March 7, 2007

The right to videotape public meetings.

Oh, how I love the New Jersey Supreme Court and its Chief Justice Zazzali, who not only has a cool name but also wrote this really cool opinion that starts with a quote from Patrick Henry -- "[t]he liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them" -- and holds that people have the right to videotape public meetings.

And I love our feisty hero, Robert Wayne Tarus, who insisted on recording civic events despite lots of bullying and criminal prosecution. He sued in federal court, alleging claims under the U.S. Constitution (First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments) and the New Jersey Constitution and common law (false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and defamation), and lost on the federal grounds, which led to the discretionary dismissal of the state claims. Our hero started again in state court, alleging just the state common law and state constitutional claims, and he prevails!

The court finds a common law right (and doesn't need to reach the state constitutional grounds). Here's my handy cut-down of the opinion:
Today, hand-held video cameras are everywhere -- attached to our computers, a common feature in consumer still-shot cameras, and even built into recent generations of mobile telephones. The broad and pervasive use of video cameras at public events evidences a societal acceptance of their use in public fora.

Commensurate with the use of video recording in society is its intrinsic value in documenting events. “Videotaping is a legitimate way of gathering information for public dissemination and can often provide cogent evidence . . . .” Robinson v. Fetterman, 378 F. Supp. 2d 534, 541 (E.D. Pa. 2005). ...

Openness is a hallmark of democracy -- a sacred maxim of our government -- and video is but a modern instrument in that evolving pursuit. The Mayor and Borough ran afoul of that principle and violated the common law right to videotape by imposing unreasonable ad hoc restrictions. Arbitrary rules that curb the openness of a public meeting are barricades against effective democracy. The use of modern technology to record and review the activities of public bodies should marshal pride in our open system of government, not muster suspicion against citizens who conduct the recording.

In sum, we hold that, subject to reasonable restrictions, members of the public have a common law right to videotape municipal proceedings in New Jersey. Our conclusion is supported by an interwoven tapestry of jurisprudence and policy that demonstrates both the value of open government and the right to document governmental proceedings.
Hooray for the interwoven tapestry!

(Sometimes the lawprof is just a cheerleader.)

Okay, I'll do it. I'll blog "American Idol."

Your requests have not gone unheard. I will go back to "American Idol" blogging! At least tonight. I will watch in real time and simulblog to keep from losing my mind. All for you, my dear friends.

1. Ryan's looking all arty in a black suit with a black turtleneck. Isn't it rude not to shave? Jordin Sparks sings some Pat Benatar. "Heartbreaker." It's full of ugly vibrato. Sparks demonstrates the erstwhile unknown authenticity of Pat Benatar. Randy thinks she's hot (and better than all the boys). Paula does the theme she's been working all season: Singers should keep getting better. Simon calls her shrieky.

2. Sabrina has her crinkly bronze hair and crinkly bronze dress. She's singing about "heartbreakin'" -- so I guess the breaking of the hearts is a theme tonight. The song makes no sense to me. No, I will go further. The song makes me hate music. Forever! Randy wishes the song had a little more melody for him. Yeah! I want some for me too. Paula praises but in amongst the praise says the word "piercing," and I feel my eardrums do a little sympathetic scrunch.

3. Ack. It's Antonella Barba. I like the black over-the-knee boots. But as they say: This is a singing contest. She ends kind of nicely, but really, it's not singing. Simon's left with a wistful wish: If only she could sing better. Translation: She's pretty.

4. Hayley Scarnato: She's awful. America, make her go away. Only Simon is honest: "I thought it was horrible." He's all: I don't even know her name. Paula offers: Hayley. Simon: "What's her surname?" And everyone in the place -- and in America -- is all: What are you talking about? Surname?!!! Who are you, English boy? In the recovery phase, with Ryan, we see her in closeup, with giant, heavy earrings, and they are stretching out her earlobes in a ghastly fashion, like in those commercials for those anti-ear-sag stickers. Then she reveals bad attitude: "Every week, I've gotten bad comments. You just gotta do what you gotta do. You gotta clock in, clock out. So, I'm clockin' in, doin' my job, and I wanna clock out, right after I walk off the stage." Ooh! They don't usually go all human like that.

5. Stephanie. Nice but bland.

6. LaKisha. She hates puppies! ("Terrified of animals.") Uh, oh. Will America accept a puppy-hater? She's screetching that "don't walk away from me... I have nothing" song that they always do, the one that goes all sweet on the final "yooooooooo."

7. Now, it's Gina, who's wearing a thin, stretchy gray knit dress with a red bra showing through. Should we do that? Wear red bras that show through? Maybe I'll go with that look for the next BloggingHeads.tv. She's doing well. Possibly the best "rocker chick" we've ever seen on the show.

8. Melinda Doolittle. Oh, no! She's talking about her OCD, how she has to chew an equal amount on both sides, etc. "It's all about equality." Okaaaay. She sings a song I know: "I'm a Woman." Wow! I love it. This is the only performance I genuinely enjoy. I mean, it reacquaints me with the idea of enjoying a performance. If OCD helped with that, I'm for OCD.

Banning YouTube in Turkey... and you probably know why.

Somebody's making fun of Ataturk!
The court was acting on the recommendation of a prosecutor, who was himself apparently prompted by an escalating war of homemade YouTube videos created by ethnic Greeks and Turks, who antagonized one another with clips featuring images of Ataturk as hero or fool, the flinging of insults, and spurious incantations like “Ataturk is gay."
(I think this is a TimesSelect link.)

ADDED: "Spurious Incantations" would be a good name for a blog. "Ataturk Is Gay," not so much.

What's "the very definition of a happy marriage"?

Why "a union of crunchy, generously salted exterior and pillowy interior," of course!

"Sundance has a fauxhawk, and Sanjaya's been menaced by a flat iron. Thank the good lord Phil decided to wear a hat tonight."

Sez Joe R. File this post under Althouse doesn't really blog about "American Idol" anymore. Eeeeeee... please help me. I don't want to think about Sundance singing "Jeremy." I'd forgotten. And now I'm remembering.... ow....

"For many people the Internet has become a scarlet letter, an albatross."

So, you go to Yale, and you interview at a lot of law firms. No offers. Blame the internet?
The woman and two others interviewed by The Washington Post learned from friends that they were the subject of derogatory chats on a widely read message board on AutoAdmit, run by a third-year law student at the University of Pennsylvania and a 23-year-old insurance agent....

Another Yale law student learned a month ago that her photographs were posted in an AutoAdmit chat that included her name and graphic discussion about her breasts. She was also featured in a separate contest site -- with links posted on AutoAdmit chats -- to select the "hottest" female law student at "Top 14" law schools, which nearly crashed because of heavy traffic. Eventually her photos and comments about her and other contestants were posted on more than a dozen chat threads, many of which were accessible through Google searches.

"I felt completely objectified," that woman said. It was, she said, "as if they're stealing part of my character from me." The woman, a Fulbright scholar who graduated summa cum laude, said she now fears going to the gym because people on the site encouraged classmates to take cellphone pictures of her.
Too beautiful to appear in public? Too hot to be hired? Come on! What rational employer would deny you a job because idiots chatted about you on line in a way that made if obvious that the only thing you did was look good?

(I am sympathetic to the woman who had someone impersonate her by name in a chat. There is a popular blog where that is done to me in the comments and openly encouraged. As I noted here, the blogger in question flatly refused to do anything about it.)

ADDED: Lindsay Beyerstein is more upset than I am about the fact that there is a lot of loose talk about people on the internet -- though presumably not about the dumb, loose talk about me on her own site. She fails to reveal what repressive remedies she has in mind to keep the internet from chattering. But I hope she'll at least do that "more speech" thing and condemn that blog where they impersonate me all the time -- or does she think I deserve it? Anyway, go over there and read about her outrage and about what an unsympathetic clod I am, and check out how she re-defames me over the old Clinton blogger lunch incident. See if you can figure out how she proposes to embrace the web with nurturing kindness and save women from all that talk out there. Hint: You can't. Either the remedies she has in mind are too repressive to scare you with, or she's content with just expressing outrage and sympathy. I'm coming down on the side of free speech on this, and that's one more thing she's outraged about.

MORE: I finally found the email from those bloggers that refused to deal with the problem of people impersonating me on their website, but it's too long and boring to put here on the front page, so you'll have to go into the comments and find this junk. Scroll down to my comment at 4:33 PM.

YET MORE: This post has become a major target for anti-Althouse swarming. It's not feminist -- don't you know? -- to withhold nurturing for sensitive Yale law students who fail to land the jobs they are demonstrably entitled to.

AND: The discussion continues in my new post here.

The Iraq war “put the rest of the world into simulation, so all the world becomes total artifice and then we are all-powerful."

Ah, the mind that could think such thoughts. Post-modernism. Now post-post-modernism. And I mean really post, not just post in some theoretical way, but post, really post, kaput.

Jean Baudrillard, dead at 77.

Avoiding Rodney King-style troubles the French way.

It's now illegal in France for nonprofessionals to film acts of violence. (Via Memeoradum.)
...16 years [ago] Los Angeles police officers beating Rodney King were filmed by amateur videographer George Holliday on the night of March 3, 1991. The officers’ acquittal at the end on April 29, 1992 sparked riots in Los Angeles.

If Holliday were to film a similar scene of violence in France today, he could end up in prison as a result of the new law, said Pascal Cohet, a spokesman for French online civil liberties group Odebi. And anyone publishing such images could face up to five years in prison and a fine of €75,000 (US$98,537), potentially a harsher sentence than that for committing the violent act.
The original motivation for the law was to deal with things like "happy slapping" ("violent attack is filmed by an accomplice, typically with a camera phone, for the amusement of the attacker’s friends"), but they've intentionly drafted it to cover citizen journalists of the Holliday type.

Think it couldn't happen here?

Tiny answer to big question: Ruth Bader Ginsburg's shoe!

And Linda Greenhouse gets the better of Jan Crawford Greenburg, who blogged -- (blogged!) -- about "Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s delay in getting to her feet and leaving the bench," which "Ms. Greenburg wrote, seemed a sign of possible ill health and 'made me think I’d better start pulling those possible retirement files together.'"

Greenhouse has the excitement-deflating news that "Justice Ginsburg had kicked off her shoes during the argument and could not find one of them."

ADDED: David Lat is reveling in the battle of the Greens, -house and -burg. Go read the text. Here's the graphic:

"The time for a pardon is now."

The Wall Street Journal editorializes that Bush should pardon Libby:
In hindsight, the defense seems to have blundered by portraying Mr. Libby as the "fall guy" for others in the White House. That didn't do enough to rebut Mr. Fitzgerald's theory of the case, and so the jury seems to have decided that Mr. Libby must have been lying to protect something. The defense might have been better off taking on Mr. Fitzgerald for criminalizing political differences.
Since the defense made this decision, it's hard to see why Bush would be motivated to pardon him.
We believe [Bush] some personal responsibility for this conviction, especially for not policing the disputes and insubordination in his Administration that made this travesty possible.
I really don't understand how these asserted shortcomings connect to lying to a grand jury. He was convicted of perjury. Whatever you think of the Plame affair and the whole investigation, why should Bush condone that?

"Notably restrained and reflective for a man who has been pilloried for a week."

Inside Higher Education picks up the UW Law School story:
Kaplan’s letter — while firm in denying that he said the hateful things attributed to him — is also notably restrained and reflective for a man who has been pilloried for a week. A lawyer who also has a Ph.D. in psychology, Kaplan has focused on both law and mental health, and his reply begins by talking about all he has learned in the last week or so about Hmong culture and the challenges the Hmong have encountered....
This article quotes the statement of the Committee for Academic Freedom and Rights and continues:
Jonathan Knight, who directs the program in academic freedom and tenure for the American Association of University Professors, said that disputes like the one at Wisconsin do have the potential to raise issues of academic freedom — especially if there is a rush to judgment. “Plainly administrators should take seriously what students complain about, and see if there is merit about it,” he said. But “restraint in public statements” is ideal, even given the pressure to speak out against statements viewed as racist or sexist, he said.

Certain kinds of statements “trigger fast reactions,” Knight said. “There have been occasions when the reactions were well founded,” he said. “But there have been others that were not well founded or were somehow in between, so a dose of prudence and caution is always useful.”

Knight said he was not bothered by administrators acknowledging the pain felt by those offended by something alleged to have been said — the pain being real even if the person never said the words in question. But Knight said he worried about holding forums for people to express their pain when the facts were still being gathered, as happened at Wisconsin. “That can create its own dynamics, which is a problem,” he said. “In creating a forum, inevitably that will suggest that there is a real problem. The forum is not being held to discuss a perception, but what seems to be a reality i.e. that someone has said something that is racist or sexist or vilely offensive.”

He added that while it is “laudable for administrators to pay heed to community sentiments, that can come at a quick and high cost to the sense of freedom necessary for faculty to teach controversial and sensitive subjects.”

(To read all my posts on this incident, click the label "Kaplan story," just below.)

ADDED: The Badger Herald has a good editorial:
[I]nstead of fighting fire with fire, Mr. Kaplan’s letter is the mark of a compassionate man who, as he writes, “regret[s] the part that [his] own limitations played in contributing to” the controversy. To be sure, he does not apologize, and if his account — which has been effectively corroborated by other students in his class — is accurate, even the aforementioned statement of regret is not necessary.

We were delighted to see the professor describe, in tedious detail, exactly the points he was trying to illustrate in discussing the Hmong community....
It's nice of the student editors to be delighted by a professor's "tedious detail"! We have much more tedious detail to delight you with, you know.
When a Badger Herald reporter sought comment Monday from the students who have led the charge against Mr. Kaplan, UW student [name deleted], who was present at the Feb. 15 lecture, responded with just a six-word e-mail, saying, “We are disappointed in his response.”

Meanwhile, UW student [name deleted], who first circulated the complaints via e-mail but was not in Mr. Kaplan’s lecture, declined comment altogether.
Well, Kaplan took a long silence and didn't respond to press reports. If it takes them a while to think through what they want to say, it's understandable.

The Badger Herald editors go on to say "it's the classic 'he said, she said' scenario" but "we believe Mr. Kaplan." The editors opine that the students acted "irresponsibly," but not "maliciously," and suggest that they "seriously consider issuing a public apology to Mr. Kaplan." They praise CAFAR:
[W]hile a disturbing number of individuals exhibited a galling willingness to reach hasty, damning conclusions, UW’s Committee for Academic Freedom and Rights released an articulate, well-reasoned defense of academic freedom, a value under continual threat here at UW and other campuses across the country.
And they express hope that "Kaplan’s letter will be the start of the end to this sordid affair, so we can all move on with a renewed understanding of what can happen when we throw to the wayside values we ought to cherish."

NOTE: I've deleted the student names that originally appeared here. I didn't like using the students' names, and only had them because they were in the newspaper article I was commenting on. Obviously, the names are still available in the linked newspaper articles.

March 6, 2007

Finding the limit on Congress's war powers.

Noah Feldman and Samuel Issacharoff explain why Congress lacks the power to manage the war:
The Constitution gives Congress the power to declare wars, fund them, and oversee the way they are fought. Yet the Constitution never says exactly how these powers are to be reconciled with the president's authority as commander in chief. The Constitution surely must empower the president to fight wars effectively enough to win them. That means that war must be conducted under the president's direction, not run by committee. In the modern era, no country—not even a parliamentary democracy—has been so foolhardy as to place a war under the guidance of a legislative body, rather than a single, unified command....

The short answer to the question of institutional competence is that Congress is good at expressing the popular will about whether we should be at war or not, and what kind of a war it should be, while the president is good at actually fighting the war (or at least he should be). The Constitution should therefore be understood to allow Congress to declare and define the nature of the war while guaranteeing the president's authority to make decisions that are crucial to the tactical conduct of it.
Read the whole thing.

Twilight on Bascom Hill.

Twilight on Bascom Hill

Minutes after we hear that their notes make the jurors seem confused, the verdict is in.

Here's the piece about the confused-sounding notes.
In their questions, which were released Tuesday morning, jurors seemed confused about what Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was alleging.

Were prosecutors saying Libby knew that Plame worked for the CIA by the time of his FBI interview, jurors asked? Was he accused of lying to Cooper? Or does the government believe Libby's account of the Cooper conversation was untrue?

Walton tried to clarify things.

"To be clear, Mr. Libby is charged in Count Three with making false statements to the FBI about what was said during his July 12, 2003 conversation with Mr. Cooper," Walton wrote in response. "Mr. Libby is not charged with making a false statement to Mr. Cooper."

The reading of the verdict is scheduled for noon, Eastern Time.

UPDATE: I'm watching the CNN Pipeline, "Awaiting Libby Verdict." We overhear the journalists chatting as they mill around off camera. One guy stays in the frame. He's got a Burberry scarf all twirled around his neck and lower face. How cold is it in D.C. anyway? Oh, good Lord, he just put on a wool hat. Hmmm... I see it's 26°. "I did it. I'm guilty. I'd do it again." I hear someone -- not the scarf guy -- say. Ooh, I guess I'm "live-blogging" as they say.

"Guilty on 4 out of 5 counts," someone says. Are they predicting or hearing? They are hearing.

Ron Bailey's aha falls splat.

As long as I'm noting the absurd invocation of my name and since I'm up early this morning and have a few extra minutes on my hands today, let me address this piddling dropping by Ron Bailey on the Reason Magazine blog yesterday:
University of Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse writes a fascinating New York Times op/ed arguing that we should not let our emotions run away with us when we talk about race.

That's very good advice.
Ron probably thought everybody remembered his big dispute with me back in January and would perceive a stunning revelation of my hypocrisy, but I see "his editor" -- my heartthrob, Nick Gillespie? -- made him add a link to his pissy old tirade so readers could see how deeply the old coot has it in for me.

As you can tell from that pissy tirade, the old coot loves to wallow in the belief that he is smarter and more profound than I am, but, unfortunately, he's not smart and profound enough to perceive that I am not contradicting myself. His aha falls splat.

My January dispute with Bailey was about the way hardcore libertarians are too in love with their abstract principles and sanitize the real context of race out of their analysis. Here is how I responded to Bailey's loutish attack on me back then.

Notice the similarity between what I was saying to Ron and what Professor Kaplan was trying to do in teaching his lesson about how law fails to deal with the way things are in real life. Both what I said and what -- I think -- Kaplan was trying to teach had to do with the way it's not good enough to deal in abstractions and how it's important to engage with how these abstractions play out in real life.

In the NYT column, I say:
Ironically, you have to care enough about engaging energetically with issues of race to run into this sort of trouble. It’s so much easier to skip the subject altogether, to embrace a theory of colorblindness or to scoop out gobs of politically correct pabulum. It’s only when you challenge the students and confront them with something that can be experienced as ugly... that you create the risk that someone may take offense.
Ron Bailey, cocooned inside his abstractions, is the sort of person I am saying takes the easier path. I want for it to be possible to bring in the racial context that challenges the pat abstractions he fawns over himself for believing in.

I don't say it's wrong to bring emotion into a legal discussion. I am crediting Kaplan for not retreating from the things that make people emotional. I have never blamed the students for becoming passionate when he stirred up their emotions. That is a misreading of my column (which the preening Bailey does to accuse me of hypocrisy).

Look closely. I talk about Kaplan's "complicated pedagogical exercise" that "stirr[ed] up difficult emotions" in the students. That doesn't mean the students were wrong to respond on an emotional level. I think he wanted them to have deep feelings about law and society. The breakdown occurred because they didn't bring that passion to the discussion with the teacher but ran to complain to the law school dean -- using the scary phrase "a racially hostile learning environment" -- which led to attempts to cure them of their bad feelings.

My NYT column concludes:
Our question should not be about what we can do to make you comfortable or how we can make your life pleasant again.

We owe our law students respect, but part of that respect is the recognition that they are adults who are spending many thousands of dollars and hours of study trying to acquire the critical thinking and fortitude that will enable them to serve clients and to stand up to adversaries who are only too ready to shake their nerve....
Clearly, I am objecting to those who were afraid of the students' strong emotions and who aimed at restoring comfort and pleasantness. I worried that this fear would chill classroom discussion and cause teachers to retreat into a more abstract, de-contextualized presentation.

The already cold Bailey thinks I have now decided I like the chill. I do not. I think there is something distorted and defective about reason drained of emotion. Or, more accurately, I think there is always emotion in reason, whether you admit it or not. That's why I was asking, back in January, what was that emotion that drove you to cling so hard to those abstractions you love so much. How do I know it isn't hatred?

"Ann Althouse would probably write a column in The New York Times about how, if Pelosi were really a feminist..."

Why is lawprof Paul Campos invoking my name in his Rocky Mountain News column?
Now suppose I were to stand up here and call Coulter a \[expletive]. (Interestingly, unlike "faggot," American newspapers won't print this word, although it's no more offensive). That would, I believe, be a highly inappropriate thing to do. Even though it's my personal opinion that, if anyone deserves to be called a \[expletive], Coulter does, it's still the sort of thing any decent person will avoid doing.

Yet if I were to point out that Coulter is, by any reasonable standard of evaluation, a \[expletive], I suspect much outrage would ensue. After all, Nancy Pelosi is giving a speech later tonight inside this same hotel, in which - in this hypothetical scenario - someone Pelosi doesn't know (i.e., me) would have called Coulter a \[expletive].

If such a thing were to happen, the entire right-wing noise machine would leap into action. Ann Althouse would probably write a column in The New York Times about how, if Pelosi were really a feminist, she would unequivocally condemn some guy Pelosi has never heard of, who called Coulter a \[expletive] in front of 75 people in a hotel room in Denver.
What the hell is he talking about?

For reference, here's my post about the Coulter/"faggot" thing. My point was that I'm under no obligation to disassociate myself from someone I've never allied with. So this hypothetical column writing he's imagining... it doesn't fit me at all.

Thanks for keeping my name in the press, Paul. But that was just weird.

IN THE COMMENTS: Go in there and read Daryl Herbert's 11:08 comment. I'd reprint it on the front page here -- it's one of the best comments ever -- but it's kind of long, and it's got that word. You know, the word.

Let's read about the Kaplan story in a better newspaper.

After criticizing the Capital Times in that last post, let me call attention to the far superior coverage of the Kaplan story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Before Kaplan's letter [PDF] became available, Megan Twohey wrote a solid article, which I discussed here. Here's her current article. Exerpt:
Leonard Kaplan, a University of Wisconsin-Madison law professor under attack for comments he made about the Hmong, defended himself in a detailed letter to his dean Monday, saying the allegations against him "do not correctly reflect the statements I did make or my purpose in making them."...

The controversy stems from a Feb. 15 class on legal process attended by about 15 students.

[Names deleted], who were in the class, and [name deleted], who was not, filed a complaint with Kenneth Davis, the dean of the law school, accusing Kaplan of creating "a racially hostile learning environment by promoting racial stereotypes and misinformation about the Hmong community, their cultural practices and their history."...

Kaplan said he was discussing how governments fail to respond to poverty and the challenges of a multicultural society. He made the case that the difficulties many Hmong encountered upon their arrival in this country were aggravated by the government's failure to accommodate them....

He said he referred to Hmong men as "warriors" to express the status they held in Southeast Asia, not to suggest any inherent violent tendencies.

"I noted that many of the first generation of Hmong men died prematurely and that a possible explanation is that some Hmong suffered from a loss of meaning as a result of their changed status in the U.S."

"I never said, and I never implied, that Hmong women were better off with Hmong men dead," Kaplan said.
Read the whole thing. It's an excellent account.

And here is an opinion piece published in the MJS, written by Marc Kornblatt, a Madison resident (who wrote this before the Kaplan response came out):
The controversy swirling around a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor and his Hmong students makes me think of the new TV show "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" If someone had managed to record the professor's class, the producers could play the video on their program and a contestant could respond to the following:

What did the professor say? What was the professor's point? What does the professor believe? You have until the next commercial to answer.

Forgive me if I hurt anyone's feelings, but I'm trying to make a point about interpretation and analysis. Neither a lawyer nor a psychologist, but a former journalist who now teaches fifth grade, I work at a Madison school where as many as 70% of the students are poor and the majority are of color....

To form an intelligent opinion, let alone pass judgment, one needs to hear all sides. That's what I tell my fifth-graders....

That's because many people with more money who don't look or talk like you assume you're ignorant, lazy and/or dangerous. So you have to work hard to break the stereotypes to succeed. But you still might not make it because our country's playing field for whites and people of color is not level.

Do I believe the stereotypes? No. Do I talk about them and teach my students how to analyze them? That's my job.

It's tough stuff for a fifth-grader, but so far no one has complained to me. (And believe me, my students know how to complain.) None of their parents has taken me to task yet, either, but someday one might. I can imagine a child misinterpreting me and telling his or her parents that I'm a racist.
Teachers -- and administrators -- need to demand that students think. This is an excellent opinion piece, but I do want to take one step back from what Kornblatt says, because I wince at the use of the word "smart" here. Much as I love pop culture references, I don't think the problem is that our students aren't smart.

The problem lies with those who purport to be teachers who hear that students are unhappy and respond to those feelings instead of demanding that students observe clearly and analyze a situation accurately and with a proper concern for the truth. The question isn't are the students smart, but do the teachers teach.

NOTE: I've deleted the student names that originally appeared here. I didn't like using the students' names, and only had them because they were in the newspaper article I was commenting on. Obviously, the names are still available in the linked newspaper articles.

March 5, 2007

"Do you have a comment now that Professor Kaplan has given his version of what he said and why?"

So read the email I received from a Capital Times reporter this afternoon. My answer:
Only that I'm appalled by the Capital Times reporting on this matter over the last two weeks.
Here's my account of Kaplan's letter, which explains, honestly, I believe, what he was teaching that fateful day and makes it possible to understand the terrible mistake the students made. Here is the original article the Cap Times published on February 23rd. Key passage:
In an e-mail organizing the meeting, students alleged that Kaplan made stereotypical remarks such as "all 2nd generation Hmong end up in gangs and other criminal activity" and "Hmong men have no talent other than to kill."

"These are just some of the incredibly offensive and racist remarks that Kaplan made," Hmong student [name deleted], the author of the e-mail, wrote.
And here is an article the Cap Times published on on February 28. Here is the front-page article after the March 1 public forum, which again quotes the author of the email:
Law student [name deleted] told the crowd Kaplan's comments had "damaged an entire population." She said she has heard from Hmong people across the country who are angered by the statements.

[Name deleted] said she has been disheartened by some people's inability to understand why the comments would be offensive. "I believe the underlying issue is that no one knows who we are," she said.
[CORRECTION: As noted below, I linked and quoted the wrong story there. The Cap Times article after the forum is here. It has the outrageous headline "Prof a no-show at forum." It begins with this emotive presentation of the wounded students and the professor who disappointed them:
Clearly, eloquently and sometimes tearfully, the seven young Asian women who raised the issue of a law professor's allegedly insulting remarks about the Hmong told their story at a public forum Thursday night.

The other side was not heard, however, as Professor Leonard Kaplan did not attend the forum at the University of Wisconsin Law School, to the intense disappointment of many of the more than 200 who came, hoping to hear both sides of the matter.

"He will not be here tonight because he fears that his presence would shift the focus of the discussion to what happened in his class, which would seriously detract from the broader educational function that he hopes this meeting can serve," said Professor Jane Larson.

"That's it?" shouted someone in the crowd, which then listened patiently to a lecture by Jane Hamilton-Merritt, an author and expert on Hmong culture and history, before hearing from the law students.]
[I consider the headline outrageous because it channels the disappointment of students who formed the belief that they was going to examine what happened in the class, when the event was not billed like that. It was promoted as an educational session with the scholar teaching about Hmong culture. The article makes it look as though there were some weird bait-and-switch, where the students came to some sort of show trial -- as if that would have been appropriate -- and then got stuck hearing a lecture. I avoided the event myself, mainly because I didn't want to sit though a medicinal lecture. If I had thought it was going to be more of a show-trial or witch hunt I would have gone so I could record the insanity.]

Here's a letter by former UW law student Mark A. Edwards, addressed to the Capital Times:
Dear Editor:

I read your recent articles reporting racist statements attributed to Professor Len Kaplan with a sense of disgust and dread. I don't know Professor Kaplan personally, only by reputation; but based on his spotless reputation for intelligence and compassion, I knew the stories were about as credible as him having flapped his arms and flown around the lecture hall. That was the source of my disgust. Now, many days too late, you reveal that his accuser was not present at the time of the alleged remarks, and that students who were present deny they occurred. I'm an academic myself; my dread comes from knowing that one day an editor might decide that unverified allegations about me are also newsworthy. That's called the chilling effect, and it works wonders to destroy a university. I realize that fact-checking is labor-intensive, and can end up costing you a story that sells copy. But as a service to your readers, it would be interesting if you could attempt to quantify, in dollars, the extra advertising revenue you gained by publishing this particular sensational, unverified story. Then we would know that exact price of a man's reputation. And it would also be informative if you could let us know, having done that, how well you sleep afterwards.

Mark A. Edwards
What a shameful display by our local newspaper!

IN THE COMMENTS: Chris Murphy, City Editor, for The Capital Times, writes:
I take exception to your characterization of our coverage of the Kaplan matter, which has been the most authoritative and thorough available anywhere. The fact that Professor Kaplan's explanation of events has been under-reported until now (see our front-page story today here)...
That is the story written by the reporter I refused to communicate with, as discussed at the top of this post.
... is because he chose not to discuss in any detail what he actually said for almost three weeks after the class, or 11 days after the first of two public hearings that drew hundreds of people, including a public apology from the dean of the law school. We contacted Professor Kaplan several times prior to the publication of our stories to ask for further comment, and he repeatedly declined, as he did for other media.
He had his reason for not talking to the press. There were other ways you could have tried to find out more about what happened.
But we have worked to explain his side of things even when he wouldn't do so himself. In your post, you neglect to link to our March 1 story that aired the perspective of students in the class and sympathetic faculty who didn't think Kaplan was being offensive and that his critics were mistaken. See it here.
Yes, I remember that day. Wasn't that story buried deep in the paper when another story was featured much more conspicuously with an inflammatory headline? I had trouble finding that on line.
You also erroneously attribute a State Journal story about the March 1 public hearing to us.
Sorry. That was a mistake made while putting the post together. (Both newspapers appear on-line as Madison.com.) But my position, taken in email with your reporter, was based on following all the news stories as the situation unfolded.
Our coverage of that event (which was not on page one, incidentally) is here, and it does not quote [name deleted] (who indeed was not in the Feb. 15 class).
Yes, that is the story I meant to link to, the one with the outrageous headline: "Prof a no-show at forum." Look how that headline blames him for not showing up (without conveying the fact that the event was supposed to be an educational lecture about Hmong culture which would have been spoiled by his presence). Look at how the text highlights and channels the students' emotions. This was written by the reporter I didn't want to talk to. Compare the coverage by Megan Twohey in the MSJ, here.

Murphy continues:
Instead, that story quotes [name deleted], who was in the Feb. 15 class and who does maintain that Kaplan said outrageous things that day.
There were, I think, 15 students in the class. You should have tried to interview some of them.
You don't say in the post exactly what appalls you, though I gather you are of the same mind as Mr. Edwards, who thinks we have no qualms about printing whatever unverified allegations we happen to hear about. That's not what happened here. When hundreds of students gather on campus to discuss and protest what they say a professor has said, and when that professor's dean publicly apologizes to more than 100 people, we would be negligent not to report what they're talking about. Kaplan's version of the story needed to be told, and we repeatedly asked him to tell us, but he refused for 10 days. We did what we could, but he gave us almost nothing to work with.
I agree that you had to cover the story, given the public events, but you indulged in tabloid-style coverage when a man's reputation was on the line. Journalism isn't just repeating what people are "talking about." If talking to the accused is the only way you can think of to find out what happened, you should pack it in.

NOTE: I've deleted the student names that originally appeared here. I didn't like using the students' names, and only had them because they were in the newspaper article I was commenting on. Obviously, the names are still available in the linked newspaper articles.

Professor Kaplan responds to accusations.

Here is a PDF of the letter Professor Leonard Kaplan sent to the Dean of the law school and made public today. I think the letter is a creditable account of what he really did in the class -- which we discussed here and here. Read the whole letter, and I think you can see what it was that students, hearing things through the static of their own emotions, misunderstood. Here's Kaplan's conclusion:
Many of the statements attributed to me in press accounts and emails are hateful. Although I strongly believe in academic freedom, I do not seek to cloak my statements in this protection. Had I made the hateful comments wrongly attributed to me, I would repudiate them without hesitation. I did not make them. As both a matter of personal inclination and my professional training as a clinical psychologist, I try my best to bring human empathy to bear in my vocation as at teacher. However, this experience and the compounded misunderstandings that have resulted from it reinforce my recognition of the limits of language, as well as law, to bridge certain gulfs. I have come to a new awareness of how the statements I did make could be misunderstood and of the pain that this experience has caused. I acknowledge that pain and regret the part that my own limitations played in contributing to it.
I hope students can engage with this account and reconcile with Professor Kaplan, and that we can come together as a scholarly community again. I think the key mistake was to hear statements that presented sociological information about groups of people as if they were stereotypes to be applied to all the members of the group. It needs to be possible to talk about demographic information in the real world, especially if we are to continue to be a school that teaches what we like to call "law in action." It would be a terrible thing if the fear of misunderstandings chilled discussion of sociological information, and if law professors were to retreat into the discussion of law in a more abstract or doctrinal way.

Let me repeat what I wrote in the New York Times column:
It’s so much easier to skip the subject [of race] altogether, to embrace a theory of colorblindness or to scoop out gobs of politically correct pabulum. It’s only when you challenge the students and confront them with something that can be experienced as ugly — even if you’re only trying to highlight your law firm’s illustrious fight against racism — that you create the risk that someone may take offense.
It's desperately important to come back to a place where we can talk about race in the classroom. I understand that people are sensitive and that there is so much potential for hurt feelings, but think of the alternative! The grotesque prejudgment and pillorying of Professor Kaplan is something that everyone who cares about teaching about race and teaching law and society must look upon with horror.

"'Humanly possible' is just a nebulous term, and I don't know exactly what it means."

The judge in the Libby case refuses to answer the question the jury asked. Remember, we puzzled over the question here. I wrote:
"Is it necessary for the government to present evidence that it is not humanly possible for someone not to recall an event?"...

The question suggests that the jurors might be stumped about whether than can convict even though a juror keeps saying something like: But, of course, it's possible to forget anything. This would be an argument against convicting based on the evidence that demonstrated the importance of what Libby contends he forgot.

This question might mean that they are arguing about how high the standard of reasonable doubt really is. But there is also concern about the kind of proof that is required. Is it enough to simply show that the thing allegedly forgotten was extremely memorable, so that the jurors have to make an inference that he is therefore lying? Someone may be demanding that there should be evidence about the mechanism of forgetting.

I would think that the correct answer about the quantity and quality of the evidence needed would tend to make a jury that would ask the question that way likely to convict.
So, now I suppose I have to say that the judge's refusal to give an answer decreases the likelihood that the jury will convict. Do you agree?

Hillary affects a (ridiculous) southern accent.

Apparently in an attempt to appeal to voters. Drudge is drawing a lot of attention to this. Do you care? Or is this along the lines of putting on some locally popular article of clothing or scarfing down some regional food treat? This is just another example of the way audio and video clips go viral these days. My inclination is to brush it off as laughable, but nothing really.

ADDED: Here's an attack on people who linked to the clip and laughed at Hillary:
But as always, a simple fact-check shows this latest wingnut preoccupation to be highly dishonest. The audio clip Drudge linked to cherry-picked that quote and removed it completely from its context, which would have shown that Hillary wasn't adopting this accent or grammar or language as her own at all.

Rather, it turns out that Hillary was actually quoting the hymn lyrics of someone else -- while clearly and very openly imitating (not very well, it turns out) the cadences she thought the lyrics would traditionally have been delivered in. There was nothing phony about it at all.
Oh, ridiculous! It was obvious that she was quoting something -- some song or poem. If I had thought those were her own words, I wouldn't have just made fun of the accent, I'd have made fun of the affected grammar. ("I don't feel no ways tired... I come too far....") Really! What a thoroughly bogus criticism.

So how did that idea for nude day at the gym work out?

"A dozen middle-age and elderly men" showed up for nude day at the Dutch gym. Also on hand were "dozens of journalists," watching their every move. Lovely! Any women? No. (Told ya.)
A smattering of men trickled...
No, no, I don't don't want nude men trickling!
A smattering of men trickled in and out throughout the day at the gym in the small town of Heteren, 60 miles east of Amsterdam...

"We already had naked swimming ... but a gym, that's unique," said one white-haired bespectacled man, who gave only his first name, Henk.

"It's spectacular!" he said, as he pedaled away....

No women showed up for "Naked Sunday"....
"It's always the same - the first ones to shy away are the women. You see that at nudist camps too," said Henk.
Aw, poor Henk. ("It's spectacular!")

"John Edwards Breaks Silence on Coulter's 'Faggot' Barb."

Sounds painful!

ADDED: I'm picturing some garish fishhooklike weapon, but I can see another way of reading this bizarre headline -- the way that makes you wonder: Who is "Coulter's 'Faggot' Barb"? (I believe I learned to read like this from Mad Magazine. You know the regular feature I'm talking about -- from back in the old days?)

"My Dad the Dud."

That's the way The Daily News paraphrases Andrew Giuliani. The actual quoted statements -- from a TV interview -- seem more pro-mother than anti-dad: "I got my values from my mother," "She's a strong influence in my life," "She's a strong woman." And also: "I have problems with my father," "But it doesn't mean he won't make a great President," and "we are both working on our relationship."

If Rudy Giuliani's campaign is any good, we should see a nice father-and-son presentation immediately.

UPDATE: Rudy's response:
"I believe that these problems with 'blended families' are challenges, and challenges are best worked out privately," he said.

Giuliani said his wife was not to blame for the family feud, and it was not her job to fix it.

"I believe the responsibility is mine," he said.
This probably is a better response than what I was asking for -- the parading of the son in public.

March 4, 2007

"A quarter of drivers even said they imagine they are in a driving simulation game while driving for real."

Oh, no! And:
34% of the 1,000 young drivers questioned think computer games can improve real-life driving ability, with two in five reckoning the games can help their reflexes.

So that's why people are driving like that! Insane!

“If had it to do over again, I’d have kept him. I didn’t know anything about mental illness. Nobody did.”

Said George McGovern last year, referring to his rejection of Tom Eagleton back in 1972 -- when supposedly no one knew a damned thing. McGovern chose Eagleton as his running mate after Eagleton had assured McGovern's aide Frank Mankiewicz that he had nothing unusual in his background:
He did not tell Mr. Mankiewicz that he had been hospitalized three times for depression and that his treatment had twice involved electroshock therapy.

But rumors began circulating among politicians and journalists. Mr. Eagleton ultimately held a news conference on July 25 in Custer, S.D., where he had just briefed the vacationing Mr. McGovern over breakfast. Mr. Eagleton told reporters that he had been treated for “nervous exhaustion.” But in response to questions, he acknowledged that the treatment had included psychiatric counseling and electric shocks.

That day Mr. McGovern said, “I think Tom Eagleton is fully qualified in mind, body and spirit to be the vice president of the United States and, if necessary, to take on the presidency on a moment’s notice.” A few days later, as objections to Mr. Eagleton began to mount, Mr. McGovern insisted that he was “1,000 percent for Tom Eagleton.”

But the pressure from party leaders, campaign contributors and members of McGovern’s own staff was unrelenting. On July 31, the candidates met again, this time in Washington, and Mr. McGovern forced him to withdraw. Mr. Eagleton stepped down after 18 days as the nominee, saying he had done so for the sake of “party unity.”
R.I.P. Thomas P. Eagleton.

Clearly, it was Eagleton who made the mistake. Even today, do we really know so much more about mental illness? And, if we do, would we say that someone who had been hospitalized three times for depression should be Vice President? It seems to me that McGovern would have rejected him if he'd known, as would any other competent presidential candidate then or now, and Eagleton's failure to disclose that information to Mankiewicz was an entirely separate reason to reject him. It was horrible when McGovern said "1,000 percent" and then got rid of him, but the biggest mistake there was saying "1,000 percent" instead of figuring out what to do quickly and accomplishing it diplomatically. Why does McGovern now say that he should have kept him? It must just be that he doesn't like his name associated with hostility toward persons with mental illness. Why not be kind and compassionate now that nothing is at stake?

"We fear... that the crucial distinction between gratuitous offense and provocative argument has been lost in the public furor..."

Below is the statement of the Committee for Academic Freedom and Rights. (My discussion of this incident can be found here, here, here, and here.)
The Committee for Academic Freedom and Rights at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has followed with deepening concern the process and news coverage surrounding the accusations by some students against Professor Leonard Kaplan of the Law School. Given that Professor Kaplan has not publicly commented on what he said in class, we refrain from commenting on any other details of the case at this time. That said, it is important to comment on a fundamental principle that is at the heart of the controversy. Namely, academic freedom.

There is a distinct possibility that the emotion and pressures surrounding this case—especially after the public meeting at the law school the evening of March 1—will have a chilling effect on honest and good faith discussion of racial and cultural issues in class and on campus. While good teaching requires that students be treated with respect, undue sensitivity and fear of accusations can cause professors and instructors to steer clear of controversy or uncomfortable truths that need to be discussed and faced if we are to improve as a society. Such pursuit of truth is the university's special charter and reason for existence.

Nothing in this statement is intended to justify the use of gratuitous offense or personal insult as an element of public discussion, whether inside or outside the classroom, and whether directed from faculty members to students or from students to members of the faculty. The university must be a place in which no member of the community has reason to fear expressing his or her ideas and feelings honestly and sincerely, within the bounds of civil discourse, very broadly defined. The university cannot accept efforts by any members of its community to silence others through intimidation, just as the university cannot accept the use of personal insult or denigrating stereotypes in the presentation of arguments.

There is a fundamental distinction between causing offense gratuitously and invidiously, and causing offense as the by-product of the fair-minded pursuit of truth or constructive criticism. A university of the caliber of UW-Madison, with its long history and tradition of protecting academic freedom in the "fearless sifting and winnowing of ideas" for the pursuit of truth, must take this distinction seriously, lest it surrenders its intellectual integrity.

We fear, however, that the crucial distinction between gratuitous offense and provocative argument has been lost in the public furor over the Kaplan case. We are dismayed at the Law School’s public response to this dispute, as it has addressed only the school's commitment to sensitivity and diversity, while saying nothing about that institution's fiduciary obligation to train minds to grapple with various sides of controversial and difficult issues. Without serious consideration of the importance and meaning of academic freedom on campus among the members of the university community, how can freedom prevail in the face of pressures from both left and right to make universities conform to one or another model of political correctness? We urge that the principles of academic freedom and fairness be a serious part of our community's response to the allegations that have been made concerning Professor Kaplan.

Signed by members of the Committee for Academic Freedom and Rights, UW-Madison

Ann Althouse, Mary Anderson, Anatole Beck, Michael Chamberlain, Donald Downs (President), Michael Fox, Robert Frykenberg, Lee Hansen, Lester Hunt, Larry Kahan, Anatoly Khazanov, Kenneth Mayer, Marshall Onellion, Dietram Scheufele, Howard Schweber, John Sharpless, Kenneth Thomas, Steven Underwood (Legal Counsel)


ADDED: UW Sociology professor Jeremy Freese writes: "if they asked the faculty more broadly to sign this, i would sign. since they haven't, i will only link to it."

"It is [blank] that makes us human."

I just ran across an old page in a notebook with that heading. This scribbling is at least a few years old but not more than 10 years old. It is followed by 16 words, candidates for filling in the blank, written with some unknown level of seriousness. Here are my 16 words in the order I wrote them:
  1. shame
  2. remembering
  3. planning
  4. dread
  5. joking
  6. writing
  7. politics
  8. fashion
  9. arrogance
  10. history
  11. theory
  12. inhumanity
  13. timekeeping
  14. culture
  15. believing
  16. originality
Critique these items or the inquiry itself. Or just add to the list. Or make a record album, with those 16 song titles. And give me credit. And half your royalties.

IN THE COMMENTS: Bill responds to my request for a 16-cut album by finding an Otis Redding recording for each item:
1. shame (I'm Sick Y'all)
2. remembering (Champagne and Wine)
3. planning (New Year's Resolution)
4. dread (Don't Leave Me This Way)
5. joking (Happy Song)
6. writing (I Love You More Than Words Can Say)
7. politics (Change Is Gonna Come)
8. fashion (Satisfaction--Otis pronounces it 'satisfashion;' so really it's about his inability to buy nice clothes)
9. arrogance (Tramp)
10. history (You Don't Miss Your water)
11. theory (Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song))
12. inhumanity (Cigarettes and Coffee)
13. timekeeping (I've Got Dreams To Remember)
14. culture (Respect)
15. believing (Look At The Girl)
16. originality (Love Man)
So here's the new game: Pick some artist you like and come up with 16 appropriate cuts.

"John Edwards Hopes to Raise 'Coulter Cash' After Commentator's 'Faggot' Comment."

Headline of the day, courtesy of Fox News.

ADDED: I intended this post to make fun of Fox News, but I see that Huffington Post goes with "Edwards Hopes To Raise 'Coulter Cash' After 'Faggot' Slur." HuffPo prints email from the Edwards's campaign manager:
This is just a taste of the filth that the right-wing machine is gearing up to throw at us. And now that it's begun, we have a choice: Do we sit back, or do we fight back?

I say we fight. Help us raise $100,000 in "Coulter Cash" this week to show every would-be Republican mouthpiece that their bigoted attacks will not intimidate this campaign. I just threw in 100 bucks. Will you join me? Just click here.

Too squeamish to finish reading "How We Die"?

What a pussy Joseph Epstein is! He's reviewing Sherwin B. Nuland's new book and he admits he couldn't get past page 150 in that spiffy death book "How We Die." Epstein is 70 years old. That's too old to be a candyass about dying. Why then should I care what he thinks about Nuland's new book? Well, because the review is right here in front of me, and I'm curious what the deal is with Nuland writing a book with the candyass, Oprah-ready title "The Art of Aging." So let's go on with Epstein's opinion. To read this excerpt, you have to understand that Epstein has introduced a little literary device for the purposes of this review, characterizing the author as two personas: Nuland (the guy with the attitude encountered in "How We Die") and Nudelman (a squishier guy)(the name is Nuland's real family name, by the way).
I prefer to believe it’s Nudelman, and not Dr. Nuland, who thinks there is nothing really all that wrong with wearing a toupee or acquiring a penile implant; Nudelman who quotes Browning (“Grow old along with me! / The best is yet to be”) and Longfellow; Nudelman who uses such words as “toileting” (see what happens as a result of our letting “parenting” get through?); Nudelman who announces that he is now going to reflect on wisdom “accompanied by the hope that I can avoid the great temptation of waxing ponderous,” and then becomes entirely ponderous, beginning with the word “waxing”; Nudelman whose sugary acknowledgments might be dangerous if read by anyone with diabetes. This Nudelman must be captured and as soon as possible silenced, if not placed under house arrest in a nursing home.

How to account for the stern and penetrating Dr. Nuland letting loose the soppy and vaporous Nudelman, this perfect “Oprah” guest. (Dr. Jekyll at least struggled against the emergence of Mr. Hyde.) Could it be that he sat down to write “The Art of Aging” after returning each day from the gym high on endorphins? Or, what I fear may be the case, is “The Art of Aging” itself an example of what aging can do to make a once unsparingly unsentimental writer so intellectually squishy?
Oh, I see Epstein invokes Oprah. Well, once you've done that, why are you so puzzled? Is money an obscure concept these days?

"On cultural issues, Richardson has the distinct advantage of not setting off any culture war vibes."

"He was in college in the late 1960s, but he was listening to the Beach Boys, not Janis Joplin."

David Brooks on Bill Richardson. (TimesSelect link.)

I like the idea of giving Richardson more attention, but I want to talk about this shorthand: the Beach Boys, not Janis Joplin. Is this some way to say clean-cut, straight-arrow, drug-free, "Wouldn't It Be Nice If We Were Married?"?

The Beach Boys sang:
Though it's hard I try not to look at my wind chimes
Now and then a tear rolls off my cheek
Close your eyes and lean back now listen to wind chimes
In the late afternoon you're hung up on wind chimes
Though it's hard I try not to look at my wind chimes
I tend to think there were some drugs in the picture. Meanwhile, Janis Joplin was singing:
Whoa, I need a man to love me.
Don’t you understand me, baby ?
Why, I need a man to love.
I gotta find him, I gotta have him like the air I breathe.
One lovin’ man to understand can’t be too much to need.
You tell me who had their head on straight. Nothing against Bill Richardson. I'm just monitoring memes from the 60s.
I'm gonna be round my vegetables
I'm gonna chow down my vegetables
I love you most of all
My favorite vege-table
That's the Beach Boys. And here's Janis:
I ain’t the kind of woman
Who’d make your life a bed of ease, ha ha ha ha!
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
I’m not the kind of woman, no,
To make your life a bed of ease.
Yeah, but if you, if you just wanna go out drinkin’, honey,
Won’t you invite me along please.
Oh, I’ll be so good to ya babe, yeah!
Whoa, go on!
Which leftever 60s heart would you prefer?

And, by the way, just as an aside, I'd like to say I ain’t the kind of woman who’d make your life a bed of ease. Ha ha ha ha!



IN THE COMMENTS: Gerry says:
This is one of the rare times where I see sexism in something you do not. Much more frequently are the cases where we both see sexism, or that you do and I don't.

Joplin is viewed as an aggressive, sultry, sexually aggressive woman, not like those guys who were only into surfing, driving, sex, and pleasure-seeking (including drugs). You know, just beach boys being boys.
Interesting. Yes, well, you can detect in my writing here that I was bonding with the Janis mindset and feeling threatened by the elevation of the Boys. And I was thinking about bringing in the subject of Hillary Clinton as I was adding those "Turtle Blues" lyrics and identifying with them.

"Oh, let me think, let me think, what can I do? Oh, no. Oh, no. Oh, no no no no no."

Remember... loving the Shangri-Las? The lead singer -- the coolest girl group singer ever -- is back. Good luck to Mary Weiss on her new album. But let's talk about the Shangri-Las:
The Shangri-Las stood out from their contemporaries. The melodrama and desperation in their voices — not to mention their tight leather pants and leather boots, a drastic departure from the formal gowns favored by groups like the Supremes and the Chiffons — defied the girl-group category in which they’re often thrown “for lack of imagination,” as the music writer Greil Marcus put it.

“This was storytelling, this was creating characters,” Mr. Marcus said from his home in Berkeley, Calif. “There was a cinematic sense to the songs where you could visualize them as you listened to them. Their records left wounds in their listeners.”
Whenever the song "I Can Never Go Home Anymore" comes on the 60s channel, I get caught up in the words, and even though I know it's utterly cheesy and manipulative, it makes me cry (while driving!). Here, check it out, someone made a YouTube video that just shows the single playing on a record player. That's really sweet.

Here's Mary Weiss's MySpace page. Here's a nice interview thing. Here's a cute tribute video with lots of pictures. Here's an album (click on it and buy it):



Look at the way Mary looked then! Good Lord, she was only 15! She had the perfect tough girl image. Hers was a look that in those days -- where I was anyway, in northern New Jersey -- we called "hoody." It was the alternative to the mod look, which I personally favored. I knew one girl, a friend of my sister's, who had the Mary Weiss look. It was sort of the dark side to the candy-colored mod/psychedelic style that I believed would conquer all. But this other thing! It came from the wrong side of town. My sister's friend scared me a little. She didn't live with her parents. She was from over in Boonton. She wore Tabu perfume. Really, I would never wear Tabu perfume. It's unbelievably sweet and strong. But I'd love to have some to dump into a handkerchief to inhale while listening to old Shangri-Las records.



"Oh, let me think, let me think, what can I do? Oh, no. Oh, no. Oh, no no no no no."

Weeps uncontrollably into Tabu-soaked hankerchief.

"Giuliani Has No Real Chance With GOP Voters . . . or Does He?"

Dan Balz on Rudy Giuliani. I don't know if we'll see Balz on the other candidates. But here we have Balz on Giuliani:
A veteran Republican strategist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly assess the situation, said he is among those who long believed that a Republican with Giuliani's profile would have no chance. He still believes the former mayor faces significant obstacles but said the odds of Giuliani winning the nomination are not as remote as they once seemed.

He gave three reasons: the absence of a strong, traditional conservative in the GOP field; continuing antipathy among many social and religious conservatives toward McCain; and the prospect of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) becoming the next president.

Giuliani "looks like he can beat Hillary, make the party competitive again in the Northeast, competitive again in California and allow us to keep our strong electoral advantage in the South and Rocky Mountain states," the strategist said.

The former mayor's campaign team believes it has found a credible path to the nomination. Its foundation is a conclusion that while the overwhelming majority of Republicans differ with Giuliani on abortion, gay rights and gun control, a much smaller percentage of GOP primary voters -- perhaps no more than a quarter -- are single-issue voters who would never vote for him because of his views on those issues, a percentage borne out by the latest Post-ABC News poll...

"I think that people like him, and likeability is a big, big factor in presidential politics," a senior Republican strategist said. "Right now, I think his numbers reflect that. As you get closer to the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, likeability may give way to vote-determinative issues, like abortion."

March 3, 2007

A few crisp words from Justice Thomas.

Businessweek has a big interview with Justice Clarence Thomas about his time at college. Here he talks about what he wishes he'd done differently:
There were things that I would enjoy, that I would take in, things that I rejected....

Simple things, like different classes. Maybe I would have taken classes like Russian history or more science, maybe, more math courses. I would have taken more history courses, more philosophy courses. Maybe I would have gone to more events, some plays. I rejected all that. I would have been more open to some of the offerings that were different from the life I had become accustomed to. If you're intellectually alive—which you are at that time—you want to explore.
Here he talks about affirmative action:
Why do you think some people are so eager to cast you as a beneficiary of affirmative action?

That was the creation of the politicians, the people with a lot of mouth and nothing to say and your industry. They had a story and everything had to fit into their story. It discounts other people's achievements. Ask Ted how many all-nighters he pulled. It discounts those. It's so discouraging to see the fraudulent renditions of very complicated and different lives of people who were struggling in a new world for them. Everything becomes affirmative action. There wasn't some grand plan. I just showed up.
He says that his college, Holy Cross, "never once required us to be anything other than ourselves and good people," and in answer to the question, "Doesn't every college want that?" he says:
Oh no. I think there are different points of views that are not acceptable. I go around this country and the poor kids who want to dissent from a prevailing point of view have no room. There's no room for them.

Because of political correctness?

Oh yeah. Come on, that's obvious. You don't even have to ask. That's obvious. Otherwise, there are people who have set notions of what blacks should think. But I rejected that years ago. I rejected that back when I was considered radical.

Is it harder to be an African American heading to college these days?

I don't know. I'm not going to dissect these schools now. I'm just glad I went when I went, before everybody had all the answers and theories about blacks. I'm sure it was hard to make your own way but maybe it worked better that way. Maybe it made us better, stronger people.
He has this to say about why he is controversial:
People have a model of what they think a black person should think. A white person is free to think whatever they want to think. But a black person has to think a certain way. Holy Cross has never ever done that. We did it to each other but we were just kids.
Interesting interview. I like his crisp form of speech.

A free permalink for today's NYT column.

I don't know why, but the NYT now has my column for today on the free side of the TimesSelect wall. Here's the permalink for it. The subject is the difficulty of teaching about race when law schools are too eager to respond to students who feel offended.

Futurism, intentional and found.

Here we are in the Futurism room of the Museum of Modern Art:

Futurism

I love that there's a woman in a yellow coat here, and I love her spatial relationshiop to the man and to the Futurist painting and sculpture. (The sculpture is Umberto Boccioni's Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913).)

Then there's this, a woman in big polka dots hustles past a Leger painting:

Found futurism

Fernand Leger is not a Futurist, but my Sony camera is futuristic enough to correct for motion, and in grabbing and stilling the moving image of the woman, it gave a speeding forward look to the Leger painting, "Three Women," in the background. Found Futurism!

"Clowns in dreadlocks escorting the casket draped in rhinestone-studded satin."

Losers in gaudy, ragamuffin clothes, camera hogs and hangers-on.

Poor Anna Nicole, a trashy life, and a sleazy death, and in the end a horrible, tasteless funeral. All of it awful, but somehow fitting.

Is the commentary on bad taste in bad taste?
The casket remained closed - draped with a satin, feather-fringed quilt.

Rhinestones spelled out her signature and the trademark smiley face she used when giving autographs.

Even though the coffin was closed, no one was left in any doubt what Anna Nicole was wearing - what would have been an eye-catching, Oscar-worthy gown: pink and white, embroidered with a heart across the bodice - and revealed in all its glory on "Entertainment Tonight." And a tiara.

Are they just making stuff up?

"Is it necessary for the government to present evidence that it is not humanly possible for someone not to recall an event?"

So asked the jury in the Libby case, seeking a clarification from the judge about the meaning of reasonable doubt. They've been deliberating since February 22. Can anyone pick apart that question and tell what it means?

The question suggests that the jurors might be stumped about whether than can convict even though a juror keeps saying something like: But, of course, it's possible to forget anything. This would be an argument against convicting based on the evidence that demonstrated the importance of what Libby contends he forgot.

This question might mean that they are arguing about how high the standard of reasonable doubt really is. But there is also concern about the kind of proof that is required. Is it enough to simply show that the thing allegedly forgotten was extremely memorable, so that the jurors have to make an inference that he is therefore lying? Someone may be demanding that there should be evidence about the mechanism of forgetting.

I would think that the correct answer about the quantity and quality of the evidence needed would tend to make a jury that would ask the question that way likely to convict. Do you agree?

We want our sexist comic characters to be more charming.

Andrew Dice Clay is back with a reality show on VH-1:
The VH1 reality show “Dice Undisputed” — about his attempt at a career comeback, co-starring his two sons, his shrill fiancĂ©e and his motley entourage — is intended to shove him back in our faces, right where he apparently belongs. But we must again resist his advances. Let’s say it one more time: He’s charmless and unfunny.
I've said what I had to say about him back here:
The first time I saw Andrew Dice Clay, I took him to be a brilliant critic of masculinity. Then everybody just got mad at him and made him go away.
Looks like they're about to make him go away again. Since he played a lout, you can't feel sorry for him. If only he could warm us with a smidge of lovableness, like that big sexist bastard Borat.

"I hope the pink drawers are ready too?"

Wagner's underpants!

I hate to do this. But I'm going to write a post defending myself against the idiotic charge...

... that I'm failing to denounce Ann Coulter for using the word "faggot" with reference to John Edwards. I have never promoted Ann Coulter on this blog. I just checked all the old references to her. In over 8,000 posts in 3 years, I see her name in only 10 posts, and half of these just have her name in some block quote from someone else. I've never approved of the kind of shots she takes, though I have said I think she imagines herself to be some sort of comedian:
You know, when we first noticed Coulter doing various political shows -- I think it was back in the mid-90s -- we were always saying "Why is that woman laughing?," "She's always laughing," "There's that woman again who's always laughing," etc. No matter what she said, she'd be laughing, as though every damned thing that happened in politics was hilarious to her and everything comment she made completely cracked her up. You might not think what she is saying is funny, but I think she's motivated by comic energy, and the people who like her are picking up on the fun.
And I've responded to a comparison of me to her:
One of the things that I observe, by the way, is how this attitude I take -- whatever it is -- drives the left blogosphere up the wall. I wonder why it takes so little? And why this special obsession with me? Some blogger wrote about me -- I linked to him yesterday... he's not getting another -- "She makes Ann Coulter look like Cicero." Ann Coulter makes outrageous statements intended to taunt people into attacking her. That's her game. I make some throwaway, half-humorous remark in the middle of a comments thread and touch off multi-blog fireworks that go on for days. What's that all about?
I briefly note an instance where she was prevented from speaking -- which reflects my longstanding interest in free speech. And I quote her joke about the nomination of Harriet Miers: "I eagerly await the announcement of President Bush's real nominee to the Supreme Court." Which is a good joke that expressed how I felt about the nomination. And here, also a propos of Miers, I mention that she laughed at a joke on "Real Time With Bill Maher."

So if you think I have some obligation to disassociate myself from her, you are just damned wrong on the facts. And if you think I have ever supported homophobia on this blog, I challenge you to prove it. You can't. And if you think I hate John Edwards, why don't you see if you can figure out who I voted for in the 2004 primary?

Meanwhile, what chumps you people are to take the bait and promote her again! Or is there some other story that would be big today if this nonsense weren't eclipsing it?

ADDED: There's the eclipse.

MSM finally tries to get the Kaplan story straight.

Megan Twohey -- in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel -- is -- I think -- the first mainstream reporter to really get somewhere reporting the other side of the Wisconsin Law School story that has gotten so much press lately. She quotes me quoting Professor Kaplan at Friday's faculty meeting:
"The law school is my home," Leonard Kaplan told law school colleagues at a weekly meeting, which was recorded by Ann Althouse, a fellow professor. "I'm going to fight to make it stay my home."

While not offering a detailed explanation, Kaplan said: "I didn't say what was attributed to me. But I think I know why it was misinterpreted."

Kaplan said he was crafting a written statement to be released later that "was compassionate but a response from a lawyer."
Twohey refers to the "tumultuous" meeting at the law school on Thursday (which she witnessed and we talked about here yesterday) and reports that "other students" who were in the class said his words were "misconstrued and taken out of context." The quotes that have appeared in the press and that have gotten so many people exercised were -- according to Twohey -- compiled by a student who was not in the class but who spoke with two students who were. There is no indication whether those two students wrote verbatim quotes down while they were in class, and no one seems to have an audio recording, but the student who wrote the inflammatory email did put quotes around words:
[Name deleted] told the standing-room-only crowd Thursday that the allegations she made in her e-mail were "not well informed," but insisted that what Kaplan said was hurtful and damaging....

The offended students said they were upset with the way their complaint had been handled. They said that Kaplan, in a private meeting, had apologized for hurting their feelings but stood by his statements.

Kaplan did not attend the forum. He said in a statement that was read by another professor that he did not want to draw attention from the educational purpose of the forum - an apparent reference to some speakers who had been invited to talk to the group about Hmong culture.

Davis, the dean, did attend the forum, and he praised Kaplan's accusers for the way they had handled their concerns and promised to provide cultural awareness programming next month.
I hope that phrase "cultural awareness programming" means that there will be programs and not that we are about to be programmed -- like a computer or a brainwashing victim.
Althouse said Friday that Davis should have "demonstrated a concern for finding out what was true."

"What happened to the truth?" she said. "It seems to me that before you design remedies for problems, you should find out what the problem is. I don't think it's the interest of people who care about race to see this minefield where your quotes are taken out of context."
A law school, especially, should set the example of what it means to care scrupulously about the truth, to follow due process when a person's reputation is on the line, and to show that remedies should be tailored to real problems, not based on one-sided accusations. These are principles fundamental to law. We are a law school. What are we teaching? You may well have some questions about what Kaplan taught his class. But our actions these past two weeks have taught something to our students and to the rest of the world. That is what I am questioning.

Twohey, unlike some of the other reporters who splashed this story into the news, does some digging for the truth:
[Names deleted], students who were in Kaplan's class, said Friday that [name deleted's] e-mail misquoted Kaplan.

"I think the comments were taken out of context," said [name deleted], a Latino undergraduate in the class.

They said the focus of the class was how American law can sometimes conflict with the values of different cultures, and that Kaplan was using the Hmong experience in Wisconsin as an example. They said Kaplan did touch on issues of rape, dowries and crime within the Hmong community, but had been misquoted in [name deleted's] e-mail.
Misquoted. That is an important word.
"If anything, he was critiquing what a bad job Wisconsin was doing in providing job opportunities to the Hmong, that that's why they end up in gangs," said [name deleted], who is Vietnamese.

[Name deleted], who is white, said Kaplan talked about Hmong women thriving because they had skills such as needlework.

"He was saying that Hmong men aren't thriving as much because they don't have skills that have transferred as well," she said.

The students said they could see how [names deleted] could have been offended by the comments, and [name deleted] acknowledging that Kaplan had used Hmong stereotypes that made him feel uncomfortable at times.

But the students insisted Kaplan did not strike them as racist or bigoted. They said they were upset by the fallout from the incident.

"I think this is really out of control," [name deleted] said.
On the subject of why Kaplan has not comprehensively refuted the accusations, Twohey quotes Professor Downs:
Donald Downs, a political science professor who is a friend of Kaplan's, said Friday that Kaplan had an attorney who had advised him not to talk about the incident publicly because of the potential for a harassment lawsuit.

"He's all lawyered up," Downs said.

Downs, who heads the university's committee for academic freedom and rights, said some professors have come away from the controversy fearful of discussing race in class.
This is also a point I make in my NYT column today:
Your colleagues may sympathize with you in private, but most likely they'll be rethinking this idea -- heartily promoted in law schools since the 1980s -- that they ought to actively incorporate delicate issues of race into their courses.
One of the many ironies of this story is that both Kaplan's style of teaching and the Dean's student-appeasing efforts at climate-control come from the same well-meaning liberal idea that law schools ought to take account of race.

I'm on that committee with Downs and a number of other UW professors. It's called CAFAR (Committee for Academic Freedom and Rights). (The same group supported that 9/11 conspiracy theorist last fall and was critical of the "Think. Respect" program. Downs wrote this book about free speech on campus.) Twohey notes that CAFAR has a statement on the Kaplan affair, and I will publish that statement in full when it's through with the final edit (which will be very soon).

NOTE: I've deleted the student names that originally appeared here. I didn't like using the students' names, and only had them because they were in the newspaper article I was commenting on. Obviously, the names are still available in the linked newspaper articles.

March 2, 2007

"A Word Too Far."

This is the fifth and last of my NYT columns. (TimesSelect link.) It discusses this incident at Duke University Law School along with the incident at my law school which I wrote about earlier today. Excerpt:
Ironically, you have to care enough about engaging energetically with issues of race to run into this sort of trouble. It’s so much easier to skip the subject altogether, to embrace a theory of colorblindness or to scoop out gobs of politically correct pabulum. It’s only when you challenge the students and confront them with something that can be experienced as ugly — even if you’re only trying to highlight your law firm’s illustrious fight against racism — that you create the risk that someone may take offense.

ADDED: Here's a free permalink.

"We're all scared."

Says Joe Klein, talking about writers and making me feel like quoting him, because I'm sitting here this afternoon writing... and scared.

"Gloves come off: Mitt has 'choice' words for Giuliani."

Mitts come off: Glove has 'choice' words for Giuliani.

The Daily News reports:
"He is pro-choice, he is pro-gay marriage and anti-gun," Romney said in an interview to air Tuesday on the Christian Broadcasting Network, home to televangelist Pat Robertson. "That's a tough combination in a Republican primary."
Oh, come on. From that headline, I thought he'd said something surprisingly nasty. But it was just absolutely the most conventional thing everyone says about Giuliani. The funny thing is, everyone knows this about Giuliani, and yet he's the big frontrunner. Explain that.