Al Sharpton Endorses Yet Another Terrible Obama Admin Idea: Federalize The Police
Glenn Reynolds in USA Today is all over the unintended consequences that are practically jumping out of their little desks, demanding to be called upon:
The idea behind federal supervision of local police forces is that it will make them more accountable. Instead of a bunch of presumptively racist, violent hicks running things on a local level, we'll see the cool professionalism of the national government in charge.
There are (at least) two problems with this approach. The first is that federal law enforcement, especially in recent years, hasn't exactly been a haven of cool professionalism. The second is that no law enforcement agency is very good at policing itself, meaning that a national police force is likely to be less accountable, not more.
...To believe that a federalized approach to policing would be an improvement over the current system, you'd have to ignore an awful lot of misbehavior by federal law enforcement lately. There's the scandal with the Secret Service and hookers just before Obama's trip to Colombia. There's the entirely separate scandal with the Drug Enforcement Agency and hookers (hookers paid for by Colombia drug lords, no less).
The list goes on. And on. My favorite bit from his piece is in the list of FBI misconduct and how their lab was allowed to convict people based on bogus forensic evidence (and then not admit the problem for years, letting many potentially innocent people rot in jail).
In one case, a man, Santae Tribble, spent 28 years in prison after FBI analysts said that a single hair found at a crime scene was one of his, when in fact it came from a dog.
And then, why federalizing police is terrible for civil liberties and more:
The third problem with unifying police authority under a national umbrella is that it's much more prone to political abuse by the party in power. As we've seen with the IRS -- which, interestingly, shows little interest in frequent White House visitor Al Sharpton's unpaid taxes -- federal bureaucrats are all too willing to serve the interests of their political masters even when doing so violates the law. Putting most law enforcement in the hands of diverse state and local authorities helps limit the potential for abuse. Putting everything under federal control, on the other hand, magnifies it.
Instead, if we're really serious about increasing law enforcement accountability, we should end civil service protections for federal employees, while outlawing public employee unions. We should also abolish governmental immunity for federal, state, and local employees, forcing them to face civil lawsuits for illegal behavior, just as the rest of us must do.
In other words, the answers here are decentralization and accountability -- a practice that Al Sharpton seems virulently allergic to.
Note To Dumbshit Terrorists
Hello? It's Texas. Everyone is armed.
Your Vagina Is Not A Voting Tool
Brendan O'Neill writes at reason about the double-cringe-worthy line a woman used in a magazine piece to talk about Candidate Hillary:
"I intend to vote with my vagina."
Let's leave aside the unfortunate image conjured up by that sentence ("You can hold a pencil with that thing?!") The bigger problem with such unabashed declarations of "vagina voting" is that they confirm the descent of feminism into the cesspool of identity politics, even biologism, and its abandonment of the idea that women should be valued more for their minds than their anatomy.
Kate Harding, the vagina voter in question, isn't only going to vote with her vag--she's also going to tell everyone about it. "I intend to vote with my vagina. Unapologetically. Enthusiastically... And I intend to talk about it," she wrote in Dame.
She thinks Hillary would be a great president because she "knows what it's like to menstruate, be pregnant, [and] give birth."
So you're going to pick your leader on the basis of her biological functions, the fact she's experienced the same bodily stuff as you? Imagine if a man did that. "I'm voting for Ted Cruz because he knows what it's like to spunk off. And he knows the pain of being kicked in the balls." We'd think that was a very sad dude indeed. Why is it any better for a female commentator to wax lyrical about voting on the basis of her biological similarity to a candidate rather than any shared political outlook?
Increasingly, when I think of feminism, I think of fifth-raters struggling to become fourth-rate.
Equality? That'll be a steep haul from where today's feminists are -- mired in victimism and the politics of looking at a candidate's pee-pee to see whether it matches theirs.
There Is No Free Speech In Islam
So-called "moderate" Muslims are Muslims who are not practicing Islam as it is commanded to be practiced by the Quran, which is said to be the eternal word of Allah and unquestionable by anyone. But for the fact that there are so many of us "infidels" (dirty "kuffar") all around the planet, speaking (and cartooning) freely, those Muslims would likely be on the death lists of more orthodox Musilms.
In USA Today, UK-dwelling Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary explains:
Contrary to popular misconception, Islam does not mean peace but rather means submission to the commands of Allah alone. Therefore, Muslims do not believe in the concept of freedom of expression, as their speech and actions are determined by divine revelation and not based on people's desires.
...Muslims consider the honor of the Prophet Muhammad to be dearer to them than that of their parents or even themselves. To defend it is considered to be an obligation upon them. The strict punishment if found guilty of this crime under sharia (Islamic law) is capital punishment implementable by an Islamic State. This is because the Messenger Muhammad said, "Whoever insults a Prophet kill him."
Islamic "tolerance"? I believe Molly Norris, who called for the "Draw Mohammed Day" is still in hiding.
Denis MacEoin writes at Gatestone Institute about the Islamic erosion of free speech in the West:
Criticism of Islam and everything else will -- and should -- continue, produced by courageous writers and journalists. Certainly, we know how many times politicians in the United States and Europe have delusionally tried to persuade us that Islamist violence "has nothing to do with Islam."
There have been many attacks and murders already. Perhaps the best known of these -- until the Charlie Hebdo murders -- was the murder of Dutch film-maker, Theo van Gogh, on November 2, 2004. Van Gogh had directed a short film called Submission, written by Muslim dissident Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who had worked extensively in women's shelters in the Netherlands, where she had observed that most of the women were Muslim. Van Gogh's killer, a 26-year-old Dutch-Moroccan named Mohammed Bouyeri, now serving a life sentence, has described democracy as utterly abhorrent to Islam. (This view, for anyone who cares about the continuation of the West, is held by many Muslims. For them, democracy, made by man, is illegitimate, compared to shari'a law, made by Allah, and therefore the only form of government that is legitimate.) In court, Bouyeri said that 'the law [shari'a law] compels me to chop off the head of anyone who insults Allah and the prophet."
The threat of murder has become ever more real. It is no longer possible to dismiss death threats from Muslims as the work of "lone wolves," "deviant personalities," or attention seekers. It is the use of death threats that has given radical Muslims the power to deter most writers, film-makers, TV producers, and politicians from tackling Islamic issues. The threat of calling people "racist" as a tool for suppressing critical voices has cast a dark shadow over normal democratic life. Some have died for free speech about Islam; others have faced ostracism, imprisonment, flogging and the loss of a normal life. 
Salman Rushdie lives under constant guard. Molly Norris, an American artist who drew a cartoon of Mohammed and proposed an "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day," has lived in hiding since 2010. On advice from the FBI, she changed her identity and cut off all links with family and friends. The Dutch politician Geert Wilders has been tried for "hate speech," barely acquitted, and is now being tried for "hate speech" again.
These are just a few of the casualties who have paid a heavy price for their willingness to treat Islam as any of us might treat other subjects or other faiths. No Christian scholar will be tried for arguing that the Gospels contain contradictions, no Reform Jew will be arraigned for criticism of ultra-Orthodox beliefs, no politician will be brought before the law for denouncing the ideologies of Communism or Fascism. You can say that Karl Marx was misguided or that a U.S. president is terrible, and on and on, without dreading for a moment an assassin's footfall or being locked up for your remarks.
MacEoin takes note of the double standard:
It is also necessary to ask, if Geert Wilders and others are being accused of hate speech, then why isn't the Koran -- with its calls for smiting necks and killing infidels -- also being accused of hate speech?
Just to be clear, I'm against "hate speech" laws, but the guy has a point.
Tonight's "Science News You Can Use" Radio, 7- 7:30 pm PT
Amy Alkon & Dr. Jennifer Verdolin: How heartbreak is adaptive and how science can help you heal.
Listen live at 7pm PT or pick it up afterward in podcast -- at this link. (You can also find us at iTunes and Stitcher.)
Welcome To Witch Burning 101
I took a survey yesterday related to an event I'd been to and I was dismayed to see a question asking for a rating about "personal safety and freedom from harassment." A bit from my response:
A good deal of academia is turning into a witchhunt against men with a concomitant infantilization of women. Yes, there can sometimes be harassment in academia -- and in any field. But there's also a tendency to call just about any form of male sexuality (short of eunuchhood) harassment. Even jokes.
Government As Bank Robber: IRS Seizes $107K From Biz Owner For Making Too Many Small Cash Deposits
Disgusting. Hard-working convenience store owner Lyndon McLellan was accused of "structuring" deposits -- depositing less than $10K at a time, supposedly to get out of IRS reporting requirements (for deposits of $10K and more).
About how he earned $107K over 10 years, selling soft drinks, cigarettes, and hot dogs:
"Took 13 years to get it and less than 13 seconds to take it away."
An Institute for Justice video:
As the text with a Vox story about this notes:
The agency hasn't charged McLellan with any crime, but under controversial civil asset forfeiture rules the burden of proof is on him to prove he didn't violate the "structuring" laws.
Yes, he now has to fight the government to get his money back. With zero evidence that he's guilty of anything other than working hard to earn an honest living.
Also from the Vox story:
The New York Times points out that business owners can have legitimate reasons for keeping their cash deposits under $10,000. For example, some store owners have insurance policies that only cover cash losses up to $10,000.
It won't be easy for McLellan to get his money back. Many forfeiture targets don't bother to contest seizures under civil forfeiture laws because legal fees would exceed the value of what was taken. But with IJ's help, he might be able to recover the money the IRS took from him.
The IRS declined to comment on the case, citing taxpayer privacy laws.
Check out how the government engages in legalized thuggery -- also from the NYT piece linked above (written by Shaila Dewan):
During a congressional hearing in February, Representative George Holding, a Republican from North Carolina, referred to Mr. McLellan's case, saying no crime other than structuring had been alleged. "If that case exists, then it's not following the policy," John Koskinen, the commissioner of the I.R.S., said.
But the prosecutor on the case, Steve West, was unmoved. Notified of the hearing by Mr. McLellan's lawyer at the time, he responded with concern that the seizure warrant in the case, filed under seal but later given to Mr. McLellan, had been handed over to a congressional committee, according to an email exchange provided to The New York Times by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm that has taken over the case.
"Your client needs to resolve this or litigate it," Mr. West wrote. "But publicity about it doesn't help. It just ratchets up feelings in the agency." He concluded with a settlement offer in which the government would keep half the money.
Why, how generous.
Racism In Rioting: Whose Business Do You Direct The Rioters To Destroy?
Ron Nixon writes in The New York Times of (awww!) gang members -- Crips and Bloods -- coming together to drive rioters to non-black-owned businesses:
He described how he and some Bloods members stood in front of stores that they knew were black-owned business, to protect them from looting and vandalism. He said they made sure no black youths, or reporters, were injured by rioters.
Instead, he said, they pointed the rioters toward Chinese- and Arab-owned stores.
And very likely the stores of immigrants, who came to this country with nothing.
Home Schooling Is A Way To Educate Children, Not Murder Them And Get Away With It
At least the pandering lawmaker in Michigan, Stephanie Chang, who's trying to inject the government into home-schooling in the wake of the murder of two children isn't naming it "Stoni and Stephen's Law."
Michelle Blair, the horror show of a "mother" of these two kids, 13 and 9, had them removed them from Detroit public schools two years ago. She claimed they were being home-schooled. They were home -- dead in a freezer for two years before their bodies were discovered.
Those of us with more sense than a houseplant understand that this is a horrible but rare occurrence.
Izzy Lyman writes for WatchDog.org:
A bill that would create a registry of Michigan home-schoolers has been dubbed, by a Detroit News' house editorial, as "extremely intrusive."
State Rep. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, introduced legislation, earlier this month, that would mandate that home-schoolers provide their names and ages, as well as the address of their parent or guardian, to the superintendent of the school district in which they live. The home-schooled student would also have to be seen, at least twice a year, by a doctor, licensed social worker, physician's assistant, school counselor, teacher, audiologist, or by a friend of the court official.
The Great Lakes state is known for its laissez-faire home education laws. At present, the annual registering of a home school to the Michigan Department of Education is voluntary, and home-schooling parents are not required to initiate any contact with the state. According to one guess estimate, about three percent of Michigan's school-age population learns at home.
As Lyman writes, it's "an alternative education community that is known for academic excellence and positive civic endeavors."
And Chang is engaging in the sort of pandering to voters that seems like she's doing something worthwhile. "FOR THE CHILDREN!!"
And regarding the use of the anger over these kids' deaths to try to get a law passed, as Radley Balko writes about laws named after crime victims:
Anger is a bad reason to make public policy. New laws, especially laws with serious criminal sanctions, demand careful consideration: Will the law actually address the problem it is intended to address? Is it enforceable? What are some possible unintended consequences of this law? Could it be abused by police and prosecutors?
Laws named after the victims of brutal crimes make it difficult to ask these questions, especially for politicians, who aren't exactly known for taking bold stands against an angry public. When you put Caylee Anthony's name on a bill, you imply that anyone who opposes the bill -- even for good reasons -- is indifferent to the death of its namesake, or at least isn't as concerned about it as you think they ought to be. That's not a formula for an honest discussion of the bill's merits.
Riots Don't Work
Megan McArdle writes at Bloomberg:
But regardless of justification, rioting is incredibly destructive, mostly in the neighborhoods where the rioters live. In my own city, Washington, D.C., the major retail corridors that were destroyed in the 1968 riots have only really begun to recover in the last five years (and one of them still hasn't). Who suffered because of that? The store owners, obviously, and their insurers. But the people who suffered most grievously were the mostly black people who lived in those neighborhoods.
The question to ask isn't who suffered from the riots. It's who benefited.
Linky with a sprained whatsis.
40 percent off select keyboards, including iPad keyboards, at Amazon.
This one -- a little foldable iWerks number (regular $79.99; on sale for $31.99 -- 60 percent off) -- works with your phone or iPad: iWerkz Universal Foldable Bluetooth Keyboard.
A review from Amazon for the little folding iWerks:
All ups and no downs What? A review that's 100% positive? Yep. This little keyboard was what I was looking for, even though I didn't know I was looking for it. I saw an ad and bought on a whim. Didn't realize how much I would use this thing.
1. It folds into a something the size of my hands. Put both hands flat together. That's about the size of this. It fits into my purse, no prob.
2. Once folded you put it into the hard case to protect. And this hard case also serves as a stand for my iPad. Does it actually hold up my iPad? Yep. It has a little pop-out slider for phones as well.
3. It pairs fast. Both my phone and my iPad paired within 2 seconds.
4. Charge lasts for...well...I don't know. Going on 2 weeks now.
5. Types well. It takes about 10 minutes to get used to the gap in the middle, but then you're flying. Has a feel more like an Apple keyboard than a Windows one.
6. OK - there's one "down". I see it online now for an average of about $10 less than I paid. So that sucks.
To buy stuff you don't see in my links and give me a wee kickback (that costs you nothing), Search Amy's Amazon here. (For stuff not listed above.)
And thanks to all who shop through my links! Every purchase you make is much appreciated!
"I'm In Charge -- And I'm Clueless"
That's basically what the Secretary of Homeland Security said about the Fourth Amendment and whether he thinks the government can bulk-collect your personal data without a warrant.
Secretary Jeh Johnson's exact words in response to Rand Paul's grilling on that subject?
"That is beyond my competence as the Secretary of Homeland Security to answer in any intelligent legal way." - Secretary Jeh Johnson
The video is seven-some minutes but the exchange is right at the beginning.
College Today: "As If They Are Raising Human Veal"
Nick Gillespie has it right at the Daily Beast on the ever-increasing infantilization of college students with "trigger warnings" and all:
But really, what the fuck is wrong with kids these days and, more important, the supposed adults who look after them? They act as if they are raising human veal that cannot even stand on their own legs or face the sunlight without having their eyeballs burned out and their hearts broken by a single deep breath or uncomfortable moment. I'm just waiting for stories of college deans carrying students from class to class on their backs.
As a first-generation college student way back when, one of the very greatest things about college was engaging with ideas and attitudes that were different than what you already knew. Attending Rutgers in the early '80s, you could walk from one end of the centuries-old College Avenue Campus to the other and encounter screaming matches over divesting the stocks of companies that did business in South Africa, whether Nicaragua was already a Soviet satellite, and the supposedly self-hating theology of Jews for Jesus.
Hardly a week went by, it seemed, without a public demonstration for and against the burgeoning gay rights movement, a protested showing of the anti-abortion movie Silent Scream, and debates over how great and/or evil Ronald Reagan actually was. The whole idea of college was about arguing and debating, not shielding ourselves from disagreements.
Even as it seemed to be an all-you-can-eat buffet of exotic new ideas, outrages, and attitudes, it wasn't paradise, and I shudder to think of the insensitivities that were taken for granted by the privileged and internalized by the oppressed of the day. Nobody wants to return to the days when campus was segregated by race, gender, and lest we forget, class.
But the way students and especially administrators talk about college today, you'd think parents are paying ever-higher tuition so their children can attend a reeducation camp straight out of China's Cultural Revolution. It's as if college presidents, deans, and the ever-increasing number of bureaucrats and administrators and residence-life muckety-mucks walked away from Animal House firmly believing that Dean Wormer was not only the hero of movie but a role model. At all costs, order must be enforced and no space for free play or discord can be allowed!
It gets better and better. From NRO (National Review Online -- though it sounds like it's from National Review of the Onion):
Campus Group Apologizes to Students 'Triggered' by Anti-Microaggressions Exhibit
Protecting Guilty Officers Against Telling A Damning Story
It turns out there's a police tenure system that keeps bad cops on the job by delaying the questioning of the officer long enough that he or she has ample time to piece together a less damning story. Walter Olson writes at Cato:
The problems of the teacher tenure system, especially in big cities where powerful unions defend members against dismissal, are familiar enough. Less well known is the newer, parallel-and arguably more alarming-rise of police and prison-guard tenure under what are known as Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR or LEOBOR) laws.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, for example, has blamed Maryland's LEOBR law for frustrating the investigation into the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. Maryland's law provides that after an incident superiors cannot question an officer without the presence of a lawyer of the officer's choosing, and that officers have 10 days to line up such representation. Critics say that by the time those suspected of misbehavior have to commit to a story, they will have had ample opportunity to consult with others about what to say. Most of the officers present have cooperated with the investigation of Gray's death, the city says, but at least one has not.
...Prison and jail guards are often covered by these laws as well, and scandals of corrections administration (the state-run Baltimore jail had a huge one in which the Maryland LEOBR was implicated) are often hard to investigate because of the law's barriers. Union contracts often add further layers of insulation from discipline. In its coverage of abuse allegations at New York's notorious Attica prison, for example, the New York Times reported, "Under their union contract, corrections officers are obligated to answer questions only from their employers and have the right to refuse to talk to outside police agencies. State Police investigators attempted to interview 15 guards; 11 declined to cooperate."
Declined to cooperate? Declined to cooperate?! Like it's a fucking tea party, and they just weren't feeling up to attending?
Oh La Link
Cat Hatred Isn't Something That Suddenly Occurs To You
Here, pussy, pussy, pussy...
From "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck," which I hope you'll buy and read, if you haven't already. (Orders of the book -- new only, not used! --help support my writing and keep me from dining out of Dumpsters.)
(Also at B&N.)
The Palestinians Nobody Cares About
The people who profess to care deeply about the plight of Palestinians care only about certain Palestinians -- those within Israel's borders. Khaled Abu Toameh writes at Gatestone Institute:
Western journalists covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict regularly focus on the "plight" of Palestinians who are affected by Israeli security policies, while ignoring what is happening to Palestinians in neighboring Arab countries.
These journalists, for example, often turn a blind eye to the daily killings of Palestinians in Syria and the fact that Palestinians living in Lebanon and other Arab countries are subjected to Apartheid and discriminatory laws.
A Palestinian who is shot dead after stabbing an Israeli soldier in Hebron receives more coverage in the international media than a Palestinian woman who dies of starvation in Syria.
The story and photos of Mahmoud Abu Jheisha, who was fatally shot after stabbing a soldier in Hebron, attracted the attention of many Western media outlets, whose journalists and photographers arrived in the city to cover the story.
But on the same day that Abu Jheisha was brought to burial, a Palestinian woman living in Syria died due to lack of food and medicine. The woman was identified as Amneh Hussein Omari of the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus, which has been under siege by the Syrian army for the past 670 days. Her death raises the number of Palestinian refugees who have died as a result of lack of medicine and food in the camp to 176.
The case of Omari was not covered by any of the Western journalists who are based in the region. As far as they are concerned, her story is not important because she died in an Arab country.
Had Omari died in a village or refugee camp in the West Bank or Gaza Strip, her story would have made it to the front pages of most of the major newspapers in the West. That is because they would then be able to link her death to Israeli measures in the West Bank or the blockade on the Gaza Strip. The same journalists who report about the harsh economic conditions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip do not seem to care about the Palestinians who are being starved and tortured to death in Arab countries.
Nor are the journalists reporting to their readers and viewers the fact that more than 2800 Palestinians have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the civil war there four years ago. A report published this week by a Palestinian advocacy group also revealed that more than 27,000 Palestinians have fled Syria to different European countries in the past four years. The report also noted that Yarmouk camp has been without electricity for more than 730 days and without water for 229 days.
It Isn't "Hate" If A Christian Baker Doesn't Want To Make The Cake For Your Gay Wedding
I hate going to weddings, but I love the idea of weddings and those cute pictures of happy couples, gay and straight.
But I also love our country's rights and freedoms, including the freedom we should have to refuse to put out creative work for a cause we do not believe in.
Damon Linker, like me, feels it's abusive and awful to try to force -- or fine and punish -- Christians and others who refuse based on their religious (or any other) strongly-held beliefs to bake cakes or take photos or do other creative work. He writes at The Week about a bakery owned by Christians that refused to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding and then was fined:
The lesbian couple complained to the authorities, a judge determined last January that the bakery violated Oregon's anti-discrimination laws, and this past Friday the state's Bureau of Labor and Industries proposed an award of damages to the couple of $135,000 (for "emotional suffering stemming directly from unlawful discrimination") -- this despite the fact that the bakery has since gone out of business and its owners (who have five children) are already struggling to pay the bills.
Immediately after the proposed award was announced, supporters of the bakery owners started a crowdfunding campaign through GoFundMe to cover the family's costs. The campaign raised more than $109,000 in its first eight hours -- but then it was halted and shut down when foes of the bakery complained to the website, claiming that the fundraising effort violated its terms of service, which prohibit raising money "in defense of formal charges of heinous crimes, including violent, hateful, or sexual acts."
The "heinous crime" in this case obviously had nothing to do with violence or sex. So we're left with "hateful." The owners of the bakery didn't yell and scream insults at the lesbian couple. They didn't beat them or threaten them with violence. They merely chose not to sell them a cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony because their religious faith tells them that two women cannot marry. And that, apparently, is an example of hate.
But is it?
Surely we can all agree that an action or statement can only be said to exhibit hate when it expresses extreme dislike for a person or group combined with an implied or explicit threat. Judged by that standard, it's hard to see how the bakery owners displayed hate. What they displayed was a difference in fundamental values.
But how about the lesbian couple? They went to considerable effort to make trouble for the bakery -- and the effort succeeded. It was driven out of business. Could that not be described as an expression of hate?
Look, I find religion and the evidence-free belief in god ridiculous but I likewise will support your denying somebody a cake because you believe in astrology, unicorns, or think the letter P is the devil.
This isn't hate. It's support for religious freedom and freedom of expression -- and freedom from being forced to express yourself in ways that contradict your beliefs.
As Linker writes:
What is clear is that significant numbers of gays and lesbians are intent on acting as if both were perfectly obvious, and on using the organizing power of social media to drive the point home against anyone who violates the supposedly supreme commandment against "hating" homosexuals in this very broad sense, and even against anyone who fails to express an adequate level of hatred toward these "haters."
It would be better, I think, to recognize that hatred as such isn't the problem. The problem is that those who support the legitimacy of same-sex marriage (myself included) and those who reject its legitimacy begin from very different, perhaps fundamentally incompatible moral and metaphysical assumptions. And that in many -- maybe most -- cases, "hate" has nothing at all to do with it.
Flying link machines.
A Hug Now Requires "Affirmative Consent" At UVA -- Or You're Guilty Of Sexual Assault
If you don't explicitly ask for and get permission for your clothed body to touch another person's clothed body in a hug, you could now be accused of "sexual assault" through "sexual contact" at UVA.
It's part of UVA's broad new "sexual assault" policy, explains Hans Bader at Liberty Unyielding:
Because U.Va. lumps together touching, "however slight," and intercourse when it comes to sexual assault, requiring "affirmative" consent for both. ("Affirmative consent" is a misleading term, and does not include many forms of consent that occur in the real world, and are recognized by the courts, as I explain at this link. The new policy further warns that "Relying solely on non-verbal communication before or during sexual activity can lead to misunderstanding and may result in a violation of this Policy."
Here is the essential bit from the new UVA "sexual assault" policy:
A. SEXUAL ASSAULT Sexual Assault consists of (1) Sexual Contact and/or (2) Sexual Intercourse that occurs without (3) Affirmative Consent.
(1) Sexual Contact is:
Any intentional sexual touching
With any object or body part (as described below)
Performed by a person upon another person
Sexual Contact includes (a) intentional touching of the breasts, buttocks, groin or genitals, whether clothed or unclothed, or intentionally touching another with any of these body parts; and (b) making another touch you or themselves with or on any of these body parts.
(2) Sexual Intercourse is:
With any object or body part (as described below)
Performed by a person upon another person
Sexual Intercourse includes (a) vaginal penetration by a penis, object, tongue, or finger; (b) anal penetration by a penis, object, tongue, or finger; and (c) any contact, no matter how slight, between the mouth of one person and the genitalia of another person.
(3) Affirmative Consent is:
Voluntary (freely given)
Active (not passive), meaning that, through the demonstration of clear
words or actions, a person has indicated permission to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.
This is an awful invasion of students' lives and sex lives. Bader gives an example in another piece of how absurd policies like this play out in real life, within a marriage:
The University of California, on February 25, adopted a policy requiring affirmative consent not just to sex, but to every form of "physical sexual activity" engaged in.
I and my wife have been happily married for more than a decade, and like 99.9% of married couples, we do not engage in verbal discussion before engaging in each and every form of sexual activity. Indeed, in the first year of our daughter's life, when she was a very light sleeper (she would wake up if you merely walked into her bedroom and stepped on a creaky part of the bedroom floor), it would have been unthinkable for us to engage in any kind of "out loud" discussion in our bedroom, which is right next to hers (the walls in our house are very thin, and you can hear sounds from one room in the next room). We certainly did not verbally discuss then whether to have sex. Having sex quietly when you are a parent is a sign that you are considerate of sleeping family members, and have a healthy marriage, not of sexual abuse.
Also, most sexual contact you have with a person you're dating or in a relationship with, you don't want to ask for. "May I kiss you now?" "May I use my penis to penetrate your vagina now?" I mean, if you have to ask that way, never the fuck mind, because I'm going to read a book.
Justice Roberts May Have Found A Way To Vote For Gay Marriage Rights
Adam Liptak writes at The New York Times:
WASHINGTON -- In a telling moment at Tuesday's Supreme Court arguments over same-sex marriage, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. suggested that he may have found a way to cast a vote in favor of the gay and lesbian couples in the case.
"I'm not sure it's necessary to get into sexual orientation to resolve this case," he said. "I mean, if Sue loves Joe and Tom loves Joe, Sue can marry him and Tom can't. And the difference is based upon their different sex. Why isn't that a straightforward question of sexual discrimination?"
That theory had gotten only slight attention in scores of lawsuits challenging bans on same-sex marriage, and it is unlikely to serve as the central rationale if a majority of the court votes to strike down such bans, an opinion likely to be written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.
But it could allow Chief Justice Roberts to be part of a 6-to-3 decision, maintaining some control over the court he leads and avoiding accusations from gay rights groups that he was on the wrong side of history.
Discrimination on these terms has always been the way I've looked at it. You should be allowed to marry the one consenting adult of your choice. Because the sex of that person makes some religious believer itchy, well, we don't hand out or deny rights based on discomfort but on what's fair.
American College Students Are Now More Horrified By Free Speech Than The Lack Of It
Quin Hillyer writes at NRO about the conniption fits by students at both Oberlin and Georgetown U because campus groups were hosting speeches by Christina Hoff Sommers, whom Hillyer correctly describes as "a strong critic of the radicalization of modern feminism."
At Georgetown, most disturbingly, the student newspaper (!!) led the charge against free speech:
Anyway, the first embarrassment came in the form of an editorial by the newspaper. Read it for yourself here. It's one of the worst pieces of drivel I've ever seen from a supposedly mainstream newspaper at an elite university. Called "No More Distractions," the paper's official position is that because Sommers at various times has questioned the accuracy of certain alleged statistics on the frequency of rape, she therefore should not have been invited to speak on campus. (Never mind that rape wasn't even the topic of her Georgetown speech.) The self-contradictions in the editorial were legion. Example one: "By giving Sommers a platform, GU [college Republicans have] knowingly endorsed a harmful conversation on the serious topic of sexual assault."
If it's a serious topic, and it's a university (supposedly dedicated to the free flow of ideas), how, pray tell, can a "conversation" be harmful?
But, worse, the editors write that "giving voice" to someone who argues that the statistics are inflated (by the way, as horrific a crime as rape is, the reality is that Sommers is right about its incidence) will only "trigger obstructive dialogue." What sort of Orwellian double-speak is this? How can "dialogue" be "obstructive"? Perhaps a diatribe, in certain circumstances, might be seen as somehow obstructive, but a dialogue by its very nature serves to illuminate, not obstruct. The editors then proceed to instruct readers as to what sort of "conversation" we should be having: one that focuses on only one aspect of rape, and from only one perspective. Some conversation.
Kindle Daily Deal -- Money, Money, Money, by Ed McBain, a writer I have heard mentioned in positive ways by Gregg (Elmore Leonard's former researcher, who is not quick to toss around praise of crime writers).
And a customer review at Amazon: "This is a fast-paced, intriguing police procedural, full of crisp, spare writing, unrivaled dialogue, vivid scenes, and brilliant characterizations."
Today's groovy digital deal: Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutting Machine Starter Bundle.
And what the hell is this thing, you ask?
The Silhouette Cameo electronic cutting machine can cut a wide variety of materials including paper, vinyl, cardstock, fabric, heat transfer material, and so much more. With the included Silhouette Studio software, you're able to create and cut your own designs and use the fonts already installed on your computer. There are also tens of thousands of great designs available through the ever-growing Silhouette Online Store.
You can cut out uniform shapes out of vinyl, for example, and stick them on the wall for cool "wallpaper." I'd do that if I had time!
To buy stuff you don't see in my links and give me a wee kickback (that costs you nothing), Search Amy's Amazon here. (For stuff not listed above.)
And thanks to all who shop through my links! Every purchase you make is much appreciated!
Fictional Characters Say Supposedly Deeply Offensive Things About Another Fictional Character...
And naturally, feminists and obsessive comic book fans lose their cookies over it. Matt Walsh writes at The Blaze:
Two actors, Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans, were forced to issue formal apologies for making a disparaging joke about a fictional comic book hero. For anyone not familiar with the Marvel comic book universe -- perhaps because you don't keep up on superhero news, or because you're a grown up -- Renner and Evans both play characters in the upcoming "Avengers: Age of Ultron" movie. Scarlett Johansson also stars in the film.
Apparently, there is speculation among people who speculate about fictional superhero romances that both Renner's and Evans' characters will be romantically involved with Johansson's character, Black Widow, in the new movie. When asked about this at a recent press junket, Renner joked that Black Widow is a "slut." Evans laughed and muttered "whore" under his breath. Both men were obviously having a little fun by pretending they're jealous of the other person's fictional character for having a fling with the fictional character their fictional characters are also involved with.
I have now spent a paragraph explaining a superhero love triangle, which makes me weep inside.
Anyway, feminists and emotionally invested comic book fans reacted swiftly, calling the men "idiot frat boys," and proposing that an off the cuff joke about a female superhero reveals how "deeply ingrained sexist attitudes are in our culture." (Side note: isn't it sexist to call two successful grown men "idiot frat boys"?)
This is about something other than outrage. As I keep saying, it's about supposed outrage as a way to have unearned power over other people.
In the wake of marches to honor Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old man who died in police custody, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told the rioters and looters to have at it.
Here, from CBS Baltimore, is her full comment:
"I made it very clear that I work with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech," Rawlings-Blake said. "It's a very delicate balancing act. Because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars and other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well. And we worked very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate."
She forgot to give them her home address.
This lady -- via @Popehat -- should be mayor. (Click to play the video.)
And somebody please tell me what this has to do with Freddie Grey?
And here's a rioter cutting a hole in the hose of firefighters trying to put out the fire at CVS. How do you help your community by making it impossible for businesses like drugstores to remain there?
The mayor, slapped around in the media for her remark about giving the thugs "space" to "destroy," started singing a more mournful tune (CBS Baltimore):
What we see tonight that is going on in our city is very disturbing. It is very clear there is a difference between what we saw over the past week with the peaceful protests, those who wish to seek justice, those who wish to be heard, and want answers and the difference between those protests and the thugs who only want to incite violence and destroy our city.
...I'm a life-long resident of Baltimore and too many people have spent generations building up this city for it to be destroyed by thugs who in a very senseless way are trying to tear down what so many have fought for. Tearing down businesses. Tearing down and destroying property, things that we know will impact our community for years. We are deploying every resource possible to gain control of the situation and to ensure peace moving forward.
Amazingly, even gang members did better than the Mayor (who, again, changed her tune from "space" to "destroy" after a media-wide spanking). From a Justin Fenton and Erica L. Green Baltimore Sun story:
A group of men who said they were members of the Crips -- they wore blue bandannas and blue shirts -- stood on the periphery and denounced the looting.
"This is our hood, and we can't control it right now," one of the men said.
Eat The Poor
At Watchdog.org, Steven Greenhut asks from Sacramento whether Earth Day policies -- specifically those in California -- destroy opportunities for the poor:
As the current governor sends California into a more aggressive anti-global warming posture -- he called for 50 percent reductions in petroleum use and a massive increase in the amount of electricity generated from renewable sources -- it would be nice to hear from the old idea-churning Brown. I'd love to hear his thoughts on what this means for California's poor and middle-class families, given the degree to which such policies drive up the cost of living and, arguably, drive out job-creating businesses.
There's little debate on AB 32 and how its resulting cap-and-trade system increased electricity rates and what it cost in manufacturing jobs. It will soon add even more to gasoline prices. Less discussed: The degree to which the law (and related policies) has driven up the price of housing in a state that already had some of the least-affordable markets in the nation.
...Brown's high-speed rail system, which is his most-coveted program (and one that will spend more than $69 billion even as the state struggles with insufficient water infrastructure), is a core part of this strategy. The goal is to limit suburban "sprawl," and push most new development into high-density urban areas served by mass transit rather than automobiles. Brown once pointed to Marin County, the wealthy suburb north of San Francisco, as the state's land-use model. But median home prices there are around $900,000, in part because of the county's tough building restrictions.
California's official poverty rate tracks close to the national average, but when cost-of-living factors are included, it soars to the highest in the nation.