Archive for April 20th, 2010

First Amendment Symposium Part I: Why The First Amendment Is Drastically Overrated

Now that Josh has concluded his eight month-long analysis of the Bill of Rights,* it’s time for we at NPI to finally face facts: The Bill of Rights as a whole is incredibly overrated. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments are glorified addenda, the Seventh is, as Josh said, dull, the Third has been pretty useless, and the Second is essentially gibberish. The entire document is in desperate need of a proofreader (seriously, the grammar in that thing is offensively ambiguous).

*And in depressingly anticlimactic fashion, I might add: Oh, the First Amendment is first and the Second is last? How original! Is he also going to write something about how rainbows are pretty and chocolate tastes good?

And yet the Bill of Rights remains incredibly popular. Demagogic political figures appeal to it for justification of any principle they want to espouse; citizens regard it with a scriptural sanctity even though polls show that most of them don’t know what it says. In other words, the Bill of Rights is basically the secular version of the Bible. And not much of that has to do with its proscription on troop-quartering.

You don’t have to be a constitutional scholar to know that the Bill of Rights’ reputation with the public is largely the result of the First Amendment, specifically the freedoms of speech and the press. And yet it is this part of the Bill of Rights that is the most overrated. Continue reading

NBA Playoff Preview: Western Conference First Round

For over a decade, the Western Conference has been home to almost all of the NBA’s classic playoff series and rivalries. Outside of last season’s first-round series between Boston and Chicago, it’s hard to think of a really memorable Eastern Conference playoff series on par with the showdowns between the Kings and Lakers, the Lakers and Spurs, the Spurs and Suns, the Spurs and Mavericks, and the Mavericks and Warriors. The West has been the province of exciting and meaningful playoff basketball, where first-round series have more than once included teams with legitimate chances to win it all.

This year is no different. All eight teams in the West won between 50 and 60 games, meaning the conference’s playoffs are deep and wide-open. The two-time defending conference champs in LA have skidded to the finish. The old guards in San Antonio, Dallas, and Phoenix have shown they still have something left. The Northwest duo of Denver and Utah have been alternately fantastic and woeful at points this season. And There’s fresh blood in Portland and fresher blood in Oklahoma City. The West may not have the favorite to win it all, but it’s certainly the conference worth watching at this point in the playoffs.

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