When No One Applauds

My acceptance letter to Yale not having arrived in the mail yet, it’s possible that I fail to appreciate the artistic value of the performance. Art is in the eye of the beholder, I’m told, by people who know more about it than I do. I can accept that, but I nonetheless doubt that one person’s (or five people’s, as is technically the case) attempt at art justifies what happened in Professor Emma Sky’s class.

“My classroom is a safe forum for students with different views and backgrounds to debate vigorously the politics of the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy,” Sky wrote in an email to the News. “The world is complex and there is no single narrative. We all learn from each other and tolerance is a key value. It is a classroom that values freedom of speech and rigorous debate and that is why so many students compete each year for one of the 18 slots.”

Sounds interesting, not that I’ll ever know for sure. But some students who did get the letter disagreed. Continue reading

The X Factor

Over the years, the “correct” words used to inoffensively refer to certain groups have changed with some regularity. There was a time when a decent person would call a black person a “negro,” as that was the fashion. Now, it’s African American or black. Or Black, with a capital “B,” although there doesn’t seem to be much consistency at the moment. But don’t you dare use the word “negro.”

Fair enough. When there is no purpose to offend anyone, most of us are happy to use whatever word is preferred. And if that word later changes, that’s fine too.

But then came “Latinx.” It didn’t come from my Hispanic friends or clients, but from the media. Continue reading

Michael Harriot: Snarking While Black

One of the more curious phenomena in the age of social justice is that the person above you on the victim pyramid gets to snark down with impunity. The person below can’t challenge, question, and surely not snark, at a person more vulnerable and marginalized than her. That would be hateful, racist, sexist, whatever. No matter that the “victim” is a lying sack of shit, blithering idiot or flaming nutjob. They’re oppressed, so shut the fuck up.

Somehow, Sarah Braasch became his obsession.

A white woman who made headlines for summoning plantation overseers police officers after she was threatened by an aggressively napping black woman has now taken up the mantle for criminal justice reform, criticizing law enforcement officials for being “hostile” and for refusing to release bodycam footage of the—

Hold up. Let me finish laughing and I’ll start over.

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Tuesday Talk*: Raising Daughters To Be Gay

Teen Vogue doesn’t limit the information it provides your kids to the correct way to do anal sex. It has serious articles as well, because what teen girl doesn’t stay awake at night wondering how you, dear parent, caused climate change and intentionally destroyed the world? Fortunately, Teen Vogue brings your child one of the world’s foremost experts on such matter to teach her the truth: Roxane Gay.

The question posed was fairly simple: Why is climate change the fault of the patriarchy, as women are its primary victims.

When women fight for climate justice, they are also fighting for their lives. The research makes clear that women are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change80% of climate refugees are women, while less than 20% of the land in the world is owned by women.

Not that it begs the question a bit, but the question concludes: Continue reading

You Heard Wrong

Whether Katie Hill should have resigned following disclosure of her throuple with husband and staffer was her choice. That the disclosure of images of her naked images gave a huge boost to the astounding ignorance surrounding the issues with revenge porn criminalization, however, is slightly surprising. After all, there was no question but that it was a matter of legitimate public interest as it involved a member of the House of Representatives.

Public disclosure of newsworthy matters, matters of legitimate public interest, were beyond the reach of the law. You know who said that? Mary Anne Franks and Danielle Citron. Mind you, they only admitted it after someone, who shall not be named, refused to let them lie their way around it, but better late and deceptive than never. And that was in a law review article, where they were slightly constrained to admit that law had some applicability, as opposed to their usual appeal to sad tears. As for us lawyers who challenge their inanity, we’re just assholes.

But that’s all ancient history now, as it’s on the radar and they’re making the most of their fifteen minutes, writing pop articles that miraculously ignore everything they’ve previously conceded about the law in order to assure that every reader is persuaded by their appeals to emotion. Continue reading

Lithwick’s Whimpers

I was never a fan of Dahlia Lithwick. Not because she’s a woman.* I couldn’t care less. But because she has proven herself intellectually dishonest, a genderless choice that’s become pervasive among the unduly passionate, more dedicated to serving their cause than trying to be minimally accurate in their writing.

But she made a decision to write about why she won’t be going back to her “beat” at the Supreme Court for all to see, and that raises a very different problem.

The enduring memory, a year later, is that my 15-year-old son texted—he was watching it in school—to ask if I was “perfectly safe” in the Senate chamber. He was afraid for the judge’s mental health and my physical health. I had to patiently explain that I was in no physical danger of any kind, that there were dozens of people in the room, and that I was at the very back, with the phalanx of reporters. My son’s visceral fears don’t really matter in one sense, beyond the fact that I was forced to explain to him that the man shouting about conspiracies and pledging revenge on his detractors would sit on the court for many decades; and in that one sense, none of us, as women, were ever going to be perfectly safe again.

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Silence of the Bureaucrats

There’s much discussion about the tax consequences of Democratic candidate Liz Warren’s Medicare for All plan, as well there should be. But the “big ticket” items on the agenda will be subject to substantial scrutiny, from the public, media and Congress. Whether it’s the right answer to the health care situation will be the topic of a great many discussion.

So who’s talking about the “no cost” solutions? As became clear during the Obama administration, pen and phone in hand as Congress was paralyzed and persisted in its abject failure to do its job as legislature, we have a massive bureaucratic machine running America, and it largely happens below the radar until it does something radical that compels us to take notice.

Like when the Department of Education issued its “Dear Colleague” letters, creating the Title IX sex tribunals across America’s colleges and universities that have fundamentally reinvented the risks of expulsion of forfeiture for male students at the bare accusation of females. Or when the Department of Justice, together with the DoE, issued the transgender bathroom guidance, threatening prosecution for failure to adhere to law that didn’t exist, except in the fevered minds of a few bureaucrats. Continue reading

Kopf: Two Questions About Crying

This short and narrow post is about the tears that Lawrence VanDyke, Donald Trump’s nominee for a seat on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, shed when confronted with a letter he had received the evening before his confirmation hearing. In essence, the letter from the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary said he was a nasty and mean-spirited bigot when it came to gay (“LGBTQ”) people.

Before the Senate Judiciary Committee, this man, who stands six-foot-seven or so tall and who is an avid hunter and gun enthusiast, cried in front of the cameras, the Senators, the press and his family when asked about the letter and the assertion of bigotry. As a reminder, here is a video clip: Continue reading

Short Take: The Tears of a Clown

When did crying at Senate confirmation hearings become a thing? First Kavanagh did it. Now VanDyke. They teared up. They couldn’t speak. They cried. In front of the Senate committee, their family and the American people. They cried.

Put aside your feelings about Kav and/or VanDyke; this isn’t about them. Not even a little bit. Let’s call the judicial nominee Smith who, after being confronted with deeply awful accusations (whether real or not) cries before the TV cameras in the committee chamber.

There is an odd sensibility that men showing emotion is a good thing and worthy of being de-stigmatized. Why shouldn’t men cry? The image of the stoic male is now toxic. People reveal their frailties, their humanity, whether mental illness or alcoholism, for example, and tell their darkest personal secrets, and people gush their thoughts and prayers. Continue reading

The Doctor Is . . . Out

Regardless of your economic prowess, and no one doubts that you know voodoo economics better than anyone, or your certainty that your personal vision of morality demands that those who work hard and save should pay for those in need, whether their student debt, subway fares, and certainly medical care no matter how radical, extreme or costly, in perpetuity, what about Donald?

Yeah I’m not sure you are gonna find as many people as you think to do what it takes to get into medical school and through residency for 120k a year. Not when statistically the people who get into medical school are the top students in the country and most could get into anything else they wanted to.

We go to medical school become we love to the profession and love taking care of patients. But it’s really hard and stressful work. Patients die when we make wrong decisions. It keeps you up at night. We are willing to pay pro athletes millions but you want to pay the person who holds your life in his or her hands 120k. Interesting.

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