The Joys of Outrage

When something was terribly wrong, we used to give reasons why that was so. Good times. Now, there’s no need for the real labor of thinking when all that’s needed is an expression of outrage.

Outrage: It’s absolutely everywhere. Today’s world, particularly the version of it blasted into our brains by social media, offers endless fodder, from big, simmering outrages (climate change and many powerful institutions’ refusal to do anything about it) to smaller quotidian ones (every day, someone, somewhere does something offensive that comes to Twitter’s attention, leading to a gleeful pile-on).

As Jesse Singal notes, we’ve become outrage junkies. We look for reasons to enjoy the visceral pleasure of being outraged, the rush of outrage from our brains hearts to our fingertips, as it oozes out of us into the ether and smears the targets of our need to feel fury. But is this a bad thing? Continue reading

The Horrors Of Subjecting “Survivors” To Cross

The new proposed Title IX regulations have not as yet been released, but leaked to the Washington Post, and the battle has already been joined. While I refuse to address the regs until they are official, as we’ve already played this game with leaked regs at the New York Times, which didn’t pan out well, one aspect has already caused heads to burst.

A new rule from Betsy DeVos would require universities to allow accused sexual abusers to cross-examine and re-traumatize their victims. This is absolutely sickening.

But what would you expect of NARAL, right? Except that was just the start. Continue reading

Congress Is Set To Pass The . . . TRUMP!!!

Criminal law reform appears to be about to happen. It may not be all that we wanted, hoped for, but it’s better than nothing, and nothing is what we got from the last administration. But this post isn’t about H.R. 5682, the “First Step Act,” because there’s a squirrel named Trump that got in the way.

Why doesn’t the news media simply ignore Donald Trump? Or, at least, cover him far less? He thrives on the attention. Withhold your coverage and starve him of oxygen.

Liberals, frustrated by Trump and his dominance of the news cycle, often make this case to me.

Why don’t we in the media focus on other things, important policy issues, rather than on the last intemperate thing that Trump said or did?

The “me” is Charles Blow, and he offers a surprising prescription. Continue reading

The Rachel Rollins Solution

For reasons that are both obvious and troubling, Fordham lawprof John Pfaff’s opening description of newly elected Suffolk County District Attorney Rachel Rollins notes the two foremost characterizations of the moment, that she’s Boston’s first black female prosecutor. She’s not the first prosecutor who fits that description, but other “reform” prosecutors, like Darcel Clark in the Bronx, have proven to be huge disappointments.

So we keep trying, noting immutable characteristics as if Larry Krasner wasn’t a white male former criminal defense lawyer doing some serious reform in Philly. But Rollins ran, and was elected, on a distinctly reform platform, that she would decline to prosecute 15 offenses. Continue reading

American Blasphemy

The New York Times takes a bold stance, condemning the criminalization of blasphemy. The impetus for this striking position is the treatment of Asia Bibi by Pakistan.

It is good news that Pakistan’s Supreme Court has acquitted and freed a Pakistani Christian woman who had already spent eight years on death row for blasphemy. In a 56-page ruling, the three justices said Asia Bibi, a farmworker in her early 50s, was the victim of mob justice aroused by unsubstantiated claims of what she said about the Prophet Muhammad in an exchange with women angry that she had sipped water from a cup used by Muslims.

Though the trial was a farce, overturning it took courage. In 2011, the governor of Punjab Province, Salman Taseer, who had campaigned for Ms. Bibi’s release and for changes in the blasphemy laws, was shot and killed by his bodyguard. Two months later, the minister of minorities, the sole Christian in the Pakistani government, who had also called for the changes, was killed. The announcement of the Supreme Court ruling on Oct. 31 set off protests across Pakistan and a warning from Islamist firebrands that the justices were risking death. Ms. Bibi has been in hiding since her release and may have to flee Pakistan.

By this point, you should well see the parallels, even if the New York Times doesn’t.  Continue reading

Processing Fear, Killing Roberson

There are a few issues of fact in dispute surrounding the unquestionably bad killing of Jemel Roberson by a Midlothian cop. Was Roberson’s attire, an orange vest and cap bearing the word “security” seen by the cop and sufficient to alert him to the fact that Roberson was the good guy? Did the cop command Roberson to drop the gun and get on the ground before or while he was pumping bullets into his body? Didn’t the bystanders screaming that Roberson was the security guard give the cop pause before killing?

Then there’s the obvious: This cop saw a black guy with a gun and killed him because he was a black guy with a gun. The problem for cops is that this happens with regularity, enough so that any black man who takes the risk of doing the right thing, getting involved, risks his life. It’s not that a black guy might not want to be the good guy, might not want to help, but that getting killed, maimed or arrested for trying to do the right thing is too high a price to pay. And the risk is too great for any reasonable person.

At National Review, David French notes both of these sides of the problem. Continue reading

The Lure Of Cameras And The Hot Mike

If Kim Kardashian can become a star by dint of being idiosyncratically callipygian, and Michael Avennatti can become a progressive icon by representing a porn star between his personal bankruptcy hearings and sleeping on the couch in Rachel Maddow’s green room, why not you? After all, doesn’t every lawyer dream of having his mug on the tube and becoming important?

But there can be a price for fame.

The makers of a docu-series about Meek Mill’s experience with Philadelphia justice officials were hit with a federal complaint Wednesday from a lawyer who says his off-the-record remarks were secretly recorded.

Continue reading

Pledging Allegiance To Get The Job

Was it a controversial infringement on academic freedom or a commitment to the mission? Regardless of how it’s characterized, it puts applicants for academic positions into an awkward position: either commit oneself to social justice or lie about it. The message is clear. If you’re not committed to progressive beliefs, you won’t get a job at UCLA.

Mathematicians who want tenure at UCLA have to do more than show a facility with numbers. They also have to pledge in writing a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusivity.

In fact, all professors applying for a tenure-track position at UCLA must write a statement on their commitment to diversity, showing, for example, their “record of success advising women and minority graduate students,” according to the UCLA’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

A commitment to educating students seems like a core requirement of a tenured teaching position, but that’s not what they’re asking for.  Continue reading

The Problem With Dick

Much as I’ve written with some regularity about the underlying issues with the redefinition of rape and sexual assault, starting on campus and filtering through to real courtrooms, and even worse, social media mobs, that’s just me saying so. So maybe I’m just making this stuff up because I’m male and, by definition, just don’t get it.

Rather than consider my characterizations of the problems, consider the words “Kaitlin Prest, a sex-positive ​feminist and podcast producer who often discusses the issue of consent, and educational consultant Hanna Stontland.” Continue reading

Scholars, Unfiltered

In the early days of blawging, one of my beefs with the academics was that they didn’t engage in humanspeak with lawyers. Or to be more precise, they wouldn’t tolerate the fact that lawyers didn’t use the moderated speech of the Academy, where calling something “interesting” was tantamount to saying your baby was ugly and you’ve got a booger hanging from your nose.

It was, in a word, frustrating when the prawfs came up with some interesting idea but couldn’t manage to engage with practicing lawyers in a way that enabled an overlap in the discussion. They had theirs. We had ours. To the extent there was any overlap, it was usually some sniffling prawf offended at someone (often me) who disagreed with their brilliance in comprehensible terms. But at least it was a substantive disagreement, even if we didn’t use the word “curious” to describe it.

And then, all hell broke loose.* Continue reading