Author Archives: SHG

Tolerable Cruelties (Update)

When the Obama administration placed the young children separated from their immigrant parents for unlawfully crossing the border outside “concentration camp” walls, it swiftly turned into an opportunity for human traffickers to get free slaves. That was certainly terrible and unacceptable, and something had to be done.

Children of a very tender age need to be held, comforted and cared for. But if adults in a facility provide them with the human contact they desperately need, they expose themselves to allegations of sexual molestation. At the very least, they commit nonconsensual touching, and America is better than that. Molesting the children of incarcerated immigrant parents is outrageous and unacceptable, and something must be done.

When the Obama administration created a path to citizenship, people from other nations saw the opportunity to get here, any way they could, to give their children a better life. Certainly one can’t blame them for loving their children, for wanting to provide for their future, and America offered them a future they would never find in their home nations. Despite the horrifying and exhausting microaggressions felt by those already here, America is the land of opportunity to immigrants. Continue reading

Sometimes The “Victim” Is A Killer

When Mark Ossenheimer founded New York City’s Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation, he ran a tight ship. The Dean, Hector Diaz, took a stern position on discipline, and the students took him seriously. And the school thrived.

But fashions change, particularly in education where movements based on Utopian theories of behavior come into favor. And UA Wildlife was not immune.

New York was in the vanguard of a nationwide movement, spurred largely through federal coercion, to undo traditional discipline in favor of a progressive or “restorative” approach.

At UA Wildlife, meaningful consequences for misbehavior were eliminated, alternative approaches failed, and the administration responded to a rising tide of disorder and violence by sweeping evidence of it under the rug.

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Even Cartoonists Serve

Rob Rogers was brilliant at his job. But what was his job?

I should’ve seen it coming. When I had lunch with my new boss a few months ago, he informed me that the paper’s publisher believed that the editorial cartoonist was akin to an editorial writer, and that his views should reflect the philosophy of the newspaper.

That was a new one to me.

I was trained in a tradition in which editorial cartoonists are the live wires of a publication — as one former colleague put it, the “constant irritant.” Our job is to provoke readers in a way words alone can’t. Cartoonists are not illustrators for a publisher’s politics.

Rogers had been the editorial cartoonist at the The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette since 1993. Back then, it was a liberal newspaper. Over time, it became less so, until it endorsed a Republican in 2011. Rogers just kept doing his job, and doing it well, provided “well” means that the stinging political satire was acceptable to the people signing his paycheck. It wasn’t. Continue reading

Short Take: The Malleability of “Due”

A survey conducted for FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, would appear, on its face, to be pretty good news.

new survey from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education finds that a vast majority of college students support fundamental due process protections in campus disciplinary hearings in order to ensure they are fair.

By “vast majority,” it might appear they mean “vast majority.”

Ninety-eight percent of students said they believe the right to due process in college was “very important” or “important.”

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The Unbearable Wrongness of Bazelon

Having long since lost Linda Greenhouse and Dahlia Lithwick to their private hysteria played out in public, the lone remaining female pundit of law was Emily Bazelon. I regret to inform you that Bazelon is gone, self-immolated in a blaze of whiteness.

Being white in America has long been treated, at least by white people, as too familiar to be of much interest. It’s been the default identity, the cultural wallpaper — something described, when described at all, using bland metaphors like milk and vanilla and codes like “cornfed” and “all-American.” Grass is green, the sky is blue and, until very recently, a product described as “nude” or “flesh-colored” probably looked like white people’s skin.

How often do white people talk about being white? Not often! So long as we aren’t hanging out with white nationalists, marrying into a family of color or chuckling over jokes about our dancing, we have endless opportunities to avoid thinking much about our own race.

When she puts it that way, it seems almost mind-numbingly ridiculous that white people don’t obsess about their racial identity by self-flagellating and rending their sack cloths. But Bazelon informs us that it’s over.  Continue reading

Debate Epilogue: A Gentleman’s Lament

In the debate between Chris Seaton and Mario Machado on the question of political correctness versus progress, there is a tacit tension that goes unmentioned. Well, until now, anyway.  Contrary to the assumptions of the unduly passionate, not everyone who rejects the accouterments of an ideology is in disagreement with certain of its goals or even methods.

As Mario argues, the imposition of authoritarian language and tone demands is not merely phony pretense, but dangerous in the ways Orwell warned us about long ago. But as Chris argues, greater civility would go a long way toward getting along. Continue reading

Abelove Dismissed; New York Attorney General Reached Too Far

The notion of jurisdiction is both foreign and arcane to most people. Something wrong happened, and thus someone should be able to do something about it. In the case of Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel Abelove, the wrong he did in sabotaging the prosecution of Troy Police Sgt. Randall French for the killing of DWI suspect Edson Thevenin deserved scrutiny.

Before his downfall for kinky proclivities, feminist-ally, Trump-hater and then Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman seized the opportunity to do that something. He indicted Abelove for first degree perjury based upon his testimony in a grand jury investigating his conduct. The case was set for trial on June 20, but Abelove moved to dismiss the indictment based upon the AG exceeding his (now hers, since Barbara Underwood has replaced the disgraced Schneiderman in the meantime) authority.

And Abelove, dirty as he may be, crushed the AG’s office and the indictment in a decision by Acting* Supreme Court Justice Jonathan Nichols. Continue reading

Tuesday Talk: National Academies Of (Social) Science Has The Answer

A study conducted under the auspices of the National Academies of Science carries a great deal of weight, and for good reason. But then, that’s largely based on the “science” piece, not that it appears to have given rise to any sense of constraint this time.

The 311-page document is the national academies’ first report addressing sexual harassment, a problem that has long simmered in labs and classrooms, and some people predicted it could help spur meaningful change.

“Reports from the National Academy carry substantial weight,” said Dr. Carol Bates, associate dean for faculty affairs at Harvard Medical School and a co-author of a recent article calling for “zero tolerance for sexual harassment in academic medicine.”

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Judge Carlton Reeves And The Wrong Way To Make A Point

The victims of a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme want their money back, and it was up to Judge Carlton Reeves of the Southern District of Mississippi to make that happen.

This case involves a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme that defrauded hundreds of investors. The ill-gotten gains of that scheme now reside in Defendants’ estates. The Court has determined that a receivership over those estates is appropriate.

Great. So one would expect the balance of the order to appoint a receiver, since the only issue before the court is the appointment of a receiver. But Judge Reeves decided that the appointment of a receiver, the clawback of the ill-gotten gains to be returned to the victims of this multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme was less important, less exigent despite the possibility that the assets might dissipate, then was a very different concern. Continue reading

Short Take: Hysteria and the Federal Bench

Following the somewhat disingenuous revelations about former Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, Chief Justice John Roberts convened a “working group” to formulate ways in which to address the “problem” of federal judges. The brilliantly titled “REPORT OF THE FEDERAL JUDICIARY WORKPLACE CONDUCT WORKING GROUP TO THE JUDICIAL CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES” has now been revealed. It reads like an EEOC polemic on workplace whining.

The EEOC Study of harassment in the workplace provided the Working Group with a current and reliable empirical baseline to understand the problem and focus its inquiries. The EEOC Task Force conducted its study over 18 months from January 14, 2015, through June 2016. The 88-page report convincingly explains that workplace harassment is a persistent and pervasive problem in all economic sectors, in all socioeconomic classes, and at all organizational levels. The EEOC Study noted that almost one third of the 90,000 charges it received in 2015 included an allegation of workplace harassment. Those charges included harassment on the basisof sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy), race, disability, age, ethnicity/national origin, color, and religion. The EEOC Study found that between 25 percent and 85 percent of women in the private sector and federal sector workplace experienced sexual harassment, depending on how that term is defined. The EEOC Study stated that three out of four individuals who experienced harassment never talked to a supervisor or manager about it. In short, the EEOC Study confirmed that the problem of workplace harassment is both widespread and underreported in workplaces throughout the nation, and—as the Chief Justice noted in his Year-End Report—there is no reason to believe that the Judiciary is immune.

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