The Reach of the First Amendment

The First Amendment, though most closely associated with freedom of speech, actually extends to works of visual art, music, poetry and some, but not all, forms of expression. It’s left for courts to draw the line in cases of apparent threat to community’s standarts of propriety. Harvard Law professor Mark Tushnet joins us to talk about the freedoms covered and omitted at the top of the Bill of Rights, which he writes about in “Free Speech Beyond Words: The Surprising Reach of the First Amendment”.

KERA’s Think

Sic transit

While everything positive in life is short-lived, so too is everything negative. Tom Shakespeare argues that believing the best is behind us stops us making the most of present opportunities. “To wallow in the past is to be sentimental, to seek an impossible return… Our task is to create something different but equally fulfilling in future”.

Photo: Nude swimming in Regents canal during a heatwave in 1911

A Point of View – BBC Radio 4

Why Is Your Life so Hard?

Most of people feel they face more headwinds and obstacles than everyone else — which breeds resentment. We also undervalue the tailwinds that help us — which leaves us ungrateful and unhappy. How can we avoid this trap?
Tom Gilovich and Shai Davidai recently published a paper called “The Headwinds/ Tailwinds Asymmetry.” In addition to being a clever piece of experimental research, it has the amazing capacity to make you feel both much better about your life – and much worse. In this episode Gilovich and Davidai tells it all.

Freakonomics Radio

Government Secrets Worth Leaking… or Keeping?

So, the C.I.A. has a back door to your phone. At least, according to the Vault 7 data dump from WikiLeaks. The documents say that if your device is connected to the internet, the American government wants in. And has a few tricky tools to do it. But they’ve had some sneaky tools for a while now. Just ask Daniel Rigmaiden.

Photo: Stencil by Banksy – nolifebeforecoffee / Flickr-creativecommons

Note to Self


This is Not a Safe Space

Resistance to political correctness at the University of Chicago. Last September it’s incoming freshmen received a letter from the administration that said, “We do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings.’ The university’s position, the letter insisted, was based on the administration’s “commitment to academic freedom” and their dedication to “fostering the free exchange of ideas” and “diversity of opinion and background.”

Earlier this month libertarian political scientist Charles Murray, derided by many as a racist take on the relationship between genetics and intelligence, was invited to speak at Middlebury College in Vermont. Murray only made it a couple of words into his talk when more than half of those crowding the hall stood up, turned their backs on him and proceeded to read a long prepared remark, en masse. When Murray and the liberal professor who was to interview him after his talk were walking to the car, the crowds jostled him, and injured her.

Little Atoms

The Limits of Freedom

Is too much freedom paradoxically debilitating? Neuroscience shows and history suggests, we are less content when we have more choice. Do we need constraints to thrive, and might our chains be key to our freedom? Or is this a dangerous conceit of the privileged and free? Psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple, Blair’s former Senior Policy Advisor Julian Le Grand, and author of “I Find That Offensive!” Claire Fox interrogate choice.

Philosophy for Our Times

Britain Divided: 1642-2016

The perils of politics in Britain. In his latest book, “The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics”, David Goodhart looks at the new division: between the mobile ‘achieved’ identity of the people from Anywhere, and the more marginalised, roots-based identity of the people from Somewhere. For the last few decades Anywhere interests have dominated in everything from mass higher education to mass immigration and the EU. Tables are turning.

The playwright Richard Bean reaches back to another time of internal conflict, the beginning of the English Civil War, and finds humour in the desperate attempts of one man to retain power. Teach them a lesson.

Machiavelli is associated with unscrupulous scheming, but his latest biographer Erica Benner argues that, believe it or not, he was a man devoted to political and human freedom.

Start the Week – BBC Radio 4

The Mind of a Terrorist

When suicide bombers blow up crowded marketplaces, or a lone shooter attacks a nightclub, one question is why. What ideology or belief or loyalty would compel someone to do something so horrific? This hour, a look at the underlying psychology of political violence. The Reformed Radical; The Psychology of Terrorism; What Can Americans Learn from a Norwegian Massacre?; Let’s Change the Way We Think About Thinking; The Buddhist Master Who Went On A Four Year Wandering Retreat.

“It’s not hate that’s at the bottom of intergroup violence, it’s love… it’s love for the ingroup.”

To the Best of Our Knowledge

How Trauma Lodges in the Body

Human memory is a sensory experience, says psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk. Through his longtime research and innovation in trauma treatment, he shares what he’s learning about how bodywork like yoga or eye movement therapy can restore a sense of goodness and safety. What he’s learning speaks to a resilience we can all cultivate in the face of the overwhelming events.
Bessel van der Kolk is a professor of psychiatry at Boston University Medical School, and he helped found a community-based trauma center in Brookline, Massachusetts. As medical director there, he works with people affected by trauma and adversity to re-establish a sense of safety and predictability in the world, and to reclaim their lives.

On Being with Krista Tippett