Rebecca Tull

First Amendment Trumps Privacy at Military Funerals

The First Amendment prevailed today, in the Supreme Court’s 8-to-1 decision that hateful protests at military funerals are protected. According to Chief Justice Roberts, the court’s decision in the Snyder v. Phelps case, hinged on two factors: that the speech in question focused on a matter of public concern, and that the members of Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church had the right to be where they were. The case stemmed from the funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, an event at which members of Phelps’ church picketed with anti-gay signs.

Read more about the Court’s decision in today’s New York Times.

Learn more about the First Amendment at the Illinois First Amendment Center.

Or study up on the Constitution at the Moraine Valley Library.

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‘Tis the Season

Midnight Madness on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday… The season of consumption is upon us, but have you heard of Buy Nothing Day? The campaign, which aims to convince people to refrain from buying anything during the 24 hours after Thanksgiving, was created by artist and activist Ted Dave and is led by the folks at Adbusters magazine.  Find out more about the effort – as well as retail figures for the biggest shopping day of the year — in these articles from The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, and from Ted Dave’s own website. Happy Shopping… or not!,0,2084464.story

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Education at the Movies

The fact that my daughter’s reading – or should I say pre-reading – skills were assessed less than a month into kindergarten has brought home the point that she is now officially part of “the system.” Three recent documentaries ask whether that “system” is working.  Some expect the much touted Waiting for Superman to do for education what An Inconvenient Truth did for global warming, that is place it front and center in national discussion. Race to Nowhere questions – and strongly answers – whether our children face too much pressure to succeed. And 2 Million Minutes, which will play on the Moraine campus later this month, suggests that U.S. students lag behind their counterparts in other countries.

You can read online reviews and synopses for these compelling new docs at the Movie Review Query Engine ( or Internet Movie Database (

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Twittering in the Trees

Hear that lonesome whippoorwill? Then, again, maybe it’s a robin. Spring is in the air and the birds are tweeting in full chorus. If you’ve ever wondered what kind of bird is serenading as you wander across campus, check out the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds Webby Award-nominated website. The online guide to birds offers definitions and information on 585 species of birds, photos, bird-watching and identification tips, and coolest of all, video and sound of bird songs and calls. So, while the weather is warm, listen to the birds sing – and impress your friends by rattling off the name of the twitterer in the trees! After all, come October, they’ll all be gone again…

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Someone You Should Know About

Chicago native Dave Eggers is the author of six books, and is also an influential philanthropist, publisher, and screenwriter (Where the Wild Things Are, Away We Go). Among his titles are 2009’s Zeitoun, the nonfiction account of a Syrian-American’s experience surrounding Hurricane Katrina; 2006’s What is the What, the award-winning “approximate” account of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan; and his 2000 debut novel, the simultaneously funny and sad memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. In addition to founding the publishing house McSweeney’s (, Eggers co-founded 826 Valencia, a group of writing centers dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 in seven cities across the country. Watch Eggers talk about how 826 Valencia originated in this engaging 2008 TED (Technology, Education, Design) Talk. Then check out the Chicago branch’s site – and its in-house Boring Store – at But the writing is the main thing! Eggers’ books are currently on order for the Moraine Valley Library. In the meantime, if you can’t wait to start reading them, try visiting these other local library catalogs: I-Share, SWAN, Chicago Public Library, or Green Hills Public Library at

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Children’s Literature

Need resources fast for your Children’s Literature class? A fun, but still literary break from Hamlet? Or just some ideas on what to read your kids? The new Children’s Literature subject guide has links to MVCC’s collection of award-winning children’s literature, anthologies, poetry, fairytales, folklore, and more. Explore the many awards, associations, and journals geared toward this diverse literature, too.

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