As Zhang Qianfan, one of the country’s foremost constitutionalists explain, “In our Constitution there are both left and right portions. The leftist portions came in 1982, but through amendment, rightist portions were later added, but they didn’t completely eliminate the leftist portions [such as] ‘the democratic people’s dictatorship’… So if [advocates] wish to utilize this Constitution, from both the left or the right, they can.” In doing exactly that, China’s constitutional crusaders have borne striking resemblance to advocates in America. One example of this would be a Marxist professor at Beijing University named Gong Xiantian. In 2005, when the National People’s Congress circulated a draft Property Law that would place private property on equal legal footing as state property, Gong fired off a fiercely worded open letter assailing the proposed law for its unconstitutionality. He fixated on the original text of the 1982 Constitution, which enshrined China’s core socialist values: “The sanctity of public property under socialism is one of the most defining characteristics of a socialist constitution,” he wrote, and thus any law that altered the founding, socialist principles of the Chinese Constitution was therefore unconstitutional. On some level, Gong’s was an implicitly originalist argument. Though his was not a sophisticated argument based on original intentions or public meanings, Gong clearly saw legitimating force in the original textual proclamation that China’s was a “socialist Constitution,” enveloping a set of principles that – as understood in their original sense – would clearly preclude reforms to elevate private property. Not unlike his conservative counterparts in the United States, Gong saw great appeal in pointing to original meanings in the constitutional text to thwart off undesired progressive changes. Gong then sought to mobilize ordinary Chinese citizens around his constitutional vision. In the same way that activists in America have sought to tap into social grievances over wealth inequality to rally the public against cases like Citizens United, Gong, too, aimed to build mass support for his position through connecting a constitutional argument with dormant popular frustrations. Adopting the law, he argued in the letter, would be akin to “giving protection to the homes of average citizens, even their dangerous derelict homes, equally with the high-class villas of those who have struck a windfall fortune!” His message resonated with many who have been disenchanted by China’s uneven economic growth. Under pressure, the government was forced to postpone consideration of the draft law, meet privately with Gong, and further revise draft legislation – all while publicly defending its constitutionality. The South China Morning Post later called Gong’s statement the most “badass (niu) letter in the history of the Chinese legal system.” On the opposite end of the spectrum would be someone like Xu Zhiyong, who has been compared to Thurgood Marshall for his sustained commitment to rights advocacy.
(American Movie Classics) Also September 27, 2013, 1:31 p.m. Horror fans will have a lot to freak out about this October. The first edition of “Beyond Fest” will hit Los Angeles as a celebration of chills, gore and the sounds that go with them from Oct. 10 to 27. And Cinefamily will take local audiences on a mayhem-filled movie road trip with their monthlong “The United States of Horror.” FULL COVERAGE: Film festivals Taking place at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian and Aero Theaters, Beyond Fest will feature the first local screenings of films anticipated by genre fans following their well-received appearances at other festivals, with titles including as Ben Wheatley’s “A Field in England,” Sion Sono’s “Why Don’t You Play In Hell,” Jim Begos’ “Almost Human” and Ruairi Robinson’s “The Last Days of Mars.” Besides the three-night stand of legendary band Goblin, making its first-ever live appearances in Los Angeles before screenings of Dario Argento horror classics, Beyond Fest will have other events for horror music aficionados. Composer Alan Howarth will perform before a screening of John Carpenter’s “Assault on Precinct 13.” Musician Umberto will perform a live score to the 1982 slasher flick “Pieces.” Clive Barker is scheduled to appear with a screening of “Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut.” German filmmaker Jorg Buttgereit will be present for screenings of the only known 35mm prints of his “Nekromantik” and “Schramm: Into the Mind of a Serial Killer.” Joe Dante will appear with his “The Howling,” and Richard Donner is scheduled to turn out for his “The Omen.” The podcast/stage show “The Thrilling Adventure Hour” will put on a live performance featuring Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster before a showing of the 1932 classic “the Mummy.” PHOTOS: Fall movie sneaks 2013 And that’s not all, horror fans. The Fairfax Avenue movie theater Cinefamily is following up last year’s monthlong program of infamous U.K. “video nasties” with a trip around the U.S. “The United States of Horror” program, every night at midnight from October 1 to 31, will feature a horror movie from a different state of the Union. Kicking off with California’s own “Equinox,” other stops on this road trip of blood and bad vibes include Arizona’s “White of The Eye,” Nevada’s “Tremors,” Utah’s “Troll 2,” Kansas’ “Carnival Of Souls,” Missouri’s “Ernest Scared Stupid,” Pennsylvania’s “Martin,” and New York ‘s “Basket Case,” before winding up back in California with “Chopping Mall.” ALSO: