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View Diary: R.I.P. Ben Masel (184 comments)

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  •  One of the things about Ben ... (19+ / 0-)

    ... anytime, anytime there was a diary that touched on First Amendment issues here, he'd show up and remind people what the law was, and how important it was to support free speech no matter whose it was.

    •  as I've said downthread (7+ / 0-)

      "Freedom of Speech" was not just a phrase to Ben, it was his way of life.

      "It's never too late to have a happy childhood." - Tom Robbins - Political Compass sez: -8.25, -7.90

      by ARS on Sat Apr 30, 2011 at 11:42:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's true. (7+ / 0-)

      Every time I posted a story anywhere about Wisconsin-related news, Ben Masel was there for support and input from his vast knowledge of and passion for democracy and freedom.

      Even though he was terminally ill at the time, he helped me as recently as earlier this month. Though a rather boring diary of mine had only ten comments on it, Ben was one, there to clarify the rules for gathering recall petition signatures at polling places, which I was in preparation for.

      I was aware of his condition, and replied that I hoped he felt well, and that he was as engaged as ever. Now he's gone so quickly.

      Many of us will take a bit of time and search the net for the many actions, engagements and adventures Ben had undertaken in a very public lifetime. I'm sure there will be many stories following this announcement, and I'll be reading as many as I can. But the real measure of his engagement was his ubiquitous presence on the seemingly mundane daily matters of freedom.

      Ben was totally dedicated to those matters, and they were anything but mundane to him.

      I'm sorry I never met you in person, Ben, (though we likely passed closely by many times) but your spirit lives permanently within many of us.

      "All war is stupid" - JFK

      by jorogo on Sat Apr 30, 2011 at 12:57:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I met Ben in comments re Isaac Asimov (5+ / 0-)

        here (actually in a discussion of Citizen's United, here's Ben's take)

        Ben's side lost a case against Asimov's side in Supreme Court case Ward v. Rock Against Racism, and he regretted the damage done by appealing, which he had disagreed with.

        Trying to reconstruct the story from Ben's comments here:

        2007:

        "no permit to speak"

        But you need a permit to Assemble to speak or hear speech, and  the rules there face only intermediate scrutiny since Ward v Rock Against Racism.

        ...I was on the losing side.

        I'd been the signatory on the Rock Against Racism concert the previous year, and filed an affidavit in the trial court record.

        I'd disagreed with appealing when we lost at the trial level, fearing the facts were not good ones to take up, as the Central Park restrictions were not so egregious as to make it worth the risk of setting precedent. The results proved I'd been correct.

        The previous year my application had been denied, and I won an order that a permit be issued. The City then came back with a rule that all permittees for the Bandshell had to use a City provided sound system, with their tech at the controls.

        The dispute arose because neighbors didn't like hearing punk bands. Sci-fi author Isaac Asimov was especially vociferous, he'd purchased the apartment directly facing so that he could enjoy the Symphony from his balcony.

        2008:

        Asimov beat me in the Supreme Court

        setting the precedent which did more damage to Freedom of Assembly than any other. Ward v Rock Against Racism.

        He'd bought the Central Park West apartment one occupied by the guy who'd paid for the bandshell, so as to enjoy the Philharmonic. Hated our punk bands.

        Never get into a war of words with a guy who types 240 a minute. The trial court record included roughly 1,000 pages of his irate letters to various officials.

        2009:

        My Supreme Court case didn't end so well.

        WARD v. ROCK AGAINST RACISM, 491 U.S. 781 (1989)

        The judgement against us directly was no big deal, but the Burger Court used it to change the rules under which regulations of free assembly have been evaluated since.

        The lesson: just because you're right under the existing precedents doesn't necessarily mean it's wise to Appeal.

        ... thread ...

        I wanted letting the District Court ruling stand

        and then begin a new 'as applied' case over the actual  low sound level the City's tech set.

        Literary trivia... the City's efforts to restrict us were motivated by legendary scifi author Isaac Asimov, who'd bought the apartment opposite the bandshell so he could enjoy the NY Philharmonic's concerts from his balcony. He hated our punk bands, and organized his influential Central Park West neighbors. The trial court record included over 600 pages of his letters to City officials. Never get into a war of words with a guy who types 180/minute.

        2010:

        Never met Asomov either, but

        he thumped me before the Supreme Court, doing major collateral damage to Freedom of Assembly.
        WARD v. ROCK AGAINST RACISM, 491 U.S. 781 (1989)

        Asimov,had bought the apartment once owned by the guy who'd donated NY's Central Park Bandshell so he could enjoy the NY Philharmonic's concerts from his balcony.

        He hated our punk bands, and organized his influential Central Park West neighbors. The trial court record included over 600 pages of his letters to City officials. Never get into a war of words with a guy who types 180/minute.

        RIP Ben

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