Category Archives: Uncategorized

5th Circuit’s Judge Duncan Begs Pronoun Controversy

As reflected in the dissent by Judge James Dennis, it really wasn’t an issue at all.

Motion to Use Female Pronouns When Addressing Appellant

I am a woman and not referring to me as such leads me to feel that I am being discriminated against based on my gender identity. I am a woman—can I not be referred to as one?

Was this a motion to compel the government to use female pronouns? Was it anything more than a pro se litigant’s request that the court refer to the litigant as a female? Continue reading

Short Take: Constitutional Tourists

In a scathing review of Adam Carolla’s documentary, “No Safe Spaces,” Anthony Fisher coins the phrase “free speech tourists.”

A true commitment to free speech requires defending the right to express the most vile, transgressive, and unpopular ideas. And the truest demonstration of that commitment is to hold one’s own political tribe to account when it fails to walk the walk on the principle.

You won’t find such introspection in “No Safe Spaces,” a new documentary that exemplifies the growing “free-speech tourism” on the right.

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Riding The Crazy Train With Ian

There are rational parameters within which discussion may be worthwhile, but they don’t seem to constrain too many otherwise nice folks these days. It was floated that Chief Judge John Roberts, presiding over the impeachment trial in the Senate, could call John Bolton as a witness. The rationale? The Constitution doesn’t say he can’t, and it says he presides, so there.

And some people who want Bolton to testify, which spans a larger group than just those who so desperately want Trump impeached that they’ll believe anything, bought it. Except it’s nonsense talk.

I regret to inform you: This is a delusion, if a pleasant one. The chief justice is not going to arrive on a white steed to save the country from Trump. Indeed, a minimalist approach on Roberts’s part is not only the all-but-certain outcome — it is also the wiser course, better for the court and the country.

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Short Take: Is “Defamation By Clickbait” A Thing?

Harvard lawprof Larry Lessig was not pleased with the headline.

A Harvard Professor Doubles Down: If You Take Epstein’s Money, Do It in Secret

Lessig wasn’t thrilled with the lede either.

It is hard to defend soliciting donations from the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. But Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard Law professor, has been trying.

And so Lessig characterized this in his suit against the New York Times as “clickbait defamation.” Is there such a thing? Continue reading

Hope For The Best, But Prepare For The Judge

There is a never-ending cascade of new lawyers on the twitters complaining about how a judge did something awful in their case. Maybe it was a bad ruling, by which they mean a ruling that was completely wrong. Maybe it was a comment that they felt was outrageous, whether because it violated their sensibilities as to race or gender, or was just disrespectful. They tend to believe they’re entitled to be respected, and by respected, they mean treated with the respect they decide they deserve.

Ironically, they also tend to be obsequious to the handful of judges who hang around their twitterspheres being kind and supportive to young lawyers, basking in the gushing “likes” they get in return. Nary a critical word, these judges convey warmth and self-esteem to the new lawyers, who then walk into court only to have their “soul crushed” by mean, stupid, awful judges. The upshot, not that they always see it as the problem, is that their clients get burned while they return to their twitter crowds for succor and validation. Such awful judges, they emote. Such awful judges, the chorus responds, and you’re so wonderful, in four part harmony. Continue reading

Where You Teach Is What You Teach

In light of the New York Times’ “1619 Project” push to make it part of the public school curriculum, despite the extremely dubious proposition that the “primary” purpose of the American revolution was to maintain the institution of slavery, it raises the question of who makes the decision to teach public school children history, and what history they are taught. As Ilya Somin notes, that’s a matter of local concern.

Dana Goldstein of New York Times has an interesting article describing how state governments in both liberal California and conservative Texas work to skew school textbooks in favor of their preferred ideologies. Despite their differences, both seek to indoctrinate students rather than present facts in any sort of evenhanded way.

Despite the “sense” that education should be left to the brain trust of the federal government, it’s very much a matter of what local school boards decide it is, although the content of texts requires a bigger bludgeon and so state education departments get involved to dictate to book publishers what their texts should say. Continue reading

12 Years For No Juice

The guard found out not because of his diligent investigatory skills, but because Willie Nash asked him for “juice.” It dawned on the guard that he wasn’t talking orange as Nash handed him his cellphone, having been taken into the Newton County jail on some unspecified misdemeanor. For that, Nash was sentenced to 12 years.

The statute Nash was convicted of violating, Mississippi Code Section 47-5-193, prohibits inmates from possessing “any weapon, deadly weapon, unauthorized electronic device, contraband item, or cell phone or any of its components or accessories to include, but not limited to, Subscriber Information Module (SIM) cards or chargers.”

Deadly weapons and SIM cards are pretty much the same thing, and certainly worthy of the same punishment. Hey, the sharp edge of a SIM card could take an eye out if thrown with precision, right? Continue reading

Short Take: The Girlfriend Beater

A gentleman never hits a woman, which apparently puts him at a significant disadvantage in some relationships.

Whitaker discovered, of the 24 percent of relationships that had been violent, half had been reciprocal and half had not. Although more men than women (53 percent versus 49 percent) had experienced nonreciprocal violent relationships, more women than men (52 percent versus 47 percent) had taken part in ones involving reciprocal violence.

Regarding perpetration of violence, more women than men (25 percent versus 11 percent) were responsible. In fact, 71 percent of the instigators in nonreciprocal partner violence were women.

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The Last Shakespearean Scholar

Before I left high school, I read most of what was then deemed “great” literature. One teacher, whose name eludes me but he was very animated, taught an English class on Shakespeare where we read a dozen of his plays, more than a dozen sonnets, and engaged in lengthy discussions of whether there really was a person named Shakespeare and, if not, who wrote the works under this name.

In the process, there were lessons in critical thinking, but make no mistake, this was about Shakespeare’s content, his words, themes and ideas. It was never said aloud, but a well-educated person read Shakespeare. As I went off to college, I never considered a future in the humanities, but whatever I did, wherever I ended up, I would have a working knowledge of Shakespeare, as well as a list of great English and American writers from Twain to Austen.

These writers are now considered anathema, remnants of our colonialist history of promoting “dead white men,” even if some were women, in the European fashion, at the expense of “others,” whether from darker continents or more relevant to the world occupied by students shut out from elite education. Continue reading

Short Take: Should Mexico Enjoy Section 230?

In the ever-shifting sands of trying to sanitize the interwebs for the same of the children, an interesting argument has arisen to eviscerate the Section 230 Safe Harbor of the Communications Decency Act: Mexican drug cartels.

Much like Hollywood celebrities, Mexican cartels have vast social media followings. The notorious Sinaloa Cartel has more than 88,000 followers on Twitter, for example, while Los Zetas, an uber-violent Mexican cartel that has broadcast murders on YouTube, has a Facebook universe with approximately 47,000 connected accounts like these.

To some extent, young, net-savvy criminals are using social media the same way as young people everywhere: to document and brag about their lives. Instagram and Twitter posts featuring cash, gold plated guns, luxury cars and even pet tigers are a powerful lure for jobless young men who see the gangster life as a path out of drudgery.

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