I hope you have a great Thanksgiving this week. If any of you or your family are traveling, I hope you remain safe. This is an excellent holiday to enjoy the company of family and friends while we give thanks for our abundance.
First Amendment Speech
There is an old saying that your freedom ends where my nose begins. Translated this means, unless I am physically or economically damaged, you are free to do what you choose. The singer/songwriter Bob Dylan had a different saying, "The times they are a-changin'."
In a recent Pew Research poll, 40 percent of millennials responded that they believe speech which is offensive to minorities should be restricted (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/11/20/40-of-millennials-ok-with-limiting-speech-offensive-to-minorities/). Most other generations tend to be around 25 percent with the senior community below 20 percent. This poll comes on the heels of the Missouri professor who attempted to physically stop the taking of pictures during protests on the Columbia campus. All of this is a troubling trend. The underlying problem is the same as it has always been: who defines what is offensive?
I am not often in agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union, but there are exceptions including this one. The ACLU has often taken up unpopular cases for the freedom of speech because they have stood by the principle that any restriction of speech is the beginning of the end for free speech. As they state on their website:
"History teaches that the first target of government repression is never the last . . . Censoring so-called hate speech also runs counter to the long-term interests of the most frequent victims of hate . . . We should not give the government the power to decide which opinions are hateful, for history has taught us that government is more apt to use this power to prosecute minorities than to protect them." (https://www.aclu.org/freedom-expression-0#3)
Herein lies the rub, once the genie of censorship is out of the bottle, it is nearly impossible to contain it. Examples occur throughout world history; let's hope censorship never gets a foothold here in the land of free speech. I will keep you updated on this topic.
House Speaker Todd Richardson and Senate Speaker Pro Tem Ron Richard have called for a joint session of the House Budget Committee and Senate Appropriations Committee for November 30. The purpose is to explore the ways our state would be required to assist Syrian refugees brought to Missouri.
There are 42 days before the Second Session of the 98th General Assembly begins, so any move for a special session is essentially unrealistic. However, the two leaders believe that some movement should be made immediately to gain an understanding of the process and increase awareness of the refugee situation. As it is believed the state will have a role in financially supporting these refugees once they are relocated, and they believe this is a good place to begin a state-level inquiry. I will keep you informed of the committee's findings.
I am certain that most of you have heard the news that Gary Pinkel, Head Coach of the Mizzou football team, is stepping down after being diagnosed with lymphoma. Also, the governing board has named Mike Middleton as interim president of the system. Middleton is a lawyer and former administrator at the Columbia campus.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Medicaid expansion is proving costly and unwieldy for state governments. The report points out that California expected 800,000 new enrollees, but instead the enrollment exploded by 2.3 million! New Mexico's actual enrollment exceeded estimates by 44 percent, Oregon by 73 percent, and Washington state in excess of 100 percent over estimates. Also, United Healthcare is considering dropping out of Obamacare. This insurance giant cites too much cost for profitability and may soon discontinue their government approved policies. I will keep you informed of these developments.
HAVE A HAPPY THANKSGIVING!