Thursday, March 29, 2012

Awesome Site: Bill of Rights Institute

The Bill of Rights Institute is a 501(c)(3) whose mission is to educate young people about teh words and ideas of America's Founders, the liberties guaranteed in our Founding documents, and how our Founding principles continue to shap a free society.

Their website is

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Excessive Punishment for Graffitti?

In December, an 18 year old Corpus Christi man was sentenced after being found guilty of repeated acts of graffiti or "tagging" of private and public property in Corpus Christi.

During his sentencing, Sebastian Perez said that graffiti had become a bad habit that he was trying to break. The high school dropout wept as asked for probation and promised to return to school, get a job and clean up the mess he made.

Perez was blamed for a total of $7,300 by the Corpus Christi police.

The 148th south Texas District judge was unmoved. Judge Marisela SaldaƱa "threw the book" at Perez.

He was sentenced to 8 years in prison without the chance of parole.

Do you think this was fair? Do you think the punishment fits the crime?

The 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says that "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

The Texas State Constitution in Section 13, similarly states that "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishment inflicted. All courts shall be open, and every person for an injury done him, in his lands, goods, person or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law."

If you think Perez's sentence was fair, why do you think it was the right punishment? What reasons do you think the judge handed out the sentence. Do you agree with all of the reasons?

If you don't think Perez's 8 year sentence was fair, is it a violation of the "cruel and unusual punishment" clause of the either the 8th Amendment of the US Constitution or Article I, Section 13 of the Texas Constitution? Why or Why Not?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Augmented History: The Must Have IPhone App for History Buffs

I've recently seen the future of the history field trip.

A group of companies in Europe have developed an iphone application that allows tourists the ability to point their iphone cameras at a historical building and in real time see historical notes, and can even see what the building looked like in the past.

The app uses GPS and image recognition and is being billed as "a vitural time machine". Various points in Europe have already been included. If this technology takes off, someday soon you will be able to physically visit places like Independence Hall in Philadelphia, point your camera phone, and watch a digital reinactment of the signing of the Declaration of Independence while you stand on the spot. How cool is that?!


Extra Credit- Create Your Own Augmented Reality App

1. Using the internet, a magazine, or other source find a current color photo of a historic location we are currently talking about. The photo should be fairly large (8"X11"). For example, since we are currently talking about early industrialization in the United States, you could have a present day photo of Thomas Edison's Menlo Park Laboratory.

2. Use the internet, your textbook, or other source to research facts about the historic location.

3. Create "pull outs" (word balloons) with intersting facts about the historic location and paste them to the photo. Imagine that the picture is being used as an Augmented Reality App.

4. See Mr. Palmer if you have any questions.

5. This will replace a quiz grade.

Monday, October 5, 2009

You be the Judge: Is A School Ban on Wearing the Confederate Flag Constitutional?

Tom Defoe, a student at Anderson County High School (Tennessee) wore clothing depicting the Confederate flag and was suspended for insubordination when he refused to stop wearing the flag to school.

His parents sued the school for violation Tom's free speech. Tom testified in court that he wore the flag to express pride in his southern heritage.

The school testified that a number of racially charged incidents had happened at the school, some of which involved students displaying the flag. They also testified that the flag was offensive to African-American students and that it's display would be disruptive.

Should Tom's free speech be protected? Is the school right to bar displays of the Confederate flag because it might be offensive to some of the students? Does it matter that Tom is wearing it to express his southern heritage and not to offend others?

Log an answer to these questions on this blog and get one, two or three extra points on the Chapter 7 test on September 9, 2009!!! (You must leave your response here and turn in a print out to Mr. Palmer on or before September 9, 2009.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Is what "Green Man" did free speech?

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise therof; or abridging the freedom os speech..

Is Green man's antics a form of speech protected by the first amendment?

Why or why not?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Did King George III Really Urinate Purple?

We've been learning about King George III, the British king whom our founding fathers called a tyrant in documents such as Common Sense and The Declaration of Independence.

I mentioned in class that some researchers have theorized that the bad decisions of King George III which led to him lose the American Colonies when they became independent may have been because he reportedly had bouts of insanity. I also mentioned that these periods have insanity may have been a genetic disease which at times caused King George III's urine to take on a bright blue or purplish color.

Some of you may not have believed me, but it is true! George III's periodic crazy spells as well as his oddly coloured urine, were documented by his physicians Hundreds of volumes of medical notes and many more diaries, comments and letters written by people who knew King George III all describe the same thing.

Ida Macalpine and Richard Hunter published a series of papers in the mid-1960's that theorized that George III suffered from a genetic disease called porphyra.

The issue was popularized by Alan Bennett and made into a play and a movie called The Madness of King George.

More recent research has suggested an alternative theory- that King George III, the enemy of the American Revolution was bi-polar.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Obama speech to students causes controversy

President Obama is scheduled to speak to the nation's student on Tuesday about the need to work hard and stay in school.

The school-time speech has sparked controversy with some conservatives urging schools and parents to boycott the speech. For a full story of the controversy you can click this link: are not going to be showing the speech in class on Tuesday, but I'd like to hear your opinion.

1. Do you think President Obama is using the opportunity to promote a political agenda? If so, what evidence do you have of this?

2. In the U.S., individual states are in charge of education. The federal government only has limited involvement. Do you think the speech oversteps the boundries of federal involvement in schools?

3. The policy at CCISD is that if a teacher decides to show the speech (we are not showing it here on Tuesday), then parents can have their children removed from the classroom during the speech if they tell the school this is what they want. What do you think about this?

4. On September 19, 1796 in his farewell address when leaving the presidency, George Washington warned the nation that political parties will be a threat and danger to to the stability of the country. What role do you think politics and political parties play in your education? What role do you think it should play?