“It amounts to a wholesale invasion of Rhode Islanders’ privacy,” says Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island ACLU. It’s certainly not as though playing by the rules leads to unnecessary delays. According to one estimate, it takes all of 20 or 30 minutes to obtain a court warrant.

Carcieri is a two-time offender. In 2004, he won a Muzzle Award for filing a homeland-security bill that would have brought back World War I–style laws by making it illegal to advocate anarchy, to call for the overthrow of the government, or to display any alternative to the American flag with the intention of making a protest or other symbolic statement. Carcieri backed off, but not before blaming his staff and claiming he had not read the legislation — just as he tried to pass off the responsibility for his latest repressive measure on Doherty, his own appointee.

Fortunately, the House Judiciary Committee recommended in March that the Carcieri/Doherty/Singleton bill be referred for further study. That is invariably a euphemism for killing a measure. And it’s hard to think of a bill that is more deserving of being killed than this misbegotten abridgement of the right to go about one’s business in private.

Jerry McDermott
Boston city councilor aims at Chávez, hits Citgo sign

If there’s an iconic piece of pop kitsch that defines the Boston skyline, it’s surely the giant Citgo sign in Kenmore Square. Lovingly restored in 2005, its burned-out neon tubes replaced with bright LEDs, the 60-by-60-foot sign can been seen from several miles away and is as much a part of the Fenway Park experience as David Ortiz walk-offs and steamed hot dogs in damp, squishy buns.

But the sign came under fire in September after Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez took the podium at the United Nations and issued an offensive — and, let’s be honest, hilarious — attack on President Bush. “The devil came here yesterday,” Chávez said. “And it smells of sulfur still today.”

It turned out that Citgo, based in Houston, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Venezuelan state oil company. Enter Boston city councilor Jerry McDermott, who introduced a resolution demanding that the Citgo sign be taken down in retaliation for Chávez’s words. “Given the hatred of the United States displayed by dictator Hugo Chávez,” said McDermott, “it would be more fitting to see an American flag when you drive through Kenmore Square.”

Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, including that of Mayor Tom Menino, who rightly called the sign a “landmark.” But given McDermott’s predilection for heavy-handed governmental authority (he also spoke out against supposedly objectionable material on Boston’s local-access cable channel, and called for voters to produce photo IDs at the polls), the best news to come out of his office all year was his announcement that he will not seek re-election to his Allston-Brighton seat this fall.

Tufts University
Politically correct students become their own censors

Let’s concede, for the sake of argument, that a parody published in a conservative student magazine at Tufts University, the Primary Source, was an example of flat-out racism. At the very least, the anti-affirmative-action exercise — a mock Christmas carol titled “O Come All Ye Black Folk” — was racially insensitive.

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