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Entries from September 2012

Class and the Fourth Amendment

September 10th, 2012 · 15 Comments

Most students learn in history class that our Fourth Amendment emerged from the hostility of the American colonists to “general warrants” and “writs of assistance” authorizing intrusive, discretionary searches of private homes.  What they’re seldom taught is how strongly that hostility was bound up with undisguised class-based contempt for the officers who conducted those searches—so […]

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Tags: Privacy and Surveillance

Lord Camden on NSA Surveillance

September 5th, 2012 · 11 Comments

I’m doing a deep dive into the pre-history of the Fourth Amendment, and am continuously amazed at how perfectly the condemnations of the “general warrants” that incensed the Framers apply to the programmatic authority granted the NSA under the FISA Amendments Act. The legal challenge to that statute is currently hung up on questions of […]

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Tags: Privacy and Surveillance

On Partly Verbal Disputes

September 4th, 2012 · 6 Comments

In the previous post, I suggested that thoughtful and educated adults rarely engage for very long in purely verbal disputes (which, alas, is not the same as saying such disputes are rare). When people don’t disagree substantively, but are only using words differently, a few minutes of argument should usually make this fact apparent to […]

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Tags: General Philosophy · Language and Literature