Boomerang Blog

Knock Knock! Who’s There? The 4th Amendment

  Check out the case of federal judge Harold Baer, who tossed out 80 pounds of cocaine and heroine found on drug traffickers when he ruled a police search illegal.   Often Americans gripe about criminals getting off on such “technicalities.”   But are they mere technicalities? Catch criminals or protect privacy?   The Fourth Amendment seeks to balance the….Read more

Top 5 Acts of Civil Disobedience in American History

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  During the national School Walkout Day protests, two schools in the town where I formerly taught took very different approaches. At School A, student leaders met with administrators to design an “administrative-sanctioned plan” for a moment of silence and reading of gun violence statistics. The plan had no “political context,” but would instead “honor the students and staff who….Read more

VIDEO: Don’t Be Cruel and Unusual, Says the Eighth Amendment

                            A president can be impeached for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” but the U.S. Constitution doesn’t specify what those are. This caused a bitter partisan fight during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.   Interpreting the Constitution is not an easy job for the Supreme Court. Some meanings come….Read more

VIDEO: How to Deter Academic Dishonesty

    Academic dishonesty. Fancy words for cheating. How can a teacher both confront it aggressively and be supportive to young students? By turning the situation into another of those “teachable moments.”   A harrowing moment   Questioning one of your students about possible cheating is one of the hardest things teachers do. The institution has its rules and you….Read more

VIDEO: Declaration of Independence: A Radical Document

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Do you understand the Declaration of Independence beyond the fact that it divorced the American colonies from Great Britain? Today its words seem routine, but it’s hard to overstate how radical those ideas were at the time! Every revolution since America’s has been inspired by the words “all men are created equal.”  That idea about universal human rights was rejected….Read more

What Does the Second Amendment Mean?

    The Second Amendment means many things to many people. Why did the framers endow armed militias with a special place in the Bill of Rights?  The federal courts have contradicted one another.   In the end, it is up to ‘We The People’ to determine what regulations should be placed on gun ownership. Freedom of speech under the….Read more

Fake News From Paul Revere to Iraq

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    Fake news is a troubling trend yet not new.     Ben Franklin admitted to paying for false stories of Indian scalpings to justify evicting them from British-controlled lands. In 1835, the fledgling newspaper The Sun reported telescoping views of advanced civilization on the moon. The editors knew it was false but wanted to spark circulation.    ….Read more

A Child’s Story of the 1902 Coal Strike Horrifies the Country

The witness sat, surrounded by powerful men in business suits, bracing for interrogation. The Anthracite Coal Strike Commission of 1902 was taking testimony. The witness would be questioned about his role. His name was Andrew Chippie. He was eight years old.   The boy explained to the commission how, after the strike, coal company owner John Markle cancelled the day-to-day leases….Read more

A Better World Without Journalists?

  During a flight on Air Force One, a  journalist once asked First Lady Jackie Kennedy what she fed her new dog. Her answer? Reporters.   Political journalists are even less popular today. People complain about how rude and pushy they seem on TV. The idea of anonymous sources is questioned. Media outlets are called “fake news,” a vague term….Read more

Why America Is An Idea

America is an idea. Senator Lindsey Graham said it, then others added that it’s also a country that exemplifies that idea.   Here’s what I wrote in 2016: “America isn’t a race or religion or language. America is a philosophy of government–a set of ideas about the relationship of the citizen to the state. Anyone can hold a set of….Read more