Cultural milestones turn up in the damnedest places, and from the most surprising people. Actress Nichelle Nichols, the African-American who was the communications officer on the original “Star Trek” and the first round of films based on the iconic TV sci-fi series, died yesterday at 89. She was more model than actress, and as her role developed, much to her disappointment, the part of “Uhura” became little more than set dressing. But she played one of the first black female characters on TV to have a non-subservient role, indeed Uhura was fourth in the “Enterprise” chain of command. (Whoopi Goldberg claimed that when she was a teen and saw “Star Trek” for the firts time, she screamed to her family, “Come quick, come quick. There’s a Black lady on television and she ain’t no maid!”) In her autobiography, Nichols wrote that Martin Luther King told her that she was advancing civil rights objectives, and convinced her not to quit when William Shatner was getting too obnoxious. Her great moment of destiny came, however, in the 1968 episode, “Plato’s Stepchildren,” about a aliens who used mind control. At one point, they forced Kirk and Uhura, who were never romantically involved, to engage in a passionate kiss.
The legend, which is the version of the event now printed, is that the kiss caused great controversy and upheaval. I saw it: I don’t recall any negative reaction, or any reaction at all. It was a kiss that wasn’t genuine but forced: if the smooch was intended as a statement by show creator Gene Roddenberry, it was a very tepid one. Nevertheless, in the decades since, that moment on a forgettable episode of a cheesy and not very popular Sixties TV series has taken on the reputation of being a societal tipping point, and Nichelle Nichols died as a figure of far more cultural significance than her role as “glorified telephone operator in space” whose catch-phrase was “Hailing frequencies open, sir” would normally create.
You never know.
1. We have freedom of speech. They don’t. And here, many progressives would love to take a lot of it away. Here’s an example of what gets you punished in Great Britain, for example:
Darren Brady, 51, was arrested Hampshire Police and placed in handcuffs at his home in Aldershot for sharing the graphic above, a swastika assembled out of four LGBT pride flags. On the video of the arrest, shot on a mobile phone, Brady can be heard asking the three police officers: “Why am I in cuffs?” An officer replies, “Someone has been caused anxiety based on your social media post. That is why you have been arrested.”
2. Perfect! CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez, whose fame was earned by epitomizing the mainstream media eagerness to spin reality to support the Black Lives Matter movement in this Monty Python-worthy moment in Kenosha, Wisconsin,
…has been nominated for the Emmy for “Outstanding Emerging Journalist.” Outstanding is right: that ridiculous report probably did more to drop public trust in the news media than any other single episode.
3. A lawyer named Tristan Snell tweeted this:
He really did. This is why I caution lawyers not to use Twitter, since for some weird reason it lowers lawyer IQs by double digits. As a lawyer, one would think that he understands that his obtuse reading of the Second Amendment has been expressly rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. Before publishing such an ignorant statement, moreover, one would think that a lawyer might take some steps to educate himself, so he wouldn’t call an AR-15 an “automatic” weapon.
If I were looking for a lawyer to hire, one who broadcast his sloppy thinking and lazy work habits like this would be automatically disqualified, not for his point of view, but for his incompetent way of arriving at it.
4. Back to the Americans who like Great Britain’s approach to free speech…you know: progressives? At the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, the student government president issued an executive order that provides in part,
That it shall be prohibited for the Undergraduate Student Government Executive Branch to contract or expend funds to any individual, business, or organization which actively advocates to further limit by law access to reproductive healthcare, including, though not limited to, contraception and induced abortions.
Uh, no. Can’t do that here, because of that First Amendment thingy. Constitutional Law expert Prof. Eugene Volokh writes that is is a clear violation:
- Under Board of Regents v. Southworth (2000), public university student government are generally subject to the same First Amendment limits imposed on public entities more generally.
- When it comes to generally available student group funding, Southworth and Rosenberger v. Rector (1995) make clear that the government can’t discriminate based on the student group’s viewpoint.
- And when it comes to contracting, Board of Comm’rs v. Umbehr (1996) holds that the government generally can’t discriminate based on contractors’ ideological expression, either.
What a good job UNC does teaching core American values!
What do you think: which SCOTUS ruling has inspired the most embarrassing and deranged reactions from the Left: Bruen, which invalidated New York’s strict gun-carrying law, or Dobbs, which ended Roe v. Wade?