We’re All From “Shithole” Countries, Mr. President

One of the joys, and believe me, there aren’t many, of being an observer of American politics is that you get to watch the teams fumble the ball in real time. To recap, Trump, at a Jan 11 Oval Office meeting on DACA, reportedly asked the following question: 

Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?

The Washington Post’s scoop on the meeting was completely unsourced, as is unfortunately now par for the course at major papers, but at least one politician who was there, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), has since confirmed it happened. Per the original story, the countries to which Trump was referring as “shitholes” were Haiti and several in Africa. What’s more, the WaPo claims he said he’d prefer immigrants from Norway and “Asian countries.”  Continue reading

Party Time!!!

I’m going out of town for a few days with Dr. SJ and the kids, and have no plans to post anything* until I get back. So consider this an open thread. Knock yourselves out and please try not to make anyone stupider.

I’ve left David the keys to the joint, so he’s in charge, to do to SJ what he pleases until my return. I only ask two things: First, please clean up the place before I return, and put the glass beer and booze bottles in the recycle bin. Second, stay away from the Healey. It’s not a Ferrari, Ferris, but it’s what I got. Continue reading

How Progressives Make Enemies

In some circles, the First Amendment’s right to free speech is viewed as a bug rather than a feature, and defenders of free speech have not been welcome on campus. But as Matthew A. Sears, associate professor of classics and ancient history at the University of New Brunswick, argues, proponents of viewpoint diversity like Jonathan Haidt aren’t the real defenders of thought.

Indeed, many now insist that healthy skepticism and free inquiry, the supposed heart of the Socratic method and what Haidt labels the “disinterested pursuit of truth,” are in dire need of a revival in the academy.

I’m not so sure.

In fact, in important ways the social justice approach — which emphasizes the dynamics of power and oppression — that many fear has taken over the humanities and social sciences at its best is actually an improvement over the “disinterested pursuit of truth” and more in line with the Socratic method. In fact, rather than constituting an attack on knowledge, the social justice lens reflects new ideas generated by academic disciplines and experts within them, and generally encourages expanding our knowledge and opening up subjects to new perspectives, much like Socrates advocated.

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Butterfly Had Enough

The New York Appellate Division, Third Department, majority was not going to delve into the explicit, lurid details of the sexual encounter between the accuser, whom they called the “reporting individual” rather than the accuser or victim, and Matthew Jacobson.

Both were students at SUNY Plattsburgh. Both were drinking. Both had sex. Three times that night. What more do you need to know?

A close reading of the statements reveals that there was no material factual conflict between the relatively consistent accounts given by the participants. To illustrate, neither participant was able to recall which one initiated the sexual activity and certainly both conceded that they had been drinking. Given this consistency, there is no need to further detail the conduct at issue.

Who can blame the judges for finding further discussion of the nitty-gritty of young sex distasteful, so they just glossed over the whole thing. Continue reading

Short Take: A Deep Freeze in Elgin

Don’t the homeless deserve to be treated with  dignity? From this is born regulations to assure that safety net, because the homeless* are still human beings even if they smell bad and you really would prefer they stay out of sight or pee in their own homes (the ones they don’t have). How else can we assure that they be treated in the manner to which they’re entitled, according to people who have no faith in others, who see others as intrinsically malevolent and thus untrustworthy, if rules aren’t imposed.

And no one loves them some rules more than the well-intentioned. Rules assure that their dictates are carried out, their wishes are enforced by the means of benevolent force. And that force came down on Greg Schiller in Elgin, Illinois.

A man’s home may be his castle, but even castles are governed these days by zoning codes and other local ordinances. An Illinois man named Greg Schiller had that lesson reinforced after he opened his basement to homeless people, letting them sleep there overnight during the recent deep freeze that enveloped much of the country. No way, said city officials in Elgin, the Chicago suburb where he lives. They shut down Mr. Schiller’s “slumber parties,” as he has called them, on grounds that they violated a fistful of municipal regulations, among them ventilation and fire-safety requirements.

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Moira Donegan’s “Shitty” List

It could have been a list of commie sympathizers, a list of Muslims suspected of terrorism, a list of White Supremacists. But it wasn’t. Moira Donegan’s list was of “shitty media men,” and within hours, it went out of control.

None of this was what I thought was going to happen. In the beginning, I only wanted to create a place for women to share their stories of harassment and assault without being needlessly discredited or judged. The hope was to create an alternate avenue to report this kind of behavior and warn others without fear of retaliation.

Donegan, a 2013 college graduate, doesn’t explain her impetus for starting the list. There’s no story of a rape or assault. Rather, she explains it as an alternative to the female whisper network (which can be “elitist or insular”) of guys to watch out for because “police are notoriously inept at handling sexual-assault cases” and HR departments are there to protect the company, not women. Her spreadsheet put it all in one place, judgment free. Continue reading

Is Cash Bail Done in Manhattan?

Fresh off his campaign contribution scandal, New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. had an epiphany.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office will no longer seek bail for most misdemeanor and violation cases, DA Cy Vance Jr. said Tuesday.

“O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” Whether this means what it seems to mean has yet to be seen, but assuming good faith on Cy’s part, and wiggle words like “most” misdemeanors, this is certainly a wonderful, if not miraculous, policy shift. But why? Continue reading

Xir Back

Jordan Peterson may have made a career out of refusing to use made-up personal pronouns, but the demand that others use each individual’s choice of pronoun hasn’t fallen by the wayside in fits of laughter over the silliness of the self-indulgent. In fact, the New York Times is back on the case.

Using an analogy that only xe could endure. Barnard English prof Jennifer Finney Boylan throws out the underhanded pitch.

Mrs. Sonny Bono, Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Donald J. Trump walk into a bar. Assuming you’re the bartender, by what names will you address them? Continue reading

Princeton And The Peculiar Grasp Of Honor

In a guest op-ed in The Daily Princetonian, Allison Berger reveals that the due process provided a student for an honor code violation significantly exceeds that provided for a Title IX violation. As she succinctly describes it, it’s unfair.

“Fairness.” It was the word at the heart of the arguments made in favor of Honor Code reform during December’s campaign. In announcing the referenda, the campaign sponsors wrote, “Most importantly, we need a fair system … we’re proposing four, common-sense reforms that will lead to greater fairness and academic integrity.”

Given the campaign’s emphasis on fairness and the student body’s overwhelming support for Honor Code reform, it may come as a troubling surprise to many that the existing Honor system is in fact far fairer and offers far stronger due process protections than another campus disciplinary process: investigation and adjudication of sexual misconduct cases through the Title IX Coordinator. Indeed, Princeton’s Title IX proceedings offer less procedural fairness and fewer due process protections than the Honor system does in five key areas.

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Daddy Issues

There is no criminal defense lawyer who hasn’t enjoyed the anger of their client’s family. Whether spouse, parent or child, someone will scream at you for their perceived view that you’ve failed them, whether by not doing what they believe you ought to do, not getting their loved one out, not winning the unwinnable case. The list goes on, and the experience is part of the job.

It’s not their fault they’re angry. It is their fault that they lash out at the lawyer, but they have to find some target for their ire, and better the lawyer than, say, screaming at the judge during a hearing. Just as we take our clients as we find them, we take their families as well.

Except in the Pink Ghetto, where Staci Zaretsky informs us that “No, sexual harassment is not part of being a female criminal defense lawyer.” As a general proposition, that’s obviously correct. But is this sexual harassment? Continue reading