open for more immigrants. We can’t slam the doors shut just because we got our chance. There is plenty for everyone.

Leaving Pinterest (Updated Twice)

Update #1: I deleted my Pinterest account at 10:30 am (my time) on Friday, February 17, 2012.

Update #2: I am quoted in this article on Pinterest and copyright issues.

I will be leaving Pinterest tomorrow (or maybe Friday if I don’t get to it tomorrow). This makes me very sad. But I am afraid that it is a hotbed of copyright violations. I am unhappy with the way the Terms of Service and the Pinning Etiquette pages are not telling users loud and clear that Pinterest copies the images linked to, adds their own license, and could use the images for their own financial gain. All of this is legal as far as I know, but I’m going to vote with my feet.

If you do not own the images you pin, or have permission to pin them, you are violating copyright laws.

Don’t believe me? Read this:

Is Pinterest a Hotbed of Copyright Violations?

Still want to pin? Try these articles for some great advice:

Pinning for HubPages

Avoiding Copyright Violations on Pinterest

Thank you to the great members of the DTeam for bringing these matters to my attention.

Newspaper Column: Rally I Attended

Last Saturday I spent two hours standing out on the Broadway Bridge, exercising my First Amendment rights. I and over four dozen other people held a rally for the anti-bullying and human rights legislation that will be introduced in the Idaho Legislature this session. It was great to see so many people willing to brave the cold and come out and show their support for this legislation and sign cards to be sent to local legislators. This rally was in coordination with other rallies across Idaho, and there were people all across the state holding vigils, rallies, and meetings in favor of this legislation on Saturday.

This is not the first rally on the bridge I have done, and while it is almost always cold and usually windy, I always come away feeling empowered. It feels so good to know that I am doing my own small part in keeping our democracy running.

I think that a democracy hinges on the will of the people to do two things. One, and this is the most important, vote. If you do nothing else, vote! Two, participate in non-violent rallies, protests, and demonstrations. It is up to the people to let our elected officials know our will, and that we are paying attention to what they are up to. Letter writing is great, and there was a component of that in Saturday’s rally, but I think there is nothing better for elected officials to see than that there is a group of people willing to give up some of their time and energy to making their voices heard.

I want to talk a little now about the specific legislation inspiring this rally. Some people might argue that we don’t need anti-bullying legislation, that the solution to the problem is to enforce existing assault laws and not make new laws for every problem. Some people don’t like to see the state reaching into the schools and dictating behavior there.

To the first argument, as I understand the proposed legislation, it will not preclude existing laws from being enforced, but rather tell school districts that they must have and enforce anti-bullying policies in the schools. Most bullying does not begin with actions that would be prosecutable under assault laws, but with something much more subtle and hidden, that should be addressed by school policies before it reaches the level of assault.

To the second argument, as long as the government is setting up and funding schools (aka public schools), then the government and the state have the right to pass laws mandating certain policies and behaviors in the schools, as long as those are consistent with the Constitution and other existing laws.

This column originally appeared in the (Idaho Falls) Post Register on February 2, 2011.

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